Monday, March 30, 2009

Menu Mondays

We had some meat in the freezer, so we'll be using that this week...only 1 new recipe.

Sunday: Hopefully making some muffins to take into work tomorrow a.m...but only if there's time
Monday: steak, pasta, broccoli
Tuesday: pulled pork sandwiches, tater tots...maybe some coleslaw?
Wednesday: garlic shrimp pasta (we're making this one up as we go along, kids)
Thursday: leftover pulled pork
Friday: homemade chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles

Sunday, March 29, 2009

WC Spring Exchange!

Thank you, thank you, thank you Sara! I participated in the WC Spring Exchange, where foodies sign up to exchange 'care packages' with each other. It's conducted through Elfster, which means your assigned person can ask you questions and find out information about you anonymously, and you don't know who was assigned to send you a gift until you receive it!

Sara sent me an AWESOME care package:
- A ton of colorful, beautiful sprinkle options (I see cupcakes in my future so I can play with these!!)
- A cookbook from Washington state (I want to start collecting home-style cookbooks from all over the country...Sara sent me my first one from afar!)
- A super-handy packet of RealSimple recipe cards -- I can't wait to try some of them!
- And finally, a set of spatulas -- I don't know about you, but I seem to go through spatulas like crazy.

Thank you again Sara!

Saucy Baked Chicken

This recipe was quite tasty -- we enjoyed it immensely served over pasta tossed with olive oil.

We'll make this one again!
Saucy Baked Chicken

4-6 chicken cutlets (I used 3 chicken breasts I had left in the freezer)
1 medium onion, sliced
8 ounces sliced white mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 TBSP all purpose flour
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 and 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

- Preheat oven to 450.Pour oil into a casserole dish.
- Add chicken, onion and mushrooms, turning to coat with oil.
- Bake 5 minutes; turn chicken over and stir vegetables.
- Bake an additional 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk flour into chicken broth.
- Add vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper, stirring well.
- When chicken has cooked for 10 minutes, add broth mixture to casserole dish, cover with foil and bake 10 minutes.
- Remove foil; stir vegetables and bake, uncovered, until sauce bubbles and is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Heat broiler. Turn chicken over. Place dish 6 inches from heat and broil until chicken just starts to turn golden, about 3-5 minutes.
- Serve immediately.

Cafe Rio Pork

*Ignore the pot it's in -- I had DH remove it from the crockpot early, and was just heating it up on the stovetop!

I've never been to Utah. I'd never even heard of Cafe Rio until I started reading LeighAnne's blog.

But she talked about how delicious their food was so often, that when she finally posted a recipe for the pork they serve at the restaurant, I decided I had to try it (and the fact that it was a crockpot meal with only 3 ingredients didn't hurt either!)

This pork is the most amazing and delicious pork I think I've ever eaten. It's good plain, on salads, in quesedillas, in tacos, in burritos, on nachos -- just about anything you can think of.

This pork is THAT good.

Now, admittedly, I'm not really a pork-in-my-mexican-food kind of girl. I know its relatively common in REAL mexican, but I tend to stick to chicken and beef in my kind.

No longer. Now, it's this pork or nothing!

I honestly can't wait to make it again!!
Cafe Rio Pork
1-2 lb. pork tenderloin (I used just a standard pork roast. Really, it doesn't matter what you use -- the crockpot will make the meat juicy and tender anyway)
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups fresh salsa
- Mix sugar and salsa, pour over pork.
- Cook in crock pot for 8 hrs. on low.
- When done shred with two forks and return to juice in crock pot and allow liquid to absorb.
- Serve with tortillas and all the fixins!

Baked Corn Dogs

I thought these were a bit of a let-down, but I'm posting them anyway because I think they have potential -- just with a different corn bread covering.

I think I'd use the cornbread recipe I love, rather than this one. You'll probably have to lessen the amount of liquid in the cornbread recipe so it sticks to the hot dogs, but I found the recipe below to be a bit bland for my tastes.

It's still a fun idea, and I'd like to try making them again!

