Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jack O' Lantern Cheese Ball

(Or just a Cheese Ball!) I hosted a Halloween Party fit for toddlers yesterday. This little guy turned out so cute! This is a recipe from my Step Mother In Law, and it's my go to Cheese Ball Recipe. For occasions other than Halloween, I roll it in Chopped Pecans.
2 (8 oz) blocks of Cream Cheese, softened
1 (4.5 oz) jar of Dried Beef (see note)
Bunch of Green Onions, finely chopped. I used 4 large ones, white and green
Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
* For this party, I rolled it in finely shredded mild cheddar cheese. The face is Black Olives and the stem is a small, whole Dill Pickle*

Mix all ingredients and form a ball. Roll in desired Cheese, or Chopped Pecans, or Walnuts. Serve with assortment of Crackers, Veggies etc.

*Note~ Dried Beef  I thought what the heck is dried beef? and it sounds so gross. Don't let it scare you! I found it in the isle with all the canned meats (think tuna). It was in a small, clear jar, and it's like dried, thinly sliced summer sausage. It's delicious in this cheese ball.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Popcorn 101

ok, i realize that popcorn doesn't sound that hard to make. and it isn't. you buy some microwave-thingys, follow directions on the box, and WAHLAH! you have a tasty snack. but for some reason, it always bothers me HOW much they charge for that microwave stuff. it's ridiculous. and even if you have a coupon, it's just that, well, it's something you have to find, cut out, find again when you're in the grocery store, and actually USE in order to save any money.

So here's a super easy way to make popcorn and to make it CHEAP! cause a bag of whole kernels in the store is around $1.50...

i've been doing this for years... literally - years. before i had kids. way back in the days of working full-time as a preschool teacher. so i had kids - 12 of them, usually.
and i used to get the Martha Stewart Living Magazine - that was before the whole scandal.
somewhere in some magazine, i read how easy it was to put some popcorn kernels in a paper bag, microwave it and you get some popped corn.

So, here's a breakdown of "my" recipe:
1/4 cup whole kernel popcorn
2 paper bags (if you don't have paper lunch bags, i've put it in a microwavable bowl WITH LID loosely on top)

optional: popcorn toppings

I split the 1/4 cup kernels between the 2 paper bags. I drizzle a bit of olive oil over the kernels and sprinkle some salt on top.
Then, put 1 bag into the microwave at a time - for about 1 minute (i usually put it in for 1 min and 10 sec, to be exact).
It gets all warm and popppy and yummy. add salt or butter or any popcorn toppings you like. try cinnamon and sugar if you want something sweet!

all for pennies.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Waffles

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice, I used one ts. of each)

4 large eggs

2 cups milk

1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil for brushing waffle iron or cooking spray

Preheat oven to 250°F and preheat waffle iron. Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices. Whisk eggs in a large bowl with milk, pumpkin, and butter until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined
Brush waffle iron lightly with oil and spoon batter into waffle iron. Drop lid and cook until golden brown. 
Transfer waffles to rack in oven to keep warm and crisp, while making the rest of the waffles.

Menu #53

Monday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

garlic bread

Tuesday: Mashed Potato Soup ( )
crusty bread

Wednesday: Mini-Meatball Sandwiches (we didn't make this last week)

garlic bread slider rolls

Thursday: Pan-Fried Chicken

Mashed Potatoes

Salsa Verde

Friday: Fajita Panini's ( )

Saturday: Fish & Chips

(a new recipe from my MIL, I've been craving this ever since she told me about it! I just have to get some fresh Tilapia...)

