Monday, December 31, 2012

Hot Fudge Sauce

                My son loves chocolate.  We found that out on a trip to Disney World.  He was 2 years old at the time.  We were at a restaurant and it was time for dessert.  We ordered the kids "do it yourself sundae".  Basically it was vanilla ice cream with 3 different toppings, one of which was hot fudge.  I poured some of it over the ice cream and left the rest in the little cup.  As soon as he put the fudge in his mouth you could see his pupils dilating.  He licked up that hot fudge like he would never get a chance to ever eat it again.  It was all over his face, and I remember his little baseball outfit got a bit of a taste of that fudge.  I ignored the stains because just seeing the joy in his eyes made me melt.  It's amazing how the seemingly simplest things in life can make us happy.  It's those simple moments that put life in perspective.  I try and soak up those moments because I know that one day my kids will not be underfoot all of the time. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cauliflower Quiche with Mashed Potato Crust

            I  wanted to make something different today for dinner, as well as rather quick.  I wanted to use simple ingredients I had on hand in the house because it was a school day as well as an after school activity day, which at this point is 4 days a week, whew!  It was also vegetarian night, so it was going to be a veggie dish.  I had cauliflower and potatoes.  I had previously posted a Cauliflower and Onion Tart.  I wanted to make something different though.  I decided on using potatoes as the crust for a quiche. 

             I used a mashed potato for the crust but think that a shredded potato might work pretty well also.  I might try that another time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chicken and Dumplings

                      My husband was sick today so I thought it might be a good day to make a chicken soup.  Nothing seems to make you feel better quicker than some warm chicken soup.  At the last minute I decided to try a chicken and dumpling recipe.  It ends up being kind of a chicken stew because the dumplings soak up a lot of the liquid.  It is a little more satisfying than just a soup.

                      I ended up modifying a recipe from epicurious.  I was really pleased with the results, as was my husband.  Whether or not it will make his cold go away quicker, only time will tell. 

                      If you want more liquid and less dumplings, either cut the dumpling ingredients in half or add more broth.  The dumplings filled up my pot.  There were no complaints though on the amount of dumplings.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Spaetzle with Paprika Sauce

                           We finished our study on Germany so I wanted to make something that I remembered eating at a German restaurant that was near my home as a kid.  It was spaetzle.  It was served instead of potatoes.  It's kind of a noodle, and kind of a dumpling.  It tastes great just with butter, or with a sauce ladled on it.

                           When it came to how I was going to serve them, I decided I would use a sauce.  I was going for one based on a Jaeger Schnitzel sauce, which has mushrooms in it.  Those of you who have read my blog, know I don't like mushrooms.  I think if you like mushrooms you can put them in though.  I served the spaetzle with schnitzel made with chicken breasts(otherwise known as a chicken cutlet), and poured the sauce over both.  It was really yummy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mango Lime Chicken Fajitas

               My husband recently bought a Nutribullet blender.  He bought it to mix up protein shakes for after he exercises.  Then he started mixing up smoothies for the kids.  I had to play with it as well of course.  Now I didn't mix smoothies, but made salad dressings with it.  It was amazing how thick they became.  Okay, but I am not a commercial for the product so let me get back to the purpose of this post.

             The tropical flavors of the smoothies my husband was making gave me the idea of coming up with a tropical chicken dish.  It was going to be in the form of a fajita.  I had no tortillas so I thought it would be neat to make homemade tortillas.  I am not going to post a recipe for the tortillas because although they tasted fine, making them was a disaster.  The recipe I used had way too much liquid and not enough flour.  The dough was a gloppy mess that I had to keep adjusting to get any
semblance of a dough.  I will keep trying to make a great tortilla that doesn't leave a floury mess everywhere, and when I do, I will post it.  For now, here is my recipe for Mango Lime Chicken Fajitas which came out so good you will think you are hearing kettle drums in the background.

Friday, December 14, 2012


             This is a picture of my first batch of crumpets that I have ever made.  My 11 year old made the request during school.  We had recently finished studying The UK, and crumpets had apparently been on her mind ever since.

