{In case you're wondering, that means "Everyone to the table to eat!" in Italian}

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mushroom, Sausage & Pepperoni Calzones

Mushroom, Sausage & Pepperoni Calzones
1 recipe whole-wheat bread dough (find it here), or enough dough for 2 pizza crusts
1 c. marinara sauce, plus more for dipping
3 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
6 large button or crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 lb. ground sausage, browned and drained
1 sm. package pepperoni

If using my recipe for dough, divide into thirds and freeze one third for next week's pizza or some breadsticks! Roll out each piece of dough into a 15 " circle. Place on pizza stones or greased baking sheets. Spread a thin layer of sauce on one half of each crust. Layer each with half the cheese, pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms, leaving a 1" border around edges (see figure 1). Brush a little water onto edges of crust, fold empty half over top, and press to seal. Using fingers, fold the edge up on itself and seal tightly (see figure 2). Cut a few slits in top for steam to escape. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until golden brown and crispy on top. Slice, serve with dipping sauce, and enjoy! Makes 2 large calzones (enough for 4 very hungry people, or 2 adults and 4 children!).

Figure 1

Figure 2

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spicy-Honey Chicken & Salad w/ Honey-Citrus Vinaigrette

I got this recipe from the Our Best Bites blog, and it was great! We tried both the salad and the chicken by itself, and liked both. However, when I made the chicken alone I used breasts and it wasn't as good, so I'd definitely recommend following the recipe and using thighs. BTW, if you are worried about the "spicy" part, it's really not!
Spicy-Honey Chicken
2 tsp vegetable oil
Rub:2 tsp granulated garlic
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp coriander (I didn't have this, so I left it out)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (I only used 4 large ones)
1/2 C Honey
1 Tb Cider Vinegar

Use kitchen shears (or a pair of clean scissors) to trim off any excess fat from the chicken pieces. Pat dry. Drizzle oil over chicken and rub in with your hands to lightly coat all the pieces. Then toss chicken with the spice rub to coat all sides well. Use your hands and get in there! Grill chicken a few minutes on each side, until cooked through (I cooked it in a hot covered greased skillet for about 6 minutes per side).
While chicken is cooking, warm honey in the microwave so it's not so thick. Add the vinegar and combine well. Reserve 2T honey glaze for later. Take the rest and brush on chicken (both sides) in the final moments of grilling.
Drizzle extra couple tablespoons of glaze on top of chicken.
I often just cook the chicken in the oven at 425 for 25 minutes, slice it and toss it with the glaze.

You can eat this as is with some side dishes, or you can use it in this fabulous salad:

Spicy-Honey Chicken Salad
1 large head red leaf or romaine lettuce, torn
1 recipe spicy-honey chicken, cut in strips
2 diced avocadoes
2 diced mangos
Honey-citrus vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Pile lettuce, avocado, mango and chicken on a plate. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Serves 4-6 as a main dish or lots more as a side. Oh, this salad was SO good. I think it's my new fave!

Honey-Citrus Vinaigrette
1/2 C fresh orange juice
3 T fresh lime juice
1 T honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 C olive or canola oil

Place all ingredients in a tightly sealed jar and shake your bootie (and the jar) vigorously. Store in the fridge, and shake before dressing salad.

Italian Wedding Soup

First of all, sorry for the picture. Soups are just not very photogenic. But this one was really yummy- it really hit the spot! So please ignore the bad photo and try it anyway!

