Friday, December 31, 2010

Did I Meet My 2010 Goals?

December 31st. It is such a final date. The year ends and on the waking of the morn, not only a new day but a new YEAR has begun. A person makes themselves promises: I'll eat healthier, I'll exercise more, I'll be more patient with my family, I'll stop drinking diet coke, I'll. . . . .

Last year I decided that I would not make myself promises, but that I would set goals. Here is a recap of those goals and the results:

1. Plant Asparagus.

Yes! I planted 10 Asparagus crowns and they grew wonderfully! Now, I can't wait until I can actually harvest a few spears this coming spring. :) I believe I planted Jersey Jem. I also got crazy and planted strawberries in with the flowers, it was an itch I had to scratch!

2. Find a recipe for a perfect homemade ranch dressing.

I really hit this one hard in the beginning of the year. A few times I thought I had it but as the dressing sat for a few hours (or days) in the fridge, the taste went all wrong. A few weeks ago, I got a slew of ranch dressing recipes from a friend of mine. I haven't made any of them yet but it is on my to do list. The quest continues....

3. A new way to stake tomatoes.

Yes, I did this one. I used a Florida Weave method and I plan on using it again this year. It works best for indeterminate varieties. I would not bother with it small determinate varieties.

4. Rent a plot in a community garden.

Did this one as well. It was, may I say, an abject failure. However, I did get lots and lots of onions :) In fact, I'm still using them and any one who knows me knows I use a lot of onions. lol The road being closed and a long detour to get out there didn't help matters. And the approximately 60 billion weed seeds and 20 billion insect eggs and 1 million various plant diseases didn't help matters.

So what I shoot for (garden and kitchenwise) in 2011? Hmmmm.......

1. Find a much better Roma type tomato. I think I going to try a variety called Juliet. For all I was sick of them, I really am glad I planted a Yellow Pear tomato - the thing thrived when my other tomatoes were looking pretty pathetic at the end of the year.

2. Learn to cook with my NEW STAINLESS STEEL cookware! Okay, so I have been cooking with it and it works great, I'm just a little annoyed with the whole egg sticking thing. Mike bought be a great set - Calphalon Triply Stainless Steel. Great deals where to be had!

Have a wonderful and happy New Year! As a friend on Facebook said - one more year closer to Jesus coming back! God bless!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mushroom Orzo - the one I catered

It is a brisk (okay, more than brisk) day. A perfect day for staying inside and cooking up a storm. Right now, my house smells divine because I'm making chicken broth on the stove top. It's been going for an hour and a half but I think I'll let it do it's low simmer for at least another couple of hours. I'm also feeling the urge to make some cookies so that'll be part of the afternoon's agenda.

I had my first foray into catering a few weeks ago. It was a lot of work but it was confirmed to me that it is actually something I enjoy. With planning and lots of lists I actually slept very well the night before and if you know me, you can tell how at ease I must have been.

While not everything was as perfect as I had wanted it to be, I did receive positive feedback. The most commented on item was the Mushroom Orzo. The original recipe came from and can be found here. However, I knew I wouldn't be able to make it for 40 people on top of the stove top so I adjusted the recipe for the oven. If you are making it simply for your family, by all means - use the stove top - it will be faster and probably less mess. If you want a creamier orzo, let this overcook just slightly and stir. If it seems too dry, add more chicken broth - it's all good in the end! Oh, and you don't have to, but I would recommend baby bella mushrooms instead of the white buttons. The flavor intensity it just all that more (however, I did not use them for the event). This recipe makes a lot - at least feeding 8-10 people, you may want to cut it in half for your family.

Mushroom Orzo


3 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, chopped

1 pound fresh mushrooms, chopped

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups uncooked orzo pasta

salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion, thyme, and mushrooms until tender and golden brown, season with salt and pepper to taste. Add orzo and cook slightly.

Place orzo mixture in a 9x 13 pan. Add 3 cups chicken broth. Cover with aluminum foil tightly and cook for 30 minutes. Take off foil, stir, cook longer if desired consistency is not reached. If desired, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 11/15/10

I'm fully aware that I'm avoiding laundry and breakfast dishes to write this post. This is really not my personality, and as soon as I get off of here, you bet they are going to get done!

I had a very difficult time coming up with this week's menu. Maybe I was too full when I was menu planning? Maybe I was exhausted from this year's Holiday Specialtea? Whatever the cause, I requested help from the family and here is what we came up with....

Monday: Fragrant Indian Butter Chicken, Brown Rice, & Salad
Tuesday: Whole Wheat Spaghetti & Meatballs & Salad
Wednesday: Potato Chowder & Salad
Thursday: Pesto Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, and Buttery Green Beans with Almonds
Friday: Bacon Cheese Burgers & Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Chicken Lasagna

Yes, I made a chicken lasagna and here's warning - if you don't do "scratch" cooking then this one is not for you. :)

I've been working on clearing out some of the recesses of our freezers (yes, plural), because soon we'll be gifted with some organic, grass-fed beef from my parents. Yay! In the upstairs freezer, I found a well wrapped package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Late summer I bought a big package of chicken thighs and "processed" them myself. I'm not sure I saved too much money but I felt like I did.

So, what to do with these chicken thighs? I decided to make Italian sausage with them and then to put the sausage into a lasagna. Here's how I did it. I ground them with my Kitchen Aid grinder attachment (works great!). You could probably also pulse them in a food processor. I would not recommend a blender.

To the ground chicken (roughly 1 1/3 pounds), I added:

1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp crushed red pepper (I made my own this year!) - you can use more if you like it spicier.
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp of brown sugar (I like the bit of sweetness it added along with the browner color it gave the browned chicken)

Then, I browned the chicken sausage up real well. Added some basil garlic tomato sauce (canned from this year's garden) - I'd say use your favorite jarred spaghetti sauce. Simmer for at least 10 minutes. This was the red sauce for the lasagna. Now, I didn't have any ricotta so I decided to make a Mornay (a bechamel sauce with cheese) sauce. Here's how I did that:

2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
roughly 2 1/2 cups milk
2 slices provolone cheese
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a sauce pan, stir in the garlic and onion powders. Add the flour and cook for couple of minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk, adjust how much milk you use according to how thick or thin you want your sauce. Stir in the cheeses - season with salt and pepper to your tastes.

