Friday, October 16, 2009

Chocolate Pretzel Kisses

I discovered this recipe in the White Family Fare Volume II, published by Isabel, but the recipe is from Aunt Deb. I must make these every October, even though I can't find Hershey Hugs, Halloween M&Ms, and pretzel rings sold at the same stores. Target is the only place I can find Hugs, Jewel Osco for the pretzels. Now, there is no Jewel in most parts of the country and my mother and sister claim that they have had much success with mini pretzels, or snaps would work too, I suppose.
50 pretzel rings (who counts these? I just make 'em til the Hugs are gone.
1 package milk chocolate kisses, or hugs, or the candy corn kisses you see in the pic.
1/4 cup M&Ms plain chocolate candies (but again, whose counting? There's no such thing as too many M&Ms in the house.)

1. Have your little ones wash their hands.
2. Preheat the oven to 275F.
3. Have the little ones unwrap all of the kisses or hugs, and no sampling til we are finished!
4. Put aluminum foil (or parchment paper) over a cookie sheet.
5. Place ring shaped pretzels in rows (or not) covering the cookie sheet. Place an unwrapped chocolate kiss (or hug) in the center of each ring.
6. Bake at 275F for 2-3 minutes, no longer. Remove from oven.
7. Immediately, smush one m&m onto each kiss, pressing lightly until the chocolate fills the pretzel. I like to put my m&ms "m" side down. I can be ocd sometimes.
8. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes. At this point, we count the remaining m&ms and practice division among me and my 4 chocolate addicts. Nothing goes to waste around here.
9. Eat or store at room temperature.

Isabel uses mint kisses for Christmas, and they do sell the red and green M&Ms too. You could adapt this recipe for every major holiday!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Glorified Zucchini Casserole

A few months ago, Julie told me about Pioneer Woman. If you don't know Pioneer Woman, wait til you have a weekend to kill and check out her awesomest blog complete with true love story.
Pioneer Woman has a few pages: Confessions, Cooking, Photography, Home & Garden, Homeschooling and Tasty Kitchen. Tasty Kitchen is actually it's own site, with members posting recipes all the time. The recipes are rated, reviewed and easy to search. Tasty Kitchen is where I found this gem.
I am now a firm believer that the only good tasting vegetables are those that have been roasted in heavy cream. I could even become a vegetarian. My kids, who never before consumed zucchini in any form other than bread, ate multiple helpings. I am making this for Major Paul tonight.

Glorified Zuchinni Casserole
Added by jlclawson on August 25, 2009 in Sides, Vegetables

Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 45 Minutes Servings 8 Difficulty Easy

2 cloves Garlic Chopped
1 whole Sweet Onion, Chopped
1 whole Zuchinni Sliced In 1/4 Inch Sliced
1 whole Crooknecked Squash Sliced
4 whole Medium Red Potatoes Sliced
4 whole Tomatoes (home Grown Is Best) Sliced
1 cup Cream
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 sprigs Fresh Basil, Torn
Salt And Pepper
Preparation Instructions
In a medium pan, saute the chopped onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Once the onion and garlic are soft, place them in the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan. Top with the sliced zucchini, then the yellow crookneck squash, potatoes, and finally the tomato slices. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place uncovered in a preheated 450 F oven for 25-35 minutes. Test with a fork to make sure the potato slices are tender.

Take the casserole out of the oven and drizzle the cream on top of the veggies. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and fresh basil over the top and return to the oven for 15 more minutes. When done, the cream and cheese will bubble and melt. Let the casserole sit for a few minutes before serving. I serve this with any meat main dish, or my favorite is serving it for breakfast with a fried egg on top with toast. It is the best meal when your garden is bursting with fresh veggies.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancake Mix

By special request from Brian, I am posting this as his contribution to the recipe blog:
Mo's Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancake Mix

Like bacon with your pancakes? How about bacon in your pancakes? Mo's Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancake Mix ($14) offers exactly that, mixing tasty buttermilk pancake mix with Vosges Chocolates' delectable Mo Bacon Bar chips. Finally, a good reason to wake up early.
Go here to order yours now!

Baked Manicotti with Meat Sauce

Everyday Food is to Sara as Cook's Country is to me.

I LOVE this magazine, and I have been getting it from the charter issue.
In fact, I have been getting it for so long, that now I use all of Oct/Nov issues to plan all of my meals for October and November, and so on and so on...This allows me to try new recipes interspersed with old favorites that I forgot about.
Until I burn out, and then we have frozen pizza, and shhh...hamburger helper. I'm so ashamed right now.

But lately I have been on a roll! Every dinner we had this week was from the 2009 Oct/Nov issue, available in stores everywhere.
Last night, we had Baked Manicotti with Meat Sauce.
I even remembered that Cook's usually allows you to prep one step up to 24 hrs ahead, and made the sauce a whole one hour ahead. The sauce was gooood. Not so lean, but so good, Patrick wants to use this sauce on other pastas. Could be the highly addictive chemical additives found in pepperoni combined with the naptime inducing effects of pasta have created an unstoppable force.
My 12 year old assembled the cheese filling. I would recommend a softer, milder provolone. She complained a lot about the stinkiness of my provolone.

There are pictures of this, I will attempt to upload them, but I apologize for my technical inadequacies in advance.