             Crumpets kind of look like English muffins in that they are both round, but that is pretty much where the similarities end.  First of all English Muffins are an American invention created by a British immigrant to the US, Samuel Bath Thomas.     Where English Muffins had nooks and crannies on the inside, crumpets have there's on the outside, and crumpets are a little thinner as well.  There is a lot less liquid required for English muffins as well.  Crumpets are made with more of a batter rather than a dough.  Now my crumpets while tasting scrumptious to be sure, did not possess many of those nooks and crannies on the outside.  My guess would be that I may have put too much batter in the rings, so that when I turned them the batter on top wasn't cooked enough, thus leading to the flatter look.  If any of you crumpet specialists have any suggestions after reading my whole recipe on how to keep those nooks on top, please let me know.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Garlic Knots

                   It can be so hard to get some kids to eat vegetables.  My oldest loves pretty much anything that grows in a garden.  She saw me preparing brussels sprouts the other day and said "hurray, we're having brussels sprouts".  My 5 year old willingly eats some.  My 24 month old is just at the "yuck" stage with pretty much anything you put in front of her.  My 9 year old son is the biggest problem with vegetables.  He has to be tricked into eating his veggies.  One way I do this is by making soups.  He loves tomato based soups.  I will just throw some extra vegetables in a tomato soup and he doesn't suspect a thing.  I will ask him later how he enjoyed his red peppers, or squash, and he'll give me the "huh?" look. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Roasted Pepper Soup

                  It's soup day today.  This means that I have some open jars or cans or vegetables needing cooking before an unwanted science project begins.  Today for example, I had an open can of tomato paste in the fridge, as well as a jar of opened roasted peppers.  So, it wasn't hard for me to figure out what would be finding its way into the pot.

                  My 5 year old will only eat soup that is red.  I don't why, but that is how it is right now.  This soup will therefore have the right color for her.  So when she asks "what color is the soup?".  I can say "it's red."  Then she will say "yay, I want a bowl of soup", instead of "I don't like that color", to which I will just roll my eyes and shake my head in frustration.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Sugar Cookies

                   Following up from my Peppermint Ice Cream post, here is a recipe that includes peppermint with chocolate.  This is a pretty cookie, and should make a great cookie gift. 

                   I used a sugar cookie recipe from Epicurious.  If you are pressed for time, you can always buy pre-made sugar cookie dough.  The topping comes together rather quickly so once the cookies are baked, working time is pretty minimal.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Peppermint Ice Cream

                 Close to the coming of the holiday season, a certain ice cream company comes out with their Peppermint Ice Cream.  My husband's one request of me during a shopping trip would be to buy a gallon of it.  I decided this year, that since I am trying to cook most of my family's food so I know what is in it, that I would try and make it.

                  I found peppermint extract at Target in the summer, and I knew exactly what I would do with it when the time came, which was today.

                  This is so easy and quick to make that it is worth taking the ice cream maker out for.  I can't complain though, mine weighs just a couple of pounds once the freezer container is in it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Meatball Bourguignon

               I had traveled to France with my parents many years ago.  I remember the many castles, the beautiful countrysides, and the food of course.  It was so good.  I especially loved the fresh breads. The tastiest thing that I remember was a simple French Baguette that was filled with just some vegetables and a spread.  I could have had that everyday and been happy.  I do remember not being able to find skim milk very easily though.  Milk is not something the French give to their kids too much apparently. 

               In our homeschool, we were starting to learn about France so we needed a dish to go along with it.  It also needed to be made by things I already had on hand.  I came across a Meatball Borguignon recipe on  I thought it sounded like a great way to use ground beef, or boeuf in a French inspired way.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

              As I recover all of my photo's from my hard drive back into their rightful places in this blog, I figure I would take some time and post a great recipe that I found on for Lemon Ricotta Biscuits.  They are more like muffins.

              I did not stray much from the recipe.  I added lemon extract when it wasn't called for.  It seemed like right thing to add, and it was.  Everyone liked these.

             These muffins are very light, and they freeze and reheat amazingly well.  The little bit of lemon brings a little sunshine to a cold dreary day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hey, Where are all the Pictures?

            Just because I posted my 100th post yesterday, doesn't mean I know everything there is to know about blogging, and using blogger.  I definitely don't, and the missing pictures on my blog are there to prove it.

             When I upload pictures to the blog, they get stored on Google's Picassa site.  Google only lets you store a certain number of pictures before they charge you money.  Well, the other day I reached my limit, and I received a message stating that if I wanted to store more pictures, that I would need to pay a fee.  Well I thought, why don't I just delete the photos I have on Picassa?  Seemed like a great idea at the time.  Little did I know that when I deleted them from Picassa, they were actually getting deleted from my posts.  I didn't know that the posts couldn't live without Picassa.  Apparently that is the case.

             So, I may be spending a lot of time reloading my pictures into the posts.  I will admit that for a minute I was set to give up on the whole thing.  I am not a quitter though, so on I go.  Please ignore the black spots where the pictures were.  I will try my hardest to fix things as quickly as possible.