Now, assemble your lasagna! I really like those no bake Barilla lasagna sheets. I used six of them (about half a package). In an 9x9 pan, put a dollop of red sauce on the bottom, then two lasagna sheets, then a third of the red sauce, 1 third of the Mornay sauce, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Repeat. Save just enough red sauce and white sauce to keep the top of the last sheets, well covered. The pile on the mozzarella and add a little grated Romano too.

Bake in a 375 degree oven, covered tightly with aluminum foil for 45 minutes. Uncover, and let cook another 10 minutes to give the top a little color. Allow to cool down for about 10 minutes, cut and serve! This is a great sized lasagna for our family and the kids all loved it!

This one is truly from scratch. My husband says I spoil him and I guess I probably do! Please give making your own bulk sausage a try - it is so easy, you probably have many of the spices already on hand and you'll avoid the addition of many additives (i.e. msg). Google what ever sausage you want to make along with the terms "spice" and "recipes" and you'll be well on you way.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cheese Soup......with Vegetables

My kids love cheese soup. Of course, we are big cheese people. (Note that I said cheese and not cheesy). Yes, we are the family that mainly holds on to our Sam's Club membership for the savings we incur by purchasing our cheese there. If you are lactose intolerant or a vegan or someone who just does not like cheese, well, then, this post isn't for you.

In my pursuit to make things "more healthful" for our family, I've cut out pretty much all canned condensed soups. And, as I've searched for cheese soup recipes, most of the well reviewed ones call for one of two ingredients: condensed cheese soup or Velveeta. Now, I don't really have anything against Velveeta. It's just not for me. And it's relatively expensive and really not all that healthful for you. I'm more natural than that. Here's how I've gotten around the processed cheese aspect of a good cheese soup.

Cheese Soup with Vegetables:

1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 sprig fresh thyme
1 Bay leaf
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4 flour
3-4 cups of milk (we use 1% but whatever you have on hand)
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (you can use more if you'd like!)
2 cups broccoli florets, cut into bit size pieces
Hot sauce, to taste (optional)

In a soup pot, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot and lightly sauté. Add butter to the pot and stir until melted. Add thyme, bay leaf, and salt & pepper (and really any other herb that you think might be good like maybe sage) and stir. Add the flour, stirring for a minute or two to cook out some of the flour taste. Slowly add in the milk, whisking as you do so. You're basically making a white sauce with vegetables in it (I do this quite a bit when I cook to make sauces). It's up to you how much milk you want to add, you can always add more later to get the consistency your family likes. Then add the cheese and stir to melt. Your pot should be at a simmer now, don't boil or it'll get all chunky and not be smooth. Let it barely simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add the broccoli florets and simmer another five minutes. Check for seasonings, add a couple of shakes of hot sauce if desired. Remove bay leaf and fresh thyme sprig (if you used), serve and enjoy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 10/25/10

So today I pulled up the last of my tomato plants and harvested thyme and oregano to dry. As I was washing the herbs, I kept thinking how much I really, really like thyme. You all have conversations in your heads about food too, right? Anyway, I was on my way to declaring it my favorite herb - I love it with mushrooms and with chicken and in soups and on potatoes and so on. But then I remembered sage and how much I love sage. With butternut squash and with pork chops and apples and with chicken ...... Hard decisions when it comes to those herbs! What's your favorite?

Here's this week's menu, enjoy!

Monday: Broccoli Cheese Soup (my own recipe, I'll have to post it soon) & Crusty Bread
Tuesday: Swiss Crockpot Chicken & Green Beans
Wednesday: Round Steak in Gravy, Baked Potatoes, Salad
Thursday: Chicken Tacos, Ranch Beans, Salad
Friday: Pepperoni Stromboli & Salad

Monday, October 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 10/18/10

What a lovely fall we're having! This week is "perfect" fall weather in my book - high's in the 60's, sunny and a light wind. I think we're at peak color for foliage right now too. Due to mild temps, I've still got peppers growing in the garden along side my pak choi, romaine lettuce, carrots, & wax beans. Those wax beans have been producing for at least the last two months (they were a mid/late summer planting) - but I do think they are about done.

Here's this week's menu!

Monday: Chicken Fried Steak, Roasted Potatoes & Wax Beans
Tuesday: Chicken, Pepper, & Pak Choi Stir Fry, Egg Drop Soup & Salad
Wednesday: Jamaican Jerk Drumsticks, Rice, & Chili-Lime Corn
Thursday: Parmesan Tilapia, Pesto Potatoes, & Salad
Friday: BBQ Chicken Pizza

Monday, October 4, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 10/4/10

When Mike saw the menu for this week, he uttered this phrase: "We're going around the world!" In a way, we are! Many of these are old stand-by recipes though; I'm not trying anything too new this week. Last week had four new recipes, three of which were hits (the one that wasn't was the fish dish - I think it would have been much, much better with fresh fish). So, what does a week of stand-bys look like for our family? Take a look:

Monday: Pesto & Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Salad (from the garden!)
Tuesday: Moo Shu Pork (using garden pak choi), Rice & Egg Rolls
Wednesday: Tater Tot Hotdish (this has to be the very first thing I made growing up - now I don't use canned soups but still...) & Salad
Thursday: Slow Cooker Green Pork Chili (okay, this is new - we'll see how it goes over!) & Black Beans
Friday: BBQ Chicken Pizza & Salad

Monday, September 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 9/27/10

Fall "officially" came last week. Doesn't everyone like fall? Have you ever talked to someone who said they didn't like fall? It is hard for me to imagine anyone detesting this time of year; the crispness in the air invigorates, the changing of leaves beautifies the landscape, and there is football every waking moment of the day. (Okay, maybe some football widows dislike fall.) I like fall for all the fall foods that you can now make without anyone questioning you. See, now you can make pumpkin muffins, butternut squash soup, and beef stew and not have anyone raise an eyebrow at you. I am reminded, though, that I often feel the same way about the grilling and fresh vegetables the warmer weather brings in late spring/early summer.

Here's this week's menu! Heavily, heavily inspired by Ina Garten - loving the cookbook I checked out from the library!

