Sunday, April 29, 2007

Happiness on a warm spring day

Hanging with the pooches...

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Watching my garden finally start to flourish...

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And finally, after 10 years of living in the "adult world", being able to hang my clothes out on a line!

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(unmentionables inside on the drying rack, of course!) :-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fried Rice

Made this for dinner last night. I always like it. Hubby said it was all right. Which is a higher rating than ok. Someday, SOMEDAY, that man will tell me something's actually GOOD...

This probably makes five or six servings. Since it has lots of veggies I usually just consider it a one-dish meal.

2 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry rice
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 stalks celery, sliced
3 medium carrots, sliced
1 medium bell pepper (I used red), diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup sliced mushrooms (or 1 can)
1 cooked pork chop or chicken breast, diced
3 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup Shao Hsing rice wine (available in Asian food stores - it's really cheap - or you could substitute sherry)
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add rice, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes if using white rice, 40 if using brown (I prefer to do this the night before).

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add all veggies except the peas and mushrooms. Cook and stir until onions are transluscent. Add rice, meat, mushrooms and peas. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook eggs in a separate skillet. Beat them well, then pour them in (adding a bit of oil if you don't have nonstick pans) and let them cook without disturbing them till the top is set. Remove from heat, flip out onto a cutting board, and cut into thin, long strips.

Mix all remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add to the rice mixture; cook and stir until sauce thickens. Stir in egg strips, cooking a few moments longer until egg is heated through.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bran and Raisin Muffins

This isn't my recipe, and I don't know where I got it (ran across it in my Word files today). I just made them for the first time, and boy are they good!

1-1/2 c. unprocessed wheat bran
1-1/4 c. milk
1-1/2 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
1/2 c. melted butter or margarine
1/4 c. light molasses
1 egg
1/2 c. raisins

Combine bran and milk and let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients and set aside. Stir molasses into melted butter/marg, then beat in the egg. Add butter mixture to soaked bran, then add all into dry ingredients. Stir in raisins last. Spoon into 18 muffin cups and bake at 400 deg for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Menu April 22 - 28

Well, we managed to completely blow the menu last week. I did, however, finally get the calzones made on Friday!

Here's my plan for this week:

Sunday: Not sure. We're going out to a movie, so we'll probably just grab something while we're out.

Monday: Pork fried rice (best way I know to stretch a single leftover pork chop)

Tuesday: Cube Steak

Wednesday: Sausage and pepper casserole

Thursday: Glazed chicken and sesame rice

Friday: Tacos

Saturday: Kielbasa and cabbage

Bath Day

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If there's one thing the dogs hate, it's bath day. So it doesn't happen very often. But, they've got quite the little flea infestation going, and we like to have them clean when we put the flea medicine on them, so it's bath day. It's quite the process. First, we clear everything out of the bathroom. Then, hubby gets in the shower.

Hershey has to go first. Otherwise she'll run off someplace and we'll never get her in there. She'll know what's coming anyway, so I have to grab her by the scruff of her neck and drag her through the house as she leaves a trail of pee behind her (even if I put her out to go potty first). Hubby grabs her and tosses her in the shower, then scrubs her down twice, first with regular shampoo, and then with flea shampoo. Then he lets her out and I keep her contained in the bathroom while I give her the two towel dry-off. Then I have to force her to lay down somewhere so she doesn't slip all over the laminate with her still-damp feet.

Then it's Ringo's turn. Same process, except he can hold his bladder, which is nice. Until I let him out - then he finds the nearest dog bed (which happens to be Hershey's naturally) and pees on that, so as soon as he's done I have to run him outside but keep him from rolling.

Fun, fun, fun. No wonder our dogs don't get baths very often!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Ham and Broccoli Calzones

Here you go Kimmer!

Just like the BBQ chicken pizza, it's not really a recipe, just an ingredient list:

Take your favorite pizza crust recipe and divide it into the number of calzones you want to make (I use the recipe out of The Tightwad Gazette - I can post it if anyone wants it - and make two big calzones). Roll it out fairly thin, but thick enough so it doesn't break when you fold it over.

