Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kids Cooking -- Homemade Applesauce

I first made this recipe last year, having never made applesauce before.  It's surprisingly easy.  I don't have too much to say about it, so we'll have a short post and a short recipe.  I've doubled the original to make sure there's plenty, because we go through it pretty quickly.

Homemade Applesauce

Serves 5 to 8


8 medium apples (I used Gala and Granny Smith)
1/2 cup sugar, either brown or white. (I usually use a combination of Splenda and sugar)
1 1/2 cups water
Cinnamon (Several shakes)
Peel, core, and cut up the apples into slices.
Put the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and water into a pan.
Cover and simmer at medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
Let the apples cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kids Cooking -- Chili Con Carne

I'm back again with a new cookbook.  This week's cookbook is Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual.  It's a book from the Klutz series and it was published in 1987.  I'm not sure I got it that year, but very soon after.

One of the coolest things about this book is that it came with a set of measuring spoons, and within the (illustrated) recipes in the book, they show pictures of the color spoons that kids would use to make the recipe correctly.

I didn't realize until I was taking this picture that, on the Tablespoon, the letters are in ALL CAPS.  It's not 1 tablespoon, it's 1 TABLESPOON.  Tablespoons are intense, y'all.

Anyway, I did the usual thing and made my own adjustments to this recipe, the main one being that the original recipe calls for a chopped green pepper.  Dennis is allergic to peppers, so, obviously, that wasn't an option.  I also added cayenne pepper, because I'm a little obsessed with it at the moment.  (Don't believe me?  Check out the beer cheese soup!)

Dennis says this is the best thing I've ever made.  he says that every couple of months, but this recipe has the new distinction.

Chili Con Carne
Serves 2 hungry adults, 3 not-so-hungry adults


1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 can kidney beans
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. garlic salt (or 1 tsp. garlic powder and 1 tsp. salt)
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (I put in 1 tsp., but we also like things spicy)
Corn chips, like Fritos (I used a generic brand -- I wouldn't necessarily recommend this.)
1 big can crushed tomatoes, 28 oz. (You won't use all of it, but you'll use most of it.)
Mexican cheese (optional)

Chop the onion.  Put the onions and the beef into a pan and cook over medium heat, turning often, until the meat is cooked through.

When the meat is cooked, take the pan off the burner and drain the fat out of the pan. Discard the fat.

Add the kidney beans (with the liquid), tomatoes, chili powder, garlic salt, and cayenne pepper to the meat mixture.  Stir well and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to boil.  

Turn the heat down to medium and simmer, stirring so it doesn't stick, for another 10 minutes.

Spoon chili into bowls and put a handful or two of corn chips on top.  I also added Mexican cheese, and it really added to it.




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Abandoned no longer (And a recipe for Beer Cheese Soup!)

Will you forgive me for being gone so long if I offer up a cute picture of puppies?

What about a kitten?

How about a photo of the festive cheeseball I made for Thanksgiving?

Can I be forgiven now?

I hope so.

Mostly because I created a facebook page for this blog, invited people to join. . .and then promptly dropped off the face of the earth.

The short version is, we didn't go grocery shopping for a few weeks, kind of living off of what we already had in the house.  And then I got sick.  And then Dennis got sick.  And then I continued being sick.

I'm pretty much back to normal at this point, minus the annoying cough that I can't seem to shake.

I haven't been cooking my books recently, but I have every intention of getting back on track very soon, so please don't lose faith in me.  Getting off to a rocky start, but I'll be in full swing by the beginning of 2013.  (That is, if the zombie apocolypse doesn't happen and the world doesn't end.)

To make up for it, though, I'm going to give you a non-cookbook recipe.  It's a recipe that started out here, and then with some changes, ended up here, and is now being presented here after further revisions.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Beer Cheese Soup
Serves 4-ish
8 strips bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced (I used Gala; the original recipe calls for Granny Smith)
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp. Cayenne pepper (The original recipe calls for smoked paprika, but I substitute this. It's on the spicy side, so you could either go with half the amount or leave it out entirely if you're not into spicy.)
1 tsp. minced garlic
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup beer (The type doesn't matter, but if you want a lighter beer flavor, a lighter beer should be used. I use Bad Penny Brown Ale [], which is one I wouldn't drink because it's kind of stout, but it's good for this recipe.)
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

In a large pan, fry up the bacon.

Once bacon is crisp, remove and set aside. Add onion, carrots, apple, and celery to the bacon grease (I usually don't use all the grease and pour some out) and cook on medium heat until the fruits and veggies are translucent. Add in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

Throw in your spices and flour and cook for about 1-2 minutes.

