Thursday, October 31, 2013

Parmesan Chicken Fingers

Happy Halloween!

I made these chicken fingers a few weeks ago for my parents.  I slightly tweaked the recipe and made them again.  

Parmesan Chicken Fingers

1# chicken fingers
1 large egg
1 tbsp milk
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

In one shallow bowl, whisk together egg and milk.  In another bowl, combine the bread crumbs and spices.  Dip the chicken fingers in the egg mixture and then both sides in the crumb mixture.  Bake on a greased baking sheet for 30 minutes at 325°,  Remove from oven and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and return to oven for another 3 minutes.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pizza Mac & Cheese

I had extra pizza toppings leftover from my pizza nachos so I thought I try a new mac & cheese with them and it really turned out very well.  I used turkey pepperoni because it's leaner and doesn't leave a grease ring in your pasta.

Pizza Mac & Cheese

4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups Penne Rigate
2 cups grated Colby/Jack cheese

1/4 cup pizza sauce
1/3# extra lean ground beef

1 tsp Italian Seasonings
1/2 cup turkey pepperoni
1 cup pizza cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt 4 tbsp butter and stir in flour.  Gradually add in milk, stirring constantly.  When thickened, remove from heat and add in cheeses.  When cheese has melted, stir in cooked and drained pasta.  In a small frying pan, cook hamburger that has 1 tsp of Italian Seasonings, salt and freshly ground pepper mixed together.

In a greased casserole, put in half of macaroni & cheese.  Top with pizza sauce, half the seasoned hamburger and pepperoni slices.

Place the remainder of the macaroni & cheese on top.   Add another layer of seasoned hamburger and pepperoni.  Sprinkle pizza cheese on top.

Servings: 8

Bake at 325°F for 30 minutes

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Raspberry Butter

It's been awhile since I made a flavored butter and I had some crusty French rolls that needed something special to compliment them.  

Raspberry Butter

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup raspberries - I used frozen
pinch of salt

I used frozen raspberries because they release their juice when thawed.  Put the raspberries through a sieve to remove the seeds.  In a small saucepan, combine the raspberry juice and pulp with the honey.  Simmer until it thickens and then cool completed.  Whip into butter.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Banana Dark Chocolate Muffins

I'm still craving muffins so today I made one that uses no milk or oils and it still turns out very moist.  Oh, I'm still craving chocolate too but that's a given.

Banana Dark Chocolate Muffins

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 tsp flour

Cream together butter and dark brown sugar.  Add in mashed bananas, vanilla and eggs.  Mix in dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, place the dark chocolate chips and toss them to coat with the 1/2 tsp flour.  This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins.  Bake for 18 minutes at 350°.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


I like spice and taking a plain hamburger up a notch is always a fun treat.  This idea came from a friend a few years ago and I revisited it.  I used a salsa that I got from a friend and it had a medium heat level.


1# ground beef (I used an extra lean but any will work)
3 tbsp medium or hot salsa
pinch of oregano
1 tsp chili powder

Mix all the ingredients together well.  Shape into patties.  Cook to your desired doneness and melt cheddar cheese on top.  Serve on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, hot peppers and/or taco sauce.  Whichever you prefer.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pizza Nachos

College game day and another crossover food combination.  I love pizza and I love nachos so what better than to combine the two.  I made a quick and somewhat zesty pizza sauce to dot on the chips.  The fun part is you can put whatever toppings you like on your chips.  I chose pepperoni, Canadian bacon, mushrooms and lots of cheese.

Pizza Nachos

Sauce ~

6 oz can tomato paste
6 oz warm water
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp Italian Seasonings (crushed)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

Put all the ingredients, except the Parmesan cheese, in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer and let cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.

Place your favorite tortilla chips on an pan that you can put in the oven.  Dot pizza sauce on top of the chips and add on your favorite toppings.  Bake for 10 minutes at 400°.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Turkey Pot Pie With Sweet Potato Topping

A little early for Thanksgiving in the US and late in Canada, but here is what I made with leftover turkey breast.  Yes, I piped the sweet potato topping on it and it's obvious why I'm not a professional cake decorator.  But it was fun so I tried it.  

