December 16, 2011

Christmas Menu 2011 (still planning)

Patino Christmas Menu 2011

Head Count: 6 Patinos, 8 Leckenbys - 14 total

(Meat) Prime Rib or Roast Beef or Tri-Tip or Turkey...Prime Rib is tradition around here...still contemplating that for 14 people.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Green Salad w/Avocado
Whipped Cream
Crackers/Bread & Dip
Veggie Tray

Green Bean Supreme
Mac & Cheese

Nana & Papa Leckenby:
Costco Rolls

Mark & Nena:
Cranberry Whip Salad
Pecan Pie

Scott, Britta & Riley:
Pumpkin or Apple Pie?

December 12, 2011

Soda Cracker Cookies

I rate this higher than Almond Roca. Its chocolate, toffee & nuts. Sweet, salty & crunchy. Honestly the best thing ever. My mom has been making it for years. It freaks you out right at first...then takes you by surprise and wins you over the minute you have your first bite.

35-40 saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans or slivered almonds
1 cup packed brown sugar

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). 
  • Line a 15 x 10 inch baking pan (cookie sheet with all 4 edges) with foil and grease it well. 
  • Line the pan with soda crackers.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and cook stirring it until it dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Immediately pour mixture over the soda crackers.
  • Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture starts to bubble. 
  • Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the hot cookies. Let set for a minute. Spread the chocolate evenly.
  • Sprinkle with nuts. 
  • Let cool, then cut into bars.

November 15, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Cake

This is a recipe I grew up with. I've been craving this cake since late summer but finally got around to emailing my mimi/grandma to get the recipe. Now is a more appropriate time of year to bake it anyways. So here is my favorite pumpkin pie cake!

1 large can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)                                   
6 eggs                                                      
1 c white sugar
1 1/2 c evaporated milk                             

1 c brown sugar
1 T pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger                                           

1/2 tsp nutmeg                                           
1/2 tsp cloves

- Mix all the above ingredients together in a large bowl until well blended. 
- Pour into a buttered/greased 13x9x2 pan or a Bundt pan.

1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 cube butter  

- Crumble together the dry cake mix and the cube of butter.
- Sprinkle over pumpkin mixture.  
- Bake at 350' for 1 hour. 
- If using the Bundt pan, check with wooden skewer and perhaps you might have to bake it a little longer. My bundt usually takes about 1hr 15-20mins.

August 22, 2011

Menu Monday

Monday - Santa Fe Chicken Wraps
Tuesday - Sweet Pork Tacos
Wednesday - FFY (Youth Night)
Thursday - Baked Coconut Shrimp w Jalapeno Pineapple Dipping Sauce
Friday - Chile Relleno Casserole
Saturday - Leftover Sweet Pork (Burritos or Salads)
Sunday - TBD

July 17, 2011

Chewy Cookies & Cream Bars

Think Rice Krispie Treats...only made with oreo crumbs. They really should be illegal!

1 whole container of Oreo's...yes all 3 rows (crumbled/crushed)
1 bag (10oz) of big marshmallows
1/4c. (1/2 stick) of salted butter

  • Crush or crumble the oreos (The smaller the pieces the more dense & chewy this cookie bar turns out. Using slightly bigger pieces make it crunchier.)
  • Place mallows & butter in a microwave safe bowl.
  • Microwave the mallows & butter about 2 minutes.
  • Stir mallows & butter together.
  • Add cookie crumbs & mix well.
  • Press into a buttered 8x8 pan & let cool.
  • Cut into bars or squares. 

July 8, 2011

Tamale Pie

1lb ground beef
1 medium white/yellow onion (diced)
2 cans chili beans (small red beans in slightly seasoned sauce)
1 can kidney beans (drained & rinsed)
1 can black beans (drained & rinsed)
1 can black olives (drained, rinsed & squished between your fingers)
cumin, chili powder, garlic powder & salt
2 ears of corn (cooked & cut off the cob)
1 can of Rotel tomatoes (mild)
1 bag of Marie Calendars cornbread mix +  1.5c water

  • Preheat oven to 350degrees convection or 375degrees regular.
  • Brown ground beef...adding onions & seasoning with cumin, garlic, chili powder & salt. (Think taco meat but in bigger pieces.)
  • Add both cans of chili beans to the beef & rinse the sauce into the beef using 1/4c of water for each can.
  • Add everything (other beans, corn, olives, rotel & meat/bean mix) to a 9x13 casserole.
  • Mix well.
  • Mix cornbread & water.
  • Pour cornbread batter over the top of the bean/meat/corn mixture.
  • Bake for 40 minutes...or until the cornbread is cooked through. 
  • Serve with sour cream.

May 26, 2011

Morning Glory Muffins

This recipe is from culinary school. This was the most popular breakfast item for catering jobs at Chico State for professor meetings, etc.

Morning Glory Muffins:
1lb All Purpose Flour
18oz Sugar
4tsp Baking Soda
4tsp Cinnamon
  • Sift & set aside.
1lb Grated Carrots
6oz Raisins
4oz Pecans (chopped)
4oz Shredded Coconut
6oz Grated Apple (with skin on)
  • Mix into the dry ingredients.
6 eggs
12oz oil
4tsp vanilla
  • Whisk together & then add to the dry/fruit mix.
  • Mix all together well.
  • Divide into a greased or lined muffin tin.
  • Bake @ 350 for 20-25 minutes.
  • Makes 18 muffins +/- (depends on size).