Baked Corn Dogs
(Laura's Home Cookin' - adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting the hot dogs)
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2/3 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 precooked turkey hot dogs (I used the real deal, old fashioned hot dogs in casing. mmm)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Spray a cooking sheet with cooking spray, set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Make a hole in the center and then add milk, eggs, and oil. Mix well.
- Dust hot dogs with flour.
- Coat hot dogs with corn meal mixture (it helps to do this with popsicle sticks). Bake until golden, 20 minutes.
- Serve with ketchup if desired.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rain-X Giveaway Winner!

The winner for my Rain-X giveaway is...


Since you didn't leave contact information on my blog, please email me ASAP at

The contest ends Friday, so I'll need your mailing address and the year, make, and model of the vehicle you want to put the blades on before then!

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:4
Timestamp: 2009-03-26 01:34:44 UTC

Monday, March 23, 2009

Menu Mondays

Another week with new menu items for us -- been doing well with this, lately!

I'm hoping to get my past blog updates posted this weekend...we'll see.

Sunday: making kuldunai (for FIL's birthday), baked corn dogs and southwestern potatoes for dinner

Monday: steak, broccoli, and pasta as usual i think...

Tuesday: cafe rio pork tacos with all the fixin's

Wednesday: kuldunai for FIL's birthday

Thursday: cafe rio pork leftovers...either more taco's, or, over salad. DH's choice

Friday: saucy chicken with pasta and veggies

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Parmesan Ranch Chicken

This was tasty, but I didn't feel like the ranch or parmesan flavors really came through -- it tasted mostly like butter and cornflakes (which, by the way, is a HEAVENLY combination).

I only had the parm in the green can -- so I'm thinking next time I'll try this with more ranch mix, and fresh parmesan.

Even if it didn't taste exactly like I thought it would, it was still incredibly tasty and the chicken was VERY juicy.

I served it with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Even made great leftovers!

Parmesan Ranch Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup crushed corn flakes
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp dry ranch dressing mix
2-3 Tbsp melted butter

- Rinse chicken breasts and set aside.
- Combine corn flakes, cheese, and dressing mix in a shallow container.
- Dip chicken in butter, then in crumb mixture.
- Place on greased cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or till juices run clear.

Crockpot Orange-Apricot Pork Chops

I got this recipe from A Year of Crockpotting -- I'm always looking for crockpot meals we actually like, because they're super-convienent when DH or I have an evening work meeting or a busy schedule.
Unfortunately, I think I find more duds than recipes I like ;(
This recipe isn't a dud, per se, which is why I'm still writing about it. If you really like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, you'll probably like this dish.

I, on the other hand, continually forget that I HATE cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, unless apple cider is involved.

Alas, we weren't big fans of this -- but I still think you should try it if you like the flavors above.

Crockpot Orange-Apricot Pork Chops

6 pork chops (I used 4 large boneless ones)
1 cup apricot jam
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I cut this down to 1/4 -- felt 1/2 was too much)
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges (and juice!)

- Put pork chops into your crockpot.
- In a small bowl, combine jam, brown sugar, and spices.
- Spoon over pork chops.
- Add the entire can of mandarin oranges evenly over the top.
- Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, or on high for about 4.
- Serve with rice to soak up the yummy juice.

Chicken DaVinci

I nabbed this recipe from my friend Chera -- she blogs, but since it's sort of a family blog, I won't link it here for her privacy.

This was tasty -- very much like a sausage sandwich with peppers and onions...except over pasta. with chicken. :-)

Nice and quick as well!

Chicken DaVinci
16 oz. pasta, cooked according to directions.
Drain and toss in bowl with 2 T. olive oil.

1 lb. Chicken, cubed
3 italian sausage links, cut into 1/2" pieces (I assume hot or sweet is fine here...)
1 red onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
10-12 mushrooms, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced

- Saute chicken and sausage in 2 T. olive oil for 5 minutes.
- Remove from pan, drain drippings.
- Add a little more oil and saute veggies.
- Add garlic when veggies are almost done.
- Add chicken and sausage back to pan to mingle flavors.
- Serve with noodles and season with salt, pepper, and Parmesan and/or Romano cheese.
- Enjoy!

(Chera says don't forgo the Parmesan cheese -- it really makes the dish (as evidenced by this picture I took of DH's plate after he added half a container of parm to it.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Different Giveaway -- NonFood

When I signed up for myblogspark, I told the ladies I was interested in other things besides food. I mean, I love food, but my world doesn't COMPLETELY revolve around it or I'd be losing the battle at the gym every day.

