Monday, September 29, 2008

Menu Mondays

Got in late last night, and after a fast trip to the grocery store, here's what we've got:

Monday: Dave's parents bringing dinner and cake for his birthday
Tuesday: French Dip Beef Sandwiches and ???
Wednesday: Spaghetti
Thursday: Marinated chicken over fresh green salad; homemade ranch dressing
Friday: French dip leftovers

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sweet Corn and Honey Muffins

Last "catch up" post from last week -- and this one will be posting while I'm on my way back to my hometown for the weekend!

No fancy stories, no funny quirks, just a darn good corn muffin recipe. Thank you, Food Blogga, for this deliciousness.

Sweet Corn and Honey Muffins
Makes 12 regular-sized muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup medium coarse stone-ground cornmeal
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup buttermilk (I used a combo of regular milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup fresh corn kernels (I omitted -- fresh corn is becoming out of season here)
- Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees Farenheit
- Spray a 12-mold regular size muffin pan with cooking spray
- In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
- In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, butter, buttermilk, eggs and honey
- Add to the flour mixture and stir quickly until well combined
- Fold in corn kernels
- Spoon the batter evenly into the 12 muffin tins
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until tops are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean
- Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing muffins from the tin and placing on the rack to cool (or just eat them after the 5 minutes -- like we did!!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Everybody's got a chili recipe. And they range in type and texture and heat.

I respect that.

Chili is like homemade macaroni and cheese -- everyone has a recipe, and everyone thinks theirs is the best.

I prefer my chili meaty (either quality ground beef or ground turkey), and I prefer mono-bean....I don't like chili that adds a variety of beans to it. I also don't believe other vegetables, fruits, or other miscellaneous items belong in chili. Nor do I like chili that is a "See how spicey of a food I can eat" contest. For me, it's meat, beans (dark red kidney, preferably), tomato sauce and spices. Nothing else.

But this post isn't about MY chili recipe, so much, as it is in the variety of ways we eat chili.

1. My first way -- the way I grew up eating chili -- was just chili-in-a-bowl, served with saltine crackers, and a little cheese sprinkled on top. I ate it this way for 18 years.

2. Sometime in college I experienced cornbread for the first time, and was smitten. I started serving my bowls of chili with cornbread muffins rather than saltines.
3. College also provided me with the delicious, yet fattening....chili on chips. Mmmmmmmmm...

4. Then I met my husband, and his family ate chili served over rice (white or brown -- your choice), with cheese and sour cream on top.

5. Once I moved in with my husband (then boyfriend and soon-to-be fiance), we started experimenting with putting the rice/chili/cheese/sour cream mixture into tortillas and rolling them up like burritos. DELICIOUS.

6. More recently, my husband and I got a little bored with our "Chili-ritos" and this last time we served it Loosely-Cincinatti-Style --- chili served over pasta, with cheese and sour cream. I say this is loosely cincinatti style because I don't mash my chili into a fine pulp like Cincinatti-ians do.

Do you eat chili another unique way? Please share! I'm always looking for new ways to serve chili!

And just in case you were curious anyway -- my plain, simple, and absolutely adored, chili recipe:


1 lb ground beef or turkey (get the good lean stuff, kids. It keeps your chili from being greasy)
2 8-oz. cans of tomato sauce
1 15-oz. (I think?) can of dark red kidney beans, undrained/unrinsed
1 packet McCormick's Original Chili Seasoning (I know. You're disappointed and feel betrayed, because I buy a packaged spice mix. But ya know what? It's so darn convienent, I don't much care. When I'm out of it, I've also been known to just add 3/4 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cumin,salt, and pepper, and it's been just as good)

(This is so easy you might cry)
- Brown meat. Drain any excess fat (especially if you didn't listen to me and you bought cheap meat)
- Mix the meat, spices, tomato sauce, and the can of kidney beans (juice and all) in your pan, and simmer your chili for a minimum of 20 minutes (it'll sit there on simmer nearly as long as you need it to).
-Serve however you please!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chicken, Rice, and Black Bean Salad

I am -- ashamedly -- a member of the Lean Cuisine lunches club. For some reason, my biggest temptation to overeat is lunchtime, and those darn handy little meals prevent me from doing it!

