Friday, December 31, 2010

Thai Ramen with Vegetables

I know, I know, Ramen is for college kids. But really, you can make some pretty tasty meals with it! Or substitute regular pasta if you want, but I like the budget friendly Ramen. The dish is full of vegetables, chicken and lots of flavor. I used the Creamy Chicken Ramen because I wanted to add a little extra body to the sauce. I think a regular Ramen might taste OK, but the sauce would probably be too thin.

Here is the cost breakdown:

1 Chicken breast - 50 cents2 packs of ramen - 25 cents
1/4 onion - 20 cents
2 green onions - 20 cents
1/2 red pepper - 75 cents
1 carrot - 20 cents
2 Tablespoons peanut butter - 50 cents
1 Tablespoon cilantro - 5 cents?
Total cost - Approximately $2.65 for a 2-person meal

  • 1 chicken breast, cut into small chunks
  • 2 packages Creamy Chicken flavored Ramen
  • 1/4 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1. In a large nonstick skillet, add 1 Tablespoon oil and heat over medium high. Add chicken and cook thoroughly. Add onion, red pepper and carrot to pan and cook 3-5 minutes until tender.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to rapid boil. Add Ramen noodles with seasoning packet and cook 3 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the noodles or they become soggy.

3. Drain noodles, reserving about 3/4 cup liquid. Add peanut butter, soy sauce and brown sugar to noodles, mixing well to combine. Add noodles to pan with chicken and vegetables and stir. If too much liquid rema
ins, bring saute pan to a boil and simmer 3 minutes until liquid evaporates.

4. Remove pan from heat and add green onions. Stir to warm the onions. Top with chopped cilantro and hot sauce, if desired.

- Pastry Princess

Lazy Day Waffles

I love waffles. Who doesn't?! But sometimes it can get time consuming with separating the eggs, whipping the whites, blah blah blah. So these are what I call lazy waffles! It's basically french toast, made in a waffle iron. They are insanely easy and use ingredients that you probably already ha
ve on hand. You'd never know these were made with traditional white bread; they taste just like the real deal!

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or you can use cinnamon/nutmeg)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 3 slices of white bread
  1. Heat and oil a standard size waffle iron. While preheating, mix egg, milk, spice, salt and sugar in a medium sized bowl. Dip one slice of bread in the egg mixture, flip, and let soak for 2-3 minutes.
  2. When iron is ready, place bread in center of iron and cook approximately 4 minutes, until brown and crispy. Continue with remaining slices of bread.
  3. Serve with warm syrup & enjoy!

- Pastry Princess

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Easy Mole Sauce!

What is mole sauce? Well, according to the website I originally got this recipe from (MomsWhoThink), it's a, " Mexican mole sauce; a type of gravy with chiles, chocolate and seasonings."  Oh, but it is so much more then that.  It is an amazing concoction of flavors that ends up pairing perfectly with just about anything; steak, chicken, and of course my family's favorite, enchiladas.  For Christmas, DH's family did a mexican food theme for dinner, and that is exactly what I made; enchiladas con mole.  Mmmmm.   It's super easy to make.  I've adapted and doubled the original mole recipe as follows:

  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 tbs chipotle sauce
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2oz (2 squares) unsweetened baking chocolate

    1. Combine salt, pepper, water, chipotle sauce and onions in a saucepan.  Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. 
    2. Add garlic, tomato sauce, sugar, cinnamon and chocolate.  Stir until heated through and chocolate is melted.  
    3. Serve over your choice of main entree...although I highly recommend a nice flank steak or enchiladas.   
    It took me three attempts at making this to get it just right (at last for my family).  If you are unsure of how spicy you might want this, start out with only 3 tbs of the chipotle sauce.  Once you've completed step 2, add more of the chipotle sauce to your liking.  


    -Chef Val

    Tuesday, December 28, 2010

    Cheesy Meatloaf

    Why is my name Vino Vixen? Don't ask me!!! I always seem to have the WRONG wine to pair with what I'm cooking?!?! Grrr. 

    Tonight, I was craving a good old' comfort food meatloaf! And since my husband would totally DIE if our dinner didn't include massive amounts of cheese, I hope you will enjoy our Cheesy Venison Meatloaf!

