Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sweet Heaven, I'm in Love Again...

...with the smells of fresh brownies and cinnamon rolls!  If only you could be in my kitchen right now and smelling this wonderful goodness.  I think I'd actually be content only just smelling it all.  I have started my journey toward healthier living and weight loss, but just couldn't resist trying out these recipes.  Don't worry - I'll give most of it away (to skinny people).

By the way, my title tonight is from Barry Manilow's song in Copacabana, Sweet Heaven.  Go ahead, click on the link here, make this food, and you'll feel like you're in heaven and be smiling from ear to ear!  Right Sis?  (My sis and I are some of the very few fans of Barry still.)

I saw the recipes for The Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls and had to give it a shot.  I will admit, however, that I did not use her dough recipe because my Mom came across a wonderful recipe that is super easy - given to her by our Pastor's wife - thanks Cathy!  Here's the dough recipe I used: Perfectly Easy Dinner Rolls
After the dough was ready, I then picked up Ree's recipe (the Pioneer Woman).  I cut all of her recipe in half.

Here's the beautiful outcome!

Here are the brownies cooling and the recipe link from Sugar & Spice by Celeste - Ad Hoc's Brownies

I'll throw this in for free too:  I didn't stick to my calendar today because I ran out of time.  Instead I made omelettes stuffed with spinach, tomatoes, green onions and parsley.  Then I topped them with diced tomatoes, parsley, avocado, and sour cream.  For the side we had sweet potato and white potato homefries and, may I add, that making them in a cast iron skillet makes all the difference in the world - along with butter!  We each had one slice of bacon and some really amazing French Peasant bread from  Heidelberg Baking Co.  If you haven't ever had the opportunity to have their bread - let me just tell you, you're missing out.  It's fat free and contains no preservatives.  Plus it's out of this world!  Anyway, our "breakfast" dinner was very good.

Beater-Lickin' Good

Okay, I know all of you have licked the beater even with the raw eggs.  Well, I did tonight after making the best brownies in the world (and I'm not a big brownie fan).  They're not even out of the oven yet, but WOW are they amazing already!  I can't wait to try the finished product.  I'll post pictures soon.  Here's the link to the recipe:Ad Hoc at Home's Brownies

I will admit, I didn't use the silicone pan, I used plain old, unsweetened, store-bought cocoa, regular vanilla (extract), and I chopped up baking chocolate that is 54% cocoa and they're still tasting amazing!  I'm all for using what I have but still wanting the best tasting food. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe

I sacrificially deviated from my menu schedule so that you all would be prepared for the Tuna Noodle Casserole.  You're welcome!   I have had so many compliments on this (not that I serve this for company, but I usually have people coming over at the last minute and they get this).  The only person in the world who doesn't like this is my best friend, Jess.  My mom always made this every time she was at our house (it just turned out that way) and I didn't find out until several years ago that she hated it.  I just chalk it up to her having bad taste when it comes to this casserole!!!

The recipe is as accurate as I can think of because so far it has simply been a little of this a little of that, but I have tried to get it in the real measurements for your sanity.  However, if you'd like to add a little more or less of each ingredient, go right ahead, but don't blame me if it turns out bad.  Ha!Ha!  Also, to make this low-fat, use fat free soup, milk, and cheese.  I do and it tastes just fine. 

Here it is:
2 tbs. butter
2 stalks celery chopped
1/2 large white onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
3/4 of 12 oz. bag of egg noodles (about 10 oz.)
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
1 soup can of milk
1/4 - 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 can of tuna (in water) drained
bread crumbs for top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute celery, onion, and garlic in the butter over med-high heat until onion is translucent.  Be careful not to burn the garlic - you can add this at the end if you'd like.  Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles according to package directions and drain.  Place the peas, soup, milk and most of the parm. cheese together in casserole dish and stir until well combined.  Mix in the tuna. (don't forget the tuna!  I did that once.)
Add the sauteed celery, onion and garlic and mix with the rest of ingredients.  Then add the noodles, stir, and top with the bread crumbs and remaining parm. cheese.  Bake for 25-30 min. until bubbly. Enjoy!!!

Here's the process in pictures (although not quite like I told you above - I added the tuna last!)

This is my garlic press from Pampered Chef.  Let me tell you - not all garlic press' are created equal.  This thing is heavy duty and does an awesome job.  I've never used one better than this.  Make the investment - it's worth it.  The little thing on top pokes the garlic out for cleaning - very handy!

Press the garlic,

Add the onion and celery and saute until onion is translucent

Place peas, soup, milk, and cheese in casserole

Add noodles and tuna

Mix it all up and smooth top flat

Cover with bread crumbs and remaining parm cheese

Bake until a beautiful golden brown and bubbly


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Leftovers that you can't wait to eat

How many times do you dread your leftovers?  Well, the recipe for the pot roast that we had on Sunday uses the leftover meat from that meal and makes the most scrumptious lettuce wraps!  (recipe link for Asian Lettuce Wraps on the January Menu Calendar) Here was our dinner last night.

