Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chocolate Crackletops

Source: Grandma's Cookie Jar Cookbook


2 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter or margarine

4 sqaures (1 ounce each) unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 3/4 c. M&M chocolate mini baking bits

Additional granulated sugar


Combine flour and baking powder; set aside. In 2-quart saucepan over medium heat combine 2 cups sugar, butter and chocolate, stirring until butter and chocolate are melted; remove from heat. Gradually stir in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until well blended. Chill mixture 1 hour. Stir in M&M's; chill mixture an additional 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with foil. With sugar-dusted hands, roll dough until 1-inch balls; roll balls in additional granulated sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool completely on wire racks. Store in tightly covered container.

Reindeer Cookies

Source: Better Homes and Gardens: Ultimate Cookies, 2009


1/2 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. shortening

1 c. sugar

1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour

Miniature pretzel twists

Red candied cherries

Miniature candy-coated semisweet chocolate pieces


In a large mixing bowl beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. If necessary, cover and chill about 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 350. On a lighly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time into an 8 inch square. Cut each square into sixteen 2-inch squares. Halve each square diagonally to make 64 triangles. Place two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

For each reindeer, place two pretzel twists just under a long edge of a triangle for antlers. Add a halved red candied cherry for nose and miniature chocolate pieces for eyes. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Holiday Sugar Cookies

I haven't posted in awhile because of my hectic year-end work schedule, but I was able to do quite a bit of holiday cookie baking. I had a cookie exchange at work and I brought in several different types of cookies. Therefore, my next three posts for today will be the holiday cookies that I tried. Enjoy!

Source: Grandma's Cookie Jar Cookbook


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 c. sugar

1 egg

2 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Colored sprinkles or sugars (optional)


Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add egg; beat until fluffy.

Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well blended. Form dough into ball; wrap in plastic wrap and flatter. Refrigerated about 2 hours or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350. Roll out dough, small portion at a time, to a 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin. (Keep remaining dough wrapped in refrigerator)

Cut out dough with 3-inch cookie cutters. Sprinkle with colored sprinkles or sugars, if desired. Transfer to ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let cookies stand on cookie sheets 1 minute; transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Yes, it's time for another venison recipe! I still haven't made a dent in my freezer with all the meat, but I'm going to keep on trying! This recipe turned out fabulous, but if you're squeemish about venison, this recipe will work perfect with ground beef or turkey. If you're cooking for only 2 or 3 people, I recommend cutting this recipe in half because I think this recipe was for over a gallon's worth of chili. We'll be having leftovers for a few days. This recipe was another great weekend set-it-and-forget-it recipe for the Crock Pot as well. I would definitely make this again.

Source: Laura's Recipe Collection


2 lbs ground beef or venison

2 red peppers, diced into larger chunks

2 yellow peppers, diced into larger chunks

2 1/2 C frozen corn

1 28 oz. can tomato sauce

1 30 oz. can chili beans

1 medium onion, chopped

2 C canned black beans

3 T. chili powder

Tabasco to taste

Sour cream and cheese to top, if desired


In a large skillet, brown and drain the beef. Chop the peppers and onion. Add these into the crockpot. Add in the rest of the ingredients, aside from the sour cream and cheese, and mix well.

Simmer for 8-10 hours on low. Garnish with sour cream and cheese, serve.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

This was a new recipe to try that was requested by my husband. He loves broccoli and after eating a cream of brocolli soup that we had eaten at my work's holiday banquet, he asked if I would make a similar recipe. This soup turned out really well and depending on your mood, you don't even need to add cheese. This soup is definitely perfect for a Sunday dinner during the winter.

Source: Cooking Light


Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) package broccoli florets
2 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces light processed cheese, cubed (I used Kraft mild cheddar)


Heat a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add broth and broccoli. Bring broccoli mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes.

Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in pepper. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

Place one-third of the soup in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Return pureed soup mixture to pan.

