DISCLAIMER!!!!

a cooking blog from one foodie to another... I rarely if ever use real measurements... my recipes are more like guidelines... but along the way we usually land on something kinda delectable...



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 7... Peanut Butter Bars

1 cup melted butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
4 Tbsp peanut butter

Mix butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and peanut butter.  Until well combined.  Press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Combine chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwave safe dish.  Microwave; stirring every 30 seconds until melted and smooth.  Frost peanut butter layer with chocolate.  Refrigerate one hour.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 6... Peanut Butter Blossoms

Guilty as charged.  Only two of those tubes of cookies were sugar.  The other two were peanut butter.  I sliced 'em up, baked 'em, and shoved a Hershey kiss on top of each one:  Peanut Butter Blossoms.

(These also cannot be pictured because the kids ate them faster than they ate the sugar cookies.)

Day 5... Sugar Cookies

I cannot tell a lie.  I cheated.  I bought slice and bake cookies.  They were on sale!!!!  If I bought four rolls of cookies I got a FREE gallon of milk.  FREE!  This family goes through almost 5 gallons of milk per week!  That combined with the fact that I was again behind by one day, and I needed to spend the whole day writing articles for my new writing job... It was too good to pass up.

(Oh and one more thing... I can't post a picture as the children have already inhaled them all.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 4... Chocolate Covered Pretzels

And the award for treat "least likely to get a repeat performance in next year's 12 Treats of Christmas" goes to.... (drumroll please)....  Chocolate Covered Pretzels!  What a FLOP!  We're not even sharing these with a neighbor!  I'm too embarrassed to.  I mean they taste fine and all but YUCH! they look like a train wreck!

Ingredients:

pretzels
2 cups chocolate chips
1 Tsp whipping cream
(this ratio did NOT work for us... the chocolate was clumpy and horrible... I'm telling you, do NOT use this recipe!)

Melt chocolate.  Dip pretzels in chocolate.  [get HORRIBLY messy] Place on wax paper [getting even messier]; sprinkle with decorative sprinkles.  [Try hard, but unsuccessfully to remove chocolate from your hands.  Give up and resort to licking fingers clean; get SICK stomach from too much chocolate.]

Make at your own risk.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 3... Turtles

We're caught up!!!!  Yeah!  When I got home from Wal-mart, Jeremiah, Elijah, and Hannah made turtles.  I swear I did not help AT ALL.  Here's what they did.

Pretzels (the twisted, traditional kind)
Rollos
(Pecans... we don't use these as we're not big fans of nuts)

Preheat oven to 350.  Cover a cookie sheet with pretzels. Unwrap Rollos and place one on top of each pretzel. Bake for 4 min.  If you are using pecans, smush a pecan on top of each rollo and push down a little.

VOILA!

Day 2... Blondies

Well yesterday was supposed to be day 2, but you know what they say, "Better late than never."  We FINALLY did day 2 at dinner time tonight.

This is Noah's FAVORITE recipe.  We got it from my friend Renee.  She brought it to a homeschooling party and Noah fell in love with them.  Here's the recipe:

2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter
2 c brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9x13 pan.  Combine dry ingredients; set aside.  Melt butter.  Remove from heat.  Stir in sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla, stir until combined.  Gradually add the dry ingredients.  Spread in pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 1... Fudge

Surprise!  Surprise!  Surprise!  NOT!  We did not get the FIRST treat of Christmas done!  Grrrr!  Whatever!  We're making two today then.  So today, Day 1 is Fudge.  Diane had a question that made me go, "Aha!" and GREATLY reduced my stress level up here in Butt-nowhere, WI...  we're picking one neighbor to share with each day instead of trying to deliver treats to all 8 each day.  PHEW!  Haven't decided what order to distribute in.... I think maybe we'll just start up the hill and then move down the cul de sac (don't know if you're reading my blogs but that means you're FIRST Jeremy and Tara!)