April 23, 2011

Rich & Creamy Funeral Potatoes

Be prepared this makes a BIG batch. Not too big but its about (2) 9x13" pans full. Perfect for a big family holiday meal or bringing to a funeral. Mine are a bit different than your typical Mormon "funeral potatoes". I just had a friend watch me make part of mine and he said I was cheating. Whatever. His mom probably uses fresh potatoes & onions. Which is fine...but honestly if I wanted fresh potatoes then I'd make something else. What is the point of funeral potatoes in our world? They are supposed to be quick & yummy. I've accomplished quick and these suckers are darn yummy.

Yes. I use frozen, bagged O'Brien style potatoes. This results in several things. 1- No tears...I don't have to cut or grate onions because they are already in the potatoes! (It also includes the added touch of diced peppers.) 2- I don't have to cook or cut potatoes, because they are already cut for me. 3- I don't use shredded hash browns and this means I have a slightly different mouth feel...less mushy and more obvious potato pieces.

Give my recipe a try. You won't be disappointed. It also includes cream cheese, a bit of garlic & a crust of melty, gooey cheese instead of the traditional crunchy crust. These are amazing served with your Easter ham...or dice up some leftover ham & toss it in. Yum!

Rich & Creamy Funeral Potatoes
26oz can cream of chicken soup (family sized can also use cream of mushroom)
24oz sour cream
16oz cream cheese
32oz/2lb shredded cheddar cheese (I buy pre-shredded....its 1 big bag)
3Tbsp garlic powder (not salt)
3 bags (28oz ea) O'Brien Style Potatoes

  • Using an electric mixer blend soup, sour cream & cream cheese till creamy.
  • Add garlic powder to soup mix. Blend.
  • Add 1/2 of the cheese & mix again.
  • Spray both of your 9x13 pans with Pam.
  • Pour 1 1/2 bags of potatoes into each pan.
  • Pour 1/2 of creamy mixture over the potatoes in each pan.
  • Mix the potatoes & creamy mixture well & smooth into the pans.
  • Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top of both pans.
  • Bake @ 350 about an hr or until the middle is hot.

April 21, 2011

Millionaire Pineapple Pie

Yes this makes 2 pies. 2 amazing yummy fluffy pies!!! If you are paranoid about using raw eggs then use pasteurized egg substitute. The pineapple in this recipe is often substituted for fresh strawberries or even bananas. Yum!!! Honestly any fresh chopped or well drained canned fruit would work. I'm thinking peaches this summer....hmm.

2 (pre-made, store bought) graham cracker or Nilla wafer crusts (you can make them on your own if you want)
2 - 9" pastry crusts (baked & cooled)

Bottom Layer:
2c. powdered sugar
1 stick of salted butter (softened/room temp)
2 eggs
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
  • Mix sugar & butter till soft & extremely creamy.
  • Add eggs, salt & vanilla.
  • Beat until light & fluffy.
  • Spread evenly into the bottom of both crusts.
  • Chill.
Top Layer:
1c. heavy whipping cream
1/2c. powdered sugar
1c. crushed pineapple (drained REALLY well)
1/2c chopped pecans
  • Whip cream using electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
  • Add powdered sugar & mix a bit more.
  • Fold in the REALLY well drained pineapple & the chopped pecans.
  • Spread evenly over the bottom layer.
  • Chill.
  • Slice each pie into 6 large pieces or 8 regular sized. 
  • Makes 2 pies, serves 12-16.

Orange Julius

6oz frozen oj concentrate
1c milk
1c water
1tsp vanilla
1/2c ice cubes
1/4c sugar

  • Blend all together till ice is no longer cubes.
  • Thank me later.

Chocolate Eclair Cake

Dear Mother in Law- Thanks for making this concoction....its horrible. Horribly good. Lovingly- My Thighs

Yep, you heard it. This is a recipe from my mother in law. I love it. I love it so much I had to share, just so you all can enjoy the bliss along with me. Now I'm craving it too. Darn! FYI...The key to this recipe is letting it chill for several hours so the graham crackers soften. Just trust me.

1 box of whole graham crackers
2 boxes instant vanilla pudding (ea 4 serving size)
3 1/2c cold milk
8oz Cool Whip
1 container prepared chocolate frosting (yes, such as Betty Crocker Milk Chocolate)

  • Line the bottom of a 9x13 pan completely with the graham crackers.
  • Mix the milk & pudding mixes till thickened.
  • Fold the cool whip into the pudding.
  • Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture onto the bottom layer of graham crackers.
  • Add another layer of graham crackers.
  • Top with the remaining 1/2 of the pudding mixture.
  • Add a final layer of graham crackers. 
  • (Yes thats 3 layers of grahams & 2 layers of custardy, moussey, pudding. Alternating.)
  • Open your can of frosting & completely peel off the foil seal. 
  • Microwave the frosting for about 30 seconds....just long enough to make it pour-able.
  • Pour the entire container of frosting over the top layer of grahams & spread evenly.
  • Chill in the fridge for a few hours...or overnight. (This step is key!)
  • Enjoy.

Spinach & Tortellini Soup

This recipe is super easy. The original version is step by step...but, of course I've modified it so that even a 12 year old can make an amazingly easy & healthy soup in less than 20 minutes. Gather all your ingredients & pretty much dump it together...with the exception of the pasta. (See directions below.)

As far as the tortellini are concerned....I like using Buitoni cheese tortellinis from the refrigerator case at the store or the ones they carry at Sam's Club or Costco. If you want to use freshly made torts then I'm a fan of anything from Cal Pasta Productions in Chico or Vinciguerra in Jackson...both located in Nor Cal.

