Monday, January 31, 2011

This Week's Menu

This week everything I'm making is brand spanking new to us (except for the dinner for Chinese New Year). I'm most excited. I'm going to share some of the recipes next week with you!

Monday: Overnight Breakfast Bars

Tuesday: Fettuccine with Roasted Vegetable Sauce

Wednesday: Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Teriyaki Chicken
Fried Rice

Friday: Salisbury Steak
Tangy Mustard Cauliflower

Saturday: Upside Down Ravioli

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

So, I was wanting to make something easy to eat for breakfast when we went to the Chalk Creek Hot Springs with Kim and Rachel and their families and I thought blueberry muffins would be perfect. So, I went to my tried-and-true cook book of all the recipes I've saved and used for years now and...nothing.


I looked in the church cookbook that I love...nothing.

I knew I'd made blueberry muffins before, but I'd thought I'd used a recipe. I guess I'd only used box mixes.

I found a recipe that looked delicious.

The ingredients:
3/4 C. milk; 1/4 C. vegetable oil; 1 egg; 2 C. flour; 1/2 C. sugar; 2 tsp. baking powder; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1 C. fresh, canned (drained) or frozen blueberries. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

I did not use the mixer for this recipe because I didn't want to over mix the batter and have the muffins be dry.

In a large mixing bowl, add the milk, oil and egg.
Whisk them together.
Then add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Stir until it is blended. It'll be lumpy and that is ok.
Now it's time for these guys.
I love blueberries. They are so pretty and deliciously tart.
Add the blueberries to the mix and gently fold the blueberries into the batter.
Divide the batter into your muffin pan.
I had a little bit left over, so I used my mini-muffin pan. They're Julia sized.
Now, I love a streusel topping on blueberry muffins. If you do not, just skip the next few steps.

In a small mixing bowl, add 1/4 C. flour, 1/4 C. packed brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and stir.
Add 2 Tbsp. of firm butter to the mix...
and either using 2 knives or a pastry blender, cut the butter until it is pebble-like.
Sprinkle one Tbsp. of the topping on each muffin.
Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes. Make sure and lick every last bit of batter off the spatula.
Viola! Look at that little guy. He's so scrumptious.
I enjoy a little honey on my blueberry muffins. Mmm...
The muffins turned out perfect. They weren't dry and the blueberries were the star of the show instead of just a supporting cast member. I will most definitely be using this recipe for blueberry muffins from now on since it was so simple and yummy!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I am so smart. S-M-R-T.

Hi. I wanted you to know that I am a technological GENIUS and just added a search tool to this website. So, you can type in a certain food you're looking for and see if I have a recipe to go with it.

Yeah, I've been wanting something like for Virginia Cooks for a while now. was super easy to find and put on the website.

Maybe I should give up cooking and become a computer guru. Thoughts?

Monday, January 24, 2011

This Week's Menu

Monday: Beefy Broccoli & Cheese Soup

Tuesday: Chicken Cordon Blue

Wednesday: Tuna Casserole

Thursday: Overnight Breakfast Bars

Friday: Kim's Birthday Dinner!

Saturday: Fettuccine with Roasted Vegetable Sauce

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pork Chops with Capers and Mustard

This is one of the very first recipes we would make when Evan and I were first married. It's still one of my favorites (except when I was pregnant with Julia and all smells of mustard made me want to rip my nose off permanently).

This recipe is simple yet delicious!! My girls love it.

The ingredients:
Four pork chops; salt and pepper; 1 Tbsp. olive oil; 1 1/2 C. chicken broth; 1/3 C. capers, drained; 1/2 tsp. rosemary; 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard; 2 Tbsp. butter, melted.

(Disclaimer: We do not like rosemary. It makes us wish we'd never been born. We rarely use it in recipes. We omit it completely from this recipe, but if you are also adverse to rosemary, you can always substitute it with another herb. Unless you like which I need to rethink our whole relationship.)

Start by heating the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork chops with the salt and pepper on both sides of the chops and then cook the pork chops for 5 minutes on each side.
I must show you this fantastic contraption Evan and the girls bought me for Christmas. It is a splatter screen. Now, my clothes will be spared from the splatter of grease and oil!!! It is one of the best things I have ever gotten and it totally works.
Once the pork chops are cooked, place them on a baking dish and tell them to take a break. We'll need them again in just a few minutes.
In the same skillet you used to cook the pork chops, add the chicken broth, capers, rosemary (if you so wish) and boil this down until it's reduced to around 3/4 a cup.
Once it's reduced, return the pork chops to the skillet and cook with the broth mixture for about 3 minutes.
While it's cooking, whisk together the melted butter and the mustard.
Place the pork chops and the liquid from the skillet on a warm platter. Please, for the love of all that is holy, don't leave those capers to waste away in the skillet! They are too delicious for that. Make sure every last one of them makes it to the platter. Thank you.
I gave the girls the option of having a pork chop without the mustard sauce. Julia likes it much better that way and sometimes Elisabeth does too. Once I gave the girls a chop to split, I slathered the other pork chops with the mustard sauce.
We ate our pork chops with salad and baked beans.
What I like about this recipe is that the pork chops stay so juicy. They are not tough as leather when they are done, and that is one of my biggest fears about cooking pork chops on a skillet. The capers and the mustard are so tart and tangy and they bring a lot of fabulousness to the pork chop. Definitely a meal I would serve to company, too.