Here's the recipe we used (minus the nuts... we're nutty enough in this household without adding them to our baking :)  It's from my absolute FAV site for recipes!  Yummy yummy EASY fudge.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The 12 Treats of Christmas

Okay so this is one of those "great Jami ideas" that morphs a little EVERY single year :)  Here's the history:

We started out doing little treats/gifts for each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas.  It was fun and it built up excitement for the season.  Well last year we were STRAPPED for cash so we changed it to the "12 Treats of Christmas" where each of the 12 days we made a treat to celebrate getting closer to Christmas.  Well this year we are REALLY in an "outreach mode" so we have decided to take on the daunting challenge of making enough treats to share with all of our neighbors (never before have I been so glad to live out in butt-nowhere with only 8 or 9 houses down my cul de sac!).  I feel a little like I'm bound to fail on this one, but I figure even if I succeed a few of the days it will bring a little holiday cheer to our neighbors.

I plan to also "share" the experience with you all here.  I'll post the recipe we try each day along with any "fun" episodes from the creating or delivering of the treats.

So here we go!  and

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Baked Potato Soup

We are just soup eating people!  We love us some soup!   Today became the perfect storm of soups.  We are snowed in up in Dodge County, WI (12 inches on our back deck).  Add to that the fact that we have leftover baked potatoes from last night...  PERFECT STORM of soups.

Baked Potato Soup

Chicken broth
Milk/cream

(Use 2 parts chicken broth to 1 part milk/cream; use milk or cream depending on how healthy you want to be.  Today I was feeling pretty health so I used 2 cups 1% milk and 1 cup cream. If you are feeling TRULY decadent, use all cream.  You saints out there:  use milk... might as well go with skim milk at that.)  Warm broth.  Add cream/milk.  Season with salt and pepper.

Peel the skin off 4 - 6 baked potatoes.  Chop potatoes roughly into chunks. Add to soup.  Bring to boil.  Mash up potatoes a little.  Add 4 slices of cooked bacon chunks.  Simmer.  Adda few handfuls of cheddar.  Cook till cheese is melted.

Garnish with sour cream, cheddar, and bacon crumbles.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My new soup....

I created a new soup!!!!  It doesn't really have a name yet.  I guess Jami's Soup would be a little redundant (because we already have a Becky's Soup) and a little odd to use my own name.  I lean towards the schnazzy so   I don't want a simple ingredients type name....  It contains wild rice and cream of chicken soup....  hmmm how bout:

Wild Creamy Chicken Soup

It is an UBBER easy shortcut routine reminiscent of Sandra Lee... and it is YUM to the EEEEEE!  Here you go:

Prepare a box of long grain wild rice (I used Rice a Roni... I think) according to microwave directions.
While this is cooking, start simmering a can of condensed cream of chicken soup (don't forget to add the can of milk).
As soon as the rice is ready, add it to the soup, and simmer at least fifteen minutes.

Serve it up!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reviving an old obsession

One of my ABSOLUTE favorite spots for recipes is the Kraft website.  I LOVE their site!  They used to mail this free magazine to me once a quarter, but they got cheap and turned it into a paid subscription so ALAS... I don't get it anymore.  Regardless they recently came up with a Blackberry App and it has re-lit the fire of my love for Kraftfoods.com.  On election day, I tried this recipe.  Now let me first say I ABHOR seafood... anything that swim (or creeps) in water I do NOT put in my mouth!  However, I acknowledge the health benefits of the slimy little creatures and realize that it is good parenting to expose my children to ALL foods (even those I can hardly stomach).  So I made the recipe.... and guess what???  I was actually able to choke down a little fish when it was smothered in Italian dressing and topped with mushrooms and cheese.

Anywhoo... take a little tour around the site... you can set up a recipe box to save recipes you like AND if you follow this link you can sign up to receive free new products from Kraft and be a "taste tester" for them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Becky's Soup

One more request... the recipe for Becky's Soup... by the way, the infamous Becky Glomski was at my house over the weekend.  I told her how famous her soup has become in my circles.  She had NO idea she was a celebrity!

This recipe is not one I really use exact amounts for, so hang onto your seats folks!

