Saturday, December 31, 2011

Spice Run & a Resolution

We had a whirlwind trip to Pittsburgh this week--and I was able to squeeze in a pilgrimage to Penzeys Spices, only 5 blocks from our hotel.  What a great store!  I loved that it was just a spice store.  Except for spices and cookbooks, there was nothing else around.  No pots, pans, grill tools, freshly-ground coffee, oven mitts, or other stuff.  I like all that other stuff, but it was very refreshing to be in a single-purpose shop.

I found the selection to be amazing and the prices very reasonable.  And what a cute shop!  Look at all the cool stuff I got!

I found 2 "kits" that were a good value.  One contained bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and 2 whole nutmegs.  That's the bag in the upper left.  The other kit had 4 small jars of ginger, ground nutmeg and 2 kinds of cinnamon.

In addition to those, I bought a tube with 3 vanilla beans, one more kind of cinnamon (there are 4, plus a blend, to choose from!), extra ginger (we go through a lot of ginger here), charnushka seeds (for rye bread), lemongrass, gumbo file, Dutch-process cocoa, chipotle powder and a jar of "baking spice" that was a total impulse and tastes great in coffee.

Penzeys has a store in Philadelphia, and I'm already starting a list for my next field trip!

My New Year's Resolution for the kitchen, now, is to rearrange my cabinets to make room for these new spices.  That'll have to wait until everyone's back to work and school, because I'm going to have to pull everything out.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Creamy Mac & Cheese

When is a mistake not a mistake?  When it turns out that you like the finished product better than it would have been otherwise.  That's what happened with tonight's mac-n-cheese.

I've got this recipe for homemade mac-n-cheese that my older kids really love.  It's easy, and pantry-friendly, and that's what I needed tonight.  And that's the recipe I thought I had turned to in my recipe binder that's in the kitchen.

But no...I'd mistakenly turned to another one.  I didn't realize it until the white sauce was well underway.

We liked this version even better!  So here we go:

Creamy Mac & Cheese

Print Recipe

3/4 pound small shell pasta, cooked al dente and drained
3 TBL butter
3 TBL flour
2 cups milk
pinch of nutmeg
freshly ground pepper (I used a pepper blend with cayenne and black pepper)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups finely-shredded cheese (Cheddar-Jack is good)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
panko for topping

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan.  Stir in flour until mixture is thick and golden.  Whisk in milk and seasonings slowly and continue to stir until mixture begins to thicken.  Stir in cheese.  After cheese melts, fold in the soup.  Mix in the pasta, then pour into an oiled 9X13 casserole dish.  Sprinkle panko over the top.  Bake 20 minutes at 375, uncovered.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kitchen Wishin'

I'm one of those people who would be perfectly happy to get a whole bunch of kitchen stuff for Christmas.

Now, a vacuum cleaner would be another story, but I love to cook and bake, so cooking gifts are great for me.

I saw this awesome measuring cup/digital scale over at TidyMom. Great for those international recipes!

Here's a multipurpose cast-iron Dutch Oven with skillet cover!  How cool is that?  One pan (plus lid) does the work of two.

Since I actually managed NOT to kill my herb garden this year (and had a bumper crop of cilantro), this Microplane Herb Mill would help me make use of all the herbs I froze for use this winter.

And, yeah, 'cause I definitely have my "geek moments," the cookbook I'm wishing for this year is Cooking for Geeks.  It promises to satisfy my curiosity about what makes recipes work--and NOT work!

What's on YOUR kitchen wish list?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Honey Butter Dinner Rolls (Bread Machine)

I wasn't even planning to bake yesterday, let alone bake bread, let alone try a new recipe, but when I looked over the Secret Recipe Club reveal, I found these Honey Yeast Rolls over at The Pajama Chef.  Then I realized that if I got started right now, we could be enjoying those rolls with dinner.

Of course, I changed things up a bit.  First, I made the dough in the bread machine.  The other change I made had to do with Sarah's comment that the rolls were "dense" in texture.  She got 12 rolls out of a recipe that contains 4 cups of flour.  That didn't seem like much, and I wondered if adding some vital gluten to the dough would help things along.

I'm pretty sure the gluten was the key here; the dough was beautifully elastic and they baked up nice and airy. I wound up with 2 dozen small rolls, but dinner rolls ARE supposed to be small.  With the honey butter on top, they are deliciously sweet.

