Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cooking for Carson - Zucchini

This was the first thing I decided on my own to make for Carson. At his four month apointment the pediatrician said there were 9 weeks until his next appointment and to give him the following. Two weeks of cereals (rice and oatmeal), then 3 weeks of yellow/orange veggies (squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots) and 4 weeks of green veggies (he only mentioned peas and green beans). I figured since he liked squash that he would enjoy zucchini so I made that. It was super easy to make.

Slice 2 zucchini into thin slices and place in pan with water.

Bring water to a boil and boil cook until zucchini is soft. Drain off zucchini slices and place in food processor. Pulse until desired consistency.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Penne alla Betsy

I have seen this recipe in several blogs I follow in my Google Reader and it looked really yummy so I decided to make it (with a few changes).

Penne alla Betsy

Olive Oil
1 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined (I substituted diced chicken breasts because I don't like shrimp)
3/4 lb penne or other short pasta
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (I substituted chicken broth since I am still nursing my son)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper (I accidentally omitted because Carson started crying heavily at this point and I got distracted. Would be better with the salt and pepper)
Basil (My store didn't have fresh basil so I just used extra parsley)

1. Put water on to boil for the pasta.
2. Heat a large frying pan and melt 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp olive oil in pan. Saute shrimp (chicken) until opague (cooked) and then remove to a plate.
3. Melt anotehr 2 Tbsp butter and olive oil in same pan and cook garlic until slightly browning. Add onion and cook until translucent.
4. Add pasta to boiling water and cook per package directions.
5. Add 1/2 cup wine (broth) and allow to cook down for approximately 1 minute. Then add tomato sauce, stirring to combine, and cream.
6. Chop parsley and basil and add to sauce to taste. Add salt and pepper (whoops to me on this part).
7. Remove shrimp tails and chop shrimp into bite-size pieces (Obviously I omitted this step since chicken was already in bite size pieces). Return to sauce and stir to combine.
8. When pasta is cooked, drain, and then add to sauce, tossing to cover.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

I enjoyed it a lot. My husband thought it was a little bland, but then again I did unintentionally leave out the salt and pepper. He reheated leftovers the next night and he added garlic salt, seasoned salt, and pepper to his and he did like it that time.

I'm also sure there would have been more flavor to it had I used white wine in the sauce instead of the chicken broth so I'll have to make this again once I have weaned Carson.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Crowd Pleasing Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

We had a Memorial Day potluck celebration at work today and I decided to make macaroni and cheese. Why mac & cheese? Well because the main course of the lunch was hotdogs which I think are the most foul of things ever so I wanted to bring something that worked as both a side dish for hot dogs and a main dish for me.

But since it wouldn't need to be done until lunchtime I didn't want to make anything too fancy that needed to use an oven since I would be at work all morning. So I decided to cook up the noodles, pack up the ingredients, bring my crock pot and cook it at my desk.

Unfortunately I left my camera at home so no picture (I know I know).

Here are the ingredients I used for this creamy mac & cheese:

16 oz cooked and drained noodles
3 cups whole milk
2 (12 oz) cans evaporated milk
1 stick melted butter
8 oz shredded mild cheddar cheese
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 16 oz loaf Velveeta, diced
a couple of handfuls shredded Monterey Jack cheese*

*I just threw this in as an aftersight. I probably used 2 oz of it.

Grease a crockpot with shortening or cooking spray (I used a Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner). Put the noodles in first and then stir in all the above ingredients. Cook on low for 4 hours.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Frosted Rice Krispie Bars

This is the bar my Mom always made us when we were growing up. In fact I always thought Rice Krispie bars were made with peanut butter and not marshmallow creme. To this day I prefer these to the marshmallow kind. Yum!

Frosted Rice Krispie Bars

1 cup sugar
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies
6 oz chocolate chips
6 oz butterscotch chips
Butter - for pan

Heat sugar and syrup just to boiling in a saucepan. Do not overcook. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and rice krispies. Put into 13x9 buttered pan. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together and spread over krispie bars. Chill until frosting is set. Cut into bars and serve.

