Monday, November 10, 2008

Super Yummy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

It's that time of year to get the canned pumpkin cooking in your kitchen! We're not big pumpkin pie eaters unless there's a good amount of whipped cream available, but like this recipe for a holiday pumpkin treat. Great warmed with butter or just by itself, with a big glass of milk......mmmmmm

15 oz canned pumpkin
4 eggs
1 Cup vegetable oil
2/3 Cup water
3 Cups white sugar (I sub one cup with brown sugar)
3 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 4 7x3 loaf pans. I actually always have enough for one additional 8x4 loaf, so keep this in mind. Or grease muffin tins.

In a large bowl mix pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl whisk dry ingredients, but not chips.

Add the dry to the wet ingredients and mix until just blended. Add chocolate chips and mix thoroughly. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or 35 minutes for muffins. Done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

This recipe gets better with age so plan to make a day ahead if possible. Makes a lot so share with friends!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Homemade Laundry Detergent

In effort to save a buck, I began looking for homemade cleaning products and found this recipe a few months ago. I've used it through two batches now and it costs, according to the website listed below, one cent per load! I've gotten about 64 loads from each batch, and found this quite a savings from store bought detergents. Scented oils can be added if you like but I've not done so. Seems to clean just as well as store bought detergent, and with just this little bit of effort I feel I am contributing to maintaining our budget!

1/3 bar Fels Naptha which can be found in the laundry detergent aisle
½ cup washing soda
½ cup borax powder
~You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size~

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. You use ½ cup per load.

**A few things to note about the soap**

~The finished soap will not be a solid gel. It will be more of a watery gel that has been accurately described as an "egg noodle soup" look.

~The soap is a low sudsing soap. So if you don’t see suds, that is ok. Suds are not what does the cleaning, it is the ingredients in the soap.

recipe found at

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fresh Tomato and Cucumber Salad

As your backyard produce starts to hit it's peak, this is a great, tasty way to make sure it gets used. We have cucumbers coming out our ears, so we'll be having this for dinner tonight.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
10 fresh basil leaves
5 fresh oregano leaves
3 small fresh cucumbers (pickling or thin slicing)
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, vine ripened

Mince garlic or press through a garlic press. Let garlic stand in balsamic and wine vinegars for 10 minutes (this takes the "edge" off). Discard any garlic which has green sprouts in the center, as the flavor is too sharp and bitter for this salad - use for another purpose.

Wash basil and oregano leaves (pick at noon time on a sunny day for best flavor). Chop and add to your best olive oil and allow to stand in oil while garlic marinates.

Meanwhile, prepare salad ingredients. Wash cucumbers and tomatoes. Peel cucumbers, leaving some of the peel (helps with digestion). Slice cucumbers into 1/4 inch cirlces.

With a sharp knife, remove stem and blossom end from tomatoes. Slice tomatoes into wedges, being careful not to crush and lose juice.

Place tomatoes and cucumbers in salad bowl and sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt.

Combine olive oil with vinegars, whisking together well. Use to dress tomatoes and cucumbers; serve at room temperature.

Variations: Add 1 thinly sliced red onion, pitted oil cured black olives and fresh mozzarella, sliced (or use the small bocconcini).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Roast

I recently made this and it is oooo--scrumptious.  I love pork but often forget about making it as it can easily become dry, but this was super moist and yummy, and was just as good as leftovers.  Giada has some great recipes that I love for their simplicity--fewer, more common ingredients.  For the herbs, I used dry (1 tsp dry=1 Tbl fresh) as that was what I had on hand, and it worked just fine.  If you're like me and don't know where to find pancetta, it is usually in the deli section of the supermarket, and if you can't find it, just ask the nice people at the deli!  Also, I only used a single pork roast, so I sliced it longwise, not all the way through, and put some of the herb mixture in, folding it back over.  I didn't have string to tie it up so I skipped that.  And if you're not sure what to do with the rest of that wine, well, drink it!  It's great with salad and the focaccia bread recipe previously posted on this blog.  Enjoy....