Here's the recipe as I made it:

Honey Butter Dinner Rolls at Cook and Count--with nutrition info!

A certain child who lives in this house has declared these the "best rolls ever!"

Monday, December 05, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Apple Cinnamon Muffins

It's a great time of year for apples, and baking anything with apples and cinnamon makes the house smell so good!  Naturally, though, when you get a bag of apples, there are always a few in there that have a bruise or imperfection and the kids don't want to eat them out of hand.  Those are great for cooking, though, as you can trim around those spots.  I bought way too many apples to make a Thanksgiving pie, so I used up two nice big Rome apples in this recipe for Apple Cinnamon Muffins, which I found over at No Reason Needed. This is my Secret Recipe Club pick for December.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups chopped, peeled tart apples (I used 2 Rome apples)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
Demerara sugar for sprinkling

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Set aside.  Mix beaten egg, orange juice and melted butter, then stir into the dry ingredients until just moistened.  This will be a  VERY thick batter.
Fold in apples and walnuts.  Fill paper-lined muffin cups (I used an ice-cream scoop since the dough was so thick).
Sprinkle with Demerara sugar.  Bake at 350 until muffins test done; begin checking after 20 minutes.  It took mine 28 minutes to finish--think I might have overdone it on the apples a bit--the ones I used were REALLY big.

THINGS I CHANGED: I doubled the cinnamon from the original recipe, added nutmeg, added the walnuts and topped the muffins with Demerara sugar for a little extra crunch.

COOK'S NOTE: I was glad to read the note on the blog post (separate from the printable recipe) that said "don't let the lack of liquid ingredients scare you!"  I was SURE I would need more liquid, but these muffins turned out very moist--fiddling with that would have been a disaster.

SURVEY SAYS: These muffins were moist and tasty, full of nice big chunks of apples! They're great for breakfast or anytime.

I love how the recipes as this blog are all shown in printable format.  No Reason Needed is a family blog and recipe blog all rolled into one.  Recipes are uncomplicated and family-friendly!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Organizing the Shopping List

There's something to be said for good old pencil and paper sometimes.  Sure, I've got tech gadgets--and there's an app for just about everything these days.  But my best planning (and meal-planning) tools are my planner, a spiral notebook, a binder clip and a pencil.

I get the planner through Family-Centered Press, and it's got space for everything.  Monthly grid, plenty of weekly space, and even menu or lesson-planning pages (I use the lesson pages for lists and reminders).

I get the spiral notebook at the supermarket during the back-to-school notebook sale.  I haven't had to pay more than 15 cents for a spiral notebook in years.  And I get about a year out of a notebook--doesn't get any more frugal than that!

Last week while I sat at the rehearsal for the play Little Brother is in, I was busy with my calendar, planning out dinner ideas for December.  I needed to work around his rehearsal schedule, his sister's schedule for a different play, Cub Scouts and a couple of church events.  I needed to include meals that were easy to make, and I wanted to make some favorite dinners for Big Brother when he gets home from college in 2 weeks.

So I sat there with my pencil and planner and figured all this out.  And today when I went to the grocery store with my notebook, I wished I'd had that planner with me so I could look for deals on things I'll need to make those meals for the month ahead.

While I stood on the checkout line--of course, the slowest line ever--I figured out a way to bring the menu plan along even if I'd left the planner at home.

I printed out the monthly menu calendar at Canny Women and trimmed it to fit the inside cover of my notebook, then just taped it in.  After that, I penciled in all the dinner choices and even started listing groceries I know I'll need to make those meals--though I've got most of it already in the freezer and pantry.

There's a reason for the pencil--it's erasable!  That's important when things suddenly come up and get in the way of the plan.

I can't forget to bring my menu plan to the store if my shopping list is written in the same notebook.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Baked Carrots

If you're using the oven to cook your main dish, why not add this vegetable dish alongside it?  It takes just a minute to put together, with only 4 ingredients!  Toss in a couple of baked potatoes and the whole dinner can cook at the same time--that's my kind of meal.  These carrots cook up nice and sweet, with just a little spice from the mustard.


