Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A New Year, A New Plan

Good call on the menu call, Emily. I'm not usually big on New Year's resolutions, but this year I did make one - to record what we had for dinner every night. I have my ups and downs with menu planning - sometimes I get the whole week planned out ahead, other weeks it's flying by the seat of my pants. But at least, I thought, I could write down what we ate AFTER the fact, right? And then after a few weeks or months, I'd have lots of ideas recorded to refer back to, instead of wondering anew, "what's for dinner?"

Providentially, I then happened upon a post at Life in Grace all about using google calendar for menu planning. (That's her calendar, not mine)
This is perfect for me, since I already use google calendar as my main "keep track of the crazy" method. Edie had the brilliant idea to just create a separate calendar called "dinner" (and make it a different color-fun!) and put in your menu plan there - including the whole recipe or a link to it in the "notes" section. The great thing about google cal is that you can set each "event" or "dinner" to repeat at whatever specific interval you want... so our regulars, like roast chicken, I set to repeat every 2-3 weeks, while more obscure meals get set to repeat every...8, 9, 14 weeks? whatever I want. I'm still not being super great about planning ahead, but what I am doing is putting in the dinners as we have them, and setting them to repeat according to how much we like them/how easy they are, etc.

Anway, I can't tell you how excited I have been and still am about this system. I really hope to have a system that will work well in the long term. And of course there's got to be flexibility, but I have no problem with starting out my week looking at a whole menu plan and then just tweaking it - as opposed to starting with nada.  If you don't already use google cal, you should. It's so convenient to have it on the computer or your phone and be able to access it anywhere!

Ok, enough of my long-windedness. I will just mention a few new recipes I've tried recently and really liked.
Chicken and Kale Casserole - loved the hint of lemon in this, it was easy, and KALE, yay me, right?
Beef Stew- also from Life in Grace; I've made beef stew many a time, but this one was really delish.

And finally, our menu this week ( do you really want to know?)
M-Potbelly/Jimmy Johns (haha cheat night since Brian took the boys to a Bulls game)
T-Chicken and Groundnut Stew
W- Shepherd's Pie
Th-Sausage and Kale soup (got to use up the rest of that kale!)
F- panko breaded tilapia filets from Costco

Speier fam Menu plan

Okay, here's my menu from last week. I apologize in advance for the lack of actual measurements and pretty pictures:

Monday: crock pot chicken tacos and Nanny's Slaw
Nanny's Slaw: thinly sliced green cabbage, red bell pepper, green apple, red onion, sunflower seeds with a vinaigrette made from olive oil, rice wine vinegar, cumin and Tony's. She usually adds jicama too, which I didn't have.

Tuesday: Alton Brown's meatloaf, salad and garlic mashed potatoes. I used my new favorite healthier swap item in the mashed potatoes: Lite Labne (Kefir cheese) is a great substitute for sour cream.

Wednesday: Coconut Curry in the crock pot: 1 pkg boneless skinless chicken thighs, 1 can of light coconut milk, 1/2 onion, 3 carrots, 3 stalks celery, 1 red pepper (all chopped) 2 cloves garlic (minced) 1 or 2 Tablespoons each of red curry paste, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Cook it until the chicken shreds easily and then add 1 can of chickpeas until everything is heated through. Serve over brown rice with whatever garnishes your family is into. We do jalapenos, cilantro or basil, scallions, chopped peanuts and rooster sauce.

Thursday: I made this farro salad, but truth be told, it wasn't a hit. Maybe because I didn't get the fancy ricotta salata she recommends. I think next time I will just make a wheat berry salad, which my family all seem to enjoy: 2 cups of uncooked wheat berries simmered in either salted water or stock for about 45 minutes, chopped apple, cucumber, scallion, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, feta and parsley. I make a vinaigrette sometimes with lemon, sometimes with rice wine vinegar. Sometimes I add cooked chicken, too.