             Another lesson about blogger learned.  Please learn from my mistake if you plan on or are blogging.

Update:  Thank you to Ellie who left a most helpful comment.  My answer to my photo dilemna was answered in her comment.  Please read her comment for the photo storage solution.

Monday, November 26, 2012

No Sew Kid Pillows

                     I started this blog this past August.  It has thus been only 3 months since I started.  Amazingly enough, this is my 100th post.  Thanks to all of my faithful readers.  You may mostly be silent, but I appreciate you taking the time to stop by.

                     For my 100th post I wanted to share a craft that makes a great present for kids.  It is a pillow made from fleece material which is really soft.  You know how kids love soft, cuddly things.

                    This also couldn't be easier because there is no sewing involved.  If you can cut with scissors, and tie a double knot, you can do this.

                     To make the pillow you need 2 pieces of fleece material.  One should be patterned and the other should be one color.  You will need pillow stuffing to stuff the pillow.  You will need scissors and a ruler as well.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

               I really liked the way that the Butternut Squash Lasagne turned out.  I made it for the day before Thanksgiving when I had family over.  My dad does not like butternut squash.  He made it abundantly clear.  He however loved the lasagne.  He had three helpings of it in fact.

               The supermarket had a pasta sale the other day.  I saw a box of large shells and thought that maybe I could try the butternut squash filling in them.  It worked of course.  I modified the recipe a little for the shells.  I basically just added Ricotta cheese to the filling.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dinner Rolls

             My family's new favorite roll are based on the Pani Popo rolls I found on King Arthur Flour's website.  The original roll recipe calls for a coconut syrup type topping to be brushed on the rolls.  I will try it one day I think, but everyone loves the rolls without it.  I make 24 rolls per batch of dough, and they are gone within 2 days.  My first batch didn't come out the prettiest.  They were kind of uneven, as you can see from the final pictures.  With practice, (I have made these numerous times since), they look like those that you would get right from a bake shop.

             These make great slider buns.  I used them for meatball sliders.  If you make bigger buns, you can probably use the dough for hamburgers.  The texture is soft and they taste slightly sweet.

             I slightly modified the recipe from King Arthur.  I also made liquid adjustments due to lack of humidity.  This is a sticky dough, but easy to work with once it rests for a few minutes.  I will explain my trick.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage

                    We have been learning about the United Kingdom in school this week.  It is a country that has in the past been known for really bad food.  I was there in the early 90's with my parents and can say that I really enjoyed the culinary offerings.

                     We needed a dish to celebrate this country of course so we came up with "Bubble and Squeak".  The dish I made is not completely a "Bubble and Squeak" because it is fried in the end.  If you do not know what "Bubble and Squeak" is let me explain this funny name of a dish.  It was created to find a way to use up the leftovers from Sunday's Roast Dinner.  The main ingredient is potatoes and then includes the other left over vegetables like cabbage, peas, carrots, etc.  You mix them up together and then fry them in a patty.  The name comes from the sounds of the patty as it is cooking.

                      I took the idea of the mixed up left over vegetables and turned it into a mixed vegetable mashed potato.  You can then go the extra step and fry it to make a traditional "Bubble and Squeak". 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cauliflower Carrot Soup

                   This is a recipe I made prior to the point of starting a science experiment in the fridge with forgotten cauliflower and carrots.  You've got your carrot soup recipes, your cauliflower soup recipes, so why not go and combine them both into one.

                    I seem to be in a soup making mood lately.  Soup is my safety net for when I really don't want to cook much.  With school in full swing, and laundry piling up, and the tiniest one just into everything, all of my time seems to be getting all used up really quickly.  So for me the maybe 20 minutes of actual prep time and stirring, soup has become a dinner savior.  It is also satisfying on a cool night, of which we are having more of.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Smothered Chicken

               This is sort of my version of The Cheesecake Factory's "Chicken and Biscuits". Well, without the biscuits.  I will have to work on that.

                I made this from start to finish in an hour.  That includes the mashed potatoes, which are from scratch.  I dice the potatoes small and they are cooked 20 minutes after the water starts boiling.  I then add some half and half, butter, salt, and pepper.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cheesy Corn Soup

               I have said it before, soup is one of the easiest things to cook.  I find it is a great way to use up vegetables you may have sitting in the fridge for too long.  If you are in a pinch to figure out what to make for dinner and have only a little time, you can always start it on the stove and then move it to a crock pot to finish cooking.

