Sunday, August 31, 2008

Broccoli and Potato Casserole

So, I forgot to take a picture of this as well, but this is a side dish I like to serve with just steak or grilled chicken. What is nice is you can add any different spices that you like and make it different every time. Sometimes, I make it without broccoli if I have other vegetables.

3 or 4 red potatoes sliced
1 small onion sliced
1 broccoli crown chopped
1 - 2 cups cheese
Salt and pepper
olive oil

Rub a small amount of olive oil on the bottom of a small baking dish. Layer onions, potatoes, salt and pepper, broccoli, then cheese. Repeat until you are at the top of the dish or you run out of ingredients. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Make sure you use enough salt :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

SEPTEMBER Challenge!

Hey Cookers, we have a new topic for September. Now, I know that many of you will be disappointed with my selection, however, I must point out that I'm still a newbie cook and I don't know what the heck I'm doing. With that in mind, our selection will be the September Cooking Light magazine.

Why? Because it's the only magazine I read. Why? Because the last page generally has some good recipes. Why? Because I can't cook without that stupid magazine :)

For those who wish to save their $5, follow this link to the September recipes:,14413,recipes,00.html?query=september+2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ceasar Salad

I forgot to take a picture, but this is a salad dressing that I go to because I will always have the ingredients on hand. It is a variation of our family's Ceasar Salad recipe.

1 garlic clove
1/4 tsp salt
6 tsp Olive Oil
3 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
juice from half a lemon or 1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
fresh ground pepper to taste

Crush garlic with fork in the bottom of the salad bowl. Add salt to help make garlic more mushy. Add all the ingredients, whisking with fork until combined. Add BITE-SIZE pieces of lettuce. Top with a sprinkle of parm and pepper

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Roasted Red Pepper Bagel Sandwiches


Hmmmm, this might be the only post this month that you can get the recipe by following a link.

So, the real story behind this recipe, is yes, I had a similar sandwich and decided to try my own take on it. My friend Craig declared it his favorite meal that I made for him. The mini-bagel idea I think came from Amy, so I tried this recipe as an appetizer at Craig and Amy's co-ed wedding shower. Unfortuately, well, that is all I will say about that, but a few tweeks here and there to get the fat under 30% of total calories and Cooking Light came calling. That was truly a great moment. Pictured above is the full-lunch sized version. I added a thick slice of peperoni because Mark was whining about the meat.

Oh, and I guess they are great in a lunch box or on the go snack, but I really don't know who would say such a thing. That's just silly.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

B's Spaghetti

This is KAJ's husband B writing. This is my go-to spaghetti. I make this when we want something with a lot of flavor but are short on time. Being from the midwest, we put sugar in everything except our tea, so it has a sweetness in the sauce, and thus our kids love it.

. For our family, we use a half a package or so of spaghetti. We use whole grain because it is fiberrific.

. For the sauce, combine a 26 oz can of your favorite sauce and a 14 oz can of diced tomatos. It's not because it's cheap, I swear. I really think it tastes better from the can...not the jar. I use Hunt's Traditional. It just has more flavor. Then add the following things:

. 2 tbsp olive oil

. 1 tsp garlic powder

. 1 tsp onion powder

. 1 tsp Italian seasoning

. a little salt and pepper

. 1/4 cup of your favorite red wine!

. 2 tbsp of sugar...or less if you don't like it sweet. It really is good though.

Let all that simmer on low for about 30 minutes. I try not to let it get too hot...just enough to let all the flavors come together.

Now, if you are like me and you cannot go one meal without having meat, I recommend adding some Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage. I just put it in the oven for 30-40 minutes before dinner time. Then I pull it out, slice it and put it on top.