Monday: Tuscan Lemon Chicken (swapping out rosemary for thyme), Roasted Potatoes (beside the chicken in the pan) and Wax Beans (still from our garden!)
Tuesday: Chicken and Spinach Casserole (from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food October 2010), & Salad
Wednesday: Easy Cod Meuníere (think cod or sole, sautéd in butter with lemon juice) , Wild Rice, & Peas
Thursday: Roasted Beef, Mushroom, and Barley Soup - another EF recipe (and maybe a salad from the fall garden outside?)
Friday: Brats, Chips & Fruit

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meun Plan Monday 9/20/10

Drum roll please! Time to share what's going to be on the table of the Richard family this week! Cue the trumpets!

*Eye Roll*


This week has a lot of peppers scattered through out. It's time to either eat them up or freeze for this winter.

Monday: General Tso's Pork, Rice & Egg Drop Soup
Tuesday: Roasted Chicken, Butternut Squash Casserole (the uber-sweet brown sugar kind) and Fresh Green Beans with Butter & Salt
Wednesday: Philly Cheese Sandwiches, Roasted Potatoes
Thursday: Mini-Meatloaves, Sweet Potato Fries, & Peas with Butter and Chives
Friday: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Fresh Tomato Soup

For the most part, my poor tomato plants are looking pretty pathetic. But I am still getting loads of cherry sized tomatoes. One plant is a volunteer, so I have no idea what variety it is (I think it was from seed that got put into my compost bin after a friend blessed me with a bucket of cherry tomatoes last year). The other is a yellow pear tomato. I guess I thought yellow pear tomatoes were larger but they are actually pretty tiny. The plant itself was by far the largest plant in the garden though. Interesting. Anyway, what do you do with all those small tomatoes?

We love tomato, cucumber, and feta salad. Yum. But my cucumbers are done and have been pulled out. I love salsa, but these tomatoes are not the meaty roma type tomatoes that make good pico de gallo. The fruit flies had found them and it was of the highest priority to use them up. Either they got pitched or I made something with them. Yes, it had come to that. ;)

While I was perusing the cook books at the library, I ran across Ina Garten's (the Barefoot Contessa) Back To Basics. And I am so glad I did. Her cream of fresh tomato soup inspired me and I loosely followed it. It was one of the most delicious soups I've made at home in a long time. You will need a food mill or food strainer for this recipe. I have the attachment for my KA mixer - love it!

Fresh Tomato Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped (or in my case a good handful of baby carrots)
1 celery stock, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 pounds of tomatoes, chopped or sliced in half depending on your size of tomato (I'm just guessing here - a little more or less shouldn't matter too much).
1/4 cup packed basil
1 teaspoon sugar (to taste - it cuts the acid of the tomato a little)
Salt & pepper to taste (2 teaspoons to a tablespoon of salt - depending on the saltiness of your broth - and at least a teaspoon of pepper)
2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup sour cream (Ina Garten uses heavy cream to finish her's - by all means use it if you have it - I think it would be fantastic!)

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots and celery and sauté until soft. Add the garlic, sauté for another minute. Add all the tomatoes, cover and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Add the basil and sugar. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Everything should be soft and the basil flavor will infuse the vegetables.
Break out your food strainer. Run contents of the pot through the food strainer/mill. Discard the solids. Return juice and pulp to the stockpot over medium heat. Add chicken broth, season with salt and pepper and whisk in a the sour cream. Serve and enjoy. Yum!

I'm going to make this again either today or in the next few days. Then, I'm going to freeze it to save it for one cold winter evening.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 8/30/10

I'm writing this post from my kitchen! Yes! We got a new laptop this weekend. And do you know what we named her? Martha. Yes, I love my Martha - she's going to be fun and handy to use.

So, what's going to be on the Richard Family Table this week?

Monday: Crockpot Whole Chickens, Roasted Potatoes & Dilled Peas

Tuesday: Grilled Pork Chops with Pear Salsa (so good!), Brown Basmati Rice, & Grilled Zucchini

Wednesday: Chicken & Black Bean Burritos, Chips & Salsa

Thursday: Red Pepper & Bacon Quiche & Salad

Friday: Brats, Quinoa Salad & Fruit

Monday, August 23, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 8/23/10

Here's what's on the menu for this week! See my earlier post today for more of what's been going on in our kitchen.

Monday: Chicken Fajitas, Beans, Chips & Salsa
Tuesday: Pork Souvlakia & Greek Salad
Wednesday: Country Style Pork Ribs, Mac'n Cheese, Salad (if my 2nd planting of wax beans start cranking out, we'll have those instead!)
Thursday: Beer Battered Fish, Oven Fries, & Red Cabbage Coleslaw
Friday: Greek Hamburgers & Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Home Preservation

Hello! Wow - once again, the busy-ness of life has caught me off guard and I have not kept you all up to date on what we've been eating. I know the extreme sadness this must have caused you (excuse me, my tongue is in my cheek ;) )

The garden is in full swing! Although the first planting of cucumbers is dwindling down, I've still got another, smaller planting now producing. The tomatoes are getting their "I'm tired" look but the peppers are blushing just like a new bride. Here's a list of what I've canned and preserved (not in it's entirety but close):

Tomato Juice
Italian Seasoned Tomato Sauce
Dried Tomatoes
Really Quick Dill Pickles
Quick Sweet Pickle Slices
Honeyed Pickled Jalapeños
Southeast Asian Chile Garlic Relish
Dried (and crushed) Anaheim Peppers
Blueberry Lime Jam
Peach Jam
Spiced Peach Jam
Dried Sage (need to do more!)
Dried Dill (need to do more!)
Dried Thyme (need to do more!)

.....I'm sure the list will continue to grow :) I've also done some freezing: like 11 pounds of chopped onions.

I'll also keep my bell peppers and hot peppers that I haven't been able to use fresh and freeze them.

I get an immense sense of satisfaction by putting up the food I've grown, seeing the clean jars that glimmer like jewels on the counter beside the stove. Adding the dehydrator has been a nice addition to canning and freezing. What have you been putting away for the upcoming months?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 7/12/10

I guess today is the 12th even though every thing I signed today, I wrote the 11th. Is it really the 12th of July already? My, my, my.....Maybe time would slow down if the rain stopped. lol

Here's this week's menu!

Monday: Roast Chicken (roasting two so I'll have leftovers!), Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto, & Wax Beans

Tuesday: Shrimp Fajitas, Beans, Chips & Homemade Salsa (might make a peach salsa I'm thinking)

Wednesday: Apple & Onion Chicken Burgers, Roasted Baby Potatoes (on the grill)

Thursday: Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Chips & Fruit

Friday: BBQ or Buffalo Chicken Pizzas (grilled) & Salad

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tried It & Liked It 7/5/10

In my latest culinary thoughts, I've discovered a few new prepackaged or convenience foods that I really, just really, like. So I thought I'd pass along the information in case you've eyed these things on the store shelves and have thought about giving them a try.