As I was making these a couple of weeks ago I thought to myself that I thought they would be really good with Honey Nut Cheerios so I made them again earlier this week. While I do like the hint of honey flavor I don't care for the underlying Cheerios taste in the bar. I think next time I will try the honey flavored peanut butter to see if I like that better.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Southern Casual Dinner

Enough about the Saturday get-together. I have finally gotten a chance to post all the recipes and here is a recap of our menu. A great time was had by all.

Store Bought French Onion Dip (for my husband)
Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buttermilk Coleslaw
Kenny Rogers Cornbread
Baked Beans, Texas Ranger
Cheesy Potatoes
Pulled Pork

Rainbow Cupcakes

As for drinks we asked that each couple bring whatever their children would like to drink and also served assorted beers and ginger ale for me (I'm still nursing my son).

Baked Beans, Texas Ranger

This is the final recipe I made for our Saturday get together, and it was the one thing my husband just raved about. He can be leery to try new recipes, especially if he likes the say something is made already but I stood firm and made this and he loved it.

Baked Beans, Texas Ranger
Makes 6 servings

1 (28 oz) can baked beans with pork
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
4 links spicy pork sausage, cut into chunks (I used spicy in the store)
2 Tbsp chili powder
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 Tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt to taste
Dash cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all in a Dutch oven (I do not have a Dutch oven so I used a covered casserole dish). Cover and bake one hour in preheated oven.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Pulled Pork

I got this recipe from my Mom. I'm not sure where she got it, but my Dad has tweaked it and honestly I like it better with his changes. We ended up doubling this recipe for our dinner party and still had a ton of leftovers.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

1 cup chopped onions
1 cup ketchup
1 3/4 cups barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3-4 lb boneless pork roast (I use tenderloin)

Combine all ingredients except pork in a slow cooker. When well mixed, add pork. Cover, cook on high for six hours. Shred the meat and return it to the sauce.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rainbow Cupcakes

This is not so much a recipe as it is a method. Since there were going to be 3 kids of eating age (my son is just 5 months and there was another baby there too) I wanted to make a dessert that would appeal to the kids. So I made these cupcakes.

Rainbow Cupcakes

1 box white cake mix plus other ingredients as called for on box
Food coloring

Put cupcake liners in muffin tins. Mix cake batter according to box instructions. Divide batter into 5 bowls. Add food coloring to each bowl to make desired colors (I did red, orange, yellow, green, and blue). Spoon colors one at a time into cupcake liners. Cook cupcakes in oven according to box instuctions. Frost as desired.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cheesy Potatoes

I just love Paula Deen. I mean what is there not to love with all that butter? Now granted it is not the healthiest of fare but soooo delicious.

This was also a dish I made for the get together last Saturday evening.

Cheesy Potatoes
Makes 8 to 10 servings

6 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup cubed processed cheese
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup diced onion
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1. In large Dutch oven, combine potatoes and water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Drain well.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add cheese, milk, onion, butter, egg, salt, and pepper. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until combined. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover, and bake for 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately.

Source: Cooking with Paula Deen, January/February 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kenny Rogers Cornbread

I also made this dish for our Saturday get together. I had just made cornbread for work's Cinco de Mayo lunch celebration and to be honest, I thought that one was much better than this one. I personally felt that these muffins were dryer than the other cornbread. But they didn't taste bad so if you're still looking for a go-to cornbread recipe, this one may be worth the try.

Kenny Rogers Cornbread

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup frozen yellow corn

Preheat oven to 400F. Cream butter, sugar, honey, eggs, and salt in large bowl. Add flour, cornmeal, and baking powder and blend. Add milk while mixing. Add corn to mixture and combine by hand until corn worked in. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan and fill each cup with batter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until muffins begin to brown.

Source: I got this on a message board about 3 years ago. I did a quick internet search and also found the same recipe here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Buttermilk Coleslaw

Here is another recipe from our get together on Saturday night.