Add beer and chicken stock and let simmer on medium for about 15 minutes.

Whisk in the cheese. Once the cheese and soup are all blended together, add cream and stir. Serve warm with bacon on top.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I promise and I swear that this blog isn't going to be one of those blogs that all it is is the blogger coming back every couple of weeks saying how they're sorry, they've been busy, and they'll be back.

But. . .

I'm sorry!  I've been busy!  (My birthday!  My anniversary!  Life!)

And I swear I'll be back next week, once the cookbooks are chosen the the groceries are purchased.  I have added at least two cookbooks to my collection since last time, and I'm excited to get going!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The week that disappeared

I'm still trying to get a hold of this blogging regularly thing.  Obviously, we're eating every day, but sometimes, it's such a busy day that I don't go into my cookbooks, and instead, make the easy as all get out kielbasa skillet.  Sometimes, I throw a bunch of hot dogs in a pot of water.  Sometimes, it's a pizza.

All that to say, I will get this blog on a more regular schedule, and I'll stick to the plan I make for what's being made when.

What happened last week, the week of the glorious gnocchi, is that a lot of the recipes in that great cookbook had weird, expensive ingredients, and others were just a level of difficulty I couldn't handle, working 8 to 5 and then coming home and making dinner.

The second recipe for this week was a spaghetti dish that. . .looked easy.  Way, way too easy, especially after I cheated on the gnocchi.  So I didn't make that.

On to a new cookbook this week, and it's a Rachael Ray cookbook, and I know a lot of people can't stand her, but she makes for pretty easy recipes.  Hopefully, I'll get everything on track soon.  Thanks for sticking with me!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Italian Intermezzo -- Porcini-Infused Gnocchi with Truffled Fonduta Sauce (. . .kind of)

You guys. . .I cheated.  The recipe that I'm going to be posting here has almost nothing to do with the actual recipe presented in the cookbook.

I got this week's cookbook a couple weeks ago, and I was really excited about it.  Italian Intermezzo (Menus and Music) came from my favorite used bookstore, and was really cool because it comes with a CD of Italian music.  Apparently, this is a whole series of cookbooks that come with corresponding CDs.  When I put the CD in the player, Dennis was skeptical, but then it turned out to be really nice background music while I cooked.  A couple of the songs I recognized from. . .Bugs Bunny cartoons, but for the most part, they sounded like you were floating down the river on a gondola.  I demonstrated my gondola rowing skills while listening to the music, and I have to say, I'm very sorry you all missed that.  (You're probably not.)

The recipe in the book gives you the ingredients and instructions on how to make your own gnocchi, which is basically a type of dumpling.  This cookbooks has a lot of really complicated recipes with a lot of really complicated ingredients, so I was looking for something that I could do during the week (or on a Sunday evening in this case).  I'd remembered seeing gnocchi at Trader Joe's, so I went ahead and bought it pre-made.  I realize that this is massively cheating, but what can you do? 

The sauce I tossed the gnocchi with was amazing, this amazingly rich blend of cream and cheese. . .but that's it.  Literally, those are the ingredients I used to make the sauce.  So skimpy were my ingredients, I forgot to take a picture of them until after I'd thrown the gnocchi in the water.  This recipe was. . .let's just say inspired by the cookbook rather than being adapted from it.  (In other words, I cheated like it was my job.)

It looked weird on a plate by itself, so the picture you'll see is of the gnocchi and the Caesar Salad I made a few weeks back.  The combination was delicious, and so flavorful, and one of these days, I'm going to have to make my own gnocchi and see if it comes out as well.

Porcini-Infused Gnocchi with 

Truffled Fonduta Sauce (Or. . .Gnocchi and 

Cheese Sauce)

Inspired by Italian Intermezzo (Menus and Music)
Serves: 2 or 3

1 package pre-made gnocchi (I know, I KNOW)
1 cup cream
8 oz. shredded cheese (I used mozzarella and cheddar)

Prepare the gnocchi and stop judging me.

Heat the cream over medium heat and mix in cheese, stirring constantly until cheese melts.

Toss sauce with prepared gnocchi.  Make a salad.  Eat all that and be amazed by how something so simple can be so ridiculously delicious.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Comfort Table -- Macaroni and Four Cheeses

Today is an anniversary -- it is the anniversary of the first time my husband asked me to marry him.

We'd been having the getting married conversation off-handedly for a while, and so when he asked me on a Saturday morning, I was just like, "Yeah, OK, whatever.  I'll answer you eventually."

(That's not exactly what I said, but it's close enough.)

