Archive for February, 2011

February 25, 2011

Pigs in blankets


Both kids were home sick this afternoon, and we had a huge storm blowing outside. I had not planned on having two sick kids when I grocery shopped on Sunday, and hitting the store in the storm was not going to happen.

So I put out a call on Facebook, and a friend (who happens to be a mother of two and grandmother of one) responded with a great idea featuring items in my fridge & pantry – woo!

I found this recipe on and the following is my slightly modified version.

1/4 ounce active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar, plus
1 teaspoon sugar, divided
2/3 cup warm milk (110 to115)
1/3 cup warm water (110 to 115)
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons oil or 2 tablespoons shortening, melted
2 teaspoons oil or 2 teaspoons  shortening, melted
1 teaspoon salt
3 2/3 cups flour
8 bun length turkey hot dogs
1 cup shredded carrots, steamed for 10 minutes, cooled and water squeezed out
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Prep Time: 2 hrs
1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in milk and water.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
2. Add egg, oil or shortening, salt, remaining sugar, and enough flour to form a soft dough. Dough will be very sticky.
3. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes), or use dough hook to knead in stand mixer.
4. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.  Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
5. Punch dough down and divide into 8 portions.  Roll into a 8×2 1/2″ rectangle.
6. Sprinkle dough evenly with shredded carrots and cheese. Wrap around hot dogs.
7. Pinch seam and ends to seal.  Place seam side down on greased baking sheet and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 350 for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.

J, KG and I loved these as they were. W pulled the dough off and ate the hot dog plain, so next time I think I’ll make up a couple plain biscuits on the side. Could probably even add more carrots and cheese, too!

February 22, 2011

Garlic and tomato soup with crusty French bread


Wow, was this soup garlicy. The recipe said just to blanch the clove before putting them in the slow cooker, and next time I’m going to try roasting them. J and I could barely finish our own bowls.

The bread, on the other hand, was amazing. Crusty on the outside, soft and chewy in the middle. Here’s the recipe for that (I halved it):

I’ll post the soup recipe if I can get it fixed. Right now, wowza.

February 21, 2011

Antonia’s Top Chef cookies


Last week on Top Chef, the cheftestants had to make cookies for Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Telly. Naturally, when we first watched this, we knew we would have to watch again with the kids.
KG declared that her favorite cookies were those made by Antonia, dark chocolate with white chocolate chips, caramel and sprinkles. After doing some searching online, I found the recipe, but commenters didn’t like how the cookies turned out.

So here’s my slightly modified version:

For cookies:
1 stick unsalted butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 tablespoon baking powder, sifted
1/2 tablespoon baking soda, sifted
1 cup cocoa, sifted
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt

For caramel:
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup cream

Sprinkles, decoration

1. Sift baking powder, soda, cocoa and flour together
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. Cream both sugars and butter in Kitchen Aide with paddle about 10 minutes.
4. Add eggs, vanilla, reduce speed and mix in sifted ingredients and salt.
5. Fold in chocolate chips.
6. Using an ice cream scoop, position batter about 2 inches away from each other and bake for 15-17 minutes.
7. Boil sugar and water until light brown caramel forms, about 10 minutes.
8. Slowly add cream and wisk until incorporated.
9. Drizzle over cool cookies and decorate with sprinkles

I was going to buy caramel at the store, but the only “all natural” one (Wegmans store brand – love it) was $4. I had all the ingredients at home, so I thought I’d give it a try. Totally easy!

The cookies turned out huge – could have made them a bit smaller. I think melted white chocolate would look great on top of them, too.

February 20, 2011

Turnip chips

Yesterday, I posted one way that my kids will eat a vegetable. The other way, I confirmed today, is as chips.

We had three small turnips left over from the root veggie soup I made last week, and I wanted a side dish for dinner. After putting on my creative hat and doing some googling, I came up with the following:

Turnip chips (makes three small servings. Might want to double.)

Three small turnips
1/4 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp garlic salt
3 tsp olive oil

1. Wash and slice turnips. (I used a mandolin set paper thin to get potato chip thinness.)
2. Whisk together chili, oil, salt in bowl. Toss turnip slices in oil to coat evenly.
3. Bake at 250 degrees on a wire rack for 30-35 minutes until light golden brown.

I liked how the salt balanced out the peppery taste of the turnips. The kids loved them and were sneaking tastes from the kitchen before dinner – a sure sign of a hit!

The chips turned out really pretty, too – the pattern of the turnip shows up nicely when browned. Sorry no pic, they went too fast! Will get one next time, I’m sure we’re making these again.