Italian Wedding Soup
1 lb. ground turkey (or beef)
1/4 c. milk (or 1 egg)
1/4 c. Italian breadcrumbs
2 tb. parmesan cheese
1 tsp. basil
3 tb. minced onion (or 1 tb. dried)
1 garlic clove, minced
10 c. chicken broth
2 c. frozen chopped spinach
1 c. diced carrot
1 c. acini de pepe pasta (dry)

Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Mix ground meat, milk, breadcrumbs, parmesan, basil, onion and garlic. Using a small scoop, make 3/4 " meatballs and drop them into boiling broth (I used the small end of a melon baller). Throw in carrots and acini de pepe and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until carrots are softened and meatballs are cooked. Add spinach and bring back to boil, cook a few more minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week 6

Monday: Greek lamb, unleavened bread (flatbread), olives and grape juice*
Tuesday: Sour cream noodle bake and roasted asparagus
Wednesday: Southwestern Crock-pot Chicken with chips
Thursday: Green Chili Cheeseburgers and Cucumber Salad
Friday: BBQ Chicken Braid and green salad
Saturday: Picnic at Grandma & Grandpa's (bring frog-eye salad)
Sunday: Easter dinner at Grandma & Grandpa's (bring deviled eggs)

*We read about the Passover in the Bible last night, and the kids asked if we could do a Passover feast for dinner. If you know me, you know I love to do themed dinners to shake things up a bit (ie St. Patrick's, Cinco de Mayo, etc), so I agreed. Once when we were reading Little House on the Prairie as a family, we even did an Ingalls-style dinner (baked beans, cornbread, and turnips). Anyway, Monday's dinner is my version of the Passover feast!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sticky Coconut Chicken with Coconut Rice

This is another great recipe from Melanie over at My Kitchen Cafe. I served sauteed garlic sugar-snap peas on the side.
Sticky Coconut Chicken
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 can coconut milk, divided
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (I only used 1/2 tsp)

Marinade chicken in 1 c. coconut milk, ginger, pepper and red pepper flakes at least one hour. Grill on barbecue (I actually baked mine at 425 for about 25 minutes, because my grill is broken, and it was great!).

3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (again, I used 1/2 tsp)

While the chicken is grilling, bring above ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until mixture is reduced and thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Be patient because it takes a little while. But once it starts getting really thick, immediately take it off the heat! Glaze both sides of chicken the last few minutes of grilling and serve chicken over rice.

To make the rice, use the remaining coconut milk to replace part of the water when you cook your rice. Serve rice with toasted coconut on top. Mmmm!

Rich & Hearty Lasagna

I previously posted my recipe for meatless lasagna, but I used a jarred sauce and cottage cheese. I recently tried making my first homemade cheese- Ricotta- and it turned out great, so I thought to celebrate I'd make a from-scratch, authentic lasagna. Oh, it was SO good! The sauce is similar to my mom's recipe, and it is so much better than the stuff in the jar.

Rich & Hearty Lasagna
For the sauce:
1 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 onion, diced
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper

Brown sausage and onions until meat is no longer pink, drain excess fat if necessary. Add in garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add tomato sauce, paste, and diced tomatoes. Stir in spices, season to taste with salt and pepper. Add about a tomato-can full of water. Simmer over low heat for several hours, stirring occasionally and adding water if it becomes too thick. My mom would simmer this all day, and it makes the house smell heavenly!

For the lasagna:
12 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente and drained (I use whole-wheat)
3 c. ricotta cheese
1/2 c. parmesan
2 tb. parsley
2 eggs
2 c. mozzarella cheese
1 recipe meat sauce

Mix ricotta, parmesan, parsley and eggs in a bowl. In 9 x 13 pan spread about a cup of the meat sauce. Lay 4 lasagna noodles on sauce, spread 1/2 of ricotta mixture on noodles. Pour on 1/3 of remaining sauce. Layer 4 more noodles, other 1/2 of ricotta, and another 1/3 of sauce. Layer last 4 noodles and remaining sauce in pan, then sprinkle with mozzarella and more parmesan if desired. Cover with greased foil, bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more. Remove from oven and let sit for about 15-20 minutes before cutting. Serve with some crusty French bread and enjoy!


I found this yummy bar recipe over at Sister's Cafe. It was easy and delicious!