    • 2 lbs Venison (beef or turkey can be substituted as well)
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1/4 cup ketchup - plus enough to drizzle on top to taste
    • 1/2 cup Velveeta, cubed
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 tbsp of your favorite seasoning salt (we use Squirrely Beaver Seasoning  - not sure if you can get that everywhere though - Johnny's works great too) 
    • salt and pepper to taste
    All prepared and ready to cook!
    1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
    2. Mix all ingredients in mixing bowl except ketchup & brown sugar
    3. Grease pan and push 1/2 mixture into bottom of pan
    4. Spread ketchup down the middle of meat mixture
    5. Push remaining meat mixture down into pan
    6. Spread brown sugar over top and drizzle ketchup on top to taste
    7. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour
    So yummy and right out of the oven!
     Depending on how you like your meatloaf, you can do this meal a few different ways. You can eat it straight out of the pan, OR how I like mine - slice a few pieces out of the loaf and fry them on medium heat in a lightly greased fry pan until the sides are slightly browned. From there you can either eat them between two pieces of toast (GREAT the next day for leftover meatloaf sammy's!) or just plain with garlic bread and a salad... or just wine! :)

    I imagine this should probably be paired with a hearty Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon but alas... I had Chardonnay - so it works for tonight! :) 

    Until next time... Cheers!!!

    ~Vino Vixen~

    Thursday, December 23, 2010

    Cranberry-Orange Oatmeal Cookies

    I made these cookies for a Nestie cookie swap that I attended in November and they were delicious!

    Recipe is courtesy of Kristen Ferguson and was on's website.

    1 1/2 cups white flour
    1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
    2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
    1/4 tsp ground ginger
    1/8 tsp ground cloves
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
    1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
    2 eggs, room temparature
    1/2 cup maple syrup
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    zest of one orange
    2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    1 1/2 cups dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
    1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped- I omitted this as I'm not a fan of nuts in cookies

    1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

    2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and dark-brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs. Then add maple syrup, vanilla, and orange zest.

    3. Add flour mixture into butter mixture. When almost incorporated, stir in the oats, cranberries, and pecans.

    4. Place tablespoon-size dollops on a buttered baking sheet; bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. I baked my cookies on a cookie sheet with parchment paper coated with cooking spray.

    Yankee Doodle

    Sherried Gravy Pork

    This recipe is very delicious and the meat is very tender. It is also a husband approved recipe. :) I believe I got this from a Crock-pot recipe book, but I can't find the name and issue number.

    1 Tablespoon Vegetable oil
    1 (4 pound) pork shoulder roast
    6 ounces sliced mushrooms
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Mushroom Soup
    1/2 cup chopped green onions (white & green parts)
    2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
    1 packet (1 ounce) dry onion soup mix
    2-3 tablespoons dry sherry
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1/2 cup whipping cream
    2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)

    1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until hot. Add pork roast and brown on all sides.

    2. Coat a 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Place roast in slow cooker. Add mushrooms, salt, and black pepper to skillet; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add remaining ingredients except whipping cream and parsley to skillet; mix thoroughly. Pour mushroom mixture over pork in slow cooker. Cover. Cook on HIGH 5 hours or until pork is falling off the bone.

    3. Place pork on a cutting board; let stand 10 minutes before pulling meat off the bone. Cut into 2-3 inch pieces. (This may not be necessary if meat is already falling apart.) Place in a shallow serving bowl. Add whipping cream to remaining ingredients in slow cooker; stir until well blended. Pour over pork. Sprinkle with parsley.

    Makes 8-10 servings.

    Yankee Doodle

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Baking Beauty: Holiday Baking!

    I've spent the last few hours baking up a storm!
    Here is a platter of cookies I'm putting out for my girl's night tonight! I think chocolate seems to be this year's theme! :)

    From left to right: Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies, Chocolate Chip cookies, Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, and Peanut Butter Cookies with Hershey Kisses.

    Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
    from the Pioneer Woman

    Chocolate Chip Cookies:
    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup butter softened (2 sticks)
    1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup sugar
    2 eggs
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Morsels

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. combine, in small bowl, flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

    Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Gradually add flour mixture and stir in morsels. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.
    Bake 9-11 minutes until lightly browned. coll 1 minute on baking sheet before moving them to cooling racks to cool completely.
    (makes about 5 dozen)

    Chocolate Sandwich Cookies:

    Peanut Butter Cookies with Hershey Kisses:
    Pilsbury Peanut Butter refrigerated dough (I know, I cheated!). Prepare as directed on package. While they are baking unwrap the Kisses. HINT: use a small bowl to put the trash in so you don't have wrappers all over the floor! Man, do those things fly! Remove from oven and immediately add a Kiss to each cookie. Let cool a minute or 2 on baking sheet, then transfer to cooling racks.

    ~Baking Beauty

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    Sooo good yet sooo bad!

    I love baking, much more so than cooking! 

    Today I decided to do some baking, since ya know Christmas is a week away and what better time to bake! 

    I started out making Saltine Brittle!  This is so good and so easy!  Not so good for the waist line though!

    To make this you will need:
    2 sticks of butter
    1 cup of brown sugar
    1 bag of chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate chips grabbed semi-sweet this time but just not the same)

    Preheat oven to 400 deg. In a small pot melt butter add brown sugar, bring to a boil.  While the butter is melting lay saltines on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.  Pour the butter/sugar mixture over the crackers, put in the oven for about 7 minutes.  Pour chocolate chips on top and leave in oven for about 3-4 mins.  Take out of oven and spread the melted chocolate all over.  Let cool then freeze.  Once froze, take it out and break into pieces!  Enjoy!

