November 22, 2010

So maybe I don't get my merit badge in blogging this year.

It's been an outrageous fall, full of little bits of everything. Promise I'm not trying to ignore the blog, but I've not been cooking just tons and tons either. I did make a little dinner for myself tonight after I got in from work. :)

Easy Stroganoff

1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 small yellow onion
4-5 white button mushrooms
salt and pepper
1 tbsp minced garlic
splash of white wine
2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 container of Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream

Brown your meat. Mine was the 93/7 variety, so no need to drain it. Add diced onion, sliced mushrooms and garlic, cook on medium heat until onions start to become translucent. Add wine and Worcestershire sauce, cook down until it quits "singing" and smells nice again. Salt and pepper to taste, then add the sour cream (I use Tofutti because the real deal gives me trouble). I ate this over some thin noodles, with a little salad alongside. Super quick, and it was pretty satisfying! :)

Bonus: Dad's Birthday Cake


* 1 cup butter
* 1 1/2 cups white sugar
* 8 egg yolks
* 3/4 cup milk
* 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 cups cake flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 - 8 inch round pans. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped. Cool 15 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks.

It was moist and delicious! I frosted it with Perfectly Chocolate Frosting, and it was a happy birthday indeed. Happy 50th, sir!

September 24, 2010

Happy Fall... now go make this!

It's finally Fall!!! Did you all go look outside last night and the night before at Jupiter? It's so sparkly. :D

Anyway, Fall makes me want desserts with cinnamon and oats. It's true. So, after making a lovely pizza for dinner, I whipped up some delicious dessert. Here's how it goes:

Cinnamon Apple Bake

Preheat oven to 350.

3-4 granny smith apples (or something equally tart), cored & diced small
cinnamon and sugar, to coat the diced apples

2 tablespoons softened(not melted) butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Get your diced apples into a mixing bowl. Add enough cinnamon and sugar to coat the apples and have a little tiny bit loitering in the bottom of the bowl. Pour them into a baking vessel big enough to hold them (I used a round cake pan since it was all I could reach, lol). Put the last 4 ingredients in the bowl and mash them together until the mixture resembles granola (ie: soft crumbles). Pour it over the top of the apples. Pop it in the oven for 45 minutes-1 hour, depending on your oven and how soft you like the apples to be. Don't let it burn, though. That's illegal.
Let it cool off a little bit before you eat some, or the roof of your mouth will suffer. By all means, make this for dessert, then eat it again for breakfast. :D

Enjoy Fall, eat well!
<3 Jen

September 10, 2010

It's Patrick's birthday, again...

DEAR LORD I AM GETTING OLDER. My brother is turning 23 on Monday. Maybe I don't wanna talk about it.... ;)

Anyway, I'm making his birthday cake, as per usual, and he's requested a chocolate cheesecake. Thanks to the kind Hershey's people, I had an easy recipe on hand that always rules.

Fudge truffle cheesecake(you can find the recipe on the Hershey's website)


* CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST(recipe follows)
* 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
* 3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
* 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
* 4 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Prepare CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST; set aside. Heat oven to 300°F.

2. Place chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1-1/2 minutes; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted when stirred.

3. Beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add melted chips, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Pour into prepared crust.

4. Bake 1 hour and 5 minutes or until center is set. Remove from oven to wire rack. With knife, loosen cake from side of pan. Cool completely; remove side of pan. Refrigerate several hours before serving. Garnish as desired. Cover; refrigerate leftover cheesecake. 10 to 12 servings.

CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST: Stir together 1-1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 45 wafers, crushed), 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa and 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine in medium bowl. Press firmly onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.

This cheesecake always kills, I'm a huge fan (with a jiggly butt to prove it!). Now, my brother's wife is not a chocolate fan, and I'm not one to disenfranchise at the dessert table. So, I'll be making her a plain cheesecake, the recipe for which is found at Tasty Kitchen.

* 2 packages (5 Oz. Package Or Sleeve) Graham Crackers (crushed)
* 1 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
* 32 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
* 1-¼ cup Granulated Sugar
* 4 whole Eggs
* 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
* 2 teaspoons Vanilla

* 16 ounces, weight Sour Cream
* ¼ cups Granulated Sugar
* 1 teaspoon Vanilla

Preparation Instructions

Combine crushed graham crackers and melted butter; press into the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

Combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon juice and vanilla and beat together thoroughly. Pour into prepared crust.

At 350 degrees, bake 40-45 minutes for an 8-inch pan, or 50-55 minutes for a 9-inch pan (cake will crack on top).

Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes.

Mix and then spread sour cream, sugar and vanilla over cheesecake and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Cool and refrigerate at least 24 hours.

I'll let you know how this one rates when we eat it. :)

***UPDATE*** It was smooth and delicious, not overly sweet. I was packing the leftovers to go and dropped 1/4 of the cheesecake on the kitchen floor and into the air register on the floor. Wah! In retrospect, it was pretty darn hilarious. :) That is all.

Happy Birthday, you goof ball!
<3 Jen


I made fish tacos. Man, they were awesome. I was a little skeptical, but then I figured, "If Big Truck and Pink Elephant can do it, so can I." lol Here's how I did it (thanks, Tasty Kitchen!)