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
See this recipe on air Thursday Aug. 21 at 4:30 PM ET/PT.
Show: Everyday Italian
Episode: Easy Weekend Entertaining


8 large garlic cloves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) tied boneless pork loin roast
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
Blend the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and oil in a small food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the garlic is minced.
Sprinkle the pork roast generously with salt and pepper. Arrange the pancetta slices on a work surface, overlapping slightly and forming a rectangle. Spread half of the garlic mixture over 1 side of the pork and between the 2 loins that meet in the center of the tied pork roast. Place the pork, garlic mixture side down, in the center of the pancetta rectangle. Spread the remaining garlic mixture over the remaining pork. Wrap the pancetta slices around the pork. Place the pork in a roasting pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Pour 1/2 cup of broth and 1/2 cup of wine into the roasting pan. Add more broth and wine to the pan juices every 20 minutes. Roast the pork until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 145 degrees F for medium-rare, about 1 hour. Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Tent with aluminum foil and let stand for 10 minutes. Pour the pan drippings into a glass measuring cup and spoon off any fat that rises to the top.

Using a large sharp carving knife, cut the pork into 1/4-inch-thick slices and serve with the pan juices.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Easy Chocolate Eclairs

Hi all, sorry for the lack in posting lately--we've had quite the busy summer.  This recipe is a tasty, cool treat that will have you going back for seconds.  I am entering it in a dessert contest this weekend, I'll let you know how it fares!

Graham crackers (do NOT crumble)
2 sm. boxes instant pudding
3 c. milk
1 (9 oz.) Cool Whip
1 can chocolate frosting
Run hot water over icing can while mixing other ingredients. This will soften and partially melt the icing.  Or it can be softened in the microwave.
Mix pudding and milk until thick. Fold in Cool Whip. Layer in 13"x9" pan, graham crackers, then 1/2 pudding mix, then another layer of graham crackers, followed by rest of pudding mix. Top with 1 more layer of graham crackers. Frost. Refrigerate overnight.

NOTE: Can use either 1 box French vanilla pudding and 1 box chocolate pudding or 2 boxes vanilla pudding.  I have not tried the chocolate pudding.

**Won 2nd place!**

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Keeping Celery Crisp

Well, I don't have time for posting a recipe this week, but do have this great tip I read in a magazine recently.  We like celery, but have always struggled with it's short shelf-life....until now.  The article says to wrap the unwashed bunch in aluminum foil and the crispyness can last up to three weeks!  I have tried it and it works great, though ours usually doesn't stay around for three weeks.  Over all the other methods tried and mentioned in the article, like tupperware, water, saran wrap, and baggies, the foil worked the best and I have to agree.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yummy 'Instant' Buttermilk Pancakes

This is a recipe we saw while watching Alton Brown's show Good Eats.  This show is definitely worth your time, he has a plethora of practical information and is quite entertaining in his kookiness.  He always has the science behind the cooking, which we of course both love.  These pancakes are fabulous!  He says the reason for combining the eggs separated, one with buttermilk and the other with butter, and then together is due to the way fats bond, and while I can not remember the science behind that, make sure you do it just as he recommends.  We did and these were super yummy.  And while I do use powdered buttermilk for some baking, I do not recommend it for this, get the real stuff, baby!  We love breakfast for dinner and these sure hit our spot.  Do not overmix!!

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Show: Good Eats
Episode: Flap Jack Do It Again

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (check expiration date first)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
Combine all of the ingredients in a lidded container. Shake to mix.
Use the mix within 3 months.

2 eggs, separated
2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups "Instant" Pancake Mix, recipe above
1 stick butter, for greasing the pan
2 cups fresh fruit such as blueberries, if desired
Heat an electric griddle or frying pan to 350 degrees F. Heat oven to 200 degrees F.
Whisk together the egg whites and the buttermilk in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the melted butter.

Combine the buttermilk mixture with the egg yolk mixture in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Pour the liquid ingredients on top of the pancake mix. Using a whisk, mix the batter just enough to bring it together. Don't try to work all the lumps out.

Check to see that the griddle is hot by placing a few drops of water onto to the griddle. The griddle is ready if the water dances across the surface.

Lightly butter the griddle. Wipe off thoroughly with a paper towel. (No butter should be visible.)

Gently ladle the pancake batter onto the griddle and sprinkle on fruit if desired. When bubbles begin to set around the edges of the pancake and the griddle-side of the cake is golden, gently flip the pancakes. Continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the pancake is set.

Serve immediately or remove to a towel-lined baking sheet and cover with a towel. Hold in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes.

Yield: 12 pancakes

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuscan Mac 'N' Cheese

This is a super yummy, adult version of mac-n-cheese that is great as leftovers, too.  It's Kevin's favorite and was his father's day meal this year.  It comes from a magazine cooking contest in Better Homes and Gardens, and is definitely a winner in our house.  