Lime-Vodka Punch

I love to try different kinds of creamy punches, especially with alcohol. Hehe. I attended a holiday party yesterday with my friends and I wanted to bring a fun, festive punch to share. This recipe was really simple and delicious, and it disappeared quickly. The recipe actually only calls for a few cups of vodka, but as the night went on, we kept adding more and more vodka because we couldn't even taste it. When I made the second batch of punch, I added the whole bottle of vodka right away. I wouldn't recommend adding this much vodka if it's for a family party :-).

Source: All Recipes


2 cups lime vodka
2 (2 liter) bottles chilled lemon-lime soda
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
1/2 gallon lime sherbert


Stir together vodka and soda in a large punch bowl. Add ice cream and sherbet; stir and serve immediately.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Crockpot Venison Tenderloin

I still have at least 100 pounds of venison still in my freezer so I am still working on trying to clear it all out. The stew I made last weekend took so much time, so for this recipe, I just wanted something that would only take a few minutes of preparation. I had never cooked venison in the crock pot before, so I decided to do a little experimentation. I found a crockpot pork tenderloin recipe and just substituted the meat and altered the cooking time. This recipe turned out fantastic. I was afraid the meat would taste game-y, but it tasted quite the opposite and the meat came out so tender and flavorful.

Source: Adapted from Love To Eat


1 venison tenderloin about 2 lbs (I used 2 tenderloins - 1 lb. each)
1 package dry onion soup mix
1 cup water
1 cup red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 tbsp minced garlic
Pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce - a few dashes


Put tenderloin in crock pot and rub with minced garlic and pepper. Add onion soup mix. Pour wine and water over and add dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Set crock pot on low for 6-8 hours until meat is cooked thoroughly.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Herb-Breaded Tilapia

I love all kinds of shell fish, but I usually don't care for fish fillets. I didn't really like tilapia until I tried the discontinued Tilapia in a Bag dish at Red Lobster. Tilapia doesn't have a fishy taste at all so I really enjoy it. I also enjoy its health benefits! I tried a new recipe last night for dinner because it looked so easy. It really was! All in all, the combined cooking and preparation time was about 15 minutes and the fillets were so flavorful! I also added a side of creamy orzo cooked in chicken broth, then mixed with some parsley and a splash of lemon juice. Yummy!

Source: Elly Says Opa!


2 tilapia fillets
2 Tbsp. flour
1 egg
1 lemon, divided
1/3 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbsp, fresh chopped parsley (I used dry parsley, worked fine)
2 tsp. fresh chopped thyme (I used dry thyme, worked fine)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder


Season the tilapia with salt and pepper and then dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess.

Lightly beat an egg in a small baking dish or bowl and mix in the juice of half the lemon. In another dish, combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste.

Dip the floured tilapia first in the egg, and then into the breadcrumb mixture, coating evenly and pressing to adhere if necessary.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once hot (if you flick a little piece of the breadcrumb mixture in there and it bubbles/sizzles, you’re good to go), add the tilapia. Cook for approximately 3 minutes per side, or until fish is cooked through and flakes with a fork.

Cut the remaining half lemon into wedges and serve alongside the tilapia

Monday, December 7, 2009

Italian-Style Venison Stew with Egg Noodles

This is a recipe I don't expect a lot of my readers to actually try. However, my husband loves hunting and was able to kill two large bucks this year. He gave the meat of one of the bucks to Hunters for the Hungry, but the other buck was butchered and all the different cuts of meat are now packed in our freezer. Our freezer is overflowing so I've been looking for recipes to start clearing it all out. So if you like venison, you're in a for a treat because a lot of my upcoming recipes will feature venison. Don't worry, I'll also be cooking other meals!

For our first venison recipe, I tried a pretty intense recipe from Emeril Lagasse. I had to start the recipe 36 hours before I started cooking it to prepare the marinade, which was also pretty intense. Once it was all finished, the finished product looked great, but I wasn't really a fan of the taste. My husband loved it, which was the important thing, considering he is so proud of all the meat that he has. The marinade had too much vinegar in it for my liking. The gamey taste of the deer was definitely eliminated, but the vinegar taste really stood out. That was how the recipe was supposed to taste, so all in all, this recipe was pretty successful.