Fish Tacos

* 1 ear Fresh Corn
* 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
* 1 whole Lime, Juiced
* ½ cups Chopped Purple Onion
* 1 whole Tomato
* ¼ cups Chopped Fresh Cilantro
* 1 whole Jalapeno, Seeded And Minced
* 1 peeled and pitted avocado, diced
* Oil, To Cook Fish (peanut oil has a high heat tolerance)
* 6 whole Fillets Of White Fish (Cod Or Tilapia Work Best)
* Salt And Pepper, to taste
* 8 whole Tortillas

Preparation Instructions

Slice corn off the cob. In a bowl, combine corn, lime juice, purple onion, tomato, cilantro and jalapeno. Sprinkle a bit of salt, pepper, and chili powder on top to get the flavors to come out a little.

In a hot skillet, drizzle a bit of oil. Place fish into skillet and season with salt, pepper, and chili powder. “Fry” on each side for 2-5 minutes, depending on how thick your fillets are. Fish is done when it flakes upon being gently pricked with a fork.

Roughly chop cooked fish. Add fish to a warmed tortilla and top it with the corn salsa. Serve and enjoy!

The salsa is good by itself, too. I put it on some rice and that was magical. Probably didn't hurt that I had a peach daiquiri to go with it. lol :)

Eat well!
<3 Jen

September 5, 2010

Oh. My. Sweet. Everything.

As usual, her excellent sassiness, The Pioneer Woman, has snared me with one of her tasty recipes. I altered it to suit our dinner needs, although the original would've been equally mindblowing. :) You can find the original recipe HERE.

Portobello Prosciutto Burgers

-1/3 cups mayonnaise
-1 1/2 tbsp pesto
-2 whole large portobello mushrooms
-2 slices provolone cheese
-2 slices prosciutto
-2 mini ciabatta squares, split
-fresh spinach, tomato slices and avocado

mushroom marinade:
-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
-2 tbsp olive oil
-1 teaspoon basil
-salt & pepper, to taste

Preparation Instructions

Rinse mushrooms thoroughly. Soak in marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Combine mayonnaise and pesto. Set aside.

Grill mushrooms in a grill pan/charcoal grill/George Foreman Grill. Remove mushrooms from grill and melt provolone cheese over the mushrooms.

Drizzle griddle with olive oil. Toast bread over medium-low heat until crispy and toasted.

Spread pesto mayonnaise generously on both the top and bottom halves of the bread. Place the mushroom on the bottom half, then place the prosciutto slice on top. Finally, top with spinach, tomato slices and avocado wedges, and the other half of the roll. Press lightly so some of the juices from the mushrooms will run into the bottom half of the roll.

I served this sassy beast right alongside some corn on the cob. Here's how I made the corn boil:

-1/2 cup sugar
-3/4 tbsp cayenne pepper
-healthy dash each of seasoned salt, black pepper, cumin
-bay leaf, if you wanna
-spoonful of minced garlic (3-4 cloves worth)
-2 tbsp butter

Fill a good-sized pot with water. Add all ingredients, heat to a boil. Add corn, boil until tender (about 5 minutes). Eat it up. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Not kidding, this was one of the best dinners we've made in the last month. Or maybe I was hungry after our bike ride. You'll just have to make it and find out!

Eat well!!!
<3 Jen

August 24, 2010

I love cool evenings, it's official.

I was a lazy ol' lard most of the day, but in my defense, I've been exhausted since last Thursday or before. lol Evenings are usually when my magic comes in to play anyway.

I made a tasty lentil soup(based on the lentil soup recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook) and a chocolate cobbler tonight!

Lentil soup:

2 cups dry lentils (rinse 'em if they look dirty, after all, they are a ground-dwelling legume)
6ish cups water
2-3 mid-sized tomatoes (I'll tell ya what they're doing in a sec)
2 carrots, sliced or diced, your call
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 biggish yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced with seeds and membranes cut out
6-8 cloves of minced garlic
spices of your choosing (I used 1 teaspoon basil, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, a buttload of black pepper, salt and cayenne)

Put your water on to boil in a reasonably big pot. While you wait, rinse and core your tomatoes, then when the water is boiling, put the whole tomatoes into the water for about 15-20 seconds. The skin will split a little and the flesh will soften a smidge. Take 'em out of the water, peel the skin off, and then squeeze the excess juice and the seeds out. Dice up the emptied, softened tomatoes and set them aside.

Put your lentils and about 2 tsp salt into your water you used on the tomatoes. Let it get back up to a boil, then turn it down to a low simmer and cover is partially, let it cook for about 30 minutes.

Now, you have plenty of time to prep the other veggies! Get everything rinsed, diced and ready! Once the 30 minutes of solitude for the lentils is up, put your veggies and garlic (BUT NOT THE TOMATOES!!!) in the pot, along with most of your spices. Don't go crazy on the salt just yet, I added most of mine right before serving. I also adjusted the spice level before serving. Let all the veggie/spice/lentil goodness simmer for 20-30 minutes, partially covered. When that time is up, PUT IN THE TOMATOES! Let it cook for 5 more minutes, then adjust flavor levels as you see fit. Guess what? You just made a vegetarian soup!!! I served mine up with a corn muffin and topped with a spoonful of plain yogurt. Mmm-hmm!

Chocolate Cobbler(aka Hot Fudge Pudding Cake):

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk (I used soymilk, it tasted just fine)
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1-1/4 cups hot water
Whipped cream

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar, flour, 1/4 cup cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir in milk, butter and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Pour batter into ungreased 9-inch square baking pan. Stir together remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa. Sprinkle mixture evenly over batter. Pour hot water over top, and DO NOT STIR IT. DON'T EVEN CONSIDER IT!!!

Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until center is almost set (not jiggly). Remove from oven. Let stand 15 minutes. Serve it up, being sure to get both the crusty top and the saucy underbelly in there. Garnish with whipped cream and enjoy it with some friends!

