Friday, March 25, 2011

March Cookie Carnival: Chocolate Brownie Oatmeal Cookies

With a name like that, how wrong could you go with this recipe? Answer: there's nothing wrong at ALL here--just plenty of deliciousness.  It's one of the selections for the March Cookie Carnival, hosted at Tami's Kitchen Table Talk.

I tried this recipe today, since I needed some cookies to bring to a school event. The only change I made was to omit the nuts, as nut allergy can be an issue in large groups. Next time I make these cookies, I WILL add nuts. I'm thinking chopped hazelnuts would be awesome in this recipe.


One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons (1 stick) margarine or butter, softened (I used butter)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup chopped nuts

In large bowl, beat cream cheese, margarine and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add melted chocolate; mix well. Add combined flour and baking soda; mix well. Add oats and nuts; mix well. Cover; chill at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. (I'm not sure why 3 inches apart--mine didn't spread much at all.)

Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until cookies are almost set. (Centers should still be moist. Do not overbake.) Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely.

NOTE: I'd recommend using "quick" oats, as the old-fashioned oats are rather large pieces, and they do "show" in the finished product. It's more a visual thing than anything else, as the taste will be the same no matter what.

Also, I chilled the dough overnight in a glass bowl, and it was very hard to work with at that point. Even after it was out of the fridge for an hour, it was quite cold.

These were a big hit with me and my kids. Little Brother thought they'd be even more delicious with sprinkles. (Of course, he thinks anything would be more delicious with sprinkles.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Asian Green Beans and Sort-of-Spicy Orange Chicken

Cheaper than takeout and very easy! This made enough for 2. Double everything except the sauce to feed 4--there was plenty of sauce for the chicken.


Find this recipe and nutrition info at Cook and Count.


Find this recipe and nutrition info at Cook and Count.

40 Days of Soup--and More!

My Chicken Fajita Soup recipe has been published in Ave Maria Press's 40 Days of Soup feature! Check out all the great soup recipes, one for each day of Lent. There are also daily reflections from Ave Maria Press's vast library of Lenten resources. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mexican Lasagna

I got this recipe from Tami, and tweaked it a bit.  It's delicious!  A lot of prep work, which is why I avoid making lasagna, but a foil pan means no cleanup afterward.

1 lb lasagna noodles, cooked, drained, rinsed and set aside.
1 lb ground beef
1 medium-sized onion
1/2 can EACH corn and black beans, drained & rinsed (freeze the rest for the next time you make this!)
3 cups shredded "Mexican blend" cheese (not the kind with seasoning added)
1 10-oz tub Philly Santa Fe Blend Cooking Creme
16 oz mild salsa
1 8-oz can tomato sauce

While lasagna noodles are cooking, brown the beef and onion together. Drain it and return to the skillet. Stir in the Philly cooking creme until well mixed.

Mix salsa and tomato sauce in a measuring cup with spout (for easy pouring).

Spread some of the salsa mixture on the bottom of a lasagna pan. I used a foil pan set on a cookie sheet to support the bottom of the pan.

Keep in mind, as you add the fillings,
Be careful not to overload the noodles. These are thin layers of all of the fillings. (Thanks for that tip, Tami! I would have had to learn it the hard way if you hadn't mentioned it.)

Layer in this order:
Corn & beans
Corn & beans
Corn & beans

Bake uncovered at 350 for 40 minutes. After removing from oven, allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

March 2011: A Month of Menus

Tues 1: Skillet Turkey & Noodles

Wed 2:  Roast chicken, potatoes, green beans amandine

Thurs 3:  Chinese roast pork, rice, Asian vegetable blend

Fri 4:  pizza

Sat 5:  birthday party for Little Brother.  Spaghetti & meatballs, rolls, chili (my best batch ever--I used 4 kinds of beans:  pink, red, black and pinto)

Sun 6:  Chicken piccata

Mon 7:  Father Leo's fajitas from the Grace Before Meals cookbook

Tues 8:  Beef paysanne, noodles, broccoli

Wed 9:  tomato soup & grilled cheese sandwiches

Thurs 10:  Spaghetti

Fri 11:  pizza

Sat 12:  corned beef & cabbage at my parents' house

Sun 13:  birthday party for a neighbor

Mon 14:  "Grandpa's Dark Meat Chicken"

Tues 15:  Chicken piccata bites, rice, broccoli

Wed 16:  Corned beef in the slow cooker

Thurs 17:  Spaghetti & meatballs

Fri 18:  pizza

Sat 19:  Mexican lasagna

Sun 20:  takeout

Mon 21:  Leftovers  TECH WEEK:  I'm serving dinner with the other Stage Mothers to the cast, crew and orchestra of the high school play.  Only TheDad and I will be eating at home.

Tues 22:  Dinner at the diner with TheDad.

Wed 23:  Sort-of-Spicy Orange Chicken and Asian Green Beans. Only TheDad and I will be eating at home.

Thurs 24:  BBQ chicken pizza. Only TheDad and I will be eating at home.

Fri 25:  TECH WEEK:  I'm serving dinner with the other Stage Mothers to the cast, crew and orchestra of the high school play.  Dinner out with TheDad afterwards.