The first is new variety of Oscar Meyer hot dogs. Long have Hebrew National beef hot dogs reigned supreme in this house but I recently spied some Nitrate Free Angus Beef Oscar Meyer hot dogs. Now, I'm not really afraid of nitrates. I buy regular bacon and regular deli meat but I thought I'd go ahead and try these. They are really, really good in my opinion. They have a good "snap" to them when you bite in. They also have a really good spicy, savory taste to them. Reminiscent of maybe a good, non-tangy summer sausage? I'd say thumbs up on this one!

The second is some new flavors of Lays Potato Chips. I'm a potato chip fiend. But the past year, I've tried to stay free of msg (monosodium glutamate) and many, many of the flavored potato chips include this ingredient. Why? Because it makes them taste good! Aldi's sour cream and onion chips are msg free, as well as their plain. But Lays has baked up (or rather fried up) Tangy Carolina BBQ & Garden Tomato & Basil. Both are good tasting. If you are more traditional in your chips flavor then I would really suggest the BBQ. The Garden Tomato & Basil is fresh tasting though, and will grow on you especially if you like dishes such as bruschetta.

Menu Plan Monday 7/5/10

Well, I'm awake after the late night fireworks show. I was in bed, not watching...HOWEVER, I felt the display that my neighbors put on. If any of you are reading this, that sure sounded like a humdinger of a show!

So what's on the menu for tonight and on-wards this week?

Monday: Chicken Cutlets with a Wax Bean, Chickpea, and Spinach Salad

Tuesday: Venison Sausage, Grilled Squash, Onions & Peppers

Wednesday: Chipotle Lime Orange Grilled Chicken & Quinoa Salad

Thursday: Going to Friends for Dinner

Friday: Spaghetti & Meatballs, Garlic Bread & Green Salad

Monday, June 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 6/28/10

It's Monday and I'm raring to go :) That maybe because I slept in until 7:30 this morning or it could be that it is a lovely 75 degrees outside, sunny and is NOT muggy for the first time in days. Ahhh...yes, it is going to be a good week!

And it must be the time of year to have babies, because I'm taking meals to two new mothers this week. Such fun! Hope they like what I bring (or are awake enough to taste it).

Monday: Italian Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts, Bell Pepper Rice Pilaf (shooting for Ruby Tuesday's here), & Dilled Carrots. Dessert will be a Lemon Raspberry Cake with a Sweet Glaze.

Tuesday: Spinach & Artichoke Quiche with a Green Salad

Wednesday: Ham, Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, & Broccoli Salad

Thursday: Cuban Burgers (burgers topped with ham, provolone cheese, and dill pickles and then pressed) & Grilled Potato Packets

Friday: Grilled Pizza & Salad

And now for a garden update:

The garden plot is a jungle but everything is taking off. So far, I've gotten 9 heads of romaine lettuce, and two big heads of broccoli, some basil and a baseball sized red onion (that I didn't mean to hoe up but oops!). All the tomatoes out there are setting and so are the peppers. And I sold my soul to the devil and finally sprayed for Colorado Potato Beetles. That one application has allowed me to get a handle on the situation and I think I'll get a good harvest of potatoes now (before it was looking kinda sketchy!).

My backyard garden is doing well and everything looks healthy. I've got LOTS of dill, even after pulling a bunch. Sadly, the cilantro is past it's prime but soon I'll be able to harvest the coriander. All the herbs are doing well and I picked up a stevia plant on clearance. Now, my peppers here are not setting very well and I sure hope that they pick up some steam with this sunny weather we're supposed to have this week because I love my peppers!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Menu Plans....

Whew! It's been rainy and some what warm. What have we been eating? Maybe this will give you some ideas for your menus!

Last week:
Monday: Grilled Steaks (w/ melted bleu cheese), Baked Beans & Salad
Tuesday: Chicken Cordon Bleu & a French Carrot Salad
Wednesday: Chesapeake Bay Pork Chops, Cous Cous & Salad
Thursday: Buffalo Chicken Wraps, Veggies & Dip
Friday: Kernel's Baseball game - food compliments of Rockwell Collins! Woot woot!

This week:
Sunday: Poppyseed Chicken & Salad
Monday: Philly Cheese Burgers (sautéed bell peppers, onions & mushrooms on top), Veggies & Dip
Tuesday: Creamy Chicken Enchiladas, Chips & Salsa
Wednesday: BBQ Pork, Potato Salad, Corn, & Baked Beans
Thursday: Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Potato Chips & Fruit (actually had this for lunch - pizza for dinner!)
Friday: Leftovers because the Kelly Family didn't eat nearly the amount I thought they would!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The New OLD Workout

So I've decided that the newest trend in upper body - specifically shoulder and arm - workout system should be hoeing in clay along with washing your gravel road dusted car. Now, in order to take full advantage of this workout regimen, you'll have to rent a garden plot that's main access road is cut off so you need to take a 5 mile detour on gravel roads to get there. Then, once you are there, you need to hoe and hoe and bend and kill Colorado Potato Beetles and hoe and hoe some more because you don't want to make the extra long trip for another week. Then wash your vehicle once you get home so you can see out of the windows for next time! This will do wonders for you arms and shoulders! Anyone interested in participating in this workout can give me a call and I think I can set you up.

What have we been eating?

Monday: Cochinita Pibil, Black Beans & Chili Lime Corn
Tuesday: Cobb Salads (I have SO much romaine lettuce now from the garden! yea!)
Wednesday: Pesto Chicken, Roasted Parmesan Potatoes, & a Green Salad
Thursday: Chicken Fried Steak, Herbed Brown Rice, & Grilled Zucchini
Friday: ???? Mike's going to be at a going away party so we'll see
Saturday: Joyce's Vietnamese Chicken Meatballs, Green Salad w/ Sesame Ginger Dressing

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Harvest Pictures 2010

Thought I'd share some of this year's kitchen harvest pictures. I've had lots and lots of herbs so far but for vegetables, we've been eating radishes (done now), pak choi, and romaine type lettuces.