    The next thing I made were amazing Super Easy Cookies!  I got the recipe from Pioneer Woman.  I just really started following her blog and love her!  Here is the link!

    Here is a picture of mine!

    *Countess Cupcake*

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Apple Dumplings!

    This is a crosspost from my Meal Planning Mayhem blog, but had to share directly with everyone here, too!

    Continue at your own risk!  You are about to be temped by something so sweet and yummy that once you try it, there is no turning back!  Compliments for a colleague of mine, enjoy some Apple Dumplings!

    2 whole Granny Smith Apples
    2 cans of crescent rolls
    2 sticks of butter
    1 1/2 cups of sugar
    1 tsp of vanilla
    Cinnamon, to taste
    1 can of Mountain Dew

    Peel and core apples.  Cut each apple into 8 slices.  Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll.  Place in a 9x13 buttered pan.  Set aside. 

    Melt butter in a small pot, add sugar and barely stir.  Stir in vanilla, then pour over apples.  Pout Mountain Dew around edges of pan.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Serve with ice cream and spoon some of that sweet sauce over the top!

    Some pictures! 


    -Chef Val

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

    This is actually thanks to my awesome NSA! I received a package from her today that included this:

    An adorable dish towel set, oven mitt and pot holder, and a cookie cookbook!

    In the book I saw a recipe for chocolate crinkle cookies and decided to try them out tonight. They are like a brownie in a cookie. They definitely make the cut for my Christmas cookie tins!

    Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

    1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    2 cups white sugar
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    4 eggs
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 cups flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 cup confectioners sugar

    Mix together cocoa, white sugar and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, stir in vanilla. In separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into cocoa mixture. Cover dough and chill for at least 4 hours or until firm enough to form into balls.

    Preheat oven to 350, line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place confectioners sugar in shallow bowl. Roll chilled dough into 1 inch balls. Roll dough balls in confectioners sugar until completely coated. Place on cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Bake 8-12 minutes, just until edges are firm. Do not over bake. Let stand on cookie sheet for a minute, transfer to wire rack to cool.

    Recipe is from The Great Cookie Book by Nordic Ware

    ~Kiss The Cook

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Dry Rubbed London Broil

    London Broil was on sale this week, 1/2 off, so I bought one. Normally I prefer flank steak because it's much more tender, but for the price, this couldn't be beat! I got the original recipe from Food Network, it's actually a Dave Lieberman recipe. Super easy, quick, and very tasty. The meat came out very tender, and only took about 15min to cook. We served it with some cheesy broccoli and caramelized onions and leaks.

    • 1 2lb london broil
    • about 1T olive oil
    • about 2T Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 T chili powder
    • 1T dried oregano
    • 1T sweet paprika
    • 1 T garlic powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 15 grinds black pepper
    1. Combine chili powder, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper in small bowl. Mix well to combine.
    2. Drizzle 1/2T olive oil over 1 side of the meat. Rub in. Drizzle 1 T Worcestershire sauce over same side, and rub in. Repeat on other side of meat.
    3. Sprinkle about 1/2 the dry rub on side 1 of the meat, and rub to coat generously. Repeat on side 2.
    4. Refrigerate about 4 hours.
    5. Remove meat about 30min prior to cooking to let it warm up a bit. Heat a grill pan on the stove over medium-high. Cook about 6min per side, for medium rare. Let it rest for 10min before slicing at an angle, against the grain.

    P.S. I totally stole this picture from the Food Network website because I forgot to take my own. Oops!

    ~ Pastry Princess

    Sunday, December 5, 2010


    This recipe comes from The Way The Cookie Crumbles. Possibly one of the easiest cookie recipes ever. It took me maybe 10 minutes of prep. They are delicious!

    Original Recipe

    Pomegranate-Glazed Turkey

    This glaze is delicious and worked well as a gravy in addition to a glaze for the turkey. Everyone raved about how juicy the turkey was and how the glaze gave just a hint of sweetness. Enjoy!