Baked Manicotti with Meat Sauce

You will need 16 no-boil lasagna noodles. The test kitchen’s preferred brand, Barilla, comes 16 to a box, but other brands contain only 12. It is important to let the dish cool for 15 minutes after baking.

serves 6 to 8
Meat Sauce

1 onion, chopped
6 ounces sliced deli pepperoni
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
1 tablespoon tomato paste
5 garlic cloves , minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper


3 cups ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone cheese
1 large egg , lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (see note)

1. GRIND MEAT Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Pulse onion and pepperoni in food processor until coarsely ground. Add beef and pulse until thoroughly combined.

2. MAKE SAUCE Transfer beef mixture to large saucepan and cook over medium heat, breaking up mixture with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer 1 cup beef mixture to paper towel-lined plate and reserve. Add tomato paste, garlic, and pepper flakes to pot with remaining meat mixture and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (At this point, sauce can be refrigerated in airtight container for 3 days.)

3. PREPARE FILLING Combine ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, 1 cup provolone, egg, salt, pepper, basil, and reserved meat mixture in large bowl. Pour 2 quarts boiling water into 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Soak noodles until pliable, about 5 minutes. Drain noodles on kitchen towel. Pour off water and dry baking dish.

4. ASSEMBLE DISH Spread half of meat sauce over bottom of baking dish. Following photos below, top each soaked noodle with ¼ cup cheese filling, roll, and arrange, seam-side down, over sauce in baking dish. Spread remaining sauce over manicotti. Cover with foil and bake until bubbling around edges, about 40 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and provolone. Bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Serve.

STEP BY STEP: Thinking Outside the Tube

1. Soak the no-boil lasagna noodles briefly in hot water. With the short side facing you, spread the filling across the bottom of each and roll into a tube.

2. Arrange the rolled manicotti, seam-side down, over the sauce in the baking dish.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Soup Week: Spinach, White Bean and Italian Sausage Soup

This is one of the tastiest soups ever. The recipe comes from my aunt Mary Dooley, who once told me that if you like to cook, you have to like to eat. So true. Kids love it, especially when you substitute some macaroni or little pasta for some of the beans!! I'm not a big bean person myself and can never bring myself to use 4 cans.

1 lb. Italian sausage
10 large garlic cloves
20 oz. spinach, (2 10 oz. bags)(or frozen)
4 cans white beans (cannelini or Great Northern)
3 cans chicken broth
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes (pass at table if desired)

Brown sausage in bite size chunks, first removing casing if link-style. Drain on paper towel. Wash spinach well and dry; chop into 2 inch pieces. In a large soup pot, saute garlic in olive oil until softened. Add spinach and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally until wilted. Drain and rinse beans. Add to pot, along with chicken broth. Bring to gentle boil. (This is where I throw in some pasta and extra water). Cook 10-15 min. Add parmesan and sausage and heat through. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and serve immediately. Serve with crusty bread and extra parmesan cheese! Serves 8

photo credit:

online cooking group - week three: cider-glazed salmon

as i am currently reading this book by molly wizenberg, i thought i would give a few of her recipes a try.

sliced spring salad with avocado and feta (i realize its not spring, but i am ok with that)...

burg's potato salad...

cider glazed salmon...
- 1 T unsalted butter
- 1 medium shallot, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 2 cups fresh unfiltered apple cider
- 4 salmon fillets (i only used 2 since they seemed a little big and we had plenty of sides)
- salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (i used half and half)

in a large, heavy skillet, combine the butter, shallot, and cider.  place over medium-high heat, and bring to a simmer.  simmer for 5 minutes, then remove and discard the shallot.
Place the fillets gently in the pan.  spoon a bit of the liquid over them, so that their tops begin to cook.  cover and simmer very gently.  the fillets will cook for 8 to 10 minutes per inch of thickness.  transfer the cooked salmon to a platter, and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
to prepare glaze, raise the heat under the pan to medium-high, add a pinch of salt, and simmer, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced by about two-thirds.  it should be slightly thickened and should just cover the bottom of the pan.  reduce the heat to medium, and add the cream.  stir well to combine.  boil, stirring frequently, for a few minutes, until the mixture darkens to a pale golden caramel - like those brach's milk maid caramel candies, if that helps (i think this is extremely helpful) - and is reduced by one-third to one-half.
place salmon fillets on 4 plates and top each with a spoonful of sauce.  it should coat them like a thin, loose glaze.  serve immediately.

note: if you'd like to make this for only 2 people,  halve the amount of salmon, but not the sauce quantities.

all in all i would say this week was a half success.  i got my kids to eat fish, but not necessarily to be totally excited about it.  lucy was clearly downing hers with water as the entire bottom of her glass was full of salmon bits (too much detail here?).  i cannot say my kids would exactly cheer if i said i were making this again.  pete liked it, but definitely prefers the way we usually make it with onions, capers and lemon.  he did, however think this was an excellent kid option as the sauce takes away a bit from the overly fishy taste and is somewhat sweet due to the cider.  if your kids like salmon or are at least open to it, i definitely think this recipe is worth trying.  i liked it, at least...  as for the rest of the meal, pete, jack and i liked the potato salad, finn wouldn't touch it and lucy carefully picked out all the scallions and then enjoyed it.  and, as for the salad, i really liked it.  pete didn't care for the radichio, which apparently lucy didn't either because she said she liked the salad, "except for the purple stuff."  i think i might try this salad next time with just some mixed greens.  it might be more of a crowd pleaser that way...  oh, and the boys wouldn't try the salad, so no reviews there.  that pretty much does it.  my long rambling review of a mildly well received meal.  it could use some tweaking, but i am glad i tried it.  i think less picky kids would love it just the way it is.  would love to know how it goes for anyone else who tries it...

and for anyone interested in checking out the rest of the online cooking group, here is the site - raising foodies.