Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Would you like to win a $200 gift card to ANY restaurant in the US?

If so click on this link. You can pick any restaurant you so desire in these great United States.

I personally selected Ruth's Cris Steakhouse but don't let my vote sway your own choice.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Boursin Spinach Stuffed Chicken

I wanted to make something special for our anniversary which was on April 23rd but then our oven wasn't working so we ended up going to Macaroni Grill to celebrate. Then I was going to make it on Friday but my husband wanted something quicker since he was really hungry so we reheated some leftover casserole we'd had earlier in the week. And then Saturday he was volunteering all day and didn't get home until after 8pm so definitely too late for something like this. But Sunday was the day. The oven is still broken, in fact, I'm at home this morning waiting for a repairman to come and look at it, so I ended up cooking it in our toaster oven so cooking times probably WILL vary in a standard oven.

This dish was delicious and my husband said it tasted like something he could eat in a restaurant. He definitely wants me to make this again. I can't say it was based on any particular recipe but more based on every stuffed chicken recipe I've ever seen.

Boursin Spinach Stuffed Chicken
Makes 2 servings

1/3 package boursin garlic/herb cheese
1/4 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 chicken breasts pounded relatively flat
1/2 italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 stick butter or margarine, melted (I used margarine)

Lay chicken breasts on a plate or cutting board. Put a layer of boursin cheese on each breast. Top with a layer of spinach. Roll up chicken breasts and use a toothpick to keep rolled. (For me I had to basically fold them in half and needed 2 toothpicks to keep them in place). Dip rolled breast in melted butter and then cover in breadcrumbs. Bake for 35-40 minutes in a preheated 400F oven (again I used my toaster oven so bake times will likely vary in a standard oven).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Strawberry Bread

I had purchased some strawberries to make a fruit salad on Easter but completely forgot about it on the day so I needed to use them up before they went bad. My Mom mentioned a Strawberry Bread recipe she had made awhile back so I decided to try it. She got it from so I knew it would be relatively healthy as well.

Strawberry Bread
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup melted margarine
1/4 cup canola oil

1. Slice strawberries and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp sugar.
2. Combine dry ingredients and set aside.
3. Combine oil and margarine; beat eggs until fluffy and add to oil/margarine.
4. Add dry ingredients to the wet and incorporate. Add strawberries.
5. Place in greased loaf pan and bake at 350F for 45-55 minutes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Overcoming my homemade pizza fear

When I was little my Mom made homemade pizza every Friday. No offense if you are reading this, Mom, but I hated pizza Fridays. In fact I thought I hated homemade pizza. But I had leftover pepperoni and pizza sauce from the Pizza Slider Burgers and sausage from Easter breakfast so I decided to give it a try. I wasn't quite ready to try homemade crust yet (that's what I didn't like from Mom's) so I bought the refrigerated Pillsbury kind.

I rolled it onto a cookie sheet and baked for about 4-5 min in a 425F oven. Then I covered it in pizza sauce, then browned and crumbled pork sausage, then pepperoni and then a mixture of shredded mozzerells and monterey jack. Back in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes.

I thought it was really delucious. So I'll try another few varities before I tackle my next pizza fear which is homemade crust.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I won!!

I was just notified that I won another blog contest. Thanks Jessica and I'm looking forward to receiving the recipe book.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Buttermilk Banana Blueberry Muffins

I had leftover buttermilk from the Italian Cream cake and blueberries from the Easter fruit salad that wasn't (I completely forgot) so I decided to make some muffins.

I based my recipe on one found at Recipezaar which came from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Healthful Cooking. I omitted the nuts and added blueberries. The original recipe said it would make 12 muffins. However since I added the blueberries to the batter I ended up getting 15 muffins out of it.

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mashed ripe banana (I used 2 medium)
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 container blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Spray 12 regular muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray.
3. In a large bowl mix together flours, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.
4. In separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, banana, oil, egg, and vanilla.
5. Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir until blended.
6. Add blueberries to the batter and incorporate throughout.
7. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling 3/4 full.
8. Bake until lightly brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, approximately 15-20 minutes.
9. Allow to cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

I thought these were good but there was not enough banana flavor for me. I think next time I make these I will add another mashed banana to the batter to increase that flavor.

Italian Cream Cake

Yesterday was one of my Karen's (one of my coworkers) Birthday. So I made her an Italian Cream Cake. Whenever the deli in our building has this cake for sale she has to stop in and get a piece so I knew I needed to find a recipe and make it for her. Now I had never had one of these cakes but once I saw the ingredients I knew it had to be delicious. Everyone said how great this cake turned out and Karen said it was much more delicious than the one the deli made. It was very moist as well.

Italian Cream Cake
Adapted from

1 cup butter
5 egg yolks
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
5 egg whites
2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup flaked coconut

1. Cream together butter, egg yolks, and sugar. Alternately mix in flour and buttermilk. Add baking soda and mix in nuts and coconut.
2. Beat egg whites and fold into batter. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated 350F oven.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
1 cup butter
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients and spread onto cooled cake. Top iced cake with additional chopped pecans.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cooking for Carson - Homemade Baby Oatmeal Cereal

Carson had his 4 month appointment yesterday and at it our doctor suggested starting him on cereal. My goal is to make as much of his babyfood at home as possible so that I know exactly what is going into his system. I have found some great recipes at Wholesome Baby Food.

