Wednesday, December 23, 2009

3 Cheese Manicotti from Julie

8 Uncooked Manicotti shells (or as many as you can fit in your baking dish, adjust quantities below as necessary. Glass/ceramic baking dishes work best.)

Cheese Filling:

2 Tbsp. Minced onion
½ teaspoon Dried oregano -- crushed
2 Eggs (or 4 eggs whites or egg substitute) -- beaten
1 ½ cups Shredded mozzarella cheese
1 ½ cups Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Snipped fresh parsley
1 dash Pepper

(Nothing fancy about stuffing the shells, but this is when filling them uncooked makes this recipe much easier.)


2 jars of Classico Marinara/Tomato & Basil

5 fresh mushrooms, sliced

(I usually short-cut the marinara sauce by buying Classico, but if you are feeling ambitious you can use your homemade version instead.)


½ cup of Shredded mozzarella cheese

Pour half the tomato mixture into a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Arrange stuffed manicotti in the baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over shells. If desired, cover and chill manicotti for up to 24 hours.

Bake the stuffed manicotti, covered, in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining topping of cheese for 5-10 minutes, or until noodles feel cooked when poked with a fork. Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes to cool and set.

FYI – instead of manicotti shells, you can also stuff the jumbo sea shells and reduce the baking time by 5-10 minutes. In a pinch, I’ve kicked the oven up to 400 degrees and watched closely to reduce baking time.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oven Baked Bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line baking sheet with parchment and top with wire rack.

Place bacon on rack (no overlapping) and bake until crisp and browned, 10 - 15 min.

Blot with paper towel before serving.
Lollipop Cookies by Martha

This is such a great idea!

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Potluck Dinner Invitation Contribution: Lentil Soup with homemade bread

Today, in reading the list of blogs that keep me informed and inspired, i found an entry about a woman have a potluck dinner, of sorts, for guests of her blog. It's a really grand idea, i think, because of all the potentially wonderful recipe ideas to be gleened from the experience!

So here are my two pence, as it were: a doctored up Lentil Soup recipe from WW (to make it more like my favourite lentil soup at my new favourite restaurant, The Comfort Food Cafe) and some delicious homemade bread from my friend, MacD's recipe stash on her blog (click"homemade bread" above to link to that recipe.)

Heck, some nights i might even throw in a roasted chicken a la Nigella. :o)

Lentil Soup

10 cups reduced sodium broth
1 pound lentils, French green variety if you can, as they hold their shape the best
carrots, chopped
leeks, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 c. crushed toms with basil
1/3 to 2/3 c. tom sauce (dependent on how tomato-y you like your lentil soups)
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
ground pepper
other fresh herbs (optional)
1 Tbsp olive oil

In olive oil, saute' the leeks (amt: to your liking--i used two the diametre of half dollars in this recipe), carrots (amt: to your liking, i used 6), bay leaf until leeks are wilted. Add lentils, and stir to coat with oil. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to bring a covered pot to simmering, for 30 minutes.

Stir in all the tom varieties, vinegar, pepper and other herbs you may like (i love the marjoram we grow around here, so i flood our soups, sauces, usw. with it.) At this point, check the thickness of your soup--if you like a thinner lentil soup, add up to a cup to 2 cups of water and adjust flavours accordingly.

Notes: I've tried the "Better than Boullion" instant stock--if using it, cut down to 8 cups and use plain ol' water for the rest, otherwise it's really ever too salty!

What's really handy too (especially if you have wee ones who might have rather wishy-washy views on lentils) is to roast up some of Nigella's's the jist from my blogpost about it:

"Basically, dressing your chicken how you like (evoo and herbs or citrus or garlic, what have you...), place it, covered with alum. foil tent, in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes per # + 10 minutes extra. After retrieving it from the oven, you let it to rest for 10 minutes before you carve it.

And the *WHOLE* trick to a moist and tender breast of chicken every time is:

roast it upside down--breasts on the bottom. "

Throw some of this chick in the lentils soup--nummy!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Slow Cooker Lasagna from Kraft's Food & Family magazine

Don't know how many people actually subscribed to this free magazine, but it's chock full of recipes and every once in a while i gleen an idea from it. Granted, i don't use the Kraft ingredients called for the in recipes, or the low fat options, because we buy mostly organic, however, none the less, the recipes can be really yummy.

A couple months ago, i received notice that they would no longer be sending them, unless you paid for them. Well, truth be told, i don't find them that great. So i skipped it. This month, i found another in my mailbox, with "helpful tips" for cutting time and expense of making meals. (Both of which i still think has a drastic impact on the family table....but i digress.)