Source: Emeril Lagasse, 2003


3 pounds venison stew meat, such as round or roast, trimmed and cubed
4 cups dry red wine (I used a Cabernet)
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups chopped onions (divided)
1 cup chopped carrots (divided)
1 cup chopped celery (divided)
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cloves
8 parsley stems
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons juniper berries (I omitted these)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped (I used bacon)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces wild mushrooms, wiped clean and stems trimmed, or quartered button mushrooms
12 ounces wide egg noodles
Chopped parsley, garnish


In a large non-reactive bowl, combine the meat, wine, vinegar, 3/4 cup onions, 1/2 cup carrots, 1/2 cup celery, garlic, rosemary, thyme, cloves, parsley stems, bay leaves, juniper and peppercorns. Stir to combine, cover, and marinate 24 to 36 hours, refrigerated.

Drain the meat thoroughly, reserving the liquid, and pat dry.

In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until brown and the fat is rendered. Remove and drain on paper towels. In batches, add the drained meat and cook, stirring, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan. Add the remaining onions, carrots, and celery, and the minced garlic. Cook, stirring, until soft. Add 1 cup of the reserved marinade and bring to a boil, stirring to deglaze the pan. Return the meat and bacon to the pan and add enough marinade to come halfway up the sides of the meat. Reduce the heat, cover slightly, and simmer until the venison is tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. (The cooking liquid should reduce and thicken as the meat cooks, yet add additional liquid should be added as needed to keep the meat halfway covered during cooking.)

In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender and starting to brown. Remove from the heat and reserve.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the egg noodles and cook until al dente. Drain well and return to the pot. Toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

To serve, place the egg noodles in a large serving bowl. Top with the stew and arrange the cooked mushrooms over the stew. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Oreo Truffles

I'm a big fan of looking for recipes on the What's Cooking? board on The Nest.com. Today, everybody was talking about how amazing this oreo truffles recipe is. I wanted to take a fun dessert to work so I thought this would be a good one to try. I definitely understand its popularity! These truffles were perfect and extremely addictive!

Source: Recipezaar


1 lb. Oreo cookies (3 sleeves)
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 lb. milk chocolate
1/2 lb. white chocolate


Using a food processor, grind cookies to a fine powder. With a mixer, blend cookie powder, cream cheese and vanilla extract until thoroughly mixed (there should be no white traces of cream cheese).

Roll into small balls and place on wax-lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Line two cookie sheets with wax paper. In double-boiler (I put a pyrex dish in a pot filled with water), melt milk chocolate. Dip balls and coat thoroughly. With slotted spoon, lift balls out of chocolate and let excess chocolate drip off. Place on wax-paper-lined cookie sheet.

In separate double boiler, melt white chocolate. Using a fork, drizzle white chocolate over balls. Let cool. Store in airtight container, in refrigerator.


I made this recipe again for a cookie exchange at my work. Instead of dipping the oreo truffles in melted chocolate, I dipped them into crush candy canes, YUM! It was a great time, the peppermint taste blended so well in the oreo.

Macaroni and Cheese

A few days ago at Thanksgiving, I had some really good homemade mac n' cheese. I had really forgotten about how much I enjoyed eating it as a comfort food so I decided to try making it at my own house. I liked the recipe because it allows you to decide what type of cheeses you want to use. If you have extra time, I recommend baking the macaroni in a pyrex dish topped with cheese and some breadcrumbs.

Source: The Pioneer Woman


4 c. dried macaroni
1/4 c. (1/2 stick or 4 tbsp.) butter
1/4 c. All-purpose flour
2 1/2 c. whole milk
2 tsp (heaping) dry mustard
1 egg
1 lb. cheese, grated (I used sharp cheddar, mild cheddar, and Colby Jack)
1/2 tsp. salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper


Cook macaroni until very firm. Drain.