3c. water
2 cans (14.5oz ea) stewed tomatoes (Italian seasoned)
1c chicken stock/broth (If you don't have broth or stock on hand, just add another cup of water.)
2 chicken bouillon cubes (You can add a 3rd if you don't use broth or stock....but taste it first.)
1-2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1lb packaged tortellini
1 pkg. (10oz) frozen chopped spinach
shredded Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

  • Place a large pot on your stove.
  • Put all ingredients into the pot except the tomatoes & tortellini.
  • Slowly add tomatoes, squishing (with your hands) while you add them to the pot.
  • Bring everything to a boil.
  • Once the soup is boiling stir well. 
  • Add tortellini & cook according to package directions.
  • Once tortellini is cooked, serve in individual bowls & top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. 

Ham & Cheese Spaghetti Bake

Always served in my childhood home following Easter, this is one of my favorite dishes. I'm not a big ham eater, but small cubes of ham are fine with me. I'd rather eat this than a slice of ham any day. I typically make a double or triple batch of this...freezing half & feeding half to the family for 2-3 meals. This also makes a great pot-luck dish. Its filling enough for a meal but simple enough for a side dish. Feel free to use fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti noodles...just break them in half before you cook any of them. If for some reason you are working with dry leftover ham, add a bit more sour cream.

8oz spaghetti noodles (noodles broken in half)
1c. sour cream
1c. ricotta cheese
2c. cooked ham (leftover, diced)
1 1/2c. shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
1/4-1/2 bunch of green onions (white & green section sliced/diced small)
2 cloves of garlic smashed
celery salt (to taste)

  • Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, add spaghetti.
  • Cook till al' dente, or almost done. (Don't over cook or it will turn mushy.)
  • Drain spaghetti & pour into a greased 9x13 pan.
  • Mix sour cream, ricotta, ham, onions, garlic & celery salt together in a large bowl.
  • Add 3/4c. of cheddar cheese into the mixture. Mix well. 
  • Mix creamy mixture into the hot pasta in the 9x13 pan.
  • Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese on the top of the casserole. 
  • Bake @ 350* till bubbly & cheese is melted.

April 14, 2011

Creamy Baked Macaroni & Cheese

2 1/2 c elbow macaroni
1/2 c salted butter (one stick)
1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt (plus 1 tsp for boiling water)
dash of pepper
2 1/3 c whole milk (I used sue me)
1/2 c chicken broth
3 1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
4oz cream cheese (half a brick)
1 sleeve Ritz crackers (smashed to crumbs in a ziplock bag)

  • Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
  • Add 1tsp of salt & your macaroni to the water.
  • Cook till pasta is barely al dente & then drain.
  • **(You want the pasta still slightly firm in the middle or it will turn to mushy mac & cheese during the baking process.)**
  • While the elbow macaroni is cooking....
  • Place your cream cheese in a small bowl & microwave about 30 seconds. Stir so it becomes smooth & creamy.
  • In a large deep skillet melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Add the flour. Whisk the mixture till it is smooth.
  • Add your milk & keep whisking.
  • Add the chicken broth & keep whisking.
  • Add the salt & pepper. 
  • Keep whisking & in about 3-4 minutes you will have a nice thick sauce.
  • Add 2 1/2 cups of your shredded cheese & the cream cheese to the sauce.
  • Keep whisking the cheese into the sauce & in just a few minutes it will have all melted together.
  • Add the cooked, drained elbow macaroni to the sauce & stir well to combine.
  • Pour mac & cheese into a well buttered or sprayed 9x13 casserole.
  • Sprinkle the top with the remaining shredded cheese. 
  • Top the cheese layer with the Ritz crumbs.
  • Bake @ 350 degrees (uncovered) for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  • Serve asap...its best as warm as possible.

April 13, 2011

Avocado Pasta Salad

1 box (16oz) Garden Rotini
6 small ripe avocados (diced large)
1 bottle (14oz) Bernsteins Cheese & Garlic Italian Dressing
12oz cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 can (6oz) black olives (halved)
1 bag (12oz) frozen broccoli florets
2-4 green onions (sliced)
2-4Tbsp fresh chopped herbs of your choice (basil, cilantro, parsley or thyme)

  • Pour dressing into a large plastic or glass serving bowl.
  • After dicing avocados, add them to the dressing & mix well...but gently.
  • Add tomatoes & olives, mixing into dressing.
  • Bring pasta to a boil (in salted water) on the stove. 
  • Just before pasta is fully cooked add the frozen broccoli florets.
  • Cook additional 2-3 minutes & then drain well.
  • Pour broccoli & pasta into the large bowl (with the veggies & dressing) while still warm.
  • Mix well with the veggie & dressing mixture.
  • Add sliced green onions & herbs, mix well. 
  • Cover with plastic wrap & cool in fridge. (All day or overnight.)
  • Serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese....or a crumble of blue or feta.
We like to serve a scoop of this over a small bed of lettuce, topped with sliced bbq tri-tip or grilled chicken. Its a perfect summer meal!

April 4, 2011

Mini Cheesecakes

I've had this recipe forever. My grandma(s), yes both of them, used to make these for a special dessert. Makes 12.

Mini Cheesecakes:
16oz cream cheese
1c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Nilla' Wafers
pie filling or preserves of your choice
cupcake liners

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Put cupcake liners into a cupcake pan.
  • Place a Nilla' Wafer into the bottom of each cupcake liner...flat side down.
  • Mix cream cheese, sugar, eggs & vanilla using a hand blender or standing mixer.
  • Using a scoop, portion the cream cheese mixture into the 12 cupcakes liners. 
  • Bake @ 350 for 20 minutes.
  • Allow the cheesecakes to cool completely.
  • The cheesecakes will sink in a little bit & form an indentation.
  • Spoon some preserves or pie filling into each cheesecake. 
  • Enjoy...
  • Refrigerate if not eaten immediately/soon.