Anyway, this is my first time ever to blog, so I hope you enjoy B's Spaghetti.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Steak Rub


This one is in KGH (Kerri's Greatest Hits). Someone at Mark's work apparently emailed the whole company his recipe, so Mark gave it to me. I didn't really need it because I really enjoyed my family's worsh-she-shire based "whatever smells good" marinade, but I think one weekend, I was out of worsheshire sauce so pulled it out. The only thing: it called for a bunch of spices I didn't have, and after subbing for most of the ingredients, it really was nothing like the orginal. However, the results were bone chewing good...and I am not really a bone chewer. Here is the recipe that I use:

2.5 tsp greek seasoning
2.5 tsp northwoods grill seasoning
2 T garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2.5 T sugar
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp baking soda

Combine and rub on steak of choice and grill. Save any leftovers for next time.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Brownies-2 ways

These are in the "Modified Recipe" category, but I've been making them my way for so long, that I don't remember the source of the original recipes.

#1: Mocha Brownies
(makes 18 brownies)

2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp instant coffee
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees F if using a dark pan). Spray 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray and line bottom with parchment paper.

Melt butter in microwave. Mix in sugar, cocoa powder, and instant coffee. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Sift together remaining ingredients and stir into wet ingredients. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a rack. These are very moist and are usually easier to cut if they are cold.

#2: Candy Brownies
(makes 18 large brownies)
These are monster brownies. I would recommend them as a main course. I've only made them with PB cups and Andes, but the possibilities are endless...

24 candies (e.g. Andes mints, mini peanut butter cups, etc), broken into pieces
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
3 cups sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
5 eggs
2 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees F for a dark pan). Spray 9x13 inch pan and line bottom with parchment paper. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs and beat until well-mixed. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture. Spread 2/3 of batter (which will be thick) into pan and sprinkle candy evenly over it. Top with remaining batter. Bake 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting into squares.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Insalata di Riso (Rice Salad)

Greetings from the good ol' USA! I'm back and ready to start cooking again. What I should really post is a picture of my reaction when I took my first shopping trip back in a huge American supermarket ... heaven!

This salad is an inspiration I had when we were invited to a cookout on that last trip to Italy. This salad is served cold or at room temperature and is a total shoot at the hip recipe so here are some ideas of what to put into it.

Cooked long grain white rice or arborio rice (I used 1 c. rice boiled in 2 c. lightly salted water)
canned peas
hard boiled eggs, chopped
tuna (packed in olive oil)
cooked hot dog, chopped
semi soft cheese diced
diced black olives
artichoke hearts

All of the above you toss with cooled cooked rice. Toss enough olive oil to coat the rice so it doesn't stick (for 1 c. rice I used 2-3 T. olive oil) then squeeze 1/2 a fresh lemon and toss. Season with salt and pepper. This is typical Italian picnic or BBQ food.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Muffins


This one may not count.

Awhile ago I was looking for some new muffin recipes and came across a basic oatmeal raisin recipe. Instead of raisins, I added some leftover cinnamon chips. Cinnamon chips are a neat ingredient that I am always looking to use. The main problem...they are consisdered a "seasonal" item and you can only buy them during the holidays. I used up the last of my bag making them this time. The cinnamon chips really add to the recipe because they kind of caramelize on the outside of the muffin. I think next time I make them, I may either make them healthier, by using half whole wheat flour, or tastier, by using butter.

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Muffins

1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
2 tbl oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 400. Mix flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon with a whisk. In another bowl mix eggs, oil, vanilla, and milk. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients, add milk mixture, and stir until just combined. Stir in cinnamon chips. Pour batter into 8 muffin cups. Bake 15 to 20 minutes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vegetable Pasta with Lemon-Garlic Butter Wine Sauce

1 cup sliced carrot
1 cup chopped broccoli
1/4 of a zucchini sliced
1/4 of a squash sliced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 small onion chopped
1/2 pkg sliced mushrooms
2 pressed garlic clove2s
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup white wine
juice of one lemon
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp chopped parsley
whole wheat spaghetti

Boil water and cook 4 servings of spaghetti according to package directions. Steam vegetables in a vegetable steamer or boil for 5-10 minutes until desired tenderness.

Heat oil pan and saute onions until tender. Add garlic and mushroom and continue sauteing until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add butter, wine and juice of lemon to onions and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes until they start to burst. Add vegetables and pasta to combine with sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

B's Favorite Green Beans

My mother in law first introduced me to green beans made this way and I loved them so much. I have added a couple things to "make it my own".

