Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Yeast Rolls

 I used to buy yeast rolls from our grocery store bakery all of the time.  And I miss them.  Terribly. They were easy and REALLY good.  However, with our food sensitive kid, just picking up prepared foods is not easy without a little research.  And I have not had time yet to research those.  So when I saw a recipe for "Lambert's Throwed Rolls".  I knew I had to try them.

Saturdays and Sundays are good "experiment" days since I have a little more time to cook/bake.  So last weekend, I pulled out my bread machine, added the ingredients, and turned on the dough cycle. (I often knead by hand but in this case, I wanted to take a nap REALLY bad :)

A little while later, I shaped into balls and put them in a muffin pan and baked them.

Then we tasted them.

Um, yum.

Just what I have been missing.

Even better, I had a few left over, so I froze them for future meals.

Tonight was the future for me.

It was "on your own night" and I wanted a roll to go with my meal.

So I took one out of the freezer, put it on some aluminum foil, and put it in the oven at around 250 to 300.

A few minutes later, I had a roll that was just as yummy as the first time I had one.

I will be making these again!  (And hopefully making enough to freeze future batches...)

1 tsp sugar

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one envelope)- Note:  I just use instant

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup warm milk

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp salt

4 cups all purpose (or bread) flour

Directions (for bread machine):
Put the sugar, yeast, and warm water in the bread machine.  Stir together and let sit for about 5 minutes.

Add the milk, butter, sugar, and egg.  Then add about 3 1/2 cups flour and the salt on top.

Start the Dough cycle.

Check the dough after about 15 minutes. It is too sticky/wet, add more flour.

If you aren't using the bread machine, go ahead and put the sugar, yeast, and warm water in a bowl  Let it "rest" for about five minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients.

Knead for 5-10 minutes.

Shape into a ball.

Cover and let rise until doubled.

Meanwhile, grease a muffin pan.

Butter hands liberally.  DON'T miss this step.  Otherwise this will stick to your hands like crazy!  Roll the dough into 24 "balls".  Place two balls in each greased muffin tin "cup".  

Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes or until nearly doubled.

Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes. (Cover with aluminum foil if they brown too quickly)

Serve with butter or honey.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Banana Nut Bread

Not long ago, a teacher at our school made some banana nut bread that she shared with us.  It was so yummy, so moist. I sought her out and asked her what recipe she used. She had used the Betty Crocker recipe (from the old "red" cookbook).  So about a week later, I tried it.  And it was good.  But it was not as moist as hers.

Well, yesterday, I had a few very ripe bananas (which are rare around here because they get eaten so quickly) and wanted to try again.  This time I checked my pins on Pinterest and found a recipe I had pinned for cream cheese banana bread.  Um, cream cheese??? Seriously, how could you go wrong with that?

So last night I threw it in the oven and started smelling it immediately.

But then I had to wait until this morning to try it.

Can you say torture?

Hopped out of bed this morning to try it.  Warmed it just a bit in the microwave and sat down to eat.

It was delicious.

And moist.

Everything I wanted in a banana bread.

I will definitely be using this recipe again.

Sorry, Betty.

Note:   The original recipe makes two loaves.  And IF a certain child in my house hadn't been greedy and eaten more than his fair share of bananas yesterday, I could have made two; we could have eaten one and frozen one. But instead I was left with THREE bananas, not the FOUR I needed. So I halved the recipe which is what I am sharing here...

6 Tbsp butter (I used unsalted), softened

1/2 package (4 oz) cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I think next time I will do half all purpose, half whole wheat...I wasn't ready to try it yet since this was my first time to make this recipe)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 mashed bananas (I just mashed with a fork)

1/2 cup toasted pecans (just toasted them while I was working on the rest...throw the pecans on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for just a few minutes)

1/2 tsp vanilla

Cinnamon to taste

A few extra pecans finely chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Go ahead and toast the pecans for a few minutes.

Beat cream cheese and butter until creamy.

Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy.