Sat 26: Shrimp Scampi with linguine

Sun 27: Tandoori Chicken

Mon 28:  Leftovers! TECH WEEK:  I'm serving dinner with the other Stage Mothers to the cast, crew and orchestra of the high school play.  Only TheDad and I will be eating at home.

Tues 29:  More leftovers! TECH WEEK:  I'm serving dinner with the other Stage Mothers to the cast, crew and orchestra of the high school play.  Only TheDad and I will be eating at home.

Wed 30:  Chicken piccata bites, rice, broccoli

Thurs 31:  Spaghetti & meatballs

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Corned Beef in the Slow Cooker

Hands down, this is the easiest way to cook corned beef, and the results are tender and delicious. I got this recipe from Living Rich with Coupons but changed a couple of things to reflect our personal preferences. Recipe below is as I made it.

1 corned beef, about 2 1/2 lb.
1 bottle beer (I used Sam Adams)
1 onion, sliced
a handful of baby carrots
water to cover

Put onion slices and carrots in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place corned beef on top of the vegetables. Discard the seasoning packet. Pour beer over top, then add water until it is almost covering the meat.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours. I cooked it for 9 1/2 and the meat was beautifully done. Remove the meat and let it rest, covered with foil, for about 15 minutes before slicing.

I prefer to cook the cabbage separately as I don't like the flavor of cabbage cooked in beer. So I just boil cabbage wedges in a pot on the stove for about an hour.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pantry FAIL is a WIN

Tonight I served Corned Beef & Cabbage, because I don't like to serve it on St. Patrick's Day if I can avoid it. My grandmother always asserted that corned beef is NOT Irish food. But it's cheap this time of year, and I really want to try to make some Corned Beef Hash with the leftovers.

Besides, if I don't serve spaghetti on Thursdays, my children get really bent out of shape.

Anyway, I put the corned beef in the slow cooker this morning and went off to school where I spent the day substitute teaching. It was beautifully done after 9 1/2 hours.

The potatoes were not so beautiful. They were sprouting and kind of soft. So I got rid of the potatoes, but what else do you serve with corned beef and cabbage? Checking the pantry, I found my "emergency" box of instant mashed potatoes. Yukon Gold, even.

I told the kids that the potatoes wouldn't need additional salt. My daughter saw the box and said, "You expect me to eat fake potatoes? I thought I was raised better than that."

None of us could manage more than a single forkful of the potatoes. But the corned beef was delicious.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Coming Right Up

I will get to the menu plan for March.  This March is a weird month--at least it will end oddly.  Beginning NEXT Monday, my kids will be eating at the high school for more than a week as they prepare for the school's spring musical.  The Play Parents (or as I call them, not disparagingly as I'm part of this group this year, the Stage Mothers,) provide dinner for the entire cast, crew and orchestra for about 10 days during Tech Week.

There are themed meals; parents donate food, labor and time.  I'll be bringing part of the dinner each night and serving, cooking and cleaning up for 4 of those nights.  It's going to be weird not to cook at home, but this is a nice time for the kids involved in the play to bond with each other over a meal and a common goal.  (They also have a Mass on either the Saturday or Sunday during play weekend--it's a Catholic school; they are making sure the kids can get to church even though they are spending lots of time with the play.)

Today my neighbors had a party for their daughter and I wound up with a lot of turkey leftovers.  (Long story.  We got lots and lots and lots of Dark Meat Turkey.  It was a small price to pay for donating the use of my oven to cook it.)  I'll freeze some, but some of it is going to show up this week in our dinners.  good thing I've got a nice big list of things I can make with turkey!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Product Review: Purex Complete Crystals Fabric Softener

I'm a longtime fan of Purex laundry detergent, but I figured that they had their work cut out for them when they asked me to review the newest addition to the Purex product line: Purex Complete Crystals Fabric Softener. You see, I don't usually use liquid fabric softener in the wash, preferring to use a dryer sheet.  This is fine in winter when I'm using the dryer for most of the laundry, but now that the weather is getting warmer, I'm bringing more clothes outside to hang on the clothesline.  Fresh air is great for laundry, and a spring breeze dries the clothes quickly, but they also turn stiff as a board if you haven't added fabric softener to the wash.  My children are not fans of rock-hard T-shirts. 

Unlike other fabric softeners, these crystals are not oil-based, and they don't have to be added at a different point in the washing cycle. Purex Complete Crystals can safely be used on things that traditional fabric softeners shouldn't be used on:  towels, athletic clothing, and infants' and children's sleepwear.

I tried the Purex Complete Crystals in three different ways:  in a load of laundry that was hung on the line, in a load of laundry that included towels, and in a third load that was dried in the dryer without a dryer sheet.  While I didn't notice any difference in softness vs. using a dryer sheet with the laundry, the big difference came when I took the clothes outside.  The line-dried load was much softer than my usual results from line-drying.

Purex Complete Crystals come in three scents.  I tried the Fresh Spring Waters scent.  My husband and I both thought that the scent was quite strong--even after line-drying the clothes.  Normally I use unscented detergent and dryer sheets, so we are not used to scent on our clothing.  My daughter, who loves perfumes of all kinds, thought the scent was terrific.

To learn more about Purex Complete Crystals and how they work, visit the Purex website.

I reviewed this product as part of the Purex Insider Program. I received a product sample and a coupon for a free full-size product as the sole compensation for my review.


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