Sunday, June 28, 2009

Nate's Alfredo Sauce

Nate made fettuccine alfredo with broccoli for Sunday dinner tonight. It was delicious! I need to let him cook more often!

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, cut in bits
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1-2 cups milk

In a large saucepan combine all four ingredients. Stir constantly until smooth. Add more milk if sauce is too thick.

Toss with pasta (and chicken and broccoli, if desired).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Caprese Salad

For anyone who hasn't had this delightful summer salad, give it a try if you want a refreshing side dish without turning on the stove. It's a super way to showcase your garden fresh tomatoes, as the flavors are subtle and will really be appreciated.

On a platter layer:
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella
2 lg. tomatoes

Slice them thin and arrange on plate as shown. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and fresh (or dried) Basil. Add a few drops of Balsamic vinegar if you like.
You're done, and you didn't even have to cook anything!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Homemade Manicotti

Crepe noodles:

▪ 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

▪ 1 cup milk

▪ 3 eggs

▪ 1/2 tsp salt

▪ 1 1/2 pounds ricotta cheese

▪ 1/4 cup grated Romano/Parmesan cheese

▪ 1 egg

▪ 1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley or 1 tsp dried parsley flakes

▪ 1 jar (28 oz) spaghetti sauce

▪ shredded Romano cheese, opt

Place flour in a bowl; whisk in milk, eggs and salt until smooth. Pour about 2 Tbsp onto a hot greased 8-in skillet; spread to a 5-in. circle. Cook over medium heat until set; do not brown or turn. Repeat with remaining batter, making 18 crepes. Stack crepes between waxed paper; set aside. For filling, combine cheeses, egg and parsley. Spoon 3-4 Tbsp down the center of each crepe; roll up. Pour half of the spaghetti sauce into an ungreased 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Place crepes, seam side down, over the sauce; pour remaining sauce over top. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 minutes longer or until heated through. Sprinkle with Romano cheese if desired. Yield: 6 servings.

*Recipe says to stack the crepes, but I just fill them as I go and put them straight in the pan. You may think, "Wow, I have to make every crepe?" to which I say I think it takes less time to make each crepe than to stuff ordinary manicotti. So, give it a try! These are so delicious. My picture doesn't do it justice (especially because I forgot to put the cheese on before taking it...)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tin Foil Dinner

We love to go camping as a family and have made this recipe on two trips already this year. You don't have to go camping to enjoy it, though. You can make it in your oven and the clean-up is easy!

2 Tbsp uncooked instant rice
1 bone-in chicken breast half
1/4 cup sliced carrot
2 onion slices, separated into rings
1/4 cup julienned green and sweet red pepper
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 to 3 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp butter

Place rice in the center of a piece of heavy-duty foil (about 14 in. square); top with chicken and vegetables. Combine the water, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce; pour over vegetables.

Dot with butter. Fold foil around the chicken and vegetables and seal tightly. Place in a baking pan. Bake at 350 for 65-75 minutes or until chicken juices run clear (more around 30 minutes for us in the fire, it will vary). Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape. Yield: 1 serving.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Key Lime Pie

A Father's Day Treat!This was pretty easy to make, as far as pies go, and soooooo tasty! The only real work is juicing 5 limes, but it's worth it. Do the crust yourself, it's really much better than the store-bought crumb crusts and doesn't take long. Since I don't happen to live in Florida, I didn't have access to fresh key limes and I just used regular limes I got from Costco. It seemed to turn out great so I don't really know what the difference would be.
I do know this will be a great summertime treat, tastes wonderful after being chilled in the fridge.

For the crust:
Pre-heat oven to 350º
Crush 1 1/4 cups Graham cracker crumbs from 9 (2 1/4 in. by 4 3/4 in.) crackers (a food processor is good for this.
2 TBs. Sugar
5 TBs. melted  butter

Combine well in a bowl, or altogether in your food processor, press into a pie pan and bake for 10 min. Remove from oven and cool.

For filling:
5 egg yolks
1 can sweetened condensed milk
5 limes, juiced (about 3/4 c. juice)
zest from 2 of the limes
Beat eggs and condensed milk in mixer till well combined. Add zest and juice, mix. It will thicken slightly.
Pour into crust, bake 15-20 min, till firm. Cool completely, then chill well.
Serve with whipped cream.

*hint: to make your limes easier to juice, roll them under your foot while stepping on them lightly, this breaks up the fruit inside and makes them softer to juice.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Oven Roasted Vegetables

Another delicious roasted vegetable recipe:

1 medium zucchini
1 medium summer squash
1 medium red bell pepper
1 medium yellow bell pepper
1 pound fresh asparagus
1 red onion
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 450 F. Cut all vegetables into bite-size pieces. Place in a large roasting pan. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper to mix and coat. Spread in a single layer in the pan. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender.

