Friday, December 30, 2011


I had one last piece of my Christmas eve rib roast left, and was trying to decide what to do with it. I then remembered I had some farro (also called emmer...a kind of wheat berry) that I wanted to try.

So I put a pot of salted water on to boil. Then I added a half cup farro and cooked it at a low boil. The biggest problem was I wasn't sure how long to cook the farro. One place I read online said 30 minutes, somewhere else said an hour. I went with 40 minutes. It was chewy, but ok. Next time I might cook it a tad longer.

In the mean time, I opened and drained a can of garbanzo beans and left them in the colander. I also cut up my piece of meat. When the farro was done, I poured it over the garbanzos and left it to drain. I then put my meat in the pot to warm up. When it was warm, I added the beans, farro, a little salt and pepper and some powdered rosemary (I got it in a bulk spice bin somewhere). I also had a little red wine vinaigrette left over from the night before. I added some balsamic to it to deepen the flavor (you could also use a bottled balsamic vinaigrette).

It was tasty, but I didn't care for the garbanzos in it, so I picked them out. Oh well. But it was a nice late lunch on an otherwise lazy day :)

Baked ziti

This is a yummy baked ziti recipe I found on Martha Stewart's website. I like the baked ziti at Sbarro's, but wanted something I could make at home for cheaper (and in case my local Sbarro's closed). It is really rather simple.

Boil 8 oz ziti (or other short tubular pasta...penne or rigatoni would work). While that is going, mix a cup of ricotta with 1/2 c shredded mozzarella, 1/4 c grated parmesan, an egg, and salt and pepper. When the pasta is done and drained, pour half a jar of spaghetti sauce of choice (I used Prego mushroom) in a 2 qt baking dish. Top with drained pasta, spread ricotta mixture over the pasta, and top with remaining sauce from the jar. Then sprinkle another 1/2 c each Parmesan and mozzarella on top, and bake at 450* for 20-25 min (I baked it at 400* cuz I baked a loaf of par-baked french bread first and forgot to change it) until melted and yummy.

The recipe from Martha gave instructions how to make a salad and garlic bread, but I'll let you figure that out yourself. the recipe made enough for me for dinner last night, and 2 baggies of leftovers, but is supposed to (and could) feed four. I just like food.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cardamom orange semolina cereal

Well, this post doesn't get a picture, cuz a bowl of white cereal isn't very photogenic :P I had a hankering to make some orange cardamom shortbread cookies, but am out of flour, butter, and money, so they will have to wait til later this week. However, since the cookies have semolina in them, I decided to make semolina "polenta" and flavor it with orange and cardamom.

For one serving (I am solo this week), I brought 1 1/2 cups milk to a simmer. To it I added 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom. Upon taste test, I might use 1/4 teaspoon next time, as the orange overpowered the cardamom. When the milk was barely simmering, I whisked in a heavy 1/4 cup semolina (it can be hard to find...I found it packaged by Bob's Red Mill at my regular grocery, and could probably find it at my local grocery coop as well). I whisked continuously until it had thickened, less than 5 minutes. I then stirred in about 1/2 teaspoon orange extract (might go lighter next time to not overpower the cardamom) and a tablespoon or so of sugar.

Overall, it is quite yummy. I may try it again in the next couple days and fidget with the orange and cardamom amounts. Happy Boxing Day!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Peanut butter nutella cookies!

I made some "magical peanut butter cookies" I found on for my mom (don't tell her...I haven't mailed them yet!)...they are sugar free and super easy. A cup of peanut butter, a cup of sugar (as other similar recipes had) or splenda for baking, an egg, and a teaspoon of vanilla. When I tasted the finished cookies, they were a tad sweet for me. Some of the comments had mentioned that as well.

Today I was planning on making some with regular sugar to leave out for Santa. I measured out 2/3 cup peanut butter, and didn't have more! I looked in my cupboard and didn't have another jar, but found my jar of nutella...and inspiration hit! I measured out 1/3 cup nutella, and proceeded with the recipe, but only used 3/4 cup of sugar. I scooped them out with my scoop, and rather than smashing with a fork like regular peanut butter cookies, I flattened them with a glass. For the FN recipe, the cookies were sprinkled with sugar/splenda. A different recipe sprinkled with salt. I made the ones for mom half and half. Since the nutella is sweetened, I opted for salt with them.