February 18, 2011

Baked Sweet Potato Fries


I have been feeling a bit under the weather lately, so haven’t made too many new items. Today, I’m just feeding dinner to the kids (date night) and thought these fries would be fun. Plus, KG had asked to get a sweet potato at the grocery store a while back, so I had all the ingredients on hand 🙂

I adapted my recipe from:

Instead of chipotle (which I’m sure would be awesome but I don’t stock) I used regular chili powder. I added cinnamon as one of the commenters suggested, too. I first made these for Thanksgiving and W only ate them, foregoing turkey, stuffing, everything else!

I cut my fries into two-by-one-by-quarter inch pieces so they are easier for the kids to eat. I also bake mine at 425, so they get a little more crispy.

Baking the fries on a wire rack with plenty of space is key. Otherwise they will steam and not crisp up correctly.

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February 11, 2011

Root Veggie Soup & Rustic Bread



Last Saturday, the kids and I headed off to the CNY farmer’s market to get the ingredients for tonight’s dinner: lots of root vegetables.

KG and one of the farmers had a great time. I told her what to get, and she looked for it. He gave her little hints, nodding in the right direction, etc. When we left, she said, “That was really nice of him to help me find everything.”

I had selected this recipe b/c it calls for beets. The kids are served beets at school once a week, and they never eat them. So I wanted to show them how fun beets are.

The soup was pretty straightforward. Peel and chop veggies. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper. Place it crock. Roast for 4 hours. Add veggie broth and puree.

Yes, I immersion blended a soup with beers in it! And the kitchen isn’t red! I’ve worked out a system: stand a cutting board behind the crock, use the lid as a shield, go at it.

The soup turned out like a red, more flavorful potato soup. I liked it…. W liked to throw it. KG liked the first half of her bowl. They both liked the bread, which I baked up yesterday to go with the soup.

February 9, 2011

Penne & Sausage


This is adapted from “Not Your Mother’s…”. I halved the recipe b/c we always had too many leftovers, and tonight we had nothing leftover!

3/4 lb sausage
1/2 lb pasta (any cylindrical)
12-14 oz pasta sauce
12-14 oz water
(total liquid should be 26 oz)

1. Brown sausage and drain fat.
2. Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Combine liquids in pot and stir.
4. Pour in pasta and stir.
5. Add browned sausage and stir.
6. Cook on low for 3.5 – 4 hrs. Stir after 1.5 hrs to prevent burning.
7. To serve, spoon into bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

I’ve made this with chicken and pork sausage and it was great either way. Don’t forget to stir, the pasta won’t cook evenly.

Everyone here loves this – KG cleaned her bowl!

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February 8, 2011

Sloppy Joes

Last night, we had slow cooker sloppy joes for dinner. This was actually a request from J, they were such a success on previous occasions.

This recipe was adapted from Slow Cooker Favorites Made Healthy, which called for brisket. Small cuts of brisket are hard to find around here, and we don’t have the freezer room to get a large one and cut it down. So I went with good old ground beef. This shortened the cooking time, too.

1 to 2 lbs ground beef
1 10-oz can chopped tomatoes w/ green chile peppers, undrained
8 oz applesauce
3 oz (1/3 c) tomato paste
1/4 c reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
10-12 hamburger buns, toasted

1. Put meat into slow cooker.
2. In bowl, stir together all other ingredients (except buns), pour over meat.
3. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up meat and mix into sauce.
4. Cover and cook on low for 6 hrs or high for 3 hrs.
5. Stir everything together in cooker, making sure the beef chunks are all small enough for sandwiches.
5. Make sandwiches, dividing meat out evenly.

The kids loved these, too – even though KG picked out all the tomatoes (sigh). They insist on being giving whole sandwiches, which sure adds to the fun of sloppy joe night!

February 6, 2011

Super Bowl special

We’re taking the kiddies to a Super Bowl party tonight. In an attempt to ensure that they don’t just nosh on chips all night, I’m bringing a fruit salad.

Our kids love fruit, so the question when making a salad is “what’s ripe and on sale?” Tonight we’re going with cantelope, apples, naval oranges, strawberries and blueberries.

What do you put in fruit salad? Are you a purist (just fruit) or do you like dressing?

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February 5, 2011

Amazing discovery!

My fav slow cooker cookbook is on Google books! So now I can share recipes with no guilt whatsoever.

With that in mind, here’s the link for tonight’s dinner: essentially tuna noodle casserole. I’ve got to say, I’m not used to doing an hour of cooking and dirtying three pans to make dinner in the slow cooker.’s+tuna+penne+slow+cooker&source=bl&ots=cLD_jkjCYg&sig=62FZ2CTGLgwZGTqb3j7SjNNxHPA&hl=en

End result: I liked it, the rest of the fam didn’t. Next time, I’m just throwing a can of tuna into the mac & cheese – much less work, and everyone liked that base better.