Friday: Asian shrimp soup? I don't know what to call this, really. I sauteed red pepper, carrots, garlic, ginger and scallions and then added stock and water. I simmered rice noodles, shrimp and thinly sliced napa cabbage until the noodles and shrimp were cooked through. (Garnish with cilantro and siracha again.) I served edamame in their pods on the side.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

menu call

so, as usual, the beginning of a new year brings me wanting to get a better hold on my menu/meal planning.  and, as always, i seem to be in desperate need of some new ideas.  thus, i am asking anyone who still remembered this blog existed to help me out.  do your own post or even throw your suggestions in the comments.  
please, don't make me beg...

burch house
monday - bbq chicken sandwiches with broccoli, sweet potato fries (cheat), and arugula salad
tuesday - croque madames (fried egg on top) with fruit
wednesday - jessica's pot roast
thursday - farmer's market casserole, grilled chicken and buttered noodles
friday - fondue (super random, but we were cleaning out for a garage sale and came across our old fondue pot and thought we should let the kids use it one time before i decide to sell it)

farmers' market casserole is my new favorite dish thanks to allie.
quick rundown.  fill the bottom of the pan with uncooked israeli couscous, roast egg plant and onions with a little olive oil and seasoning then layer on top of the couscous.  then layer any vegetables you like.  i used italian zucchini, a layer of mozzarella and tomatoes.  then mix together some panko (or your choice of breadcrumbs), some parmesan, some chopped basil and chopped garlic.  sprinkle over the dish and bake at 350 covered for about 30-45 minutes, then uncover and let the top get crispy and delicious.  finally, greedily hope your family doesn't eat all of it, because the leftovers are fantastic as well.  and lunch the next day has been made.
(allie, if you have any variations to add, feel free to chime in!)

we always have a couple of these in the freezer.  my kids are obsessed and when i don't have time to make a side dish, they come in mighty handy.  if you have more kids than me and want to make two bags, pour them on separate trays as they do get soggy when all piled up together, but are super crispy when able to bake in a single layer.  just a suggestion.

and, as a random extra, we made these egg biscuits this weekend.  store bought biscuit dough, rolled out and pressed into a cupcake tray.  crack an egg in the center and top with whatever you like (cheese, salt and pepper, maybe a little meat...).  bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes.  they will make your kids very happy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bourbon-Chocolate Pecan Tart

Well, I just dug up my copy of this recipe - it was in the third place I looked. It's a torn out magazine page from Southern Living, I think, that I've had since college. This recipe is always a hit, and has already been especially requested by several family members, so I figured it's a good time to immortalize it. Also I can now rest assured that if I lose my tattered copy, I can find it here on Pots! If you're looking for a little twist on pecan pie, this is a winner.

1 unbaked pie shell
3/4 c. semisweet chocolate morsels
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 c. sugar
3 Tblsp firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Tblsp flour
3/4 c. light corn syrup
1/4 c. butter, melted
3 Tblsp. bourbon
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. pecan halves
garnishes: whipped cream, pecan halves, chopped pecans

Sprinkle morsels in pie shell and chill for 30 min. Beat eggs and next 7 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Pour into tart shell until half full. Arrange pecan halves over filling. Drizzle with remaining filling. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes or until set.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pork Tenderloin Two Ways

This first recipe is perfect for that, "OMG - it's 5pm and I have nothing for dinner!" moment. Defrost two pork tenderloins while you have a cup of tea, or glass of wine, and then proceed as follows:

Indoor Pulled Pork

1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper
2 pork tenderloin (1 1/2 to 2 pounds total), cut into one inch slices. Do not forget to do this!
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
3 tablespoons cider vinegar

Combine chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Pat pork dry with paper towels and sprinkle all over with spice mixture.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add pork and cook until well browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer pork to large bowl, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Using 2 forks, shred meat into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, add broth, barbecue sauce, and vinegar to empty skillet, scraping up any browned bits. Simmer over medium-low heat until sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in shredded pork and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on buns with some microwaved, canned, baked beans and sliced cucumbers with salad dressing. Looks like you slaved all day! This serves 4, more if they are small people.

This next recipe takes a little bit of forethought, but just as little work, maybe even less work. I found this recipe through the Enjoying the Small Things blog.

Slow Cooker Carnitas

2 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)
1 jar of salsa verde (green salsa–any kind)
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can chopped green chiles
1 onion, chopped in large pieces

Dump everything in slow cooker and cover. Cook on low until pork easily forks apart (about 10 hours). Serve buffet-style with flour tortillas, cheese, cilantro, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce and sour cream. Serves 4.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Easy Peach-Blackberry Crisp

You can use any kind of fruit you like - I had peaches and blackberries on hand.  I got this recipe from my mom and it's delicious and super easy.  I think my favorite thing is that the only added sugar is in the crumble topping.  I love a fruit dessert that tastes like fruit and is not overly sweet.