They spread more than the regular peanut butter ones, I think because the nutella is softer than peanut butter. Next time I might try leaving them as little domes and see what happens. Also, I don't think I would use more nutella and less peanut butter. The nutella is too soft, and there is no flour in these to compensate.

When I took them out of the oven, I transferred the cookies, on the parchment paper, to a rack until the cookies firmed up a bit. Then I removed them from the parchment and left them to cool. They are really yummy...sweet, chocolatey, and a bit of salty. I am glad I ran out of peanut butter ;)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Panettone French toast

Last week I bought a loaf of panattone at the store. I opened it and cut the top off for breakfast on the way to church, and didn't wrap it back up. By the time we got home that afternoon, it had gotten quite dry. I decided to wrap it up and save it for French toast. Well, today was the day!

I cut it into rounds, and then cut the rounds in half. I mixed up some eggs and milk. Usually, I flavor my milk-dip liberally with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and a spoon of sugar. But that is for using with plain bread. Since this bread was flavorful, I left my dip plain. I soaked the sliced briefly (too long and they fell apart!) and cooked them on my greased griddle. When they were brown on both sides, I put them in a 200* oven on a rack to finish cooking all the way thru. When they were all done, I served them with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt (I suppose to be truly Italian I could have used ricotta cheese if I had any).

It was quite yummy! I'll have to remember it for more mornings :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Zuppa Toscana

This is my favorite soup at Olive Garden. And pretty easy to make at home.

I browned a pound of Italian sausage (hot, mild, sweet...whatever your preference). When it was done, I added a chopped onion. After it softened, I added about a pound of diced potatoes (I used frozen diced potatoes cuz I was feeling lazy) and 4 cups of chicken broth. I then simmered it until the potatoes were tender. Then I added about a half pound of torn up kale. After I stirred it in, I let it simmer another 20 minutes, until the kale was tender and some of the potatoes broke down to thicken the soup. If desired, you can add a bit of red pepper flakes.

I made some pilsbury bread sticks to go with the soup ala Olive Garden...when they were almost done I brushed them with melted butter with garlic powder mixed in. Yummy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Creamy Pasta with Ham and Roasted Broccoli

I found this recipe from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food ( and thought it sounded yummy.  After reading the comments on the site, I did make a couple modifications, tho.  The lead in page had said you could sub in mushrooms instead of ham to make it vegetarian...I added them with the ham!  I also increased the quantities a little, as I wanted left overs for lunch, and even tho the recipe says it feeds four, it must be four people with no appetite, or who don't like food, as most recipes like this don't feed four people I know.  As it turned out, I fed two adults, a child who loves pasta, and had one container for leftovers.

Here is how I made it:  I bought a pound of broccoli crowns, which I trimmed into flowerettes.  I also had .40 pound mushrooms that I quartered.  I think more mushrooms would have been nice.  Put the broccoli and mushrooms on a baking sheet with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.  Roast at 425* for about 20 minutes, until broccoli is tender and both are getting a little browned.

Meanwhile, put a large pot of salted water on to boil.  Add 8oz fancy egg noodles and cook just until tender...not mushy!  While the water was boiling and noodles cooking, I cut .40 pounds deli ham into small pieces.

Once the noodles were cooked, I drained them into a colander and put the pot back on the stove.  Here is another change I made.  When I was at the store looking at cream cheese, I saw that Philly had what they call Cooking Cremes on sale (they are flavored cream cheese based goodness for casseroles, etc.).  And the savory garlic had a couple with nearing expiration dates that were an extra dollar off.  So I got that instead of plain cream cheese.  Back to the recipe...I added about 2/3 of the container of cooking creme to the pot and stirred it to melting.  I then put everything in the pot -- broccoli, mushrooms, ham, noodles -- and stirred it all together.  I did add a couple tablespoons of hot water into the mix to thin the sauce a little.  Voila!  Everyone liked it and wanted more.  Next time, I will have to increase the quantities a little, so I can also use the whole container of cooking cream.  The original recipe also said you could sub chicken or turkey (deli meat, I assume) for the ham.  I think it would also be good with diced/shredded meat (leftover turkey, anyone?), and even diced pork would be yummy!  I was also thinking it would be good as a casserole with buttered bread crumbs on top...