    1 12-14 pound turkey (thawed if frozen)
    2 navel oranges
    3 lemons
    1/2 Tbsp sage
    1/2 Tbsp thyme
    1/2 Tbsp Rosemary
    1/2 Tbsp Salt
    1/2 Tbsp Pepper
    1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
    2 Tbsp honey

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 and move oven rack to lowest position.
    2. Mix the sage, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.
    3. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and rinse the turkey under cold water inside and out. Drain all water from the turkey and pat dry with paper towels.
    4. Place the turkey in a roasting pan. Cut one lemon in half and squeeze lemon juice all over the turkey inside and out allowing the excess lemon juice to drip into the bottom of the roasting pan. Then rub the spices all over the turkey inside and out and under the skin where you can.
    5. Quarter the remaining lemons and oranges and place the quarters inside the turkey until full. Don't forget to put some in the neck cavity.
    6. If the turkey doesn't come with a pop-up timer, insert meat thermometer into the breast meat and roast turkey 2 1/2 - 3 hours or until the meat thermometer reads between 165-170. To keep the skin from over browning, cover with aluminum foil the last half hour of cooking.
    7. Transfer the turkey to a plate. Pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a skillet; add the pomegranate juice and honey. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly syrupy and reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Season glaze with salt and pepper to taste. Brush the turkey with some of the glaze and serve remaining glaze with the turkey.

    Pomegranate glaze portion of recipe adapted from Cat Cora's Pomegranate-Glazed Turkey with Wild Rice recipe. Food Network magazine November 2010.

    Happy cooking!
    Yankee Doodle

    Crockpot: Chicken & Sausage Paella

    I was skeptical that the rice would cook through in the slow cooker, but this recipe was DELICIOUS and easy to make. It makes 8 servings and needs to cook for 6-7 hours. Prep time is 15 minutes.
    1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs cut into cubes
    1 lb chorizo sausage or Andouille sausage, thinly sliced
    2 cups uncooked regular long-grain white rice
    1 large red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
    3 cups Campbell's Condensed chicken broth
    1 can (10 3/4 oz) Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup
    1 cup frozen peas, thawed
    1/2 cup chopped Manzanella olives
    2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
    1. Stir the chicken, sausage, rice, onion, broth and soup in a 6-quart slow cooker.
    2. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours (or high 4-5 hours) or until the chicken is cooked through.
    3. Stir the peas and olives into the slow cooker. Cover and cook until the mixture is hot. Sprinkle with the parsley. (I actually skipped this step by putting everything in the crockpot all at once and cooking the peas and olives for the full 6-7 hours and it worked.)
    Recipe courtesy of Campbell's.
    Happy Cooking!
    Yankee Doodle

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Turkey Pasta Salad, Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

    This recipe actually comes from the Betty Crocker website. It is really a chicken pasta salad, but I used turkey because it is what I had on hand. I also used rotini instead of bowtie pasta.

    Chicken Pasta Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

    3 cups uncooked farfalle (bow-tie) pasta (8 ounces)
    6 1/2 cups frozen broccoli florets
    2/3 cup refrigerated Alfredo sauce (from 10-ounce container)
    1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red bell peppers, drained and finely chopped
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 package (6 ounces) refrigerated diced cooked chicken breast
    1 can (11 ounces) Mexicorn whole kernel corn with red and green peppers, drained

    1.Cook pasta as directed on package, adding broccoli for last 3 minutes of cooking. Rinse with cold water; drain.
    2.In small bowl, mix Alfredo sauce, bell peppers and salt. In large bowl, mix pasta, broccoli, chicken and corn. Add pepper mixture to pasta mixture; toss until coated. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving.

    ~Kiss The Cook

    Saturday, November 27, 2010


    This is my first post and I am going to start off with fruitcake. Now, don't run off! This is really delicious, I promise. It's the only fruitcake that I've ever eaten and enjoyed.

    I got this recipe from my Mom probably ten years ago. She got it from our neighbor when we were little kids, probably 30 years ago. Lord only knows how long the neighbor had it before that.

    (it makes a ton, so this is half the recipe)

    4 eggs
    1 c. sugar
    1 ½ c. flour
    1 ½ t. baking powder
    1 t. salt

    4 c. pecans
    ½ pound candied pineapple

    ½ pound candied cherries (I use 4 oz. each of green and red)
    1 pound chopped dates
    ½ T. vanilla extract

    In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add fruit to dry ingredients an
    d stir to coat. Add nuts and stir. In a small bowl, beat eggs and stir in vanilla. Add sugar to fruit mix. Add eggs and stir. It is very thick and hard to stir, but it gets better as the sugar melts in the eggs. Spoon into two greased 8 inch pans. Bake 1 1/2 hours at 250 degrees.

    *note - for some reason, it took mine closer to two hours to bake

    Weekly Meal Plan #10 from...

    Meal Planning Mayhem


    ~Chef Val

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Peanut Butter Frosting

    I made cupcakes tonight for Justin to take to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. I cheated and used a boxed cake mix because I just didn't have time to do it from scratch. I decided to make the peanut butter frosting that everyone raved about last time, and I think it was even better this time! I chopped some Reese's cups up and sprinkled them on top as well.

    Chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting and chopped reese's on top

    Peanut Butter Frosting

    1 cup confectioners' sugar
    1 cup creamy peanut butter
    5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/3 cup heavy cream

    Put sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in mixer. Mix on medium low until creamy, scraping with spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high until the mixture is light and smooth.