               I made this soup when to be honest, I didn't really feel like cooking.   I wanted something easy that needed little prep work.  I looked in my pantry and saw canned corn.  Nothing could be easier than opening a can of corn. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Parker House Rolls

               I was looking for a roll to serve with a holiday meal that was not the typical crescent roll roll.  I remember buying yeast rolls in the supermarket when I was still purchasing breads that were buttery and really rich.  I may have found a great substitute on King Arthur Flour.  It is the recipe for Parker House Rolls.

               The Parker House is a famous hotel in Boston that has been around since 1855.  It's original building was demolished in the 1920's and replaced by the present building in 1927.  John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie there at table 40.  It is most famous for it's Parker House Rolls and The Boston Creme Pie.

              The rolls take some time to make because the total rising time is 2 1/2 hours.  They can be made a day ahead and reheated in an oven.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

South Korea

              South Korea is known as "The Land of the Morning Calm".  That comes from the original Chinese name that was made up of 2 symbols.  The first symbol was for morning, and the second for the word calm.

              Much of South Korea (which is located on the Korean Peninsula) is mountainous, with most of the population living on the coastal plains or river valleys.

               Seoul is the capital and largest city in South Korea.

               Prior to 1960 South Korea was a poor country.  Most people farmed or fished for a living.  But then, the economy boomed and today South Korea is one of the most high tech countries in the world with about 3/4 of the population with high speed internet access.  South Korea is also developing robots.  They are looking to have a robot in every home by 2020.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Butternut Squash Lasagne

                       Until recently I was not a fan of butternut squash.  As I said in a previous post, my husband and I a few years ago decided to decrease our meat consumption.  This brought about an increase in veggie consumption that included veggies never tried before.  One of those vegetables was butternut squash.  I made a winter squash soup that used acorn and butternut squash.  It was delicious and thus started my incorporating of winter squashes into my everyday cooking.

                       The supermarket is now full of butternut squash, and they are kind enough to offer the squash already pealed, cut, and seeded, which is the most time consuming thing to do yourself.  I will spend the extra money for this convenience.

                        The holiday season is coming and I am always on the lookout to make something different.  I found a Butternut Squash Lasagne on  It sounded different and it can be boring making the same tomato and cheese based lasagna.  I was willing to make my family guinea pigs before I tried it out on anyone else.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Black and White Cookies

               Growing up in the New York area, Black and White cookies were found in most bakeries.  There was a Seinfeld episode that featured this cookie in which there was a discussion on what side of this cookie you would eat first.  One side, in case you don't know, is covered in white icing and the other in chocolate. They are also not cookies.  They are more of a cake with a hint of lemon.  So if you bite one and are expecting a crumbly cookie you will be disappointed.  These are more of a flat cupcake.

               The history is a bit sketchy.  These are known as Amerikaner cookies in Germany.  It is thought that American GI's brought the cookies to Germany after the war.  In New England they are known as Half Moon cookies. But, regardless of the how they originated, I am glad they did.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Citrus Cupcakes

                    With gloomy weather headed this way, I needed something sunshiny to brighten the day.  What is more sunshiny than citrus fruits.  I had a bag of grapefruits in the fridge.  I had recently seen an episode of Cupcake Wars on Food Network where a contestant had made grapefruit cupcakes.  I thought it would be a great way to use a grapefruit.

                    I adjusted the recipe from Food Network which you can find here.

                    The final result is not one where you will be pursing your lips.  You can definitely taste the citrus in the cupcake, but my picky 9 year old didn't flinch when I told him that there was grapefruit juice in it.  He gave me a look like "what, you just gave me a cupcake with grapefruit in it?  How could you?"  He then proceeded to take another.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Chili Cheese Fries

                Today was a dance class day, so I needed to come up with a dinner plan.  I hate cooking in the evening.  I am very much a morning person.  Then inspiration hit when my 11 year old handed me a sack of potatoes.  "Can you make french fries, mom", she said with pleading eyes.  I had a pound of ground beef that needed to be cooked.  So, what could I make with potatoes and ground beef that would not ruin my day.  Chili, off course.  It can cook itself after a start in a pot.
                 I made the fries, which I bake, in the oven at lunch time and just put them in an oiled ziploc bag for reheat later.
                 Putting the dish together when I got home was a snap.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chicken Kiev

                 We were studying Russia in our homeschool the past week, so of course we needed to have a dish to celebrate this country.  My precocious 11 year old daughter looked up Russian recipes and said "what's Chicken Kiev"?  I said, "it's something that I have all the ingredients for".
                 Chicken Kiev actually doesn't come from Kiev.  The origins are actually in debate.  Some say it was created by a French chef for a Russian Empress in the 1700's.  Others believe it to be more of a modern dish, and became very popular in the 20th century.
                  The ingredients should be readily available in your kitchen.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cauliflower and Onion Tart