I just ate my leftovers for lunch, and they were good, too...Now to figure out what is for dinner tonight!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

One of the best parts (ok, maybe the only good part) of having a holiday meal solo is being able to make just your favorite parts. I cooked a turkette (chicken), onion gravy that came out more like onion relish, and stuffing flavored with apple cider as my liquid. It was all very yummy. I want more stuffing, but I am already stuffed. Hahahaha :P

I hope everyone had a great day, and remembered to be thankful for the many blessings in your lives <3

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chicken and mushroom pasta

Tonight's dinner was planned with an eye to using up half a package of Trader Joes ceasar chicken strips. So, I sautéed a package of sliced crimini mushrooms in some butter until soft. Then I tossed in the chicken, broken into bite size pieces. I seasoned it all with salt, pepper and onion powder. I then added about 1/2 to 3/4 cup white wine and let it simmer a bit while I waited for the pasta to finish cooking (chicken broth could be used instead). Once the pasta was done (I used campanelle), I added it to the pan with the mushrooms and chicken. I stirred it all together and added some shredded Parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed (I added more pepper). It was quite yummy :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011


A friend had a crocheting class at her church this morning. My grandma taught me to crochet a gazillion years ago, but my daughter hadn't learned yet. So I figured this was an opportunity for someone other than me to teach her (I knew we would end up hissing and fuming at each other :P ). I was right. Not only were there several ladies there to teach, but one was left handed like my girl, so some of the potential issues were averted.

My friends goal was for everyone to make a panel to attach together to make a crocheted "quilt" for Warm Up America. Many of the new crocheters didn't get them done yet, but I finished mine (using a shell stitch). I then tried a little yellow "x and o" pattern my friend told me about. I then tried a summer garden granny square I found some time ago online ( I also showed my girl the curlicue my grandma used to make for my hair.

Now all I need to do is get the girl to keep working on it, realizing that the more she practices, the easier it will get! She wants a blanket for her doll...we will see who ends up making that :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Steak, Brussels sprouts and bleu cheese mashed potatoes

Tonight I made steak...a perennial favorite in this family. The steak wasn't prepared any differently than usual...salt, pepper and broiled. But before I cooked the steaks, I put a bag of frozen Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet with some pam, salt and pepper. I roasted them at 375* for about 25 minutes. Then I pushed them to the far sides of the pan and put the steaks in the middle. I then switched to broil and cooked the steaks until medium rare.

In the mean time, I made instant mashed potatoes with crumbled bleu cheese in them and a little rosemary. They could've used a tad less cheese and a tad more rosemary, but they were good nonetheless.

Now, it will be more budget friendly meals for a few days :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Turkey croquettes

I had Mairi thaw a chub of hamburger the other day. I then realized what she took out wasn't beef, but a chub of ground turkey. This particular ground turkey has a very soft texture, and it "seasoned," so is not good for all applications. I finally decided to make croquettes. Now, that sounds all French and fancy, but really, they aren't. I combined a pound of ground turkey with 3-4 egg whites (I use dried egg whites, and kind of eye-balled it. If you used whole eggs, use 1-2), a little salt (remember the turkey was already seasoned), pepper, onion powder and a couple pinches of celery seed. I also added about half a cup instant potato flakes (no, I am not a mashed potato snob). Add more or less to achieve a firmish texture. I then scooped it out and rolled them into little logs, then rolled them in bread crumbs. I then fried them (yes, fried :P) pressing them flat a bit when I put them in the pan. Cook both sides until golden on medium high heat.