One recipe i found intriguing was lasagne slow cooker style. Here it is....

Brown 1# ground beef in a skillet and drain. (I also added onions and garlic to the mix, because personally, no spaghetti sauce is worth eating unless it has the flavours of these two ingredients.)

Add 26 oz bottled sauce and 1 c. water and let simmer.

In another bowl, mix 15oz ricotta, 1.5 cups mozzarella cheese, 2TBSP parmesan, 1 egg, and
2 TBSP fresh parsley.

Into crock, add 1 cup meat sauce, break 3 lasagna noodles to fit in crock and arrange to cover sauce. On top of noodles, spread half of the cheese mixture. Repeat (2 c. sauce, 3 more noodles, and rest of cheese mix.) Finish off with the rest of the sauce and put on the lid.

Cook for 4 to 6 hours on LOW heat or until the liquid is absorbed. Then sprinkle with another 1.5 cups of mozzarella and let stand, covered, until cheese is melted (10 + minutes.)

Easy, eh? The recipe says you can make it even easier by making it up ahead of time, refrigerating it, and then cooking it by the following day.

I can't wait to try my Dad's homemade spaghetti sauce recipe in place of the jarred sauce used in this recipe! With the Italian sausage and spices. Eewwww wee!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Menus from weeks that worked! To jog my memory

M: Cheese Pizza
Tu: Meatballs and polenta
W: roasted chicken w/ veggies and dessert
Th: Girl's Night Tea (Daddy working late)
F: Pumpkin Waffles with pecans and marscopone
(bought an extra chicken for enchilada casserole)
Green Tomato Hash

Well, never in my life did i think i'd be eatin' green tomatoes, but since gardening in the Pac NW--especially tomatoes in the garden--it can be a supurb year where no one dares looks at a neighbour for fear they'll pass along yet another grocery sack of produce from their garden, or it can be a year known as the "Summer of Lettuce and Peas"

When we had a cooler and wetter than usual summer a few years ago (the first time i joined a CSA) there was an overabundance of greenies from the CSA and our garden. My mom figured there had to be some use for them, so we scoured the internet, and this is a recipe she found from southern cooking on

Baked green tomato hash casserole is made with leftover meat, beef, or pork, and potatoes.

•2 cups leftover chopped beef, pork or ham
•1 cup diced raw potatoes
•2 tablespoons butter
•1/2 cup diced green tomatoes
•1/4 cup chopped onion
•salt and pepper, to taste
Combine ingredients; mix well. Turn into a buttered casserole and bake at 325° for 1 hour.
Serves 4.

I've been making this with shredded beef or pork, Spanish style, which adds lots of flavour. Hubbie has an unsatisable palate for all things hot, so we've tried it with some jalapenos on his part too (it's that growing up in El Paso that taught him to love all things spicy--aka 5 star spicy. The kind of spicy that is so hot, you utter to yourself a Hail Mary or two and you tell your food, "I'll see you....later", just before you take the first bite.) Yeah, it's that kinda hot. Ei yi Ei!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Grandpa Neal's Thumbprint Cookies

These and butterscotch pie or cookies, i always remember my mom's dad making. luckily, Mom wrangled the recipe from him, so we can still make them and rekindle our fond memories of Grandpa!

1 cup shortening (Grandpa & Mom use Crisco, i use butter at room temp)
1 - 3oz pkg of cream cheese
1 cup sugar

Mix these together until blended.

Add 1 egg yolk and the vanilla. Stir well.

Add 2 & 1/2 cup flour.

Roll into a ball, place on greased cookie sheet. Make a thumbprint in each cookie. Here i've seen variations--some people dip the cookie into finely chopped nuts of some kind, then fill with a 1/2 tsp of your favourite jam.

Bake 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.

Please let them cool completely!! Especially because the jam will be sooo hot--children especially have to be watched if they help you make these!!

is a recipe from my dad's mom, Virginia. it would be interesting to see if i could come up with something other than Campbell's spaghetti in a can!!

1 1/2 lb ground beef
l med onion, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 large cans or 4 small cans Campbell's spaghetti (like Spaghetti o's only spaghetti but I guess you could use Spaghetti O's)
8 oz can tomato sauce
parmesan cheese, grated

Cook onions and mushrooms in skillet sprayed with Pam until onions are tender, then add ground beef and cook til brown. Stir in Campbell's Spaghetti and tomato sauce, reduce heat and cook until thoroughly heated. After dishing out on plates, sprinkle with grated parmesan.