Add eggs, beating until just blended.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.

Gradually add to the mixture, beating at a low speed until well blended.

Add in bananas, pecans, and vanilla.

Spoon into a greased 8 x 4 inch loaf pan.

Sprinkle cinnamon and finely chopped pecans on top (optional, but a nice touch).

Bake for 1 hour at 350(when a toothpick comes out clean).  If the bread starts to get too brown, cover with aluminum foil the last 15 minutes. That didn't happen to mine at all but my oven rack was right in the middle.

Several people in the comments section mentioned making muffins; they would only bake for about 25 minutes.

After about 10 minutes, remove from pan to cool on a cooling rack. 


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Homemade Chocolate Brownies

I was in the kitchen most of the day.

 I made pancakes and bacon for breakfast (which is rare around here...we eat those for dinner more than for breakfast). The good news is I made a couple extra batches to freeze.

For lunch, I cooked hot dogs and threw together some watermelon slushes for the kids.

Next I got started on dinner: crockpot roast beef, roasted potatoes, homemade yeast rolls, and green beans.

Then I started thinking, "A dessert would be nice..."

 I really don't make them very often.

 Well, just about that time, a friend of mine sent me an e-mail with a brownie recipe that she had made that I had loved.


 I looked at the ingredients. I had them all!

Perfect again.

 And they didn't take too terribly long to make.

Perfect again.

So brownies it was!

 Since I started cooking differently (more from scratch) for my food-sensitive kid, I have tried a couple of brownie recipes. None came close to what we wanted in a brownie. Until this one. This one worked.

 Oh, here is the link to the original recipe.

1 cup butter, melted (I use unsalted for baking)

2 cups granulated sugar

2 tsp vanilla

4 eggs

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 cup all-purpose flour (I actually used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)  I used pecans

You can also add semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips or caramel bits.  I added the semi-sweet, just a handful.

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Grease a 9 x 13 dish.

Stir the sugar and vanilla into the melted butter.

Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Add the cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

Add flour, beating until mixed.

Add in nuts, caramel bits, and/or chocolate chips.  (I added both pecan pieces and semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Pour the batter into the greased pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes (until a toothpick comes out "clean").

Cool and then enjoy!

We ate ours with a little side of ice cream. 

YUM. :)


Friday, February 22, 2013

Ham and Egg Cups

 I try to have a "breakfast for dinner" at least once every other week if not more. It gives us a break from a heavier meal. Plus the kids LOVE it.  Especially pancake or waffle night.

But sometimes I just want to have some eggs.

I kept seeing these ham/egg "cups" on Facebook.  I thought they looked like fun so I decided we would have them earlier this week.

And they were fun.

For the most part they were well liked too.  I have one non-eater who (bless her heart) tried REALLY hard to eat it. She just couldn't do it.  She did eat the ham though.  The egg was too much for her. Thankfully I also used homemade bread to make toast and we had some fruit, so she didn't go hungry.

Oh, and these are EASY. They would make a great breakfast or brunch food and would be wonderful for those "brunch" type baby or wedding showers. They are kind of elegant looking (not that you can tell looking at my pictures:) and easy to eat with the hands.

1/2 pound (or so) of deli sliced ham (mine was kind of a cross between thick and thin so I just used one slice per "cup".  For thin, I would use two)

eggs (one per cup depending on how much you want to make)

shredded cheddar cheese of your choice (or whatever cheese you prefer)


salt and pepper to taste

Spray the cups of a muffin tin.

Push a slice or two (depending on thickness) of ham into each cup to conform to the "cup" shape.

Break open an egg in each "cup".

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Top with cheese.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes (until whites of egg have set except that is hard to see under the cheese :).

Sprinkle chives on top.


The only change I would make is possible scrambling a few of the eggs next time in the cups because my hubby doesn't care for the yolk all in one piece. He would rather it all be mixed together. :)

Otherwise, it was a hit with my egg eaters.

Kind of a nice twist on eggs and cheese.