Menu #52

Monday: Chicken Tortilla Soup (cheddar, cilantro, sour cream)

Brown Rice

Tuesday: Ranch Chicken (Smoked Cheddar, Bacon)

Roasted Potatoes


Wednesday: Lasagna (Spinach, Ricotta)

Garlic Bread

Thursday: Pan-Fried Chicken

Mashed Potatoes

Salsa Verde

Friday: Mini-Meatball Sandwiches (on slider rolls flavored with garlic bread seasoning)

Green Salad

Saturday: Work Party -- Burger Throwdown!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

French Toast Waffles

Okay fine, I stole 2 recipe ideas from Tyler Florence's new Cookbook, Family Meal. This is brilliant to a busy mom! French Toast Waffles.
I'm going to post my french toast recipe:
4 eggs
1/4 c. milk
2 Tbs. melted butter
1 ts. vanilla extract
1/2 ts. cinnamon
Beat all ingredients until well combined.

I used Wheat Sandwich Bread, but you can use any bread! I imagine a day old French bread would be amazing.

Preheat your waffle maker. Spray with Pam, or wipe with oil to prevent sticking.
Dip the bread in the batter and place on your waffle iron. Once each "square" is filled with bread (Mine makes 4), drop the lid as if you are making waffles.
Cook until brown and crispy.

These were great! I love how crispy the bread gets! No more soggy French Toast in this house, yum!
Please excuse this picture, it's from my phone, and snapped in a not so pretty manner as ravenous children were attacking me.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chili Relleno Rice

I have to confess that I did a very bad thing. I was browsing around Barnes and Noble this week and I came across Tyler Florence's new Cookbook, Family Meal. While I flipped through it I came across a recipe that sounded soooo good, and would match perfectly with the Ribeye Steak and Corn on the Cob Meal I was planning to cook for my family who was visiting from Colorado. I didn't want to be obvious (not sure on the rules about stealing a recipe without buying the book); which, by the way, is fabulous and is on the top of my Christmas list this year. So as I was trying to memorize the recipe, I decided to do this:
Camera phones come in handy sometimes. Is this illegal? Should I not be airing my dirty laundry on this blog? Well, either way, I will buy the book, I promise. And I feel much better now.

Chili Relleno Rice

2 Cups Cooked Rice
2 Cups Sour Cream
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
2 (7 oz) Cans Chopped Green Chili's
2 1/4 Cups Cubed Monterey Jack Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.
In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, cream of chicken soup, green chili's, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
In a casserole dish, add rice. Pour cream mixture and over the rice. Drop in cubes of cheese and stir to combine. Cover and bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes until warm and bubbly and slightly brown on top. Delicious!!
Recipe from Tyler Florence Cookbook, Family Meal

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Burger Throw down!!

Last weekend, my husband's work friends came over for a BURGER THROW DOWN!
It was so much fun, and such good food - there were all kinds of burgers... but our camera was (always is) on the fritz ~ so I am posting the pictures that are actually focused.

There were burgers stuffed with portobello mushrooms, sauteed white onion and marscapone cheese (one of my favorites...)
Another burger was blended with steak sauce and smeared with a jalapeno ranch secret sauce and topped with spicy pepper relish and sat on a hawaiian bread sandwich roll.
The winning burger (I know, I can't believe I didn't get a good picture of it) was made with ground rib-eye, smeared with a horseradish cream sauce and topped with sauteed mushrooms and swiss cheese. The rib-eye was so rich and delicious and the sauteed mushrooms were very flavorful.

I hope these burgers inspire you to make something a little different...

The health-nuts of the group made this one. It was a bison burger - with some dried cranberries in the burger (sounds weird, but was really good), topped with spinach, sprouts, avocado, red onion... They cooked it perfectly, it was very tender.

These were lamb burgers/sliders. Mixed inside the meat was chopped mint and some garlic. They were cooked over a charcoal BBQ instead of the gas grill. Then topped with feta, rosemary and more mint, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The marble rye bread was brushed with olive oil and lemon zest and broiled. Again - cooked perfectly and so many fresh flavors.