I had old fashioned oats in our pantry so I ground about a cup or so in the food processor until they resembled a powder.

Then I cooked 1/4 cup of the powder and cooked it in 1 cup of boiling water, whisking to remove as many clumps as possible. I took 1 Tbsp of cooked oats and mixed it with about 2 Tbsp of pumped breastmilk and voila. Homemade babyfood.

The problem was that Carson still hasn't quite figured out the whole swallowing thing, plus it is still thicker than store bought oatmeal cereal so I will stick with the store stuff until he is better at eating from a spoon and then give him the thicker stuff again.

Little Cheddar Meat Loaves

I honestly couldn't tell you where I got this recipe but right before my son was born my Mom and I had an all day cooking session where we made freezer friendly food to use after we came back from the hospital. This was one of those freezer friendly meals that we just got around to trying.

Little Cheddar Meat Loaves

1 egg
¾ cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup quick-cooking oats
½ cup chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1 lb lean ground beef
2/3 cup ketchup
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ tsp prepared mustard

In a bowl, beat the egg and milk. Stir in cheese, oats, onion, and salt. Add beef and mix well. Shape into eight loaves; place in a greased baking dish. Combine ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard; spoon over loaves. Bake, uncovered at 350F for 45 minutes.

NOTE: This recipe freezes great before baking (without the sauce on top, just make the sauce after you defrost the loaves). It also doubles really well.

I did what the NOTE part said and froze it uncooked without the sauce, then thawed it and prepared the sauce to put on top. Actually my husband technically did that part since I was feeding the baby.

They were really good even though they had been frozen for 4 months. We served them with Four Cheese Mashed Potatoes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mini Egg Casserole Cups

I really wanted to make some sort of Breakfast Casserole for Easter morning but my husband wanted to just have sausage and eggs on their own. So, I improvised. I made him his sausage and eggs and I made these mini casserole cups in my muffin tin.

And really the recipe is very versatile since you could substitute any meat or cheese you wanted. You could also add any veggies or herbs you desired as well.

Here's how I chose to make it yesterday and they were delicious.

I used about 1/8 lb of bulk pork sausage (about a 1 1/2 inch thick slice) and browned it in a skillet. I then combined that in a bowl with 4 whisked eggs, 3 torn slices of american cheese (I had some I wanted to use and didn't want to use up my shredded cheese that I would be using for the homemade mac & cheese I was making later in the day). I sprayed my muffin tin with cooking spray and then filled my muffin tins about 3/4 full with the mixture. It took 6 tins to use up the mixture. I sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top and baked at 350F for 20 minutes.

Simply delicious. Next time I will dice up some onion, green pepper, use bacon instead of sausage and use sharp cheddar cheese.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

This year it was just my husband, son, and I, although only the hubs and I ate the food (Carson is 4 months old so no food yet).

Here is a plate and links to the recipes. I had intended on making a fruit salad but totally forgot. I also made a lemon cake (from a box since that's how Greg likes it), but we're both so full we still haven't eaten it.

Tangy Honey Glazed Ham
Creamy Mac & Cheese
Creamed Spinach
Italian Crescent Rolls


It was so delicious.

Tangy Honey Glazed Ham

For the ham I used this recipe from

Tangy Honey Glazed Ham
12 servings

1 10 pound fully-cooked, bone-in ham
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup honey
1/3 large orange, juiced and zested (I used 1 small)
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Place ham in roasting pan.
2. In small saucepan combine all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside.
3. Bake ham in preheated oven uncovered for 2 hours. Remove ham from oven, and brush with glaze. Bake for an additional 30-45 minutes, brushing ham with glaze every 10 minutes.


Creamed Spinach

This was also a Julie original recipe and was very simple

2 10-oz boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1/2 pint heavy cream
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup Parmesan

Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add cream and nutmeg and cook until it slightly reduces, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and Parmesan and combine.

I'm not a huge spinach lover but thought this was really good.

Creamy Mac & Cheese

This was a complete Julie's original. I did look through a bunch of mac & cheese recipes online for inspiration but made this up on my own.

Creamy Mac & Cheese

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup whole milk
1 1-inch thick slice from velveeta loaf
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Cook pasta to al dente, about 5 minutes. Since you are baking this you don't want the noodles fully cooked. Drain pasta. In same pot melt butter and cheeses. Add in milk. Then sprinkle in nutmeg and mustard and thoroughly combine. Add drained pasta back to pot and be sure to fully coat noodles with sauce. Pour mixture into baking dish. (I used a 9x13 glass dish, but thought the layer was too small. Next time I'll use a 9x9 or a casserole dish.) Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake in preheated 350F oven for 30 minutes.

This was both Greg's and my favorite part of the Easter spread this year. I will definitely be making this again.


Italian Crescent Rolls

I based this "recipe" (it's hard to call it that) based on this one here.