1 1/2 cups peeled baby carrots (or regular carrots, peeled and cut into 2- to 3-inch lengths and no more than 1/2 inch wide)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 TBL brown sugar

Spread baby carrots into a casserole dish in a single layer.  Combine orange juice and mustard powder.  Pour over carrots.  Sprinkle brown sugar over the top and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until carrots are done.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Granma's Rolls: A Tutorial

My paternal grandmother was famous for her home-baked rolls. Despite arthritis in her hands, she would bake huge batches of these for special occasions. Granma did the whole thing by hand--no stand mixer for her! (For that matter, I don't think she owned measuring cups or spoons, either.) My cousins and I all try to duplicate these rolls; this is as close as I can manage to get. Here's how to make a batch of approximately 30 rolls.

Get the recipe, with photos and nutrition information, at Cook and Count!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Caramel Filled Snickerdoodles

Finally got around to trying the Caramel-Filled Snickerdoodle recipe I found over at The Baker Chick!  Oh, these are good.  Better than good, in fact.  They are an absolutely decadent treat.

They're a pretty big cookie, and I have the feeling that I made them even bigger than I was supposed to, because I only got 40 cookies out of a batch that should have made 4 dozen.

Here's how to make them:

Caramel Filled Snickerdoodles
Print Recipe
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cinnamon-sugar mix
caramels, unwrapped

Cream together butter, shortening and sugar with a stand mixer.  Add eggs.  Mix flour, cream of tartar, baking soda & salt together in another bowl and add to butter mixture.  Mix on low speed until a soft dough forms.

Pinch off pieces of dough about 1 TBL in size.  Flatten 2 pieces and top one with a caramel.  Then squeeze the 2 pieces together until the caramel is completely covered.  Shape into a ball.

Dip into the cinnamon-sugar and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat.

Space cookies apart on cookie sheet to allow for spreading as the cookies bake.

Bake in preheated 400-degree oven.  After 5 minutes, rotate the cookie sheet to allow for even baking.  Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Here's what they look like after baking:


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Home Cooking Beats the Dining Halls

Guess who's signing up for Cooking Lessons with Mom this summer?  My very own college student, who has announced that next year he intends to abandon dorm life for an on-campus apartment.  (Given the neighborhood in which he attends school, an off-campus apartment complete with slumlord is the other option, and my husband and I won't hear of that possibility.)

He pretty much admitted that he knew I'd keep him in spaghetti sauce with meatballs.  Now I know what to do with all those containers that seem to multiply in the cabinets when I'm not looking!

I know that he can make a mean Pork Roll and Egg sandwich, not to mention French Toast.  He's got Breakfast For Dinner covered.

And I think this is going to be a time when I really start figuring out how to turn some of his favorite meals into easy-to-make "dinner kits" that can be kept in the freezer.  I've done this already with Beef & Noodle Skillet Dinner.  There's no reason Beef Paysanne couldn't be made the same way.

Meanwhile, I'm looking for deals on a rice cooker and some other essentials.  Got any suggestions for things I should add to his "Kitchen Essentials" box?

The only drawback here is that if I teach him how to make all his favorite foods, he'll visit even less often than he does now.   Hmmm...I'll have to make sure to ration out that spaghetti sauce.  He'll run out eventually, and he knows better than to buy Ragu.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Healthy Wheat Bread (for Beginners)

This is an original recipe.  The challenge:  to make a healthy bread without too much added sugar.  This bread can be made on the dough cycle in a bread machine (just add ingredients in the order recommended by the manufacturer.  Often, it's liquid first, then dry, with yeast on top.)   Directions below are for hand mixing or mixing with a stand mixer using a dough hook.  Baking directions will be the same regardless of whether the dough is hand mixed, done in a mixer or in a bread machine.

Makes 2 loaves.  I have not yet worked this recipe out for a single loaf.  Just cutting each ingredient in half doesn't always work.

Get the recipe and nutrition information for this bread at Cook and Count!

Monday, November 14, 2011

All-in-together Dinner

I love to cook.  It's the cleaning up afterward that gets to me.  And when you've got somewhere to go after dinner, the last thing you want when you get home is a pile of dirty pots and pans waiting for your attention.  With a little planning ahead, you can get a dinner together that not only requires little cleanup, but all cooks in the oven at the same temperature.