                   It's not too often that my husband, myself, and my kids can go out for a nice bistro type lunch.  Okay, how about never.  You can't take 4 kids 11 and under to a cute little restaurant that serves quaint dishes.  Well, if you can't go to the experience, you have to bring it to your home.                    I used to get Bon Appetit magazine delivered.  I stopped receiving it years ago, probably 5 years now.  Luckily, all the recipes can be found at I once made a cauliflower and onion tart that turned out delicious.  It seems like one of those dishes you would find in a small corner restaurant.
                   I did make some adjustments to the original recipe which you can find here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Creamy Onion Soup

                  Do you remember hearing stories about how during the depression, people really needed to find many ways to make food go further.  They needed to come up with new dishes out of cheap ingredients.  You heard about cabbage soup I am sure.
                  Onions are generally an inexpensive food to buy.  If you are like me, you have a pantry stocked with chicken broth.  Put one and one together, and you have the fixings for a real inexpensive meal that is quite tasty.
                  This is not a French style onion soup.  It is more similar to The Outback Restaurant Creamy Onion Soup.  It is a filling soup that goes well with some hearty bread and a salad.  It is a great fall recipe that is sure to warm up your soul, and it is easy to make.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gnocchi alla Romana

                           My youngest loves gnocchi, so I wanted to attempt to make her some from scratch.  Yes, it just wasn't going to be for her alone.  While I was looking up gnocchi recipes I came across  "Gnocchi alla Romana".  These are gnocchi made with semolina and not potato.  I always thought that gnocchi were just made with potato.  I was intrigued.  The potato gnocchi can seem a bit heavy.  Just with that last sentence, I answered my question about there being different types of gnocchi because I had labeled those gnocchi as potato.

                           It just so happens that potato gnocchi are more of a newer version of a gnocchi.  They've only been around since the 16th century (only : ) ), thanks to the introduction of the potato in Europe.  Prior to that they'd been made from flour and water and semolina.  So depending on where you lived in Italy the dish could be made of potato or semolina.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

                   My 9 year old reminded me today that I had yet kept my promise to make ice cream sandwiches like the kind the local ice cream shop makes.  There's are supersized Oreo Cookies with ice cream in the middle.
                   Guilt set in so after school was done today I set out to complete my promise.  I just made some adjustments to the Oreo Cookie recipe I had posted back in August.  I think I like the way these "Oreo's" came out better actually then my original post's recipe.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chicken and Pasta Toss

                  My 11 year old's favorite television personality is Alton Brown.  For those of you that don't know, he is a food television host on Food Network.  She enjoys watching repeats of his show "Good Eats".  I attribute to him her love of sushi.  My husband and I are not fish eaters.  We would never stop our children though from partaking in a new food though.  Well, she watched his show on sushi over and over.  She would recite facts to me about sushi and fish that she learned and I would try and sound interested.  Well a year ago she begged for us to let her try sushi.  Now, up until now she had never had seafood, aside from tuna salad.  So my husband and I said fine, that if she wanted to try sushi we weren't going to stop her.  She loved it, and still does.

                  She recently watched him make chicken piccata.  She asked me to make chicken piccata just as I was chopping chicken for another dish.  Not wanting to disappoint my daughter, I adjusted my plans.   I would create a lemon hinted sauce with pasta and broccoli. The dish got me two thumbs, so I thought I would share it.  It was relatively quick to make.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Barbecue Meatloaf

                 Remember in "A Christmas Story", when Ralphie's little brother wouldn't eat his dinner.  The dinner was meatloaf, and when he wouldn't eat it he said, "meatloaf, beetloaf, I hate meatloaf".  How those lines stuck with many of us.  We can thank the invention of the meat grinder in 1899 for having brought about the ability for us to make the modern meatloaf.
                  Meatloaf during the depression was a great way to get expensive meat to go a long way.  You could throw numerous ingredients in with the ground meat and turn it into an expansive loaf.  You could get imaginative with it.  Do you sauce, or not sauce.  Throw mash potatoes on top maybe.  There are lots of ways to get this seemingly boring meal into something that is so good that even Ralphie's little brother would eat it.  (Without acting like a pig.) Hopefully you all understand my reference to "A Christmas Story".  If in case you haven't seen it, it is an American classic at this point in time.  You know it is Christmas season when TBS plays 24 hours of A Christmas Story.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pizza Buns