I'm glad dinner was so healthy, because dessert was ultra-decadent. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM all-around. :D

Enjoy the cool week, and eat well!!!


August 23, 2010

What a weekend!!!

First off, my chorus's 20th anniversary show on Saturday night was magical, to say the least. All the sweat and hard work definitely paid off. :) After the final bow, there was cleanup, a glorious night's sleep, then off to Tulsa for some sightseeing and relaxation.

First stop was Leon's for a quick bite before heading out to The Philbrook Museum. I soooooooo wish we would've had more time there, we only saw the ground floor before they closed up! Breathtaking artwork, gorgeous place. We will definitely go back to see the rest and check out the giant landscaped gardens.

After begrudgingly leaving the museum, we made our way to The Victorian Lady in Jenks to check in. It was a smidge hard to find, since it was amidst a neighborhood, but that ended up being a great asset. It made for a very peaceful and tranquil stay(the fact that we were the only guests Sunday night didn't hurt!). Jetted tub for two? Check. Ridiculously plush bed with giant pillows and million threadcount sheets? Check. Amazing homemade 3 course breakfast with freshly squeezed juice? Check. The innkeeper, Deena's, major attention to every detail and more hospitality than you can shake a stick at? CHECK. Definitely check this place out. It's worth every cent.

For dinner, we moseyed back to Brookside and ended up at Fuji. Little did we know, we had stumbled upon "Tulsa's #1 Sushi Since 1986." We ordered a Yokohama combination platter, which has salad, soup, tempura shrimp and assorted tempura veggies, 6 pieces of Makizushi (we chose spicy salmon), and 7 Nigirizushi of the chef's choosing(the fresh and smoked salmons were my fave, followed closely by the bluefin tuna). We rounded it out with an additional roll and made very happy plates! It always feels weird to say I got full at a sushi restaurant, but I did. lol

To work off our big ol' bellies, we went to walk by the river. There's a giant path along the eastern shore of the Arkansas River that's miles long. We were about 3/4 of a mile from the nearest restroom and I developed an urgent need to GO. I'm pretty sure I've never walked that far, that fast before. LOL

Then, it was back to the inn to take a soak in the tub and sleep so we could get to that amazing breakfast! After we were fed and rested up this morning, we headed out to the Oklahoma Aquarium. I had heard about it, but was definitely blown away by how cool it was! So many different animals to check out! I can say with confidence that I have now petted a sea cucumber. :D Sadly, we had to leave before they fed the sharks, but maybe next time we can watch that.

On the way back to Norman, we had lunch at Be Le, which is a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant. MAN OH MAN IT WAS TASTY! I got a fried tofu and black mushroom dish. I wanted to marry those mushrooms... The service was great, though unexpectedly funny. Our server, whom I have dubbed Be Le Man, has the power to be hilariously frank. Be Le Man brought another patron one of those drip coffees with the condensed milk that brews into the cup, then is stirred and poured over the ice. The patron asks Be Le Man, "What is this?" to which Be Le Man replies, "Coffee," in an almost exasperated tone. He then gives the patron what sounds like dating advice. lol Zach ordered the aforementioned coffee at the end of the meal. While he was drinking it, Be Le Man asks him, "Hey! Are you going to let her have any?" I drank some to make Be Le Man feel better. It was strong. :) So, in short, great food at a great price, and unexpected hilarity.

This evening, after having dinner at Pepe's, we drove toward home, only to find a dachshund puppy wandering down Duffy. We scooped her up, parked the car at home, then set out to find her family. After about 10 minutes of walking and a series of helpful tips from neighbors, we got little Gretchen back to her dog friend Maggie and their owner Marge. Happy day! :D

PHEW! I'm pooped, how about you? I think I may turn in a little early tonight!
Never fear, I'm off work tomorrow, so maybe I'll make a little something for dinner!

Eat well(and have fun adventures, too!)!


July 31, 2010

Recycling pizza and guilty pleasure cookies...

I had yet another frozen ball of pizza dough, pining away for use, so we made a pizza tonight. It has pesto, mozzarella, spinach, red onion, crimini mushrooms, bacon & feta. It smells awesome...

For dessert, I had been jonesing for cake mix cookies, a guilty pleasure treat in that they are totally cheating! LOL

So easy, and ultimately customizable... So many different cake mix flavors, so many different things to mix in... I just thought about a devil's food mix with andes bits, and I had to excuse myself. Just kidding!

Cake mix cookies

1 box cake mix (I used strawberry today)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of whatever you want to mix in (white chocolate chips today)

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix the cake mix, oil and eggs together until well combined. It'll be thick! Add your mix-ins, make sure they're well distributed. Place rounded tablespoons of dough on a greased cookie sheet, bake 8-10 minutes. Let them cool on the sheet for a few minutes so they don't fall apart, then transfer to another surface to cool all the way (I'm a fan of paper towels on the washing machine ). Do your best to share these around, but they're good... so I don't blame you if you eat them yourself! :)

Have a great weekend!
<3 Jen

July 18, 2010

a preview of breakfast...

Since we've had an epic 3-hour nap, we decided to do the prep for breakfast now. lol :D

Fresh salsa (to use up some cilantro and onion) to top some eggs, and sourdough french toast (to use up some sourdough bread from tonight's dinner) topped with vanilla butter sauce... I'll let you know what it tastes like tomorrow, but first, the recipes...

Fresh salsa


* 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
* 2 small cloves garlic, minced
* 3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeds removed, chopped
* 2 hot chile peppers, Serrano or Jalapeno, finely chopped
* 2 to 3 tablespoons minced cilantro
* 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons lime juice
* salt and pepper

Put chopped onion and garlic in a strainer; pour 2 cups boiling water over them then let drain throughly. Discard water. Cool.