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Menu. Or Two.

I am a little behind on menus.  Not a big deal, I am sure for y'all. But it is good for me to keep up with what we are eating.  Or have eaten.

Anyway, here is my menu for the last couple of weeks.

That being said, I have already tweaked it.

I figure it is one of my perks as a chef. :)

Week of February 10
Sunday: Leftovers
Monday:  Italian dressing chicken and rice (new recipe, I am still tweaking it)
Tuesday:  Pancakes and bacon
Wednesday:  Baked potato soup, homemade "ciabatta" bread
Thursday:   OYO (pizza from Chicago with my sweetie :)
Friday:  hamburgers (homemade buns...yum!), fries, shakes
Saturday:  shrimp and chicken pad thai, salad

Week of February 17
Monday: Ham and egg cups (new recipe, will share tomorrow), toast (made from homemade sandwich bread)
Tuesday: tostadas, chips and salsa
Wednesday: homemade pizza (four cheese and a meaty)
Thursday: white chicken chili, some kind of bread...
Friday:  OYO (On Your Own)
Saturday: Roast beef in gravy, potatoes (new recipe), rolls

We also made our own chocolate donuts (recipe coming soon), cinnamon swirl bread, and chocolate/peanut butter muffins.

That about wraps it up in a nutshell.

How about you?

What is for dinner at your house? :)


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai

A couple years ago, my husband insisted I should try Pad Thai.

I was more willing at this point to try new foods, so I did.

And I loved it.

Unfortunately, that same man who invited me to try it found out that he and Pad Thai did not agree with one another...namely the spices involved.

So that was basically the end of my pad thai days.

I have been craving it for some time now.

Not long ago I found a recipe on Pinterest (of course) for "pad thai". 

I perused the recipe and saw that it was simple and fairly easy to make.  And best of all, no wild spices.

Let me preface the recipe by saying that I know this is not true Pad Thai.

No fish sauce.  No tamarind.  Not even bean sprouts.

Just standard ingredients in my house.

Which I was fine with.

I will admit, my family all looked nervous as I threw it together.

Then we tasted it.

Oh yum.

It was delicious.

A definite "pad thai" taste but all with basic ingredients we could all eat.

And eat we did.

This will DEFINITELY be going into my cycle of recipes.

And next time I am craving pad thai, I will not have to be sad that we aren't having a thai date.

I will just hop into the kitchen and throw it together.


1 box rice noodles (I used brown rice noodles, Annie Chun's pad thai)

Shrimp and chicken, thawed and cleaned (I cut chicken tenderloins into little chunks) and sprinkled with soy sauce

2 Tbsp brown sugar (I actually doubled this)

2 Tbsp lime juice (I just used the juice from a medium lime), lime slices for garnishing

3-4 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp vegetable oil (I actually used toasted sesame oil...LOVE that stuff)

Onions (The original recipe called for scallions separated by white and green parts...I forgot to get some at the store so I just used some regular chopped onion)

1 garlic clove minced (I used two; I LOVE garlic)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts


The original recipe called for soaking the noodles in hot water. After reading some comments, I felt like boiling was a better way to go.  So I boiled them according to directions. They don't take long to boil at all.  Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile in a bowl, mix the brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce.  You can also add a squirt of Sriracha.  I chose not to.  Set aside.

In a large skilled, heat the oil and add the garlic/white onion.  Cook over medium heat.

Once tender, pour the beaten eggs into the skillet, stirring often until the eggs are cooked.  Remove the eggs.  I just kept the garlic/white onion separate in the skillet.

Add a little more sesame oil if needed.  Cook chicken and shrimp (these are both optional...the original recipe doesn't use either of these) until they are cooked through.

Add the noodles, the sauce, and the green parts of the onions (if you remember to get them :) to the skillet.  Stir together with the chicken, shrimp, and the onions/garlic.  Add the eggs back in.  Stir thoroughly. 

Sprinkle the cilantro and peanuts over the top.