1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats (I used regular)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup caramel topping
1/2 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, melted
3 Tablespoons flour

Mix 1 c. flour, oats, sugar, soda, salt and butter. Press half of the mixture into a 11x7 pan and set the other half aside. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Blend 3/4 cup caramel with 3 T. flour. Pour (drizzle) over chocolate chips. Sprinkle the balance of the flour oat mixture over the dessert. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until light brown. Allow to cool and set before slicing.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tuna Wiggle

This is my slightly adapted version of a tuna casserole my mom made when I was growing up. I've changed it a little- I use whole-wheat egg noodles and added some seasonings in to jazz it up. Nothing fancy, but it is a great meal when you need something quick and easy- and most of the ingredients are probably in your pantry. My kids love it, and even the hubby has finally admitted he likes it too. I serve it with green beans.

Tuna Wiggle
12 oz. egg noodles (I use whole-wheat)
2-3 c. shredded colby-jack or cheddar cheese
2 cans tuna, drained
seasoned salt
3 tb. butter
1 c. milk

Cook egg noodles according to package directions, drain. In greased 8 x 11 casserole, layer half the noodles, half the cheese and one can tuna. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Repeat layers of noodles, cheese, tuna and salt. Cut butter into pieces and lay on top of casserole, pour milk evenly over all. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or microwave on high for 3-4 minutes, turn, and microwave for 3-4 minutes more (this is what I usually do).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Caramelized Onion & Bleu Cheese Burgers

I found the recipe for this delicious burger on The Pioneer Woman Cooks and slightly adapted it for us. It's a nice change from your ordinary cheeseburger!

Caramelized Onion & Bleu Cheese Burgers
1 lb. ground turkey (or beef)
salt & pepper
Tabasco sauce
2 tb. butter
1 onion, thinly sliced (she uses red, I used white b/c that's what I had)
2 tb. brown sugar
1/2 c. bleu cheese, crumbled
4 hearty, crusty buns (no pansy soft ones!)
Fresh salad greens

First, melt butter in a skillet. Stir onions and brown sugar in, saute on low heat for about 15 minutes, until soft and caramelized. Next, mix your meat with 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and a few shakes of Tabasco. Form into 4 patties (Pioneer Woman makes one huge burger, but that's a bit much for me, so I made 4 normal-sized ones). Grill or fry in skillet on both sides for several minutes, until no longer pink in center. Meanwhile, brush some more butter on a skillet and brown cut sides of buns for a few minutes. Mix about 1/2 c. mayo with a few shakes Tabasco, spread thinly on both sides of buns. Top burgers with a pile of onions and a sprinkle of bleu cheese. Place on bottom bun, top with greens and top bun, and enjoy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week 5

Monday: Caramelized Onion & Bleu Cheese Burgers, potato chips and pickles
Tuesday: Tuna Wiggle and green beans
Wednesday: Baked Cashew Chicken, glazed carrots and rolls
Thursday: Lasagna and French bread
Friday: Omelettes, toast and fruit
Saturday: Italian Wedding Soup
Sunday: Spicy-Honey Chicken, brocolli and rolls

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Asphalt Pie

Our favorite things at Winger's are the wings (of course) and Asphalt Pie. One of these days I'll get around to posting my copycat wing recipe (it's awesome!), but for now here is the pie (it was SO good, and it costs less to make a whole pie than to buy one slice!):

Asphalt Pie

1 Oreo pie crust (I make my own with 18 crushed Oreos and 4 tb. melted butter, then freeze)
1 carton mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened (actually I used about 3/4 of the carton)
caramel ice cream topping
sweetened whipped cream, or Cool Whip if you prefer

This is really easy. Pile the softened ice cream into the pie crust (I just melt it in the microwave for about a minute and then stir it up). Place in freezer for several hours, until ice cream is firm again. Remove from freezer about 10-15 minutes before serving to make slicing easier. Slice into 8 wedges, and top each wedge with a drizzle of caramel and a scoop of whipped cream. YUM!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Colcannon {Potatoes, Cabbage, & Onions}

I ended up finding this recipe the day before St. Patrick's on the Sister's Cafe blog, and decided to give it a try. It was a hit! Creamy potatoes, sweet caramelized onions and cabbage, and lots of butter make this a winner. Try it!