Fruit Crisp

4+ cups fruit
2/3 - 3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/3 cup softened butter

Preheat oven to 375.  In a greased 8x8 pan, arrange fruit.  In a medium bowl, mix remaining 6 ingredients and then sprinkle on top of your fruit.  Bake until fruit is tender and the top is golden brown...about 30 minutes.
Enjoy!  I think this is especially good served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Monday, April 18, 2011


i realize i have been sadly neglecting this space.
but you have been, too.
anyway, i made donuts last week and posted them at fanciful no.2, if you want to check them out.
they sure were fun...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tortilla de Patatas - another meatless meal!

I remember when Kristina Joyce made this in college after spending a year in Spain. She waxed poetic about going out with the Spaniards at 11 pm, partying all night, eating tortilla patata and drinking red wine...
I looked up this recipe on and made it the other day, and it was really good. Don't be scared off by the 1/2 pint of olive oil - you end up draining most of it off. And I think it might add the extra deliciousness that I miss in most frittatas. This would be great as a breakfast/brunch item too!

  • 1/2 pint of olive oil
  • 5 medium (40 oz each) baking potatoes, peeled, sliced and lightly sprinkled with salt
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 eggs
  • Salt

    Heat the olive oil in a 9-inch skillet and add the potato slices carefully, because the salt will make the oil splatter. Try to keep the potato slices separated so they will not stick together. Cook, turning occasionally, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the potatoes are tender. Drain into a colander, leaving about 3 tablespoons of oil in the skillet.

    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt. Add the potatoes, and stir to coat with the egg. Add the egg-coated potatoes to the very hot oil in the skillet, spreading them evenly to completely cover the base of the skillet. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook, shaking the pan frequently, until mixture is half set.

    Use a plate to cover the skillet and invert the omelette away from the hand holding the plate (so as not to burn your hand with any escaping oil). Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and slide the omelette back into the skillet on its uncooked side. Cook until completely set. Allow the omelette to cool, and then cut it into wedges. Season it with salt and sprinkle with lemon juice to taste (optional).

    Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Meatless Friday: Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

I got some flak for posting all the ground beef recipes on Ash Wednesday, so I thought I'd share what we're having tonight. This is my favorite pasta dish. The sun-dried tomatoes give the sauce a smoky flavor (similar to bacon), so you won't even miss the meat. Fridays are particularly challenging around here as my spouse eats neither cheese, nor fish. "That's messed up!" I know. But I'd still love to see other meatless entree ideas, so please share.

Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce
Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion , chopped fine
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes , rinsed, patted dry, and minced
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound ziti or penne
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Ground black pepper

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion until soft and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and cream. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, drain pasta, and return to pot. Add sauce and basil to pot and toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Things I Like to Make with Ground Beef: Shepherd's Pie

This will be good on St. Patrick's Day, with the Irish Soda Bread recipe I posted below. I make this with 2 lbs. of ground beef and it feeds my family of six. Note the complete lack of Cream of Mushroom Soup. How far we've come.

Skillet Shepherd's Pie
Serves 4

Be sure to purchase shredded hash brown potatoes (sometimes labeled “country style”) rather than the cubed variety. Ground lamb can be substituted for the beef.

8 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes (see note)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
1 onion , chopped fine
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups frozen peas and carrots mix , thawed

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler. Toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in large bowl. Wrap tightly with plastic and microwave until potatoes are tender, 7 to 10 minutes.

2. While potatoes are cooking, cook beef and onion in large heatproof skillet over medium-high heat until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain beef mixture in colander.

3. Return drained beef mixture to pan. Stir in thyme and flour and cook until incorporated, about 1 minute. Stir in broth and Worcestershire and cook until sauce is thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in pea and carrot medley and simmer until heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Scatter cooked potatoes over beef mixture and brush with remaining butter. Broil until potatoes are golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve.