In a small bowl, beat the egg. Set aside. In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don't let it burn.

Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Read heat to low. Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the egg. Whisk together until smooth. Pour egg mixture into sauce, which constantly. Stir until smooth. Add in cheese and stir to melt. Add salts and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed. Do not undersalt!

Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Serve immediately or pour until a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

40 Clove Garlic Chicken

I'm always looking to try new recipes in the crock pot. This recipe is exactly what the recipe says. It requires 40 cloves of garlic. I thought this would be overpowering, but the flavor was perfect. It also had a little bit of heat in the rub because of the red pepper flakes. You can always alter the amount of red pepper depending on your preferences and the chicken will turn out fine. By the way, this is what 40 cloves of garlic looks like:

Source: Cuisinart


2 pounds chicken thighs (about 8 to 10), skinless, bone-in

1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

40 garlic cloves, peeled

½ celery rib, sliced

½ cup sliced onion

¼ cup white vermouth or dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)

3 tablespoons chicken broth


Spray the inside of the crock pot with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the chicken thighs, herbes de Provence, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Make sure to coat the rub all over the chicken. Lay the chicken in the bottom of the crock pot. Layer the garlic, celery and onions on top of the chicken. Pour in wine and chicken stock. Set the crock pot on low 8 hours then serve.

Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi

This recipe is one of the first recipes I've made where I made good use of orzo. I think it's a lot easier to make than rice and able to hold in more flavor than rice. If you ever want to cook with orzo, I recommend cooking it in beef or chicken broth, depending on the dish you want to combine it with. The shrimp was flavorful, but the orzo really completed this dish.

Source: Stephanie Cooks, adapted from Cooking Light


1 cup uncooked orzo

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

7 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided

1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp

Garlic Powder (several heavy dashes)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 can of chicken broth

Parmesan cheese (I used shredded instead of grated)


Spray a small sauce pan with cooking spray. Add the orzo, stirring frequently until slightly toasted. Pour in the chicken broth. Cook until almost all of the broth is absorbed. Place orzo in a medium bowl. Stir in parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cover and keep warm.

While orzo cooks, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add half of shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in pan. Add remaining shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer to plate.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in pan. Add garlic powder to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp, juice, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done. Stir the orzo back into the skillet. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cheesy Garlic Biscuits

If you like to go to Red Lobster, you probably love their cheesy biscuits that come with the meal. They are so warm, fluffy, and have the perfect amount of melted cheese in each biscuit. I found this recipe that said it tasted exactly like the biscuits at the restaurant and they were absolutely right. The biscuits turned out perfectly and we enjoyed them with some pasta and sauce.

Source: Joyful Abode


2 c. buttermilk biscuit mix (I used Bisquick)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 to 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 c. milk
2 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic salt (I used 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder and 1/2 tsp. of salt)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a cooking sheet with nonstick spray. In a bowl, combine the biscuit mix, the garlic powder, and the shredded cheese. Stir to combine. Pour in the milk. Stir until combined. The dough should be lumpy, but not sticky.

Using the two-spoon method, drop the lumps of dough onto the cooking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, melt the butter. Add the oregano and garlic salt and mix together. Brush the butter mixture over each biscuit then put back into the oven and bake for another 5-6 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

I was going to a birthday party the other night and I wanted to bring a fun dessert to share. I found this recipe a few weeks ago and I was excited to try it. I had a blast making this recipe. It was simple to make and delicious and it was a hit at the party. People asked me how I hallowed out the strawberries and it was very easy. I saw a recommendation online to use a potato peeler, but I didn't have one so I used a small knife and a very small measuring spoon to scoop out the insides.

Source: The Novice Chef


2 crates of fresh strawberries
1 box Jello No Bake Cheesecake
Crushed graham crackers
Milk Chocolate chips


Wash the strawberries and cut off the tops. Hollow out the strawberries.