In addition to food, I'm a bit of a car nut. I love cars, reading about them, looking at them, driving them. I stubbornly purchased another coupe (with a powerful engine) instead of buying something "practical" when my first car up and died on me. (It should probably be mentioned that my first car was a sports car too -- I sense a theme!)

In addition to cars in general, I'm a bit of a fiend for car products.

Rejex, for example, is god's gift to a beautiful car -- and with proper application, the stuff lasts SIX MONTHS! It's awesome, and it makes your car look like you've spent every single day working on it.

This giveaway, though, is focused around Rain-X. Rain-X makes a variety of products that are supposed to assist you in seeing better during precipitation -- be it rain, snow, sleet, or just the slap of that nasty brown gunk off the 18-wheeler in front of you.

Most of their products are sprays or treatments that you put on the glass -- and they all work. They help the moisture bead differently, so your wipers can whisk it away more efficiently.

It's really awesome stuff.

myblogspark provided me with a free set of Rain-X's new windshield wipers, and two of their glass care products (a pre-treatment, and then the customary Rain-X windshield cleaner/protectorant).

Admittedly, I was skeptical. These wiper blades are pricey to purchase. But come on -- they're wiper blades!

Oh, was I wrong. They're NOT just wiper blades. They're some kind of magical wiper-blade-from-the-future that whisks EVERY. OUNCE. of moisture out of my way, while NEVER SMEARING.

It's like having someone outside constantly wiping your windshield clean -- it's that awesome.

So even though you probably read this blog for food -- seriously, enter the contest. Even if you don't give a rat's butt about the quality of your windshield wipers, enter the contest.

Give them to your dad. Give them to your husband.

Heck, you could give them as a gift to any male you know and they'd most likely be thrilled.

But I secretly hope you keep them for yourself. :-) Express the car geek inside that you never knew you had!

Contest Details

Contest will end at 8:00 p.m. on March 25th, 2009. Winner will be chosen by Random Integer Generator.

Contest winnings include:

  • 1 set of Rain-X windshield wipers

  • 1 bottle of 2-in-1 Rain-X windshield cleaner and rain repellent

  • 1 bottle of Rain-X Extreme Clean - which helps remove residue, build-up, and road grime from your glass and headlights

If you're my winner, you must respond to me by March 26th with your car's year, make, and model (this is so you receive the wipers that fit the car you want to put them if you are giving them away, make sure you give the right car!)

To enter, just leave me a comment...any comment, but if you need a topic, leave me a comment about something you enjoy that others would find surprising (like my love of cars).

Have fun!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Menu Monday and Upcomings...

Whew! I feel like I've been in a whirlwind here lately! Between work, the gym, and physical therapy for a running injury, I'm lucky to eat dinner, let alone make anything new for it!

Somehow, we're still trying new recipes, though. We've had a few delicious ones, and a few duds...that's generally how it goes in our house.

I've got some posts from previous week's recipes to post yet, as well as a non-food (Rain-X Windshield wipers) giveaway to post...if I could only find the time. I know I'm mostly a food blog, but I loves me some car-accessories as well -- thus the wipers. And let me tell you --- they're freaking amazing.

Sunday: irish cream brownies for our St. Patrick's Day feast at work on Tuesday

Monday: steak, steamed broccoli, pasta

Tuesday: ranch parmesan chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans

Wednesday: orange-apricot pork chops (crockpot meal), rice, corn

Thursday: leftover ranch parm chicken

Friday: leftover orange-apricot pork chops

Monday, March 9, 2009

Menu Mondays

Kind of a fun week this week...

Sunday: homemade bread for DH lunches this week, chocolate caramel cookies

Monday: steak, steamed broccoli, rice pilaf

Tuesday: crescent dogs (hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls), baked beans, tater tots (I dunno -- DH wanted it!)

Wednesday: Chicken Davinci

Thursday: Crescent dogs again

Friday: Chicken Davinci leftovers/ or/ my dad coming to visit!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Crockpot Ranch Pork Chops

Apologies for no pictures! It isn't a particularly photogenic,

These were actually really delicious. However, definately NOT low fat. I think you could tweak the recipe, though, to make it a little more figure friendly...

We'll be making these again! It's a great recipe when you've got that lonely set of pork chops in the fridge or freezer and can't figure out what to do with them.