Put a slab of butter in a pan with a swoosh of EVOO.  Add a few cloves of fresh garlic and then saute a big package of fresh sliced mushrooms in there.  When the mushrooms are sauteed, season with a little salt and pepper.  Then add 1 big can of Cream of Mushroom soup and 1 full can of milk.  Using a whisk combine the milk and soup.  Cook until completely combined (no more of those freaky little lumps in there).  Add a couple of handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese.  Cook until completely melted and incorporated.  Add a BIG dollop of sour cream.  Whisk to speed up the incorporation (don't wanna cook the soup too long with the sour cream in there).  Serve and enjoy!

btw... in a pinch I have been known to do ALL of the following when making this soup (although not all at one time I don't think)... while it wasn't as good as the above version, we still liked it.  

*used garlic powder
*used canned mushrooms
*used Parmesan from a can

However, you slice it this soup is G-O-O-D... GOOD!  I have had MANY people tell me, "I don't even like mushrooms and I love this soup!"  So give it a try!  Even if you are a mushroom-a-phob.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Corn Chowder

We <3 soup!  Fall is the BEST time of year because it allows us to SOUP it up!  Just last night (as I made corn chowder) the kids and I were fantasizing about all the soups we can make in the coming weeks:  cheesy vegetable, white chili, beer cheese, french onion... Mmmmmmmmmmm!  Can't wait!  But for last night, on the menu was:  Corn Chowder.

I am NOT lying to you.  This version of corn chowder we ate last night was LITERALLY the best thing I have EVER put in my mouth!  Holy Cow!  It was GOOD!  I used this recipe, but as always I tweaked....

***To begin with I doubled it because I wanted to have leftovers for lunch today :)
***Also I just eyeballed the butter and EVOO.
***left out the thyme because I didn't have any
***used vegetable bouillon cubes because I didn't have canned vegetable stock
***half a bag of frozen corn (SERIOUSLY? who has time to saw the kernels off cobs of corn?  GET REAL!)
***left out the parsley again didn't have it

I think the reason this soup tasted so good was because it was a heart attack in a bowl.... the butter and cream made it SOOOOOO rich and yummy!  I think the biggest thing though was:  I FINALLY found HEAVY whipping cream.... typically I have a hard time with this.  The store seems to carry half n half and whipping cream, but this was the first time I actually found HEAVY cream.  I believe that was the golden ticket.

Changes I'll make next time I make this :  (I know... I know... if it's not broke don't fix it, BUT I would have done just a couple of things a little better)

***triple the amount of potatoes in the chowder.... It was not chunky enough
***double the amount of corn in the chowder

So give it a try and let me know...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

[this one's for you Christine!]

I have LONG been intimidated by making homemade frosting.  However, Christine Melang got me all hyped up on buttercream... "It is the BEST on cupcakes, Jami!  Buttercream frosting, Jami!  Buttercream!  Buttercream!  Buttercream!"

Finally I googled and found a recipe and guess what?  It was NOT that difficult!  So here's the one I chose... you BETTER try it Christine!

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cinnamon roll pizza

This is a Jami creation.... I just decided to try it out and it was FABULOUS!  We <3 it!  This is the most hodgepodge not a real recipe I think I have ever posted, but that's how I make it so here's what I do:

Make pizza crust dough in my bread machine.  (You could just buy one of those pre-made Pillsbury type crusts or a box of pizza dough to prepare.)  Split the dough in half and roll each half out into a circle the size of my pizza pan.  Place one crust on the pan and set the other crust aside.

Take a package of cream cheese (softened) and mix it with 1 tsp of vanilla and powdered sugar.  (I honestly don't know how much.  I just kinda add and test, add and test, until it tastes good.  I like my cream cheese filling to have a little tartness left and not be too sweet.  You might like yours different.)  Spread the cream cheese filling out on the first crust.  Cover it with the second crust.  roll up the edges to seal the filling in.

Melt a stick of butter.  Pour melted butter over the top crust.  Make some cinnamon sugar (about 1/3 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp cinnamon).  Shake this over the melted butter.

