February 24, 2008

I just love berries...

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I found a recipe for Huckleberry Coffeecake from The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook (pub. 2002) that has become a staple recipe for Blueberry Coffeecake in my household. Huckleberries are similar in taste to blueberries, therefore the reason I substitute them in this recipe! This recipe is moist, tender, and sweet. I love it hot from the oven or cold! The cream cheese is what I believe makes this recipe so good. I noticed that Cooking Light substitutes low fat or no fat cream cheese in many recipes as a fat replacement - which I think is an awesome idea!

I follow the recipe exactly as it is written - with the exception of blueberries for the huckleberries. I actually believe raspberries (or probably any berry for that matter) would be a good substitution also.

I could not find the recipe on the website itself, so I am putting it here in case you would like to try it!

Huckleberry Coffee Cake
The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

1/4 cup stick butter, softened
4 ounces block-style fat-free cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (I buy the aluminum free baking powder and think it works much better)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh or frozen huckleberries (I use blueberries. The recipe also says if frozen to unthaw - but I never do and the recipe turns our just fine)
cooking spray
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 35o degrees.

Beat margarine and cream cheese at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended; gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating well. Add egg; beat well. (my hand mixer broke and I didn't feel like pulling the kitchen aid out for this, so I just mixed by hand - works just as well. How do we think they did it in our grandmother's (or greats) day??)

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into margarine
mixture. Stir in vanilla; fold in berries. Pour batter into a 9-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray. Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour; cool on a wire rack. Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1 wedge)

For those counting WW points - this is 5 points per serving. So worth the points!

February 20, 2008

Raspberries for a hurting heart

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True to my word, I made something specially thinking of Andy today. There is something comforting about home baked goodies....and let me say, the students flock into the office where they find out they are there! I made sure to not sit them "out" until Andy came by and got his, but after he was in to get a muffin - well, lets say it wasn't 2 hours and the rest were gone! I hope my home baked goodies helped his little ole heart some! :-)

The muffin recipe was from this blog. I just substituted raspberries for the blueberries. I actually think the raspberries were better!

February 19, 2008

Rollin, rollin, rollin, Keep your blog a rollin....

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I am excited because today I made it on The Foodie Blogroll! If you are interested in being on the blogroll or want to know more about it, click the link above!

Now, for my meal tonight. So today is day 2 of quick and easy to make and easy to reheat. All I knew before I left the house this morning was we were going to have chicken. Actually, all I knew when I got home from work was that we were going to have chicken! Since I had a few minutes, I grabbed the Kraft Food & Family magazines I have and started to go thru to see what I could find that would be quick, easy, and tasty at the same time. Well, I got the easy part down...the quick...well, it has to bake 1 hour...and tasty? Eh.

At least the chicken wasn't dry. I made One-Pan Chicken and Potato bake from the Fall 2006 issue. Basically you take 4 bone in chicken pieces (I used 2 boneless/skinless pieces), put it in a baking dish along with 2 large potatoes cut into wedges (I used 4 medium potatoes). You then pour about 1/4 cup of Italian Dressing (I used Kraft Fat Free) over top of the chicken and potatoes, then sprinkle 1/4 cup of grated Parmesans cheese over that. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour.

Grumpy's dinner is in the oven on warm...he will be home soon and probably will be so hungry it won't matter that it's not the best dinner I've ever made! ha ha.

Maybe tomorrow I will have a better food result to post. I am going to be searching for something special to bake and take to work for one of the students who broke up with his girlfriend today. Something needs to make the poor boy happy - and usually food does the trick! :-)

February 18, 2008

Some nights have to be easy....

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and tonight was one of those nights.

Today was a busy day at work. Most days are busy, but today was super busy. It was over with before I knew it and I actually worked overtime without even realizing it! Grumpy's week is a busy one this week also, so meals this week will be a little challenging. However, tonight was easy!

I made Manwich sandwiches. You know, those things that are like sloppy joes, but the sauce comes from a can instead of you mixing it up yourself. Grumpy got me started with the coleslaw on the Manwich. I never had it that way until I met him - and I must say, I really like it that way. The one thing I do not do is I do not make a sandwich out of it. I prefer to make mine open faced! Grumpy on the other hand will eat a couple of these when he gets home as a "sandwich".

To complete my laziness, and to satisfy my sweet tooth, I had a Nature's Valley Peanut Bar. It wasn't what I expected - I thought it was a granola bar...but instead I got something similar to a Munch or Planters candy bar! LOL, I am not complaining...because it was good!