The dipping sauce is about half a cup plain Greek yogurt and a tablespoon Dijon mustard (add more or less depending on taste). Even Mairi liked the sauce, and she claims not to like mustard (I have greater success feeding her Dijon rather than plain yellow mustard...and honey mustard has been greeted positively). Bon apetit!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cheater mac and cheese

Tonight I wanted something fast and easy for dinner. I also wanted something cheap. So upon inspection, my fridge offered up a package of shredded cheddar cheese and some left over evaporated milk. My pantry offered 3/4 of a pound of salad macaroni.

So, I cooked the macaroni and returned it to the hot pot. I then poured in about half a cup of milk, and started adding the cheese by the handful, letting it melt between each addition as I stirred it in. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. I used just over half a pound of cheese, but use it and the milk to taste for a cheesy, creamy sauce.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Four cheese mac & cheese with roasted broccoli

Tonight I used up my left over cheese from the grilled cheese sandwiches I made.

I boiled a pound of macaroni. In another pot I made a simple roux of 3T each flour and butter. I then added 2 cans of fat free evaporated milk (the only ki d of fat free dairy I can tolerate!!) I then stirred in my left over cheddar, jack and Gouda that was pregrated from the other night (between 2 and 3 cups). I also stirred in about 3oz of cream cheese. I season with salt and pepper, and mixed it with my cooked and drained macaroni.

The broccoli was super easy. I brought 3 stalks of broccoli, which I cut off into flowerettes. I sprinkled them with oil and salt, spread them on a baking sheet and cooked at 375* for about 20 minutes. It was a yummy alternative to steamed broccoli :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gourmet grilled cheese

My friend Tiombe posted a pic this last week of a grilled cheese sandwich she had ordered at a restaurant (sorry! Don't remember the name :P ). I decided, since I am not in southern California to go to the restaurant to try one, I would make one myself.

I combined shredded cheddar, jack an Gouda cheeses as described in the restaurant sandwich. I also combined some smashed garlic with soft butter. I spread garlic butter on one side of a piece of bread, and coated it with grated Parmesan cheese, then placed it butter side down on my preheated griddle. I then piled a generous amount of mixed cheeses on the bread. I repeated the butter and Parmesan cheese treatment on another piece of bread, and put it butter side up on the sandwich on the griddle. I cooked it until both sides were golden and cheese was melted.

It was yummy, especially served with a cold hard cider :) Thanks, Tiombe!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day! After fighting with my BBQ yesterday, all was well today. We had chili rubbed chicken thighs, grilled sweet potatoes with paprika and thyme, and grilled corn on the cob. It all cooked at the same time, all on the grill.

I soaked the corn, in it's cleaned husks, for several hours. When ready, I tied it closed with kitchen twine. I rubbed salt and chili powder on my chicken. I peeled and sliced my sweet potatoes lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick and coated them with olive oil, salt, pepper, dried thyme and sweet paprika. I cooked the chicken indirectly (pushed the hot coals to the two sides, put a foil drip pan in the middle with the chicken over it) and the potatoes on one side of the coals and the corn over the other coals.

The potatoes were done after about 15 minutes, and the chicken and corn took about 25. When the potatoes were done, I broke them up into large pieces and tossed them with the left over oil and seasonings.

It was all very yummy! I drank a Strongbow hard apple cider with it. Very nice :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Neck Lanyard!

I used to make lanyards every summer at Camp Wintaka in the San Bernardino mountains in southern California.  My daughter is going to the Boys and Girls club for the first time this spring break, and has a membership card she needs to take with her.  I decided to make a neck lanyard for her to carry it on, so she wouldn't lose it (hopefully!).  Of course, I couldn't remember how to make the neck part...but I can do a box stitch in my sleep!  So after looking on the web, I finally found what I was looking for...the diamond stitch! So off to JoAnn I went, bought neon pink and sparkly clear craft lacing (called gimp and boondoggle by many, but never by me in the past) and got to work.  It took me a couple hours, maybe, to start and finish this project.  Once my fingers remembered what they were doing, it went faster.