Combine onions and garlic with chopped tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours to blend flavors.
Makes about 2 cups of salsa.

Sourdough french toast with vanilla butter sauce

4-6 pieces sourdough bread (I'm using a smallish loaf, so I'll likely need 6)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla butter sauce (recipe below)

Heat skillet on medium heat and grease with your preferred product. I'm a fan of butter, personally. Combine eggs and milk in a bowl big enough to get the bread into, blend well. Add cinnamon and vanilla, give the mixture a good stir. Start coating your bread slices and cooking them on your skillet until golden brown on both sides. If you have more egg mixture, make more toasts and distribute them to friends, or maybe freeze them. :) Top with vanilla butter sauce and kiss your waistline goodbye. You didn't need it anyway. :D

Vanilla butter sauce:
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (do yourself a favor and use The Good Stuff.)

Bring brown sugar, butter and heavy cream to boil in 2-quart saucepan on medium heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract. Serve warm.

July 17, 2010

Zach saves the day!

Today had the best intentions for being a non-freaky dinnertime day. Then, before I knew it, a 6:30 nap sounded SO good and before I could let out a snore, it was 9:30 and Zach was (very nicely) shaking me awake. lol

Since it was so late, I'm glad we had planned a very veggie dinner. It was equal parts healthy veggies and deliciously bad for you heavy cream, cheese, carbs and butter. :D

It's no secret that we lurve The Pioneer Woman around these parts, so naturally, we've made her Pasta Primavera. For the record, Zach picked the dinner and made the vast majority of it, all the while listening to hiphop and rap on the kitchen stereo. :D There's a reason I keep that cutie pie around... ;)

PW's Pasta Primavera


* 1 cup Bite-sized Broccoli Pieces (up To 1 1/2 Cups)
* ½ whole Onion Diced Finely
* 3 cloves To 4 Cloves Garlic, Chopped Finely
* 2 whole Medium To Large Carrots, Sliced On The Bias (diagonally)
* 2 whole Medium Zucchini, Sliced On The Bias (diagonally)
* 1 whole Medium Yellow Squash (optional)
* 1 container (about 5 Oz.) White Button Or Baby Porcini Mushrooms, Roughly Sliced
* 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Sliced Into Strips
* 4 Tablespoons Butter
* 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
* 1 pound Pasta (I like little shapes, like bowties)
* ¼ cups Dry White Wine (up To 1/2 Cup), Optional (replace With Additional Broth If Not Using)
* ½ cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
* 1 cup Whipping (heavy) Cream
* 1 cup Half-and-half
* ½ cups Grated Parmesan Cheese
* 5 leaves Basil (or More To Taste), Plus Extra For Garnish
* ½ cups Frozen Peas (optional, especially considering Jennifer finds them to be freaky)

Preparation Instructions

First, prep the vegetables. Chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces, about 1 to 1 ½ cups worth. Dice half a yellow onion. Chop 3 to 4 cloves of garlic. Slice carrots on the bias (diagonally), and do the same for the zucchini and yellow squash. Roughly slice the mushrooms and slice the red pepper (seeded) into strips.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic together and cook for a minute or two, until they start to turn translucent. Then throw in the broccoli. Stir, and add in the carrots.

Stir it around, and PLEASE, PLEASE cook it for only a minute, tops. Transfer the mixture to a plate. Add in the red pepper strips to the skillet. Stir them around for a minute or so, then transfer them to the plate.

Add pasta to slightly salted boiling water and cook to al dente.

Add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Add squash and zucchini, cook for less than a minute, then transfer to plate. Cook mushrooms for a minute or two (add salt to taste), and again transfer to the plate.


To make the sauce, pour ¼ to ½ cup dry white wine into the skillet (see note below). Add ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth, a tablespoon of butter and scrape the bottom of the skillet to pull up the flavor left behind by the veggie cooking. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the liquid starts to thicken.

Add 1 cup whipping cream and 1 cup half-and-half. Measure out ½ cup grated Parmesan; add to the skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chiffonade 5 to 6 fresh basil leaves and add that to the sauce; stir.

Dump veggies and mushrooms into the sauce along with ½ cup frozen peas right out of the freezer. Add pasta al dente and stir. If the sauce seems a little thick, or if there doesn’t seem to be enough sauce, add a good splash of chicken broth and a little more half-and-half. Top with more Parmesan, salt, pepper, and basil to taste.

Note: if you’re averse to wine, add chicken broth instead. But watch the salt later.

Oh man, this was epic. I scarfed it down in a manner most unladylike. lol! Enjoy!!!

July 16, 2010

Being good AND bad! :D

Yesterday, Zach came home from work with the words, "Guess what I heard on Zorba Paster today?" So, we've made an interesting grilled chicken with fruit salsa as the main dish. When we were at Wal-Mart getting supplies, I reminded Zach that PW made some illegal-looking mozzarella sticks and we had 80% of the stuff to make 'em. So... we made them to counteract the healthiness of the chicken. :D


3 Tbs Olive oil
2 Tbs Dry white wine
2 Tbs Fresh lime juice
1 Tbs White wine Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ tsp Dried basil
4 Boneless, chicken breast halves

2 Large Peaches, ripe and firm
1 Small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 Small JalapeƱo, diced
½ Cup Chopped fresh cilantro
1 ½ Tbs Honey
2 Tbs Fresh lime juice
¼ tsp Ground allspice
¼ tsp Cinnamon

Mix oil, white wine, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce and basil in a large bowl. Add the chicken breasts and coat evenly. Cover and refigerate for at least one hour. Prepare Salsa.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Add peaches and boil for 30 seconds. Using slotted spoon, transfer peaches to bowl of cold water. Drain.* Peel and chop coarsely. Place peaches in large bowl. Mix in all remaining ingredients. Cover and chill.