I really liked it. My husband prefers more vinegar flavor so I think he wants me to try another recipe next time, but if you prefer a sweeter, less vinegar-based coleslaw this is the recipe for you.

Buttermilk Coleslaw
Makes 12 servings

2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp white sugar
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 (16 oz) packages shredded coleslaw mix
1 Tbsp lemon juice (I added)
1 Tbsp hot sauce (I added)
1 Tbsp vinegar (I added)

In large bowl stir together the mayo, buttermilk, sugar, celery seed, and pepper. Fold in coleslaw mix and refrigerate until serving. Tastes best of refrigerated a few hours.

Source: Adapted from

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Dip

We hosted two other couples at our house on Saturday night and over the next few days I will be highlighting the recipes that we served.

I selected one of my favorite dip recipes to start with. Buffalo Chicken Dip. I had gotten this recipe from one of my friends a couple of years ago and everytime I have served it people have enjoyed it.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

1 (10 oz) can of chicken, drained
1 (8 oz) bottle ranch dressing
1/2 to 3/4 cup hot sauce (I typically use 2/3 cups)
2 (8 oz) bricks cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (this time I used a mix of sharp cheddar and white mild cheddar)

Heat chicken and hot sauce in skillet until heated through. Add ranch and cream cheese and mix until well blended. Add 1 cup cheese and stir until blended. Place in crock pot and cover with rest of cheese. Cook on low until it bubbles and is ready to eat (I skipped this step altogether. Since I already had stuff cooking in the oven I transfered my dip to a casserole dish, covered with remaining cheese and heated in a 350F oven until bubbly). Serve with celery, tostitos, or crackers. (I prefer tostitos with this dip, but I ate some leftovers the other day with Fritos and they were FABULOUS!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cleaning out the pantry

I'm an accountant and last week was month-end close for me. Which means, (especially now that I have a baby at home), chaos. I definitely do not have the time to go grocery shopping let alone prepare fabulous home-cooked meals. I work until 5, go pick up my son, and then immediately get back online and work from home until my boss says everyone is leaving for the night, usually between 8 and 9pm.

I do try and make things quick so we can eat something other than sandwiches or Papa John's pizza. Last Thursday I decided to see what I could make quickly and based on using items out of our pantry. Below is what I came up with.

Here are the items I ended up using:

And I made this:

It may not look appealing, and I can't say it was the best thing I've ever made but it was edible and my husband even enjoyed it. On the positive side it was very quick and easy to make.

Pantry Cleanout Casserole

1 can of chicken
1 can cream of whatever (I used cream of mushroom with roasted garlic)
1 can veggies, drained (I used peas and carrots)
1 package of instant mashed potatoes (I used cheddar and garlic flavored)
Shredded cheese (I used monterey jack)

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Make potatoes according to package directions.
3. Combine chicken, soup, and veggies in a casserole dish. Mix in shredded cheese, if desired.
4. Top with prepared mashed potatoes.
5. Top that with shredded cheese.
6. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through.

That's it, like I said there's really nothing to it. Not the best food you'll ever eat but quick and easy on those busy nights.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Very Belated Cinco de Mayo

Last week was close week and it really got away from me so I am just now getting a chance to post my Cinco de Mayo recipes. We had a potluck celebration at work (the bad economy has made us prepare food to pass instead of having lunch brought in). I brought in two recipes and had zero leftovers.

Bean and Corn Salsa
Makes 16 (1/4 cup) servings

3 cups chopped seeded tomatoes (about 3 medium)
3/4 cup Vidalia or other sweet onion (I used a red onion for the color)
1/2 cup chopped tomatillos (about 2 medium)
1/4 cup fresh corn kernels
1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed & drained
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp hot sauce

Combine all and chill for at least 2 hours. (I chilled mine overnight).