Things I Like to Make with Ground Beef: Sloppy Joes

Actually, this is something I like to have my children make. It's very simple, and I have a high schooler and a couple middle schoolers who are more than capable of making this. I'd like to thank French's mustard for the recipe. It doesn't look like much, but my kids said they were the best Sloppy Joes EVER!

Sloppy Joes

1 1/2 tbsp. oil

2 cups chopped onion

3 lbs. lean ground beef

2 cups barbecue sauce or ketchup

1 cup yellow mustard

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 pkgs. (15 oz. each) hamburger buns

HEAT oil in large pot. Saute onion 3 min. until tender.

ADD beef to pot. Cook until browned, stirring to separate meat. Drain well.

STIR in barbecue sauce, mustard and Worcestershire. Simmer about 5 min. until flavors are blended. Spoon on buns.

Things I Like to Make with Ground Beef: Burgers

We had this last night for Fat Tuesday. Loaded with cheese and bacon, they are very decadent. You have to cook these pretty thoroughly or the incorporated cheese causes them to fall apart.

All-American Burgers (serves 4)
1.5 lbs. 85% lean ground beef
1 cup shredded cheddar
8 strips cooked bacon chopped fine (Roll your eyes, Sara, as I wax poetic about the virtues of pre-cooked bacon one more time!)
4 t. yellow mustard
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Wash your hands, take off your rings and mix beef with cheese, bacon, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.

Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, (or not, if some of your people are not adults) and lightly pack into 1 inch thick patties.

Tip from Uncle Jim: Put a depression in the center of each patty, this will give you a more uniformed shaped burger in the end, because they tend to swell in the middle.

Then, hand plate of patties to your spouse for grilling. He should be able to take it from here.
If he's not home yet, grill burgers over very hot fire WITHOUT PRESSING DOWN ON THEM, until well seared on both sides and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes.

Serve with buns and other burger accessories.

Things I Like to Make with Ground Beef: Meatloaf

I bought a lot of ground beef recently, and reflected on how far I've come since my first years of marriage: Sloppy Noodle Casserole, Chuckwagon, and Shepherds' Pie with (I'm ashamed to say it) Cream of Mushroom Soup. There are some pretty amazing things to be done with ground beef, including my annual Valentines' Day Heart Shaped Meatloaf, All American Burgers, Easy yet Awesome Sloppy Joes, and Skillet Shepherds' Pie.

First, my meatloaf recipe comes from a cookbook by friend of Pioneer Woman, Pam Anderson, titled The Best Recipe. She recommends a meatloaf mix of 50% ground chuck, 25% ground veal, and 25% ground pork. I'm too lazy and cheap to do that. I use a very gourmet mix of 80% lean ground beef and 93% lean ground beef. It probably doesn't matter how lean the beef is for this, because the fat drains out of a free form loaf anyway.

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze
Serves 6-8

Brown Sugar-Ketchup Glaze

¼ cup ketchup or chili sauce
2 T light or dark brown sugar
2 t cider or white vinegar

Meat Loaf

2 t vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs
1 t dried thyme
1 t salt
½ t ground black pepper
2 t Dijon mustard
2 t Worcestershire sauce
¼ t hot red pepper sauce
½ c milk, buttermilk, or low-fat plain yogurt
2 lbs. ground beef ( or ground pork, ground turkey, or any combination of)
2/3 c crushed saltines (about 16), or quick oatmeal or 1 1/3 c fresh bread crumbs
1/3 c minced fresh parsley leaves
6 oz bacon (8-9 slices)

1. Glaze: Mix all ingredients in a pyrex measuring cup and set aside.

2. Meat Loaf: Preheat oven to 350. Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until softened, about 5 min. Set aside.

3. Mix eggs with thyme, salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire, pepper sauce and milk or yogurt. Add egg mixture to meat in a large bowl, along with crackers (or oatmeal or bread crumbs), parsley and cooked onions and garlic; mix with fork until evenly blended.

4. To bake free form: Cover a wire rack with foil; prick foil in several places with a fork. Place rack on a shallow roasting pan lined with foil for easy clean up. Set formed loaf on rack. Brush loaf with all of glaze, then arrange bacon slices, crosswise over loaf, overlapping them slightly and tucking them under loaf to prevent curling. (This is where you can get super romantic and shape your meatloaf like a heart for Valentines' Day.)