Pak choi (a Chinese cabbage variety) & Cherry Belle Radishes

Martha, Martha, Martha!

I'm going to admit it here. I'm on a Martha Stewart kick. It is highly probable that this is do to my Christmas gift of a subscription to Everyday Food that comes on a monthly basis (actually - I think it is 10 issues per year). Whatever the cause, I've been searching it for inspiration. Most people know I like to try new recipes and it is getting harder to be inspired in my searching. I find a lot of recipes on and think that will always be my go-to site. Maybe I need to take a rainy afternoon and just search the food blogosphere for inspiration.

Anyway, on Monday we had Barley Salad with Chicken and Corn. It was a great meal for a hot summer day. The only issue I had with the recipe is that it had you roasting the corn and green onions for 25 minutes in a 450 degree oven - hello? - crispy? and hot? So I used my cast iron skillet out on the grill and had them on there for maybe 15 minutes - probably less.

Barley Salad with Chicken and Corn (from Everyday Food's June 2010 issue)

Coarse Salt and ground pepper
1 cup barley
2 bunches of scallions, cut into thirds crosswise and white ends halved (from the garden!)
2 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels or frozen corn
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pin grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh parsely leaves (I substituted cilantro - from the garden!)
cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
5 ounces baby spinach (I was short because my spinach isn't going gangbusters in the garden yet)

In a medium pot of boiling slated water, cook barley according to package instructions. Brain and let cool. (I used my pressure cooker for this as I did not have quick-cooking barley).

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 degrees (or heat up your grill!). Place scallions and corn on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 1 Tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes, stirring halfway through.

In a large bowl, combine barley, roasted vegetables, tomatoes, parsley, chicken, 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon lime juice, season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, toss spinach with 1 Tablespoon oil and 2 teaspoon slime juice; season with salt and pepper. Serve spinach with chicken-barley mixture. (I actually just tossed the spinach in and added the extra oil and lime juice in the whole mixture).

Then last night we had the Beer battered fish from the same June issue. I doubled the batter and used Vidalia onions to make onion rings - top notch easy stuff!

The rest of the week goes like this:

Wednesday: Molten Hamburgers (the Cheddar cheese slice is cooked in the middle and oozes out) and Sweet Potato Fries
Thursday: Chicken Satay with Rice & Stir Fried Pak Choi
Friday: Venison Sausage, Grilled Zucchini & Pasta Salad

Monday, May 10, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 5/10/10

Here it is Monday! And the Monday after Let-Tanna-Be-Pampered Day, better known to the rest of you as Mother's Day. My wonderful husband and children really treated me quite nicely yesterday. In some ways I felt it was well deserved after the two days of our garage sale. Or perhaps, I should call it plant sale? I sold many of the tomatoes and peppers that I had started. It was so encouraging to sell each one! Thank you to all my friends who were able to stop by (and even get a plant) - you've bolstered my "garden addiction" fund. We did end up getting a tree with the proceeds - a Japanese Tree Lilac. Hopefully we'll be able to pick it up this week and get it planted. It's great planting weather!

Here's the menu!

Monday: Tatertot Hotdish (from scratch - no canned soup here!) & Lettuce Salad
Tuesday: Hugh's Dry Rubbed Chicken & Cucumber with Dill Quinoa Salad
Wednesday: Parmesan Tilapia & Sauted Squash with Onions
Thursday: Sticky Asian Chicken & Stir-fry Pak Choi with Mushrooms & Carrots
Friday: We're going to Prom!
Saturday: Lasagna & Lettuce Salad

(ahhhh - it's no longer Monday - need to remember to hit the publish button!)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 4/26/10

Here it is! This week's menu:

Monday: Best Italian Sausage Soup & German Rye Bread
Tuesday: Mini-Meatloaves, Baked Sweet Potatoes, & Peas
Wednesday: Pesto Chicken, Roasted Asparagus & Cheesy Bread
Thursday: Grilled Salmon & Green Salad
Friday: Pork Spring Rolls (using my pak choi in place of the cabbage), Egg Drop Soup

Monday, April 19, 2010

Strawberries and Asparagus

I don't really have any recipes to go with the title of this post. Perhaps I should dig some up but I do want to let you all know that Strawberries & Asparagus are joining my great outdoor fresh market - you know, the one the bunnies and I share outside my patio door?

The asparagus went in March 30th and has yet to make an appearance....maybe I'll go check again, hold on.....WAIT...they are up and I'm "doing the happy dance." Use your imagination as to what that may look like. I won't be able to harvest this year.... sad, I know. But next year I should be able to pick sparingly. Roasted asparagus is my favorite way to eat this gem of a vegetable. Simply take fresh asparagus spears whose bottom ends have been trimmed (or cut off), toss with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt & pepper. Place them on a baking sheet in one even layer and roast at 425 degrees F for 10-20 minutes - it all depends on the thickness. Yum!

Now for the strawberries. I bought them today because I really can't stop thinking about strawberries and how good backyard ones are to the mammoth sized ones in the grocery store. Now, I really don't know where I'm going to plant these. I know where I want to plant them but Mike informs me the kids will smoosh them there. Anyway, I bought June bearing ones as opposed to the ever bearing. That way, I'll get all my crop at once instead of it being spread out over the course of the summer.

Oh, and mint also went into the herb section of my perennial bed. I planted it inside a sunken pot to hopefully stop it from dominating the world. We'll see. But with all the Greek & Thai recipes I've been cranking out lately, mint is definitely going to be used.

This week's menu:

Monday: Spatchcocked Roasted Chicken with Fresh Sage & Cobb Salad
Tuesday: Pork Milanese, Green Beans, & Brown Rice
Wednesday: Chicken Enchiladas, Black Beans, Chips & Salsa
Thursday: ??????
Friday: Thai Beef Salad

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pork Souvlaki

This is an awesome recipe from Everyday Food for a pork "kebab-like" dish. I have to admit, I was hesitant because I felt the flavors would not quite be there. I did one modification that I'll add here. I used dried oregano (2 tsp) as opposed to the fresh chopped oregano. The rest is perfect as is. We have started to keep tahini on hand as we use it making Mike's new favorite dip - hummus. It is a little pricey, so I recommend trying it with out first if you don't keep it on hand. Or, if you are going by an ethnic grocer that may carry it - check their prices. I picked up our tahini at Hy-Vee. But I'm guessing that the Aladdin restaurant on the south side that also sells Greek ingredients probably has it for a better price. Just a guess. I know that it is definitely the case for Kalamata olives! You can also use cubed lamb, chicken, turkey or extra-firm tofu in place of the pork.

