Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Red Beet Pancakes

I found this recipe on weelicious.com and made a batch this afternoon. My toddler will not eat very many veggies...so I have to try to sneak them in where I can. I don't like beets very much but I thought the pancakes were tasty...and a really beautiful shade of pink :)

Red Beet Pancakes (Serves 6)

1 Cup All Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
3 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt
*2 Medium Beets, roasted & pureed (about 3/4 Cups)
1 1/4 Cup Milk
1/3 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1 Large Egg
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
1 Tsp Vanilla extract

Accompaniments: honey, maple syrup, butter, raspberry sauce

1. Wisk the first 5 ingredients ina bowl.
2. Place the rest of the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine.
3. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until just combined (you don’t want to overstir the batter — some lumps are good).
4. Drop about 2 tbsp of the pancake mixture onto a greased griddle or pan over medium heat and cook for 3 minutes on each side.
5. Serve with desired accompaniments.

To freeze: Place the pancakes in labeled zipper bags and freeze for up to 3 months.

*Rinse beets and wrap in parchment and then in foil. Bake in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Spring Roll Salad

My friend Heather made some delicious spring rolls for Bunco recently. A few days later, I bought the ingredients and have been making them for lunch. If I don't have time to mess with the wrappers I've been having this salad instead. It's easy and I love the flavors. Serves 1 as a meal or 2 as a side salad.

1 large handful of green leafy lettuce
2 carrots, grated
1 small handful of cylantro
2 oz of buckwheat soba noodles (cooked according to package)
2 oz or 1/4 of an avocado
Fresh Lime Juice (about a teaspoon)
1 teaspoon of chopped peanuts

1 T Central Market Satay Sauce
1 T Annie's Gingerly Dressing

Layer lettuce, carrots, cylantro and avocado in bowl and top with Gingerly Dressing and a squeeze of lime juice. Toss cooked soba noodles with the Satay Sauce and add to salad. Top with chopped peanuts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mini Meatloafs

Oh my, these were so delicious. I usually don't like meatloaf, but these were really tasty! :)

Makes 6-9 (serves about 4)
1/3 c. shredded carrot (about 2 carrots)
1/2 c chopped onion
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cloves minced garlic (1 teaspoon)
1/2 c. ketchup (divided)
1 lb. ground beef
1/3 sleeve of crushed crackers (around 1/2 c.)
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 350. Heat about 1 Tablespoon of oil in a skillet, saute carrot, onion, oregano, and garlic about 2-3 minutes.

2. In large bowl, combine sauted mixture with 1/4 c. ketchup (reserve other 1/4 c. for topping), beef, and rest of ingredients.

3. Spray muffin pans with oil. Form meatballs to fit into muffin tins. Put remaining ketchup on top of the mini meat loaves. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

This recipe is from Annie's Eats. I made them these for Hailey's 2nd birthday. It's a chocolate chip yellow cake with an eggless cookie dough filling, topped with a brown sugar buttercream. Definitely not an every day dessert because they're really rich, but awesome if you love cookie dough!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
Yield:24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet or bittersweet)

For the filling:
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tbsp. light brown sugar, packed
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

For the frosting:
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
3½ cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. milk
2½ tsp. vanilla extract

For decoration:
Tiny chocolate chip cookies
Mini chocolate chips

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners (24 total). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir together to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl on low speed, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing each addition just until incorporated. Blend in the vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the cookie dough filling, combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until incorporated and smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture has firmed up a bit, about an hour.

To fill the cupcakes, cut a cone-shaped portion out of the center of each cupcake. Fill each hole with a chunk of the chilled cookie dough mixture.

To make the frosting, beat together the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy. Mix in the confectioners' sugar until smooth. Beat in the flour and salt. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and well blended.

Frost the filled cupcakes as desired, sprinkling with mini chocolate chips and topping with mini chocolate chip cookies for decoration.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Garlic Teriyaki Broccoli

Ok, so not really a strict recipe, but here's how I've been making broccoli lately...and I'll eat half a crown for lunch, I love it. It tastes like eating stir fry, but with only broccoli. Ingredient amounts are approximate.

1/2 crown of Broccoli
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
A Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
1 tablespoon of Teriyaki Sauce (low sodium)
3 tablespoons of Water

Heat Sesame Oil. Add crushed red pepper and garlic until fragrant (watch out to make sure the garlic doesn't burn. Add broccoli, then add the teriyaki sauce and water. Cook for about 1 or 2 minutes (unless you like your broccoli reaally soft).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Banana Nut Muffins

These are easy and so yummy. I adapted it from a recipe I found on allrecipes.com. You can still make these if you discover you're out of eggs (like I did, this morning). Just use an extra banana and about 2 T of milk...I was worried about how they'd turn out, but definitely edible (unlike the time I made brownies without eggs...)

Banana Nut Muffins

1 1/2 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon

3 Bananas, mashed
1 Egg
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla

1/3 cup Butter, melted
1/2 cup Walnuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pan, bottoms only (or use liners). Mix Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt and Cinnamon in a bowl. Stir other ingredients together in another bowl. Fold the two mixtures together just until blended.