Pop the pizza in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 min.  While is is baking make the icing.  Mix powdered sugar (about 1 cup) with milk (about 3 Tbsp).  When the pizza comes out of the oven, drizzle the icing over the top and let sit for at least 5 min before cutting into wedges.

ENJOY!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mmmmmmm!  We <3 chocolate chip cookies!  I make 'em just like the Nestle Tollhouse with a few caveats:

***make SURE (double dog SURE) that the butter is SOFT before you start
***increase vanilla to 1 Tbsp instead of 1 tsp

PERFECT cookies EVERY single time!  enjoy!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Slow Cooker Lasagna

I worked 39.5 hours last week! And that was with being off most of the day Monday! It was INSANE! By Friday we NEEDED an easy dinner. Google brought me to a recipe for lasagna in my slow cooker and VOILA! Dinner with ease!

Basically if you have ever done no-boil lasagna (where you don't boil the noodles and you add a cup of water to your spag sauce), it is the same thing but in a slow cooker. One note: clean up is NOT easy!

Start with spaghettie sauce, then layer: noodles, parmesan, sauce, mozzarella repeat ending with a layer os noodles, sauce, mozzarella only. Pop your slow cooker on low, and it is ready in 4 - 6 hours. (NOTE: do NOT leave the slow cooker on, even on warm, once it is done or the noodles make get cemented to side ALSO: I plan to try spraying the sides and bottom w/non-stick spray first to help w/clean up after.)

Yummy Limeade Punch

*I first consumed this delectable beverage at my friend Renee's 40th b-day bash. Her sister Christine is a MASTER in the kitchen and the food at that party was AMAZING!

1 can frozen limeade (+2 or 3 cans water)
1 can frozen pina colada mix (+1 can water)
1 2-liter of lemon-lime soda

Mix it up!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Homemade Microwave Popcorn!!!

This is one of those moments that will FOREVER alter my life!  I'm not talking quite as big as my salvation moment, but CLOSE!  I have learned the secret of making microwave popcorn from scratch!  For a penny-pincher like me this is EARTH SHATTERING!  Do you know how much microwave popcorn costs???  It is a RIP-OFF!  I never buy it.  Yet then I stand in the kitchen hemming and hawing about how badly do I want a snack???  Bad enough to dirty a HUGE pot for popping popcorn???  Nah...  I'll eat something easier (and likely MUCH MORE unhealthy than popcorn).  So stumbling (with the help of Googgle) upon a homemade recipe was like finding the Holy Grail!!!

Let me change your world TOO!  Here's what you need:

1 brown paper bag
1/4 cup popcorn kernel
salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 small piece of tape
butter, melted (to taste)

Here's what you do:

Put popcorn kernels in brown paper bag; shake a little salt on them; shake up the bag.  Drizzle olive oil over them; shake up the bag; tape the bag closed.

Put the bag into your microwave on high for 3 - 5 min (depending on your microwave).  When the popping slows down it is ready.

Pour into bowl.  Drizzle melted butter over top and add more salt.  VOILA!  Your life has been changed!  You will NEVER have to buy microwave popcorn AGAIN!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rice cooker....

John found a rice cooker someone left behind in the dorm a few weeks ago.  I have always wanted to try one of these as I STINK at making rice the traditional way.  I have LOVED my experiments!!!!  There is only one flaw to it that I can't figure out:  the rice cooker has a "keep rice warm" setting but if I leave the rice in there then it tends to burn on the bottom :(

The thing didn't come with a decent manual so I've been searching the net and trying to figure out how to use it...  Here's what I've learned:

*recipe is same as one right on the bag of rice
*it seems to take less than 30 minutes to have PERFECT rice
*you can do MUCH more than plain rice in it... so far I've done cilantro lime rice and Spanish rice (the Spanish rice wasn't really flavorful enough so I'll try to jazz it up next time)
*it cleans up VERY quickly

So basically the point of this blog is:  a rice cooker is DEFINITELY worth a try... I love mine and plan to get busy figuring out how else I can use it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bread Machine Hard Rolls

I am ALWAYS intimidated by making rolls in my bread machine.  My few attempts have resulted in misshapen, little hockey pucks which left me feeling like a failure!  But the more I use my bread machine... for pizza and cinnamon rolls (no blog on this one yet cuz I haven't really perfected them yet... maybe this weekend???)... the more I think, "Surely I should be able to master the art of forming this dough into rolls!"