This was one of my husbands burgers -- inspired by a Cricket Burger he had on his trip to Denver, CO recently. It was a half pound burger of lean ground beef, seasoned with tapatio sauce, salt & pepper. Then topped with (gulp) cream cheese and fresh diced jalapenos! The spicy hot was cooled by the creamy cream cheese... good job babe!

ok, this is the other burger entry by my husband - inspired by our favorite appetizer at our favorite family restaurant, Outback Steak House.
Again, a half pound burger made with lean ground beef seasoned the same way. Then topped with (drum roll, please!), CHEESE FRIES!! French fries fried to golden perfection (by me), then smoked cheddar and crumbled bacon were piled on top. He popped them under the broiler to melt the cheese a bit... ooohhh -- heart attack on a plate, but so good!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Carrot Coriander Soup

This one comes from my friend Gretchen Buegge -- I knew her in San Diego and now she and her family live in Yakima, Washington...


3 1/2 cups of carrots (peeled and cut into chunks)

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

3 Tbsp butter

1 onion, chopped

1 stick of celery (sliced), plus 2-3 pale leafy celery tops

2 small potatoes, peeled and sliced

4 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken)

3 tsp ground coriander

1 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander (also known as cilantro)

3/4 cup of milk

salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Peel and chop carrots. Heat the oil and 2 Tbsp of butter in a large saucepan. Saute onion over gentle heat for 3-4 minutes, until slightly softened. Do not allow to brown.

2.) Slice the celery and chop the potatoes. Add them to the onions and cook for a few minutes, then add the carrots. Continue to cook over a gentle heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring and then cover.

3.) Reduce the heat even further and sweat vegetables for about 10 minutes. Shake the pan or stir occasionally so the vegetables do not stick to the bottom of the pan.

4.) Add the stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Half cover the pan and simmer for a further 8-10 minutes, until the carrots and potatoes are tender.

5.) Remove 6-8 tiny celery leaves for garnish and finely chop the remaining celery tops. Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan and saute the ground coriander for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.

6.) Reduce the heat and add the chopped celery tops and fresh coriander and saute for about 1 minute - set aside.

7.) Process the soup in a food processor or blender and pour into a clean saucepan. Sitr in the milk and coriander mixture. Season, heat gently, taste and adjust seasoning. Serve the soup garnished with the reserved celery leaves.

*** also tastes good garnished with a bit of sour cream, cheese or hot pepper sauce.

I got this recipe from "The Complete Vegetarian" cookbook. I tweaked it just a tad. :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

PW's Corn Chowder with Chili's

I made Pioneer Woman's Corn Chowder with Chili's for dinner tonight. It was so good! She is such a fabulous cook! I have loved every recipe I have ever tried. Which is a lot. This was great for a nice Fall meal. I served it with a baby green salad with a honey vinaigrette, and crusty sourdough bread. Delicious! You can find the recipe HERE

Menu #51

Monday: Caramelized Onion & Proscuitto Pizza

Green Salad

Tuesday: Chili


Wednesday: Pasta w/ Gorgonzola & Beef Tenderloin


Thursday: Hamburgers

(with smoked cheddar, bacon & jalapeno's)

Baked Beans

Friday: Ravioli w/ Browned Butter, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, & a vegetable

Garlic Bread

Saturday: Mom's out of town!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Menu #50

Monday: Chicken, Brie, & Fig Panini

Corn Salad (corn, bacon, blue cheese, grape tomatoes)

Tuesday: Caramelized Onion & Proscuitto Pizza

Green Salad

Wednesday: Lasagna

Garlic Bread

Thursday: Roast Beef

Carrots & Potatoes

Friday: Spaghetti with Meatballs & Kielbasa Sausage

Green Salad

Garlic Bread

Saturday: Hamburgers

(with smoked cheddar, bacon & jalapeno's)

Baked Beans

Friday, October 1, 2010

Recipe Revisited

Fall is my favorite season. I love the cool air, the smells, the colors...
I made these today and thought we should revisit this yummy recipe to celebrate Fall
Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting