Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cooking Light Giveaway Winner & Eye-Spy

And the winner is.....


 Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway - I wish I could send all of you a subscription!  I'll have another giveaway coming up in January.  In the meantime, have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy your holiday baking!

Here are some yummies that are now on my "I have to try that" list:

 Caramel Cream Puff Pops (from Dinner With Julie)

 Melted Snowman Sugar Cookies (from Smashed Peas and Carrots)

S'mores Hot Chocolate (from Our Best Bites)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cooking Light Giveaway

Anyone want to win a year’s subscription to Cooking Light magazine?  

It’s my current favorite (see this post), and it’s one of my most trusted resources for new recipes.  I need to renew my subscription and when I went to the site I noticed that right now they’re having a 2-for-1 deal on subscriptions.  I thought I would give the other subscription away to one of my readers. 

To enter, simply leave a comment here on this post before Dec 23rd at noon.  I’ll choose a winner that afternoon.  (Please make sure there is a way for me to contact you!)

[nope, Cooking Light is not sponsoring this, nor are they paying me to go on and on about how much I love them.]

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu No. 114

Menus two weeks in a row - this has got to be some kind of record for me, right?

You may notice that the Slow Cooker Ragu was also on my menu for Sunday last week.  Sunday morning came and I pulled out everything for the ragu and THEN realized that we had no egg noodles.  So I pushed that dinner to today and we had whole wheat waffles instead YUM!

I must say that I'm looking forward to having that ragu again.  We tried it a few weeks ago and we all loved it (kids included!)  Here's what we're having for the rest of the week:

MondaySlow Cooker Ragu over egg noodles
Tuesday Baked Rigatoni with Roasted Vegetables, Baguette
Wednesday – Vegetable Beef and Barley Soup, rolls
Thursday – Chicken and Black Bean burritos, salsa
Friday – eat out
Saturday – xmas party
SundayRobyn’s roast, rice, corn

baked rigatoni full view


Thursday, December 9, 2010


[photo courtesy of Vintage Pollyanna]

Oh man this looks good!  I was doing some surfing for another hobby of mine and I came across this blog: Vintage Pollyanna

Allison has some really cute craft ideas, along with some yummy looking recipes.  This one for Chocolate Bark took me on a short trip down memory lane.  Back in college I went to visit a friend of mine at her apartment.  She offered me some chocolate bark and (of course) I didn’t refuse.  After eating it and telling her how much I loved it she informed me that there were saltine crackers in the recipe.  I really, really, really thought she was lying.  (side note:  I was quite a practical joker back in the day so it was not unheard of for people to try to trick me.  You know….  revenge.)  She gave me a copy of the recipe and sure enough – saltines. 

I was so happy to come across the recipe on Allison’s blog.  Along with the recipe she also has step-by-step photos for those of you who are more cautious bakers.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jingle Bell Cookie Pizza

I’ll save you the trouble….   it looks better than it tastes.

  I know, I know..  You could have told me that, right?  Store bought cookie dough, topped with marshmallows and m&ms.  Really it comes down to the fact that each of the ingredients are just plain better on their own.  Well, except the cookie dough.  It was extremely salty.  It’s been years since I’ve bought that stuff and now I remember why. 

If you still want it, here’s the link to the recipe.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Menu No. 113

Confession:  I’m not doing such a great job with posting my menus lately.  However, I have a new tool that will help me keep on top of things.  More on that later.  Now here’s what we’re feasting on this week:

MondayLime Chicken Soft Tacos (& homemade salsa)
TuesdaySkillet Baked Ziti, french bread, roasted carrots
Wednesday – BBQ Chicken Salad (w/ a yummy BBQ Vinaigrette)
ThursdayBBQ Club Sandwiches, + leftovers
Friday – eat out
Saturday – eat out (Christmas par-tay!)
SundaySlow Cooker Ragu over egg noodles, green beans

This week’s treat:  Jingle Bell Cookie Pizza

Need more dinner ideas?  Check out Menu Plan Monday over at orgjunkie

menu plan monday Thanksgiving

Monday, November 22, 2010

Just Around the Corner

I can smell the turkey already, can’t you?  In my pre-Thanksgiving planning, today’s task is to decide on some cute place cards to add to the table.  I’m looking for something on the simple side, and hopefully something that my 9 year old could help with.  This morning I did a quick search for some Thanksgiving place card ideas and thought I would share my top five.   Do you have ideas?  Leave a comment with a link (or email me with your link) – I’d love to see!
A simple leaf.  Idea found here
Can’t go wrong with a lovely leaf.  Simple is good!

Paper pumpkin idea from Passionately Artistic
I like the paper strips idea and I love that there’s a chocolate surprise hidden inside.

20071123_1357Cute pilgrim hat idea from My Insanity
This cute hat caught my eye first this morning, but I’m not sure I’m in the mood to track down black party cups.

I love finding free printables – this one is from Design Evolution
I love the graphic print of the yellow.  I could tweak the color to more of a green, and then tie each leaf to a pear.  This is definitely an option if I get short on time.


and finally, this one is a whole Thanksgiving kit that you can download (free!) and customize.  I love the Thanksgiving activity page.  These cute downloadables are from Paper Glitter.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Today’s Find

On my once-a-month trip through Costco today I spotted this:

Several years ago when we lived in California, Panera was one of our favorite lunch spots.  Alas, Panera has yet to open a location here in Utah.  This Broccoli Cheddar Soup was one of Mr. Dinner’s on Me’s favorites.  He’d order the soup in a bread bowl and if I wanted a taste I had to get it quick before it disappeared.

Once we returned to Utah, I had to find a way to satisfy our craving for this soup.  After doing some research online, I found a clone recipe – a pretty close clone too.

I was so excited to find this soup today (and I hope Costco starts carrying some of Panera’s other soups.)  I tried it tonight for dinner with some slices of crusty bread.  Oh so perfect for a fall dinner.

Now just a note:  I will always prefer to make my own food from scratch rather than buying pre-made stuff like this.  However, there are nights (we all have them, right?) where if I want a hot meal then pre-made soup is a great option!  The package came with two tubs, we ate one and froze one for another busy night.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Look at these cute little ghosts!  Oh man I wish I would have seen these BEFORE Halloween.  Dang.  Now I just have to remember to do these for next year.  Thanks for the cute idea Chris!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Shortbread Candy Bars

As promised, here is a recipe that will come in handy now that we all have bowls of candy (a.k.a. bribery ammunition) stashed somewhere in our homes.

This recipe is found on the last page of this month’s Everyday Food mini-mag (October 2010).  It’s also found online here.

First of all, has anyone else already tried this recipe?  I made one batch of the shortbread dough last night and tasted it before baking and found it to be incredibly salty.  Ew.  I tossed it out and started over this afternoon.  Instead of the 1 1/4 tsp of coarse salt I added a scant 1/4 tsp of regular salt and it was so much better.  I even think it would be fine without any salt at all.  My other shortbread recipes do not call for salt.
So here is the recipe (my reduced salt version):

Shortbread Candy Bars
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp regular salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (using the spoon/level method)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups assorted roughly chopped candy bars
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and salt on medium-high until light and fluffy (3 minutes).  With mixer on low, add flour in three additions and beat until combined (dough will be crumbly).

Press dough evenly into an 8-inch square baking dish.  Bake until golden brown and firm, 30-35 minutes.  (My pan was a little smaller than 8-inches and took about 38 minutes to bake.)


While shortbread bakes, chop your candy.  I used M&Ms:

Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups:

and Snickers:

When the shortbread is done, pull it out of the oven.  Scatter chocolate chips on top of shortbread.  Bake an additional 1 to 2 minutes until chips are soft.  With the back of a spoon, spread chocolate evenly over shortbread.

Scatter candies over top (I sprinkled the candies into their own rows, but you could also scatter them on all willy-nilly if you so choose.  I’m sure it will be just  as chocolatey and delicious.)

Let cool for 30 minutes.  Refrigerate briefly (mine took another 15 minutes) to set chocolate, then cut into 16 bars.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Everyone Wants a Window Seat

Happy Halloween my fellow food-loving friends.

I bought these cute little pumpkins and squashes to sit in a bowl in the center of my table. Within minutes my toddler decided they were toys. They’ve been rolled, kicked, thrown and lined up on my window sill.

Anyone else expecting a deluge of candy today and tomorrow? Don’t be too quick to toss it all out like you usually do. (I know you do it. Don’t worry, I won’t tell your kids.) I found a recipe that uses some of those Halloween candy bars. I’m trying out the recipe today. If it’s good I’ll share it with you. Well, I suppose if it’s yucky I’ll still share it with you so you’ll know to avoid it. ha ha .

Friday, October 29, 2010

Donut Muffins

My sister is to blame for this next recipe. Yes. Blame.

They are little bite-sized muffins that taste like donut holes. Why not just make donut holes you ask? Well because these are just as good, they are quick to mix up using things you most likely have in your pantry AND (a big bonus) they don’t get fried in oil.

These are the perfect little bite of fall-esque goodness. Mix a batch up for an after school snack. Serve them alongside a mug of apple cider, or hot chocolate. One batch makes 24 perfect little muffins. You’re going to want to try these. Really.

Here’s the link:

Donut Muffins

Please don’t be tempted to leave out the nutmeg. These really need the nutmeg. If you’re making these and you’re out of nutmeg, call me and I’ll lend you mine. Oh and thank you Mindy for the yummy recipe!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dinner for One

Recently I overheard someone say how it is more time consuming to cook healthy meals.  For the most part I disagree.  I know there are a lot of fancy-shmancy recipes out there that are healthy and quite complicated.  But cooking healthy doesn’t need to be complicated.  For me, it just takes a little planning.
For example – tonight’s dinner.  Hubby was working late and kids wanted spaghetti.  I didn’t want spaghetti.  I dug through my fridge and found some vegetables and some leftover chopped romaine. 
In the time it took me to boil the water for my kids’ spaghetti, I preheated the oven to 425 degrees and washed and chopped a few veggies (not having to peel anything was a big time saver.)
In the time it took me to put the pasta in the water, the vegetables got a quick toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
In the time it took me to cook the pasta I mixed up a quick balsamic vinaigrette and the veggies got a quick roast in the oven.
In the time it took me to drain the pasta and add the sauce, I had my salad plated and on the table. 

Need the details? 
I used: (1 serving) 4-5 brussels sprouts, 4-5 pieces of cauliflower, 8 asparagus spears, one small zuchinni
Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with foil.
Cut the tough little stem off of the brussels sprouts and slice each in half.
Slice the small zuchinni into 1 inch slices (if you cut a little on the diagonal you get nice long, pretty slices)
Chop the cauliflower into small to medium sized pieces
Cut about 1 inch off of the asparagus (just the last bit of the stem – it’s usually pretty tough)
Place vegetables on foil-lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  Toss gently with your hands.  I do like to keep my vegetables in little groups like this so that if say the asparagus is done first (which it is) then it is easy to pull out and set aside. 

Roast vegetables in oven for 8-10 minutes, possibly less.  It all depends on the size of your vegetables!  I did peek at about 5 minutes and used a pair of tongs to toss the vegetables a little.
Serve as a side dish (easy dinner = store bought rotisserie chicken + quick oven roasted vegetables) or atop a bed of chopped romaine for a delicious roasted vegetable salad. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Poached Pears with Cinnamon-Vanilla Cream

Need a simple but impressive dessert? These babies are microwaved! I know – I was skeptical too.
Here’s a link to the original recipe. Of course I made a couple of changes. I didn’t have any vanilla ice cream on hand, but I did have heavy cream. I used 1/4 cup of heavy cream, with a bit (maybe 1/8 tsp?) of vanilla and a sprinkling of cinnamon to taste. I loved the addition of the cinnamon and we couldn’t get enough of the sauce so the next time I made these I doubled it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hawaiian Beef Teriyaki Skewers

Hawaiian Beef Teriyaki Skewers were a favorite with us this summer. We buy our top sirloin from Costco and it’s oh so good. Be sure to soak your wooden skewers in some water before grilling.

Serve with grilled or fresh pineapple, rice and a green salad.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Hamburgers

We’re not big burger eaters, but when we do have burgers at home this is the recipe we use:

Bacon Wrapped Hamburgers

We use the recipe for the burger patties, but we don’t bother to do the bacon-wrapping part.  If you still need bacon on your burger then add it on top along with the lettuce, tomato & pickles.  Oh these are delicious.  And just look how lovely the ingredients are in the bowl.  (Do you find it at all strange that I have a photo of the ingredients, but not the finished burger?  Me too.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

‘Tis the Season

Last Summer the peach surpassed the strawberry as my favorite fruit.  Blueberries made a quick trip to the best-seller list last spring, but then August came along and brought with her hundreds of lovely peaches.  I was so sad when peach season ended last year and so I was determined to make peachfest 2010 last as long as I could.  

So for the past week I have been canning some Lemon Elbertas. 


I had never canned peaches on my own before (I “helped” mom when I was younger, but I think that involved a lot of hiding, excuses and complaining more than anything else.)



My first batch was a little rough until I got a system down.  The last day I canned, I did an entire box (12 jars) in just over two hours.  That includes the 35 minute processing time.  Not bad.  Next up….canning applesauce. 

peaches 2

Monday, September 27, 2010

Vegetarian Chili

I haven’t been in a soup-mood for quite some time. Months, actually. Something changed this week (uh, like the weather) and I’m starting to bring my soups back into the rotation. Vegetarian Chili is one of the first soups to make an appearance each fall; it uses some of those fresh garden veggies, and doesn’t have that heavy-made-from-loads-of-cream feeling. Oh and the leftovers are amazing!
Here’s two ways to get this dinner to the table quickly:
option #1: Prep all of your veggies earlier in the day. Mince and chop everything and put it in the fridge. (A friend of mine preps for dinner right after breakfast. I like to do it right after lunch.) Then when it is time for dinner heat your pot, toss in all veggies and saute. The rest is easy – open all of the cans and dump them in!
option #2: Make the entire soup that morning (or at lunch, like me). About 20 minutes before meal time, heat it up and you’re ready!

California Vegetarian Chili

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
2 cans (14-oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 can black beans, drained
1 can great northern beans, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 Tbsp yellow mustard

Heat oil in a large (6 qt) kettle. Add garlic and veggies. Saute until veggies are crisp-tender.
Add all other ingredients. Stir well. Cover and simmer at least 10 minutes, and up to 30 minutes. Serve and garnish with cheese and/or avocados.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Smores (a little late)

I realized today (with a bit of a heavy heart) that it is Fall. Every year I have to be dragged (kicking and screaming) into Fall. I cling to the last bits of Summer any way I can. However, when it looks like this:

(the view near Sundance, Utah)

I have to admit that Fall is here. There is no denying it. The leaves are changing, General Conference is around the corner, and I feel like baking pumpkin bread & making soups.

I really meant to share this Summertime tip with you earlier. I’m hoping it’s not too late. Maybe you can still manage one more campfire before it gets too cold? It’s a quick tip – not life changing by any means. Here it is:

This is how we do smores:

First, roast your marshmallow.

Next, sandwich it between two of these cookies. Eat.