1-2 lbs fresh green beans, snipped and washed
1 small onion chopped
3 slices bacon sliced in 1/4 in strips
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp sherry
salt and pepper

Place oil in a big pan with a lid over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes, then add chopped bacon and allow to cook for a few minutes more before adding the green beans. Place lid on pan and cook until beans are at desired tenderness. We like them WELL done! Add salt and pepper midway through cooking along with vinegar, brown sugar and sherry. Allow all ingredients to simmer and make a dark caramelized dressing for the beans.

These really are tasty. I forgot to take the picture before dinner and this was all that remained :) That is a good sign I guess!

Sweet Potato Fries

These are so easy, a toddler can make them.


This recipe is a staple in our house. We go through periods where I make them once a week. Why? Well, they are super easy, James loves then, and I feel because it is made with sweet potatoes, it counts as a vegtable. I serve them with turkey burgers or other sandwich type entree. The ones I made last night I served with the Chicken Shawarma that Melissa posted last month. I will write the recipe out so it is toddler friendly.

Have an adult peel and cut up one large sweet potato for a mommy, daddy, and toddler. The sweet potato should be cut in the middle, then each half cut in half lengthwise, then each quarter should be cut into 4-6 strips. Err on the side of cutting too small rather than too large.

Have the toddler put the fries into a gallon sized zip top bag. The toddler then can pour some olive oil into the bag, about 2 T. Next,the toddler should sprinkle some grill seasoning over the fries, about 1 tsp. The adult should close the bag, then let the toddler shake it up until the fries are well coated. The adult then can open the bag to allow the toddler to pour the fries onto a baking sheet. The fries should be baked at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, stiring the fries halfway through cooking if you think about it. Careful with the stove, its "HOT". Allow to cool before allowing children to eat these fries.

ETA: Review of the chicken shawarma. I thought this recipe was fine. I might make it again, but I will more likely make some sort of version of it. I did spring for the tahini paste and it make my yogurt sauce yucky. I added some honey to sweeten it up a bit. However, once the whole thing was put together, it really worked!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ultimate Grill Cheese

When you have kids around, it is nice to have a way to spice up a meal like Grill Cheese that they love into something GREAT that you will love. I made this for my dad once and he suggested that I try and get it know like Kerri did with Cooking Light.

1/2 onion thinly sliced
1 pkg mushrooms sliced
Jar of jalapenos
1 tomato thinly sliced and salt and peppered
cheese sliced for sandwiches

Saute onions in 1 tbsp olive oil. When starting to caramelize, add sliced mushroom and continue cooking until mushrooms begin to brown. Season with salt and pepper.
Butter outsides of bread and lay butter-side down in a medium heated pan. Lay slice of cheese on EACH half(that's the glue). Top one half with onions, mushrooms, and jalapenos. Top the other half with tomatoes. When bread is toasted, place side with tomatoes on top of side with mushroom, onions and jalapenos. Place on serving plate and cut in half!!
The great thing is that you can add ANYTHING that you want. We made this last month and didn't have any jalapenos, so we used banana pepper. You could also use a fancy cheese, but we always just use the kids' cheese:) I had something similar to this at one of our favorite local restaurants...B says mine is better:)

Friday, August 1, 2008

AUGUST 2008- Originals Only!!!

So, I had a couple of ideas for this month, but when it came down to it, I really wanted us all to share recipes that we had made up ourselves. I know that may not be the easiest challenge, but it seems like some of the best "recipes" aren't found in a cookbook, magazine or on the Internet. They are created in the kitchen! IT is time to share 'em. The idea is to post dishes that you created IE Kerri's Fruit Salad! What do you think?

So this can be things that you make all this time, but have never bothered to assign quantities to ingredients. OR, this could be sharing a recipe that at one time you followed exactly, but have alter to "make it your own". OR, just things that you have maybe tried at a restaurant and then attempted to recreate! Chal-longhe!