Basically what I did was take a tube of crescent rolls, unrolled them, brushed melted butter on them, sprinkled with Italian seasoning, and rolled them up. Then baked at 375F for 11 min.

They were absolutely delicious.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Belated "I won!"

This week has been extremely busy as it is quarter-end close, which is busy normally, but this is also my first close after having my son which has made it even more chaotic. So needless to say I have not really been cooking this week. We've been eating sandwiches, leftovers, and pizza.

Anyway, I was pleasantally surprised last week to have won Foodie Freebie Friday last week. I won (and have since received) this. Thanks Joelen!

I've finished our menu for Easter dinner and will be blogging about it next week once everything is done, photographed, eaten, and reviewed.

I hope everyone has a very Happy and Blessed Easter weekend!

Monday, April 6, 2009

March Close Cake

I'm an accountant and today is the start of close week. My coworkers and I do not look forward to this week since we are so busy so I decided to start a new tradition and bake something sweet for close week. Karen requested a chocolate peanut butter cake so I decided to try this recipe.

Peanut Butter Cup Cake
Good Housekeeping, February 2002
Prep: 30 min + cooling; Bake: 1 hour
Makes 16 servings

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole milk
Rich Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease decorative 10-cup metal loaf pan or 10-cup fluted baking pan; dust with flour.
2. On waxed paper, combine flour and baking powder; set aside.
3. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat peanut butter and butter with sugars until blended, scraping bowl often with rubber spatula. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until creamy, about 3 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl.
4. Reduce speed to low; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and milk beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until smooth.
5. Spoon batter into pan and spread evenly. Bake 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
6. Cool cake in pan on wire rack 15 minutes. Loosen cake from side of pan; invert onto wire rack to cool completely. Glaze cooled cake with Rich Chocolate Glaze.

RICH CHOCOLATE GLAZE – Prep 5 min, Cook about 3 min, makes ½ cup

3 oz milk chocolate, broken into pieces
3 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 Tbsp milk

1. In a 1-quart glass measure, heat chocolate with remaining ingredients in microwave on HIGH 1 ½ to 2 minutes until smooth, stirring twice during cooking.
2. Immediately pour glaze over top of cooled cake, allowing it to run down sides. Let cake stand for at least 30 minutes to allow glaze to set before serving.

I'm not sure why it's called Peanut Butter cup when there are no peanut butter cups in it. It may be better having some crushed pb cups sprinkled on top.

Simple Lemon Cookies

A (now former) coworker's wife made these cookies last week for his last day. As soon as I tried it I thought of my husband since he absolutely loves lemon cake. I have tried cake after cake but he only seems to like lemon cake out of the box with store bought frosting. Since this recipe used a lemon cake mix I thought he may like them and a cookie is much easier to take along to work than a frosted slice of cake. So I decided to give them a try.

Simple Lemon Cookies

1 lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil

Mix together. Roll into small balls. Bake at 350F for 8-9 minutes.

Then glaze with powdered sugar/lemon juice glaze.

I ended up using my cookie scoop to make these but they ended up a little larger than I had hoped so next time I will just use my hands and make smaller balls than the cookie scoop. I do really wish that she had included the measurements for the glaze because I ended up just adding lemon juice while mixing the powdered sugar until I got my desired consistency, however my glaze was quite sour. I'm guessing she used a milk/powdered sugar combo for her glaze because it tasted like regular glaze. I'm liking the sweet/sour combo but my husband did not. So I guess it's back to the cake mix/store frosting for him.

I am going to try this recipe again but I think next time I am going to use strawberry cake mix and make a glaze with some pureed strawberries.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pizza Slider Burgers

This recipe was attached to the McCormick's coupons on my Sunday paper and looked so yummy that I couldn't wait to try it.

Pizza Slider Burgers
Makes 4 servings

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 tsp McCormick basil leaves
1/2 tsp McCormick garlic powder
1/2 tsp McCormick oregano leaves
1/2 tsp salt (I used garlic salt)
1/4 tsp McCormick Ground Black Pepper
1/3 cup pizza sauce or tomato sauce
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 small dinner rolls
Pepperoni slices (optional)

1. Mix ground beef and seasonings in a medium bowl until well blended. Shape into 8 patties.
2. Grill burgers over medium heat or cook in non-stick skillet 4-6 minutes per side or until cooked through (internal temperature of 165F).
3. Top each burger evenly with sauce and cheese. Cook 1 minute longer or until cheese is melted. Serve on rolls with pepperoni slices, if desired.

For all the seasonings except salt, I ended up using closer to 1 tsp instead of 1/2 tsp since my husband and I really like the extra flavor. I thought it was perfectly seasoned. Also, instead of just using dinner rolls out of the bag I ended up cutting them in half for use as the bun, laying them cut side up on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Spraying the cut side with canola oil spray and then sprinkling garlic powder on top of them. Then I toasted the buns in the oven while the burgers were cooking.

Both my husband and I just loved these. They are definitely becoming part of our dinner rotation. Please forgive the crappy picture. It tasted much better than it looks.