5. Bake loaf until bacon is crisp and loaf registers 160F, about 1 hour. Cool for 20 minutes. Slice and serve.

Really GOOD Irish Soda Bread

I'm not that Irish, so I never even heard of Irish soda bread until college. What I experienced then was dry, dusty, and conducive to cotton mouth. In fact, this is what "traditional Irish soda bread" is supposed to be. Let's face it, Ireland: not known for fabulous cuisine. Then I met Aunt Deb, another Kraut married into this Mick family, and she gave me the World's Best But Least Irish Soda Bread Recipe. All of Aunt Deb's recipes are World's Best, such as her Cranberry Salsa, her Margarita, but I'm getting off track. What makes her soda bread so amazing is TWO, count them, that's TWO WHOLE CUPS of Sugar and ONE ENTIRE QUART of Buttermilk. I think that if you add 2 cups of Sugar and 1 qt. of buttermilk to any baked good, it would be better. This recipe yields 3 9x5 loaves of the most cake like raisin studded deliciousness. Tastes great toasted, and buttered. Yes, butter that goodness!

Aunt Deb's Irish Soda Bread

8 c. flour
2c. sugar
3 T. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
2 t. salt
1 15 oz. box raisins
3 eggs
3/4 c. butter, melted
1 quart buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all of the dry ingredients. Add the raisins. Stir in everything else.
Pour into 3 greased 9x5 loaf pans. Bake for 50-60 minutes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

molten chocolate cake

this is what i made for valentine's day.
super easy and super good.
my favorite combination.


Serves 6
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tins
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tins
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • Whipped Cream , for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter 6 cups of a standard muffin tin. Dust with granulated sugar, and tap out excess. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, beat in flour and salt until just combined. Beat in chocolate until just combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.
  3. Place muffin tin on a baking sheet; bake just until tops of the cakes no longer jiggle when the pan is lightly shaken, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.
  4. To serve, turn out cakes, and place on serving plates, bottom sides up. Dust with confectioners' sugar, and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Read more at Molten Chocolate Cake - Martha Stewart Recipes

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Buttermilk Bread

I recently discovered this book: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes. It's amazing. The recipes are super-easy and delicious. The main theme of the book is how to quickly and easily make that kind of bakery-style artisan bread with a shiny crackly crust. However, to make that kind of bread, they tell you to use a pizza stone (which I don't have) so I tried this recipe for a buttermilk loaf instead. It was heavenly, especially warm from the oven. It is soft and airy and really flavorful, and in the book they also recommend using the dough for cinnamon-raisin bread, which would be awesome too.
They say this recipe is enough for three 1 lb loaves, but I just halved it and made one larger loaf. The book also advocates making a huge batch of dough which sits in the fridge for a week or two developing flavor and waiting for you to hack off a chunk at a time whenever you want to bake. This would be very dangerous for me and my carb-hound kids, so I just make one loaf at a time.
Here is the recipe...I've included the halved amounts in parentheses, because they're kind of awkward:
2 cups lukewarm water (1 cup)
1 cup buttermilk (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 Tablespoons granulated yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 1/2 T salt (2 1/4 tsp)
1 1/2 T sugar (2 1/4 tsp)
6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (3 1/4 cups)
butter or neutral-tasting oil for greasing the pan
* I recommend using room-temp buttermilk, and according to the authors, using unbleached flour is kind of important, since the bleaching process alters the proteins in some way.
1. Mix everything together without kneading. ( I just use a wooden spoon)
2. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temp for about two hours
3. At this point you can refrigerate it for up to 7 days.
4. Lightly grease a loaf pan. Dust the dough with flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. ( they call this "gluten-cloaking" the loaf...fancy!) Elongate the ball into an oval and drop it in the pan.
* The dough is really wet and sticky so it is supposedly easier to work with when it has been refrigerated.
5. Allow the dough to rest for 40 minutes (or 1 hour and 40 minutes if the dough was refrigerated) Dust the top with flour and slash the top with a sharp knife. (they say to brush the top with melted butter, but I never did...)
6. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
7. I remove the loaf from the pan right away and cool it on a wire rack...until my family can't resist the temptation to cut into it any longer. Seriously, I finally put away the small piece that was leftover, and Kateri pushed a chair over to the counter and sneakily unwrapped it so she could keep eating's so good.
I've tried the 100% whole wheat loaf, too, which is good and I am going to try to make their master recipe in my dutch oven, since I don't have a pizza stone, but here is their website if you are interested. They have videos and tips and troubleshooting...enjoy!
**** Sorry everyone...I just made this recipe and realized I had written the half-recipe conversions wrong...I fixed it! *****

Monday, January 10, 2011

Beef Stew

It doesn't look like much, but trust me, it's darn tasty.