Turkey Pot Pie With Sweet Potato Topping

1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 tsp cornstarch
1 cup potatoes, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup peas
1/2 cup corn
1 tbsp celery flakes
1 cup turkey, diced

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed with butter and dark brown sugar

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp dark brown sugar

Whisk together cold chicken broth, milk and cornstarch in a large saucepan.  Turn on medium heat and when it starts to thicken, add in vegetables and turkey.  Allow to thicken to your desired consistency and pour into the baked pie crust.  Top with sweet potatoes and bake at 325° for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pumpkin Vanilla Chip Muffins

I had a vacation week and I spent some time with my parents and winterizing my house.  Before returning to work, I baked these as a treat to bring in with me.  I had made a similar muffin before but I made it healthier and added ginger.

Pumpkin Vanilla Chip Muffins

1 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger3/4 cup vanilla chips + 1 tsp flour

Mix together pumpkin, yogurt, eggs and vanilla.  Cream in sugar and then add in remainder of dry ingredients.  Coat vanilla chips with flour before gently folding them in the batter.  This will prevent them from all sinking to the bottom.  Bake at 350
° for 15 minutes.   Makes 18 muffins.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pumpkin Pancakes

Sometimes a good breakfast is a good dinner.  Especially on a week night when it's a quick meal to whip up.  I baked a pumpkin on Saturday and I wanted to split it between using it all and freezing some for later.  The easiest way I've found to make the baked pumpkin a good texture to work with is to just run my handheld mixer through it for a couple minutes.  I happened to find the last container of cinnamon syrup in my freezer to go with them.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/4 cups flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 dash nutmeg
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1/3 cup pumpkin
3/4-1 cup milk

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.  Add in butter, egg and 3/4 cup milk.  Add in additional milk until it's the batter consistency that you prefer.  

Heat an oiled griddle and pour 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake.  Lightly brown both sides.

Makes 8 pancakes.

My cinnamon syrup recipe is here ~

Monday, October 21, 2013

BBQ Chip Dip

I don't like a lot of the chip dips on the market.  I like onions as a background flavor so stacking a chip loaded with it isn't for me.  I used to be able to buy a bbq dip but I haven't seen it for years so I decided to create my own.  One thing that you want to do is use a savory bbq sauce, not a sweet one.

BBQ Chip Dip

3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tbsp savory bbq sauce

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.  Beat together until smooth.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Italian Sausage Stew

I woke up to the sound of rain which I was happy about since there were Winter Weather Advisories up for snow.  It's still too early for this but I have managed to get all my outdoor projects done and lawn art put away for winter.  It's still cold and seemed like a good day to make a pot of stew.  Using the ingredients on hand, including my new favorite farro, I made this Italian stew.

Italian Sausage Stew

1# mild Italian Sausage, cooked and drained
4 cups chicken broth
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup carrots, diced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup farro, rinsed
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a soup pot or crockpot.  Cook until carrots are tender.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Apple Butter, Bacon & Brie Bites

Sweet.  Salty.  Creamy.  What a great combination!  Plus you can make it in 20 minutes.  This is what I made to watch the local college football team play today.  I've been thinking about this combination ever since I made the apple butter a few weeks ago and finally pulled together all the ingredients.

Apple Butter, Bacon & Brie Bites

1 box of Mini Fillo Shells
2 slices bacon, diced, cooked and drained
apple butter

Place cups in a baking pie pan.  Place 1 tsp brie at the bottom of each cup.  Top with bacon pieces.  Place 1/2 tsp of apple butter on top and place in a preheated oven for 15 minutes at 350°.   Serve warm.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Stacked Polymer Clay Pumpkins

A little polymer clay and a little paint (ok a toothpick plays a minor role too) and you can create this fun stack of pumpkins.

Stacked Polymer Clay Pumpkins

1 stick orange polymer clay
1/4 stick black polymer clay
1 toothpick
white and black acrylic paint
black marker - thin

Divide the orange clay into 3 pieces - one larger for the bottom, one medium and one small.  Roll into a pumpkin shape.  Use the side of a flat toothpick to put lines into the back half of the pumpkins, leaving the front smooth for the faces.  Stack and insert the toothpick leaving part out to hold the hat.  Make a flat disc for the bottom of the hat and then a gradual cone for the top part.  Bake per clay instructions.  Allow to cool.  Using a dotter or end of your paintbrush, dot in the white eyes.  Allow to dry.  Dot in a smaller black dot, looking upwards for the bottom two pumpkins and ahead for the top one.  Draw in mouths and eyebrows.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dessert Wontons

I had a half package of cream cheese that needed a good home.  I miss the 3 oz cream cheese packages that my grocery store used to carry because they were a great size for recipes.  I had some wonton wrappers in my freezer so I decided to combine the two in a dessert or snack form and I'm happy with how tasty they turned out.