Bake approximately 25-30 minutes (My oven bakes things super fast so keep an eye on these...mine were done in about 15 minutes, but I know that's probably not typical.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

White Boy Tacos

We have these on nights where I have run out of ideas or don't feel adventurous (or on nights where I'd rather just have a bowl of cereal, but my husband would like real food). It's very rare that I want tacos for dinner (rare as in NEVER), but I make them because he likes them so much and they're easy :)

We call them white boy tacos because you use those taco shells in a box instead of frying corn tortillas up yourselves. I'd never had taco shells from a box before I'd met my husband.
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1/4 to 1/3 cup salsa
1/2 teaspoon Comino (Cumin)
1/2 teaspoon minced Garlic
Taco Shells in a box (you could even use flour tortillas if you want even easier!)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Brown ground beef over medium heat. Add salsa, comino, and garlic.
Toast taco shells in oven for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees.
Stuff shells with ground beef mixture and top with cheese. Bake about 5 minutes until cheese is melted. Top with whatever other taco toppings you desire.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Terra Chicken

I don't know the name of the cookbook where we got this recipe.  It was at a friend's house, who practices Orthodox Judaism, so this recipe was from one of her kosher cookbooks.  Needless to say, it was memorable, simple, and delicious (and kosher)!  I have made this many, many times since then.  You can find Terra Chips in the chips aisle at the grocery store, or sometimes in the organic section.  They come in several flavors/varieties.  My favorite is "Original."  You can also vary the flavor with your choice of hummus, again, I use typical "original" flavors.  It's a unique dish -- I don't think everyone will like it (like Dad, who is a picky "meat & potatoes" man).


Terra/Hummus Chicken”

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts  - it helps if they are pounded flat or halved. You should end up with 4-6 halves (or flattened breasts).
8 oz. hummus, your choice of flavor
1 pkg. Terra chips, crushed
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 Tblsp. Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Carefully trim any excess fat off the chicken. Place the crushed Terra chips in a shallow bowl (I find it easier to crush the chips while they’re still in the bag.) Don’t crush them too finely – you want a nice course texture and enough brilliant colors showing.

Spread the hummus on each side of each chicken breast, then dip/press into the crushed Terra chips. Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

Heat the olive oil in a small shallow pan, then add the garlic, stirring it at a med-high heat until the garlic begins to color. Then, carefully drizzle this oil/garlic mixture over the chicken breasts.  In a pinch for time, I've drizzled the oil & garlic on the top w/out cooking it & it turned out fine, or even omitting the garlic/oil altogether.

Bake for 45 min. or until cooked and tender.

Sun Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese Pasta

Sun-Dried Tomato & Goat Cheese Pasta”
This is one of our all-time favorite dishes – at first glance it didn’t look too tasty, but it’s one of the only dishes I wanted seconds of! It’s very easy, and quite delicious, although not incredibly healthy.

Also, you will notice that the recipe calls for you to make the sauce, then set it aside while you cook the pasta, THEN reheat it again on the stove before mixing it with the pasta. This is a fairly important step not to miss, as it makes a difference in the texture of the sauce. I tried to save time once by not reheating the sauce a 2nd time, and we were not as satisfied with the taste as before. Still tastes good, but not as good.  Sometimes I use whole wheat pasta.  It's not bad, just a little dry.

(From "Pasta Sauces: Simple and delicious easy-to-make recipes" by Christine McFadden)

1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 oz goat cheese (Crumbled is easier to melt)
1 ¼ cups milk
½ cup heavy cream
20 oil-cured sun-dried tomato halves, chopped coarsely
1 (16-oz) pkg. penne pasta (approx. 4 cups dried)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Scant 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
10 fresh basil leaves, shredded

Heat the butter and garlic in a skillet over a medium-low heat (be careful not to put the heat too high – I’ve come close to burning my garlic before!). Cook until the garlic is just beginning to color. Add the cheese and milk. Stir until the cheese has melted and formed a thick sauce.

Add the cream and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until reduced by one-third. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Transfer to a warm serving dish.
Briefly reheat the sauce over low heat. Pour over the pasta. Add the Parmesan and basil, then toss well to mix. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lighter Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Here's another recipe from Gina's Skinny Recipes. This was some yummy comfort food.

Lighter Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Servings: 8 • Serving Size: 1 cup • Old Points: 6 pts • Points+: 7 pts
Calories: 296.67 • Fat: 9.7 g • Protein: 15.8 g • Carb: 34.5 g • Fiber: 5.3 g

12 oz high fiber elbows like Ronzoni Smart Taste
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp light butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cups skim milk
1 cup fat free chicken broth
8 oz Sargento 2% reduced fat mild cheddar
salt and pepper
4 cups baby spinach
1/8 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs
Pam butter flavored spray
Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Spray a baking dish with buttered flavor Pam. Preheat oven to 375°.

In a large, heavy skillet, melt butter. Add flour and cook over low heat stirring with a whisk. Add onion and cook another 2 minutes. Add milk and chicken broth and continue whisking, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil and becomes smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Once it becomes thick, remove from heat, add cheese and mix well until cheese is melted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, add cooked macaroni and baby spinach. Pour into baking dish. Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Spray a little more buttered flavor Pam on top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, then broil for a few minutes to get the breadcrumbs golden.