Every once in awhile, I feel guilty about eating all the nastiness in those meals, and I make myself something at home. It's always tasty -- but unfortunately, the frozen meals continue to provide me with more variety than I can afford to provide myself during the week for lunches!

This salad is delicious and it's a total meal in one package. I'm labelling it Mexican, but like Liz before isn't really mexican, per se. It's just darn tasty!
Chicken, Rice, and Black Bean Salad
1 cup brown (or white) rice
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked with olive oil, kosher salt, and Adobo Seasoning, cooled and diced (I used 3 bone-in chicken breasts that I had in the freezer, and just removed the skins)
1 can (15 1/2 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
2-4 on-the-vine tomatoes, seeded and diced
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno chili, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the rice according to package instructions. Cool completely.
- Place cooled rice in a large bowl; add chicken, beans, tomatoes, scallions, jalapeno, vinegar, oil, and cumin.
- Season with salt and pepper; toss to combine
- Serve immediately, or refridgerate, covered, up to 1 day (I kept mine refridgerated for about 3 days..and it was admittedly not holding up so well by that 3rd day!)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Menu Monday

No-frills action again this week. All weekend was spent working on the new house, so a serious lack of cooking has occurred.

This upcoming weekend we're headed back to my hometown to attend a wedding, so there won't be much next weekend, either!

Monday: Steak, potatoes, broccoli (seems we've been eating this an awful lot lately...)
Tuesday: Crockpot chicken with spices, potatoes, carrots and onions
Wednesday: Spaghetti with salad and homemade ranch dressing
Thursday: Chicken leftovers -- maybe chicken noodle soup??
Friday: On the road for the big trek back home!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Quick Cinnamon Roll Muffins

When I saw this recipe over at Joy the Baker I got excited -- quick cinnamon rolls?! In muffin form?!


These were tasty, but unfortunately, I have to admit they're not as good as a real cinnamon roll. At least not in my opinion.

Still a very tasty muffin, though! Because of the yeast, these are a much denser and more bread-like muffin -- they're not light and fluffy. The consistency of the batter also made it hard for me to swirl the cinnamon mixture in. It would probably taste more "correct" if I'd taken the time to figure out a way to mix that cinnamon mixture evenly throughout the dough.

Quick Cinnamon Roll Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp active dry or rapid rise yeast
2/3 cup warm milk (100-110F; low fat is fine)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg

3 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cardamom (I omitted)

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp milk or cream

- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt
- Dissolve the yeast in a measuring cup filled with the warm milk, then stir the milk mixture, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and egg into the flour mixture
- Mix well until very smooth
- Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes (Joy's instructions mention swapping it to a "prepared pan" but her instructions don't include anything more about it. I left it in the bowl and it was fine)
- While the dough rests, mix together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a small bowl using a form until all the butter has been incorporated into the sugar and mixture is crumbly
- Divide the batter between 12 greased muffin cups
- Sprinkle the sugar/butter/spices mixture evenly on top of the rested dough and press the mixture down into the dough with your fingertips (or swirl in with a spatula)
- Place pan into a cold oven, then set the oven temperature to 350 degrees F
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until bread is lightly browned at the edges and the center of the bread springs back when lightly pressed. Some of the sugar mixture on top may still be bubbling
- Cool for at least 30 minutes before whisking the powdered sugar and milk together to form an icing and drizzling it onto the muffins
- Serve warm. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave

Edit: I've entered this recipe in Joelen's Culinary Adventures blog event -- Marvelous Muffins!

E for Excellent!

Sarah over at A Taste of Home Cooking award me with my very first blog award!


I've passed the award onto a few I read regularly and enjoy immensely...

My Sweet Life

Love Sweet Love

Two Novice Chefs, One Tiny Kitchen

Your Home Based Mom

Kitchen Scrapbook

Now it's your turn to spread the love. Please find at least 10 more blogs of any kind which you deem to be excellent (but if you only know of a few, that's OK too). Post about the blogs you picked, linking back to me and to them. Once you’ve posted, return here to let me know your post is up, and of course let your 10 award winners know too.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Menu Mondays

Pretty dull week again -- buying a house really cuts into one's cooking time!