8 oz. sweet or hot Italian Sausage, or turkey Italian sausage can be used
8 oz. elbow macaroni or gemelli pasta (2 cups) cooked and drained
8 oz. cream cheese, cut in cubes and softened
4 oz. crusty Italian bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz)
1 Tblspn butter
1 Tblspn all-purpose flour
1 Tblspn fresh sage or 1 tsp dried crushed sage
1 tsp snipped fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried crushed thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1 medium tomato, sliced
2 oz shredded Asiago, Parmesan or Romano cheese (1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a skillet cook and crumble sausage, drain.  In a very large bowl combine sausage, cooked pasta, cream cheese, bread cubes, olives and mozzarella cheese.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat.  Stir in flour, sage, thyme, salt, pepper.  Add milk all at once.  Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly.  Pour sauce over pasta mixture.  Stir gently.  Transfer mixture to a 2-quart casserole dish.  Bake, covered, for 35 minutes.  Uncover, top with tomato slices and Parmesan cheese.  Bake, uncovered for 15 minutes or until heated through.  Let stand 15 minutes before serving.  Sprinkle with additional thyme if desired.  Makes 6-8 servings.

We omit the olives, we are not olive people.  And the cream cheese can be added one of two ways.  If you like some clumps of cream cheese in the finished dish, do it the way the recipe says.  Or if you like it more melted through, warm up the large bowl of sausage, noodles and cheese before setting aside and stir gently to evenly coat with cheese.  

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Blackened Tilapia

I just made this tonight for dinner and was very pleased with the look and flavor. It was great with mashed potatoes! I normally do not like Tilapia as it can have a fishy taste, but with these spices this was quite tasty, not fishy tasting. Yum!

4-6 Tilapia
2 Tbls. Paprika
2 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon pepper
1.5 tsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp ground red pepper
1.5 tsp. dried, crushed basil
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 c. unsalted butter, melted


Heat iron skillet on high 5 minutes. Mix all seasonings in a bowl. Dip fillets in melted butter and coat with seasonings. Place fillets in hot skillet and cook 2 minutes on each side.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Company Salad

This is a great salad with any meal, passed on to me from my dad's wife, Barbara, a wonderful cook, and is my favorite to make when we have company for dinner.  

3/4 cupe canola oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Prepare dressing by combining oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well and refrigeratre until ready to use.

2 bunches Romaine lettuce
2 cupes diced tomatoes (optional)
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup silvered almonds, toasted
1 cup Caesar-style croutons

Rinse, dry and tear lettuce leaves, placing them into a large bowl. Add tomatoes, crumbled bacon, cheeses, almonds and croutons. Toss well. Add dressing just before serving Serves 8 to 10.

Additional recipe tip: substitute a mixture of Romaine lettuce and fresh baby spinach if you prefer.   I also keep cooked bacon in the freezer and take out as needed.  

Friday, May 9, 2008

Broiler S'Mores

In honor of our camping trip this weekend, enjoy some S'mores with us, right in your own kitchen!  

4 graham crackers
2 milk chocolate candy bars
12 marshmallows

Preheat the oven broiler. Line a small pan with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
Break the graham crackers in half and lay 4 of the squares out on a serving plate. Break the candy bars in half and lay one piece on each of the graham crackers on the plate.
Arrange the marshmallows in a single layer in the prepared pan.
Broil the marshmallows until the tops brown, turn the marshmallows to brown the undersides. Keep a close eye on the marshmallows so they do not burn. They will brown very quickly.
Remove the marshmallows from the pan and place three on each of the chocolate squares. Top with the remaining graham cracker halves.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Swedish Cinnamon Rolls (Kanelbulle)

I found this recipe while I was in Sweden, and wow... Very good! These are less sweet than your average American cinnamon roll, but have such a wonderfully unique flavor. Perfect with a strong cup of coffee and sharing with friends.

Yeild: About 20 rolls

1 Envelope Yeast (1 Tbsp)
2 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1 Cup Milk
¼ Teaspoon Salt
¼ Cup Sugar
3 Cups of Flour
1 Teaspoon Cardamom

2 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Rounded Teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Beaten Egg
Pearl Sugar (available at Scandinavian shops)

Combine milk & butter and heat until lukewarm and transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over milk mixture. Stir until dissolved and let rest. Sift together, flour, sugar, cardamom & salt. Add the dry ingredients, mixing until the dough is elastic and not sticky. Cover bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm area to rise for 30 to 40 minutes. (To save time, you can also do this step the night before and let the dough rise in the refrigerator.)