    Original Recipe

    ~Kiss The Cook

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    Chicken Broccoli Casserole

    Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling you-hoo... Inside the chicken is cooking and my husband is shouting woo-hoo! 

    Ok, that was a lame attempt at a joke on the weather right now. It's not the worst that I've seen but it's record breaking snow fall (already a foot in Nov?!) and temperature lows (-10?!) right now so what better than a yummy comfort food casserole to warm up the evening. Brrrr! Enjoy!

    • 1 1/2 cup cooked chicken (you can boil and shred chicken breasts or buy chunk chicken in a can)
    • 1 lb fresh chopped broccoli
    • 1 1/2 cups of your favorite pasta (I used smaller shells)
    • 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
    • 1/3 cup of milk
    • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese 
    • 1 package stuffing mix
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    2. If using chicken breasts, boil chicken until tender and shred or cut into bite size pieces. If using chunk canned chicken, just make sure it's chopped up nicely. 
    3. Steam broccoli until crisp but tender. 
    4. Boil pasta until firm.
    5. In a small bowl mix together the soup and milk. Set aside. 
    6. Layer the chicken, broccoli, soup mixture, and cheese in baking dish. 
    7. Prepare stuffing mix according to package and sprinkle over the top.
    8. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the topping is browned.
    Look you can see the steam!
     We only had a Columbia Crest Merlot in the house tonight but that'll warm us up just fine with this dish! I'd probably prefer a Chardonnay but I'm not venturing out in this snow. Enjoy!!!

    ~Vino Vixen~

    For the Love of Lasagna!

    I made lasagna for the first time in a long time. This is by far one of the best I made. I did it all by scratch, but you could use bottled sauce and achieve the same results. I also added canned mushrooms to the meat layer, but you could leave them out.


    • 1 onion, chopped

    • 5 garlic cloves, minced

    • 1-28 oz can of chopped tomatoes, undrained

    • 2 bay leaves

    • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil

    • 1 tsp dried oregano

    • 1/2 c red wine

    • 1 small can tomato paste

    • salt and pepper to taste

    • 2 T sugar if needed- it depends on your tomatoes

    Cheese mixture:

    • 1-15 oz container ricotta

    • 1 small onion

    • 2 cloves garlic

    • 1 c cottage cheese

    • salt and pepper to taste


    • 1 pound ground beef

    • 1/2 c pepperoni slices


    • 1 c mozzarella cheese, shredded

    • 1/2 c Parmesan cheese, shredded

    • 12 lasagna noodles

    • 1 can mushrooms (optional)

    To make the sauce: Start with a medium saucepan and sweat onions in 1 T olive oil and 1-2 T butter. Let them get translucent and start to turn golden in color. Add the garlic, bay leaves, basil, and oregano. Stir them into the onions and cook until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook the tomato paste until darkened in color- about 4-5 minutes. Add the red wine and deglaze the pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir all together. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes for the flavors to come together. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper. Add sugar if necessary.

    To make the cheese mixture: Saute the onions in 1 T butter until soft and sweet. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Let the mixture cool a few minutes. Add onions and garlic to the ricotta and cottage cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    To make the meat mixture: Place the pepperoni in the food processor and process until chopped small. Brown the ground beef with the pepperoni in a skillet until no longer pink. Set aside to cool a bit.

    Place the 12 lasagna noodles in a dish with hot water to cover for about 40 minutes to one hour until pliable.

    In a 8x11 glass dish, start with covering the bottom with a thin layer of sauce. Layer 3 noodles across. Use about 1/2 of the cheese mixture to spread over the noodles. Layer 3 more noodles. Add a thin layer of sauce over the noodles. Add the meat mixture. Add the mushrooms-optional. Add a little more sauce to the meat. Layer 3 more noodles. Spread the remaining 1/2 of the cheese mixture over the noodles. Layer 3 more noodles. Add a layer of sauce. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 350 F oven for 30-40 minutes until bubbling and hot.

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Banana Blackberry Waffles

    So a couple of amazing coincidences made this waffle happen. I have some Hodgeson's Mill Whole Wheat Buttermilk pancake mix at my house. I was trying to be healthy with whole grains, but as you can see in my profile I will be going gluten-free in a few days so I have to get this outta my house! I cannot resist temptation. Also, my first few clients canceled so I have some extra time this morning. Put those things together and out came this delicious breakfast treat!