Watch out...this browns fast, you'll notice my pic has some very "golden" breadcrumbs...:)

Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Green Chile Sauce

Here's a great recipe that I adapted from Gina's Skinny Recipes, www.skinnytaste.com.
Surprisingly, it doesn't need all that much cheese for an enchilada recipe. My husband Will doesn't like Mexican food but he really likes these enchiladas and will request them for dinner (that's even when he knows that there are beans IN the enchilada filling).

Chicken and White Bean Enchiladas with Creamy Green Chile Sauce
(Also known as Enchiladas Verdes)

Chicken and White Bean Filling:

1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup minced white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles
15.5 oz can Navy beans (or Cannellini beans), pureed in food processor or mashed up.
4 cooked shredded chicken breasts
1/3 can water
1 chicken bullion
1 tsp cumin

Green Chile Enchilada Sauce:

1 tsp butter
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 tbsp flour
1 cup fat free chicken broth
7 oz can chopped green chile
2 jalapeƱos, chopped (I leave these out)
3/4 cup light sour cream
3/4 cup reduced fat Mexican cheese
12-16 medium White Corn Tortillas (I prefer Corn Tortillas...but you can use flour tortillas if you want...)
chopped fresh cilantro or scallions (or both!)

Preheat oven to 375°.

For the Filling:
In a medium pan, heat olive oil on low. Add onions, garlic and saute until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add green chiles, beans, water, bullion, and cumin. Mix well and cover. Simmer on low 15 minutes. Remove cover, add chicken and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until it thickens and liquid boils down. Set aside.

Green Chile Enchilada Sauce:
In a large nonstick pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and starts to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add flour and stir well. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth. Whisk until the sauce becomes smooth. Cook over medium heat until the sauce boils and thickens, about 4-5 minutes. Add green chiles, jalepeƱos, and salt to tatse. Cook another minute then remove from the heat. Place in food processor until smooth. Stir in the sour cream.

Spread about 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish.

IF YOU USE CORN TORTILLAS: Soften tortillas by placing three (3) at a time in between two damp paper towels on a plate and microwave for 40 seconds. Be careful, they'll be hot!

Fill each tortilla with 1/3 cup of the chicken/white bean filling. Roll the tortillas and place seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Continue filling remainder of the tortillas.

Pour the enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Top with cheese. Bake 20-30 minutes, until the enchiladas are hot and the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with fresh cilantro or scallions

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sausage Roll

Yum! This is a great appetizer or fun meal to make. I have no idea where my mom got the recipe, but it's simple and delicious!

Sausage Roll

1 loaf of bread dough- I use bread machine box mix, Krusteaz brand, Italian Herb or Sourdough

1 lb of ground pork sausage

2 cups shredded mozzarella or italian cheeses

Marinara sauce (for dipping)

1.Prepare bread dough, if using a bread machine mix, I follow the traditional bread instructions instead of putting it in a bread machine.

2.When dough is close to done rising, go ahead and brown the ground pork sausage in a large skillet over medium high heat until cooked, drain grease.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out prepared bread dough into a large oval

4. Sprinkle 1 c. of the shredded cheese onto the rolled out bread dough

5. Spread out the browned ground pork on top of the cheese, and sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese on top of the pork. Layer: cheese, pork, cheese.

6. Begin to roll the dough (like cinnamon rolls or a jelly roll), tucking/folding in the ends so the filling is all enclosed

7. Bake @ 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes before cutting/slicing (I recommend cutting with a bread knife if you have one). Serve with marinara sauce to dip. If making a meal out of it, serve with salad.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Strawberry Baked French Toast

This is a recipe I've made a few times for my MOPS brunch. The recipe is from Sherri, one of the ladies who was in my MOPS group. This recipe is really easy and I love that you can prep it the night before. It's also great with fresh or frozen mixed berries or blueberries too....oh I bet PEACHES would be yummy too...

1 loaf of French Bread, cut into 1 inch slices
3 Eggs
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 1/4 Cups of Milk

Struesel Topping:
1/2 Cup Flour
6 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/2 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1/4 Melted Butter

1-2 cups of Fresh or Frozen Berries of your choice (defrost berries if frozen)

-Spray 9"x13" pan with cooking spray
-Place bread in pan.
-Combine Eggs, Sugar, Vanilla and Milk in a bowl and pour over bread. Make sure all the bread slices get coated with the milk mixture.
-Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, up to one or two nights prior to baking.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

-Place berries on top of bread.
-Combine Flour, Brown Sugar, and Cinnamon in a bowl and stir in butter to make the crumb/struesel topping. (I've prepped this the night before and refridgerated it...it's nice and crumbly in the morning).
-Sprinkle topping on bread.
-Bake uncovered for approximately 45 minutes.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Flourless Chocolate Cake AND Homemade Whipped Cream

This cake is nothing less than amazing.  Really.  Truly.  A-MA-ZING.  And it's gluten-free!  And no, it's not one bit fat-free!!  It's totally fattening and rich!  But it's perfect and it is a keeper - all the way.  It's the kind of cake you have at weddings... or honeymoons... at a fancy hotel... at a fancy restaurant... on cruises... very gourmet.  I tried this out with a group of friends here last night.  There was not a piece left.  Everyone loved it.  We served it with homemade whipped cream and fresh sliced strawberries.  When Sandy emails me the picture of the actual presentation, I'll put it here too.  I found this on allrecipes.com, and HERE is the link. 