6 large potatoes, peeled (I used red and didn't peel them)
4-6 Tb half-and-half (I used milk)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 onions, finely chopped
6 Tb butter, divided (I used 8 tb.)
1/2 of a small head of cabbage, sliced thinly (I used a whole one, but it was tiny)

1. Chop potatoes and place in pot. Fill with enough water to cover and boil for 20 minutes, or until soft. While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tb butter in large saucepan. Add minced onion and stir to coat with butter. Add cabbage over onions. Cover saucepan and cook over med-low to medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until cabbage is soft.
2. Drain potatoes and add half-and-half (or milk) and salt (I added an extra 2 tb. butter to the potatoes). Mash with electric mixer. Stir together onion and cabbage mixture with mashed potatoes. Spoon into an oven safe dish and place under broiler until top is browned. Traditionally colcannon is served with a deep well in the center filled with melted butter... so place 2 more Tb of butter on top before broiling and let it melt into colcannon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Corned Beef, Cabbage & New Potatoes

Want to celebrate St. Patrick's Day right? Make this meal for dinner on March 17th. It is really easy, delicious, and festive. Every time I make it, I wonder why I only make it for St. Patrick's Day- we like it that much! This is a picture of our meal from a few years ago (since I haven't made it this year, yet!). Here's a shopping list, if you want it:
  • 1 corned beef brisket
  • 1 head green cabbage
  • New potatoes/ baby red potatoes
  • Butter
  • Dill (I use dry dill weed), salt & pepper
I serve it with milk (dyed green w/ food coloring- I know, gross, but my kids love it!). Here are the recipes:
Corned Beef BrisketPlace corned beef brisket in crock-pot. Sprinkle on spices in included spice packet. Pour in a few cups water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Slice and serve. Yep, that's it- did you really need a recipe for that? Now, on to the cabbage and potatoes:
Steamed Cabbage
Wash head of cabbage. Cut into 4-6 wedges (4 if you have a small head of cabbage, 6 if it is large) and cut out the core. Place wedges in a large saucepan with a few inches of water. Cover, bring to a boil, and steam for about 15 minutes, or until cabbage is crisp-tender. Drain water out and toss with a few tablespoons of butter and some salt to taste.
Dilled New PotatoesCut potatoes in half (if they are baby reds) or fourths (if larger reds). Place in pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender. Drain water out and toss with a few tablespoons butter, a sprinkle of dill, and some salt and pepper to taste (sorry, I never measure).
I am going to serve my own version of Winger's Asphalt Pie for dessert, I'll post the recipe below and add a picture after I make it. Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Menu Plan Monday: Week 4

Monday: Creamy Tomatillo Enchiladas and corn
Tuesday: Sausage and mushroom calzones with marinara sauce
Wednesday: Happy St. Patrick's Day! Corned beef, cabbage, and new potatoes
Thursday: Salmon cakes, sweet potatoes, and Lion House rolls
Friday: Green Chili Chicken Pizza and Divine Breadsticks
Saturday: Chicken Divan and rice
Sunday: Fresh rolls with meat and cheese, fruit, and olives