While dough is rising, prepare the filling. Soften the butter and add the cinnamon and sugar to make a thick, spreadable mixture.

When the dough has risen, knead for three minutes, and turn out on a lightly floured board. Roll it into a rectangle about 1/3-inch thick. Spread the filling over the whole top.

Roll up, starting at the widest end, into a long log and cut into 20 slices. (You may want to refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes to help firm it up before cutting.)

Put cupcake papers on a cookie sheet (or place on a greased cookie sheet) and place dough slice in each.
Preheat oven to 425ºF while you let your dough rise for 20 minutes. Brush with beaten egg mixture or milk and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake for 10 minutes (maybe less, watch during the last few minutes until golden.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Steamed Salmon and Asparagus with Mustard Dill Sauce

Prep and Cook Time: 20 minutes Ingredients:
1 ½ lb salmon filet,skin and bones removed and cut into 4 pieces
1 + 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 bunches asparagus, bottom fourth removed
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
salt & white pepper to taste
Mustard Dill Sauce
4 oz silken tofu
1 TBS prepared mustard such as Dijon
4 TBS fresh dill chopped
1 TBS honey
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
½ cup water
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a steamer with a tight fitting lid
While water is coming to a boil, put all sauce ingredients except olive oil in a blender and begin to blend on high speed for about a minute. While blender is running drizzle olive oil in a little at a time. Set aside.
Rub salmon with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Cut ends off asparagus. When water is at a full boil place asparagus in steamer basket, cover, and cook until asparagus is tender, about 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness. Remove from steamer, toss with 1 TBS lemon juice, 1 TBS olive oil, salt and pepper.
Rub salmon with 1 TBS lemon juice and season with a little salt and pepper.
Place salmon in the same steamer basket and steam until pink inside, about 3-4 minutes. Place salmon on a plate and pour desired amount of sauce over it and the asparagus.
Serves 4
Serving Suggestions: Serve with
Sliced Tomato, Dandelion Salad
Healthy Cooking Tips:
Because thickness of asparagus varies so much it is best to check for doneness instead of just relying on timing. The timing in this recipe is approximate. You want it to bend and feel tender but still crisp in the center. Over cooked asparagus will look dull and the dish will lose its freshness. Choose salmon filets from the thickest part of the fish. They will remain moist. Check for doneness by inserting the tip of a knife into the thickest part of the filet. Salmon is best, cooked medium. This means it is still pink in the center. It will be nice and moist cooked this way. Remove it from the steamer when it is cooked slightly less than desired, as it will continue to cook after it is removed from the heat. Adding the olive oil a little at the end of blending the sauce will emulsify it. If, for some reason it breaks and has a rough texture, you can add a TBS of water, and it should smooth out.
I found this receipe on WWW.WHFOODS.ORG
My family loves Salmon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stuffed Shells and Focaccia Bread

1 box (12 ounces) Jumbo Shells
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bag (6 ounces) baby spinach, chopped
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg
12 ounces cottage cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
1-2 jars Marinara Sauce

PREHEAT oven to 350 F.
COOK Shells according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water.COOK ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Drain grease.
ADD oil, spinach, onion, garlic, reserved pasta water; continue cooking 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
ADD seasonings and blend well. Let mixture cool.
COMBINE egg and cheeses and add to cooled meat mixture.
POUR 1 cup of the Marinara Sauce into a 13x9 inch baking dish.
FILL Shells with meat mixture; place in dish. Pour remaining sauce over shells; cover with foil.
BAKE for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated

This is a favorite with all of us in our house, and the mixture is easy to prepare even up to 24 hours before you intend to assemble and bake it. Depending on how much sauce you like you may want to have 2 jars on hand, or one extra large jar.....we like sauce! Served with focaccia bread and a salad, this is a yummy meal that makes great leftovers.  Below is the focaccia bread recipe I always use, and this is easy and great to make with kids.  Leo loves to make the "fingerprints".  We usually make without the sun-dried tomatoes and it's just as good.

