Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blueberry muffins

While strolling through the grocery store last night I came across a sign that said blueberries 2 for 4. I don't typically use fruit as ingredient but I make an exception for blueberry muffins. I was a little bit nervous because I have only ever made them from a box before. But I thought why not, they were on sale! So first thing this morning I made a batch and we had them for breakfast. They were very good. This recipe is a keeper!

Blueberry Muffins
Source: Annie's Eats

1 ½ c. flour
¾ c. sugar
½ t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
~1/3 c. milk
1 cup blueberries (or more)

streusel topping:
¼ c. sugar
2 T. and 2 t. flour
2 T. butter, cubed
¾ t. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400°. Grease or line 8 muffin wells with muffin liners.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Pour into lined muffin cups; fill to the top.

To make streusel topping, combine listed ingredients and mix well with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over tops of muffins.

Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Chocolate Chip Dream Bars

Mmmmm mmmmmm! These are delicious! They have a rich chocolate taste with a hint of caramel. Always a big hit!

Chocolate Chip Dream Bars
Recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker: Baking for Today Cookbook

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
1 cup milk chocolate chips
Chocolate Glaze
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1. Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, mix 1/2 cup brown sugar and the butter. Stir in 1 cup flour. Press in ungreased rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches. Bake 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix eggs, 1 cup brown sugar and the vanilla. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour, the baking powder and salt. Stir in semisweet and milk chocolate chips. Spread over crust.
3. Bake bars 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
4. In 1-quart saucepan, heat all Chocolate Glaze ingredients over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted. Drizzle glaze over cooled bars. Refrigerate at least 1 hour until firm. For bars, cut into 8 rows by 4 rows. Store at room temperature.

I have a trick for the chocolate glaze. Fill a gallon zip lock baggie with your chocolate chips and about a splash of vegetable oil. Microwave the bag for 30 seconds. Then remove from the microwave and squish the bag with your hands. Repeat this in 10 second incriments until the chocolate is melted all the way. It shouldn't take long. Then cut just a tiny piece from the corner of the bag and use like a pastry bag. No mess and easy to apply!

Feta stuffed burger and greek pasta salad

This was just a great summer grilling meal. The pasta salad was light and refreshing and the burger was flavorful. We will probably have this a couple more times before the summer is over. I actually stuffed Jesse's with Monteray Jack cheese because he isn't a huge fan feta and since there was feta in the pasta salad I didn't want to over load him.

Feta Stuffed Burger:
Recipe courtesy of me :)

1/2 pound lean ground beef
2 tbsp worcester sauce
Dry onion flakes
Grill seasoning
2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese

WIth your hands combine the ground beef, worcester, dry onion flakes and grill seasoning. Then form 4 thin burgers. In the middle of one of the burgers put the feta cheese. Top with another thin burger and use your hands to form one solid burger, with the cheese on the inside. Grill for about 4 minutes on each side. We had these burgers on wheat buns with ketchup and onion.

Greek Pasta Salad:
Recipe courtesy of me :)

1/2 box tri-color rotini pasta
15 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1/2 of a cucumber cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup greek vinegarette dressing

Cook pasta according to package and drain well. Then combine the remaining ingredients a bowl with a lid. Put the lid on and shake the salad up until the dressing is evenly distributed.

Smoky Grilled Butterflied Chicken

Wow! It didn't expect cutting up a chicken to be pleasant, but I think it was a little more gross than I thought it would be. I liked the flavor of the chicken so I will probably make this again, but next time I will just used split chicken breast that require no cutting. ;) I served this chicken with sautteed mushroom orzo (this is the second time I have made this) This time I used swiss cheese instead of the 4 italian cheese blend. Next time I will stick with the italian cheese. I love swiss cheese but you couldn't really taste the swiss. The italian cheese had much better flavor. On to the recipe!

Smoky Grilled Butterflied Chicken
(Source: Martha Stewart)

1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds), rinsed

1. Combine vinegar, oil, garlic, paprika, and salt in a nonreactive baking dish or large resealable plastic bag.

2. Remove backbone from chicken using kitchen shears. Place chicken, breast side up, on cutting board, with legs extended on both sides. Press firmly on breastbone to break it and flatten chicken. Add to marinade. Cover dish or seal bag, and refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight), turning occasionally.

3. Preheat grill to medium. (If you are using a charcoal grill, coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill for just 5 or 6 seconds.) Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Place chicken, skin side down, on grill. Close cover, and grill 15 minutes. Flip chicken, and close cover. Grill until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the breast registers 165 degrees, about 20 minutes more.

Happy Cooking

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Grilled pork chops and zucchini...

That's right, zucchini made another appearance in tonight's dinner. We have so much zucchini!! Anyway, I'm not sure tonight's dinner is really "blog worthy" since it was really super simple, but it took a pretty picture so I thought why not. Here's what I did -
Pork chops- Poke some holes with a fork and season with a little salt and pepper and some grill seasoning (tonight I used McCormick Hamburger seasoning) Grill for about 4 and 1/2 minutes on each side or until no longer pink inside.