    3/4 cup Whole wheat pancake mix
    1 egg
    1/3 cup almond milk (I'm sure you could use real milk if that's what you have)
    1 banana

    1/2 cup frozen blackberries (or blueberries or other yummy addition)

    Put the blackberries in the microwave for about 45 seconds on half power (I hit the "vegetable button" on my microwave and don't know exactly what that does, but either way, unfreeze your blackberries).
    Mix together the first ingredients mashing the banana as you go.
    Add the blackberries and the juice from de-thawing it. Fold in

    Spray the waffle maker with non stick spray and cook until machine stops steaming. Top with butter and agave nectar (or syrup if you'd like) and ENJOY!! Mmmmmmmmm

    -Neat -n- Natural

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    Best. Turkey. Ever.

    Seriously. I am working on Thanksgiving, so Justin and I had our own little "Thanksgiving" dinner today. I tried a new recipe when I made our turkey today and it turned out amazing! It is a little time consuming, but well worth it. The meat comes out extremely moist and with just the right amount of flavor. SO GOOD!

    Perfect Turkey
    I used a 13 lb turkey and just adjusted the amount of ingredients a little.

    1 (18 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
    2 cups kosher salt
    1/2 cup butter, melted
    2 large onions, peeled and chopped
    4 carrots, peeled and chopped
    4 stalks celery, chopped
    2 sprigs fresh thyme
    1 bay leaf
    1 cup dry white wine

    1.Rub the turkey inside and out with the kosher salt. Place the bird in a large stock pot, and cover with cold water. Place in the refrigerator, and allow the turkey to soak in the salt and water mixture 12 hours, or overnight.
    2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Thoroughly rinse the turkey, and discard the brine mixture.
    3.Brush the turkey with 1/2 the melted butter. Place breast side down on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan. Stuff the turkey cavity with 1 onion, 1/2 the carrots, 1/2 the celery, 1 sprig of thyme, and the bay leaf. Scatter the remaining vegetables and thyme around the bottom of the roasting pan, and cover with the white wine.
    4.Roast uncovered 3 1/2 to 4 hours in the preheated oven, until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F (85 degrees C). Carefully turn the turkey breast side up about 2/3 through the roasting time, and brush with the remaining butter. Allow the bird to stand about 30 minutes before carving.

    Original Recipe

    ~Kiss The Cook

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    White Cheese Chicken Lasagna

    OH CHEESE HEAVEN! Oh so bad for my diet!

    Enter... White Cheese Chicken Lasagna! I hate traditional lasagna so I was a little skeptical at making this but it looked SO good that I couldn't resist.

    • 9 lasagna noodles
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 2 cups ricotta cheese
    • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
    • 2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
    • 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese for topping
    1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and rinse with cold water. 
    2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the flour and salt, and simmer until bubbly. Mix in the broth and milk to a boil stirring constantly for 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Season with basil, oregano and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
    3. Spread 1/3 of the sauce mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer with 3 of the noodles, the ricotta and the chicken. Arrange 3 of the noodles over the chicken and layer with 1/3 of the sauce mixture, spinach and the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Arrange remaining 3 noodles over cheese and spread remaining sauce evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with parsley and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
    4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven.
    Top with a glass of heavenly chardonnay and ENJOY!!! 

    ~Vino Vixen~

    Polish Pierogies and Kielbasa

    Original Recipe

    This is pretty much the only Polish recipe I know, but it is definitely something we make on a regular basis. The whole dinner takes about 15 minutes. Easy!


    1 med sliced onion
    2 Tbsp butter (can sub olive oil - diary free)
    1 pkg Mrs.T's Pierogies (we like the Potato and Onion ones - diary free)
    1 lb. smoked kielbasa, sliced


    Saute onions in butter until tender.
    Add frozen pierogies and kielbasa and saute 6-8 minutes, stirring pierogies and kielbasa pieces to brown on both sides.

    ~The Mess Maker

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Leftover Turkey Salad

    Photo credit

    Please excuse the random google pic. I forgot to take a picture of mine, but thought the post looked sad without a yummy picture.

    About a week ago I made my very first Roast Turkey. I am not a huge soup fan, so I debated over what to do with the leftovers. Finally decided on Turkey Salad, and man, I'm glad I did. That stuff is so delicious - even better than chicken salad, in my humble opinion. The best part - it's super easy!

    Leftover Turkey Salad


    1 cups cubed/chopped turkey meat (white or dark)
    1/2 cup chopped celery
    1/2 cup mayonnaise (this is generous - less would work, too)
    salt and pepper to taste


    Mix all ingredients. Serve on bread or lettuce bed. I love mine on potato rolls.

    ~ The Mess Maker

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Farro Pilaf

    I'll start this by acknowledging that I'm the world's worst sous chef. Seriously. After making this pilaf yesterday night, I'm a heck of a lot more thankful I'm married to a man who is great at "finely dicing" all sorts of veggies. Because as good as it looks, there are a TON of large onion pieces in my pilaf right now.