April 3, 2011

Chipotle & Bean Taco Filling

This taco filling is slightly spicy, but still kid friendly. The addition of the beans helps cool it down a bit. You can also use more or less of the chipotles. We like to use it as taco or burrito filling, but for the little girls I also spread it on one edge of the tortilla, add grated cheese & shredded lettuce, then roll it up like a taquito. Seal the other edge with a little smear of filling.

Chipotle & Bean Taco Filling:
1lb ground beef
3.5oz of chipotles in adobo sauce (1/2 of 7oz can)
1 can of (fat free vegetarian) refried beans
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
salt to taste

  • Start browning the ground meat on stove.
  • Add cumin & garlic. 
  • Chop chipotles on small cutting board.
  • Scrape chopped chipotles & the adobo into the pan with the meat.
  • Rinse the adobo sauce off the cutting board & into the pan with 1/4c of warm water.
  • Once the meat is fully cooked, add the canned beans & mix well.
  • Serve immediately in tacos/burritos/taquitos or smeared on a tostada, while warm. 

America's Next Great Restaurant (Episode 2)

The contestants are instantly thrown for a loop. They will be serving 1000 people lunch at a local mall (Universal City Walk) the next day. First they must select their executive chef. They must also select their "branding" & logo.

There are 17 chefs back in the kitchen who have prepared dishes. The contestants get to go back & try their food & talk. Choosing their chef may or may not be the biggest decision the contestants make. There is a battle over chef Brandon & chef Narise. Its a bit lame, but then 2 contestants have to pick new chefs. Sudhir has a hard time choosing a chef, since none of the chefs provided have EVER cooked Indian food.

Next the contestants go into the business center & they can meet with graphic designers. This is where log & branding take shape. Once again Alex can't keep his trap shut & acts like a total arse.

Next the contestants go shopping...a lot of them have never shopped on a budget, or for this many people. Then they go back & help their chefs do prep-work in the kitchen.

The next day the contestants & chefs are at the Universal City Walk ready to serve 1000 people. Each "diner" has a silver coin to deposit into the box of their favorite restaurant concept.

  1. Meltworks - Love the food....logo needs a little change. (WIN Challenge! Safe Week 1)
  2. Tiffin Box - Chicken is slightly over-cooked, sauce a little runny. The judges think the logo needs help.
  3. Hicks - Food was too fatty & heavy. Logo turned out like a garden center. (In the bottom 3.)
  4. Hard & Soft - The judges like the food, but not the logo at all.
  5. W3 - Served gumbo....confused people, but Bobby said Jaman might have taken a good risk showing he can cook more than wings & waffles.
  6. The Sports Wrap - Chicken was dry. Fran is a bit snippy & seems to dislike advice or possible change. (ELIMINATED)
  7. ComplEAT - Lorena & Steve tell Stephenie that her food was really good. But she needs to have more passion about her food. Hmmm. No comment.
  8. Saucy Balls - The judges went back for 2nds! Love "Grandma" in the logo. The judges think Joey is ballsy for sticking to his guns with the name. I'm diggin it. 
  9. Wok - Served a rice dish, not a "stir fry". Curtis called her rice "dodgey" which means "not appealing" in Australia. Logo was plain. (In the bottom 3.)
  10. Limbo - The healthy vs unhealthy version tasted too similar. The judges want to not only know about the calorie difference, but want to taste a flavor difference too. They thought the logo may have been too much. 
In the end "The Sports Wrap"/Fran is eliminated. The investors just didn't think she was willing to change or take constructive criticism. 

America's Next Great Restaurant (Episode 1)

This blog is sort of co-written. My hubby & I are watching this show together. I decided to blog with the help of my hubby on how we personally feel about the concepts. I'm a little bit behind in blogging, so hopefully over the next couple of days I'll get everyone up to speed. Obviously I'll be expressing my personal opinions of the concepts so feel free to comment if you are watching. Episodes are available "on-demand" via Comcast or on Hulu.

So whats the basic premise of the show?
Who has the idea for the next great "fast-casual" restaurant in America.

The hosts, judges & investors ?
Bobby Flay - Chef & Restauranteur
Lorena Garcia - Chef & Restauranteur
Curtis Stone - Chef & Entrepreneur
Steve Ells - Founder/CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill

Whats the catch?
The winner will go into business with the 4 hosts.
They get to open 3 brand new fast-casual locations of their concept restaurant.
They will be located in Los Angeles, Minneapolis & New York.
Their concept will be open as of May 1st!!! (Thats 7 weeks from start to finish.)

What is "fast-casual"?
A reasonably priced, want to go back often, restaurant. (AKA: Chipotle)

Episode #1:
The top 21 concepts get pitched in Los Angeles.
The judges immediately issue a challenge to all the Top 21: Go cook their signature dish to show off their concept. (A majority of these contestants ARE NOT chefs...they would hire one.)
11 concepts get eliminated and the top 10 are selected.

TOP 10:

  1. "The Sports Wrap" - Healthy Organic Wraps Made to Order or Selected Off Menu. (Fran)
  2. "Saucy Balls". Meatballs/Pasta. (Joey)
  3. "Limbo" - A sublime diner w/bad options vs good choices. (Sandy)
  4. "ComplEAT" - Nutritionally Balanced, Fixed Calorie Food (Stephenie)
  5. "Hard n' Soft" - Fusion Taco Bar (Alex)
  6. "Wok" - Stir Fry For The Healthy Heart (Marisa)
  7. "Hicks" - Small Bites/Tapas of BBQ/Southern Food (Greg & Krystal)
  8. "Meltworks" - Grilled Cheese! (Eric)
  9. "W3 - Woods, Wings & Waffles" - Chicken & Waffles. (Jaman)
  10. "The Tiffin Box" - Modern Indian. (Sudhir)
I'll save you the gory details of this episode. It was pretty funny though. Most all of the eliminations were totally predictable.

