January 31, 2010

Printing made easier!

Pardon today's dust on the blog. I've been trying to solve how to print off recipes without having to print the whole page with all it's sidebar junk and such. Thanks to my DH, if you now try to print a page of my blog off it will not have any of the sidebars or any of the colored background! Blogger likes to make life difficult, so there's no currently feasible way for you to be able to print off just the single post from the main blog page. However, if you want to print off any of my recipes, you can now click on the recipe title which brings just that entry up on a single page. You then can print off that entry by either going through your browser or by clicking "Print Page" which will now appear at the bottom of most of my posts (I'll update some of the older ones).

I also finally corrected some minor annoyances of mine with my layout. That makes me happy. :)

Happy Printing!

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Southwest Fettuccine Bowl

8oz uncooked fettuccine
Cooking Spray
1 cup chunky salsa
1/3 cup frozen corn
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons chili sauce
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (15oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Cook and drain fettuccine as directed on the package.
Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients except cilantro in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender.
Divide fettuccine among 4 bowls. Top each with ¾ cup sauce mixture. Sprikle with cilantro.

January 30, 2010


When DH and I married three years ago, I owned zero cookbooks. During those first few months of marriage I realized that I needed to expand my cooking beyond tacos, spaghetti, grilled chicken, red beans and rice, and chicken noodle soup. Basically we ate meals that were all made from memory that first month. Boy, that got old! As you can tell, I've picked up quite a few cookbooks these past three years! They're used frequently, as you can see by the torn up shelf. :)
I have old church cookbooks from the 70s and old Southern Living cookbooks given to me from my grandmother, slow cooker and easy weeknight meal cookbooks given to me from my mother-in-law, baking books, food magazines, and even a Rachel Ray cookbook!

My favorite by far is Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book 14th Edition. If there's one cookbook that every new cook should have, it's this one. It covers the basics and offers advice and help. Most recipes are uncomplicated and easy, not requiring any odd ingredients or even very many ingredients. The first time I want to try something new from scratch, I'll turn to this book first and try their recipe. Why? They always work and taste good. It may not be French gourmet, but you'll be satisfied and happy.

The other two cookbooks that I recommend to others is The Pioneer Woman Cooks and Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I've mentioned the bread book several times on here. The Pioneer Woman is also nice because of all the detailed step by step photos, helping to ensure even the most novice cook can make great food. I won't claim that most of her recipes are healthy in any way, but they're good. This is the book to have around for when you need something special or a treat. There are plenty of recipes to help you feed a crew or use for a special dinner.

My most used "cookbooks" are my three binders. Each binder contains recipes I've found online, torn out of magazines, and even old recipe cards from family members.

Separated into categories and alphabetized within each. It's easy for me (or DH) to find and pull one out. Each recipe is in it's own sheet protector. I love sheet protectors for this purpose. I'm a messy cook at time, and it's great being able to keep the recipe on the counter and just wipe it clean when I'm done.

I will admit it took some time when I started this project over a year and a half ago to have all these various recipes in one organized place, but now it's easy for me to add to it.

January 23, 2010

White Chili

Got this from somebody (don't remember who now) on a military spouse forum.

1 pound cooked chicken breast (or 1 pound of cooked ground turkey works too!)
2 can chicken broth
2 cans northern beans (or other white beans)
1 can chopped green chilis
cumin to taste
shredded cheese (like sharp cheddar) for serving

Put all in a pot and heat through. Can thicken the sauce with some flour. Serve with shredded cheese.

White Chili with ground turkey served with cornbread

January 21, 2010

Menu: Jan 21- Feb 4

I'll go back and link to recipes later (update: they're linked!). Went by the commissary this morning and spent $50 for the two weeks! My goal with with this menu was to use as many items as I could that I already had in my freezer and pantry.

1/21 Thursday Dinner: Red Beans and Rice with smoked turkey sausage

1/22 Friday Dinner: Italian Baked Chicken and Pasta, baguette and sautéed zucchini (pasta meal: I used small sea shells, 1 cup of diced cooked chicken instead of 1/2 cup, used a little more dried herbs, and I added a splash of white wine - turned out really yummy and will make again!)

1/23 Saturday Breakfast/Lunch: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Saturday Dinner: Hamburgers, tater tots, and squash

1/24 Sunday Breakfast/Lunch: hash browns and eggs

Sunday Dinner: Creamy Chicken, Vegetables & Noodles

1/25-1/28 Monday-Thursday Meals:

1. beer battered fish (bought frozen) and frozen veggies in cheese sauce
2. Quiche
3. Lasagna Rolls with Spinach and Ricotta
4. White chili with ground turkey and cornbread

1/29 Friday Dinner: leftovers

1/30 Saturday Breakfast/Lunch: Cinnamon Apple Dutch Baby

Saturday Dinner: Out to eat somewhere sit down.