I tried yesterday and had my best results yet.  Here's the recipe I used.  When the dough cycle was done, I simply cut the dough in half, and in half again, and in half again until I had eight portions.  Then I rolled them up into balls and kinda THUMPED them down onto the pan so they'd flatten out a little.  I put them on the stove (oven was preheating beneath it) and let them rise for 40 minutes.  Popped them in the oven for 20 min on 400 and VOILA!  we had BEAUTIFUL hard rolls!

I am empowered now!  I am going to make ALL my rolls in the bread machine!  Hope I soon have more successful results to share.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tamale Making: Assembling Tamales

OHMIGOSH!  Can you say, "Time consuming?!!?!"  I think the second lesson learned from the Tamale Making experiment is:  do NOT make tamales the day OF a special event.  I cannot explain the depths of exhaustion I feel today.  Making tamales and preparing the house for guests, making the rest of a birthday meal and dessert was just TOO much.  In retrospect, I wish I had made the tamales Wed/Thurs or even last week.... Alas, hindsight is 20/20... I hope I remember that for next time.  A pictoral tour through the process:

masa mixture
smearing masa
husks smeared w/masa



meat added
rolling tamales
rolled tamale










open end












steaming tamales














Again as I expected, tamale making washing DIFFICULT it was just a LENGTHY process.  Lessons learned from the final step, making the tamales:  

*count out corn husks and don't even waste time soaking the tiny ones you won't really use

corn husks soaking

*LESS meat!!!!  that recipe I used called for WAY too much meat!  I used the amount they said, and I had to double the masa quantity and I still had so much left over that we are planning a meal of barbeque using the meat, AFTER using it on tacos at our fiesta.  There was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much meat!!!!!

meat left near end of 2nd batch of masa

*the corn husks MUST dry off before you try to spread the masa mixture on them or the masa won't stick

corn husks drying off

*an assembly line (I drafted my boys) works nicely and REALLY speeds things up

my assembly line workers

*it wasn't really highlighted in the directions, but COOLING OFF is a VITAL step; if you try to eat them to soon they are wet and icky


The tamales were YUMMY.  We had them for dinner, I left about 20 in the fridge for leftovers, and froze about 3 dozen too!  I will DEFINITELY do it again; however, much wiser from the battle.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tamale Making: Luna's Market

It is THERE! It is AWESOME! (Like a tiny little slice of Mexico!). Got the rest of my supplies. Soaking corn husks as we speak.

Luna's Market
225 N. Main Street
Hartford. WI
Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Tamale Making: Preparing the meat

I have now gathered MOST of the ingredients in two separate trips.  I will make my final trip in the a.m.  I did NOT like needing three trips to gather the ingredients, but at least I learned a lesson.  I had at least gathered all the ingredients to complete step 1:  Cook the tamale meat.

This was time consuming and messy, but not really THAT bad.



Noah helped 

(can I just say that these boys I am raising are going to be SOME kinda CATCH!  Actually my girl won't be a bad prize either.... I'm hatching four little foodies here.  They LOVE to help me in the kitchen!)  So we boiled the meat as instructed.  


Then we shredded it by hand (BLECH!).  



Finally added the seasoning and mixed it all about.


TWEAKS:  Next time I make tamales, I am considering doing the meat in my slow cooker... less oversight required.  But really and truly the boiling part wasn't hard it just took FOREVER.

TIP:  Use a fork to shred the meat.  It is quicker and does a better job of separating the meat into filaments.

It is 1:30 a.m. and I am READY for bed!  More tamale making tomorrow (after a trip to Hartford for the Holy Grail... I mean corn husks and corn masa.)  Good night all!