Enjoy. This is a fast and super easy dinner that kids and adults both love. Serve with crusty bread.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Baked Polenta With Fresh Corn

My mom has the books for Dr. Gott's diet. There is a fine recipe for polenta in there that is so tasty you could eat it for dinner or breakfast. :o)

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Spray and8x8 dish with nonstick spray and add:

1 cup course ground cornmeal(polenta)
3.5 cups warm water
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernals
1 tsp salt

Mix and bake uncovered for about 50 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup grated parmensan and cook another 10 minutes.

This could be dressed up even further with some wilted greens or Mom servesit with meatballs and sauce.
Chicken Enchiladas

This is a recipe a dear friend gave to me. Most people love it for it's alternative to red sauce that comes with enchiladas normally. It's like an "a la crema" recipe or a "suiza". We love to make a big batch of it and take it with us on trips--these reheat really well in a microwave.

2-3 Chicken Breasts, cooked and shredded
2 packages 8 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
1 large can mild green chilies
1 large onion, sliced and caramelized in butter
5 crimini mushrooms, diced and cooked with onions
1 package flour tortillas
1 pint heavy cream (we use half n half)
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
green onion, chopped
olives, sliced

Mix together chicken, cream cheese, green chilies, and onions ( I also add sauteed diced mushroom and I use only a small can of green chilies)

In a heated oiled skillet, warm both sides of tortilla (until blisters) remove and fill with chicken/cheese mixture - roll and place in baking dish. Repeat until you have enough filled tortillas to fill the baking dish. Sprinkle shredded Monterey Jack cheese on top of enchiladas and pour cream over the top.

Bake at 350 until bubbly 30-45 minutes
Garnish with green onions and olives

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake

While looking through an old House Beautiful, i found this Barefoot Contessa recipe. Most of her recipes are to shee shee for me, but this one intrigued me because it is:
1. easy.
2. homeade pound cake (who can't love that)
3. freezer friendly!! (which is also pretty hard to resist)

1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temp
1 & 1/4 cups sugar
4 extra large eggs at room temperature
2 T mild honey
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 & 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven 325 F. Grease and flour 8x4X2 inch loaf pan.

Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, put the eggs, honey vanilla, and lemon in a glass measuring. With the mixer on med-low, add the egg mix one egg at a time allowing egg to incorporate.

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. On low speed, add very slowly to the wet mix. until just combined. Pour in pan and smooth top. Bake for 50-60 minutes till toothpick comes clean. When completely cool, wrap in plastic wrap then alum foil to keep in freezer for 6 months.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yummy Grilled Mozza-Burgers

I found this yummy recipe in a Kraft Food magazine. I changed the ingredients a little to make it more palitable to my 6y/o.

To 1lb. extra lean ground beef, mix in

1/4 cup BBQ sauce (up to 1/2 cup, depending on your child's tastebuds)
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/4 cup bread crumbs (a little more if you add more BBQ sauce--make bread & BBQ a 1:1 ratio)
(if you don't have bread crumbs, you can blitz some regular oats in similar quantities and use those)

We grilled to perfection (about 6-7 minutes on each side) and gnoshed away. We garnished with some caramelised onions and mustard. Super-yummy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I *heart* Sausage Rolls

I found this recipe on the Recipezaar website: a virtual, user driven, ever expanding recipe box.
An Aussie woman submitted this recipe, and i figure, they knew their sausage rolls in AUS!

6 pre-rolled puff pastry sheets, halved
1 kg ground sausage
1 cup fresh breadcrumb or dried breadcrumbs
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk


1 Pre-heat your oven to 220c.

2 Lay all the sheets of pastry out on your counter top.

3 In Australia, this pastry comes interleaved with plastic, which I still leave on at this stage.

4 Mix together the meat, breadcrumbs, onion, parsley, milk and salt and pepper.

5 The mixture will be quite sloppy-this keeps the sausage rolls moist.

6 Whisk the egg and 2 tablespoons of milk together in a small bowl.

7 Fill a large piping bag (no nozzle) with the mix and squeeze out a long line of mix down the long edge of the pastry-about 1/2 an inch in from that edge.