1/31 Sunday Breakfast/Lunch: cheese eggs

Sunday Dinner: Shrimp and Grits

2/1-2/4 Monday- Thursday Meals:

1. Chicken Pot Pie

2. leftover chicken pot pie

3. Beef Noodle Bowl

4. Frozen pizzas

January 18, 2010

Homemade Pizza

This was sooooo good!

1 grapefruit sized piece of the artisan bread master recipe
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4-6 oz pizza sauce (I used tomato sauce with my own spices added)
1/2 chicken breast, grilled and diced
two big handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
little less than 1/4 cup of diced red onion
1 roma tomato, diced
olive oil

I followed the pizza variation using the artisan bread master recipe. I put the pizza crust once rolled out on a pizza pan, so I did not heat up a baking stone. Preheat oven to 450*.
In a skillet, heat up a teaspoon or so of olive oil. Once hot, add red onion. Saute for a couple of minutes and then add the spinach. Stirring frequently, cook until spinach is just wilted.
I topped the pizza with the sauce, followed by mozzarella cheese, spinach and red onion mixture, chicken, and diced tomato.

Baked at 450* for 15-20 minutes.

This was very easy since I didn't have to make the crust from scratch.

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Artisan Bread: Master Recipe and Variations of Baking

I've linked to this before, but thought I'd type it out here. This is just one of many, many bread recipes in the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. All of their breads are able to be mixed by hand (though a stand mixer makes it faster and easier) and can be stored in the fridge anywhere from 5 days to 14 days. No kneading required! After the recipe I shared a few variations for baking uses.

The Master Recipe: Boule
*makes four 1 lb loaves.

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour (measure by scooping flour with a measuring cup and then sweeping across the top with the back of a knife or wooden spoon handle; don't press down)

Mixing and Storing Dough
1. Warm the water slightly (about 100* F).
2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5-quart bowl (or preferably a 5-quart plastic food container that closes but not airtight). Don't try to get all the yeast and salt to dissolve.
3. Mix in the flour. Add all of it at once. Mix with a wooden spoon. Can also use a food processor that is 14 cups or larger using the dough attachment or a heavy-duty stand mixer with the dough hook. Don't knead, just mix. Use your hands if need be. Stop as soon as all the flour is incorporated and uniformly moist. Leave dough in container.
4. Cover with a lid that fits the container well (but isn't airtight). Allow to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse. About 2 hours, but could take up to 5. Even if it risen after 2 hours, it will still be safe to let it sit for 5 hours.
5. You can use the dough at this point, but I really recommend putting it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. It's easier to work with. Dough is good for 14 days in the fridge. Dough can also be frozen in 1 pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the fridge prior to baking day.

How to Bake
Variation 1: Free Form Artisan Bread
Prepared a pizza peel by sprinkling it with cornmeal. Pull up and cut off a 1-lb (grapefruit-size) piece of dough using a serrated knife. Add flour to your dough outside and your hands to keep it from sticking to you.
Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides. Don't try to incorporate more four into the dough. Should take a minute or less to do this. A correctly shaped final product will be smooth along the top and sides, but may look bumpy on the bottom. Rest the loaf on the pizza peel for about 40 minutes. Does not need to be covered.
20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450* with a baking stone on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler pan on any other shelf in the oven.
Dust the loaf with flour. With a serrated bread knife slash a 1/4 inch deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top.
After the preheat is done, slide the load off the peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly (but be careful) pour 1 cup of hot water from the tap into the boiler tray. Quickly shut the oven door. Bake for 30 minutes.

Variation 2: Baguette
Preheat oven to 450* with baking stone on the middle rack. Place empty boiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with baking.
Cut off a 1 lb (grapefruit size) piece of bread of the master recipe. Dust with flour and shape into a ball quickly. For a cylinder approximately 2 inches in diameter. Roll back and forth or stretch it carefully to do this. Place on a pizza peel covered with whole wheat flour and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Depending on size of your baking stone you may have to cut bread in half and make two smaller baguettes.
After dough as rested, paint water over the surface using a pastry brush. Slash the loaf with longitudinal cuts that move diagonally across the loaf using a serrated bread knife.
Slide the loaf directly onto the hot baking stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly shut the oven door. Bake for 25 minutes or until deeply browned and firm to the touch.

Variation 3: Pizza Crust
Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven with baking stone to 550* or 500*. You do not need the boiler tray for this. Sprinkle cornmeal on pizza peel.
Cut off a 1 lb (grapefruit size) piece of the master dough recipe. Dust with flour and quickly shape into a ball. Flatten dough with hands and a rolling pin to produce a 1/8" thick round. You may need to let the dough sit for a couple of minutes half way through to make it easier to continue rolling.
Top with your favorite toppings.
Slide pizza directly onto the hot stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
High oven temps may cause cornmeal from pizza peel to smoke. You can also bake at 450*, but it will take longer to cook.