Roasted Vegetable & Orzo Salad

1 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
1 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 lb orzo (just over 1 cup, uncooked)

Dressing: **
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

To assemble:
3/4 lb feta, 1/2 inch diced
15 fresh basil leaves, shredded
4 scallions, minced
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 425 F. Toss eggplant, peppers, onion, and garlic with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula. Boil orzo in salted water 7-9 minutes. Drain and put in serving bowl. Add vegetables to orzo, scraping drippings from baking sheet into bowl. Dress and cool. Add feta, basil, nuts, and scallions.

** I recommend cutting the dressing recipe in half, though I am sure the Barefoot Contessa would disagree...

General Tso's Tofu

My husband doesn't generally like tofu, but we all enjoyed this recipe. The original recipe didn't end up with much sauce, so I changed it so there would be more to soak up the rice (changes are seen here).

General Tso's Tofu

30 min | 25 min prep


  • 1 (16 ounce) box firm tofu
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch (I didn't use that much)
  • vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 6 chopped green onions (I used Vandalia onions)
  • 2 tablespoon minced ginger (2 tsp powder)
  • 2 tablespoon minced garlic (I used about 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 1/3 cup vegetable stock (I used water plus some chicken bouillon)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • red pepper flakes (I left out)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry wine (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • steamed broccoli
  1. Drain, dry and cut tofu into one inch chunks-You can freeze the tofu the night before to get a more"chicken-like" texture, if desired.
  2. Mix egg with 3 Tbs of water.
  3. Dip tofu in mixture.
  4. Sprinkle cornstarch over tofu to completely cover.
  5. Heat oil in pan and fry tofu pieces until golden brown and set aside.
  6. Drain oil.
  7. Heat 3 Tbs vegetable oil in pan on medium heat and add onions, ginger and garlic, cook for about two minutes (be careful not to burn garlic).
  8. Add vegetable stock, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes and vinegar.
  9. Mix 4 Tbs of water and 2 Tbs cornstarch and pour into mixture, stirring well.
  10. Add fried tofu and coat evenly.
  11. Serve immediately with steamed broccoli over your choice of rice.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tractor Cake

My little Aaron had his first birthday party this week. I took Hailey's dump truck idea and modified it quite a bit. I wish I had taken step by step pictures like Hailey but I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants on this one, so here's the general idea.

1- I baked a medium sized bread pan and 2 mini bread pans. Cut the larger loaf in half and stack to make the cab and cut about 3 quarters of one mini loaf to make the front. The other loaf becomes the trailer and the 1/4 left got cut in two for hay bales. As with Hailey's, I also used styrofoam blocks underneath.

2- I used mento's for head lights, cherry air heads for wheel wells on back wheels, do-nuts from the bakery for the back wheels and hostess ones for the front, a gum drop for the caution triangle, black red vines licorice with dowels in them for the axels, trailer neck and exhaust, 2 graham crackers for the roof, cake squares frosted and rolled in yellow coconut for the hay bails, and oreo for the dirt.

Now, understand that my husband is going to school to be a tractor mechanic and so my cake had to be mechanically and structurally correct (down to the color) and would have been even more so if I hadn't have told him to get out of my kitchen before I went crazy! So, you could probably do away with a few details if it would make things easier.

Apple Pecan Salad with Cinnamon Bread Croutons

So in my house, pretty much anything bacon gets the thumbs up, and this salad is no exception!  I borrowed this recipe from Lynette's famous blog (thanks Lynette!)
 I recommend adding some grated smoked gouda cheese, which seemed to go really well with the apples and bacon. We had it with the super-easy peasant bread.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups cinnamon swirl bread, cut into 1" cubes
6 strips bacon, diced
1/3 cup apple juice concentrate
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
1/4 cups pecans or  walnuts, chopped, toasted
2 cups apples (your favorite variety) thinly sliced
2 head butter lettuce, torn (or mixed greens)

Pre-heat oven to 500º. Put a pat of  butter in a 9x13 pan, stick it in the oven just till it melts.  Add bread cubes, stir to coat, and bake until toasted, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often.  Transfer croutons to a bowl and set aside. (I didn't have cinnamon swirl bread so I used white bread dusted w. cinn.)

Saute bacon until crisp, then drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Pour off and reserve 1 tablespoon drippings.

Whisk drippings, juice concentrate, oil, vinegar, cinnamon, mustard, salt, pepper, and cayenne together in a bowl.  Stir in pecans (or walnuts).

Toss apple slices, lettuce, bacon, and croutons with vinaigrette in a large bowl to coat, sprinkle with salt.

*Cook's Note: Whenever I make a tossed salad, all the good fixin's land at the bottom, so to serve it I toss in one bowl, then dump it into a second to get all that good stuff on the top!

Anna's Chocolate Rainbow Ice Cream

Anna, my three-year-old, found this recipe in (of all places) her My Little Pony coloring book. She wanted to try it and made it with me. It tastes pretty good, although it's rich. She was so proud of the ice cream that SHE made.