Prepare grill or broiler. Remove chicken from marinade and grill (or broil) until cooked through. (About 5-6 minutes per side.) Plate each chicken breast and top with salsa. Enjoy!

Servings: 4

Cooking Tips
*Canned peaches can be substituted, but rinse and drain first.

The salsa was super-flavorful, but kind of like fire in my mouth. Take the seeds and membranes out of the jalepeno if you are adverse to your dinner fighting back! :D

Mozzarella Sticks

* 16 pieces String Cheese, Removed From Wrappers
* ½ cups All-purpose Flour
* 2 whole Eggs
* 3 Tablespoons Milk
* 2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs (I Used Kikkoman)
* 1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley Flakes
* Canola Oil, For Frying
* Marinara Sauce, For Dipping

Preparation Instructions

Slice string cheese pieces in half, for a total of 32 pieces.

Place flour in a small bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk.

In another separate bowl, combine panko bread crumbs with parsley flakes.

TO ASSEMBLE: One by one, roll mozzarella sticks in flour, then dunk in egg/milk mixture, then place in panko crumbs. Use your hand to sweep crumbs all over the mozzarella stick. Gently remove and place on a tray or cookie sheet. Repeat until all mozzarella sticks are coated.

***Place tray in freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to flash freeze.***

TO COOK: Heat 1 1/2 inches canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add mozzarella sticks 8 at a time. Watch closely and turn over to evenly brown, cooking less than 2 minutes. Do not allow cheese to bubble and leak.

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

Serve immediately with warm marinara sauce.

July 8, 2010

So quick and easy, you'll swear it was cheating!

It was a lazy evening 'round these parts. It was getting late after Zach soundly whooped my butt at Monopoly, and we were getting hungry. Thanks to quick thinking (and, nobody got sacrificed to be eaten. :D

Mushroom Rice


* 2 teaspoons butter
* 6 mushrooms, coarsely chopped
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 green onion, finely chopped
* 2 cups chicken broth
* 1 cup uncooked white rice
* 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
* salt and pepper to taste


1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook mushrooms, garlic and green onion until mushrooms are cooked and liquid has evaporated. Stir in chicken broth and rice. Season with parsley, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

*Note: Mushrooms are a good source of selenium, three essential B-vitamins: riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid, and potassium, not to mention a whole lot of other stuff. :D

Now, to sharpen my real estate strategy.... Victory will be mine!


July 4, 2010

My July 4th feast contributions!

I've been hankering hardcore for soft pretzels for weeks and weeks, but I've been trying to watch my wallet. Thankfully, I remembered PW mentioning making Smitten Kitchen's soft pretzels with much success. So, I finally had time and went for it! Man, are they good. Chewy with a tender middle, I recommend melted Cream Cheese to dip in. Here's how, thanks to Smitten Kitchen:
Soft Pretzels
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Updated with a few tweaks 2/20/2009

Makes 16 full-sized or 32 miniature

2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook* and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.

2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups more flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.

3. Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

4. Heat oven to 450°F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.

5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. [I find the pretzels much easier to roll on an unfloured board, oddly enough, but see what works for you.] Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet (you may need a third sheet if making miniatures). Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.

7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.

* These days, I mix all of my bread doughs by hand, with a wooden spoon. I find it a fantastically easy process, and not very hard to stir by hand. No need to mix for several minutes, just a minute or so after it looks combined. To save even more dishes, I rinse out the bowl, oil it and use it for proofing the dough. And you thought making bread wasn’t simple!

Then, Pioneer Woman further tempted me in the form of a Tres Leches Cake that I intended to make for Zach's birthday last week but got put off until today. Man, it was amazing! Not soggy at all!!!


* 1 cup All-purpose Flour
* 1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
* ¼ teaspoons Salt
* 5 whole Eggs
* 1 cup Sugar, Divided
* 1 teaspoon Vanilla
* ⅓ cups Milk
* 1 can Evaporated Milk
* 1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk
* ¼ cups Heavy Cream
* _____
* 1 pint Heavy Cream, For Whipping
* 3 Tablespoons Sugar

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.

Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.

Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.
Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with whole or chopped maraschino cherries. Cut into squares and serve.

Happy 4th, everyone! Make sure all your fingers stay safe. :)

June 18, 2010

Tonight's fancy just-because menu...

Tonight will be the first night I've made dinner in our new home. I think that deserves a fancy menu, don't you? A nice little summer dinner for two...

-Parmesan Broccoli Salad
-Salmon Fantasia
-Raspberry Lime Granita

Here's how!

For the salad:

1/2 bag broccoli slaw
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 3/4 oz shelled salted peanuts
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Spices to taste: Pepper, salt, cayenne, curry, dill

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, let chill for a few hours to mingle the flavors, and serve.

For the salmon:

1 pound Salmon Fillets
8 Tbsp. Honey
3 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger, grated
8 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Mustard
3 Tbsp. Chopped Chives
3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
4 Tbsp. Butter

Mix first 5 ingredients (after the salmon) in a shallow bowl. Add salmon fillets and turn several times to coat well. Transfer salmon and marinade to a plastic zipper bag. Squeeze the air out of the bag before sealing. Marinate for 30 minutes (or longer). Remove from bag. Grill 3-4 minutes per side, or until the salmon is flaky.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over high heat. Add lemon juice and chives. Pour over the cooked salmon and serve.