Sunday: Cinnamon-roll muffins and Chicken, Rice and Black-Bean Salad (for work lunches)
Monday: Steak (we didn't eat it last week), broccoli, and baked potatoes
Tuesday: Chili with Rice and Tortillas
Wednesday: Spaghetti
Thursday: Leftover chili
Friday: Ballpark food -- baseball game

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe has made the rounds on many of the blogs -- and with good reason! It's a very delicious, chewy, chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Unfortunately, I was just a tad disappointed. It had all of the qualities I was looking for in a chewy chocolate chip cookie..but it just didn't quite DO it for me.

Does anyone else have an amazing chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe out there for me to try??

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Source: Baking Illustrated, by way of Sugar and Spice)

*Recipe makes 18 large cookies

The key to these cookies are the melted butter and extra egg yolk, which allows them to stay chewy. Oversized baking sheets (commercial size) will allow you to get all of the cookies in the oven at the same time. But if you only have standard sized cookie sheets you'll want to bake them in batches. It is also important to let these cookies cool on the baking sheets.

2 cups plus 2 tablspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 - 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

- Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower-middle positions and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray them with nonstick cooking spray
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside
- Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until blended
- Beat in the whole egg, egg yolk and vanilla until combined
- Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined
- Stir in the chips to taste
- Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough's uneven surface
- Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surfaces up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart
Bake until cookies are light golden brown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, about 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time
- Cool the cookies on the sheets, then remove cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a spatula.

New Kitchen!!

DH and I are in the process of buying our first home!
And it has a kitchen bigger than the galley I cook in now!
It's a 3 bedroom 1.5 bath rancher that hasn't been updated since it was built in 1962 -- needless to say, I've got a lot of interior work to do.

We're hoping to close on it the middle of October, and be moved in before November 1st.

That means my blog may be a little neglected in the coming weeks -- just FYI!

Fiesta Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas

First off, I love Picky Palate. Her stuff is so easy and delicious! And she takes such pretty pictures. Actually, her pretty pictures will come into play again here shortly.

I also loooooooove Mexican. Any form. My poor husband, who LIKES Mexican, often tells me I need to cool it a little on the Mexican menu items. But the fantastic pictures of enchiladas (see?! She even takes good pictures of enchiladas! It's amazing!) convinced my husband it was a good dinner to try...Mexican or not.

Now, here's the dilemma. I do not take pretty pictures. But I generally still try. I also apparently ended up with slightly stale, or perhaps just completely-and-totally-difficult, these-dang-things-are-too-small-to-roll corn tortillas (there was a lot of breakage action and selective swearing on my part). See, I'd never used corn at home, always flour. So I grabbed the first corn tortillas I saw...and that was a mistake. enchiladas do you say...totally NOT as pretty as Picky Palate. So bad, in fact, that I decided while making them there was no way I was getting good pictures.

So I have no pictures. But this IS a good recipe (and yes, it has cream of chicken in it). And if you want to see how pretty it can be, you can go here.

Fiesta Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas
(Picky Palate)

*This made 2 9"x13" pans full of enchiladas for me...or enough to feed my husband and I for 2 dinners, and a variety of lunches*

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 japaleno, minced (I removed seeds and ribs)
3 fresh cloves of garlic, minced (I used pre minced. I love that stuff)
10 oz. bag baby spinach leaves, chopped
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I used 3 HUGE bone-in breasts that I had in the freezer)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt (I used garlic powder since we added salt above)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin (DH felt this was a bit much cumin. I may cut back next time)
1-10 oz can Mild Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles

1 lb (large family size can) cream of chicken soup
1 cup red enchilada sauce
8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup milk
pinch of salt

Corn tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place oil in a large skillet or dutch oven and heat over medium heat
- Add onion and jalapeno and saute until softened, about 5 minutes
- Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute
- Add chopped spinach and cook until wilted down
- Stir in chicken, salt, pepper, garlic salt, cumin and diced tomatoes
- Reduce heat to low and simmer

- Place cream of chicken soup, enchilada sauce, sour cream, milk and salt into a large saucepan over medium heat
- Stir until warmed through

- Ladle a small amount of sauce into the bottom of a large 9" x 13" pan (I used 2 that size) -- just enough to cover the bottom
- Place a spoonful of chicken mixture inside of the corn tortillas, roll up and place seam side down in the pan
- Fill tortillas until chicken filling is used up
- Top evenly with sauce from the saucepan and shredded cheese

- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Wanna Win A Cute Apron?