By the time I figured out it was an actual asking, it was all awkward and weird and I couldn't answer.

Then we went to the State Fair, and I was going to be all cute and give him the answer when we got to the top of the ferris wheel.  Except. . .they put this teenaged couple in the cart with us, so that was awkward, too.

Then, the Monday after the Saturday he asked the first time, we had lunch at Jimmy John's, and over a BLT, he asked again.  That time, I knew what was going on, and said yes.

Incidentally, I had to look through almost 400 photos to find this one, which we took outside the JJ's after the Official Proposal.  It's mind-blowing how much younger I look in that picture.

Anyway, to tie that in with the recipe. . .that's the guy that I'm now making homemade mac and cheese for, sans facial hair. 

I didn't use the same 4 cheeses Katie Lee Joel used, but I did use 4 cheeses, and this made enough for two dinners and a lunch.

Macaroni and Four Cheeses

Adapted from The Comfort Table
Serves  6 to 8 (or 2 a few times)


1 pound macaroni
5 Tbl. unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Havarti cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tomatoes (or 1 if parts of yours aren't bad OR if you really like tomatoes)
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 Tbl. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Prepare the macaroni as indicated on package.  Drain well.

In a large pan, melt 4 Tbl. of the butter over medium-low heat.  Add the flour and cook about 1 minute, stirring with a whisk.  Whisk in the milk and cook until thickened.

Remove pan from heat and stir in Cheddar, Havarti, and Mozzerella cheeses, along with salt and pepper.  Pour mixture into a 2- or 3-quart baking dish.  (Katie Lee Joel says to use a 3-quart, but a 2-quart worked fine for me.)

Slice tomatoes and arrange on top of mixture.  In another bowl, melt the remaining butter and mix with bread crumbs and Parmeasan.  Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the dish and bake for 30 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Comfort Table -- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I don't know if you've noticed, but it's fall, and when it's fall, food blogs absolutely EXPLODE with pumpkin recipes.  These happened more by accident than careful planning.  I picked Katie Lee Joel's The Comfort Table and while going through it, looking for things to make this week, I came across her recipe for Pumpkin Muffins, and I realized I had everything already in the kitchen to make these.

The recipes in this book look good, but nothing to really write home about.  I have to wonder if this book would have been a thing if the author hadn't, at one time, been married to Billy Joel.

On to the muffins. . .

When I started making these, looking at the picture in the book, they didn't look. . .awesome.  The ones in the book were those kind of flat muffins that look more like cupcakes than something you'd have with a cup of coffee for breakfast.  But the ones I pulled out of my oven were tall and texturous (is that a word?) and delicious.  Legitimately, one of the best muffins I've ever tried.

I made a couple of changes to the recipe (of course).  First of all, I added chocolate chips.  The original recipe was strictly pumpkin, but I'd just picked up some chocolate chips "just in case," and decided to throw some of those in as well.  They made all the difference.

Secondly, the recipe called for 2 cups of sugar.  That seemed excessive to me (although when I asked Dennis how much sugar was average for muffins, he said, "I don't know.  Two or three?" so what do I know?  Anyway, I put 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of Splenda in the batter, and they turned out awesomely.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Adapted from The Comfort Table
Makes 12 muffins


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar (or 1 cup sugar, 1 cup Splenda or 2 cups Splenda)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

In a medium bowl, beat together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla.  Add pumpkin and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Pour batter into the muffin tin and bake for 20-24 minutes (mine took 23).  Let cool on wire rack.  (Or don't.  They're amazing when they're hot.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A reprieve

I decided to put the diabetic cookbook out of its misery. I'm not really into cooking things I don't like, and I couldn't find anything I was excited about making.

So with a pseudo-primavera and an awesome squash thing, I leave diabetic cooking behind. For now, at least.

The good news is, this week brings a new cookbook! I'm hoping this one will be more successful.
And, because two bookshelves of cookbook apparently is not enough, I bought three more at the used bookstore today. Can't wait!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Diabetic Cooking -- Glazed Maple Acorn Squash

You guys?  This cookbook is difficult.  I have tried so hard with this thing, and I feel badly, because it was a gift, but man.  The photography's not very good in it, which makes all the recipes look really, really unappetizing.  Then there are things like the Chicken with Roasted Vegetables recipe, which is. . .exactly what it sounds like.

I was going through this book Tuesday looking for something else to make after my Spaghetti Squash pseudo-fiasco.  I went through it a few times until I came across this recipe for Glazed Maple Acorn Squash. 

"I could use a different kind of squash," I told Dennis, "and make this one."  He glanced at the recipe and said, "You have some of those in the fridge."