Now all I have to do is wait about another hour and my Grumpy honey will be home from work- and I can feed him his Manwich...remember that old commercial? A sandwich is a sandwich, but a Manwich is a Meal! ha ha. Guess I didn't do too bad after all.

February 17, 2008

Babies, Showers, Pot Roasts and Puddings

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What do all of these have in common you may wonder? Well, not much, but I was involved with all of the above at some point today!

My youngest female cousin, Nichole, had a baby girl 3 weeks ago. There was a baby shower for her today and she was there with the beautiful little girl she named Emma. I'd love to post a photo, but I didn't ask her permisson to do so, so until I do talk to her and ask permisssion, you'll have to take my word that the baby is BEAUTIFUL. She was born c-section - and has the most perfect shaped little head, and she smells so much like a ..... baby! Anyway, Congrats to my cousin. She is a lucky girl to have such a sweet little baby in her life.

Now, about the pot roasts!

Since it was Sunday and since I was feeling lazy I decided the easy thing to do would be to make a pot roast. Now mind you, I haven't made a lot of these in my lifetime. I've eaten many but not made them! With the ample supply of venison in the freezer though, I decided I should take a roast out and crock it! I found a recipe on Better Homes and Gardens website and followed the recipe for a slow cooker. It turned out wonderful. The meat was tender and the potatoes were to die for! Grumpy decided after he had one plateful, he had to have a 2nd one!

Now, I've been a bad girl and have been making desserts lately. Everyone seems to love me for it, but the figures don't! However, I have been thinking about bread pudding for a while now and so I decided that since I had left over Italian bread from Valentine day that was drying out - what better way to use it than to make bread pudding? So, I decided to give Better Homes and Gardens another shot and made the Bread pudding from their website. The only ingredient I did not use in the recipe was the grated orange rind. Turned out pretty good and was even better with a little Bryer's vanilla bean ice cream!

February 15, 2008

Tonight's the night.......for Pizza!

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I like to make pizza on Friday nights. I used to like to do it when the kids were little and we would watch a movie. Now with the kids gone, we don't always watch a movie, but we do usually sit in the living room with our pizza and we do have the tv on!

Tonight I decided to make Grumpy a calzone. This is how it looked prior to baking!
For myself, I made a personal pan sized buffalo chicken pizza.
This is a picture of it before I baked it.
For Grumpys calzone, I basically followed the recipe for Real Italian Calzones from allrecipes.com. The only thing I did not do was I did not follow the suggestion to not put sauce in the calzone. I knew if I skipped the sauce, Grumpy would be true to his nickname! He liked it so much, he ate the whole thing! Good thing I used part-skim ricotta and part skim mozzarella or his diet would have been totally ruined! Well, I still think he ruined his diet tonight, but not as bad as he could have!

Here is Grumpy's calzone after it was baked and I had cut it in half - thinking he would only eat half of it! Believe me, this picture makes it look smaller than it really was. If you look at the picture before it was baked...you can see that prior to baking it was 1/2 of the pizza stone! My personal pan Buffalo Style Chicken Pizza also came from allrecipes.com. I scaled down the toppings to fit my mini sized pizza, and it turned out Yum-my!

There was no dessert tonight. When someone eats the equivalent of a whole pizza,
you don't need dessert!

February 14, 2008

A Grumpy's Honeybunch Valentine!

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This year I had no expectations. Basically because last year I was so hurt that Grumpy forgot Valentine's day, that I had accepted the fact that he just does not remember things. So, I had decided that I would make us a nice romantic dinner, and that would about be it! I contemplated us sitting at the table candlelit and all, but Grumpy gets home so late sometimes and because he works in barns all day long, I figured late and smelling the barn at a romantic table setting just wouldn't work.I was going to make Shrimp Linguine (from allrecipes.com) but the recipe I had just didn't sound as good as the Makeover Velvet Shrimp recipe I found about 6 months ago on Light and Tasty. So, I went with the L&T recipe. Over lunch break today I went to Save a Lot with my co-worker Sue and while browsing the aisles I saw Alteri Italian bread - and I had to buy it! Alteri bread is from an Italian Bakery in Watertown, NY (where Grumpy is from) and he just loves this bread. What a perfect addition to go with his meal tonight.