    Second, I'll tell you what Farro is. It's a whole grain that looks a bit like brown rice when it's cooked. It's a little nutty, and has a nice bite to it when it's cooked properly. Normally, you have to soak it to soften it, and then cook it. In this recipe, it's cooked in broth to impart a little flavor while it cooks, and the soaking step is removed.

    This is a really festive-looking dish, and it's nutritious too. It would be a welcome addition on any holiday table at our house--I hope it can share your table too!

    Adapted from the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Clean Eating, here's how I made it.

    • 4c. low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
    • 2c. water
    • 2c. whole-grain farro
    • 2/3c. unsalted pine nuts
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced (next time, I'll use 4)
    • 1 onion, diced (next time, I'll use 1/2)
    • 2 large carrots, peeled & diced
    • 2 stalks celery, diced
    • 1T thyme (dried or fresh--a little less dried works well)
    • 1/2c. dried cranberries, chopped
    • 1/2c. dried apricots, chopped
    • 1t. Kosher salt
    • 1/2t. fresh ground black pepper

    First, bring broth and water to a boil. Add the farro, reduce to a simmer, and simmer for 18-20 minutes. The farro should still have a little bit of a bite to it. Drain the farro in a colander over a bowl to catch the cooking liquid. Reserve 1c. liquid, plus the farro.

    While the farro is cooking, toast the pine nuts. You can do this in your toaster oven (not your toaster!), or in a skillet by heating them until they are golden brown. If you cook them in a skillet, stir constantly because they'll burn quickly. This only takes 2 minutes or so. Let the nuts cool on a plate.

    Next, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the garlic, onion, carrots and celery until the onion is soft and translucent, but not brown--about 5 minutes. Add the fruit, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook 3 minutes more. Add the farro, and stir to combine. Stir in the reserved cooking liquid and simmer for a few minutes (3-5) until the liquid is absorbed.

    To finish, remove from heat and stir in the pine nuts. Serve warm or cold.

    Serves 12 (1/2c. servings)

    Asian Country Beef Cubes

    This is one of my favorite recipes and I'm kind of bummed I wasn't picked as a  finalist for The Nest's "Couples who cook" contest...hmm maybe it was too adventurous but I thought it was easy to make & a good alternative to stir fry. 

    Country Beef Cubes is a Vietnamese dish that great for dinner entrée, it's real name in Vietnamese is "Thit Bo Lu Lac" which translates to "Shaking beef", perhaps this is because the beef needs to be toss in the wok so that all the sides are seared. My family has been cooking this dish for years.

    • 1 1/4 pound Tri-tip(bottom sirloin/culotte) Steak
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
    • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
    • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
    • 2 tablespoon canola or peanut oil

    2 cups of cooked rice
    1 bunch (~2 cups)  of watercress (use only the tender leafy parts)

    Trim excess fat from the steaks and then cut each into 3/4-inch cubes. In a bowl, combine the pepper, sugar, garlic, oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce. Add the beef and toss well to coat. Set aside to marinate for 20 minutes or up to 2 hours

    Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the beef and spread it out in one layer. Cook in batches, if necessary. Let the beef sear for about 1 minute, before shaking the wok or skillet to sear another side. Cook for another 30 seconds or so and shake. Cook the beef this way for about 4 minutes total, until nicely browned and medium done.

    When the beef is done, pile the beef on top of the watercress and serve immediately with lots of rice.

    Serves about 2-4 people

    **I've been asked a few times but you can usually find watercress near by the parsley &  other herbs at most grocery stores, it's green & leafy with a peppery, tangy taste to it. This is not to be confused with water chestnuts which are completely different. The heat of the meat wilts the watercress a little and the pan sauce (from the marinade) makes the flavor of the watercress less intense... if you prefer to not use watercress, I recommend using some sort of green leafy lettuce 

    Also often Mr.HG & I like to add in more vegetables with our meal, so we usually accompany this dish with some cooked carrots or sliced cucumbers.   

    ~Homemade Goddess 

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Polenta with Corn

    Hi! This is my first post, and I'm glad to be sharing what goes on in my kitchen with you. I'm traveling quite a bit over the next few weeks, so I hope to share more as the New Year gets closer. Today, it's a polenta recipe I made last week.

    For years, POLENTA was a scary word to me. It sounded hard to make. In this month's Everyday Food, I spied a polenta recipe that not only looked awesome, but took less than 30 minutes from start to finish--just enough time to bake some chicken or fish while it cooked. I adapted it, and this is what I came up with!

    Melt 1T. unsalted butter in a saucepan.
    Add 1.5-2c. frozen corn and 1-2t. thyme (less for fresh, more for dried)
    Cook for 2-3 minutes over medium/medium-high heat until the corn is warmed.