Variation 4: Calzones
20 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450* with a baking stone and a broiler tray.
Flatten and roll dough (1 lb piece) just as done above with pizza. Use fillings of your choice and place on half of the dough circle, leaving an inch around the edge free of filling.
Wet the inch boarder with water. Fold the bare side of the dough over the filled side. Seal the border by pinching closed with fingers. Cut 3 slits on the top crust, all the way through the dough, using a serrated knife.
Slide calzone directly onto hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the boiler tray quickly and shut the door. Bake for 25 minutes.

Notes: Baking these breads is actually quite quick and easy. Allow yourself extra time the first attempt though.
If you don't have a pizza peel: Use a cutting board or a cookie sheet without raised sides.
If you don't have a baking stone: Just use a regular round pizza pan or cookie sheet. Don't preheat the pan though. Bake as normal, but it may need a couple of extra minutes. Doesn't turn out quite the same as intended, but it's still absolutely wonderful bread.
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January 15, 2010

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Who hasn't noticed the commercials from the Corn Refiners Association the past year? It's rather hard to miss them! My favorites are the radio commercials I've been hearing lately telling us how natural it is. :) The process to make it is far from natural. It's easy to find the arguments for and against HFCS with a google search.

My main concern is how it's in so much of our food! You're consuming sugar without even knowing it. Like many I really try to keep my sugar consumption down, but in order to do that you have to watch ALL SUGAR, not just that pretty white stuff you buy in bags. Today I took the challenge to read the food labels on everything in my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. I took everything out that had HFCS. I do try to read labels while shopping, but I don't always read everything. While some was very expected (and I already knew about), a couple surprised me.

My bread crumbs had HFCS! It wasn't so surprising when I realized that the 100% whole wheat bread I bought last weekend also had it. Boy does that convince me to keep baking my own bread most of the time! All in all I didn't have too many products with it, so my label reading is helping. Other than the yogurt and bread, the foods I found with HFCS are definitely not everyday eats.

While reading all my labels, I noticed how many foods had other forms of sugar in it. The vast majority of these are expected though like the cereal bars that DH eats in the mornings on his way in to work and some condiments. Once again, if you're trying to keep your intake down of certain not so great for you ingredients, READ THE LABEL!

Like the Corn Refiners Association says, "it's fine in moderation." Too bad it's not moderately found in our food supply. Ick!

January 14, 2010

Just a list of meals for this week

DH is gone TDY, so it's just me eating. I went by the commissary before work today to pick up food. I bought the foods to fix a bunch of things that DH doesn't necessarily like or rather doesn't like it the way I like it. While I hate him being gone, I am grateful to have this time to fix some of my favorite foods that I don't get to eat very often. Since I have a 4 day weekend, I'm planning on preparing as much as I can in advance to make next week a happier week on myself. :)

Baguette with brie (well, wee brie)
tuna fish salad
Santa Fe Foldover (we didn't get to fix that)
Tomato and Spinach Pizza
Chicken quesadillas
Spinach and deli meat wraps (I've been addicted to wraps for lunch recently)
whole wheat applesauce muffins (didn't get a chance to make them, so I'll make and freeze them)

**ETA: I've updated my links to coupon sites. If you have a great, consistent one that I haven't listed, please let me know! :D

January 01, 2010

Menu: Jan 1-14

I ended up falling ill earlier this week, which completely threw off my menu. I'm still not 100% by any means. I revamped my menu for the weekend and will be hitting up the commissary Sunday assuming that I'm over this sore throat by then. One thing that saved us this week is that I ended up buying a ham. I cooked the ham Sunday and we ate off it for days. For once I was saved by an impulse buy! :)
Later in the weekend I'll come back and link to recipes. I've been trying to post as many of my recipes up as possible recently. Sadly, it's much easier to pull them up online on my iPhone when cooking than it is to figure out where in the world the recipe came from and resides in my house!

1/1 Breakfast/Lunch: Leftover pizza and pasta
Dinner: pasta with pumpkin and sausage (Excellent meal! Very addicting. Definitely cut it half unless feeding a crowd.), cornbread
1/2 Breakfast/Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: spicy roasted chicken legs, leftover cornbread, and steamed broccoli
1/3 Breakfast/Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Spaghetti with turkey meatballs (will add more seasonings this time though) and parmesan puffs
1/4-1/7 Mon-Thurs Meals:
1. Tilapia, zucchini, and steamed rice
2. Quesadillas
3. Steak bites, squash, and mac n cheese
4. Teriyaki Madness spicy chicken copycat recipe with broccoli
1/8 Dinner: Sausage, tomatoes, and cream pasta
1/9 Breakfast/Lunch: eggs, oranges, and hash browns
Dinner: Grilled chicken salads
1/10 Breakfast/Lunch: whole wheat applesauce muffins
Dinner: BLTs (use lettuce on lunch sandwiches)
1/11-1/14 Mon-Thurs Meals:
1. Santa Fe Foldover
2. Fish sticks, sautéed zucchini
3. Grilled cheese and Tomato Soup
4. Saucy Beef Noodle Skillet