Dessert Wontons

4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
16 wonton wrappers
peach preserves or whichever flavor you prefer
cinnamon and sugar
cooking spray

Mix together cream cheese and powdered sugar.  Using a .5 tablespoon cookie dough scoop, fill half full (about 1/2 tsp) and place in the center of the wonton wrapper.  On top of the cream cheese, add on 1/4 tsp of peach preserves.

Dip your finger in water (once for each of the 4 sides) and wet the edge of the wrapper.  Gently fold over into a triangle shape and press down on the edges.  Place on a greased baking sheet.  When all 16 are made, spray with cooking oil, sprinkle on a little cinnamon sugar  and bake for 10 minutes at 400°. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Peach Ricotta Pancakes

There's nothing like starting off a vacation day with a good breakfast.  Mine started off with the flavor of peaches and cinnamon.  Plus I used my peach syrup on top to complete it.

Peach Ricotta Pancakes

Sift together:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Add in:

1 large egg
1/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup peach juice
1 cup milk
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla

Gently fold in wet ingredients. Heat an oiled griddle and pour 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake.  Lightly brown both sides.

Makes 12 pancakes.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hamburger & Wild Rice Soup

My choices were this ~ build an ark or make a nice pot of creamy, comforting soup.  Building an ark would have meant I would have to go get the lumber and end up out in the rain.  Making soup meant opening the refrigerator.  Soup won.  

Hamburger & Wild Rice Soup

1# extra lean ground beef, browned and lightly seasoned 
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 cups wild and long grain rice, cooked
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup peas
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp celery flakes
1 bay leaf
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

In a dutch oven or soup kettle, brown ground beef with salt and freshly ground pepper.  When almost cooked, add in minced garlic and finish cooking for another minute.  Add in milk, chicken broth, celery flakes, bay leaf and carrots.  Let simmer until the carrots are cooked.  Add in cooked rice and peas and let cook for 15 minutes.  Season to taste.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bars

I got the zucchini in our CSA share again so it was time to revamp the recipe I tried a few weeks ago.  The taste was there but it seemed oily.  I substituted in plain yogurt for the oil and the bars came out much lighter but just as tasty.  

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup shredded zucchini, drained
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)

Cream butter and sugars together.  Beat in yogurt, egg and vanilla.  Slowly beat in dry ingredients.  Hand fold in zucchini and dark chocolate chips.  Put dough in a greased 9 x 9 pan.  Bake for 45 minutes at 325°.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Squash With A Savory Farro Topping

I love squash.  I've been buying it, baking it and storing it away in the freezer like a squirrel stocking up nuts for the winter.  It's my favorite vegetable and will over pay for it in the bleak winter months after my stash has been exhausted.  But I'm also basically a squash purist.  I like it with butter, salt and pepper.  My mom adds in brown sugar but I've never found it necessary.  So it was a major baby step for me to add a savory topping to today's baking.  I did freeze two containers before starting because I had some large Kabocha's and it was overloading my casserole dish.  I had picked up the Farro because it seemed like a fun new-to-me grain to try out.  It added a nice nutty texture.

Squash With A Savory Farro Topping

2 Kabocha squash or Green Hubbard, cut in half, seeds scooped out and baked face down on a aluminum foil lined pan with 1/4 cup water to steam the squash.  Bake at 350° until tender.  Let cool for 10 minutes and then scoop out into a casserole dish.  Add in 4 tbsp of butter, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Mix together.

Farro Topping

1/3 cup Farro cooked in 1 cup of water over a low boil for 20 minutes.  Drain and let cool

Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a saute pan.  Add in ~

cooked Farro
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Lightly toast and top the squash.  Return to oven for 15 minutes.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Papier Mache Pumpkins

It's been awhile since I posted a craft project and so here's a fairly easy one to make pumpkins for Fall decorating.

Papier Mache Pumpkins

1 ea 3.5" and 6" papier mache pumpkin
1 - 1" scalloped wooden heart
1 - 1 1/4" scalloped wooden heart
green floral wire cut into 6" pieces
Wedgewood Green paint
Bittersweet Orange paint
Black paint

Drill through the stems and at the center top of the hearts using a small drill bit.  Paint stems and the leaves using green paint.  Paint the pumpkins orange.  Thread the wire through the holes in the stems.  Attach the hearts on the wire close to the stem and curl the remainder of the wire by wrapping it around a pen.  If you have a spatter brush, dip in black paint and hold about 6" away for a light speckling of black paint on the leaves and pumpkins.  You can also use an old toothbrush to spatter.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Country Fried Chicken

Normally I try to have leftovers on what I refer to as veggie night but that didn't work out so I wanted to try something new and I'm really glad that I did despite a later than normal dinner.