Tamale Making: Lesson 1

My hubby LOVES tamales.  So for his birthday (which is TODAY) I decided to make him tamales, from scratch, AUTHENTIC!  So I started where all great tamales makers must start, google and stumbled upon detailed instructions chronicling every step of making tamales.  There are even PICTURES!  I'm not gonna recreate the wheel.  So far in my experiment, it seems like this is a good recipe with easy-to-follow instructions; therefore, if you want the recipe follow my link.  I will be blogging about the experience here sharing mostly my lessons learned, tweaks made (or planned) and results obtained.

Here is the FIRST lesson I learned about tamale making:  do NOT (I repeat DO NOT) assume that corn husks and corn masa are "not that exotic."  A trip to Wal-Mart and calls to two Piggly Wigglys and a Pick N Save have thus far resulted in NO corn husks or corn masa.  Not to be detered, yet trying to avoid driving all the way into Milwaukee to El Rey, I am leaving at 8:30 a.m. to follow a lead.  The UBBER helpful service desk associate at the Slinger Piggly Wiggly informed me a brand new Mexican Grocer opened up in Harftford on Main Street.  I finally found a Hartford Common Council .pdf of minutes that confirmed this stating "Luna's Market has opened up at 225 W. Main Street."  I will keep you posted; however, REMEMBER this lesson:  do NOT assume everyone has the supplies for making tamales!  Especially when your husband works mere STEPS (okay fine! miles...) from El Rey and could have EASILY picked up the ingredients any day this past week after work.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Get out (actually stay in) and VOTE!

I'm posting a weekly poll, and NO ONE has answered the first one!  Please take part... See it over there, lonely in the corner???  It is right underneath my kitchen inspiration....  so
 VOTE!

Yogurt Chicken...

What's for dinner in the Kastner's kitchen tonight?  Yogurt Chicken and baked potatoes.  While I cannot take ANY credit for this recipe (Allison Boguszewski is the mastermind behind it), I can tell you SEVERAL things about it:

1.  my kids ADORE it
2.  it is HEALTHY
3.  it is EASY

Sooo???  What else do you need to know?  Get the ingredients and MAKE IT!

Ingredients:
(I double this.  You will need to as well Cindy H.  Families of 6 or 7 cannot make it on 3 - 4 chicken breasts!)

3 - 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 oz container plain yogurt
1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp Lawrey's salt (I'm not a fan of Lawrey's so I've left this out every time I made it)
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 cup butter

Mix breadcrumbs, parmesan, onion, garlic, Lawrey's (or none if you don't like it too), and oregano in a shallow dish.  Pour yogurt into ANOTHER shallow bowl.  Dip chicken in yogurt, coating it.  Dip chicken into breadcrumbs, coating it.  Place chicken in a 9x13 pan (sprayed with cooking spray).  Melt 1/4 c butter and drizzle it over chicken.  Bake covered at 375 for 1/2 hour.  Then uncovered for another 20 - 25 minutes.

Make sure to tell me if you like it!  And STAY TUNED!  Tonight is Day 1 of my Tamale Making experiment.  Tamale Making blog to follow!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Homemade Pizza

Jeremiah is such a little sweetie!  Whenever I make homemade pizza, he will say to me, "Mom, why do you have to make your homemade pizza so good?!?!"  I don't know if it is THAT good, but it is easy, cost-effective, and YUMMY!  Here's how I do it:

Pizza Crust:
(in a bread machine)
1 3/8 c warm water
3 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp yeast

My bread machine's dough cycle takes 1 1/2 hours; therefore, for me, the hardest part of this recipe is remembering to start a pizza dough at the appropriate time.

The above recipe makes two BIG pizza crusts.  So when the bread machine finishes its cycle, I split the dough in half, sprinkle some flour on my counter and start rolling one half out into a circular shape (it is NOT a perfect circle AT ALL).  I have tried many times to experiment with hand tossing.  Let's just say EPIC FAIL!  So I pretty much just roll it out with my handy dandy Pampered Chef Roller.  When I have two pizza crusts rolled out and on my pizza pans, I brush the crusts with olive oil.  I gleaned this tip off the Internet somewhere.  It promised the brushing of olive oil would help keep the toppings from making the crust soggy, and lo & behold, IT DOES!