God bless the CSA box.  I DID have a couple of acorn squash (squashes?) and made this with dinner that night.  The consensus?  I loved it.  Loved it.  Dennis liked it, but would have liked it better if it was sweeter.  I pointed out that it was a diabetic cookbook, and he reminded me that most of the recipes in the book have approximately a million carbohydrates in them.

Touché.  The actual title of this cookbook should be (No) Diabetic (should ever do) Cooking (from this book).

But this recipe is delicious.

Glazed Maple Acorn Squash

Adapted from Diabetic Cooking
serves: 4, allegedly


1 acorn or golden acorn squash
1/4 cup water
2 Tbl. pure maple syrup, plus a splash more
2 Tbl. butter, melted
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut ends from squash and slice into 4 equal slices.  This was really hard for me to do, but that could be because I have a lousy knife.

Scoop out seeds and membrane and discard.

Pour water in baking dish and arrange squash in dish.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Combine the syrup, margarine, and cinnamon in small bowl.  Mix well.  Uncover squash and pour water out of the dish.  Brush squash with the syrup mixture.  Use whole bowl of mixture.

Return to oven and bake for 7 more minutes.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Diabetic Cooking -- Spaghetti Squash Primavera (Sort of)

I'm sorry.  I'm sorry I'm a lying liar who lies and I ignored everyone last week and said I was going to post, and then I didn't.  But I'm back now, with a minor success.

My mother-in-law gave me this book a couple of years ago.  It seems it's a 3-in-1 cookbook, but I'm going to treat it as one just for time's sake.  As you can see from the picture, it combines the books "Diabetic Recipes," "Diabetic Cooking for 1 or 2" and "Diabetic Desserts."

I reached my 24-year anniversary with Type 1 diabetes this past Saturday, and with that wealth of knowledge, I can tell you that a lot of times, diabetic desserts just aren't that good.  That doesn't mean I won't try one, but I've not had much luck with them through the years.

This recipe also. . .didn't necessarily go according to plan.  I was all excited, getting spaghetti squash in my CSA box, remembering the time when I was much younger that one of my parents made spaghetti squash for dinner, and how cool it was.  The recipe in the book gives you instructions on how to cook the squash, so I did it that was, and this is what happened:


There is nothing even vaguely spaghetti-like about that right there.  I'm not entirely sure what happened, but luckily, we had some angel hair pasta in the cabinet, and I used that instead.  It was awesome.  I also made my Caesar salad and that went really well with it.

Spaghetti Squash Primavera (or not)

Adapted from Diabetic Cooking
serves: 2


2 tbl. olive oil, plus more for pasta drizzling (if you don't use squash)
1 large diced zucchini
2 diced carrots, or 12 diced baby carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
Salt and pepper
Onion powder or 1/4 cup sliced green onions (I used powder.)
2 cups cooked spaghetti squash OR 2 servings angel hair pasta
Parmesan cheese

According to the cookbook, which lies, to cook the spaghetti squash, cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove and discard seeds.  Then place the squash, cut side down, in a baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes to 1 hour until tender, then remove the spaghetti-like strands using a fork.

If that fails, prepare pasta according to directions on package.

Heat 2 tbl. oil in medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the zucchini, carrot, garlic, and sprinkle with desired amount of onion powder.  Sauteé for 6 to 7 minutes.  Add tomato and salt and pepper to taste.  Sauteé another 3 minutes.

If using pasta, drizzle desired amount of olive oil over servings.  If not using pasta, you're a better spaghetti squash cooker than I am, and kudos.  Tell me your method.

Serve vegetables over pasta or squash and top with cheese.

Obviously, the pasta version isn't as low-carb friendly as the squash version, but it was delicious.  Even better with the salad.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Around My French Table -- Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux

Oh Lord, you guys.  Week 2 and I already fell behind.  I'm not going to make a big deal about it, but I'm going to post my second recipe from last week this week, and then I'll catch up with a new cookbook this week.

Not that it's any kind of excuse, but I had an INSANE week and weekend.  We had a family gathering both Saturday and Sunday, and then my cousin and her husband were down and I made a non-cookbook chocolate cake and a non-cookbook dinner, and THEN I had to put together a cheeseball and my World Famous Pumpkin Stuff for the potluck on Sunday.  Insane, I tell you.

I'm here to make it up to you, though.

I've blogged about this chicken before in my old blog -- it's my absolute favorite "Oh my God, I have this whole chicken, what do I do with it?" recipe.  The translation of the recipe name is "Roast Chicken for the Lazy."  And it really is.  If you're willing to stick your hands in a chicken and chop some veggies, you're good to go.