Flourless Chocolate Cake


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 18 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 6 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease one 10 inch round cake pan and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the water, salt and sugar. Stir until completely dissolved and set aside.
  3. Either in the top half of a double boiler or in a microwave oven melt the bittersweet chocolate. Pour the chocolate into the bowl of an electric mixer.
  4. Cut the butter into pieces and beat the butter into the chocolate, 1 piece at a time. Beat in the hot sugar-water. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Have a pan larger than the cake pan ready, put the cake pan in the larger pan and fill the pan with boiling water halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
  6. Bake cake in the water bath at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 45 minutes. The center will still look wet. Chill cake overnight in the pan. To unmold, dip the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for 10 seconds and invert onto a serving plate.
NOTE from Leah:  I only had a 9-inch pan, so I filled it moderately, then poured the rest of the batter into a cupcake pan.  The larger cake was prettier (for presentation), but the little cupcakes turned out alright too.

Homemade Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 Tbsp powdered sugar (or granulated sugar is fine too)

Whip at high speed in a bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 5-7 minutes.  Keep chilled until serving time.

Optional:  Before whipping, add 1 Tbsp any flavorful liqueurs (Kahlua, Rum, Raspberry Schnapps), or small amount of extract (1/4 tsp) such as Almond extract, vanilla, peppermint - whatever you want to make it your own.

Breakfast Taquitos

 As a native Texan, half-hispanic, and especially having been raised in South Texas, a good breakfast taquito is a must-have in my recipe book.  When I lived in Arkansas, breakfast taquitos were unheard of, so this was our little taste of "home" when we needed it. Keep in mind there are many variations, but I will give you my basic recipe, and a list of suggestions to make your own style.  The possibilities are endless!  Comment your own ideas, if you'd like.  The ingredients & measurements listed here are mere approximations, and I don't even use measuring tools when cooking these.


The Breakfast Taquito

You will need:

1) a medium or large skillet for the eggs/taquito mix, and another skillet/griddle for heating the tortillas (a microwave is okay too)

2) a bit of oil or cooking spray

3) a medium potato, peeled and diced quite small --optional

4) salt and pepper to taste- Sometimes I use Lawry's seasoning salt in place of regular salt.

5) tortillas (your favorite kind - homemade is best.  I use HEB tortilla-factory-made-in-store tortillas, whole wheat)

6) about 1/4 to 1/2 of a small red bell pepper, seeded & diced very small. Can substitute green, but I like the color & taste of red. You could also add a mixture different peppers.

7) about 2-3 green onions, cut very small (may substitute regular onion, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)

8) about 5 to 7 eggs

Other ideas to add:

1 or 2 cloves of garlic, pressed

comino (ground cumin) to taste (about 1/4 to 1 teaspoon)

1/2 of a diced/seeded serrano pepper

tomato, diced

Chorizo- cook it in a separate pan first, drain the grease, and add to the eggs.

How to make them:

Begin by putting the oil/cooking spray in the skillet and warming it to a medium or medium-high heat. Add your potatoes (salt and pepper them to taste), stirring occasionally & cook until they are soft and lightly browned all over, about 7-15 minutes. While they are cooking you can heat your other griddle/skillet at low to medium heat and one by one heat your tortillas until just right (keep them warm in a towel or a tortilla warmer).

Once the potatoes are ready, turn the heat down a bit (to medium or medium-low), then add your other vegetables - peppers, onions, garlic, etc.  Also add any additional spices here. Now, with the eggs - I think most people lightly beat them in a bowl before adding them, that's fine to do, but I don't do it that way. For me, I enjoy cracking them right into the pan, and slowly stirring so that it creates swirls of color and still mixes nicely. Be careful not to overcook the eggs - turn down the heat if necessary, but take your time to cook them until just right, then immediately take the pan off the heat when they are done.

Your skillet should look beautiful! Great colors and balanced all over.

Serve hot, in a tortilla & topped with your favorite toppings - I used shredded cheddar cheese, others like salsa too.

Hearty Lentil and Sausage Soup AND Fuji Apple Chicken Salad

This is an extremely healthy, hearty, and full-flavored soup that has always been a big hit.  I make a double batch when we are expecting a large crowd for dinner.  Honestly, a single batch makes a lot, but it goes fast, and if you still have leftovers, they reheat well.  It requires a lot of chopping, but a food processor will save you time if it's worth it to you. This meal is complete with a great salad and some crusty bread.  Oh, and it's easy to make it gluten-free, just check your broth ingredients.  I got it from Whole Foods Recipes online, link is HERE.  (By the way, their photo is much prettier than mine!)
See below for the Salad Recipe.