What I will tell you is that we've already got a resident dirt-bag nailed down in the Top 10...aka: Alex. Even if hes just eliminated for his attitude/mouth then I'll be happy. His concept is also already being done in most places where tacos are offered....or you can do it yourself.

I can also tell you right now that "Wok" won't make it too far. Sorry Marisa, but your concept is everywhere. Maybe its not obvious to you but "make your own" style Mongolian Grills exist everywhere.

Also "The Sports Wrap"...really pretty much everybody makes a wrap nowadays. Subway & pretty much every sandwich place offers their full menu in wrap form. Sit down restaurants offer wraps too. This concept is dead in the water sooner than later. 

April 2, 2011

Italian Style Mini Meatloaves

This is the most basic meatloaf you'll ever find. No chopped onions or added veggies in the meat. Just straight up meatloaf...made "Italian style" with the addition of Italian sausage. That is all.

This recipe makes 12 muffin-tin sized individual meatloaves.
We top ours with your typical brown sugar/ketchup glaze (recipe follows) & then a scoop of mashed potatoes. Yes, they look like cupcakes & its totally cute.
Serve with veggies or a salad.
Adults eat 2 eat 1.
These are great leftovers!

Italian Style Mini Meatloaves:
1lb ground beef
1lb ground Italian sausage
4 eggs (fresh extra large...brown)
1c. (+/-) Italian seasoned bread crumbs
salt, pepper & garlic

  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Using an ice cream or cookie scoop portion the meat into a muffin tin. 
  • Individually roll each portion of meat into a large meatball & push into the muffin tin cavities.
  • Place muffin tin onto a cookie sheet. (Just to catch possible drips...I've never gotten any.)
  • Bake @ 350 (convection) or 375 (normal) for 20 minutes.
  • To test for done-ness: Don't cut it! Touch the top of a few "muffins"...if they are firm, they are done, if they squish under your finger they aren't.)
  • Shut off oven.
  • Spoon glaze onto the top of each "loaf" & let sit in the oven for a few minutes till you serve. 

Meatloaf Glaze:
1c. Ketchup
1/4 c. Brown Sugar
1T. Italian Seasoning (optional)
2tsp. Garlic Powder

Mix together!
Top meatloaf....yum!

March 23, 2011

Green Fluff Salad

What other names do you know this salad by?
So far we have: Green Fluff, Green Stuff, Green Goo, Watergate Salad, Pistachio Fluff....anything else???

1 Large tub of Cool Whip, thawed...but barely (I use light whipped topping)
1 large can of crushed pineapple (undrained)
2 small boxes of pistachio pudding (I use sugar free if I can find it)
1 small can of mandarin oranges (drained)
mini marshmallows (use the amount you like...we use about 3 cups)
shredded coconut (optional...but I use about 1 cup if I'm feeling coconutty)
  • Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Cover with plastic wrap.
  • Let sit overnight for best flavor.
  • Sprinkle crushed pistachios on top if you want the extra knowledge of what type pudding it is made the crunch & bit of salt is nice.
  • Serve as a "salad"...or a dessert. 
This makes quite a big can cut it in half, but be might end up with unhappy green goo eating kiddos who really wanted a scoop the next day. Its the perfect size batch for a potluck!!!

March 21, 2011

"Braised" Cabbage

Why does cabbage get such a bead reputation?
Do all people assume its tastes yucky, its stinky and like most cruciferous you gas?
Is it because when you cook it, it turns into a soggy mess?
Is it because the only way you are used to cabbage being used is in cole slaw?

Well you're all wrong.
Cabbage is awesome!!! If you cook it the correct way!!!

Braised Cabbage:
2 small green cabbages (small = medium to large grapefruit sized. If you can't find some that small, then peel down 2 large ones a bit)
Corned Beef liquid (from the crock pot after CB has been cooking for 4ish hrs)
Corned Beef Glaze (see corned beef post...make a double batch!
  • Peel off the outer cabbage leaves & cut each cabbage into 1/4's leaving the core to hold each 1/4 together.
  • Place cabbage into a large casserole dish cut sides up.
  • Using a large ladle or spoon take enough cooking liquid from the crock pot & pour over the cabbages till there is about 1/2-3/4" of liquid in the casserole dish. 
  • Spoon a bit of glaze over each 1/4 of cabbage.
  • Cover with saran/plastic wrap.
  • Microwave on high for 15 minutes. (Yes in the microwave!!!)
  • Cabbage is done when a fork can be easily inserted into the core section...but it shouldn't be mushy.
This dish can be made with brussel sprouts also. Its so good. 
If you are opposed to the microwave...then cover with foil & place into a 350 degree oven for about the same time.