Zucchini- Slice into strips about 1/8-1/4 inch wide. Put the strips in a gallon iploc baggie and ligthly pour some EVOO over the strips. Then sprinkle some salt, pepper, and grill seasoning over the strips. Seal the bag and give a couple light shakes. Grill for about 4 1/2 minutes on each side. And learn from me. Place the strips on the grill horizontally (I guess that is how I will describe it) I put a couple on the other way and they almost slipped through the cracks!!

Mashed potatoes - Same as I always make but I decided to kick it up a bit with some.....GRILL SEASONING (less than a tsp). Why not, I already had it out!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Blondes do have more fun :)

I have been on a big baking kick lately. Already this week I have made chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon coffee cake. I was trying to think of something new I could make so I decided to go with the traditionalblondie. I made a peanut butter blondie once and it was good, but I wanted a plain one. I added chocolate chips and funny enough it tasted a lot like a giant chocolate chip cookies. It was just a bit gooey-er inside. The texture was a lot like a brownie. All in all I am pleased! Of course I served them a la mode with some chocolate sauce :)

Basic Blondie
Recipe courtesy of Deborah

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspooon salt
Additional mix-ins of your choice (chocolate chips, candies, nuts, etc.)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8x8 baking pan.

2. In a large bowl combine melted butter and brown sugar, beat until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined. Fold in any additional mix-ins and pour into baking pan - spread evenly. (I just used my standing mixer)

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until set in the middle. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

Chicken Stuffed Shells

This was a great dinner. It took me a little longer than I thought it would but I think it was worth it. Next time I think I will leave the chicken in bigger chunks. Other than that I will leave it all the same!

Chicken Stuffed Shells:
Recipe courtesy of Amber

15 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
2 teaspoons oil
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces cooked chicken (I used 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts)
1(15 ounce) container fat free ricotta cheese
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 (28 ounce) can low fat marinara sauce (I used my own sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp parsley
Parmesan cheese for topping (I used fresh mozzarella instead)
I added 4 cheese italian blend and fresh basil to the ricotta mixture.

* Heat oven to 400 degrees.
* Spray large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
* Cook pasta shells according to directions and drain.
* Boil chicken and shred. (I sauted the chicken with some seasonings and diced it into very small pieces)
* Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
* Combine chicken and garlic, cook for 3-5 minutes.
* Remove from heat and stir in ricotta, breadcrumbs, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
* Spread 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.
* Fill cooked shells with chicken mixture and place filled sides up in baking dish.
* Pour remaining sauce over shells.
* Bake covered with foil for 15-20 minutes, remove foil and continue baking until filling is lightly browned.
* Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Doesn't have much to do with food.....

...except for that we ate a TON of it while I was there. I just wanted to show off my adorable family. Last weekend I went to MD to visit my sister and my aunts family. They all read this blog so I thought they would be excited to see some pictures of themeselves :)

My mom, sister, me, and my aunt at a local Winery.

Alli eating a Nilla wafer

Harris and I enjoying some Rita's

Christian eating a lemon

We'll call it pork stir fry

So I'm not really sure if this would techinically qualify as stir-fry. I'm not sure what the rules are for that. But this was pretty darn good! I just kind of made it up on a whim and I was very happy with the results. And guess what vegetable this recipe features, if you guessed ZUCCHINI, you're right!

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves fresh crushed garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp ground mustard
A shake of dry onion flakes

I just used the veggies that I had, zucchini, orange bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, red onion, and mushrooms. I also had some pork chops in the fridge so I cubed those too. I put everything in a big gallon ziploc and poured the marinade in. I let is soak for about 30 minutes. First I toasted my rice (see below) in the wok with some butter. After I removed the rice I added another tbsp of butter. To the butter I added just a tiny bit of cornstarch to help thicken things up later. Then I just drop all the veggies and meat in the wok. I pushed all the veggies towards the outer edges of the wok and let the pork cook over the direct heat first. Then I just tossed everything around and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

I also served this with brown rice. To make the rice I first toasted the rice in my wok some butter. Then I cooked in vegetable broth, soy sauce, garlic powder and a little bit of ginger. It was perfect.

Sautéed Mushroom Orzo with Cheese

My good friend, Annie sent me a care package and in it was a box of Orzo. I have heard such great things about Orzo but I had never made. After looking on her blog a found what looked like an amazing recipe. I am so glad that I tried it. The flavor was perfect and I loved the texture that cheese and mushrooms gave it. I have a feeling that Orzo will become a staple in our household. I made the recipe exactly as it appears in her blog. Because I love swiss cheese I think next time I might try it with that, but for this dinner it was perfect as is. I served it with baked chicken but the chicken was pretty forgetable so I am only posting the recipe for the Orzo. Thanks Annie!

Sautéed Mushroom Orzo with Cheese
2 cups uncooked Orzo pasta
3 Tbs. cold butter
2 cups Italian Six Cheese blend shredded cheese (or cheese of choice)
5-6 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup sliced mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbs. butter or olive oil

Cook Orzo according to package directions.