Hearty Lentil and Sausage Soup


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 pound mushrooms (such as white, cremini, shiitake, portobello and oyster), chopped
1 cup (about 7 ounces) dried French or brown lentils, picked through and rinsed
2 1/2 cups beef broth
2 1/2 cups mushroom or low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup chopped tomatoes, with their juice
1 cup dry red wine
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 pound baby spinach, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish


Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add sausage and cook, breaking into small chunks, until it begins to brown. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms have released most of their liquid. Add lentils, beef broth, mushroom or chicken broth, tomatoes and their juice, wine and pepper flakes; cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Add spinach and salt and pepper, stir well and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes more; stir in thyme. Ladle soup into bowls and top with Parmesan.

Serves 6


Fuji Apple Chicken Salad

Admittedly, I copied this recipe from another BLOGGER after a diligent search online for this recipe from Panera.  I promise you, I get this salad every time I go to Panera.  Their salad is fantastic.  This recipe is really good too - tastes a little different, but it's a good attempt at copying it, and nevertheless a "keeper."   See the blogger, Donna, in the link to follow her recipe precisely.  I've modified it here to how I made mine (although mostly the same).

Mixed Spring Greens
Red Onion
Toasted Pecans
Dried Apple Chips
Gorgonzola Cheese
Cooked chicken breast, chilled and sliced

Donna's Fake Fuji Apple Dressing
3 T. Organic Apple Juice Concentrate (the frozen kind0
1 T. White Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. Apple Cider Vinegar
3 t. Garlic Powder
3 t. Onion Powder
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
3 T Olive Oil (a nice quality)

Red Pepper Chicken Pilaf

This is a simple and tasty meal, and especially healthy if you use brown rice.  It would be fairly easy to modify to be gluten-free, using gluten-free flour and broth.  The trick is to not over cook the chicken, so watch it closely as it cooks.  ~Leah

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 red peppers, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 chicken breast halves, skinned & boned
Salt and Pepper
All purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
Hot Cooked Rice (2-3 cups cooked)

Melt butter and oil in large skillet over medium high heat.  Add peppers and garlic and saute until peppers are tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove peppers from skillet and transfer to bowl.

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Lightly and evenly coat chicken with flour.  Place chicken in skillet and saute until light brown, about 4 minutes per side.  Remove chicken from skillet.  Place peppers back in skillet, adding broth and wine.  Turn heat to high and cook for about 5 minutes until liquid resembles sauce texture.  As sauce thickens scrape up browned bits.  Return chicken to skillet and cook to 170F and until it is no longer pink in the center.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Place chicken and peppers on platter, sprinkling with fresh parsley.  Serve over rice.  Optional:  May cut chicken into 1" pieces rather than serving whole breast half.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Baked Ziti with Zucchini

This is currently my go to recipe for baked ziti. You can use pork or turkey italian sausage, I can't taste the difference. Will loves this and he hates zucchini AND italian sausage. HEB carries a brand of wine called "Birds and Bees" that I love, so I used their red wine in this recipe (their white is great too).

1/2 lb ziti, cooked and drained
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1-2 Zucchini, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb mild (or spicy is good too) italian turkey sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup red wine
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1.5 cups shredded mozzerella cheese

Cook sausage, onion and zucchini in olive oil over medium high heat until sausage is cooked through and onions are translucent and zucchini is tender.

Add garlic, basil, oregano. Cook for one minute

Add wine and brown sugar and then add tomatoes and tomato paste.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup of the mozzerella cheese and pasta.

Pour mixture into a greased 9x13 pan.

Sprinkle remaining cheese over top.

Cook covered at 350 for 30 minutes, uncover and cook 5 to 10 minutes more, until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Adapted from recipe posted on sotastysoyummy.blogspot.com

Grilled Vietnamese Chicken

This is one of our favorite recipes for chicken. It's easy and the chicken is so flavorful. Serve it with some Jasmine Rice or Quinoa and Steamed Green Beans and you've got a nice quick, healthy meal. You don't have to grill it outside, I'm sure that's great, but I'm not a griller unless Will is home...so I cook it inside on the stove.

3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fish sauce (I found this in the Asian section of HEB and also at World Market)
2 tablespoons Honey(or molasses)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or lime juice)
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 teaspoons black pepper
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (thighs would work well too)

1 Heat grill (or pan).
2 Place all the ingredients except the chicken in a shallow glass baking dish and stir them together.
3 Make shallow slits across the chicken breast, going a little deeper in the thick end.
4 Make shallow slits long ways, resulting in a slight diamond pattern in the meat.
5 Put the chicken in the marinade and make sure some gets in the slits.
6 This only needs to marinade for 10 or 15 minutes to pick up the flavor, I believe this is because of the slits.
7 Place on grill and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until no longer pink.
8 Turn once during cooking.

Adapted from a recipe from www.food.com

Ina Garten's Beef Bourguignon

We've had some cold weather lately, which has been the perfect excuse to make some yummy soup. This is a delicious recipe from Ina Garten. It takes a little time, but it's worth it.

Some notes:
-I've left out the bacon before and it's still really tasty.
-You can substitute Brandy for the Cognac if you want a less expensive option. I've made it with each and they're both great...Will prefers it with Cognac though.