              I came across a recipe at King Arthur Flour for what they called "Pizza Buns".  Pizza being the one food all of my kids can agree upon, I was intrigued.  It is a savory form of the cinnamon bun.  A new way to serve up an old dish, in this case pizza, is a great way to excite everyone about lunch or dinner.
              It starts out in the form of stromboli, so this enables you to place a filling in the dough, and then also top it with more toppings.  Since you are going to be slicing the stromboli prior to cooking you can have toppings placed to please everyone.
               It does take time to make, since you are making the dough and it needs to rise twice. If you have no time during the week this is something you can make on a weekend and then freeze for during the week.  The results are worth the work.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Taco" Pizza

               I recently posted a homemade taco sauce recipe.  It was a hit here in my house.  I wanted to share a recipe that I made using it.  I used it to make a "Taco" Pizza.  It is a pizza, because I use pizza dough for the base and not a tortilla.  The "Taco" part, refers to the spices and the Taco Sauce.  Regardless of the semantics, it's delicious, and if you love tacos you will love this.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Homemade Taco Sauce

                   I will admit that the first time I can remember eating a taco was during college at Taco Bell.  I will also admit that I kind of liked it.  (I am now grimacing.  How could I have tolerated that "Grade D, but edible" meat?  I know better now.  I still love tacos though.  We make them often enough here in my house.  Whenever Taco Sauce was on sale at the store, I would buy a few bottles to have on hand.  I was recently down to my last bottle of mild "Ortega".  I just happened to glance at the ingredients and saw that right after the water was high fructose corn syrup.  Really?  A new mission: Homemade Taco Sauce.
                   It just so happens that a quick internet search showed that I was not the only one to go on this quest.  There are quite a few.  I was able to combine a few ideas from   I tweaked the recipe a bit.
                   What I came up with was a recipe that actually, according to my husband, is very similar to Ortega Taco Sauce.  It's not completely mild.  It has a small bit of bite to it, but it wasn't spicy where my kids wouldn't eat it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tomato and Cheese Pizza

                What is so special about a tomato and cheese pizza?  Why would I bother posting about something as boring as a tomato and cheese pizza.  I sometimes think that just a few ingredients put together in just a simple way makes the best dish.  It's a new way to discover some old flavors.

                 I remember there was a take out pizza place near where I had once worked many years ago, before I was married.  They had a bruschetta pizza on the menu.  I had never had something like that.  I always had had the regular tomato sauce and cheese pizza with some varied toppings.  To have a pizza without cheese was new to me.  Bruschetta topping which consisted of chopped plum tomatoes, garlic, and onions laid on a thin crust pizza dough was the best pizza I had ever eaten.  That ended up being the only pizza I ever bothered getting again at the take out place.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bulgogi Steak Sandwich

                  I posted a recipe for Bulgogi recently (Korean grilled steak). I loved how it turned out.  I was left with some leftovers though, so what to do with them was the next issue.  It didn't take too long to come up with putting the leftover sliced steak into a sandwich.  That's what happens with a lot of leftover meats, such as roast beef, and turkey.  Who hasn't had the leftover Thanksgiving turkey with cranberry sauce and stuffing?

                  I love sandwiches.  I especially love the creative kind that has  a mix of some vegetables with some sort of aioli spread, or a meat sandwich with different toppings.  A good mix of flavors that somehow when they come together make your taste buds wake up and say "hey, I want some more of that!"

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Let Your Shopping Pay You Back

                The Holiday Season is upon us again.  It just seemed to have crept up like it always does.  We got our pumpkins last weekend and after weeks of mulling over Halloween costumes, finally got them ordered.  My son is going to be his usual Football Player.  He's been wearing a different team's uniform for the last 3 years now.  I'm starting to think it is sneaky way of just trying to collect helmets.  (Of course there are teams that he is forbidden from being due to my husbands deep dislike of them. )  My oldest, the dancer, is going to be a Disco Dancer, my fluttery 5 year old is going to be a fairy, and my tot tot will be an angel (I think she is one of course already).
                Right after Halloween the stores start putting up the Christmas and Hannukah displays.  Thanksgiving is acknowledged, but it seems to be less now.  It's a shame because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
                 With 4 kids I have learned how to shop well.  I am great at taking advantage of sales and combining store coupons.  "What? Gymboree has a sale?  I'll just wait until my Gymbucks can be used and save another 50% on the clothes".  (That's how I think).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vanilla Wafer Cookies

           So there I was trying to think about what to cook today.  I knew I wanted to bake something since we haven't had cookies in the house for a week.  I made graham crackers 2 weeks ago and the remnants of crumbs was all that remained in my cookie container.  Surprisingly there has been no whining about how we didn't have any cookies.  So since there was no complaining yet, I figured I would beat any potential griping to the punch. 