We love these when making smores with kids. These cookies are the perfect size for one marshmallow (and the perfect size for little hands) and the chocolate melts right on to the warm mallow. Yum!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Menu No. 112


Monday – hamburgers, carrot sticks, peaches

Tuesday – spaghetti with a chunky pomodoro sauce, green beans, bruschetta

Wednesday – mozzarella/tomato/basil pesto panini

Thursdayvegetarian chili & skillet cornbread

Friday – eat out

Saturdayyo-yo dinner

Sunday – beef stew, rolls




Friday, September 17, 2010

Out of the Habit

I admit it. I am totally out of the habit of blogging. Somewhere in June I got tired of photographing everything before I ate it. I stopped taking detailed notes about how much of this and that I tossed into the pot. For a weekly menu I just scribbled down a list of things I thought would be delicious, without concern for what day each meal would fall on. I did keep cooking. And I did take a few photos. A few.

Last year we had just a few bean plants in our garden. This year we had 16. I discovered that it was just about the perfect amount for our family. It was wonderful – we were able to have fresh green beans for dinner every three to four days. Here is our favorite way to prepare them:

green beans

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

3-4 Tbsp onion, minced

1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

olive oil

kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper

Pick beans, and trim the ends off. Cut beans to be similar lengths.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add beans, boil 5 minutes uncovered. Check for doneness. Cover pot with a lid and boil another 3-5 minutes until done. I’ve found bean “doneness” to be a personal preference. I like softer beans, but if you like your beans with a little crunch, then don’t boil them as long. The size of the beans will determine cooking time as well.

Drain beans and set aside (this will help them dry a little as well. You really don’t want to toss wet beans into hot oil. Trust me.)

Mince garlic and onion, and chop rosemary.

Heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.

Add beans, garlic and onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently (don’t let the garlic & onions burn.) Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper (to taste). Toss to coat. Remove from pan and serve.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Little Cups of Chocolate Goodness

I have a few rules that I try to live by.

Rule #1: Create a weekly menu when I’m hungry. (It doesn’t go so well if I try to make a menu when I’m stuffed.)

Rule #2: Grocery shop when I’m NOT hungry. (If I shop when I’m hungry I end up buying things like funions. Weird.)


Rule #3: Don’t watch any type of cooking show on an empty stomach. (Otherwise I end up trying out EVERY recipe from the show in the next few days.)

Rule #4: If a food is good when full-sized, then it’s probably even better when tiny-sized.

Don’t believe me on rule #4? Well how about those tiny m&ms? The regular ones are good. The tiny ones are perfectly delicious. Do you need another example? How about your very own small chocolate cake? Ok, ok…. I know you think it might be better to have your own HUGE chocolate cake, but hear me out.

First of all, these little cakes are baked in a buttered & sugared ramekin. Don’t even think about skipping the sugaring step. That granulated sugar creates a lovely crust on the outside of the cake. Now if you had to share this cake with someone else, you wouldn’t get that sugary crust all to yourself.

Secondly, because these are small they can be baked just long enough to be done yet remain gooey inside. That’s hard to do with a full-sized cake.

And finally, this recipe is a small one. It only makes four ramekins. Why is that good you ask? Because sometimes all you need is one serving of cake. Sometimes.

Warm Chocolate Pudding Cakes (from Everyday Food on PBS)

Some notes on this recipe:

  • These cakes really are best fresh from the oven. The recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate but all I had was some semi-sweet so that’s what I used. It was delicious and that’s what I would use again. I’m not sure my kids would appreciate the bittersweet chocolate.
  • Don’t overbake these beauties. The recipe says to “bake until center of a cake is soft but not wet when pressed.” When your timer is running out, keep your eye on the cakes and as soon as the center is not “wet when pressed” pull them from the oven.
  • I skipped the caramel sauce. I’m sure it’s great, but we enjoyed our cakes with just a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.