Monday, January 31, 2011

Menu Planning Monday.

It's Superbowl Week!!  And in our house it's limited time in the kitchen week.  Nonetheless, here's our menu:

Monday: Birthday Dinner with Pear Cake for my husband's grandfather.  82 years old!  Cake recipe coming soon.
Tuesday: Steak Feed!
Wednesday: Leftover Buffet (and an attempt to get the fridge cleaned out!!)
Thursday: Crockpot Lasagna.  I've made this several times, but have yet to post the recipe.  AND since it would make an easy and delicious main dish for your Superbowl Party I'll post this recipe this week!
Friday: Fish Fry!  Carry outs at home!  Have you figured out our Friday pattern?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Garlic Knots.

Success.  Finally.  At what you wonder...

Homemade Buns.  Or, in this case, "knots."  Ever since I began dabbling in homemade breads I've tried to success at making buns or rolls or any other type of bread-like product in an individual size.  And now that we only eat homemade bread I figured it's time to nail down the bun-making so that I don't have to buy those at the store anymore either.

And then I was over at Made in Melissa's Kitchen and couldn't turn down an attempt to reproduce her Garlic Knots.  I enlisted the help of my cousin and we went to work making the dough with the bread machine and then forming, rising, and baking the knots.

Garlic Knots
(Recipe from Made in Melissa's Kitchen.  Slightly Adapted by Me.)
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
1¼ teaspoon salt
tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons dried garlic
1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon melted butter

Place dough ingredients in bread machine - adding liquid ingredients first and then adding the dry ones.  Be sure that yeast does not come in contact with liquid ingredients when adding to the bread machine.  Turn bread machine to dough setting and wait.

Once dough is ready, divide into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a "rope" and tie the dough into a knot.  Tuck ends into the center.  Place on a baking sheet and cover with a towel.  Allow to rise for about 45 minutes.  Combine topping ingredients and brush on prepared knots.  Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly browned in a 350 degree oven.  Serve warm or cool.  Mine kept in a bag on the counter top for about a week.

The results were perfect homemade rolls.  First served as a warm treat right from the oven.  And then as a side to our soup.  And later as sandwich to our hamburgers.  They are so easy and tasty that I've made them on three different occasions now.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Queso Con Carne.

Are you ready for the Superbowl?  My team is playing!  I'm so excited to be a Green Bay Packer fan and the fact that we are playing in the big game is finally setting in!  I can't wait to get my new of which is featured in the video below:

You may wonder what the superbowl, football, or the Green Bay Packers have to do with this post.  Welllll...this dip kind of reminds me of the Packers since it is golden in color!  And it's a fast, easy, and delicious appetizer for your superbowl (or any) party.

The recipe is originally from my mom and has been in our family for a long time now.  It is the only way my husband will eat "spicy" food.  And it is the only way he eats the salsa I work so hard to make.  That says something!

Queso Con Carne.
(Recipe Adapted from My Mom)
1 large package Velveeta cheese
1 lb Italian pork sausage (cooked and crumbled)
1 pint salsa

Combine ingredients in a small slow cooker during to medium or low heat.  Stir occasionally.  Dip is ready once cheese has melted and ingredients are combined.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Go Pack Go!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Menu Planning Monday.

My first week participating in Menu Plan Monday was a success!  I'm back for another week.

Monday: Pizza Soup.  One of my husband's favorites.  His request.
Tuesday:  Leftover cook out!  Yes, in winter.  And my husband was so kind to grill me some shrimp!!  Can't wait to eat up what's left.
Wednesday: I'll be trying a new recipe for macaroni and cheese.  I'm positive it will be successful.  That being the case, stay tuned for a new recipe!
Thursday: Pizza using my new stand-by pizza dough recipe.  The dough works great for both deep dish and thin crust.  This week will be thin crust.  Half veggie and canadian bacon.  Half meat lover.
Friday: Fish Fry!  A staple meal in Wisconsin!

What's on your menu for the coming week?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

White Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting & Blueberry Pie Filling.

This is one of the only ways in which I truly enjoy cake.  And it's all thanks to my husband!  He's been making this cake ever since we started dating nearly seven years ago.  Come to think of it, I've never actually made this.  I always request he make it!

White Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting & Blueberry Pie Filling
(Recipe by Gary)
1 9x13 white cake (made from scratch or a box)
1 large can of blueberry pie filling (raspberry or cherry also work if you prefer)
1 package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 stick butter
milk to achieve desired consistency

Bake cake according to recipe.  Allow to cool.  Make cream cheese frosting by beating together cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and milk.  Frosting should be slightly thinner than most other cream cheese or butter cream frosting.  Adjust the powdered sugar and milk until you've reached desired consistency.  Spread over the top of the cake.  Next spread your pie filling over the top of the cream cheese layer.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.

Note:  This cake will taste good with any consistency of cream cheese frosting!  Keep in mind if the frosting is too thin it will seep into the cake while if it's too thick it will be difficult to spread.  Use your judgement and enjoy!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Planning Monday.

As much as I love making a mess in the kitchen.  I love cleaning it up even more.  My cupboards are organized with the oldest stuff in front and newest in back.  Everything has its place.  Yes, I know what some of you are thinking, but it takes both of us to make this world go 'round!!

Over the weekend I stumbled upon and was inspired to get a little more organized!  I think part of that will be participation in Menu Planning Monday.  This should allow me to have less food spoilage (produce and leftovers that we can't keep up with) and should allow me to spend less time and money in the grocery store.  Here's my go at this week.

Monday: Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza.  We haven't had this for a long time and I have some chicken and bacon in the fridge that needs to get used up.
Tuesday:  Cheeseburger with French Fries.  This is one of my husband's favorite meals.  I like my burger with mushrooms which I just happen to have this week!
Wednesday: Leftovers!
Thursday:  Chicken Parmesan.  Another dish we haven't had in a long time.  I think I have a few "new" versions bookmarked...I'll have to take a look and see what I can come up with.
Friday: Fish Fry at home!

What do you plan to make this week?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip.

According to wikipedia:
"A buffalo winghot wing or wing is a chicken wing section (drumette or flat) that is traditionally fried unbreaded and then coated in sauce. Classic Buffalo-style chicken wing sauce is composed of a vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce and butter.[1] Buffalo wings are traditionally served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.[2]
Buffalo wings are named after the culinary dish from Buffalo, New York.[3] "
Sounds good, right?  If it weren't for the bones in chicken wings I'm sure I'd love them!  And, yes, I know there are boneless ones, but people don't rave about them the same...

Imagine my delight when a co-worker brought in some dip recently.  She called it Buffalo Chicken Dip.  After sampling (and getting the recipe) for the dip I set out to incorporate the same flavors, but with a little more kick and while keeping it as "healthy" as possible.  The result?  A fabulous game time (Go Packers!or anytime appetizer!

Buffalo Chicken Dip
(Recipe by Me)
2 cups cooked & shredded chicken breast
1 package fat-free cream cheese
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup light ranch dressing
3/4 cup Frank's Hot Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)
1 small package blue cheese crumbs

Place ingredients in a small slow cooker on low heat.  Mix often.  Dip is done once ingredients are combined and heated through.  Serve with crackers, pretzels, celery, etc.

I love how easy this is.  And it's adjustable to your tastes...try a different hot sauce, use more ranch, less blue cheese, add cheddar cheese, forgo the sour cream - the list could go on and on.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We're On Facebook!

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We'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza.

Who doesn't love homemade pizza?  Any pizza for that matter!  This past weekend I couldn't think of a better way to cheer on the Green Bay Packers than with pizza and popcorn.  My hus took care of the popcorn and left me to the pizza.

In honor of my upcoming trip to Chicago I did some investigating about their pizza.  It seems there is some argument surrounding the better pizza - Chicago vs. New York style pizza.  Think deep dish vs. thin crust.  Think knife and fork vs. hands.  And in the end...think no comparison!  The two types of pizza are so different!  They both taste great!  You will make your family and friends happy with either selection!  And even happier if you make your pizza crust from scratch.