1 tablespoon good olive oil
8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup Cognac
1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
1 can (2 cups) beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen whole onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

For serving:
Country bread or Sour Dough, toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan (THIS IS WHAT INA SAYS...but I've removed the fat before and cooked in a bit of olive oil instead and it tasted fine) and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.

Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on 1 side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.

Recipe from foodnetwork.com

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cookie Cake

This cookie cake is so easy and good. My good friend, Mandi, passed this recipe to me and it's worth trying if you're in the mood for something sweet. Unlike cake mix cookies I've tried in the past, it does not taste powdery or weird like the cake mix cookies usually taste.

Cookie Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 (12 oz.) bag chocolate chips
1 egg
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup water

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Mix everything together in a bowl until blended.

3) Press mix into a 9x13 baking pan and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until edges are golden.

4) Let cool about 10 minutes and cut into bars or just cut what you want to eat :)

Zucchini Garden Chowder

This is such a perfect meal for cold weather! And it's another recipe passed on from Leah. She always makes these amazing soups/chowders that are just amazing! This one is so hearty and delicious. BTW you can make this with just veggies, or add chicken pieces (which I did).

Zucchini Garden Chowder

2 TBS butter or margarine
2 medium zucchini (chopped)
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 TBS fresh parsley (chopped)
1 TBS fresh basil (chopped), or 1 tsp dried
1/3 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups tomatoes (chopped)
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk (12 oz can)
2 cups corn (or 1 can, drained)
1-2 pounds chicken (cooked & chopped), optional
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

1) Melt butter in soup pot over medium heat
2) Add zucchini, onion, parsley, & basil. Saute until tender.
3) Stir in seasonings and flour
4) Gradually stir in water to make a smooth stock
5) Add bouillon & lemon juice. Mix well.
6) Bring to boil, reduce heat, & cook stirring often for 2 minutes.
7) Add tomatoes, milk, corn, & chicken (optional). Return to boil.
8) Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, until corn is tender.
9) Just before serving, add cheeses & stir until melted. Add a pinch of sugar to taste (optional) & garnish with chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Homemade Salsa and Guacamole

You know what's ironic about my sharing this recipe?  Although I am a hispanic from South Texas, I got these recipes from a white lady in Arkansas!  I thought I'd share these just in time for the Super Bowl, if you need classic party food ideas. You'll need a food processor or blender for this.  This recipe makes around 36-48 ounces of salsa (I've never actually measured it)... but it keeps well in the fridge (it gets hotter the longer it sits), and I always make fresh guacamole with the salsa.  Enjoy!


purple onion (about 1/2), peeled and cut into quarters
garlic (fresh 1 clove diced or 1 tsp minced/jarred)
handful fresh cilantro - stems and all
1/2 lime (juice only)
1 tsp salt
small can (4 oz.) diced green chiles, undrained -- I use "mild"
large can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
2 Tblsp. jalapeno (jarred) OR 1 fresh -- I use fresh, chopped, and I only put half the seeds in - the seeds are what gives it it's "hotness" - it makes it a notch above mild, which is how I like it.  You should put as many or as little seeds as you prefer.

In the order listed above, add each ingredient to the food processor and chop.  Voila!

4 avocadoes
Lawry's seasoning salt (or jalapeno salt, in Mexican spice section)
1/2 lime
salsa from previous recipe

Mash the avocadoes with a fork in a shallow bowl.  Put in several generous spoonfuls of the salsa and stir, until it "looks about right."  Squeeze in 1/2 lime, and season with salt.  Voila!

Peruvian-Style Roasted Chicken with Sweet Onions

This is a scrumptious meal, perfect for company.  It's simple, unique, juicy and tasty.   I doubled the recipe and we served 8 (plus two children), with leftovers.  Our guests loved it (see the picture of Joe, smiling with his food?)

I got this meal from Whole Foods Recipes online ( http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/2510 )



1 1/2 teaspoons expeller-pressed canola oil, plus more for oiling the pan
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 large sweet onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1 chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces* (* Note: If the chicken has been precut into eight pieces, simply cut each breast in half through the rib cage to ensure even cooking. Or, you can ask your butcher to cut a whole chicken into 10 pieces with breasts deboned). 
2 red or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into chunks
1 lemon, sliced


Preheat oven to 425°F. Oil a large roasting pan and set aside. In a small bowl, combine paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, vinegar and oil to make a paste. Place onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the paste.  Rub chicken pieces with remaining paste and place in prepared pan, then cover with onions, peppers and lemon. Roast, basting occasionally with pan juices, until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tortellini and Sausage Soup & Focaccia Bread

I love my Betty Crocker Cookbook. Growing up, my sisters and I loved making favorite recipes from my mom's Betty Crocker Cookbook. My mom's was very worn, beat up, and I think even made it through a fire. It was very well loved to say the least :) So when we each got married, my mom gave each of us our own new Betty Crocker Cookbook. It's such a must have in my kitchen. It is so informative and helpful with the pictures, great recipes, and great instructions! I know it's helped me become a better cook.