            There I was checking my emails when I received an email from a certain food manufacturer.  They happen to produce an all American favorite for those Banana Pudding Cakes.  Yes, I am speaking of Vanilla Wafers.

             When they were permitted in our house prior to the war on processed food and anything with high fructose corn syrup, they were gobbled up.  What was not to like?  A vanilla flavored cookie that seemed so light, there was no way you could gain weight eating one of them. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Hibachi" Fried Rice

                 I've been posting a lot lately on Asian style cuisine.  Partly it is because we've been studying Asia in our homeschool.  I have to say that I am quite enjoying our virtual travels to these countries.  I guess cooking these great foods is a perk to studying the countries in Asia. 

                  About 15- 20 years ago there seemed to be a huge pop up of Japanese Hibachi restaurants everywhere.  There was always Benihana, but then lots of smaller places came into being.  They would show up in strip malls, or in smaller building all unto themselves.  You would walk in and smell the varnished wood.  You would then hear the flowing of a water feature somewhere, possibly a Koi Pond or a small fountain.  Then you would have a beautiful fish tank in view filled with the most colorful fish.  You get greeted by a friendly host who gives you a small bow and even a gong with a mallet.  Once you arrive at a large hibachi table you find yourself seated with other couples or families.  Here you have the ability to converse with strangers.  Before you know it, a chef with an imposing chef's hat has his super sharp knives cutting meat and vegetables in such a way, that you say to yourself "when I go home I am going to order some of those Ginzu's".  Within 15 minutes you've got deliciously tender sliced meat along with vegetables, noodles and a dipping sauce.  What is also great is that for 45 minutes or so you were immersed in a different culture. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bulgogi (Korean Barbecued Beef)

               Way back when, when I lived in New York, there was a Japanese restaurant my parents and I frequented.  That's where I was introduced to bulgogi.  Yes, bulgogi is Korean, but this Japanese restaurant was serving it.  I remember the first time I had it.  I thought it was delicious.  It probably ended up being the only the I ever ate there.  Of course I grew up and moved on and far away from that little Japanese restaurant that served this amazing Korean dish. 

                In case you don't know, bulgogi is thinly sliced beef that is marinated and then grilled.   The Korean meaning of bulgogi is "fire meat".

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Penne au Gratin

                 Okay, okay,  I mean mac and cheese, but if I would have had the title "Mac and Cheese" would you be reading this post?  Like many people in the U.S., I had my fair share of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  It was probably one of the first things I learned to cook as a kid.

                 As an adult, you still look at macaroni and cheese as comfort food, but the limpy, soft noodle and orange colored powdered cheese doesn't seem to cut it anymore.  I even feel guilt throwing it in front of my kids.  As a parent and as an adult, you have a need to make a macaroni and cheese with more substance.  A need to make something more fresh and satisfying.  How about a baked macaroni and cheese that combines multiple cheeses and has a crunchy topping to offset the texture of the pasta?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Roasted Pepper and Corn Chowder

               There was a time a bunch of years ago, when I stopped cooking meat at home.  Not that we had turned vegetarian.  We wanted to eat less meat, so the rule was that we had to bring ourselves to learn to eat more vegetables.  We tried vegetables we never tried before and I learned to cook vegetables in different ways other than steaming them.  I wanted to make vegetables more fun and have less of an ick factor.   I came across a Corn and Bell Pepper Chowder in Bon Appetit Magazine. Yes, we had eaten corn and peppers before, but never combined into a soup.

               The first time I made this soup, I followed the recipe exactly.  Of course as time went by, I became more confident in my cooking and changed the soup up a bit from the original.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


          We studied India recently. It is a country with an interesting history.  It had been ruled numerous times by different empires.  One was the Mughal Empire.  It was during this empire that the Taj Mahal was built.  In case you don't know, it was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan who's wife died during the birth of their 14th child.  It was a monument to her.  

            Europeans loved the spices that were found in India.  Hundreds of years ago selling spices led to great wealth. This led the Portugese and British to India.  The British ended up governing India for almost 400 years, until India gained it's independence in 1947, thanks in part to Gandhi.  

           We learned that India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh were once all of India. After England gave India it's independence, it broke up India into West Pakistan, India, and East Pakistan.  The Pakistan's were made up of mostly Muslim's.  Later on East Pakistan would become Bangladesh.

            Today, India has people that are very poor, and some are quite wealthy.  My kids couldn't believe that some people didn't own a television, let alone have toilet in the home.  