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza.
Pizza Dough (see recipe below, use your own recipe, or use store-bought dough)
Mozzarella Cheese
Pizza Topping (I used italian-seasoned pork sausage (cooked ahead of time), turkey bacon (much like canadian bacon), and onions)
Pizza Sauce
Italian Seasoning

Grease a standard size cheesecake spring pan.  Press dough evenly across the bottom and up the sides.  Place slices of mozzarella on top of the dough.  Top with meat, onions, and any other pizza toppings of your choice.  Spread pizza sauce across the top.  Sprinkle with additional cheese and italian seasoning if desired.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until crust is browned.

Pizza Dough.
(recipe by me)

1 cup water
1/4 cup garlic-infused grape seed oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Please ingredients in bread machine - in the order they are listed.  Turn to dough setting and let the magic happen!  Watch the machine for the first 5-10 minutes to ensure you liquid to dry ratio is inline.  Adjust as necessary.
 Now go make pizza!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Granola Bread.

Yes, the apple theme continues...

The first time reading though my new bread cookbooks, I bent the corner over on the page for Apple Cinnamon Granola Bread to indicate a bread I wanted to make sooner than later.  I was intrigued with using apples in a yeast bread as previously all apple breads I've seen were quick breads.  Plus I haven't made a loaf of cinnamon bread in a long time and I thought this might make up for it - especially since it would be coming out of the oven when my husband and father-in-law came in for lunch.  Really, what's not to love about a slice of warm homemade bread on a cold winter's day?

Apple Cinnamon Granola Bread.
Adapted from Prairie Home Breads

1 cup water (room temperature)
1/4 cup milk
1 cup chunky applesauce (I used the chunky applesauce we froze last fall)
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups whole flour
2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon wheat gluten
3/4 cup granola
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Add ingredients to bread machine bowl in the order listed above.  When placing the yeast in the bowl form a small well in the flour to dump it in.  Set bread machine to dough setting and let the machine do the work!   Punch dough down and place in a greased bread pan.  Allow to rise for 1 hour (or until doubled in size) and then bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

That is just how easy homemade bread making can be.  Very little hands on time when using the bread machine with the results matching that of having played around with the dough all morning!

The end result is a slightly sweet bread with a touch of cinnamon and bit of crunch from the granola.  We ate it fresh from the oven (heaven) as well as a toasted for a couple days later (still delicious!).  This was a nice break from my stand-by honey oat bread.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Apple & Stuffing Pork Chops.

I've always liked the combination of pork and apple.  Breakfast sausage cooked with apples....pork chops served with apple sauce...and now this: pork chops cooked over a bed of apple-cinnamon pie filling topped with stuffing.  

The combination may alarm you, but I assure you there is no need to be alarmed.  Besides the great taste, the prep time for this dish is minimal and the oven time gives you the opportunity to get a few things done around the house.

Apple & Stuffing Pork Chops
(Adapted from Taste of Home 5-Ingredient Cookbook)

4-6 boneless pork chops
1 package stuffing mix (prepared according to package directions)
1 large can apple pie filling (if filling doesn't come with cinnamon, add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)

Grease the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Spread pie filling onto the bottom of the baking pan.  Place pork chops over the top of the pie filling.  Spoon stuffing over the top of each pork chop.  Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes (or until the pork reaches 160 degrees).

Yum!  I served this with garlic smashed potatoes and peas.

...and if you are sensing an apple theme...I did not plan for all of these apple dishes to pop up at the same time, but they have...and there is an least one more coming!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Apple Kuchen with Crumb Topping.

My husband loves apple desserts.  Loves them.  So when he suggested we make an apple dessert the other night I jumped at the opportunity to try a second recipe from my Better Homes & Garden One-Pan Recipe book.

Apple Kuchen with Crumb Topping.
(Recipe Slightly Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens One-Pan Recipe Publication)

2 1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
4 medium apples (peeled, cored, and cut into slices)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple pie spice

Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup butter

Combine 1 cup flour and yeast in a mixing bowl; set aside.  In a small saucepan, heat and stir milk, sugar, butter, and salt just until warm.  Add milk mixture and eggs to the flour mixture.  Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.  Beat in the remaining flour.  Spread batter into a greased 9x13 baking dish.  In a separate bowl combine apples, brown sugar, tapioca, lemon juice, and apple pie spice.  Spread apples mixture on top of the batter.  Top with crumb topping (made by combing ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs).  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

We, of course, served ours with some Wisconsin ice cream.  Babcock Hall ice cream to be exact.  If you are lucky enough to live near and/or be driving through Madison.  Stop at Babcock Hall for some ice cream.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Wonder how to say pastitsio?  Try pah-STEET-see-oh.  Wonder what pastitsio is?  Think Greek and think lasagna.  Thanks to Better Homes & Gardens I am now 1/18 of the way to meeting my new year's resolution!