Friday, March 12, 2010

Better-for-you Buttermilk Pancakes

Mmm, we love pancakes! We have a Saturday morning tradition of having a hot, cooked breakfast- it's the only day of the week we have time, with school & work on weekdays and church early on Sundays. Pancakes are one of our faves (Dustin started us out on panny-cakes), and we have experimented a lot with recipes. My favorite is actually a Buttermilk Pancake recipe from Lexy's Better Homes Junior Cookbook, but we make it healthier (and more filling) by using a combo of oat and whole-wheat flours in place of white flour. They are light, fluffy, and delicious! I will post the original recipe below, but if you have a big family like us you may want to double it (I always do and usually only have about 2-3 pancakes left over, if any!). Oh, and I never have buttermilk, so I make my own- 1 cup milk + 1 Tb lemon juice or vinegar, just let it sit a few minutes.
Better-for-you Buttermilk Pancakes serves 3-4
1 c. whole-grain flour (I use 1/2 oat, 1/2 whole-wheat)
1 tb. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 c. milk + 1 tb. lemon juice)
2 tb. canola oil
Heat non-stick skillet or electric griddle on medium heat (350 degrees). Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Make a well in the center. Pour in egg, buttermilk and oil. Whisk wet ingredients and then mix them into dry ones until well combined. At this point I often add any extra ingredients (see ideas below). DO NOT grease the skillet or griddle (as long as it's non-stick)- this eliminates that weird batch of first pancakes (took us a while to figure that one out!). When skillet is hot, pour about 1/4 c. batter on for each pancake. Cook until bubbles form on top and edges appear slightly dry, turn and cook until golden brown. Serve with maple or fruit syrup, fresh fruit, whipped cream, or whatever your heart desires (click here for a yummy homemade maple syrup recipe)!

* I often jazz the batter up with one of the following: 1 mashed banana, 1 c. frozen blueberries, or 1 diced apple + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Dustin put some cocoa powder in once, and it wasn't my fave, but whatever floats your boat! If you really want chocolate I'd probably recommend shaved chocolate rather than cocoa powder.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

Fluffy Chiffon Cake + Real Whipped Cream + Fresh Strawberries=

Strawberry Shortcake (YUM!)

1 layer chiffon cake (recipe makes two, freeze the other for another time)
1 lb. fresh strawberries
1 cup whipping cream

Slice strawberries and sprinkle with sugar (how much depends on how sweet your strawberries are). Store in fridge while you bake the cake (recipe below). Using an electric mixer, whip the cream, adding about 2-3 tablespoons of sugar. After cake has cooled, cut the cake into 8 wedges. Top with berries, any extra juice, and whipped cream. Enjoy!

Chiffon Cake
(slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks at room temperature
8 large egg whites at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Make cake layers: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Have two 9-inch round cake pans ready, bottom lined with wax or parchment paper that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray, but otherwise ungreased.
2. Sift the flour, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking powder and salt together twice into a large bowl.
3. In another bowl, beat the yolks, water, oil, zest and vanilla on high speed until smooth. Stir into the flour mixture until smooth. In another large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks are formed. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and beat on high speed until the peaks are stiff but not dry.
4. Use a rubber spatula to fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remaining whites. Do so gently, only until the egg whites are no longer visible. Overdoing it will deflate the egg whites, and yield a denser, shorter cake.
5. Scrape the batter into the two prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake them until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean about 30 minutes.
6. Let cakes cool on a cooling rack for at least an hour. When completely cool, run a knife around the sides to release, then flip out onto a plate (or your hand, if you’re daring) and then another plate.

Divine Breadsticks

This is another great recipe from Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe. These were fairly quick and really tasty! We had them with soup, and I froze half to have with pizza later in the week.

Divine Breadsticks
*Makes about 20-25 breadsticks, depending on how thick or thin you cut them
1 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ½ cups flour (I used half white, half white whole-wheat)
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted (for the baking sheet)
Mix all ingredients (except melted butter) in a large bowl or electric mixer and knead for three minutes. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread melted butter onto an 11X17-inch baking sheet. Roll out the breadstick dough into a rectangle about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick and cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Twist slightly if desired and place about 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet (I turned each breadstick over so both sides had butter on them). Sprinkle with garlic salt, herbs of choice (I used basil) and parmesan cheese. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees until golden brown.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week 3

Here is the menu for this week:

Monday: Spicy Zucchini Soup and Divine Breadsticks
Tuesday: Enrichment Night- Daddy makes dinner (likely eggs & toast)
Wednesday: Spicy-Honey Chicken Salad and Lion House Rolls
Thursday: Fettucine Alfredo with Garlic Shrimp, and asparagus
Friday: Roast Beef & Swiss Melts, fruit salad, and pickles
Saturday: Pizza Night (Pepperoni & sausage pizza and breadsticks)
Sunday: Sticky Coconut Chicken, coconut rice, and sauteed sugar-snap peas

Chicken Cilantro Quesadillas

I feel a little silly posting a recipe for quesadillas, but the flavors in these were so good, I just had to share. And by the way, I used a quesadilla maker (it makes the outsides nice and crisp), but if you don't have one just use a frying pan or griddle and flip to cook on both sides.

Chicken Cilantro Quesadillas
10 medium-sized flour tortillas
2 c. shredded cheese (I like colby-jack)
1 large chicken breast
1 tb. taco seasoning
2 tb. canola oil
2 tb. lime juice
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
salsa, sour cream, and guacamole (recipe here), if desired

Heat oil in skillet. Rub chicken with taco seasoning, cook in hot skillet about 4-5 minutes per side, until just cooked through. Slice or shred chicken, toss with lime juice and cilantro. Sprinkle 5 tortillas evenly with cheese, then with chicken mixture. Top with other 5 tortillas. Cook in quesadilla maker until cheese is melted and tortillas are slightly crispy. Slice into wedges and serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.

Lion House Rolls

I have tried making rolls quite a few times over the last few years, and although they have sometimes turned out decent, I've never found any that I loved. Dustin's grandma makes fantastic rolls, and his dad makes good ones, too. But I've never had success duplicating their recipes. So I usually buy rolls. When I saw this recipe on My Kitchen Cafe, I had to try it. My search is over! They were buttery, soft, and delicious. And it makes 3 dozen, so you can freeze the extras and have great rolls all week!

Lion House Dinner Rolls
2 tablespoons active-dry yeast (I used instant yeast)
2 cups warm water
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
5-6 cups flour

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine yeast and water. Let stand 5 minutes. Add sugar, butter, salt, dry milk, 2 cups flour and egg. Beat together until very smooth. Add remaining flour gradually (about 1/2 cup at a time) until a soft but not sticky dough is formed. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until it is smooth and satiny (I did all this by hand because I killed my stand mixer kneading a double-batch of bread). Return dough to an oiled bowl and cover to let rise until doubled.Separate dough into three portions. Roll out each portion into a circle and cut into 12 pie-shaped pieces. Roll up crescent-style and place on greased baking sheet. Cover with saran wrap that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes - until nicely browned. Makes 3 dozen rolls.

*Freezable: Freeze the baked rolls in freezer-safe ziploc bags. You can microwave the frozen rolls (about 6 at a time) for 2 minutes before serving, or just thaw them at room temp ahead of time.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Favorite Brownies & Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I have been searching for a good brownie recipe for a long time. I really like my brownies fudgy and slightly gooey, but every time I try to make homemade brownies they turn out pretty cakey. I hate to admit it, but I actually like brownie mixes better. But I would rather make homemade so I can control what's in there (no HFCS for us, thanks!). I found this recipe and thought I'd give it a go. I did add some chocolate syrup in the mix, and they turned out very good! Thick, fudgy, yum! No more boxed mixes for me! They would be great alone, but I also recently found this frosting recipe I love, so I put that on top. Next time I might add a layer of mint frosting in the middle.

Favorite Brownies (adapted from the Open Pantry)
1 cup Butter
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs
1 1/2 cup Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 cup chocolate syrup

Melt the butter, add the cocoa and sugar and mix together. Add in eggs, mixing well. Add the remaining ingredients, mix, and pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
(from Stephanie’s Kitchen)
½ c. butter, softened
1/3 c. cocoa
2 2/3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. cream, half & half, or milk (I use milk)
1 ½ tsp. vanilla

Blend butter and cocoa until creamy. Alternately add powdered sugar and cream/milk. Add vanilla and beat until smooth.