For the granita(Thanks for the idea, PW!):

* 6 tbsp lime juice, or the juice of 3 good-sized limes
* 1 tbsp raspberry drink syrup
* ½ cup Sugar
* 3 cups Cold Water

Preparation Instructions

Add lime juice and raspberry syrup to a saucepan. Add sugar. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Allow to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until mixture forms a thin syrup.

Turn off heat and pour in cold water, then pour into a freezer-safe container with a lid. Wait two hours, then remove container from freezer and stir gently, being careful to loosen any of the mixture that has stuck to the sides. Put lid back on, then return container to the freezer. Repeat an hour later, then another hour later. When you’re finished, the mixture should be totally frozen and broken up. Keep sealed tightly in the freezer until ready to serve.

Make with limes, lemons and limes, grape juice, strawberries, or any fruit you have on hand!

The nicest part? I did all the prep in about an hour; the granita is freezing, the salad is chilling, and the salmon is marinating, and I am wasting time on the internet before my honey comes home from work. Ain't life grand? :D

Eat well!
<3 Jennifer

May 2, 2010

Vegan side dishes FTW!

I was called upon to make a vegetarian-friendly side for the 17th anniversary of my mom's 29th birthday, so I decided upon Veganomicon's Chickpea-Quinoa Pilaf. The Veganomicon on Amazon's website


* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 small yellow onion, chopped finely (about one cup)
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 tablespoon coriander seed, crushed (spice grinder or mortar and pestle)
* fresh ground pepper, to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon tomato paste (I substituted hot pepper paste)
* 1 cup quinoa (rinsed well)
* 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups cooked)
* 2 cups vegetable broth (or reconstituted bullion)


1. In a small stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions in olive oil for about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes.
2. Add the tomato paste, coriander, cumin, black pepper, and salt; saute for another minute.
3. Add the quinoa and saute for 2 minutes.
4. Add the chickpeas and broth; cover and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat to very low, cover, and cook for about 18 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all the water; stir occasionally.
5. Fluff with a fork and serve.

I admit it...

I sometimes like to doctor up store-bought cake mixes.

Phew! There, I've said it.

The Cake Mix Doctor, Anne Byrn, really knows what she's talking about. I'm making one of her creations for the 17th anniversary of my mother's 29th birthday. :D

Serves: 16
Preparation Time: 10 Minutes
Baking Time: 25 to 28 Minutes
Assembly Time: 10 Minutes

Solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pans
Flour for dusting the pans
1 package (10 ounces) frozen raspberries packed with sugar, thawed
1 package (18.25 ounces) devil's food cake mix with pudding
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
Chocolate Ganache (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon Chambord (raspberry liqueur; optional)
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, for garnish (optional)

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease three 9-inch round cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.

2. Strain the raspberries through a fine-mesh sieve if you don't want the seeds in your cake. (I like the bit of crunch they add.) Place the cake mix, raspberries and their juice, sour cream, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look well blended. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side, or if your oven is not large enough, place two pans on the center rack and the third pan in the center of the highest rack.

3. Bake the cakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 25 to 28 minutes. Check the pan on the highest rack first, as it will bake the quickest. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each onto a rack, then invert again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. Allow to cool completely, 30 minutes more.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the Chocolate Ganache, adding the Chambord, if desired, after all the chocolate has melted.

5. Place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter. Spread the top with ganache frosting. Place the second layer, right side up, on top of the first layer. Spread the top with ganache. Place the third layer, right side up, on top of the second layer and frost the top and sides of the cake. Work with clean, smooth strokes.

6. Decorate the top attractively with the fresh raspberries, if desired.

Place this cake, uncovered or in a cake saver, in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes. Then cover the cake with waxed paper, or place it in a cake saver or under a glass dome, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze it in a cake saver for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Chocolate Ganache

Makes 1 3/4 cups, enough to thinly frost a 2- or 3-layer cake
Preparation Time: 5 Minutes

3/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon liqueur of your choice (optional)

1. Place the cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring. Meanwhile, place the chopped chocolate (or semisweet chocolate chips; see "the Cake Mix Doctor says") in a large stainless-steel mixing bowl. Remove the cream from the heat, and pour it over the chocolate. Stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is melted. Stir in the liqueur if desired.

2. To use this ganache as a glaze, let it stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before spooning it over a cooled cake. To use the ganache as a frosting, let it stand for 30 minutes at room temperature, or chill it for 10 minutes, until it has thickened enough to spread with a metal spatula.

April 22, 2010

Almost Paradise!

Zach and I secretly like to spend as little time as possible sweating in the kitchen, but want our work to be as tasty and homemade as possible.

-A couple of weeks ago, we made a batch of P-Dub's pizza crust. Half of it became a barbecue chicken pizza, the other half was frozen.
-Last night, Zach whipped up a nice Alfredo sauce with mushrooms, onions and garlic. We saved the leftover sauce. (See where this is going?)
-Tonight, we grabbed some stuff for a salad, a couple of ingredients for Caesar dressing and croutons, and a can of artichoke hearts.

-Last night, we pulled the frozen dough out and put it in the fridge to thaw. After I got home from work today, I unwrapped it and kneaded it back to smooth, then put it in a bowl to rest in a warm place for a while.
-Once the dough was ready, we fired the oven up to 375, stretched the dough onto the pizza pan, spread on the leftover Alfredo, added some mushrooms and spinach from the crisper, and the artichoke hearts (rinsed carefully and squeezed off excess moisture to avoid canned taste). Then, we sprinkled on salt, pepper, garlic powder & Italian seasoning, then added a bunch of Mozzarella.