So here it is. . .a fitting finale for the French cookbook.  Next week (which is actually this week), I'm going to be diving into a diabetic cookbook my mother-in-law gave me.

Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux

Adapted from Around My French Table
serves: 4-ish


 1 chicken, 4.5 to 5 pounds, room temperature
Olive Oil
4 - 6 red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
2 carrots, trimmed, peeled, and cut into chunks or a few handfuls of baby carrots
1 onion, quartered
Garlic salt (or regular salt)  and pepper
A few things to note.  You'll notice that in that picture, there are no red potatoes and there is a random slice of bread.  The bread is a little add-on to the chicken that, if it ever works for me again, I'll post the recipe for, because it really is delicious.  In this case, though, I just ended up with soggy bread.
As far as the potatoes go. . .I'm convinced I'm getting less smart with age, because I thought to myself, "Well, Sarah, you have regular potatoes to use up, so now would be a good time to do it."
It would have been a good time. . .except those were sweet potatoes, not the white potatoes I'd anticipated.  I took this picture and then started using everything, so there was no way to re-stage it, and I didn't realize the bread didn't work out until the end.  So that's why the picture doesn't 100% match what I'm talking about.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Rub the inside of a Dutch oven (or giant roasting pan, in my case) with olive oil.  Season chicken inside and out with pepper and either garlic salt or salt.  (You could also use garlic powder and salt if you wanted.)  Place chicken in pot.  Throw some garlic in it.

Put other garlic and any herbs you might have lying around into the pot and pour over a few tablespoons of oil and water or wine, if you're using it.  Cover in foil and place pot in the oven.  (NOTE:  You don't HAVE to cover the chicken in foil, but when I do, it's much more juicy than when I don't.)  Roast for 45 minutes.

Toss the chopped vegetables in oil, salt, and pepper.  After the chicken has roasted for 45 minutes, remove from oven and surround with the vegetables.  Re-cover with foil and roast for another 45 minutes, for a total cooking time of 1.5 hours.

Remove chicken from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes before carving.  This is one of the best chicken recipes I've ever made in my life, hands down.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Veggie Update!

I'll be posting this week's other two recipes tomorrow and Friday, but in the meantime, I wanted to share what came in our CSA box today, because it's all just so pretty.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Around My French Table -- Hummus (and Pita Chips!)

New week, new cookbook!

I bought this cookbook because I fully intended to get involved in this fabulous online community called French Fridays with Dorie.  Every week, they make something out of this cookbook and then share their blog link on the French Fridays homepage.

Unfortunately, as it happens, life got in my way.  The job I had at the time didn't allow me much money to buy a lot of the extra and random things needed for the recipes, and the project fell by the wayside. 

There are a couple recipes out of this cookbook that I love, and I'm finding more as I read through it again.  Today's offering is hummus, which actually confused me at first, because. . .hummus isn't French.  But who am I to question Dorie Greenspan?


Adapted from Around My French Table
serves: 4-ish


1 can chickpeas (or garbanzo beans. . .they're the same thing!), drained.  Save the liquid.
2 split garlic cloves
1/3 cup tahini
2 tbl. lemon juice (Fresh is better, but you know how it goes.)
1/4 tsp. cumin (Optional, but it really is better with the cumin)
Salt and pepper

Put chickpeas, garlic, tahini, and lemon in a food processor and. . .process until smooth.  Add the reserved liquid a little bit at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Add cumin, salt, and pepper, and give it another whirl.

Put in a bowl covered in plastic wrap and chill until serving time.  (If you're planning on eating it right away, just stick it in for 5-10 minutes.)

That's it!

The pita chips are Dennis' creation.  A few months back, we were having hummus and some other stuff for dinner, and I'd bought some pitas.  Dennis said, "I think I'll make some pita chips out of these," and I said, "I'll just eat mine plain."

About 10 minutes later, I was handing him my sad pita and saying, "Would you. . .make this into chips please?"

Here's why:

Pita Chips
serves:  Depends on how many you make and how much people eat

2 - 5 pita pockets (Again, it depends on how big you cut the chips and how many you want)
Olive Oil
Garlic salt (or regular salt)

Preheat over to 400°F.

Cut the pitas into triangles by cutting them in half, cutting those halves in half, etc. until you have the size and number of chips you want.

Place the chips on a foil-lined cookie sheet and spray with olive oil.  (You can also drizzle the oil, but I've found it's much easier to spray them.)  Sprinkle with salt or garlic salt.

Bake for 5 minutes or until the edges toast to light brown.

(Dennis' artistic hummus shot)