So what do you know, this meal is straight from Betty Crocker. :) Leah has an additional older edition Betty Crocker Cookbook that has the Tortellini & Sausage Soup, so I had to ask her for the recipe when she made it over Christmas - it's so good!

Tortellini & Sausage Soup:
(Betty Crocker)

1 lb bulk Italian Sausage
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 c.)
3 c. water
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried Basil
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
2 medium carrots, chopped (1 cup)
1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, sliced
2 cans (10.75 oz) condensed tomato soup
8 oz. uncooked dried or 2 cups frozen tortellini
grated parmesan cheese (to top)

1.Cook and stir sausage, onion, and chopped carrots in 4 quart pot until sausage is browned, drain.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients, but cheese.
3. Heat to boiling; reduce heat
4. Cover and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables and tortellini are tender.
5. Serve with cheese and Focaccia bread (recipe below)

Focaccia Bread
(Betty Crocker)

Makes 2 Breads
2 1/2-3 cups flour
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh or 1 Tablespoon dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup very warm water (120-130 degrees)
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese

1. In large bowl, mix 1 cup of flour, the rosemary, sugar, salt and yeast. Add 3 tablespoons oil and the warm water. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour until dough is soft and leaves sides of bowl.

2. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead 5-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Grease large bowl with shortening. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

3. Grease 2 cookie sheets or 12-inch pizza pans with small amount of oil or spray with cooking spray.

4. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a flattened 10-inch round on cookie sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or towel and let rise in warm place 30 minutes, or until dough doubles in size

5. Heat oven to 400 degrees. gently make 1/2-inch deep depressions about 2 inches apart in dough with fingers. Carefully brush with 2 tablespoons oil; sprinkle with cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cool.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Garlic & Herb Chicken, White Wine Jasmine Rice, Sauteed Broccoli

This is what we had for dinner tonight - it was a big hit, and I always enjoy using wine in cooking.  This meal used wine twice - a white wine in the rice, and a red wine in the chicken dish.  First let's start with the Main Dish.  It's basically a chicken breast half, with a little "pocket" cut into it, filled with one of my favorite cheeses, Boursin (a soft, Gournay cheese) - see picture below.  Then the chicken is wrapped in prosciutto, and simmered in a red wine sauce.  It's creamy and full of flavor!  My regret is that the presentation is very lacking.  The photos I took of my chicken look terrible, so I apologize if it looks really gross.  It was really tasty, I promise!

Garlic & Herb Chicken
(from Quick and Easy by Steven Knowlden)

4 boneless chicken breast halves, skin removed
1/2 cup full-fat soft cheese, flavored with herbs and garlic (Boursin) -- see picture here.  (I used the whole pkg.)

8 slices prosciutto
2/3 cup red wine
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 tblsp. brown sugar

1) Using a sharp knife, make a horizontal slit along the length of each chicken breast half to form a pocket.
2) Beat the cheese with a wooden spoon to soften it.  Spoon the cheese into the pocket in the chicken pieces.
3) Wrap 2 slices of proscuitto around each chicken breast and secure firmly in place with a piece of string.
4) Pour the wine and chicken stock into a large skillet and bring to a boil.  When the mixture is just starting to boil, add the sugar, and stir well to dissolve.
5) Add the chicken breasts to the mixture in the skillet.  (Cover and) leave to simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the meat.
6) Remove the chicken from the pan; set aside and keep warm.
7) Reheat the sauce and boil until reduced and thickened.  Remove the string from the chicken and cut into slices.  Pour the sauce over the chicken to serve.


Gosh, I love Jasmine Rice so much!  Sometimes I prepare it very simply - boiled in water.  Often, I substitute Coconut Milk for a rich, creamy, unique taste.  This time, I used a mixture of half wine, half chicken broth, and tossed in a few chopped green onions.  Yumm-o!

White Wine Jasmine Rice

1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup Jasmine rice
1-2 green onions, chopped

Bring the wine and chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Once the water is boiling, stir in the rice and green onions, then bring back to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover & simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork & serve.  To make the rice "stickier," use a little more liquid than the recipe calls for. 
Yields 2 cups cooked rice

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Hoagie Sandwich

I've been pretty sick with the flu all weekend, and therefore have been eating stuff out of my freezer and easy meals. Today was another "take it easy" day, but thought I'd post because we grew up on these broiled/toasted sandwiches and called them "Hoagies". As a kids, we would usually have different lunch meats & swiss cheese melted on top. For the version I made today here's what you need:

bolillo wheat rolls or any type of roll you prefer
lunch meat - use as little or as much as you want (I used 3 slices of turkey per sandwich)
cheddar cheese slices (or any cheese you like :)
sliced tomato

Set oven to Broil & place rack on top or 2nd to top shelf. Split rolls in half and layer ingredients on top of rolls.

Slide them into the oven for about 3-5 minutes (watch them to make sure they don't burn!) until cheese is melted and edges are toasty! I think broiling or toasting a sandwich makes it so much more yummy. :)

You can serve this with chips or fruit, whatever is in your pantry ;) Hope you all don't get what I've had, and hope your Sunday is filled with joy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Green Smoothie

I know once you read the ingredient list, you may be very skeptical that this is palatable...much less tasty... trust me, it is! My very picky 20 month old LOVES these, and I do too. This particular one isn't very "green" because of the frozen berries, but there's still spinach in there. I took a before and after pic for proof.