First, spread alfredo sauce on half of the crust.

Next, sprinkle the following over the alfredo, as much as you'd like (keeping in mind the other half of the crust has to fit over it):

- Diced cooked ham
- chopped cooked broccoli (I like to buy the frozen stuff, heat it in the microwave for a few minutes, and then drain it and put it on)
- chopped onion
- sliced mushrooms
- garlic powder
- a mix of your favorite cheeses (I used cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan)

Fold the top half over the bottom half and roll and press the edges together to seal.

Bake at 425 for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown. I bake this on my pizza stone.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I came home after a long day in a long week to find that hubby had the kitchen about halfway clean (and, at the moment, that's saying something, believe me - it was a MESS). And I hadn't even asked him, or dropped any hints lately. What a swell guy!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Menu - April 15 - 21

This will be a week of easy dinners and eating out, what with the big event at work on Thursday. But that's ok, we're prepared for it!

Sunday: Baked ham with apricot glaze

Monday: Tacos

Tuesday: Ham and broccoli calzones (and I'll probably even break down and buy premade pizza crust!)

Wednesday: Hubby's on his own, as I'll probably be at work till 8:00 or so (I'll just have a Lean Cuisine or something)

Thursday: Dinner out

Friday: Salsa Chicken

Saturday: We're babysitting the nieces and nephews, so we'll have whatever their parents provide - probably pizza!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pasta with sausage cream sauce

I made this up for dinner tonight. Yum, it was good!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 can mushrooms
1 can sliced olives
1 small jar diced pimento
1 pkg. chicken sausage, cooked (if necessary) and sliced (I got some pre-cooked mushroom asiago sausage from Trader Joe's)
1/3 cup heavy cream*
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
pinch salt
hot cooked pasta (I used egg noodles)

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute until the onion becomes translucent. Add mushrooms, olives, pimento, and sausage; cook and stir until heated through. Add cream and parmesan cheese, cook and stir until cheese is melted (you can add a little cornstarch slurry if you want it thicker). Mix into hot cooked pasta. Cover and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

*Note: if you want to lighten it up a little, just use evaporated milk in place of the cream. I happened to have some cream I needed to use up - that's a rare occurrence in our house! Evaporated milk is thicker than regular milk and so it acts more like the cream.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Teriyaki Sauce

Pardon the fogginess - the steam was messing with my phone!

1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
scant 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch and sugar. Add remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat until it boils and thickens.

This is EXCELLENT on grilled or baked chicken. I prefer to grill it, basting it with the sauce several times as it cooks. If you bake it, line your baking dish with foil, because this stuff sticks like the dickens. Foil makes for MUCH easier cleanup. Just pour the sauce over the raw chicken and bake at 375 degrees till it's done.

I love to serve this with sesame rice.

Sesame Rice

1 cup white or brown rice
2 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Bring chicken broth to a boil. Stir in rice, salt, and sesame oil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the water is absorbed (20 minutes for white rice, 40 minutes for brown).

Meanwhile, put sesame seeds in a dry skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring constantly, until golden.

When the rice is done, mix in the sesame seeds.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spanish Rice Casserole

This one has a lot of ingredients, mainly because it has lots of veggies and spices. So, it'll turn a lot of people off. But I promise it's good! It makes a lot, but it freezes beautifully!

3/4 cup brown rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound ground turkey
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained (such as Rotel)*
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained
salt, to taste
6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

*Note: Rotel is a bit spicy. If you want to tone the heat down for little ones, just use a can of diced tomatoes and a small can of diced green chiles - they're mild.

1. In a medium pot, cook the rice in the chicken broth according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet. Brown the onions, garlic and turkey. Drain water off if needed.

3. Add all remaining ingredients except cheese; cook and stir until simmering. Mix in cooked rice.

4. Pour mixture into a greased 9x13 pan and top with the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Black Bean Tostadas

This is a quick and easy lunch or dinner.