Mix the cheesecake according to the directions on the box. Use a decorating bag and a large tip to fill each strawberry until it is slightly overfilled. Place the crushed graham crackers in a bowl and dip the tops of the strawberries into the graham crackers.

Heat up the milk chocolate chips in 10 second intervals until melted thoroughly. Spoon the melted chocolate into a ziplock bag and cut off a very small tip. Squeeze the bag as if it were a decorating bag and drizzle the chocolate on top of the strawberries as desired.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

I was eating dinner by myself for this meal so I wanted something that was a little simpler. This was a good recipe to try because you can easily alter the amount of chicken and pasta. I actually added a little bit more pasta and chicken, but only because I wanted extra for lunches at work. This dish was very filling and tasty and it was fun to cook with pastina. If you don't have any pastina handy, you can use any other smaller type of pasta and the dish will turn out just fine. I also read a few suggestions to add a lemon pepper rub to the chicken before cooking it and adding it to the pastina.

Source: Giada de Laurentiis


1 c. pastina pasta (or any small pasta)

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 c. cubed chicken breast (1 inch cubes)

1/2 c. diced onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice

1 c. shredded mozzarella

1/4 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used dry leaf parsley)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 c. bread crumbs

1/4 c. grated Parmesan

1 tbsp. butter


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Place the mixture in a buttered 8 x 8 baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture, Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Beef and Cheese Manicotti

This was the first time I ever tried making manicotti. I hadn't eaten it in several years and my husband had never had it before. After eating this dish, we couldn't believe what we were missing. I had a lot of fun assembling this dish and the results were fantastic. This is sure to become a family favorite with us. Hope you'll enjoy it as well!

Source: Apple a Day, adapted from Giada de Laurentis


4 tsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 lb. ground beef

salt and freshly ground black pepper

14 (8 oz. package) manicotti

1 (15 oz.) container whole-milk ricotta (I used part-skim)

2 c. shredded mozzarella

1/2 c. grated Parmesan

2 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (I used dry parsley flakes)

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 c. marinara sauce

2 tbsp. butter, cut into pieces


Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tsp. of the olive oil, onion, and ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain the drippings, and cool.

Brush 1 tsp. of oil over a large baking sheet. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm to the bite, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool.

Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, 1 c. mozzarella cheese, 1/4 c. Parmesan, and parsley. Add the garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the remaining 2 tsp. of oil over a 13 X 9 inch glass baking dish. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish.

Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over.

Sprinkle the remaining 1 c. of mozzarella cheese, then the remaining 1/4 c. Parmesan over the stuffed pasta. Dot entire dish with the butter pieces. Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chicken and Rice Stuffed Tomatoes

This is a new recipe I learned about a month ago that I have made two times already. It's easy to make, uses simple ingredients, and a really filling and tasty meal. I made six tomatoes and they were more than enough for my husband and I for dinner as well as some leftovers. I highly recommend this recipe.

Source: Things That Make You Go Mmmmmm


6 large, ripe tomatoes
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
3/4 lb. ground chicken or cut up chicken breast
1 c. cooked rice
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking dish, large enough to accomodate the tomatoes, with non-stick spray.

Wash tomatoes. Cut off tops and scoop out insides into a bowl. Reserve.

In a non-stick skillet, brown chicken. Add onion. Make sure you break up the chicken into little pieces, it makes stuffing the tomatoes easier. Remove from heat.

Add rice and seasoning to the meat and onions. Take the reserved tomato guts and put into blender. Blend for a moment and pour back about 3/4 cup into the meat mixture. Mix well.

Stuff the tomatoes with the mixture; place tomatoes in baking dish. Top tomatoes with cheese then bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. (After 10 minutes of baking, I added extra mozzarella cheese to the tomatoes)

Red Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This recipe has become a fairly regular side dish for our meals. It's very simple and tastes great. The recipe calls for mixing the potatoes with an electric mixer to smooth them out, but I didn't think it was necessary.