Country Fried Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Whisk together in one bowl ~

1 large egg
1/4 cup milk

In a second bowl ~

12 crushed butter crackers
1/4 cup flour
1 dash cayenne
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Dip chicken breasts in the cracker mixture, then the egg mixture and back again to the cracker mixture before placing in a hot frying pan with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  Cook until 165°.  Remove from pan and keep warm until gravy is ready.  In the same pan, add in another tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and whisk in 1/4 cup flour.  Gradually whisk in 2 cups milk.  Add in salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Cook until thickened.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Italian Pork Chops

I love easy to prepare meals, especially on a Monday night when you face going back to work after what was hopefully a relaxing weekend.  These chops were easy to put together and full of flavor.  And baking in a pan lined with aluminum foil made clean up even easier.

Italian Pork Chops

2-3 boneless pork chops, pounded to the same thickness
1 large egg, beaten
1 tbsp milk
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder

In two shallow bowls, mix together egg and milk in the first bowl and the Panko, herbs and seasonings in the second.

Dip the pork chops (both sides) in the egg mixture and then both sides in the Panko mixture.  Place in an aluminum foil lined pan.  Bake at 350° and bake until the internal temperature of the pork chops are at least 145°.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sweet & Spicy Snack Mix

I received this recipe a few years ago via email.  It made the circuit then and seems to have disappeared.  I tweaked it ever so slightly ~

Sweet & Spicy Snack Mix

Mix in a large roaster ~

6 cups bite size round tortilla chips
6 cups hull-less popcorn
4 cups Crispix 
2 cups mixed nuts

Bring to a boil ~

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup

Remove from heat and add in ~

1 tbsp Chili Powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp Red Pepper flakes

Pour mixture over the dry in the roaster and mix until coated.  Bake at 250° for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  When done, spread out on parchment paper and let cool.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Apple Butter Muffins

I made and canned apple butter last weekend.  I had deliberately left it on the coarse side but using a stick blender instead of a food mill for baking.  This is my Sunday morning pampering muffin using it.  I'll include the recipe for the apple butter at the bottom.

Apple Butter Muffins

1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 dash ginger
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup apple butter

Streusel Topping

1/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup pecan, chopped

Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Add in egg, milk, oil and apple butter and stir until combined.  I made jumbo muffins so I used an ice cream scoop that was over filled to fill the muffin cups.  In a small bowl, mix all the streusel ingredients together and sprinkle over the muffins.  Bake for 25 minutes at 325°.

Apple Butter 

3# apples, cored and peeled
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Cook apples and lemon juice in the crock pot over on a medium setting until tender.  For a course apple butter, use a stick blender to break up apples.  For a fine butter, use a food mill.  Return to crock pot and stir in sugar and cinnamon.  Put into clean, dry jars leaving 1/2" head space.  Can using a water bath for 10 minutes.  .

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Cheeseburger Dip

Chilly weekend again with lots of rain.  Good afternoon to be inside watching football.  And what better to watch it with than a hot dip.  I served this with slices of french bread hot from the oven.

Cheeseburger Dip

1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup onions, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tbsp hot sauce
1 cup Cheddar/Jack cheese, shredded

Cook the ground beef until no longer pink.  Right before it's done, add in the onions to cook with the meat.  Add in garlic when there is about 1 minute left.  Stir in cream cheese and stir until melted.  Add in sour cream and hot sauce.  Toss in the Cheddar/Jack cheese and just stir in.  Pour into a greased pie pan and bake for 20 minutes at 350°.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


This is another recipe from the past that I made.  I love warm bread with all the herbs mixed in and Parmesan sprinkled on top.  


2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
t tsp basil
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup warm water
Extra extra virgin olive oil for coating dough and pan

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Gradually add in olive oil and warm water.  Make sure all ingredients are mixed together before turning out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth.  Coat dough with olive oil and place back into the bowl.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.  

Press dough into an oiled 9 x 13 pan.  Let rise another for another 30 minutes.  Rub more olive oil on top of dough and poke indents in every 2 inches.  Sprinkle top of dough with salt and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.  Be careful not to over bake.  Serve warm.