March 20, 2011

The Perfect Glazed Corned Beef (& Carrots)

The Perfect Corned Beef:
1 large crock pot
1 Corned Beef Brisket (flat cut, not point cut)
1 yellow onion (cut into 1/8th's)
warm water (enough to fill your crock pot 1/2 full)
pickling spice (a packet usually comes with the brisket, or the spices are already mixed in with the meat in the package...if not then you need about 2 Tbsp of pickling spices which can be found in the spice aisle)
1 bag of baby carrots...the big size bag (not Costco sized)
  • Plug in the crock pot & set on high.
  • Add water to crock pot.
  • Place brisket into the water. (Fat side up or doesn't matter really, just don't trim it off. I actually rotate mine during the day since I'm home.)
  • Place onion & pickling spices into the water.
  • Cook on High for 4-6 hrs. (6hrs is awesome)
  • Pull brisket carefully out of water & place into a casserole dish. (You may want to use 2 slotted spoons or spatulas...not tongs.)
  • Add 1 full bag of baby carrots to the crock pot. 
  • Let carrots cook about 30 minutes...till done.
  • Glaze the corned beef using below recipe while the carrots cook.
Corned Beef Glaze:
1/4 c. dijon mustard
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. brown sugar
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Remove & discard any remaining fat from the brisket.
  • Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. (Adding more or less of any ingredient per your taste.)
  • Pour over the top of the brisket in the casserole dish.
  • Cover pan with foil.
  • Let cook in the oven approximately 30 minutes while the carrots cook in the crock pot.
  • Slice & serve.

March 18, 2011

Champ (Irish Mashed Potatoes)

This makes a big ole' batch. Be prepared for leftovers...unless you are feeding a crowd. I use leftover champ for potato pancakes the next day...or 3. The garlic is a less traditional addition, but tastes awesome. The sour cream isn't traditional either...but it helps make these extra creamy.

5lbs Red Potatoes (washed, not peeled & cut into 1/4's)
1 large bunch/20 green onions (whites & greens diced)
3 cloves of fresh chopped garlic (or 1 Tbsp powder)
buttermilk (enough to cover the diced green onions in a bowl)
16oz sour cream
1/2 lb salted butter
salt & pepper (to taste)

  • Boil potatoes till done.
  • Drain potatoes well in a colander.
  • Put butter, garlic, onions & buttermilk into the hot pan that you boiled your potatoes in.
  • Add hot potatoes back into the pan.
  • Mash potatoes into the buttermilk, butter & onions.
  • Add sour cream & mix well.
  • Add salt & pepper to taste. 

Irish Soda Bread

4 c. ap flour (plus more for the raisins & flouring the board)
4 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter (diced)
1 3/4 c. cold buttermilk (shaken well)
1 extra-large egg (of course we use fresh brown eggs from our chickens)
2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1 c. raisins (currants are more traditional...but they don't carry them in a lot of grocery stores)

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (350 if using a convection oven). 
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil (shiny side down).
  • Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. 
  • Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
  • With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. 
  • With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. 
  • Combine the raisins with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
  • Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. 
  • Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. 
  • Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. 
  • When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
  • Cool on a baking rack. 
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

February 23, 2011

French Dip (Pot Roast) Sandwiches with Au Jus

Overall Ingredients:
  • 2-3lb London Broil
  • 2 pkgs onion soup mix
  • 2 Tbsp bouillon (beef or chicken)
  • 6 cups water
  • French or Bolillo Rolls
  • Creamy horseradish, mayo or mustard...whatever you like on your rolls
In the crock-pot put:
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 pkg of onion soup mix
  • London broil (whole not sliced)
  • Let cook on "keep warm" or low for 6-8 hours.
  • After cooking time, pull meat out carefully & slice. Place onto rolls.
  • To the crock-pot, add the remaining 4 cups of water, the other pkg of onion soup mix & bouillon. 
  • Let heat well & dish into small bowls for each person.
Pot Roast/Shredded Version:
If you are feeling like a bit less work....let the meat cook up to 12hrs/overnight/all day & night, etc.
Then shred the meat while still in the pot.
Add the remaining ingredients & let cook another hr or 2. 
Place shredded meat onto sandwich rolls & serve with au jus.

February 20, 2011

Black Beans

1lb bag of dry black beans
1Tbsp salt
1Tbsp cumin
1Tbsp garlic powder

  • Place black beans in a strainer & rinse well.
  • Place rinsed beans into a small pot.
  • Fill with water to cover beans by 2".
  • Soak overnight on stove-top or counter.
  • Drain beans in strainer & rinse well again.
  • Place beans back into pot & recover with fresh water.
  • Bring beans to a boil & then reduce the heat to low for 1hr.
  • Taste a should not be too mushy, but not firm either. (If still firm cook on low till tender.)
  • Add a bit more water if necessary...beans & water should be about the same level.
  • Stir well. 
  • Add salt, cumin & garlic.
  • Shut off the heat.
  • Cover with a lid & let sit for 1hr so beans absorb the spices & some more liquid.

Serve with rice, in burritos...or by themselves.

Mexican Shredded Chicken

4c salsa (whatever type you have on hand)
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (frozen is ok)

  • Put 1/2 the salsa into your crockpot.
  • Place all the chicken on top of the salsa.
  • Pour the other 1/2 of the salsa over the chicken. 
  • Cook on low for 6-8hrs (I do it overnight).
  • Shred the chicken breasts into the salsa & mix well.

Use in burritos, tacos, on top of salads, use it to make nachos, mix with rice & black/pinto/red beans, top a pizza with it, throw into pita bread, mix with mayo for "mexican chicken salad" sandwiches, etc.

Enough to feed a family of 5-6 for 2-3 meals.

FYI: This time, I used my grilled corn salsa, which made this a bit less tomato-ish than normal. Its still good, but the corn loses some of its color overnight.