Monday, January 10, 2011

This Week's Menu

Monday: Chili


Wednesday: Caper & Mustard Pork Chops
Baked Beans


Friday: Spaghetti
Garlic Bread

Saturday: Spanish Chicken with Rice & Beans
Tortilla Chips

Hamburger Stroganoff

It's a new year and one of my goals for the year is to continue cooking through my cook book collection!!!

I realized that, although I turn to my Betty Crocker cook book when I can't find answers to cooking questions on line, I never take advantage of all the fabulous recipes in the cook book.

So, I've added Ms. Betty to my rotation of recipes for my meal planning and this recipe was one I used for last week.

Evan loves beef stroganoff, so I figured he might like a hamburger version.

The ingredients: (I'm sorry that the ground beef in the picture looks so grotesque. No matter how much I asked and pleaded, it just would not put on it's pretty picture face.)
1 lb. lean ground beef; 1 medium onion, chopped; 1 clove garlic, finely chopped; 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup; 1 can (4oz.) mushrooms, drained; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1 C. sour cream or plain yogurt; 1 pkg. egg noodles, cooked; paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.

Ok, so I did not buy soup because it was not on my grocery list because I neglected to write it on my grocery list and if it's not on the grocery list it does not get bought! (Or so I preach to Evan and Elisabeth and apparently need to preach to myself as well.) Thankfully, I had a bag of frozen mushrooms in the freezer and I decided to make my own ding dong cream of mushroom soup. It was surprisingly simple. Let me show you...

First, take 1/2 a pound of the frozen mushrooms and cook them in one cup of water for 15 minutes. No boiling, please.
Drain the mushrooms (but keep the liquid!) and put the mushrooms in a skillet with 2 Tbsp. of butter and cook them together for about 10 minutes.
Add 1 Tbsp. of flour to the mushrooms and stir until all the mushrooms are coated in flour.
Add 3 C. of milk (preferably whole, but I only had skim and it was just fine for this recipe) and
the mushroom liquid you saved. Stir and allow it all to cook together for about 5-10 minutes. Then, remove the soup from the skillet and save it for later on in the recipe.
Now, brown that beef (go ahead and use the same skillet because you're just going to combine them all again in it soon anyway) along with...
the onion and the garlic. Make sure you drain all of that icky grease!
Ok, I stink and totally didn't take pictures of the rest of the process, so just pretend like you are watching me do the next few steps, ok? Thanks.

Stir in the soup we made (or the can you bought), the remainder of the frozen mushrooms (or the can you bought) and the salt into the beef. Simmer, uncovered, until a good portion of the homemade soup we made has evaporated and then lower the heat to low. I'd say that I simmered it all for about 15 minutes and then let it cook on low for another 5 minutes.

Now, taste the sauce. Evan and I found it bland, so we added salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder until we found it perfect. Just keep sprinkling, stirring and sampling until you find it to your liking.

Stir in the sour cream until it is blended into the sauce and hot.

We served our hamburger stroganoff with green beens and salad.
This is definitely a comfort food dish. The girls loved the noodles (of course) and asked for the "stroganoff" part on the side. Elisabeth eventually mixed them together and liked them. Everyone (including our dinner guest, one of Evan's co-workers) had seconds. The leftovers were eaten just as quickly!!!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bird House

Amidst the hubbub of the holiday season, I neglected to talk about this year's gingerbread house.

Well, I showed you all on Elisablog how we "damaged" it, but not how we built it this year.

I decided last year that I wanted to build a gingerbread birdhouse. I found a free pattern online of exactly what I wanted it to look like, but the dimensions weren't on the site, so I asked Evan to do some math for me and create the pattern so I could bake the pieces.
Then, using Jana's Gingerbread recipe, I started rolling out the dough on my brand new flat cookie sheets I got for my birthday!!!! I asked for them specifically for gingerbread making!!
Once I rolled it to the thickness I wanted, I laid out the pattern pieces Evan made for me...
and trimmed the dough.
After the pieces were done baking, and while they were still warm, I lined up the pattern to the cookie piece and, with a sharp knife, trimmed the pieces to match the pattern exactly. This is important for the construction part.
After the pieces had cooled overnight, Evan made a "stand" for the house to live on (out of cardboard...someday I will have a wooden one that I'll use forever) and I wrapped it in Christmas paper. Then, Evan started constructing the house using the icing as the cement.

After the house had dried overnight and we were certain the roof was secure, I started decorating. I'd found some fabulous bird candies during Easter last year (on clearance!) and had been saving them for the gingerbread house. I also went to the Sunflower Farmer's Market because they have a unique supply of candies. Here's the end result:
The roof has dried mango pieces and giant Smarties. The sides of the house are candy coated sunflower seeds (which are DELICIOUS in case you were wondering).

The bird Peeps I saved from Easter included owls!

I was really excited with how the house turned out! Both the girls loved it! Elisabeth helped decorate it a little. I think next year we'll make small houses for the girls to decorate so they are participating...and so I don't have to share decorating my house. (Aren't I such a typical first born child?!)