Last week I made Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs, Roasted Potatoes, and Colie's Roasted Carrots recipe.  I lined all my pans with foil so I wouldn't have messy dishes to wash later.  Here's the BEFORE:


Tonight I've got Tandoori Chicken, Roasted Old Bay Potatoes and those delicious Roasted Carrots again!  (I did find that the roasted carrots, if you're using baby carrots, take longer than the 20 minutes listed in the recipe.  I'm putting them in at the same time as everything else tonight.)

Roasted potatoes in general are fairly flexible.  If your main dish cooks anywhere between 400 and 450 degrees, you can do roasted potatoes alongside.  Just adjust baking time accordingly.

The best part?  Dinner is cooking right now, and I'm sitting here in the living room.  All the dishes from dinner prep are done.  When dinner's over, we'll load the dishwasher and walk out of the kitchen with no more work waiting for us!

Don't forget to enter my Church Cookbook Giveaway through Thursday, November 17!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Giveaway: My Favorite Church Cookbook

My name is Barb and I'm a cookbook addict.  My kitchen cookbook shelf is more than full, and the collection has spilled over into the dining room as well.

When it comes to cookbooks, there's nothing like a church or community cookbook to give you an idea of the flavor of a neighborhood.  So when our parish decided to reprint our wildly popular "Casey Collection" cookbook, I purchased an extra copy to give away to one lucky Mom's Fridge reader.

In this cookbook you'll find several of my recipes--all of which are also on the blog.  There are also some Polish specialties like Golabki (yum), Pierogi (yum), and Babka (yum)!  You'd expect nothing less from a cookbook originally published in St. Casimir Church.  Not into Polish food?  No problem; there are also recipes for Anise Toast, Cuban bread, and all sorts of other delicious favorites.

Would you like to WIN this cookbook?  Here's how to enter:

1.  Mandatory entry:  Leave a comment on this post with the title of YOUR favorite cookbook!
2.  "Like" Mom's Fridge on Facebook, and leave a separate comment here telling me you did so.
3.  Subscribe to the Mom's Fridge RSS feed (or "follow" the blog), and leave a separate comment here telling me you did so.

This contest closes at 11:59 PM EST on Thursday, November 17.  One set of entries per person; USA readers only.

UPDATE:  Contest closed.  And the winner is....
Peg at Just Plain Insane!  Congratulations!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Cinnamon Roll Muffins

There's nothing like homemade cinnamon rolls--but they take about 4 hours, start to finish, and unless you want to wake up at three in the morning to start breakfast, there's no easy way to get them done before lunchtime.  Not that there's anything wrong with cinnamon rolls for lunch, or any time of the day, but sometimes you want them for breakfast.

That's why I had to try the Cinnamon Roll Muffin recipe that I found at The Baker Chick's blog.   Audra has collected a big bunch of appetizing recipes for everything from breads to cakes to cookies, but these muffins definitely caught my eye.  I was assigned this blog as part of the Secret Recipe Club, which is a wonderful way to visit new-to-you blogs and try new-to-you recipes!

Here's the recipe as I made it:

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
3 cups flour plus more for dusting

2 tbsp. butter, room temperature
2/3 cups brown sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 TBL milk or cream

Preheat oven to 375° F. Measure the brown sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla and egg into a mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk. Mix together with a fork. Add the flour. Stir until thoroughly combined with a large spoon - do not overmix! Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two. Roll the dough into a 12-inch by 24-inch rectangle.

Mix filling ingredients in a small bowl.  Using an offset spatula, spread filling over the dough.  Roll the dough into a log and stretch slightly. Cut into two-inch pieces and put the pieces into muffin tins lined with cupcake papers. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes, and then remove from the muffin tins.

Mix icing, adding milk a little at a time to the powdered sugar until it reaches drizzling consistency.  Drizzle with icing (if using) when cool.

Makes 12 to 18 muffins.

Changes I Made:  The only change was that I mixed the filling instead of buttering the dough and sprinkling cinnamon-sugar separately.

My Bad:  I'm pretty sure I overworked this dough, as the results were a little tough.  Next time I'll go with a bit of a lighter touch.  Pay attention to the part that says "Do not overmix!"

Survey SAYS:  I couldn't resist tasting these when they were still hot...oh my, they were good!  You could add some finely chopped nuts to the filling if you like, and they really don't even need the icing.  These are a nice sweet breakfast treat.  Save this recipe for the next snow day and you'll be your family's hero!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

On the Menu: October 31 - November 12, 2011

Chili Honey Chicken
Here's the almost-two-week dinner plan for early November.