I had perfect timing! I called Grumpy about 3 minutes before 7 to see how close to home he was. He was only a few minutes away - and dinner was almost ready! I did serve dinner in our Princess House crystal spaghetti plates :-)

Dessert was going to be something I found on Aimee's Adventures (I don't see that the website works anymore) a few years back. Since Grumpy is dieting, I decided to make something not full of fat for dessert also. Magic Pudding Dessert is so simple, but when you eat it, you can't believe that it is made with saltines and sugar free chocolate pudding!
To make the pudding:

1 (1.4 oz) package sugar free chocolate instant pudding
2 cups skim milk
32 fat free saltine crackers
1 (8 oz) container fat free cool whip

Mix instant pudding and milk together. Place 16 crackers in bottom of 8x8 pan. Pour half the pudding mixture on top of crackers, spreading evenly. Place the other 16 crackers on top of pudding, and then pour the other half of the pudding mixture on top of the last set of crackers. Top with the whole container of cool whip. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. The "magic" part - after the dessert sits long enough, the crackers taste exactly like a thin layer of either phyllo or pie crust! Serves 6.

So, after dinner, I went to the kitchen to clean up. I put the dishes in the dishwasher and then, as always, I opened Grumpy's lunch box to clean it out. I was confronted with a red card with my name written on the front. I was very surprised and felt the tears coming. It got even better though....after I picked the card up, there was a jewelry box underneath the card!! Oh My, well, then of course I got more emotional. Who would of thought that my ole Grumpy had a little bit of romance in him after all!

My present from Grumpy!

Now, for those of you who are wondering, just what did she get Grumpy for Valentines Day? It better have been something good after what he did! Well....just let me say that I can't say what I got him....but I will guarantee that he was happy!

February 13, 2008

Glorified Hamburgers in Gravy?

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I've been seeing recipes for Salisbury Steak lately and decided it was time to give it a try. I started thinking, just what is so special about this? The recipe sounds like a glorified hamburger (with gravy) to me. I decided to do a web search on it and this (click here) is what I found. Who knew! Not me!

What I liked about this recipe is the fact that it was easy to make and easy to reheat (because Grumpy doesn't always get home early). I used a recipe from allrecipes.com that was submitted by Taste of Home. I kinda messed up on the soup and I'm thinking it was probably because I had read more than one recipe and when I went to buy mushrooms, for some reason I was thinking I needed French Onion Soup. That was ok though because it turned out great! So, if you want steak like mine below - use the condensed French Onion Soup instead of Mushroom in the recipe. I did use venison instead of beef (venison is what we have in our freezer - why buy beef when I already have a lean red meat!?).

The meat was very tender and juicy, the gravy was really flavorful and was awesome to go over oven baked french fries (yeah, I do have some of those convenience fries in my freezer). Grumpy was pretty happy with this meal and since it made 6 patties, he will be having the same thing for dinner tonight!

February 11, 2008

Chicken Baseballs

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What a day it turned out to be! It started off with the cold water in our kitchen being frozen. Then, Grumpy's work van wouldn't start, my car door was frozen and I couldn't shut it after it was opened! All of this happening this morning and I had to drop Peabody off at the vet office because he was being neutered this morning. Work was pretty uneventful (all the students are on break right now) but when I got in my car to head to the vet to pick up the kitten after work.....the car door was froze again! This time, I had to run the safety belt thru the car door handle and then buckle the door shut. How frustrating! (Can you tell we had well below zero weather today?) Well, after all that.....I came home to frozen drains in the kitchen! Apparently the "drip" we left so the line wouldn't freeze, dripped enough and the water froze where it goes OUT of the house. GRRR. Well, things got a little bit better with dinner but only until dessert.

There are a lot of recipes out there for Chicken Baseballs (as I call them). Other people have different names for this recipe, but I have always called them baseballs! I found this recipe years ago when I was following the weight watcher plan. There are different variations out there so I am going to give you mine!

Chicken Baseballs:

1 tube reduced fat crecent dough (I use Pillsubury over the no name brand - no name just isn't as good in my opinion for this recipe)
4 oz reduced fat (or fat free) cream cheese
2 Tbsp skim milk
1-1/2 tsp dried minced onion
8 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp Melted Butter
2 cooked chicken breast

In a skillet sprayed with cooking spray, saute chicken seasoned with seasoned salt until done. Remove chicken and let cool. Dice chicken and set aside.

In same skillet, add mushrooms and cook until all water is cooked out and mushrooms become slightly brown. Add to chicken.

In mixing bowl, mix cream cheese, 2 Tbsp milk, 1-1/2 tsp minced dried onion, 1 Tbsp melted butter until well blended. Add chicken and cream cheese mixture.