Garnish with lime slices if you prefer.  (We didn't eat them but they added a nice touch and that little bit of extra lime flavor)


We just ate ours with a side salad.  It was a complete meal (other than the salad) in one skillet.

Like I said, we all enjoyed it.  Those who didn't care for shrimp just picked those out.  There were others of us more than willing to eat the extras. :)

Happy cooking!


PS My husband said this would be a good "beach" meal.  The limes gave it that "beachy" flavor. :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chicken Tetrazzini

 When I was in college, a friend of mine made a version of chicken tetrazzini. I vaguely remember that (since it was a few, or several, years ago.

I very much remember loving the taste.

I don't think I have had it since.

So not long ago, it came to mind. And I wanted some.  Right now.

Obviously, I couldn't do it right now.  But it got the ball rolling.

I started googling in search of recipes.

I finally found one on a message board I am part of.  I can't fully give credit or link back since it is on a private message board. But I want to say a BIG thank you to Larisa for sharing this recipe.  I followed it fairly closely, adapting it just slightly.

I won't lie.

It was a little daunting.

The recipe is a very "natural" recipe...down to stewing a whole chicken and even making my own "cream" soup.

I am sharing the recipe while adding that you could easily simplify this recipe.

1 stewed chicken (Stewing a chicken basically means taking a 3-4 pound chicken, covering it with water, bringing it to a boil, then boiling it at medium high heat for about an hour.  Save the broth!)

By the way, I only used half the chicken (pulled off the bones after it has boiled and cooled).  I froze the other half to use for a soup later.  I will also say that I am pretty sure you could just use boil frozen chicken breasts or tenderloins instead.  You will just have to use store bought broth.

1 1/4 cups chicken broth (just skim off the fat from the water you used before to stew the chicken)

16 oz spaghetti noodles cooked

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Cream soup (Recipe below)- You can also use a can of cream of chicken AND a can of cream of mushroom instead.  I will say though that the homemade cream recipe is YUM.

Breadcrumbs (I actually had some leftover homemade bread that I used to make crumbs)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the chicken, noodles, cheddar cheese, chicken broth, and cream soup all together and pour into a large casserole dish.

Top with bread crumbs.

The original recipe recommending dotting with butter.  Since I had already used quite a bit of butter in the cream soup, I just sprayed it with olive oil in my oil mister.  It worked.

Bake for 45-55 minutes.


We ate ours with breadsticks and carrots/Ranch.

It was quite a hit.

In fact, when I first made it, I said, "I probably should cut this recipe in half next time."  Except that we ate every bite of it.  Not all at once.  But eventually.

It was yum.

Oh, here is the cream soup recipe:
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (again, I just used the broth from the stewed chicken)
1 1/4 cup half and half
6 1/2 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp starch (I used cornstarch)

Melt the butter, stir in a pinch of salt, and add the chicken broth.  Heat until hot.

Meanwhile whisk the cornstarch with the half and half.

Add to the pan all at once.

Cook quickly, stirring until thickened.

Did I mention how good it is???


PS I had a lot more "broth" leftover I have frozen AND I saved the "carcass" of the chicken.  They are in the freezer for the next time I need to make broth.  I think I got my money's worth out of that chicken!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Taco Soup

I have really been wanting a taco soup. 

It just sounded good to me.

And I have made some in the last year or so that was pretty good.

But when I saw this recipe via Pinterest, I was intrigued.  Cheesy Taco Soup?  I am for anything with the word "cheesy" in it!  And even better, I could easily adapt the recipe to accommodate my food sensitive kid.

My hubby prefers soup on really cold days.

Except we aren't really having many of those.

Which works for me.  I don't mind that at all.  I am not a fan of cold days.

Today was a bit "cooler" (though warm compared to the rest of the country) so today was my chance.