Foccacia Bread

1 cup water
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons dry milk powder
3 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temp
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Place water, flour, powdered milk, sugar, salt, butter or margarine, tomatoes, and yeast into a large kitchen mixer.  Using the dough hook mix the dough until a soft ball clings to the hook.  If the dough is too sticky, add a small amount of flour, too dry add a small amount of water.  I heat my oven to 170 degrees while mixing, or use the lowest heat setting you have on your oven.  Once the dough is done mixing, remove from mixer bowl and spray with oil.  Replace the dough ball and turn to coat with oil.  Cover bowl with a damp, light cloth and place in the warmed oven, turning off the heat.  Let rise for about 1 hour.

After about one hour the dough should be doubled in size.  Take the dough out. Knead for 1 minute by hand. Let rest.

Dust a 10 x 15 inch baking tray with cornmeal. Roll out dough to fit the pan. Make indentations in the dough with your finger tips. Brush top surface with oil, and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle with parmesan, rosemary, garlic salt, and mozzarella.

Bake at 400 degree F (205 degrees C) for 15 minutes, or until nicely browned. Cool slightly, and cut into squares for serving.

• To make a thicker bread, use a smaller pan or a large casserole dish for baking it.  This thicker bread is great for sandwiches.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sloppy Joes

This recipe is very similar to the sloppy joes my mom raised me on, the onions and celery are added here for a some added veggies which I always try to slip into Leo's food. Forget the Manwhich, these are yummy and well worth the time spent in the kitchen, which is not long. Enjoy!

2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
8 hamburger buns

Place ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until evenly browned, stirring to crumble. I like to use a potato masher to even out the lumps. Add onion and celery, cover the pan, and cook until tender and transparent, about 5 minutes. Drain off any grease.
Stir the tomato soup (undiluted), ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce into the beef mixture. Season with salt and garlic powder. Heat to a simmer over low heat, and cook until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning on the bottom.
Spoon the hot beef mixture onto buns, which may be toasted first, and serve.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Soft Pretzels

Do you love those soft pretzels from Pretzelmaker at the mall? Well, I so do, but my wallet so does not. Here's a recipe that was pretty easy and very yummy, just like I was at the mall. If you don't eat them all right away, freeze them and re-heat in a toaster oven. Sorry again for no pictures, I often forget to take one. I'll add it later!

1 pk Active dry yeast
1 c Warm water
2 1/2 To 3 cups all purpose flour
2 tb Olive oil
1 tb Sugar
6 tb Baking soda in 6 cups water
Coarse salt

In a bowl , dissolve yeast in water. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour,the
oil,and sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes to make a smooth batter.
Gradually stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and satiny (about
5 minutes) adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place dough in
a greased bowl; turn over to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm
place until double (about 1 hour).

Punch down dough, turn out onto a floured board,and divide into 12
pieces. Shape each into a smooth ball by gently kneading. Then roll
each into a smooth rope about 18 inches long, and twist into a
pretzel shape. Place slightly apart on a greased baking sheet turning
loose ends underneath. Let rise, uncovered,until puffy (about 25

Meanwhile, in a 3-quart stainless steel or enameled pan (not aluminum)
bring soda water to a boil; adjust water to keep water boiling
gently. With a slotted spatula, lower 1 pretzel at a time into pan.
Let simmer for 10 seconds on each side,then lift from water,drain
briefly on spatula, and return to baking sheet. Let dry briefly, then
sprinkle with coarse salt and let stand,uncovered, until all have

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until
golden brown. Transfer to racks; serve warm with butter, mustard or
even cream cheese. Or let cool completely,wrap airtight,and freeze.
To reheat, place frozen on ungreased baking sheets and bake in a
preheated 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until hot. Makes 1
dozen pretzels.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tortilla Cheese Soup--Kerry Chapman

1 Can Cream of Chicken soup
1 Can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 Can Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup
10 oz. Mild Red Enchilada sauce
10 oz. Milk
10 oz. Can of Chunk Chicken
Bring all to a slight boil over medium heat for 10-15 minutes stirring frequently.  For the crock pot--mix all ingredients, cover and cook High for 2 hours.  Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, tortilla chips and tortilla pieces...Enjoy!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kevin's Ultimate Potato Gratin

This recipe is Kevin's personal adaptation of a Tyler Florence recipe that immediately became a favorite in our house, and would be a great side with your easter ham or turkey--it's what we'll be having!  Enjoy..