Pork Souvlaki (from the April Everyday Food magazine)

1 pound pork shoulder, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (I used a pork loin end roast from a 10 pound loin I bought)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt (you can commonly buy the Yoplait Greek yogurt in most stores now, I've noticed)
1/4 cup tahini (optional; if not using, substitute Greek yogurt).

In a medium bowl, combine pork, oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, garlic and oregano. Season with salt an pepper and toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 8 hours.).

In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, 1/4 cup lemon juice, tahini (if using), and 1 to 2 tablespoons water (sauce should have the consistency of heavy cream. I omitted the water, I liked it a bit thicker.

Heat a grill or grill pan to high. Thread pork cubes onto 8 metal skewers. Grill until brown on all sides and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Serve souvlaki with yogurt sauce and lemon wedges.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Getting Back Into It....

Alright, time to try some new recipes! The week promises to be warm so I'm going to do some grilling. Also, we'll be having chili one last time before the cold weather comes again in the fall. ....Okay, now that I say that and see it is only the middle of April, I do think there is a chance that we may indeed have it again....

Monday: Chili & Cornbread (use you cast iron skillet! It makes the best cornbread...)
Tuesday: Crab Cakes & Quinoa Salad With Toasted Almonds
Wednesday: Pork Souvlaki & Chopped Greek Salad (these recipes are from my Everyday Food April magazine - yes, it is a Martha Stewart owned magazine....)
Thursday: Greek Burgers & T's Sweet Potato Fries
Friday: Roast Chicken, Broccoli, & Cheddar Rice

So the new recipes come on Tuesday & Wednesday. Thursday's Greek burgers, I'm just going to wing it. What I think I'll do is add dried oregano, minced garlic, and feta cheese to the hamburger. I'll probably top it with some of the left over sauce that goes with the Pork Souvlaki. The sweet potato fry recipe is one that I submitted. I can NOT believe it has gotten as many reviews as it has and when I see the amount of people that have it saved to their recipe box my mind is really blown! Thankfully, it is still at four stars. A lot does depend on your microwave and your oven and how thickly you slice your fries. I've long since stopped microwaving them but that is mainly because our oven here in Iowa rocks compared to our oven in California.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Laziness in April :)

It must have been my birthday or something but this week's menu is pretty pitiful. In fact, I'm doing some last minute change-ups because I don't feel like cooking. Actually, that's not entirely true. I don't feel like cooking a big, up-to-the-last-minute meal and driving to go get Mike from work (we're working on finding him a new car). So tonight we are going out to eat. Perkins - here we come!

Monday: Impromptu Taco Salad
Tuesday: Pot Roast, Carrots, (crockpot) & Green Salad
Wednesday: 13 Bean Ham Soup (pressure cooker)
Thursday: Out to Eat
Friday: Thai Peanut Chicken with Glass Noodles & Salad
Saturday: Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches (topped with peppers & onions) & Chips

Have you ever tried glass noodles? They are made with mung bean flour so they are good alternative for a gluten free diet. I'm not really worried about gluten but my husband is trying to cut down on carbs so I figured these would be a better bet for us than some other types of noodles.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Well, well well.....

Steve - this one I dedicate to you ;)

We've not wasted away here. We are also not on a crazy, no-palatable food purge. We've been out of town and then, well, what can I say? This "Garden Girl" has been out tending to her garden! The weather has been absolutely GORGEOUS. Okay, okay, a little bit windy but typically if you know the temps are warm in the early spring then you also know you've got some killer wind. But I'll take the wind. God has blessed us with a stretch of warm weather and I'll take it!

So, I mentioned that we had been gone. We took our first family vacation to Florida. Specifically we stayed in Seagrove Beach which is in between Destin and Panama City Beach on the Florida panhandle. Now, I wrote a long, tedious (although at times humorous) recount on my family blog, so if you'd like to check that out, you can go here. But I will mention a couple of restaurants and a little bit about vacation condo cooking.

Pizza By The Sea: We had this the first night we were there. It is located right next door to the closest Publix, so Mike and one of the kiddos went over there to grab us some grub for the evening while I went to fulfill my shopping list for the length of our stay. What they came back with was the special of the day and I think one of the most brilliant pizza topping combinations that I've tasted. The toppings were pepperoni, crumbled crisp bacon and feta. Yum! And salty! But oh, so good! The pizza place also had hula hoops and other games to keep kids of all ages entertained while their pizza was being made.

Flip Flops Grill: Casual burger joint. Not a whole lot of seating inside but hey, there's flip flops nailed to the wall :) We had a great time here - very family friendly. I had the Gorgonzola Burger which was a hand shaped Angus patty topped with Gorgonzola and fresh spinach. I think it was supposed to have bacon on it as well but they ran out of bacon. How is that even possible? However, I knew that after the previous night's pizza, I didn't need any more bacon.

AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar in Destin, FL: We had a snack here after our dolphin cruise. I felt the prices were on the pricey side but I do have to say the crab cakes that we had were very, very good. If watching the harbor while drinking cool one with your friends is your thing - then this is a great place for you.

Now, condo cooking. I wasn't sure what to expect when they said it had a fully equipped kitchen. I acknowledge that I like my cooking gadgets. What they had was okay stuff. The stuff that will get the job done but that you definitely don't want to take home with you. Which I guess is what I'd stock the kitchen I rented out with as well. Knowing that I wouldn't have all my spices available to me and wanting to take it kind of easy while there, I planned some easy meals using convenience product I normally wouldn't use. Here's what I have to say to that: probably not worth the convenience. I bought a jarred alfredo sauce - no flavor, ick. If I want to put pasty glue on my pasta, I'll just go get some Elmer's. Maybe I picked the wrong one. Maybe. The pancake mix that I brought with was pretty good. I believe it was Bob's Red Mill 10 grain pancake and waffle mix. It was good but you can probably mix up the same stuff way more reasonably in your own kitchen but used for the convenience - it was great. Mrs. Dash's Garlic & Herb seasoning helped save the day. I bought it because we wanted garlic bread. So I slathered a cut French bread loaf with butter and sprinkled the Mrs. Dash's on and gave it a quick broil. It turned out great and I ended up doctoring a lot of other food with the same seasoning.