It baked for probably 25 minutes, then we dug in. It was absolutely wonderful, and made a bunch of "leftovers" way more exciting! ^_^

April 20, 2010

So many vegetables...

It's really springtime! It's anywhere from 65-80 during the day, the irises bloomed, it rains, and everyone's got allergy eyes.

I find I want more veggie content in the spring, but still enjoy the comfort of a hot dish. So, the kitchen proudly presents...

Spaghetti Squash Casserole (Italiano)

1 spaghetti squash (the littlest one I found was 3 lbs)
8oz sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves minced garlic
salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to taste
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of ricotta OR rinsed and drained cottage cheese
1 egg
4oz shredded Parmesan cheese

Slice the squash lengthwise, remove the seeds, pierce the rind with a fork, and place the halves cut side down in a baking dish. Bake at 350 for one hour.

Unless you have more prep to do, find something to do for about 30 minutes. :D

Saute your mushrooms, onion and garlic with some olive oil, add your spices. When everything's soft, add your can o' tomatoes, liquid and all. Bring it up to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes or so.

Put your ricotta or cottage cheese in the bowl of a food processor, along with your egg. Process until smooth.

When the squash is done cookin', take it out and let it sit for a few minutes. Turn your oven up to 375. Rake a fork through the cut surface of the squash. It'll flake and resemble spaghetti (hence the name). Get all your squash "noodles" out of the rind, then throw the rind in the compost bin. :) Use some cooking spray on a 9x13 baking dish, then make a base layer using your squash noodles, then your egg stuff from the food processor, then your tomato/mushroom mixture. Top with Parmesan cheese, bake 20-30 minutes or until cheese is browned.

Mine's still in the oven, I'll let you know how it is when I can get some in my mouth! :)

April 10, 2010

Zach did the dishes!!!

On my way home from work, I started to think about what to make for dinner for Zach and me. I remembered a jar of tahini that was kicking around in the fridge door and decided to make hummus as one dish, then the hunt was on for a more "main" dish. I ultimately decided on sesame noodles.

***Super-Easy and Fabulous Hummus***
1 15.5-Ounce Can of chickpeas, drained with liquid reserved)
3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
3 Tbsp Tahini
the juice of 1 large lemon
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 cup fresh parsley, minced
Salt, to taste
Cayenne (or other ground Chile) pepper, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Drain the chickpeas and save the liquid. Add the chickpeas, garlic, tahini and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor. Blend for 1-2 minutes, until it resembles a thick, coarse paste. If you like the consistency thick, go ahead and add your parsley and spices. If you want it a bit thinner, add your oil and blend a bit longer. If it's still too thick, add some of the chickpea liquid and blend some more (I like mine rather thin, so I added the oil and about 1/3 of the liquid). Add your parsley and spices and blend to combine. Chill for an hour or more, then serve with some tasty flatbread, like pita or naan, or crackers. :)

~*~Sesame Noodles (from the blog of the fab Pioneer Woman!)~*~

* 12 ounces Thin Noodles, Cooked And Drained
* ¼ cups Soy Sauce
* 2 Tablespoons Sugar
* 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
* 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
* 3 Tablespoons Pure Sesame Oil
* ½ teaspoons Hot Chili Oil
* 4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
* 2 Tablespoons Hot Water
* 4 whole Green Onions, Sliced Thin

Preparation Instructions

Whisk all ingredients (except noodles and green onions) together in a bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.
Pour sauce over warm noodles and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with green onions and toss.

I added sesame seeds for some texture. MMMMM NOM NOM

I'm going to see if I can't talk Zach into a walk, then put on my jammies and make myself a tasty Mudslide to drink. :D

Happy Saturday, everyone!

April 9, 2010

Cone of Shame!!!

I have not posted since February! Shame, shame.

I've been working one full time job and 2 shifts at a restaurant every week. My free time involves sleeping and a junkie-like love for Facebook. It will involve more cooking, with Bob as my witless. (Rugrats, anybody?)

Hennypenny, here's a quickie:

BLT and Friends Wrap Sammich

-great big tortilla or sammich wrap (I like the spinach kind 'cause they're green. lol)
-2 or 3 slices of deli turkey
-2 or 3 slices of bacon (I cheat and buy the precooked kind)
-couple of pieces of provolone (which I totally forgot on mine)
-2 nice lookin' pieces of leaf lettuce
-1/2 an avocado
-1 roma tomato
-a pinch of sprouts
-blob o' ranch dressing

Spread ranch on the wrap, then add your ingredients(which should be cut into bite sizes). Giant lumps in a sammich are un-n-natural. I put the avocado on last, then sprinkle a tiny bit of salt on them. It helps the natural oils of the avocado come out. Hello, dahling. (It's safe to say, I LOVE avocado. Thanks to Clint for giving me my first one and to Mars for being held at avocado-point one crazy night. LOL) Wrap all that treasure up burrito-style and grab some tasty chips on the side. I got Kettle black pepper chips today. Mmm!

Enjoy spring! I'll try to be back soon. <3

February 23, 2010

Butter Chicken NOM NOM NOM

Zach and I made Chicken Makhani, aka Butter Chicken for dinner today. It was epically delicious, no lie.