Bacon--use 1/2 to entire package of presliced bacon depending on how much you like bacon--we use turkey bacon
2 Tblspn unsalted butter
4 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped to 1/4 Cup
2 Pounds Baking Potatoes, unpeeled and thinly sliced (about 1/8" thick, sliced immediatel  before using so they don't turn brown. 
2 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
2 Cups Grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375

Cut bacon into 1/2 inch chunks.  Place a small skillet over medium-low heat and fry the bacon until crisp.  Drain on towels and set aside.  Can be done ahead of time.

Add 1 Tblsp butter to bacon fat in frying pan.  When it has melted, add 1/2 the chopped garlic and give it a quick stir with a wooden spoon to soften.  Add the bacon, season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and add most of the chives, reserving a little for garnish.

Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 " casserole dish.  In a large bowl combine potatoes, 1 1/2 cups of cream, 1 cup of parmesan and remaining garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Using your hands, place a layer of potato mixture in casserole.  Sprinkle with parmesan, then bacon and repeat layers until mixture and bacon  gone, ending with some bacon on top.  Pour remaining 1 cup of cream over top and sprinkle with a bit more parmesan.  Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.  Remove foil and bake for 30 minutes more to brown.  Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Garnish with remaining chives. 

Monday, March 17, 2008

Irish Soda Bread

A staple in Irish homes, Irish soda bread is quick and easy. For feast days the Irish add fruit and spices to make this a special bread. This is an appropriate recipe for the Feast of St. Patrick or any other Irish Saint.


Sift the flour and the dry ingredients into a bowl. Make a hole in the center and stir in the buttermilk. If too dry, add a little more milk. Make a rather stiff dough, divide into 2 loaves, and bake on a greased pan in a moderate oven at 350° F. for 45 minutes.

2 pounds flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Recipe Source: Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, David McKay Company, Inc., New York, 1951

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Grapefruit Sunrise

Now for those of you who know me know I love my grapefruit! I just found this recipe, haven't tried it yet...but plan to very soon! It sounds delicious!

Grapefruit, oranges and strawberries are a great combination for this refreshing addition to breakfast; it also makes a great dessert!

Prep and Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:Juice of 2 grapefruit
Juice of 4 oranges
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
2 tsp honey
Sections from 1 grapefruit
1/2 cup sliced strawberries

Directions:Place grapefruit juice, orange juice, 1 cup strawberries and honey in blender and blend until smooth.
Strain into 2 chilled glasses.
Top with grapefruit sections and sliced strawberries.

Serves 2

Healthy Cooking Tips:Chill the fruit first for cold juice or add some ice cubes while blending. Try adding your favorite protein powder for a more complete breakfast or snack.

If you want the whole nutritional breakdown...check out this link: Grapefruit Sunrise Nutrition

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Jenny's Crock Pot Chili

1 lb Ground Beef
1 lb Bacon, diced
1/2 Cup Chopped Onions
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Ketchup
2 tsp. Dry Mustard
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
2 15oz Cans Green Beans, drained
2 14.5oz Cans Baked Beans
2 15oz Cans "Chili Magic"
2 16oz Cans Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed

Brown ground beef and bacon on stovetop.  Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on HIGH for one hour.  Reduce heat to LOW and cook 7-8 hours.  Great with cornbread!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Let's get cooking!

Hi all.......if you have found this website, I am trying a new concept. I love to cook, and even more I love simple easy recipes with easy to find ingredient. If you're anything like me, you may find yourself stuck in a recipe rut every now and then and desire to expand your menu with a new recipe, and I have learned that everyone seems to have different styles that can offer a plethora of decisions if we tap into it. I have begun using the computer to file my favorite recipes and websites and find it an easy way to store then vs. the traditional cookbooks. So my idea is to share recipes via this website, and here's the criteria.

1. I must know you, or you must be a trusted friend of my friends to log in. If you are then
you can gain the password and access to post on the website.
2. Only recipes are to be posted, or other cooking tips as well as any helpful kitchen or household hints. Feel free to upload pictures to go along with these posts.
3. Since this will be a "community" website, suggestions and comments can be made for the look and function of the site, however all changes aside from posts should be made by the facilitator, and I will act as such.
4. When posting, please put the recipe name in the Title slot so finding them again is made easier.
5. Have fun sharing!

So, if this is something you may be interested in, post a comment or email me at and we'll get it going!  Any ideas you have for the website, please do share.