8 Roll up, peeling the plastic away as you roll.

9 Seal the inner edge with a little of the egg mix.

10 Cut each of these rolls in half.

11 I like to make an indent with a sharp knife in the middle of each of these smaller rolls to make them easier to eat.

12 Prick each roll a couple of times with a fork.

13 Repeat this until all the pastry and mix is used.

14 Brush the tops of the rolls with the egg mix.

15 Place in the oven and cook for 5 minutes.

16 Reduce the heat to 200c and cook for a further 20 minutes.

17 Remove to a tray to cool a little before serving them with ketchup or (my favourite) BBQ sauce.

My Notes:

We use a mix of ground pork and ground veal for our "sausage". I've also tried ground white turkey and ground pork which was very taste (and heart healthy.) ;O)

So, i figure we will not need 6 sausage rolls tempting our bellies, so i make 6 and save the rest of the meat mix for tomorrow night's dinner. The meat mix, with a little parmesan and an egg and a splash of milk, is ideal for Italian meat balls.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

My Favourite Chocolate Frosting

The stuff Mom made ever since i started having birthday cakes. :O)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa (but my secret ingredient is Wondercocoa brand cocoa)
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

When using Hershey's, you'll get the average tasting homemade chocolately frosting. When i use Wondercocoa, the frosting tastes like your eating fudgy brownie batter! It all depends on your taste. :o)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Dry Bean Preparation

I acquired this "back to basics" recipe a few years ago visiting Cd'A. Preface: some areas of ID have higher percentage of Mormon families in the city populations than SLC, and Cd'A is one of those places. There is a great store next to the WW in Hayden called Wishful Kneads. It is run by a Mormon couple that share the experience of their teachings when it comes to food prep, self sufficiency, and storage by offering tons of classes ranging from homemade canned soups to sandwich bread to good ol' beans and rice (and other grains). Their store is great-it's all local as can be, floor to ceiling shelves loaded with flour, grains, yeast, jams and syrups made locally from MT, relishes, kitchen tools for efficiency.
Trying to decide what to buy there is a huge problem for me. I'd love to order the whole store and bring it back home with me.
I was able to talk with the store owners a bit and glean some insight from them as to how to prep basic supplies. Favouring is totally up to you: spices, herbs (boquet garni being my favourite--especially because you don't have to chop tiny herbs up for what seems like hours!), veggie combos (like "The Holy Trinity"), and depending on the season which cooking liquids you'd use.
Here then is the prep for any dried bean. The only cross reference check i need to make is with Alton Brown's bean prep regarding black beans--apparently they don't need to soak as long.

Other basic preparations to follow for the common food staples.
Dry Lentil Prep

source: Wishful Kneads, Cd'A, ID
Dry Peas Prep

Throw in some carrots, finely diced onions, thyme (to taste) and ham and you've got split pea soup! YUM!

source: Wishful Kneads, Cd'A, ID

Popcorn A La Stovetop

And to reference Alton Brown again, the best way to pop corn on the stove is in one of those large aluminum baking bowls. Pour in ingredients and top with aluminum foil, place bowl on burner. Not sure how this works with gas stoves, but on my electric burners, it's great!

And, if you don't salt and butter your popcorn too much, you can use the leftovers for breakfast cereal in the morning.
Rice Prep

source: Wishful Kneads, Cd'A, ID
Old Fashion Oatmeal

I found this recipe a reader sent into an issue of Mother Earth News last year. Sub-ing milk for the water we usually use as the cooking liquid really makes a huge difference in the tastiness of the finished product. :o)
Spicin' It Up:
add cinnamon to taste. Serve with 1/2 pear, diced, and drizzle of 1 - 3 tsp honey.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Mom's Salsa is the best--for a really quick salsa.

You have to be thinking ahead though, because it tastes so much better the day after it's made...and the day after that, and the day after that, and especially the day after that. :o)

1 can fire roasted diced toms
1-2 cloves garlic (i always add more cause i was Italian in a former life)
1 small can diced green chilis
crushed red pepper flakes to your taste
1/2 small onion, diced finely

Mix these up the night before tacos, nachos, or your next guacamole craving and you'll be good to go.

If you like salsa a little less chunky, you can whir it up a bit with your whirring instrument of choice.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Roasted Chicken

I love all things Nigella Lawson. One of her books, "How To Eat", is just a super charming book and the reason why i now love reading cookbooks. This book is like a biographical novel; she tells wonderful stories about her experiences and family. One in particular is about how her mom used to roast a couple of fryers a week.

I loved this idea and immediately tried it (now every week, but every other).

And since i am the type that usually would call my mom every time i needed help figuring out how long to cook my birds, i was very excited to see such a hard and fast rule.


Dressing your chicken how you like (evoo and herbs or citrus or garlic, what have you...), place it, covered with alum. foil tent, in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes per # + 10 minutes extra. After retrieving it from the oven, you let it to rest for 10 minutes before you carve it.

And the *WHOLE* trick to a moist and tender breast of chicken every time is:

roast it upside down--breasts on the bottom.