For sauce, I just shoot from the hip.  Typically I use about 1/2 a 14.5 oz can of tomato sauce per pizza.  I just buy the cheapest, generic tomato sauce I can find.  I season it with salt, garlic, oregano, and basil.  Then I spread 1/2 can on each crust.  I then spread about 2 cups of shredded mozzarella on each pizza.  (Sometimes in a pinch when I've run out of cheese I add Parmesan or even cheddar... that was YUMMY.)

As far as toppings, usually we just do "extra cheesy" because it's cheap and easy and a good standby.  But here are some of other favorites:

Veggie:  tomato, red onion, green pepper, mushrooms (make sure to saute them first it is yummier), black olives.

Regular toppings:  sausage, pepperoni

Chicken Parmesan (this is Noah's ABSOLUTE favorite):  on top of the mozzarella cheese I add chicken (buy a bag of popcorn chicken from the freezer section) and then a sprinkler of mozzarella and some Parmesan.

Bacon Cheeseburger (this was YUMMY but ended up being a very TALL pizza):  use a mix of mozzarella and cheddar for the cheese, sprinkle browned ground beef and crumbles of cooked bacon, add another sparse layer of cheese

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Southwest Spaghetti

Here is an original creation of mine born out of a day when I did NOT have time to run to the grocery store and determined to make something out of my pantry.  That's what I <3 about this recipe!  It's a pantry recipe with little to no fresh foods required so the ingredients can always be on hand!  My kiddos love it!  Made it for New Day Church and got rave reviews.  It's got tomatoes (lycopene) and black beans (high fiber) and you could use whole wheat pasta to make it even healthier!  Let me know if you try it out.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Ingredients:
Olive Oil (good swish around the pan)
Onion (roughly chopped; as much as you like)
2 - 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
2 - 15 oz cans of black beans (one drained; one with juice)
1/2 bag of frozen corn (can use one can instead)
1 box of shell noodles (prepared according to directions on box)

Seasonings:
(I layer my seasonings; as indicated in instructions)
salt
pepper
garlic
cumin
tabasco

Garnishes (optional):
shredded cheddar
crushed tortilla chips

Give a good swish around the pan of olive oil.  Saute onion.  Add salt, pepper, and garlic.  When onions are translucent, add tomatoes and a second layer of seasonings:  salt, pepper, garlic, cumin.  Cook till bubbling.  Add black beans (make sure to drain the juice off one can and add the juice of the other can).  Third layer of seasoning:  salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, and tabasco (2-3 dashes; or MORE if you like some heat).  Cook till bubbling.  Add corn and final layer of seasoning.... at this level I let my tongue tell me what to add... does it need salt or a little heat (tabasco) or maybe more smokiness (cumin).  

Combine "sauce" with shell noodles.  Garnish as desired.  

[Tip:  I like to make a double batch and freeze half.  I put half in a 9 x 13 pan.  Cover it with Cheddar.  Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips on it.  Freeze it and then pull it out in a pinch and pop it in the oven for about 30 min at 350.  YUMS!]

Cheesy Popcorn

Most of my best discoveries in the kitchen are born out of desperation.... This one car thing is really putting a damper on my ability to get to the store! So last night we were all hungry for a snack and I did NOT have much as my disposal. I started trolling the internet for something I could do with popcorn to fancy it up a bit, and I hit the JACKPOT!!!!!

Cheesy Popcorn

Pop the corn as usual.  Butter it.  (This step was NOT in the recipe I made and the cheese didn't stick well to the popcorn.  When I make it again, I am going to sparingly butter it.  Just so the corn has a little wetness to glue the cheese to it.)  Sprinkle a packet (per 4 quarts of popped popcorn) of cheese from a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese over it.


We LOVED this cheese corn recipe.  Kids gobbled it up QUICKLY!  It was EASY, and we had ALL the ingredients on hand even when nearing the "empty cupboards at the end of the week syndrome."
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