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup chocolate syrup
2 cups whipping cream
rainbow sprinkles

Stir milk and syrup together until completely combined. Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the two together and pour into a 5X9 loaf pan lined with foil. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm. Top with rainbow sprinkles.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Whipping Cream Frosting

This was a standard for our birthdays growing up as children. The whipping cream "frosting" is light and fluffy and not too rich. It's a perfect complement to the cake.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. soda
3 T (heaping) baking cocoa (almost 1/2 cup)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Cream butter and sugar well. Mix in order given except divide buttermilk and flour and add alternately. Grease and flour the bottom of a 13x9 baking pan. Or use two rounds and grease the bottoms + use wax paper (that's how I do it and it comes out perfectly every time). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Whipping Cream Frosting
whipping cream (roughly 1 pint)
baking cocoa (roughly 3 T)
vanilla (roughly 1 T)
powdered sugar (roughly 1/2 cup)

Whip the cream until desired fluffiness. Fold in the rest of the ingredients. I said "roughly" on the ingredient list since I've never followed a real recipe, I just add in ingredients until it's how I like it. Experiment until you find the flavor you like best.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Strawberry Cream Cake

With the backyard strawberry patch filling a big bowl every other day, I pulled out this recipe. Made from scratch, it takes a little more effort and time. But, the steps from mixing to decorating are ones the kids love helping with!


6 eggs, separated
1-1/2 C. Sugar, divided
3 Tbls. Lemon juice
3 Tbls. Vegetable Oil
2 Tbls. Water
1-3/4 C. Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 C. Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 C. Confectioner's Sugar
1/2 Tsp Vanilla
A bunch of Sliced Strawberries


1-Place egg whites in a large mixing bowl; let stand at room temp for 30 minutes.
2-In another mixing bowl, beat egg yolks until slightly thickened. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in the lemon juice, oil, and water.
3-Combine flour and salt; add to yolk mixture.
4-Beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 Tbls at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form.
5-Fold a fourth of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in remaining whites.
6-Gently spoon batter into a greased tube pan; smooth top.
7-Bake at 325 for 35-40 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
8-Immediately invert pan; cool completely.
9-In a large mixing bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners' sugar vanilla; beat until stiff peaks form.
10-Run knife around pan; remove cake. Split into two (or three) horizontal layers.
11-Place one layer on a serving plate; top with some of the whipped cream and sliced strawberries (repeat).
12-Top with remaining cake layer; spread remaining whipped cream over top and sides of cake. Arrange remaining sliced berries on sides and top of cake.
13-Store in the refrigerator.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dal - or - Red Lentil Curry

Thanks for letting me into the fabulous Recipe Room! (And now might be a good time to admit I've been stalking you.)

This recipe is from an old (previous) boss of mine who is from Bangladesh. It's a simple, good, and healthy recipe. It can be eaten as a soup, or like a curry over rice. It's hearty enough to be the main dish. It makes a large pot, so we usually have leftovers. We think it might even be better the day after. (I borrowed the photo, below.)

Dal/ Red Lentil Curry

Prep time: 10 minutes, if that
Total time: 65 minutes

2 Tablespoons oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (1 1/2 tsp)
2 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne (or less or more, whatever you prefer)
2 Tablespoons canned mild green chilies
2 cups red lentils (divided)
8 cups water
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
cilantro, for garnish, optional (and very controversial, I know.)

1) Heat oil in dutch oven, over medium heat, and saute onions until translucent.
2) Add garlic; spices: turmeric, coriander, cayenne; and green chilies. Saute quickly to combine and heat the spices.
3) Add in 1 1/4 cup of the lentils, and the water and salt.
4) Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Skim foam -if any- off top.
5) After about 45 minutes, when lentils are broken, add remaining 3/4 cup of lentils. Simmer additional 20 minutes.
Serve as soup or over rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro (if you know what's good for you!)


*We buy red lentils in bulk at Good Earth. I'm sure you can find them elsewhere, too. Depending on the source, you might want to rinse and sort the lentils before adding them in. By the way, Red Lentil Curry actually turns out yellow. ;) You can use green lentils but you'll end up with a curry that's an unearthly fluorescent green color.

*Leftover green chilies freeze well in a ziplock freezer bag. (Squeeze out the air.)

Pouding Chomeur

I needed to take some food to my final French class and asked Ryan what I should make. He said he had this pudding quite a bit when he was in Quebec, so I made it and it is sooo tasty! Everyone in my class asked for the recipe and made me promise to email it to them. Bon appetit!

Pouding Chomeur (Poor Man's Pudding) with Creamy Maple Syrup

52 min | 15 min prep
SERVES 12 (I cut the recipe in half when I made it--in a 9x9 pan)

1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups 35% cream (heavy whipping cream)
1/3 cup butter

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugar till the mix is light.
Add eggs and vanilla and mix.
In another bowl, mix flour and baking powder.
Alternate flour mix and milk to the butter mix.
Pour into a 13 inch by 9 inch greased pan.
In a large casserole, bring to boil the syrup, brown sugar, cream and butter and constantly stir.
Reduce heat and and gently cook 2 minutes or till sauce has reduced a little bit.
Pour sauce gently over cake.
Bake at 325°f (160°c) about 35 minutes or till cake is light brown and when toothpick inserted comes out clean.