I had to post this recipe because it is one of my favorite winter meals (and I made it last night): hearty, hot, yummy, and easy! It's from my dear mother and it is delicious. I use a slow cooker, but I'm sure you could adjust it to use a dutch oven if you prefer that.

Here you go:
1 ½ to 2 lbs. boneless chuck beef – cut into 1” to 1 ½ “pieces (I've had great luck just using whatever kind of big chunk of beef is on sale at the grocery store)

4 medium sized red potatoes (I use whatever kind I have: russet, gold, etc..), peeled and cubed (12oz. small red potatoes, peeled & quartered, about 2 cups)

5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ¾” pieces (2 ½ cups baby carrots cut in half)

2 yellow onions cut into chunks

5 celery stalks (2 cups approx.) Cut into ¾’ pieces

(If you have them, you can add Mushrooms, cut in half or quartered)

3 cans beef broth concentrate (Campbell’s 10 ½ oz, do not dilute)

Salt & Pepper (I like lots of pepper)

Put everything into slow cooker and cover: cook on low-heat setting 8 to 10 hours OR
high-heat setting 4 to 5 hours.

Just before serving…

Thicken stew with a roux made of …

½ cup butter
2/3 cup flour or less
3 ½ cup hot beef broth from the stew pot (if you are a little short on broth just add water
to the broth)
Kitchen Bouquet – browning & seasoning sauce
Salt & Pepper

In a 2 ½ quart sauce pan, melt butter and add flour. Cook and stir, mixing into a paste.
Slowly add hot beef stock. Stirring to mix well. Cook and stir until gravy comes to a
gentle boil. Add a little Kitchen bouquet for color. Salt & pepper to taste. Return gravy
to slow-cooker with the rest of the stew. Mix again.

Serve with crusty bread and a green tossed salad. Yum!

Friday, October 15, 2010

german oven pancakes

These are a delicious alternative to regular pancakes and so much easier and less time consuming.  Some people call them Dutch Babies or other various names.

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
3 large eggs
dash of salt
1 to 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
Preheat your oven to 425° F. I usually use two smaller pans and do one recipe in each or you can double the recipe and use a 9x13 pan.

Place the butter in the bottom of the pan and place it in the oven while it's preheating to melt it (Don't let it start to burn though).  Mix your milk, flour, eggs and salt in a bowl. Use a wire whisk to blend, but make sure all the lumps have disappeared before moving on. (Some people blend this in a food processor but I don't) When you've got your mix ready, pour it over the melted butter in your pan, and place it back in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Edges will be puffed up. I like to server with powdered sugar or Nutella or both (that's why I like to make two).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Squares

These are ridiculously good. And they go great with beer. You should make some.

Makes 24

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
If you can't find pumpkin-pie spice, substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon each allspice and cloves (all ground).

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
  4. Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.
From Everyday Food, November 2004

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Triple Summer Berry Pie

No summer is complete without this pie. And with an abundance of berries at Costco, it's an easy dessert in under an hour. BUT and this is the part that I am sure to forget the first 2 times I make a recipe like has to chill for 3 hours. I made it the night before a 4th of July party and the only problem was that there was not enough for second helpings. You could make it super-fast if you (ahem) buy a pre-made (eye roll) graham cracker crust. I mean pie crust is hard, but graham cracker crust is uber-easy, even my 7 year old can do it. Like 99.9% of my recipes, this is a tried and true favorite from the Cooks' Illustrated folks. I even took this picture myself. Of course, I had to brush away all of the crumbs, silly bandz, pixos, and old macaroni first.