Here's the "foundation" recipe I use:
One banana
One cup of organic fresh, spinach
1/4-1/2 cup of yogurt or milk (My favorite yogurt is Stonyfield Farms Low-Fat French Vanilla)
1/2 cup ice cubes (I subbed frozen mixed berries for the ice cubes this time)
1/4 tsp Almond extract

Makes one large smoothie.

Mix in ideas:
1 T Almond Butter or Peanut Butter
1 T Flax Seeds
Orange Juice instead of milk/yogurt


adapted from:

Brown Sugar - Pecan Coffee Cake

I made this coffee cake for brunch at MOPS today. It was really easy and yummy. I subbed walnuts for pecans because I didn't have any pecans on hand...they were good, but I think pecans would be even better.

2 cups all-purpose Flour
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, cubed
1 cup sour cream (I used light)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp baking soda
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans

*Stir together flour and brown sugar in a large bowl. Cut the butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender, 2 forks until crumbly. Press 2 3/4 cups cremb mixture evenly on the bottom of a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch pan.

* Stir together sour cream, egg, and baking soda; add to remaining crumb mixture stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour over crumb crust in pan.

*Stir together sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Sprinkle over the cake.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutews or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Yield: 12 servings.

Recipe from: Southern Living Christmas Cookbook


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Baking Powder Biscuits

This is an old family breakfast favorite.  We grew up eating biscuits similar to these (but not the same recipe).  I got this recipe from the back of the Clabber Girl Baking Powder.  I will share it not for personal credit, but simply because it makes the fluffiest, tastiest biscuits ever!  They are NOT healthy.  But they are sooo good!  My daughter LOVES to help me make these, especially when she gets to choose her own "animal shape" cookie cutter to use in lieu of a biscuit cutter.


2 cups all purpose flour
1 tblsp. Baking Powder
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened (I put the stick still in the wrapper in the microwave on high for 15sec.)
2/3 cup milk

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, Baking Powder, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt.  Using a pastry blender (I use my bare clean hands), cut in shortening till mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Make a well in the center; add milk all at once.  Using a fork, stir just till moistened.

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for 10-12 strokes or till the dough is nearly smooth.  Pat or lightly roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness.  Cut dough with a 2.5-inch biscuit cutter (we use animal shapes too!), dipping the cutter into flour between cuts. 

Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake in a 450F oven for 10-12 minutes or till golden. Serve warm (with jelly!)

NOTE:  I notice flakier biscuits can be acheived by handling the dough as little as possible. This means do not over-stir the dough, do not over-knead the dough, do not roll it out perfectly smooth.  Just as long as it holds together fairly well - THEN the biscuits will be perfect. 

Oh, and HERE  is the original link for the recipe.  They also give some "variations" to try.

Homemade Pizza

What else is as versatile as homemade pizza?  I will give my recipe for pizza dough, as found in the little Cuisinart recipe booklet that came with my food processor, but then I will leave the toppings to YOU to decide, with a list of some of our favorites. 

My husband and I make regular "date nights" at home after our daughter is asleep, by heating up a pizza and watching a DVD at home.  Our favorite frozen pizza is DiGiorno's supreme, but it's also a guilty pleasure, and not too healthy.  When possible, I make a double batch of this pizza dough, and make about 6-7 pizzas, freezing them in vacuum-sealed bags (or just wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil).  That way, I can pop in a homemade-frozen pizza any night -- this way it is tastier AND a bit healthier too!
My daughter also enjoys decorating her own little pizzas.  This is a really fun kid recipe!


Pizza Dough


2 tsp. active dry yeast (should equal 1 pkg. - .25 oz)
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115 F)
3 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided

In a 2-cup liquid measure, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.  Let stand until foamy, about 3-5 minutes.  Insert dough blade in work bowl and add flour, salt and 2 tsp olive oil.

With machine running on dough speed, pour liquid through small feed tube as fast as flour will absorb it.  Process until dough cleans sides of work bowl and forms a ball.  Then process for 30 seconds to knead dough.  Dough may be slightly sticky.  Coat dough evenly with 2 tsp. olive oil; transfer to a plastic food storage bag and seal the top.  Let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.  While dough is rising, prepare any pizza toppings.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and punch down.  Roll into desired crust sizes.  Arrange pizza crusts onto lightly oiled cookie sheets or pizza pans, and poke gentle holes all over with a fork.  Bake for about 5-10 minutes (partway cooked, just until it hardens a little bit.)  Remove from oven and spread toppings on top.  Bake again immediately for about 10-15 minutes until done, or freeze for later use.

We use Emeril's Spaghetti Sauce straight from the jar for our "red sauce."
Grated Mozzarella cheese
Red and Green Bell Peppers
Italian Sausage
Canadian Bacon
Fresh or canned pineapple
Crumbled Goat Cheese
Sliced tomatoes
Fresh Basil