Source: Southern Living Magazine, August 2005

Mexican Cornbread

1/2 cup vegetable oil, divided (I used canola oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 (15 1/4 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 1/2 cups cornmeal mix
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cumin
3/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk

1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat; add onion and next 4 ingredients. Saute 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat, and cool.
2. Stir together cornmeal mix, next 5 ingredients, and 1/4 cup oil until blended. Stir in onion mixture.
3. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp oil in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet 10 minutes. (I did not have one so I omitted this step). Pour cornmeal mixture into skillet (I sprayed a 9x13 glass dish with nonstick cooking spray and then poured mixture in.)
4. Bake at 400F for 30 minutes or until done (Due to different pan mine was done after 20 minutes).

Source: Southern Living Magazine, November 2001

This was DELICIOUS! I'm not much of a salsa fan but the cornbread was fabulous! I think it would go great alongside a bowl of chili. I will definitely be making it again.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mother's Day boxes

I sent boxes to my Mom and Mother-in-law this year for Mother's Day. I picked up nice boxes from Michaels, gave each a gift certificate, a framed picture of our family from Carson's 3 month photos, a loaf of the garden harvest bread I have previously blogged about, and this homemade granola recipe (picture below).

The only change I made was to substitute raisins for dried cranberries since I had none, and I used Splenda brown sugar instead of brown sugar since my mother-in-law is diabetic.

I know my Mom is enjoying her box since she is incorrigible and doesn't wait to open things. : )

Silly me didn't even think about taking a picture of the boxes all put together.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cooking for Carson - carrots

There really isn't much to this recipe just carrots and water. Just take a bag of frozen carrots (I used crinkle cut but it doesn't matter) and boil in water until soft and gummable. Drain and place in blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. If it is too thick then thin with water. If too thin then thicken up with cereal.

Place pureed carrots in ice cube trays. You can freeze them and then thaw cubes as needed for feeding.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo

I LOVE Mexican food. I could probably eat it every day. So needless to say I don't need a holiday like Cinco de Mayo to put me in the mood for Mexican flavors but I'll use it.

Even though it is close week they are having a Cinco de Mayo celebration potluck at work today. I'll have to share the recipes for the salsa and southwestern cornbread I made for that tomorrow once I download the pictures off the camera. But in the spirit of Cinco de Mayo I did make this casserole a couple of weeks ago so I will post it.

Now it's nothing great to look at, and was quite simple to make, but it tasted great.

Taco Bake

1 box macaroni & cheese, plus ingredients to prepare per box
1 lb ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided (I used Colby Jack)
1 cup salsa

1. Heat oven to 400F. Prepare mac & cheese as directed on package. While macaroni is cooking, brown beef with taco seasoning. Drain fat as necessary.
2. Stir sour cream into prepared mac & cheese. Spoon 1/2 mac & cheese mixture into 8-inch square baking dish. Top with layers of meat mixture, 1 cup cheese, and remaining mac & cheese mixture; cover with foil.
3. Bake 15 minutes; top with salsa and remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Monday, May 4, 2009


My parents were up this weekend. It was so wonderful getting to see them. I also was excited to prepare them a (hopefully) wonderful meal. Since we had thoroughly enjoyed the Boursin Spinach Stuffed Chicken I knew I wanted to make that for them.

I also decided to try my hand at Bruschetta. I personally do not care for tomatoes, but I want to like them so I figured why not. My parents LOVE bruschetta and always order it when out at Italian restaurants.

This recipe was good (I liked it as well as I could like anything with tomatoes) and very easy. In fact my Mom commented once she saw how simple it was that she would just make her own bruschetta from now on and not buy store bought (YAY Mom!)

Here is our creation:


3 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp garlic powder, divided (I didn't have minced garlic on hand)
1 loaf Italian bread sliced in 1-inch thick slices
1 Tbsp dried basil
4-5 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Put oven rack in middle position. Heat to 450F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place cut pieces of bread on pan.
2. Mix 1 1/2 Tbsp oil, 1/2 the garlic powder, and 1/2 the Parmesan cheese in a bowl. Brush top cut side of bread with oil mixture. Bake 5 minutes or until lightly toasted.
3. Meanwhile, combine remaining oil, garlic powder, the tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper.
4. Place tomato mixture on top of bread slices and top with remaining Parmesan. Return to oven for 1-2 minutes to warm through.