In the food processor combine cheese, 3 tbs. cold butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Process until smooth.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt remaining butter or olive oil and sauté mushrooms until tender.

Drain pasta, add to mushrooms and stir. Gently stir in the cheese mixture. Stir until cheese has melted. Serve.

Zucchini Lasagna

As I am sure you can tell from my previous post zucchini will be making
a LOT of appearances in the next month or so. I have so much I have no
idea what to do with it. After a lot of searching I decided the
gigantic zucchini would be best suited for lasagna! I searched and
searched and I never found a recipe that sounded quite right. A lot of
them used zucchini AND lasagna noodles and I really just wanted to use
the zucchini (since I have mountains of it!) So I decided to just make
my usual lasagna and used the zucchini instead of noodles.

My recipe for: Zucchini Lasagna

One HUGE zucchini or a 2 medium size ones
1 package light Italian sausage (the tube like packages)
2 cups pasta sauce (I used my own but jarred is fine)
3 cloves fresh garlic
Dry spices - basil, oregano, parsley
1 16 oz container ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3-4 leaves fresh basil chopped
1 cup shredded fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Slice the zucchini into long strips about 1/8-1/4 of inch thick.
Bring a big pot of water to a boil.
In a skillet start browning the Italian
sausage. When it is fully cooked add the pasta sauce and let simmer for
about 10 minutes. At this point I also like to add the fresh garlic and
some more dry spices. Just to taste.
Drop the zucchini strips into the boiling water and remove after 4 minutes. They should be softer but not falling apart.
While the zucchini is cooking combine the ricotta cheese, egg, Parmesan cheese and basil in a bowl.
In a big baking dish spread 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce mixture. Then lay
out zucchini strips to cover. On top of the zucchini spread 1/2 of the ricotta
cheese mixture. Next a layer of meat sauce. Then I like to sprinkle a
handful of mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layer process again, zucchini, ricotta sauce. To top it off lay out another layer of zucchini strips followed by pasta sauce
and then a really big handful of mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of Parmesan.
Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

My hubby- the proud farmer :)

This is really just a show off post. We are so proud of our little vegetable garden this year. It is looking so good, much better than last year!! Just check out the size of this zucchini Jesse picked today!!

Filet mignon....mmmmm

Jesse was in the mood for a good steak and who am I to deny that request! When I was at the grocery store the butcher had just brought out 2 really good lookingfilet's so I went with it! I served the filets with twice baked potatoes and grilled veggies.

For my filet I just used a little Montreal steak seasoning. I like my flavor to be pretty simple when it comes to steak. Jesse likes his with a little "Allegro"- which is basically like the kitchen sink of flavorings. It has soy sauce and garlic and all sorts of other stuff (It's pretty high in sodium though so I don't care for it). We grilled them for about 5-6 minutes on each side and they came out a perfect medium!

My recipe for twice baked potatoes

2 good size baking potatoes
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp dry onion flakes
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp sour cream
1/3 cup Vermont extra sharp white cheddar
1/3 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to season

the potatoes at 350 degrees for about an hour to an hour and 15
minutes. Take the potatoes out of the oven and let cool for about 10
minutes. While the potatoes are cooling heat a small pot and start
melting the butter. Add the onion flakes and garlic powder to the
melted butter. Then add the milk and cheese and stir until the cheese
is melted through. Next cut the potatoes in half length wise and scoop
out the middle, leaving about 1/4 inch around the edges. Add the
scooped out potatoes to the cheese and milk mixture. Add the sour cream
and whip with a hand mixer for about a minute. If they are too thick
add a little more milk. Then fill the potato shells with the potato
mixture. To finish off bake at 350 for 10 more minutes.

For the grilled veggies I used a fresh zucchini from our garden, an orange bell pepper, a red bell pepper and a 1/2 of a red onion. I cut the veggies into equal size chunks and marinated inEVOO and Montreal steak seasoning for about 20 minutes. Then I made a foil pouch and grilled for about 10 minutes. They were so good!!


While blog browsing I came across a very tempting picture in Elly's
for Carnitas, which is basically like Mexican style
pulled pork. I had every intention of using her exact recipe, but then
my computer decided to crash on me so I had to improvise. I am pretty
happy with how it turned out.

A while back I made a big pot of Mexican bean stew and I froze a lot of the leftovers. So when I got everything together for the crock pot I took the beans out of the freezer to defrost. I served the beans and pork on whole wheat tortillas with cheese and sour cream. Yum!

My twist on Carnitas - very similar to Elly's

1 1/2 pound pork roast
6 cloves peeled garlic
Dry rub - cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dried cilantro, dried onion flakes, paprika
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh salsa (I prefer it with lots of cilantro!)

start I poked some deep holes in the roast and shoved the garlic cloves
in the holes. Then I rubbed generously with the dry rub. Then I set it
in the crock pot and poured the chicken broth around the edges and the
salsa on top. I let this refrigerate over night and turned the crock
pot on low before work. 8 1/2 hours I shredded the pork with a fork and
turned it on high with the lid off to let some of the liquid thicken
up. That's about it! The pork literally fell apart. I can't wait to
have this again!