Mon 31:  French bread pizza

Tues 1:  BBQ pork chops in the slow cooker, mac & cheese, broccoli

Wed 2:  Caesar crumb chicken, rice, mixed vegetables

Thurs 3:  Spaghetti

Fri 4:  Pizza

Sat 5:  Chili Honey Chicken, rice, broccoli

Sun 6:  Beef enchiladas (using shredded beef frozen from last week's French Dip), Alfredo noodles, green peas with pearl onions

Mon 7:  Chicken piccata bites, orzo, mixed vegetables

Tues 8:  Pot roast in the slow cooker, potatoes, green beans

Wed 9:  Beef & noodle skillet dinner, corn

Thurs 10:  Spaghetti

Fri 11:  Flounder, potatoes, broccoli

Sat 12:  Chicken pot pie (possibly an "inside-out" version served over biscuits)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

French Dip Sandwiches (Slow Cooker)

This is a perfect busy-day recipe. You put it together in just a few minutes, then let it cook all day. 

1 bottom-round roast, about 3 pounds
2 cups beef broth or consomme
Seasoning: freshly-ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt

Season the meat on all sides. Place in slow cooker and pour broth over it. Cook on HIGH for 1 hour, then turn down to LOW for about 7 to 8 hours.

Trim fat off the meat and cut into a few chunks, then shred with 2 forks OR if you have a stand mixer, try this really easy way: Put chunks of meat into the mixer. Using the paddle attachment, spin it a few times on LOW. Rearrange the contents of the bowl and spin a few more times. Watch carefully as there's a fine line between shredded and pureed.

(Hat tip to Gluten Free Homemaker for the stand-mixer idea! It really works!)

Serve on Italian rolls with the juice from the crockpot for dipping.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Menu Plan most of October 2011

Big Brother came home from college for a few hours yesterday, to grab a winter jacket and reload on homemade cookies and Easy Mac.

For the record, Ranger Cookies still work if you forget to add the Rice Krispies.  (I was wondering why the dough seemed a little different this time.)

When he and his girlfriend showed up, there was much rummaging in the refrigerator for lunch.  That's when they got a look at the calendar on the front of the fridge.  It's where I've been keeping my menu plan.

"Maybe we could eat our dinners here every night," Big Brother's girlfriend sighed.  Best compliment EVER!

There's nothing like Dorm Food to make your kids appreciate Mom's Home Cooking.

Beginning of the month menu plan is here.

Sat 8:  visited my parents & had dinner there

Sun 9:  diner

Mon 10:  Italian veal stew (which is apparently on my college student's Dinner Wish List for next time he comes home!)

Tues 11:  Chicken enchiladas

Wed 12:  Chicken & noodle skillet

Thurs 13:  Spaghetti

Fri 14:  Pizza

Sat 15:  Fajitas (thanks, Father Leo!)

Sun 16:  Roast chicken, baked potatoes

Mon 17:  ate at the Irish Pub (if you're local, don't miss the Guinness Beef Stew over mashed potatoes)

Tues 18:  Chicken Swiss Melt

Wed 19:  Taco Skillet

Thurs 20:  Spaghetti

Fri 21:  Crab & corn soup (I'm not posting this recipe, as it was only so-so.  I'll try again sometime)

Sat 22:  Chicken on the grill, sauteed asparagus, yellow rice

Sun 23:  Chicken parmesan

Mon 24:  Slowcooker orange chicken, brown rice, Asian green beans

Tues 25:  Maple-Hoisin Salmon (now with pictures!)

Wed 26:  ate at the diner

Thurs 27:  Lemon Mushroom Herb Chicken, rice, mixed vegetables

Fri 28:  Spaghetti

Sat 29:  Enchilada Soup

Sun 30:  Italian Beef Sandwiches (With back-to-back rehearsals from 1 to 7 PM, I needed a trusty slow-cooker recipe for Sunday and this is perfect)

The plan for Halloween is still up in the air.  A lot depends on what time trick-or-treat is going to start.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Care Package Time!

Otherwise known as:  how much can YOU fit into a Priority Mail Flat-Rate box?