(adapted from Better Homes & Gardens "One-Pan Recipes)
1 pound ground beef
1 cup onion (chopped)
2 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1.5 cups chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound pasta
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs (lightly beaten, divided)
4 tablespoons butter (divided)
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups Parmesan cheese

Prepare meat sauce by cooking beef and onion over medium heat.  Drain fat.  Stir in tomato sauce, sugar, chopped tomatoes, wine, and cinnamon.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat.  Cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Once cooked, drain well and toss with 3/4 cup milk, 2 beaten eggs, and 2 tablespoons butter.  Ensure noodles are slightly cooled to avoid cooking the egg mixture.

Create cream sauce by melting remaining butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Once melted stir in flour, salt, and pepper until smooth.  Slowly add milk (thickening in between pours).  Cook and stir until mixture is bubbly and thickened.  Slowly add mixture to remaining eggs.  (Again adding slowly to avoid cooking the egg mixture).

Grease a 9x13 baking dish.  Spread half of the pasta mixture onto the bottom of the pan.  Top with meat sauce.  Sprinkle with a cup of cheese.  Top with remaining pasta and sprinkle with another cup of cheese.  Finally, pour cream sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cover the pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.  Sprinkle each serving with ground cinnamon.

I know I can trust my husband's "this tastes good" if he takes more than one serving or if takes bite after bite out of the pan - saying he doesn't want another serving...just another bite.  And...he ate more.  Success!  I was worried the about the cinnamon, but you need not be.  It's a very mild flavor and not at all overwhelming.  We'll make this again!

It feels great to get back to cooking!  After all my holiday baking I doubt I'll want to bake until Valentine's Day!  Ok, who am I kidding I'll probably be baking again by week's end!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Whole Wheat Cheddar Bread & Bowls.

When Michelle posted her Taco Chicken Chili yesterday I couldn't help but think how wonderful it would be to sit home cozied into the living room on Saturday night while eating this soup and watching the Wisconsin Badgers play in the Rose Bowl.  As the day went on my husband and I decided not to go to church on Saturday evening and attend the weekday mass this coming week instead.  Things were coming together for a perfect evening...and then they get better!

They got better because I found a recipe for Whole Wheat Cheddar Bread with instructions on how to make bread bowls!  What a better way to start the new year than spending the evening with my husband eating a home-cooked meal and watching our Wisconsin Badgers play in the Rose Bowl!  Not to mention accomplishing one of my resolutions on the first day (i.e. trying a new bread recipe each month).

Whole Wheat Cheddar Bread
(Recipe Slightly Adapted from Prairie Home Breads)
Makes 2 loaves of bread or 1 loaf of bread & bread bowls.
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
12 ounces sharp Wisconsin cheddar (cut into dice-sized pieces)

Instructions for Using a Bread Machine to Prepare Dough:
Fill bread machine bowl with ingredients in this order: water, oil, honey, salt, flour, cheese (placed to either side - leaving the center open to pouring the yeast).  Make a shallow well in the flour (careful not to go as deep as the liquids) and fill with yeast.  Turn bread machine to dough setting and watch carefully as dough may not have enough room to rise...with 10 minutes left in the cycle I opened the cover and replaced with a towel to allow full rising potential.

Split dough in half.

Loaf Instructions:
Form half into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled in size (about an hour)  Once risen, bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

Bread Bowl Instructions:
Cover the bottom of six 6-ounce custard cups with cooking spray.  Divide dough evenly into six parts.  Pat each dough into a 7-inch circle and mold around each upside-down custard cup and place on a baking sheet.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for about 20 minutes.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.  Once golden bowl, remove from oven and carefully separate the bread bowl from the custard cup.  Allow the bread bowls to cool before serving.

The soup was amazing.  So delicious!  Bread bowls were also a success although next time I make the soup I will try my hand at cornbread as suggested by Michelle.