My only comments are that a)you really don't NEED the full 8 ounces of cream cheese. My leftover 4 oz. was fine. and b) Even with thinning out the sauce before I cooked it, I found myself adding a little more milk at the end of cooking, because I thought the sauce was still a little thick.

Crockpot Ranch Pork Chops

(A mixture of Picky Palate and La Fuji Mama's recipes)

1 can Cream of Chicken soup

3-8 ounces of cream cheese (this depends on your preference. I had 4 oz. left from a previous recipe, so I just added that instead of the full 8 oz)

1 packet (0.4-oz.) of Ranch dressing mix

4 Tbsp. butter

4-5 pork chops


- Put butter and cream cheese in a bowl, and microwave for 1-2 minutes to soften the cream cheese and melt the butter

- Add cream of chicken soup and Ranch dressing mix and mix until ingredients are somewhat blended together (it's okay if it's a bit chunky)

- At this point if you desire a thinner sauce, add 1/2 cup of milk and mix (I did this because I wanted more of a gravy consistency)

- Place pork chops in bottom of crockpot and pour mixture over the top

- Cook, covered, on high for 5 to 6 hours (or on low for 7 to 8 hours), until the meat is tender and easily pulls away from the bone or breaks apart

- (The edges may start to get very brown towards the end of cooking time--don't worry, that's normal!)

- Serve over rice.

Southwestern Potatoes

These were amazingly delicious! And so easy! We actually had them 3 times this week, we liked them so much LOL

They're definately being added to the "side dish" rotation, since I always have the ingredients on hand.

Southwestern Potatoes
package bacon bits (real ones not "bacon flavored") -- I omitted these
2 unpeeled large potatoes, scrubbed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup barbeque sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
1/2 cup sour cream (optional, for dipping) -- I omitted

- Line 2 large baking sheets with foil, and spray lightly with cooking spray (Melissa doesn't reccommend this, but the first time my potatoes stuck to the foil. the cooking spray helped)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Farenheit
- Cut potatoes into 1/4" slices
- Toss the potatoes, olive oil, garlic salt, and pepper in a large ziplock bag to coat the potatoes
- Arrange potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheets and bake until slightly browned (about 15-20 minutes)
- Brush with barbeque sauce, then top with the shredded cheddar cheese (and bacon bits if you use them)
- Bake until the cheese melts, about 3-5 minutes more
- Top or dip with sour cream if desired

Irish Cream Brownies

These are delicious (assuming you like irish cream!)!
I made them as a test batch for a St Patty's day luncheon we're having at work -- wanted to make sure they were, err, "suitable" for work, while still containing booze!

They most certainly are -- delicious!
Irish Cream Brownies

For the cream cheese swirl:
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream

For the Brownies:
6 ounces sweet baking chocolate (I used German sweet, you can use semisweet), chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the Glaze:
4 ounces sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Cream
milk to thin out (amount will vary)

- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Lightly butter 8-inch square nonstick baking pan
- Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in medium bowl until light and fluffy
- Gradually add sugar and beat until well blended
- Beat in egg, Mix in flour, Irish Cream, and vanilla. Set mixture aside
-Stir baking chocolate and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth, Cool slightly
- Using electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in large bowl until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes
- Mix in flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in chocolate mixture and extracts. Stir in chocolate chips.
- Spread half of chocolate batter (about 1 1/4 cups) in prepared pan
- Using rubber spatula, spread cream cheese mixture over chocolate batter
- Spoon remaining chocolate batter over top of cream cheese mixture
- Using tip of knife, gently swirl through batter, forming marble design.
- Bake brownies until tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes
- Make glaze: Combine powdered sugar and Irish cream. If too thick thin out with milk
- While still warm brush (using a pastry brush) glaze over brownies
- Let sit for 15 minutes
- Cut into squares


Have you ever heard of them? Can you even say it?
Fastnachts (fost-knots) are a huuuuuuuuge deal where I'm living now. York and Lancaster areas of Pennsylvania (south-central in the state) have a large population of "Pennsylvania Dutch" and those folks love these little doughnuts, called fastnachts.

The fastnacht is basically a fatty doughnut (read: carbohydrates from heaven) that is served on "Fastnacht Day" -- the Tuesday before Lent begins (also known as Fat Tuesday for our N'Orleans folks!). Wikipedia tells me they were originally created to use up all the lard, sugar, fat and butter before beginning Lent.