I just boxed up a Halloween-treat package for Big Brother, who's in college.  I used a small-size Priority Mail Flat-Rate box, which is about the size of a trade paperback book (approximately 5X8X1.5)

That is one STUFFED box.  There are 2 15-packs of Extra gum, an entire bag of fun-size Snickers Peanut Butter Squared, and nearly an entire bag of fun-size standard Snickers.  Only 3 candy bars wouldn't fit in the box.  I'll consider those my tip.

It would probably be cheaper for me to just drive over and drop off a bag of treats, but there's nothing like getting a package in the mail.

Happy Halloween, Big Brother!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sauteed Asparagus

I cannot believe how easy this is!  3 ingredients and 5 minutes are all you need for a delicious side dish.

1 bunch asparagus spears (thin ones cook faster)
2 TBL minced garlic or 2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
3 TBL olive oil

Carefully rinse your fresh asparagus spears earlier in the day and leave them in a colander to dry, or gently pat dry with a paper towel.

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet, then add asparagus and garlic.  Toss to coat, and stir fry for 5 minutes until asparagus is done.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Honey-Oat Bread (Secret Recipe Club)

Sometimes things just don't go as planned.  Fortunately, this bread was goof-proof at a time when I really needed it to be!

I was assigned Dinners, Dishes and Desserts as my Secret Recipe Club blog for October.  Oh, the desserts!  I think I gained 5 pounds just looking at the pictures.  A few recipes are bookmarked for future taste-testing, like Cinnamon Roll Muffins--wouldn't those be a delicious breakfast treat?  Erin has recipes for all sorts of tasty treats, as well as some main-dish recipes too.

It was hard to choose, but my decision was made when I saw the recipe for Honey-Oat Bread.  I've got a toast eater in this house, and I was hoping to find a good bread recipe that would make great breakfast toast--to get him off the store-brand white bread he usually eats.  This bread has a healthy dose of oatmeal, plus a touch of sweetness from the honey.  We all liked it so much, there was barely any left for toast the next morning after we ate most of one loaf with dinner and shared the other with a neighbor.

This is some beautiful bread!

Here's the part where things didn't go as planned:  I made the dough in the bread machine, and I was really distracted when I put it all together.  (So distracted, in fact, that I dumped the yeast in with the water and other liquids--usually bread machine recipes call for the yeast to go in last, on top of the dry ingredients!)  I was also so distracted that I didn't pay attention to the part where the beaten egg is used as a wash for the tops of the loaves.  I tossed that right in to the bread machine as well.  Then I realized what I'd done, but I figured, what the heck--I'll bake it and see what I get.

2 hours later the dough cycle was done and the dough was JUST at the top of the pan.  It looked and felt just like bread dough is supposed to; slightly tacky, a little lumpy from the oatmeal (I only had old-fashioned oats).  I divided it into 2 loaves, rolled up the dough and put in greased loaf pans.

So here's the recipe as I made it (the original recipe can be found here):
Honey-Oat Bread (makes two loaves)
Printable Recipe

1 ¾ cup warm water
1 large egg, beaten
1/3 cup honey
3 Tbl Canola Oil
2 ½ tsp salt
5 cups all purpose flour
¾ cups oats (I used old-fashioned but the original called for quick oats)
1 Tbl Active Dry Yeast

Add ingredients to your bread machine pan in order recommended by the manufacturer.  Select the dough cycle.  When the cycle is done, remove bread to a floured surface and divide into two portions.  Pat or roll into a rectangle, then roll tightly and place in two greased loaf pans.  Allow to rise 1 hour.  Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes.

Thanks, Erin, for this recipe for a delicious bread that went as well with dinner as it did with breakfast!  This one is a keeper for sure.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Menu Plan October 1-7, 2011

Sat 1:  Honey mustard chicken, hash brown casserole, broccoli, oatmeal bread

Sun 2:  leftovers

Mon 3:  ate at the new Golden Corral buffet

Tues 4:  Chicken piccata

Wed 5:  Spaghetti

Thurs 6:  went to a pasta party for Middle Sister's soccer team

Fri 7:  Crab mac 'n cheese

September 2011 menu

September was a crazy month!  Big Brother was back at school and I was still getting used to cooking for only 4 again.  Both kids are busy with soccer, and they were also both involved in a musical at the community theatre.  It was rare that all 4 of us still at home got to eat all together--and I didn't want to have to resort to dining out too often.  I wound up doing that more than I cared to, but we did manage to eat at home MOST nights.