So, that was the main food part of our trip. What are we eating this week?

Monday: Chicken Pot Pie with homemade biscuits for the topping
Tuesday: Cheeseburgers, Red Slaw, Fresh Pineapple, & Chips and dip. Dessert: Birthday cake for Libby!
Wednesday: Chicken Tortilla Soup - yum!
Thursday: Grilled Salmon, Grilled Zucchini, & a Quinoa Salad
Friday: Grilled Steaks, Southwest Potato Salad, & a Green Salad

Monday, March 1, 2010

Butternut Squash Casserole

Now, normally, I don't really like sweet vegetables and for the record, I'd rather not have my butternut squash taste like a dessert. But the kids really do love this and I guess I'll sweeten it up if it means that every once in awhile, I can get them to eat their vegetables!

Butternut Squash Casserole

2 1/2 Cups Butternut Squash, cooked & mashed
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk (if you have buttermilk on hand, use that)
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix squash, eggs, sugar, butter, cinnamon, and ginger. Pour into a 1.5 to 2 quart baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle coconut and then walnuts on top. Bake in preheated oven for roughly 35 minutes.

Menu Plan Monday 3/1/10

Today is the start of meteorological spring. :) And currently, I see that it is 34 degrees outside. That's pretty good for the weather we have been having!

Mike is out of town for part of this week so we are playing it pretty easy. Here's this week's menu:

Sunday: Mexican-themed salads with left over pork that I made into a quasi version of carnitas.

Monday: Fast Food Somewhere (due to basketball practice & Mike being gone)

Tuesday: Hot Dogs, Chips & Fruit (told you I was playing it easy)

Wednesday: Spinach, Bacon & Cheddar Cheese Quiche & Salad

Thursday: BBQ Chicken, Butternut Squash Casserole (the kids LOVE this! - I'll post my recipe), & Roasted Asparagus

Friday: Steak Fajitas, Refried Beans, Chips & Homemade Salsa

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 2/22/10

Well, I don't think my ranch dressing, yes, the one I was so excited about, is quite right. I like the taste when I first make it but then something goes off. I will keep working on it though! I WILL succeed! But to give myself a break, I made this creamy Italian dressing. It was pretty good. I've modified it enough that it is my own but I worked off of one on

Creamy Italian Dressing:

In a blender combine:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (you need extra virgin for the "fruity" flavor it brings)
1 Tablespoon chopped onion (or just cut off a slice and throw it in there)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Pepper to taste

Blend until smooth and creamy. Enjoy!

This week's menu plan:

Monday: Vegetable Beef Soup & Open-faced Cheesy Bread
Tuesday: Chicken Fried Steak, Rice & Mixed Vegetables
Wednesday: Sticky Drumsticks & Spinach Cobb Salad
Thursday: Triple Zest Pork Chops with Citrus Relish (a recipe I'm concocting for a contest), Baked Potatoes, & Salad
Friday: Fire Roasted Shrimp Enchiladas (another original recipe) & Black Beans

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine's Week Menu Plan

Hello everyone! I hope that all of you are doing fine on these late winter days. At least the sun is staying up longer! And it is getting stronger. I can tell because the snow is melting and it is only 18 degrees (says the computer).

Well, the kids have been sick. I'm feeling very needed. And hopefully that won't end up with me feeling very needy. I mean I've only had someone cough in my face about 5 times in the past few days and I've only cleaned up throw up twice. Really, I think my immune system should be able to kick whatever is thrown at me. Really.

So what have eating?

On Sunday, I made us a very, very yummy meal. My parents had just delivered our Christmas present - a freezer full of meat! So we had organic, grass fed beef New York strip steaks, with a basic, creamy risotto (only a total of 10 minutes in the pressure cooker!), and green beans with almonds. Now, let me tell you a way to kick your steaks up a notch. I did not marinade them but I did rub them with Worcestershire sauce, pepper, kosher salt and garlic powder. Then I put them under the broiler. Yum! To finish them off, and this is the key part, I sprinkled blue cheese on them and set them back under the broiler. Yum!!! Try it, you will not be disappointed.

Monday: Clean out the fridge :)

Tuesday: Seafood Enchiladas, Black Beans, & Chips with Homemade Salsa. The seafood enchiladas are from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Luke loved them, he wrote me a note during the meal that said " You look beautiful and you made a great dinner." Ahhhh :)

Wednesday: Ritz Chicken (a.k.a - poppy seed chicken) I make mine entirely from scratch - no cans of soup. We'll have a green salad with it.

Thursday: Chicken Parmesan & Salad

Friday: Split Pea Soup with Biscuits (requested by by my dear husband). I laugh at the fact that I make and actually enjoy split pea soup now. I remember HATING it as a child. Oh, how we all change.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Menu Plan & Playing with Mackerel

Late (we've eaten half of the menu) but sharing nonetheless!

Monday: Butternut Squash Soup
Tuesday: Ham and Sweet Potato Pancakes (an original recipe - contest submitted - lol) & Salad
Wednesday: Mexican Taco Casserole (I'm loosely basing this off the linked recipe) & Salad
Thursday: Green Chicken Coconut Curry with White Rice & Salad
Friday: Cheese Ravioli with Marinara Sauce and Salad. I may just throw in some cheesy bread sticks with this one.

Now, on to the mackerel.

Holy Mackerel!........sorry, couldn't resist.

I've been recruited to cook some mackerel for our church's Wild Game Feast. Now, I've never cooked mackerel nor have I actually ever eaten mackerel so this should be fun and exciting! The planners gave me some ideas but after bumming around on-line, doing some searches, I think this recipe looks promising and so I'm going to just go with it. It is for Japanese Broiled Mackerel. I'll be excited to see how it turns out and will try to give an update next week.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 1/25/10

Getting into the New Year groove here in the Richard household! I've continued to menu plan all along but now I'm getting to actually posting it too. If you don't already, menu planning is a great resolution to make. You'll tend to eat out less, spend less, and feel less stressed. Just my plug for spreading the organization love out there to you all. :)

On another note, I think I have the ranch dressing secret mixture down. Oh, it took me many tries. I had it very close but something on the spice end was just wrong. Then it hit me! I knew what spice to add. Now I think it is about perfect :) Thinking about submitting it to a contest I saw the other day on-line but we'll see. Not sure I want to give up the rights to this one.