Source: All Recipes


8 medium red potatoes, cubed
2 tsp. crushed garlic (I used minced garlic), divided
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1/4 c. half-and-half cream
2 tbsp. white sugar
1/2 tsp. steak seasoning
1/4 tsp. garlic powder


Place the potatoes into a large pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon of the crushed garlic to the water for flavor. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.

Drain the potatoes, and add the butter. Mash until the butter is melted. Mix in the half-and-half, sugar, steak seasoning, garlic powder, and remaining garlic. Mix potatoes with an electric mixer until smooth.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Tart

I'm not sure about how well this recipe went. I followed the directions carefully and the only issue I had was that I ran out of vanilla extract so I used 1 teaspoon instead of the required 2 teaspoons. I cooked it for about 45 minutes in the oven and the outside edges turned golden, but it was really chewy in the middle. The good news is that the cookie tart tasted delicious and was cooked all the way through, but I think I will have to work on the texture.

Source: Blissfully Delicious


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips, (about 12 ounces)

Vegetable-oil cooking spray


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or a 9-inch pie tin with vegetable-oil cooking spray; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Press 3 cups of this dough into prepared pan. Bake until edges are golden and center is almost set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes, and remove from pan. Bake remaining dough as cookies at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This was a really easy recipe to try, but I actually did very little of the work because of the long cooking time. My husband did most of the job which involved shredding the pork and adding the ingredients. All I did was plop the pork roast in the crock pot and set it to low for 10 hours. This dish was very tasty and is a great recipe to try for those who work long hours during the week!

Source: Crockpot Tuesdays


2.5 lb. pork roast
14 oz. bottle of bbq sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 medium onion, chopped


Put pork roast in crockpot. Cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 5-6 hours.

Remove roast from crockpot. Trim excess fat and shred the meat. Dump out any excess liquid that is in your stoneware, and return the pork to the crockpot. Combine pork with remaining ingredients.

Cover and cook on high for 2 more hours.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lasagna Supreme

Of all the recipes I can make, this is mine and my husband's favorite. I found this recipe in a little cookbook that I got as a stocking stuffer a few years ago. This lasagna is perfect for us because we prefer the cottage cheese mixture over riccotta. Sometimes I substitute the mild sausage for spicy for the extra kick. This is definitely a family favorite and I hope it can be a favorite for you, too!

Source: Comfort Food


8-10 uncooked lasagna noodles
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. dried majoram leaves
1 can (4 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
2 eggs
2 cups (16 ounces) cream-style cottage cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese


Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions; drain

Cook meats, onion, and garlic in large skillet over medium-high heat until meat is brown, stirring to separate meat. Drain drippings from skillet. Add tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, basil, and marjoram. Reduce heat to slow. Cover; simmer 15 minutes, stirring often. Stir in mushrooms; set aside.

Preheat oven to 375. Beat eggs in large bowl; add cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Place half the noodles in bottom of greased 13x9-inch baking pan. Spread half the cottage cheese mixture over noodles, then half the meat mixture and half the Cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake lasagna 40 to 45 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blueberry Muffins

I was browsing through recipes late last night and I found this super easy recipe and I happened to have all of the ingredients. These muffins were great. I think I can say I definitely like muffins that are made with brown sugar, it made such a difference! I didn't have any muffin liners handy, so I just used a disposable muffin pan and the muffins came out of the pan perfectly.

Source: So Tasty, So Yummy


3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups blueberries (7 1/2 oz)

Special equipment: a muffin pan with 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups; 12 foil or paper muffin liners


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Put liners in muffin cups.

Whisk together butter, brown sugar, milk, and egg in a bowl until combined well. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add milk mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in blueberries gently.

Divide batter among muffin cups and bake until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cabernet Braised Short Ribs

The crock pot is truly a wonderful thing. I like using it just for the wonderful smells it creates in the kitchen. Anytime I cook beef in the crock pot, it comes out so tender. This dish was no exception. The meat fell off the bone as soon as I took it out of the pot.