            Even with so many people impoverished, India has high tech cities.  It is home to many technology companies, animation companies, and has a famous movie industry.  

            There is lot's more to learn about India.  If you would like to learn more, some great books are India, T is for Taj Mahal, and Children Just Like Me.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Soy Lime Fajitas

               The first time I had fajitas was in a Houlihan's Restaurant many moons ago.  I thought it was one of the best things I ever ate.  I loved that the meat was not all dry and had a delicious sauce.  The onions were caramelized and so sweet.

                I've had many fajitas since at various restaurants.  Mostly the meat is all dry, without flavor, and the main flavor is supposed to come from the salsa.  Needless to say, eating fajitas is pretty much a hit or miss with me.  I actually do compare all to the Houlihan's recipe.  So yes, I am mostly disappointed.

                I came up with a recipe for fajitas where the meat is flavorful and not dry.  For me, I prefer it to one you would get in a restaurant. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Green Bean Casserole

            Before we know it, the holiday season will be upon us.  My husband starts annoying people on June 25th.  "Only 6 months until Christmas",  he'll say.  He will receive grumbles in return.  But, before you know it, summer flies by (as it always seems to), and it's fall.

            One of those dishes that is considered a "traditional" holiday dish (in the U.S. anyway), is green bean casserole.  It's a combination of canned cream of mushroom soup, green beans, mushrooms, and bagged crunchy onions.  This casserole was created by the Campbell's Soup Company back in 1955.  It was considered a quick and easy side dish for holiday dinner's.

             I will admit that I am not a fan of mushrooms, so this dish was never one I partook.  I do like green beans though and I do like to find new ways to cook up vegetables.  I decided to make my own version of this holiday staple found in so many American Homes.  Yes, it does not contain mushrooms.  If you are one who does like mushrooms, you're free to add them in.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Apple- Carrot Whole Wheat Muffins

               I am always trying to come up with new ways to present a fat laden recipe as a low fat version.  An easy recipe to tweak and make healthier is a muffin.  I found that substituting apple sauce for the oil works perfectly.  Muffins are one of those great foods where you can easily hide some fruit and vegetables.

               Muffins are easy to make.  No mixer is required.  They can be frozen and stored in your freezer.  As soon as you need one, you can just pop it in the microwave.  Nothing can be quicker for breakfast.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Apple Dumplings in Syrup

                 One of my friends mothers has a small plaque on her kitchen wall that says "warm apple dumplings".  Everytime I saw that plaque, I have wanted them.  I remember scolding my friend once, "you advertise these warm apple dumplings, but you never have them".  It would be the winter of course and perfect for such a thing.

                   I took it upon myself to make these heavenly delights.  I searched around the internet and learned that they are basically self contained apple pies.  What sets them apart from a traditional pie is a caramel like syrup that they cook in.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Spiral Top Buns

               I wanted to post another bread recipe.  I find it is so easy to make bread/ rolls, that I don't get intimidated by a recipe anymore.  I just go for it.  No fear here.  Having a bread machine does make it easier but you can use a stand mixer or the old fashioned way, use your hands.  The bread machine makes it less messy though.

               I needed rolls for my sloppy joe recipe.  I decided to use a recipe from King Arthur Flour that I found.  It was their onion bun recipe.  Only difference is that I didn't use onion.  I made them plain, but sprinkled poppy seeds on top.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sloppy Joe's

                 Sloppy Joe's are an all American dish, as far as we know.  The origins are a bit obscure, as with so many food dishes.  It's possibly began in the 1920's by an Iowa restauranteur who combined beef, with some sauce, spices, and placed it between two pieces of bread.  During the 30's, recipes with ketchup and tomato sauces were added.  It was found to be a great way to make ground beef go further during WWII, by adding sauces and vegetables.

                  Of course, to make things easier, you can now get Sloppy Joe sauce in a can.  I say no to the can, and say it's not so hard or time consuming to make this all American dish on your own.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cheddar Cheese Soup

                I just found out that a favorite soup of mine in Walt Disney World(my family's favorite place), is no longer going to be served.  It was the cheddar cheese soup at Whispering Canyon Cafe.  The last time I had that soup, a year ago now, my then 11 month old, and my then 10 year old, ate most of it on me.  As a homage to this soup being retired(maybe temporarily), I decided to make cheddar cheese soup today.  It's not exactly the same soup, because I don't have the recipe, but it is definitely worthy of being in the same league of yumminess.

                Bowls were licked clean with this soup.  Bread served with it was it's best friend.  This soup was supposed to make a meal during the week, but it didn't get past the seasoning tasting.