February 16, 2011

3 Cheese Sliders (On Kings Hawaiian Rolls)

Just a warning, these are freaking addictive. (makes 24 sliders)

2lbs ground beef (use a lower fat % because of the added cheese)
1/2c. jack cheese (shredded)
1/2c. cheddar cheese (shredded)
1/2c. blue cheese (crumbles)
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. ground chili pepper
2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 medium yellow onion (diced small & sauteed)

  • Mix all together well. (By hand or by a mixer on low.)
  • Form 24 patties. I use a medium sized cookie scoop.
  • Place on baking sheet with wax paper & refrigerate until ready to cook.
2 Cooking Options:

  • Bake in your oven on the baking sheet they are already on. (350 degrees till preferred done-ness.)
  • Use a "grill pan" on the stove-top. 3-5 minutes per side. 
  • The bbq is NOT recommended for sliders. These are small & drip a lot...causing too many flare-ups & will fall apart if not watched carefully. 
  • Pile your table with fresh sliced roma tomatoes, all the normal condiments, pickle slices & warmed Kings Hawaiian Rolls.
  • Serve with homemade baked fries & green salad.
You can also make these into big burgers...but then you can't enjoy the Hawaiian Rolls!

February 10, 2011

Grilled Corn Salsa

6 Roma Tomatoes (¼'d)
4 ears of Corn (shucked)
1 White Onion (cut in ¼'s)
1 bu. cilantro (chopped)
4 Limes (juiced)
3 jalapeños
2Tb Cumin
2Tb Chili Powder
1Tb Salt (only use to taste)
1Tb Garlic Powder

  • Place corn & jalapeños onto hot bar-b-que grill. Rotating often till slightly charred. Remove from grill. 
  • Cut corn off the ear & put into serving bowl.
  • Dice jalapeños & add to corn.
  • Add lime juice, cumin, chili powder & garlic.
  • Add 1/2 of chopped cilantro.
  • In food processor (or blender) place tomatoes, onion & other 1/2 of chopped cilantro.
  • Pulse until mostly smooth, a few small chunks are ok.
  • Add to corn mixture & mix well. 
  • Add salt to taste. (Remember as this sits the salt will become more obvious.)
Makes about 6-8 cups of salsa.

February 8, 2011

Funnel Cakes

I gave into my first sweet pregnancy craving. Honestly how often am I going to make them anyways?

These must be served hot & are best topped with powdered sugar. I've seen several other options at the fair or carnivals or theme parks, but powdered sugar is awesome & probably better for you than a big scoop of warm pie filling & whipped cream.

1 cup water
3/4 stick butter (6Tbsp)
2 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 cup of eggs not beaten (from our chickens its 5 whole eggs)
vegetable/canola oil for frying
powdered sugar for topping.

  • Boil water, butter, sugar & salt together in a saucepan. 
  • Shut off heat.
  • Add flour & work well with a wooden spoon until it is all incorporated and dough forms a ball.
  • Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer and let cool for 3-4 minutes.
  • With mixer on the lowest speed (using the paddle attachment), add eggs, 1 at a time, making sure the first eggs is completely incorporated before continuing onto the next egg.
  • Once all eggs have added & the mixture is smooth, put dough in a quart sized zip-lock bag.
  • Heat about 1 1/2 inches of oil in a heavy pan (I used my pretty new home dutch oven).
  • You know your oil is ready when you can drop a little bit of water out of a straw and it makes the oil sizzle.
  • Cut off a corner off the zip-lock bag & pipe the batter into the oil making a free form lattice type pattern. 
  • Only pipe it a bit smaller than the your average pancake. With criss crosses in the middle. It expands!
  • Cook until browned & flip once to cook the other side. (Flip with a slotted metal spatula or spoon.)
  • Remove the cake from oil & drain on paper towels for a minute. 
  • Top with powdered sugar.
  • Continue one by one until all the batter is used.
Makes 10 average sized funnel cakes. 

January 29, 2011

Rib Dry Rub

This is NOT my famous "tri-tip/put on everything" dry rub.
This is a new rub for pork spareribs.
This makes enough for approximately 3 racks of ribs (13-15lbs)

6 Tbsp kosher salt
6 Tbsp paprika (smoked preferred)
3 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp chili powder (I use a mixed blend of New Mexico, California & Pasilla/Ancho.)
3 Tbsp brown sugar

  • Mix all together, store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Peach BBQ Sauce

This sauce is so yummy on ribs....or chicken.

2 diced shallots
6 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 Tbsp butter

3 cans of Kerns Peach Nectar (34ish oz)
2 bottles of ketchup (4 cups)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
4 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 lemon (juiced)
3 Tbsp of reserved dry rub
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Melt butter in a large non-stick pot on the stove, add shallots & garlic. Sautee till softened. 
  • Add reserved dry rub & sautee a bit more.
  • Add ketchup, nectar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, lemon juice & vinegar. 
  • Season to taste with salt & pepper.
  • Boil for 30-45 minutes....or "keep warm/low" in crock-pot overnight/up to 24ish hours. 
(an adaptation of Neelys' Peach BBQ Sauce)

January 19, 2011

White Lasagna

My oldest daughter tends to not like lasagna with red sauce...or I guess its actually a dislike of cooked tomatoes in general. She eats them raw by the bucket load, but when it comes to cooked tomatoes she prefers another sauce option. Don't get me wrong, shes not picky. She'll eat what is set before her, but she would rather have Alfredo or Bechamel sauce on pasta.

When I said I'd be making lasagna with white sauce today she was sort of iffy about the idea. I've made it before, but its been a while & last time it was all veggie. This time I decided to go meat, cheese, spinach & white sauce. Don't judge....its not something you eat every week. Its pretty darn rich & a whole 9x13 pan will last us (a family of 5) for 3 meals at least.

You can make this easier for yourself or harder. Neither is really that hard...but the oven ready noodles take more moisture to cook & takes longer baking time to get the noodles nice & soft. You pick which is harder or easier for yourself.

This is amazing with a simple green salad & French bread!