Source: My Adventures in Food, loosely adapted from Cooking Light, March 2008


2 Tbs canola oil

3 lbs beef short ribs, trimmed

Salt and pepper

2 c low sodium beef broth

1 ½ c cabernet sauvignon or other dry red wine

3 Tbs tomato paste

3 celery ribs, sliced into 1-inch chunks

3 carrots, sliced into 1-inch chunks

6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

1 medium onion, cut into wedges

2 rosemary sprigs

3 Tbs all purpose flour

4 c hot, cooked wide egg noodles

Chopped parsley (optional)


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, heat until hot. Season ribs with salt and pepper. Add ribs to pan, and brown on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove pan from heat. Place short ribs into a crock pot. Add beef broth to the pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Add wine and tomato paste to the broth, whisking to combine.

Add celery, carrot, garlic, onion, and rosemary to the crock pot. Pour broth mixture over the crock pot contents. Cover and bake on medium, about 6 hours, until ribs are fork-tender.

Uncover crock pot. Remove ribs carefully and set on a plate. Strain the broth mixture through a sieve over a bowl, reserving the liquid. Discard the remaining solids. Separate the drippings from the fat using a fat separator. (If a fat separator is not available, use a zip-top plastic bag, letting the drippings settle, snipping a small hole in the bottom corner, and draining the drippings. Stop draining when you reach the fat, which should have risen to the top.) Discard the fat.

Pour drippings into a small saucepan. Add flour, and stir well with a whisk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes, or until thickened.

Serve ribs on a bed of noodles, and pour gravy on top. Garnish with parsley.

Zuppa Toscana

This recipe was outstanding. I LOVE the Zuppa Toscana soup from Olive Garden, and this recipe tasted exactly the same, if not better. I HIGHLY recommend this recipe. I definitely plan on making this at least once a month. In this recipe I cut the potatoes in chunks, but next time
I want to slice the potatoes thinly with the skins still on them. Also, I recommend removing some of the grease from the sausage after you brown it. I used the grease to help sautee the onions, but when the soup was finished, the red grease floated to the top and I had to spoon it out.

Source: Annie's Eats (adapted from Recipezaar)


1 lb. Italian sausage
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine to deglaze the pan (I used Sauvignon Blanc wine)
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 russett potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
2 cups fresh kale, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
2.5 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper


Place a large stockpot or Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat. Crumble the sausage into the pan and cook until well browned. Remove the cooked sausage from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl; set aside. Add the chopped onion to the pan and sauté until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook for a minute more, just until fragrant. Add the wine to the pot and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits. Add the potatoes, kale, chicken broth and water to the pot. Return the sausage to the pot.

Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer on medium-low. Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender and cooked through. Stir in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Skillet Lime Chicken Tacos

My husband and I often have tacos, but we have never used chicken. We always just browned the beef, added the packet taco seasoning, and added some cheese and veggies. It was time for a change! This recipe turned out to be tasty. Next time I make this, I will probably used a little less vinegar and more chicken. The vinegar slightly overpowered the overall taste of the chicken.


1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast meat - cubed

1/8 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 lime, juiced

1 teaspoon white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 green onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tomato, diced

10 (6 inch) flour tortillas

1/4 cup shredded lettuce

1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/4 cup salsa


Saute chicken in a medium saucepan over medium high heat for about 20 minutes. Add vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, pepper, green onion, garlic and oregano. Simmer for an extra 10 minutes. Heat an iron skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the pan, warm, and turn over to heat the other side. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve lime chicken mixture in warm tortillas topped with tomato, lettuce, cheese and salsa

Trying something new

Hello all!

My friends and family know that I really enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. I could cook all day and night if I could. Unfortunately, I work a LOT. At least 50-60 hours a week. However, weekends are fair game so my goal for the upcoming year is to cook at least one different thing every weekend as well as repeating favorite recipes along the way. I know nothing about Blogger or web design, so bear with me on the layout. I hope to improve as I go along! Now it's time for some recipes...