Thurs 1:  BBQ chicken in the crockpot, potatoes

Fri 2:  pizza

Sat 3:  leftovers

Sun 4:  ate at the diner

Mon 5:  picnic with friends.  We brought Dr. Pepper baked beans and Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes Tues 6:  taco skillet

Wed 7:  Hawaiian Chicken, rice

Thurs 8:  Roast chicken

Fri 9:  Shrimp tacos

Sat 10:  Chicken francese

Sun 11:  potluck at the theatre.  We brought baked ziti with meat.

Mon 12:  BBQ chicken calzones

Tues 13:  Spaghetti

Wed 14:  Beef & noodle skillet

Thurs 15:  ate out

Fri 16:  ate out

Sat 17:  Tandoori chicken

Sun 18:  Spanish rice with pork

Mon 19:  Chili honey chicken

Tues 20:  Roast chicken cooked in gravy over noodles

Wed 21:  Spanish garlic shrimp

Thurs 22:  Chicken Caroline

Fri 23:  Pasta with shrimp marinara

Sat 24:  ate out

Sun 25:  burgers

Mon 26:  honey & garlic chicken

Tues 27:  garlic & cheddar chicken

Wed 28:  spaghetti

Thurs 29:  combo tacos

Fri 30:  French bread pizza

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Quiche for One: It's What's for Lunch

Real men might not eat quiche, but I love it as a quick, high-protein lunch.  This recipe is NOT low in fat, but it sure is delicious.  It's a twist on a full-size quiche recipe that my mom's been making since quiche (quiches?) were fashionable in the '80s.

Quiche for One
Get the recipe and nutrition facts at Cook and Count!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Buttermilk Biscuits

My teenage daughter has been on a biscuit kick ever since we vacationed in Florida this summer.  I think she ate biscuits at every meal.  Then she wanted me to make them for her at home.  I'm not a fan of Bisquick biscuits, so any biscuits I'd been making were the kind that came out of a Poppin' Fresh can.  All you Southern cooks can laugh at this ignorant Yankee if you want.  But you can be done laughing now, because I found a really good recipe and I know how to use it.

Thanks to Victoria at Mission: Food, the blog I was assigned for September's Secret Recipe Club, I learned that buttermilk biscuits are not mission:  impossible for me!

Buttermilk Biscuits from Mission: Food
Get the recipe and nutrition facts at my new website: Cook and Count!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Giveaway: HomeRoutines App for iPhone/iPod touch

I'm thrilled that I've received an extra code to give all the iPhone/iPod touch users a chance to win a free app! I've been using the HomeRoutines app for iPhone/iPod touch since the beginning of the year, and when I got an iPad I bought the app for that as well.  HomeRoutines is designed to help you manage those repetitive tasks that must be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

It's easy to use, with a nice-looking interface.  It's easy to customize, which I love.  And now that it's got a web component, it's easy to keep track of everything no matter what device you're using at the moment.

When you check off a task, you give yourself a gold star!  And you can decide when the app resets the stars, so you don't have to go around every Monday morning and un-check everything you did last week.

I don't spend money on apps lightly; I bought the iPod app on sale.  But when I got my iPad, I paid full price for that version of the app, and I've recommended it plenty of times.   I even helped beta-test the web app and sync functionality.  As a beta tester, I received a FREE code for the iPhone/iPod touch app to give away.

Want to win this app?  Leave a comment on this post answering the question:
What's your least favorite household chore?
Remember, this code is only good for the iPhone/iPod touch version of HomeRoutines.  The code will not work on the iPad version.  Unfortunately, I don't have an iPhone or iPod to give away along with it.

This giveaway will close at midnight EDT on Saturday, September 10.  Comments posted after that time will not be counted.  A winner will be chosen at random from all comments on Sunday, September 11.  One entry per person, please.  Winners must supply a valid email address and must reply to notification of their win within 48 hours, or another winner will be chosen.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Giveaway: Home Routines App for iPad

I love it when I get to give away something that I use myself! I've been using the HomeRoutines app for iPhone/iPod touch since the beginning of the year, and when I got an iPad I bought the app for that as well.  HomeRoutines is designed to help you manage those repetitive tasks that must be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

It's easy to use, with a nice-looking interface.  It's easy to customize, which I love.  And now that it's got a web component, it's easy to keep track of everything no matter what device you're using at the moment.