4 corn tortillas
Vegetable oil
1 can black beans
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
Shredded cheese (I like pepper jack for this)

Other possible toppings:
Sliced olives
Diced tomatoes
Chopped green onions
Sour cream

Coat the bottom of a frying pan over medium heat with about 1/8 inch of oil. When the oil is hot, fry the tortillas, one at a time. Cook till just brown on one side, then flip and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels. Add more oil if necessary (you can put these in the oven to stay warm if you'd like).

Mix the beans with the spices, mashing the beans with a fork as you mix. When the tortillas are finished, drain the excess oil out of the pan and put in the beans. Cook and stir until heated through. Divide the beans evenly among the four tortillas. Top with cheese and any other toppings you would like.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Creamed Tuna

This is one of my favorite comfort food meals. When I was growing up, we ate this on many a "Fish Friday" during Lent! We didn't have the eggs in it, though - that was something that hubby's mom did so I started doing that when I started cooking for him. It's a good addition!

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 quart milk
2 cans tuna, packed in water
3 hardboiled eggs, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
salt and pepper to taste
Toast or biscuits

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Mix in flour and cook for a few minutes until it just starts to brown. Meanwhile, heat the milk in the microwave for 2 minutes (so it's not totally cold when it hits the pan). Add milk to the flour and butter mixture. Cook and stir until it bubbles and thickens. Add tuna, eggs, onions, and spices. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until it's heated through. Serve over toast or biscuits (I just posted the biscuit recipe).

Note: Lots of people put peas in this, and you can if you want. We're purists and don't want veggies in our tuna. If you were going to do this, I would use frozen or fresh peas, not canned. But, then again, I think canned peas are nasty and they're the main reason why I wouldn't touch a pea, unless I was standing in my garden, for the first 29 years or so of my life!


 My four-year-old is the chief biscuit maker in our house.

Homemade biscuits aren't as hard as they sound. The key is to not overwork the dough - if you do, it gets tough and they're not as flaky.

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening or butter (we ALWAYS make these with butter now - delicious)
2/3 cup milk

Mix dry ingredients. Add shortening, cut in using pastry blender until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Add milk, stir until dough forms a ball. Knead in the bowl 10 - 12 times.

To form the biscuits: Pat it out on an ungreased cookie sheet until it's half an inch thick or so. You can either cut it into squares with a knife, or use a round cutter to cut them. You can also use a drinking glass if you don't have a cutter that will accommodate the thickness of the biscuits. If you cut them in squares, you don't have to move them, just leave them clumped together, but if you cut them in rounds, separate them on the sheet.

Bake at 450 for 12 minutes, or until lightly brown.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

If you order from Amazon...

...and buy stuff that is sold by them, not by the Marketplace or another retailer through Amazon, do you know about their 30 day price guarantee? If the price of whatever you buy drops within 30 days of your purchase, they will refund you the difference. I just saved an additional $3.00 on a game I bought ($5.00 overall - the price dropped $2.00 from the time I ordered it to the time they shipped it, and then it dropped more after that).

You can go to and register the item, and then they'll email you if the price drops, with step by step instructions on how to request your refund. It's so cool!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Menu recap March 25 - 31

Well, all things considered, I think we did pretty well this week.

Sunday: "More" casserole
Monday: Leftover casserole
Tuesday: Taco Bell (on the way back from my father-in-law's retirement reception)
Wednesday: Hamburgers and frozen fries
Thursday: Chicken and Stove Top
Friday: Out for my father-in-law's retirement dinner
Saturday: Date night - dinner out and a movie

So, we ate in more than we ate out, and even managed to eat some leftovers. And Friday's dinner came out of the gift budget instead of the eating out budget, because it was such an expensive dinner!

Tonight we're having grilled pork loin. I think I'll make balsamic-cranberry sauce to go with it (yum, yum, good stuff!).