Triple Summer Berry Pie

For the crust:
9 graham crackers
2 T sugar
5 T unsalted butter melted

For the filling:
2 cups raspberries
2 cups blackberries
2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/8 t salt
1 T lemon juice
2 T red currant jelly which I never have, so I used Welch's grape jelly last time. I've also used strawberry, apple, etc. whatever I have.

For the topping:
To be honest, I've never made the topping. This pie is too damn good without it. Why ruin it? But here goes for the over-acheivers in the group...
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 T sugar
1 t vanilla

For crust:
Preheat oven to 325. Process graham crackers in a food processor. Add sugar and pulse. Add butter in a stream and pulse until it looks like wet sand. Put crumbs in a 9" glass pie plate, form the crust. Dang, that's the hard part. Use a flat bottom glass. Bake 15-18 min.

For the filling:
Rinse and dry berries. Mix 'em all together, then measure out 2 1/2 cups and put them in your food processor. Yes, you should wash the butter crumbs out first. Puree 2 1/2 cups of the berries for 1 minute. Strain the puree through a mesh sieve into a saucepan. You should have about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups of thick seed-free juice. Whisk sugar and cornstarch into puree to combine. Bring puree to boil over medium heat stirring constantly. When it resembles dark purple pudding, remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and salt. Cool slightly while you heat jelly til melted (30 sec. in the microwave should do it). Toss remaining berries with jelly.
Pour puree into pie shell. Top with shiny, sticky berries and chill 3 hours.

My hand-written copy of this recipe stops here, but I'm guessing you would mix all of the topping ingredients in a pre-chilled stainless steel bowl with an electric mixer until it forms peaks. Soft or stiff...your guess is as good as mine. Enjoy!

Monday, June 7, 2010

nana's chicken and rice

If you just need some good comfort food try this recipe of Zach's Grandmother Weisse (aka Nana). She had 13 kids so she learned how to cook on a low budget and make easy dishes that would feed a lot of people. This is really simple, but you can do a few things to spice it up if you want.

Chicken (I use full Breasts)--use as much as you want
1 can Cream of Mushroom
2 can Cream of Celery
1 packet of dry Onion Soup Mix
1 can water (or 1 1/2 cans for larger meal)
1 cup rice (or 1 1/2 rice for larger meal)
Salt and Pepper to taste

1.) Mix all ingredients (except chicken)
2.) Place in a greased pan
3.) Place chicken on top and cover a little with the rest of the ingredients.
4.) Cover with Foil. Cook at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Notes: I didn't have the soup mix so I just put in about 3/4 a cup of chopped onions. I had a bunch of mushrooms that I needed to use up so I diced those and threw them in too. You can fuss with the recipe however you want and it will still turn out pretty good. I served this with asparagus, but green beans or another green veggie would be good too.

Friday, May 7, 2010

they draw and cook

i love this new food blog i just found and thought i would share.
allie, christine, john..?  which of you artistic chefs wants to join their efforts?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

following suit...

*photo from sunday suppers.

ok, so sara requested a menu call and no one answered.
come on, ladies, let's help each other out.
nothing like some simple suggestions to get you inspired...
i was hesitant to respond, as i knew this week would be a little lame for me (coming off of vacation and sickness), but i figured if i posted my "nothing special" menu, maybe others would follow suit...

monday night - we got back from california late friday night and i spent the rest of the weekend super sick and by monday i still couldn't pull it together to get to the store.  plus, pete teaches catechism on monday nights, so he is never home for dinner.  i made waffles.  needless to say, it was a big hit.  how's that to start off my menu call.

tuesday night - spaghetti (confession: i still hadn't gone to the store, so this was what we had on hand...)

wednesday night - cauliflower soup and cheese toasts with green beans on the side (random, i realize, but at the store today lucy was so excited to buy green beans and make them immediately...  i am surprised i talked her out of having them for lunch).  it is cloudy and possibly going to rain here tonight, so i couldn't help but jump on making soup, as it might be our last chilly evening for a very, very long time.

thursday night - gyros.  not sure what i am going to make with them yet.  any suggestions?

friday night - bbq pulled pork with baked potatoes.  also, lucy's request.  the second we hit the produce section at the grocery store, she is desperate for green beans, russet potatoes and blueberries.  this is a super easy meal, as i make the pork in the crock pot and baked potatoes are about as easy as they come.

so, there you have it.  nothing special.
now its your turn.
inspire me, please.  as you can see, i could definitely use it.
and, i think, pete would truly appreciate it.

and, thank you, thank you, sara.  your menu looks much more delicious than mine.
i will definitely be adding that pasta lagardo to my menu next week.  mmmm...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Menu Call

OK, I think we all need to get back to posting over here!! Here's my menu for the week, nothing fancy, but give me some new ideas!
Tues: Chicken and Dumplings

Wed: Pasta Lagardo (we named this after Tommy and Kathleen Lagarde made it for us in North Carolina 3 years ago) It's become a favorite.