Monday: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup & Biscuits
Tuesday: Mini-meatloaves, Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, & Peas
Wednesday: Pork Chops with Apple Onion Stuffing & Salad
Thursday: Tropical Salmon Coquettes (testing a recipe I've been playing with in my head), Rice, & Salad
Friday: Cheddar Chicken Broccoli and Rice Bake & Salad

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Today I Baked A Pumpkin

Or, to be absolutely honest with you, today I baked a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin (or Squash). That's what one does when the roads are incredibly icy and you don't have to go about your normal morning duties/routines, right?

This year was the first for Long Island Cheese's in my garden. In fact, I kinda just tucked the one plant behind a bunch of perennials. In my actual vegetable garden, I grow butternut squash, my absolute favorite winter squash but a close relative to the Long Island Cheese. But I may have to grow less of them and put in another of these, because not only do they taste wonderful but they make the prettiest looking fall decorations (people didn't even think they were real!).

Now, this year, I probably went over board on squashes. Or it was just the year for them. Regardless, I harvested 22 butternut squashes and a couple of Long Island's that were each about 6-8 lbs. I probably have enough to last me through a good portion of next year since we don't eat them every week. Or maybe we're going to have to start. Either way, come April or May, I'll have to process and freeze whatever is left.

So, back to today. I managed to cut one of the Long Island's open and baked it at 375 for about an hour on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet after cleaning out the inside. Then I let it cool down. After it had cooled, I used a paring knife and cut of the outer skin (easier I think, than scooping it out with these types of squash). In two batches, I pureed the squash with no added liquid. What I was left with was 3 15oz. cans worth of puree plus one cup. I froze two cans worth and made one pie and one batch of muffins. I can't vouch for the pie yet but the muffins were AWESOME! Here is the recipe I worked off of (and of course, I'll tell you what I changed).

From Food Network's Ellie Krieger

Pumpkin Muffins:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-grain pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsulphered molasses
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, molasses, oil and 1 egg until combined. Add the other egg and whisk well. Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold. Cool completely on the rack.

Now, I didn't have molasses so I substituted another tablespoon of brown sugar and poured a little maple syrup in the batter. Sorry, I didn't measure but I'm guessing it was about 2 tablespoons. :) Also, I didn't have any pumpkin seeds to place on top so I simply omitted that. The recipe made 12 very nice sized muffins that I think turned out very visually appealing. Here's a picture:

And because, I took a picture of the pie too:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Menu Plan - For New Decade ;)

Here's what I've got going on in the kitchen:

Monday: We had German Style Pork Chops in the crockpot. It was a dish where the pork chops cooked on a bed of potatoes, onions & carrots. Then the last half hour you added a can of sauerkraut and a couple of diced apples. It was okay - definitely not going on the rotation.

Tuesday: Whole Chicken with Balsamic Dried Tomato Sauce and Potatoes (cooked in the pressure cooker altogether). Add will be a green salad. It smells delicious in here but we'll see what it tastes like :)

Wednesday: Good Ole Tater Tot Hotdish & Salad

Thursday: General Tso's Chicken, Egg Rolls and if it is as cold as they say it will be, I'll throw in some Egg Drop Soup.

Friday: Broiled Salmon, Cous Cous, & Peas

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 Goals!

As the new year begins, which by the way, I'm referring to as Twenty Ten, one starts to think about one wants to accomplish. Now, I've been running since late summer on a consistent basis so I really don't feel like I need to add exercise to my list. But I do love to cook and I do love to garden, so I've decided that I will do some "extra" focusing on my loves and set some goals in those areas for this coming year. I love my children and I set goals for them too so why not?!

1. Asparagus. We love it. So why am I not growing it? Well, for those of you who do not know, asparagus is a perennial vegetable. That means that it comes back, year after year on it's own accord. In fact, a well tended asparagus bed can produce for 20 years or more. I know growing up that we would find asparagus in ditches. My parents have recently, in the past few years, found some "wild" asparagus behind some old buildings on the farm. These asparagus patches have been planted by birds from the seed of female asparagus plants. Now, I am not going to plant asparagus from seed. As the newer hybrids are mostly all "male" meaning they produce more and bigger spears than the female plant but do not produce seed. So I plan on planting crowns (i.e. the roots) of the plant and probably two-year crowns. Now, the tricky thing with crops such as asparagus and strawberries is that you really are going to have to wait to harvest any sizable amount. And not wait like a few weeks or months, but maybe a couple of years. The plant needs to "get strong" enough before you can start picking the asparagus spears. That's because those spears turn into the fern that in turn feeds the roots that in turn allows it to produce more spears and so on and so forth. Why not dig up well established 5 year crowns and transplant them? Well, because they are fickle and older plants do not transplant well. So one year crowns are recommended but I find that 2 year crowns are more widely available. I'm still deciding on the variety...

2. Ranch Dressing. Lite House Ranch dressing is our favorite ranch dressing. It doesn't contain any msg and it tastes fantastic. I'd love to be able to recreate this at home. I've tinkered with this project off and on but I've decided that this is the year that I will master the ranch dressing quandary. I've made some really good head way into this project and I think that well before 2010 is over, I will have conquered ranch dressing. Then I may post the recipe :) Maybe ;)

3. Figure out another way to stake my tomatoes. I can't decide whether to do t-bars, cages or string but I do know that I need another method for staking my tomatoes. This past summer was pretty cool and rainy by any standards and tomato blight was a huge problem. Some of this could have been avoided by proper staking. But I admit, I am a lazy gardener when it comes to things like staking. And I'm cheap. One idea is to put t-bar on the outside ends of a small row of tomatoes. Then take string and as the tomato grows, use the string to make a "cage" by encasing the tomatoes between the t-bars. It might work. Or I could by or maybe build some heavy duty re-bar tomato cages. Lots of ideas floating around in my head as you can see. If anyone has some great pointers, I'm willing to listen.

4. I'm not sure this is a real goal or not but I'd like to maybe rent a plot in a community garden. Then I could grow larger quantities of things that I currently don't believe I have enough room to grow profitably - think potatoes. Wouldn't you love to see posts on here of yummy dishes using purple & fingerling potatoes? And to grow enough beans to actually put some up for the winter? I guess the problem would then be how to store the potatoes.....hmmmmm