*You can make vanilla buttercream by replacing the cocoa with more powdered sugar, or make variations by substituting the vanilla for other flavorings in chocolate or vanilla buttercream (try almond flavoring, coconut, raspberry, orange, lemon, mint, etc.)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week 2

Here is my menu for this week:

Monday: Garlic shrimp, angel hair pasta w/ butter & parmesan, brocolli
Tuesday: Brown sugar pork sandwiches, chips and pickle spears
Wednesday: Pan-fried pork chops, rustic garlic mashed potatoes, green beans
Thursday: Cub Scouts Blue & Gold Banquet (bring cake)
Friday: Finished taxes! Went out to dinner to celebrate.
Saturday: Chicken cilantro quesadillas, rice & black beans
Sunday: Ropa Vieja (a delicious beef stew), Lion House rolls

Cafe Rio Pork Salad, Cilantro-Lime Dressing & Guacamole

For those of you who don't have a Cafe Rio, it is a chain of Mexican grill restaurants. They have great salads, burritos, and quesadillas, homemade tortillas, and the best cilantro-lime dressing. Here is a copycat recipe for the Pork Salad. Try it, and let me know what you think! I found the recipe for the dressing and salad ideas at Our Best Bites.

Cafe Rio Pork Salad
6 homemade tortillas (recipe follows)(serve without tortillas for wheat-free)
1 recipe lime-cilantro rice (recipe follows)
1 recipe brown sugar-salsa pork (recipe follows, you'll have extra)
1 recipe cilantro-lime dressing (recipe follows, again you'll have extra)
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
romaine lettuce
crispy tortilla strips
guacamole (recipe follows)

On a large plate, layer a tortilla, a scoop of rice, a scoop of beans, some lettuce, a scoop of pork (you can also use chicken or steak), and some tortilla strips. Drizzle w/ dressing and top w/ a big spoonful of guacamole. Yum!

Flour Tortillas
2 1/2 c. flour
1 c. very hot water
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 c. shortening

Mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening until resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in water (I had to add a little extra flour b/c it was too sticky). Divide into 6 portions, roll each into a circle about 8-10" across. Cook in a very hot skillet until large bubbles form and light brown spots appear, turn and cook on other side (this only takes about a minute per side).

Lime-Cilantro Rice

1 c. uncooked long grain rice, plus water according to directions
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tb. lime juice
1 chicken boiullon cube, or 1 tsp. granules
salt to taste, if needed

Mix all ingredients except salt. Cook rice according to package directions, salt to taste.

Brown Sugar-Salsa Pork

1 pork roast (about 2 pounds)
1 c. brown sugar
2 c. medium salsa

Place pork in crock-pot. Sprinkle brown sugar on top, then pour on salsa. Cook on low 8 hours. Shred with fork and add back to crock-pot to soak up juices. This is SO good, we loved it! It would be great on sandwiches, too, or just by itself.

Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing

1 pack (1oz) Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix (regular or buttermilk, and ignore directions on the packet)
1C mayo
1/2 C milk (or buttermilk depending on which packet you buy)
1 lime
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 C roughly chopped cilantro
1/4 C green salsa hot sauce (La Costena is good, Herdez is really hot)

Place milk, mayo, and ranch mix in a blender. Juice the lime in there too, you should get about 2T juice. Toss in the garlic, cilantro and green salsa. Blend 'er up. Sample it and add hot sauce to taste. Make it several hours ahead of time to allow it to thicken.


3 very ripe avocados
splash of lime juice
sprinkle of garlic salt
few drops of Tabasco

Peel, seed and mash avocados w/ a fork. Mix in other ingredients (a little Tabasco goes a long way, so be careful). Serve on this salad, or with chips, on burgers or enchiladas, or just eat w/ a
spoon! If you have leftovers, store them with the pit in the middle and plastic wrap pressed right on top- this will help keep it from turning brown!