I love that it can be made fairly quickly.  And the cheese sauce in it is AMAZING.  I mean, it really is. I could have eaten a whole bowl of just that!  The rest of the soup was bonus. :)

The original recipe was just made on the stove.  I needed to make it a little early so I started it on the stove then moved it to the crockpot.  It worked.

My one piece of advice:  Eat slowly and DON'T overeat.

I thought I was starving. And it was so good.  So I ate two bowls.

Well, I am pretty sure the beans have expanded in my stomach.  It is five hours later and I am STILL full!

1 lb ground beef, browned (I used my usual 1.5 lbs)

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

2 1/2 cups milk

salt and pepper

1 cup shredded cheese (The original recipe uses cheddar; I used a Colby Jack...YUM)

1 package taco seasoning (I used 1 Tbsp of a homemade version)

10 oz can Rotel, drained (I just used petite diced tomatoes)

15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

Note:  I also added 15 oz can of red kidney beans.

Crushed tortilla chips

This is how I made it using both the stovetop and a crockpot.  The original recipe (link above) uses the stovetop.  It is your choice :)

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Whisk the flour into the butter.

Add 1 cup of milk.

Continue to whisk for about 3 to 4 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat.

Pour in shredded cheese.

Stir until smooth.

Did I mention how very yummy this is???

Oh, I ended up doubling the sauce.  I wanted more. I needed more.  Really I did. With the extra can of beans, I needed a little more sauce.  Plus it really was yummy.

Pour all of the ingredients (including the rest of the milk) into a crockpot.  Cook on low (I did turn it to high for a bit since my time was limited) until heated through.

I HIGHLY recommend adding crushed tortilla chips to the top.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Food for Februrary (Menu)

Here is our first week of February food (menu).  It sure did feel good to go shopping this week. :)  I think maybe I shouldn't have set a February challenge since I needed to restock on some necessities...

Anyway, here is the menu for the week.

Saturday:  Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Linguine, breads (odds and ends), carrots and Ranch

Sunday:  Stromboli, chips, smores brownies for dessert (new recipe)

Monday:  Breakfast- banana nut bread, dinner- On Your Own

Tuesday:  Korean Beef, rice, carrots/Ranch, Rhodes rolls

Wednesday:  Grilled Cheese sandwiches (Custom child and I had pizza grilled cheese, another had plain, two had ham and cheese, all using homemade sandwich bread.  Yum!), chips, pear sauce (homemade, just like applesauce but with pears :)

Thursdsay:  Breakfast- Energy bites (new recipe), Dinner- Chicken tetrazzini (new recipe), Garlic parmesan breadsticks

Friday: Skillet sausage and potatoes, cheese stuffed rolls (some with cheese, some without)

Saturday:  Dinner out. :)

I have already been adjusting and moving things around, so this is all tentative.

But I do know I am cooking a lot. :)

What is for dinner at your house this week?


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Crockpot Beef Tips in Gravy

On our last day of our January Grocery Challenge, I was running out of ideas on what to make.  I knew I had some stew meat in the freezer, so that seemed like a starting point. I had pinned a few beef tips recipes, so I quickly perused them to see what would work.  The recipe I found was just what I needed. It used ingredients I had (mostly...will get to that in a minute).  And though the recipe I found was actually for the oven, I decided I would attempt it in the crockpot.  I am glad I did.  It was delicious.  The gravy was just right, and the meat was tender. 

I will definitely make it again.  Grocery Challenge or not.

2 lbs beef tenderloin tips (or in my case stew meat)

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 packet brown gravy mix (I actually did not have one and didn't have time to get one but I found a WONDERFUL substitute using ingredients I had at home...I will be making a large batch of it for future use)

1 packet Lipton dry onion mix (I used the onion with mushroom)

1 4 oz mushrooms (I omitted this one since I used the onion with mushrooms soup)

1 cup water

Place the meat in the crockpot.  Mix all of the other ingredients and pour over the meat.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  (Mine was MORE than ready after about 6)

Yes, that is all you do.

We ate ours over rice (mainly because I didn't have time to make mashed potatoes).