 Leftovers are no longer only good from restaurants! 
Here's a funny story though:  My sister used to put her name on the styrofoam container that contained her restaurant leftovers.  She even got to the point of putting the "Jolly Roger" on it too.  The reason was because I would always sneak in and eat her leftovers for lunch - every time!  Don't you despise people like me??  She had to move clear across the country to get away from me doing that.  I'm pretty sure she wishes I was there to eat all her leftovers though.

The Ultimate Aspiration

My mother always told me that if there is any way possible to try to have fresh flowers and linens for your table.  Although this isn't readily available to me very much, I have been able to have this ultimate aspiration come true - for this week anyway!  It really is satisfying.

I feel a little spoiled with 2 bouquets.  They're for the girls from Grandpa, but I get to enjoy them too!

A little doggie snack

In this day and age, even the dogs are going gourmet!  So, we must include them too.  Although our dogs are very, very far from spoiled, we try to give them something worth living for every once in a while.  (Don't worry, they live in insulated and heated houses in our barn - they're doing just great!)  The girls and I decided to make them some peanut butter doggie treats.  They were super easy and the girls had a blast and were so excited to be doing this for their puppies.  Here's the link to the web site that had the recipe we used:

First the girls had to dress the part:

Adding the ingredients:

Licking the peanut butter from the spatula.  And, no, there were no raw eggs or inedible ingredients in these:

 Almost done:

Rolling out the dough:

Ready for the oven:

All done:

The dogs taste test.  Edgar wasn't interested - he was too excited to be inside. However, Henry loved them! 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Donations, Anyone?

Just to set the record straight - I have a better eye for photography, but it's difficult with a lousy camera.  So, if anyone decides they feel really generous, you're welcome to improve the photographic look of this blog by donating a good camera to me!  I just thought I'd throw this out there. 

All ready for Sunday

Jeremy helped me get ready for Sunday.  He made our breakfast casserole the night before and then all we had to do was heat it up for the morning. Here is the recipe link: Pampered Chef Ham & Cheese Brunch Squares.  We cut corners a little on this one.  Instead of Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese, we just use grated sharp cheddar cheese.  Also, instead of deli ham we used bacon. Jeremy sliced the tomatoes on top instead of dicing them because he just liked it better that way.  I have to say it does look very pretty. Then I got our roast ready in the crock pot so it would be ready for dinner when we got home from church.  This recipe link is on my January Menu Calendar. I put the girls' hair in rag rollers so they'd look so beautiful in their new dresses from my Aunt Kathy for Sunday School.  Here's the results of all of our efforts:

The Breakfast Casserole:


My little girls ready for church:


I absolutely LOVE chocolate.  I told you I was really inspired by the movie, Julie & Julia, so I decided to find the recipe for that chocolate cake that was devoured in the movie.  In looking for the recipe, I came across this blog that I really enjoy, Sugar and Spice by Celeste.  I don't think I made this quite right because the timer had gone off while I was tending to one of the girls.  Therefore, the cake was a bit overdone, but even in doing it wrong, it was absolutely amazing!!!!  The frosting is so good too. 


What are you having?

Now that I have my menu calendar posted, my Dad has decided to check what I'm cooking for dinner, compare it with what my Mom is making and then make the decision as to who's dinner wins out for him to attend!  I won this last Friday because I had scallops on the menu.  (Actually it was for Sat., but I tend to change it around sometimes.)

I made the Scallops and Asparagus Stir Fry (recipe link is on the menu calendar for January).  It was really good.  I had angel hair spaghetti as the side for this, but then realized that made no sense for a meal with an Asian flare.  So, I made rice noodles instead.  It was very good and the recipe will be a keeper.

Because my husband, Jeremy, is allergic to seafood (this is sometimes beneficial because then I don't have to share!  But sad for him because he really misses out) I made him half of the recipe, in a separate pan, with chicken instead of scallops.


Oh, YUM!

This weekend I decided to finally step it up a notch and make some of my favorite recipes.  This past week I've been fighting a cold, so it was difficult to stay on task.  Doesn't it always work out that way? You start something and then have every obstacle you can imagine to overcome.  Anyway, this weekend I pulled it together! 

Saturday evening I made bruschetta.  It was amazing!  I used the method of Julia Child's where I put olive oil in a pan and then sauteed 1 inch slices of french bread until golden on each side.  Then I took a half piece of garlic clove (while the bread was fresh out of the pan) and rubbed it over the bread.  I topped the bread with a mixture of diced tomatoes, coarse salt, and  Italian parsley.  I didn't have any basil, which is usually recommended.  But, do not underestimate the freshness and flavor of  flat-leaf parsley! 

The girls really like it!  Notice how they cleaned their plate pretty well.

Angelina liked it.

Aubrey wanted more...

 That, believe it or not, was the appetizer! 

Then I made Deluxe Divine Chicken Divan by Rachel Ray.  Very tasty and it was a huge portion.  Needless to say, the leftovers will be lunch for today!  You can find the recipe on January's Menu Calendar.

Here, I sauteed the chicken:

Cut up my veggies:

Made my rice:

   As always it was very good, very easy and a hit with everyone!  "Everyone" includes my twin 4 yr. olds, so you know it has to be good when they're gobbling it up!