When you check off a task, you give yourself a gold star!  And you can decide when the app resets the stars, so you don't have to go around every Monday morning and un-check everything you did last week.

I don't spend money on apps lightly; I bought the iPod app on sale.  But when I got my iPad, I paid full price for that version of the app, and I've recommended it plenty of times.   I even helped beta-test the web app and sync functionality.  As a beta tester, I received a FREE code for the iPad app to give away.

Want to win this app?  Leave a comment on this post answering the question:
What's your least favorite household chore?
Remember, this code is only good for the iPad version of HomeRoutines.  The code will not work on the iPhone/iPod version.  Unfortunately, I don't have an iPad to give away along with it.

This giveaway will close at midnight EDT on Thursday, September 8.  Comments posted after that time will not be counted.  A winner will be chosen at random from all comments on Friday, September 9.  One entry per person, please.  Winners must supply a valid email address and must reply to notification of their win within 48 hours, or another winner will be chosen.


Citrus Cilantro Chicken Legs

Get the recipe with nutrition information and photo at Cook and Count!

What's Cookin'? Late August 2011

Citrus cilantro chicken legs
It's been a while since I posted a menu plan, so here's the rest of August 2011:

14 - 18 vacation

Friday 19:  Shrimp Scampi with Linguine (this is a great pantry meal!  The frozen shrimp defrost quickly in cold water, and you can peel them in the time it takes to boil water for pasta.)

Saturday 20:  at a family picnic

Sunday 21:  Chili honey chicken, rice

Monday 22:  Citrus cilantro chicken legs

Tuesday 23:  Tacos

Wednesday 24:  Chicken pitas, orzo with garlic

Thursday 25:  Spaghetti

Friday 26:  dinner out for TheDad's birthday

Saturday 27:  Roast chicken, baked potatoes

Sunday 28:  Luau chicken on the grill, corn on the cob

Monday 29:  Southwest chili mac

Tuesday 30:  Spaghetti

Wednesday 31:  Meatball sandwiches

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ranch Salad Dressing Mix

My Southwestern Chili Mac recipe calls for a teaspoon of ranch salad dressing mix. That's not the kind of thing I keep in the house, but I didn't have to run to the store to make that dinner! It's really easy to make this mix and keep it at home.

In an 8-ounce or larger jar (I used an old bottle from parsley flakes), combine:

1/2 cup dry buttermilk powder
1 TBL dried parsley flakes
1 tsp dill weed
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper

Put the lid on and shake well to mix. Store in the refrigerator.

1 tablespoon = 1 packet of mix.

I love to keep seasoning mixes around, and this way I can control the seasonings. I used extra garlic powder and pepper since that's the way we like it. It's much more frugal to mix up a seasoning blend than to keep buying a new one, especially when I have many spices around to play with!

Recipe source

Southwestern Chili Mac

This recipe was inspired by Picky Palate's Southwestern Chicken Chili Mac. It looked so delicious, I knew we had to try it.

I changed a few ingredients based on my family's preferences and what we had on hand. I had Pork Carnitas in the freezer and used that for the meat.

Print this recipe!

1/2 lb. small pasta, cooked al dente, drained and rinsed (shells, wagon wheels, elbows or spirals)
2 cups pork carnitas (or other shredded, cooked chicken or pork)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small bell pepper, finely chopped (any color)
1 TBL minced garlic
1 10-ounce can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes with chilies, mild
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup corn (canned, frozen or fresh)
1/2 can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 TBL chili powder
1 TBL cumin
1 tsp dry Ranch salad-dressing mix
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese
oil for the pan

In a deep skillet, cook onions and peppers until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.  Add remaining ingredients except cheese.  Stir until well combined and simmer until heated thoroughly.

In the future I will season this differently.
Ro-Tel adds enough spice that I could have done without the chili and cumin. Also, I'd rather use a can of tomato sauce and half a can of water for the liquid rather than chicken broth.

Remember to choose the right pan for the job. It's always better to have a pan that's a little bigger than you need--the pan on the right is the one I used for this recipe and I barely squeezed it all in. Stirring without spilling was a tough job.

This is a great way to use leftover cooked chicken or pork--or pasta that was leftover from another meal. I used half a can each of corn and beans, and froze the rest for next time. (Yes, canned vegetables can be frozen in appropriate containers). We really liked this easy, pantry-friendly dish.


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