Thurs: Greek Chicken Cutlets

Fri: a spring risotto, maybe with shrimp, asparagus...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Potatoes Supreme

Since I remembered to take pictures this time and they don't look too disgusting, I thought it was about time I shared something again. Zach's mom gets mad at me when I make them because she says they are too fattening, but I say that I a sure sign that they are delicious! Basically, it is just mashed potatoes that you throw lots of good stuff into and then bake.

Here are the basic instructions:
  • Peel and Cube about 6 medium potatoes. Boil them until tender and then mash.
  • Then add some variation of the following: 2 cups sour cream, as much butter as you like, tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 2 cups cheese, 1/2 to 1 cup of green onions, and sprinkle with Paprika
  • Put in a casserole dish and then top with 2 cups crushed corn flakes and drizzle 1/4 cup melted butter over the top.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
My little masher.
The final product pre-oven.

Monday, March 1, 2010

a new salad

i love finding new inspiration for salads and recently my mother-in-law made a delicious one.  it is nothing i would have ever thought to put in a salad, but it all tasted so good together.  she served it with grilled salmon and the whole meal was fabulous.

romaine hearts, chopped
baby arugula
corn (fresh, if you can get it, otherwise you can use what you have)
dried cranberries
parmesan, shredded
ranch dressing (she said it actually calls for trader joe's parmesan ranch, but she didn't have any on hand, so she just added parmesan and used regular ranch).
(bev also said the actual recipe calls for some baby pasta, but i didn't get the details on that.  and i kind of doubt i will be able to rope bev into posting anything... perhaps she will leave a comment?)

i definitely recommend it.  i think i just might be making it this week myself.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

pink meringue cupcakes with raspberry curd

for valentine's day we had the speiers over for dinner.  the menfolk grilled steak (which allie made a delicious italian peppercorn sauce for... perhaps she will share) and i made cauliflower soup and spinach salad.  it was all delicious.  and for dessert i made these tasty (and pretty... although not quite as pretty as martha's, i still thought they looked lovely) little cupcakes.  thank you again, martha stewart.


Makes 1 dozen
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray, for baking cups
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Gel-paste food coloring in Tulip Red (
  • 2 cups creme fraiche
  • 1 container (6 ounces) raspberries, halved if large
  • Raspberry Curd

  • Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line every other cup of 2 nonstick 12-cup muffin tins with baking cups; coat with cooking spray. Whisk egg whites, vinegar, vanilla, and salt with a mixer on medium-high speed until frothy. Add 1 3/4 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition, making sure the sugar dissolves. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Mix in 6 drops food coloring.

  • Transfer mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a plain coupler (no tip), and pipe into prepared baking cups, about 2 inches above rims, finishing with a peak in the centers. Bake, rotating halfway through, 3 to 3 hours and 20 minutes. (Cupcakes should be completely dry on the outside but still soft in the middle. A toothpick inserted horizontally at base of top should have moist but cooked crumbs attached.) Transfer cupcakes in baking cups to wire racks; let cool completely.

  • Beat creme fraiche and remaining cup sugar in a clean mixer bowl on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Carefully slice off tops of cupcakes using a serrated knife. (Run the knife just above the liner and slowly work your way to the center.) Top each cupcake with 2 tablespoons raspberry curd, a few raspberries, and 2 tablespoons creme fraiche mixture. Replace tops, and serve immediately.

  • raspberry curd:

    Makes about 1 1/2 cups
    • 1 container (6 ounces) raspberries
    • 1 1/4 cups sugar
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    • Pinch of salt
    Whisk all ingredients in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until slightly thick, 8 to 10 minutes. Strain; refrigerate until cold and thick.