1 box lasagna noodles (oven ready or pre-boiled normal)
8-10 cups of Alfredo or Bechamel  sauce (thats 3 jars of bottled sauce if you use it, plus 2 jars of water if doing oven ready noodles)
1 large bag of cut frozen spinach
1 (15oz) container of ricotta
1 (12oz) container of cottage cheese
1lb ground beef (80/20)
1lb ground sausage (mild)
8-10 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1-2 tsp salt
2 tsp red pepper flakes
4-6 cups of grated cheese (Any mixed white cheeses: jack, mozzarella, pecorino-romano, Parmesan.)
2 cups of Italian seasoned bread crumbs

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees (400 if convection).
  • Put entire bag of frozen spinach into a bowl & microwave on high for 8-10 minutes.
  • Drain spinach in a colander, pressing to get all excess water out.
  • Brown beef & sausage in a non-stick pan.
  • Add garlic, salt, red pepper flakes towards the end & brown a bit more.
  • In a large mixing bowl (Kitchen Aid) put all the meat, spinach, ricotta & cottage cheese. 
  • Blend all until well mixed.
  • In the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish place a heavy layer of sauce.
  • Then layer in the following order...noodles, sauce, filling, cheese, light sauce, noodles, sauce, filling, cheese, light sauce, noodles, sauce, filling, cheese, light sauce....followed by noodles, heavy sauce, cheese & bread crumbs. 
  • Place casserole dish onto a baking sheet. Cover casserole with foil. 
  • Bake covered for 30 minutes & then uncovered for 30 minutes. (This is the timing for uncooked/oven ready. It only takes about 30-40 for pre-boiled noodles.)
  • Shut off the oven & let the lasagna sit inside for 30-40 minutes. If you cut the lasagna straight out of the oven it will turn into a lasagna puddle on your plate. This lets the cheese re-firm up a bit & everything will not ooze out. 

January 12, 2011

15 Bean Cajun Soup

This is a mostly crock pot meal!!!
I hate soaking beans overnight & typically do a "fast soak" the way I describe below.
This feeds our family of 5 for 2+ meals.

15 Bean Cajun Soup:
1 Kielbasa Sausage (1st cut into rounds, then cut the rounds into 1/4's)
1 medium onion (diced, optional)
2 Chicken Breasts (chopped)
1 bag of 15 bean soup mix (down the bean aisle...typically contains a cajun season packet)
hot water
2 cans of cut green beans (drained)
Spices: garlic powder, salt, chili powder, cayenne

  • Put the kielbasa, chicken, onions & cajun season packet into the crockpot. Turn on high & cover.
  • Pour beans into a small seperate pot, cover with water, bring to a boil on the stove-top.
  • Once beans boil, strain them & rinse them.
  • Add boiled, rinsed beans to the crock-pot.
  • Add hot water till the crock-pot is 3/4 full.
  • Let cook at least 1 hour.
  • Check to make sure the chicken it cooked.
  • Add green beans.
  • Add extra spices to taste. (I add about 3Tbsp chili powder, 3Tbsp garlic, & 1-2tsp of salt to taste.)

January 11, 2011

Apple Berry Crisp

Last nights dessert!
I served ours with homemade whipped ricotta just melted over the top of the warm crisp.
If you are craving something that screams summer, then whip up this sweet treat.

Apple Berry Crisp:
4 c. raspberries (I used frozen raspberries that I bought this summer.)
2 c. diced tart apples (I used 2 peeled, cored & diced Granny Smith apples.)
(Technically you just need 6 cups of fruit...fresh, not too juicy.)
1/4 c. granulated sugar (not necessary...can be reduced or eliminated)
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Crisp Topping:
1 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) cold butter (cut into small pieces)
pinch of salt (if using salted butter do not add this!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter an 9x13 casserole dish. (This size pan results in a thin crisp. You can use an 8x8 but it will start very full until the fruit cooks down. You can use a pie plate or quiche/tart/gratin dish, but they will seem fuller to start also.)
  3. Gently combine berries, apples, sugar, flour & cinnamon.
  4. Pour fruit mix into prepared pan.
  5. Prepare the crisp topping by mixing all ingredients in a separate bowl. Using a pastry blender...or 2 knives work in the butter until the topping resembles a coarse meal. Sprinkle topping over the berries. Mound in on top if using a smaller pan.
  6. Place it into the preheated oven & bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until crips topping is nice 7 golden brown. (If using a smaller pan, you might want to place a cookie sheet underneath.)
  7. Remove to a rack to cool a few minutes. 
  8. Serve in dessert bowls with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

January 7, 2011

Fondue Night

Tonight we had fondue night with the kids.

My hubby & I love fondue. We've been to a REALLY nice fondue restaurant a few times. But the "really nice" also implies "really expensive". We don't usually do expensive with the least the first time they have something. Did I mention that we also don't have the $ to do expensive right now??? Well we don't. We weren't so sure about the kids liking fondue yet. None of them are picky. But really, who doesn't like dipping things in ooey gooey cheese & chocolate??? Not at the same time people!!!

So our dinner was Swiss Fondue!

  • Swiss cheese
  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 packet of dry onion soup powder
  • water
  • grated nutmeg
  • garlic powder
  • corn starch slurry 
Served with:
  • seasoned grilled chicken
  • lightly steamed broccoli
  • lightly steamed green beans
  • French baguette
  • & green apple
All items cut to bite sized pieces & then dipped into cheesy yumminess. 

Dessert was Semi-sweet Chocolate Fondue!
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • heavy whipping cream
  • heated & stirred until thick & creamy
Served with:
  • mini marshmallows
  • green apples (cut into slices)
  • bananas (cut into 1" chunks)
  • whole strawberries
Fondue...FUNdue night was an amazing success!!!
The kids ate everything!!!
Oh and it was SO good.