Here is the link to the most helpful site I found.  It is kind of a clearing house for a lot of stitches, and has links to assorted other sites with instructions for each stitch.  For beginners the Butterfly stitch is pretty easy.  It is a series of connected loops.  I am bookmarking this site, so I can make some other key ring is now naked without a lanyard to remind me of Wintaka :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spaghetti carbonara

Being the end of the month, the food budget is running low. So, when looking to see what I had on hand, I decided to make spaghetti carbonara. All I needed to go to the store for was Parmesan cheese and cream (not used in this particular recipe, but I have used it in others and like the addition of several tablespoons to the egg mixture). I used a recipe from Tyler Florence on Food Network (link below). It was nice and creamy and bacony. And all I needed was spaghetti, bacon (I used double the amount called for, partly because we like bacon, and partly because that was what I had left), eggs and Parmesan cheese. Yum :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cinnamon oat pancakes

Today I made cinnamon oat pancakes for breakfast (this pic is of them cooking. The other pic is of them done). Unfortunately, the big canister of oats in the cupboard turned out to be empty :-/ Fortunately, I had a canister of Trader Joes multigrain cereal, which is like oatmeal, but with triticale, barley, rye and oats, so I used that. They turned out quite yummy, but a little denser than traditional pancakes. All three kids liked them, and I even served them without butter and syrup!

Here's the link to the recipe:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beetle pies!

When I was little, my sister and I liked to watch Woody Woodpecker on tv. One night, my mom wanted us to help make dinner...pies made from canned biscuits and canned beef hash (she did cook regular food too! :) ) We didn't want to stop watching Woody Woodpecker, so she said they were beetle pies for Woody to eat. That did it. Hand pies have been know by that name ever since.

Tonight I made some Irish hand pies from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. Hamburger, onion and potato flavored with a little tomato paste, thyme and worcestershire sauce. The recipe called for pie crust squares, but I used Grands biscuits that I rolled out. Just like old times :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Quilling project

This is my version of the cute card I saw on I don't know yet how to link to this project directly from my phone, but check out her whole site. Great inspiration!


I had roasted salmon and asparagus with hollandaise sauce for dinner! Super easy, too!

4 salmon filet portions
1 bunch thin asparagus
Oil, salt and pepper

2 egg yolks
Salt and white pepper
2 T lemon juice*
1 stick butter, melted and still hot

For fish and asparagus~
Cut tough ends off asparagus. Pour some oil in the middle of a large rimmed baking sheet. Toss asparagus in oil with salt and pepper. Push to long edges of pan. Place fish in center of pan, and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 450* for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and reserve.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a blender, place yolks, salt, white pepper, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Blend briefly. Thru hole in lid, with blender running, pour the hot butter into the yolk mixture. Taste and add more lemon, salt and pepper if needed.

Place salmon and asparagus on plates and pour sauce over the top. Serves 2-3.

*I cheated and used the Truly Lemon crystals. I added the tablespoon water with the first packet, but my sauce was a little thinner than I would have liked, so did not add water with the second packet. Next time I may not add any water.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I made some super easy lamb stew that reminded me of the lamb stew my mom made when I was a kid. Lamb shoulder chops, onions and potatoes. I browned my chops, set them aside, then browned my onions a tad. I added a couple handfuls of shredded cabbage (from a bag of cole slaw shreds), chicken stock, and my chops and simmered for about 10 min. Then I took the chops out and added some sliced Yukon gold potatoes and simmered them until they were tender. While they were cooking, I cut the meat off the bones and into bite size pieces. Then I added it back to the stew. To thinken it up a bit, I added a couple spoonfuls of instant potato flakes. Done. And yummy. Served with fresh, home made soda bread and a Guinness :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Today I bought stuff to try quilling. I saw a cute card on a blog I follow in twitter, and wanted to try. If it turns out, I will post pics and a link to the other blog. Guess I gotta figure out how to do that, huh?

It works!

I am getting conflicting text responses, but my pics are posting, so I don't care! Yay!

Is this working?



What happened to me?!? I haven't posted in over a month! I will have to remedy that. I have some cute crafty things I have found online, but I need to figure out how to credit the peeps that made them first...I am good at copying projects, still working on the original aspect :P soooo....stay tuned!