Then check out Pennies on a Platter!

This is an adorable apron she's giving away -- and even if you don't win -- check out Everyday Chic to buy one (or two, or three) of your own!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Menu Monday

Nothing glamorous this week...

Saturday: Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies & Soft Pretzels (for football on Sunday)
Sunday: Probably nada -- it's football!!
Monday: Spaghetti or ravioli for my dental-work DH
Tuesday: Fiesta Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas
Wednesday: Steak, steamed broccoli, baked potato
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: I'm on my own all weekend -- DH in WV for a rafting trip! Give me suggestions to cook! (Something your husband/boyfriend won't eat is probably going to be the same in my house!)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Banana Coconut Muffins

Coconut is one of those things that I go in and out of enjoying.

I also tend to forget it exists until it pops up again on my radar.

So when I saw the recipe for Banana Coconut Muffins (aka, Five Kinds of Awesome) over at the No Slivers Here blog, I figured it was time to re-incorporate coconut into my cooking.

And these.are.that.good.

I could've eaten them all as soon as they came out of the oven! YUM!

I swear, a little dollop of whipped cream on top, and these bad boys would taste like pie!

Banana Coconut Muffins

Note: The recipe says it makes 8, 1/2" deep muffins. But I never buy specialty sized muffins tins, so I used my standard 12-muffin tin. I got 10 muffins.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (3/4 cup)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line muffin cups with liners.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
- Whisk together bananas, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and 1/2 cup coconut in a large bowl until combined well, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened.
- Divide batter among lined muffin cups and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup coconut.
- Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 25 minutes.
- Transfer muffins to a rack and cool slightly.

Edit: I've entered this recipe in Joelen's Culinary Adventures blog event -- Marvelous Muffins!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Skillet Beef Stroganoff

This recipe is amazing. It's's THAT GOOD. I originally saw it over at A Taste of Home Cooking -- and when she made it in back-to-back weeks, I knew it had to be good!

And it definately lived up to the hype. I could've eaten the whole skillet full, it was THAT good. In fact, now we're having it back-to-back weeks!

I do reccommend sucking it up and buying the brandy for the recipe, though. I think it adds a nice depth of flavor (and I usually don't say things like that!). I live in Pennsylvania, which means I have to go to a specific store to buy if I can do it, so can you! (And it only cost me $5)

I also used the ground beef, rather than steak (Same reason -- I don't like steak chunks in my pasta dishes) -- and DH and I really enjoyed it that way. Using the ground beef also makes this about a 30-minute meal, which makes it perfect for weeknights.

Finally, I added some frozen peas/carrots mixture to my plate of stroganoff. I hate mushrooms, but added them for DH. So I picked them out of mine -- but wanted some kind of veggie included!

Skillet Beef Stroganoff
(America's Test Kitchen Easy Skillet Suppers, by way of A Taste of Home Cooking)

1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak tips, pounded and cut thin across the grain (I used ground beef)
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 ounces white mushrooms, sliced thin
1 onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/3 cup brandy
1/3 pound wide egg noodles (3 cups)
2/3 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat)
2 teaspoons lemon juice

- Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook half of beef until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to medium bowl and repeat with 1 tablespoon more oil and remaining beef. (I browned my ground beef and transferred it to a bowl)

- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in now-empty skillet until shimmering. Cook mushrooms, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until liquid from mushrooms has evaporated, about 8 minutes.

- Stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds, then add both broths and the brandy, and return beef and accumulated juices to pan. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until beef is tender, 30 to 35 minutes. (Once I added the ground beef I continued right on to the next step).

- Stir noodles into beef mixture, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in sour cream and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Menu Mondays

Nothing fancy this week, DH and I have both has sinus infections and quite a nasty cold bug for the last 2 weeks...we need some re-coup time.

Sunday: Banana Coconut Muffins
Monday: Steak, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli
Tuesday: Homemade chicken noodle soup, garlic cheddar biscuits
Wednesday: Beef Stroganoff (it was so good last week we're doing it again!)
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Spaghetti and cheesy garlic bread