Open can of crescent dough. There are 8 triangles and 2 triangles make a rectangle. With pastry roller, take two triangles and roll out into a rectangle. Place 1/2 cup of chicken mix in center of pastry and fold up dough to completely coat filling. It should look like this: (oh, you sprinkle bread crumbs on top of the baseball before baking - I use Italian seasoned bread crumbs)

Bake your Chicken Baseball in a 350 over for 20 minutes, or until it is golden brown....like this!

Chicken Baseball baked!

You can enjoy these with your Grumpy or all by yourself, they are good anyway you eat them! I had mine with Grumpy.

I decided we needed dessert. Well, we didn't need it, but after the day we had, we certainly deserved it! So, I decided to make Hershey's Hot Fudge Pudding Cake. This is where my luck started to run out. I was doing so well, the cake was looking good before I put it in the oven, but when it came out, something didn't seem right. When it was time to have some dessert, I spooned into it to serve, and there was no pudding!! I believe the mistake I made was I used boiling water instead of hot tap water (because of our frozen water problem). I've made this before and it turned out perfect. It still didn't look bad.
It was somewhat edible (the edges were nice and chewy) but I won't make the boiling water mistake again!

So, we sit here tonight, our water hopefully remaining unfrozen, Peabody a bit sore and smelling like the stuff they use at the vets, Miss Kitty on Grumpy's chair and Chubby in the window seat, watching Prison Break. What a day. *Big Sigh*

February 10, 2008

Cold blistery day, warm savory soup and a sweet to end the day!

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On the cooking forum I am a member of there is a monthly dish where we list the foods we want to try that month. One of the recipes is for Split Pea and Sausage Soup from allrecipes.com. I decided that soup would be a good thing for today since it was cold and blustery! After I decided this was the soup that I wanted to make, I went to the kitchen to get all the ingredients going and found out that I had no split peas! What I did have was lentils so I decided to use those instead. I definitely got a different soup than I would have if I had split peas, but it wasn't bad with the lentils. For the sausage I used Turkey Kielbasa (for less fat). I'm thinking now that Grumpy probably wouldn't have eaten it if it were green.

February 07, 2008

A Very Grumpy Birthday!

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Yup, today Grumpy turned all of 36 years old. I made him the carrot cake recipe on the Joy of Baking website. Unfortunately he spent the day working hard outside, then didn't get home until 6:30 and proceeded to snowblow the driveway so our company could get in it! He didn't get in the house for dinner until almost 8 PM.

All that aside......Grumpy made out pretty well this year. Besides getting cash from my parents and his mom, a Lowes gift card from his brother, my children got him a Red Lobster gift card, his dad bought him some tools and so did I! He's beat and so am I, so this is a short post and I'm heading to my warm beddy bye to cuddle up with my Grumpy and get a good nights rest!

February 03, 2008

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

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One of my new friends Grannyloohoo brought my attention to a
Buttermilk Blueberry Muffin recipe from the Joy of Baking website.

I was planning on homemade chicken noodle soup which I made for the first time ever (really not following a recipe - just using my noggin) and we needed something "bready" to go with it. Since I had blueberries in my freezer and have been dying to use them in something, I decided to try out the muffin. Oh my goodness! These muffins were awesome. I had a total of 3 myself (and no, not all at the same time!)

One thing I have learned when making muffins is that you do not over mix the batter or your muffins will be "tough". Gently mix the muffin batter just until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the liquid. These muffins will rise so high and be so tender - you will want to make more! I promise!

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of one orange or lemon
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable, corn, canola or safflower oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh or frozen berries 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Position rack in center of oven. Line with paper liners, or butter or spray, with a non stick cooking spray, 12 - 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 inch muffin cups.

In a large measuring cup or bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract. 

In another large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and zest. Gently fold in the berries. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result. 

Fill each muffin cup almost full with batter, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 - 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 5 - 10 minutes before removing from pan. 

Makes 12 regular sized muffins.

February 01, 2008

Goulash but I'm told its American Chop Suey...

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So I learned something else new today. In the cooking forum I am a member of, I found out that American Chop Suey is really what I call Goulash! I actually never heard the term before until I heard my MIL talking about her mom making American Chop Suey. I never bothered to ask her what it was....basically because it sounded like something I wouldn't eat!

I used yet another recipe from allrecipes.com titled Goulash Supreme. This is pretty good when in a pinch to make something for dinner that is quick and easy. Grumpy tells me I overcooked the pasta, but I think it was just because I used whole wheat pasta instead and that has a different texture. He ate it anyway, so either he was starving (which I highly doubt) or he liked it!
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