Seems like a pretty good deal to me!

There are only two places that really embrace the fastnacht -- Lancaster/York areas of Pennsylvania, and a town in Switzerland called Basel. Basel actually has a festival for the little buggers!
There are also different types of fastnachts - the german fastnacht is basically a yeast doughnut that can be filled with cream or jam, and then sprinkled with powdered sugar....but the Pennsylvania Dutch version is the best: a potato-dough, fried and dusted with powdered sugar.

Anyway -- now that you've been educated, I'm passing along a delicious recipe and some pictures. I didn't make these little wonders -- the mother of one of DH's high school friends makes THOUSANDS of these little lovlies every year on Fastnacht day, and she's always happy to share them with everyone!

Recipes vary greatly -- some fry in oil, some in lard, for example -- but here is an example that is very "Pennsylvania Dutch"


2 cups milk
1 cup mashed potatoes (no salt, milk, or butter added)
1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 stick margarine
1 packet rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
6-1/2 cups flour (divided, 2 cups + 4 1/2 cups)
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 can (3 pounds) Crisco® or similar vegetable shortening for frying

- Scald the milk
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the scalded milk with the mashed potatoes
- Add 1/2 cup sugar plus the margarine and mix with an electric mixer (If the mixture is still warm, cool to about room temperature before proceeding with next step)
- Dissolve the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in barely warm water
- Add to the potato mixture and mix well. Add 2 cups flour and mix again. Cover with a towel and let rise for 25 minutes
- Add the salt and beaten egg to the mixture
- Add 4-1/2 cups flour, stirring it into the mixture with a large spoon
- Turn onto a well floured board and knead for about 3 to 5 minutes
- Add a small amount of extra flour if necessary so the dough can be handled without sticking to your fingers
- Grease a large bowl and place the dough in the greased bowl, cover with a thin towel, and let rise in a warm, draft free place for about 2 hours or until it is at least double in size
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough 3/4" thick. You can use a doughnut cutter to cut the dough or cut as typical Fastnachts - Cut the dough into 3" to 4" wide strips, then cut the strips into 3" to 4" pieces
- To allow the center of Fastnacht to fry completely, cut a small slit in the center of each piece, using a sharp paring knife
- Arrange the pieces of dough, about 1-1/2" to 2" apart, on large wax paper lined trays
- Cover each tray with a thin towel. Place the trays in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the dough pieces have raised to about double in size
- Heat the shortening to 365ยบ. Deep fry until both sides are golden brown, turning one time.
- Drain on white paper towels. Cool completely before serving
- Store in a covered, airtight container. Makes about 20 to 24 Fastnachts, depending on size
- This recipe can be doubled with no change in preparation directions
- When cool, place in a ziplock bag with powdered sugar and shake to coat

Chocolate Caramel Cookies

These tasty little cookies will definately satisfy your chocolate-tooth!

Chocolate Caramel Cookies
30-36 cookies *I actually got 42*
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
30-36 chocolate-covered caramel candies (like Rolo's)
2 tablespoons sugar (for rolling)

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit
- In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your electric mixer) add sugar, brown sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla and mix until well blended
- Add flour, cocoa and baking soda and mix well
- Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes
- Roll dough into 1" balls and place 1 chocolate-covered caramel candy in the center of each dough ball, then form the dough ball around the majority of the candy
- Roll each dough ball in sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet
- Bake for 7-10 minutes
- Let cook on pan for 1 minute, then remove to a cooling rack

Monday, March 2, 2009

Menu Mondays

Some new recipes (at least for me) this week -- really focusing on quick meals this week, because DH and I have been so busy lately...I could really use an evening that I sit down to relax before 9:15 p.m.

Sunday: Test-run of Irish Cream Brownies in advance of a St. Patty's Day luncheon at work
Monday: steak, steamed broccoli, pasta -- our usual monday night. Hey...if it means DH cooks every monday, then so be it!
Tuesday: Chicken Souvlaki with Southwestern Potatoes, green beans
Wednesday: Crockpot Ranch Pork Chops (I looked at this and this and made up my own), veggies and rice
Thursday: chicken souvlaki leftovers
Friday: pork chop leftovers