    Add 1c. milk and 1.5c. water. I used whole milk for a creamier/richer texture.
    Bring to a boil, and then whisk in 1/2c. finely-ground cornmeal. When you're whisking the cornmeal in, feel free to give it a good beating to get rid of any lumps that might be hanging around. This has to be done as you're adding and combining the cornmeal because it gets pretty thick, pretty quick. I used white cornmeal.

    Stir constantly over medium heat until very thick, about 6 minutes.
    Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in another 1T. unsalted butter and salt to taste. You can also add 1/4c. Parmesan cheese, that will make it cheesy and a little saltier.

    I served this with short ribs, but it's an easy side dish for any meat. It has the consistency of mashed potatoes, and is really delicious! (In fact, I've been thinking about it all week--so I'm off to make some now).

    -Chef Mary

    My weekly meal plan featuring...


    I'm so excited about all the new recipes we've all been posting that on my Meal Planning Mayhem blog this week, my meal plan is made up of recipes totally from this blog.  I've linked each recipe to each individual post, and included a grocery list.

    Thanks for the amazing recipes ideas, everyone!

    Meal Planning Mayhem: Weekly Meal Plan # 9

    ~Chef Val

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Broiled Feta Chicken Parmesan

    Yum yum yum! I love feta. On just about anything. And lately I've been buying it in a block and slicing/chopping whatever I need for various recipes. It's got much more flavor than the crumbled feta and I'd definitely recommend using the block instead of crumbled. This was our little twist on chicken parmesan. Breaded chicken is pan-fried, then topped with fresh tomato slices, fresh basil and sliced feta and broiled until bubbly.

    • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
    • oil for pan frying
    • 1/2 medium tomato, sliced
    • fresh basil
    • 1/2 block of feta, sliced
    1. Coat chicken breasts in breadcrumbs. Discard remaining breadcrumbs.
    2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add chicken, frying about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Chicken should be about 75% cooked, or about 130 degrees.
    3. Remove chicken from pan and drain quickly on paper towel. Top with fresh basil leaves, sliced tomato and sliced feta. Broil about 3-4 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown and chicken registers 160 on a meat thermometer.
    4. We like to serve it with a side of pasta or fresh steamed veggies.

    Crock Pot Chicken Pot Pie Soup

    On those cold and blustery winter days, sometimes a nice pot pie sounds good but it is just too time consuming.  But I have good news, I have found this recipe and it is soooo good.  It will warm you to the core on a cold day.  Tastes just like a nice, hot pot pie and could have less calories since there isn't any crust.

    You will need:
    4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast meat
    2 bags frozen mixed vegetables
    2 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of potato soup
    2 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
    4 cups skim milk

    Combine all ingredients except the milk.  Place in the crock pot and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hrs.  During the last hour add the milk.

    Serve with crumbled crackers on top.

    Enjoy it!

    Until next time,
    Crockpot Momma

    Rolo Pretzels

    This is pretty much the easiest and fastest dessert recipe out there. Every year for Christmas, I get a giant box of Rolos. That's 36 rolls of Rolos! So I figured it was time to get busy trying out some recipes involving the Rolos, so we don't just sit in front of the TV pigging out.

    • Small pretzels -- twists or circles work best
    • Rolos - you'll need 1 Rolo per pretzel (FYI - 8 Rolos come in each roll)
    • Toasted walnuts -- halves or chopped, or you can use pecans
    1. Preheat oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. Spray with non-stick spray and wipe with a paper towel.
    2. Arrange pretzels in a single layer on sheet pan. Top each pretzel with a Rolo.
    3. Bake at 325 for 5 minutes, until Rolos are soft, but not melted.
    4. Remove pan from oven and using nuts, smoosh the Rolo and press the nuts into it. Let them cool completely on the parchment/tin foil, then store in an air tight container.

    Hubby's Favorite Meal

    Broccoli-Sausage Pasta

    Original recipe from Peace, Love and French Fries

    DH begs for this meal every other week!  It's super yummy and fairly easy.  

         1/4 C of Olive Oil
         3 cloves garlic, minced
         1 small red onion, sliced thin 
         1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
         1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes  (more or less depends on how spicy you want it!)
         1lb package of smoke sausage (beef or turkey), sliced and quartered
         8 oz of short cut pasta, such as penne or rigatoni
         Shredded or grated parmesan cheese

    Heat olive oil in a large skillet with high sides on medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes.  Meanwhile, fill pot with water and start heating it up for the pasta.  Slice and quarter the sausage.  Add sausage to skillet and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.  Meanwhile, cut broccoli into florets.  Put pasta in water to cook.  Add the broccoli and red pepper flakes to the skillet and toss.  Continue cooking 8-10 minutes until pasta is ready.  Drain pasta, but reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water.  Add cooked pasta and reserved water to skillet.  Heat 2-3 more minutes.  Serve topped with parmesan cheese. 

    Hope some of you enjoy this!

    ~Chef Val