The recipe, via user lillieknits of Tasty Kitchen:

* 4 pieces Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
* 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
* 1 teaspoon Salt
* ½ teaspoons Black Pepper
* ½ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
* ¼ teaspoons Ground Coriander
* ¼ teaspoons Cumin
* ¼ teaspoons Cardamom
* 1 whole Lime, Juiced
* 1 whole Onion, Diced
* ¼ cups Butter
* 1 can (14.5 Oz. Can) Tomato Sauce
* 1 can (14.5 Oz. Can) Petite Diced Tomatoes
* 1 pint Whipping Cream
* 1 bunch Chopped Cilantro, to taste
* 2 cups Basmati Rice (or However Much You Want)

Preparation Instructions

Combine first 9 ingredients and marinate overnight.

Saute the onion in the butter until soft. Add marinated chicken and cook about 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat with the lid on. Add the whipping cream (I have used light cream or half-and-half also) and cilantro just before serving over Basmati rice.

Note: this is a little spicy, but you can cut back on the cayenne if you want.

January 26, 2010

I know, I've neglected my blogging duties.

So, to make up for it, here's a big post. :)

I made a tasty and unique pizza for Mr. Zach and myself the other night, and unlike my previous pizza attempts, I made the crust from scratch! :)

-1 package Active Dry Yeast
-1 cup Warm Water (105 To 115 Degrees)
-2-½ cups All-purpose Flour
-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
-1 teaspoon Sugar
-1 teaspoon Salt

-about 3 tbsp. of your favorite pesto (we kinda eyeballed it. go to taste here.)
-a good handful of spinach, wilted in a skillet for a few minutes
-8-10 white button mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
-1/2 a yellow onion, diced and sauteed
-2 or 3 cloves of peeled garlic, minced
-1 nice lookin' tomato, diced
-sliced green olives (on Zach's half)
-1-1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
-freshly grated parmesan to taste

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Add next 4 ingredients, stir. Give a quick knead (just in bowl), drizzle with olive oil and let rest in a warm place – 30 minutes.

In a skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil, and wilt your spinach in it. Set the spinach aside, then go ahead and saute your onion, garlic and mushrooms. Season them with some salt and pepper, you'll thank yourself for it later. :)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle a pizza pan with a small amount of olive oil, punch down dough and gently fit it to the pan. Dot dough with a fork, sprinkle on some garlic powder and bake for 10 minutes. (I have the kind of pizza pan with the little holes in it, which make the crust a little more toasty. very nice! ^_^) Spread your pesto atop your crust, then layer your toppings. Zach likes to have a small middle layer of cheese (to stick the ingredients together), then the rest of the toppings and topped with the rest of the cheese. Season the top with a sprinkle of basil and, for added class and pizazz, add some freshly ground black pepper. Put that glorious pie back in the oven for another 20 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Let sit 5 minutes, cut and serve!

Tonight's menu featured Cobb Salad and Bananas Foster. Yum and Yum! The light nature of the salad totally made it okay to have such a decadent dessert. LOL :)

- 1 bag mixed baby greens
- 2 roma tomatoes, quartered
- 1 avocado, quartered
- 2 hard boiled eggs, cut into slices width-wise
- 4-6 strips of bacon, cooked to crunchy
- 6-8 slices of thinly sliced deli turkey
- 1/2 cup of shredded Cheddar/Jack cheese
- BBQ Ranch Dressing (see below)

I started by making my hard boiled eggs by following the method outlined by The Incredible Edible Egg. I have never in my life made so perfect a hard boiled egg. They were mah-velous. I let them cool in cold running water while I put the salad dressing together. (see still below. ^_^)

While the dressing chilled, I cooked my bacon. I get the "fully cooked" bacon that you just heat and serve. I cooked it to crunchy in a skillet, and let it cool in a folded paper towel. Then, I crumbled it and put it aside.

I cut the deli turkey into little pieces and warmed it up in the skillet with a dash of pepper and some chili powder. Once it was done, I assembled the other toppings (quartered tomatoes and avocados, sliced eggs, crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, and the aforementioned turkey).

To serve, I put a handful of the greens in a bowl, and topped with all the goodies, then drizzled the dressing on. Yum! :)

Prepare Ranch Dressing using Hidden Valley seasoning packet, following directions on reverse of packet. Reserve about 1/3 of the dressing mixture in a small bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of your favorite Barbecue sauce, stir well, and chill for 30 minutes.

For the Bananas Foster, I prepared Alton Brown's Recipe, via the Food Network website (

* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) dark brown sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
* 1 tablespoon banana liqueur
* 2 under ripe bananas, sliced in half lengthwise
* 1/4 cup dark rum
* 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest


Melt butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over low heat. Add brown sugar, allspice and nutmeg and stir until sugar dissolves. Add banana liqueur and bring sauce to simmer. Add bananas and cook for 1 minute on each side, carefully spooning sauce over bananas as they are cooking. Remove bananas from pan to a serving dish. Bring sauce to a simmer and carefully add the rum. If the sauce is very hot, the alcohol will flame on its own. If not, using stick flame, carefully ignite and continue cooking until flame dies out, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. If sauce is too thin, cook for 1 to 2 minutes until it is syrupy in consistency. Add orange zest and stir to combine. Immediately spoon the sauce over bananas and serve. Serve with waffles, crepes, or ice cream.

I omitted the orange zest. It turned out good, albeit a little "rummy". An adventure in cooking with real fire!!! :D

Anyway, I'm alive, and will definitely be more regular in my cooking, though maybe not in my posting. Since the last, I've changed job locations and am still settling into a routine. I need to cook more anyway. I gained 10 pounds over the holidays from eating too many baked goods and fast food lunches... oops!

Eat well! (but not TOO well... hee hee!) :)