Welcome to One Little Corner of the World. I share with you new recipes, some family recipes, and the antics of my kids. Enjoy reading!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Quick Spaghetti and Meatballs

My kids love Spaghetti and Meatballs - their grandma makes it for them a lot, but I usually don't.  Last night, after I got home late, I decided to make it for them.  It had been in my plan for the week, but I didn't want to spend a ton of time cooking, so I came up with this quick spaghetti sauce.  I hope you like it!

I used whole grain spaghetti and tomato strips that I blended with an immersion blender as my family really likes a smooth sauce, but your sauce can be as chunky as you want.  I also added Asiago cheese as a topper right before I served dinner.  That added just the right touch.

For the meatballs

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground sausage
1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine all ingredients.  Make small meatballs - about 3/4 inch in diameter.  Place on a sheet tray covered with parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes.

For sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
2 28 oz cans tomatoes

 In a large sauce pan, saute garlic in oil until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  add dry seasonings, tomatoes and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Remove bay leaves, and blend with an immersion blender to desired consistency.


Cook one pound of pasta according to packages directions.  Serve in a large pasta bowl combing sauce, pasta and meatballs.  Top with shredded Asiago cheese or your favorite cheese.  Serve hot!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pork Lettuce Wraps

It has been a long time since I posted, but I have been one busy girl.  Along with the boys' activities, I decided to go back to school and work on a graduate certificate in Holocaust Genocide Studies.  What a great experience that was.  I received my certificate in May, and I am ready to start blogging again.

Last week, I went out to dinner with one of my sons and a friend and her daughter.  We went to Wang Gang's in Edwardsville where she ordered the pork lettuce wraps.  They were very good, and I wanted to make them at home, but every recipe I looked at had one ingredient that I didn't have.

Since I had just cleaned out my fridge, and thrown away old jars of food that had been purchased for one recipe, I decided to make up a recipe with ingredients that I had on hand.  What follows is my first attempt at Pork Lettuce Wraps - pretty good, I think for a first try!

Pork Lettuce Wraps

1 tbsp oil - I used olive
2 lbs. ground pork
1 red pepper minced
1/2 red onion minced
4 coves garlic minced
1 tbsp ginger minced
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup beef stock
1/4 cup soy sauce
salt and pepper
lettuce - iceberg or bib

In a large skillet, saute garlic, ginger, pepeer and onion in oil until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
Remove from skillet.

Add pork, cook and crumble.  Drain excess fat.  Add veggies back to pan with stock and soy sauce.  Stir to combine.  Simmer and allow liquid to reduce by half.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with lettuce wraps - I find that bib lettuce works best, but I had iceberg, so that is what I used.  Next time, I will probably add more peppers and probably some green onions.  This was a winner in my house; all thought the wraps were very good.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dinner: Land, Sea, and Air - all in One Meal

Last night we had some friends over for dinner.  One of them offered to supply some of the meat.  We had pheasant, venison, salmon, and shrimp.  Oh yea, we also had salad and a little pasta too.  It was a lot of food, but everyone seemed to have a good time, and the food turned out really well.

To start, we had Roasted Salmon on crackers with an Italian Salsa Verde and Venison Tenderloin Bites.  Both were so good and different.  The venison was tender; I could have cut it with a butter knife while it was raw, and the breadcrumb coating added such a nice flavor.  The salmon, caught up in Michigan, I believe, wasn't fishy at all, roasted with lemon pepper, sea salt, and olive oil, was a nice clean dish for everyone.

I cooked BBQ shrimp, cajun style - I have made this before.  Totally one of my favorite dishes.  So easy, yet so, so good!  There is a ton of butter, so beware!

We had a venison loin; I also had one to play with earlier in the week.  I had marinated one earlier in the week with red wine and cider vinegar.  I thought it was ok, but not totally overwhelming.  After searching for a while, I found a stuffed loin that was grilled.  Since the weather was going to be good, we decided to go for it.  The meat was medium rare and very tender.  It turned out fabulous!!

The last dish was pheasant, farmer style.  I have made pheasant one time before, but I totally overcooked it.  This time I made a Mario Batali recipe - totally awesome!  My boys loved it!  It is a simple one pot dish that had such a good flavor - had nothing to do with the bacon in the dish!  lol.

Venison Tenderloin Bites - courtesy Allrecipes.com

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Italian dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound venison tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
salt and pepper to taste
5 cups arugula
1 lemon, cut into quarters

Preheat the oven's broiler and set the oven rack at about 6 inches from the heat source. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Warm the olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes to infuse the flavor of the garlic into the olive oil. Place the bread crumbs into a mixing bowl, and pour the oil mixture overtop. Stir the parsley, and Parmesan cheese into the bread crumb mixture until evenly blended. Press the venison cubes into the bread crumb mixture to coat, and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Make sure the venison pieces are not touching.

Broil in the oven until the bread crumbs are golden, and the venison has turned from red to pink in the center, or to your desired degree of doneness, about 6 minutes. Turn the cubes occasionally as they cook.
Divide the arugula onto 4 dinner plates, and top with the broiled venison. Squeeze a quarter of a lemon over each plate to serve.

Italian Salsa Verde - courtesy Whole Foods

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 anchovy fillet, cut into pieces
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak
5 cups baby field greens

In a food processor, purée parsley, basil, garlic, capers and anchovy fillet. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Slowly add olive oil, pulsing until completely combined. Add lime juice and pepper. Process until blended and the sauce is smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. The anchovy will contribute salt, so additional salt may not be needed. Set sauce aside.

Pheasant, Farmer Style - courtesy Mario Batali

2 small pheasants
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, 1 inch slices
4 sage leaves
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 rosemary branches
1 (16-ounce) can peeled tomatoes and their juices, crushed by hand
1 ladle chicken stock or 1 cup white wine
8 slices pancetta
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Quarter the birds and season with salt and pepper. In a 14 to 16-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Sear the poultry on all sides, then remove to a plate and reserve.

Add the onion, sage, bay leaves, garlic, carrots, and rosemary and cook over high heat 5 minutes. Add the stock/wine and tomatoes, bring to a boil, and return the poultry to the pan, each piece wrapped in pancetta (secure with a toothpick if necessary). Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 30 minutes, or until juices run clear from a piece of the bird.

Remove bird pieces to a serving platter, check sauce for seasoning, stir in parsley and spoon over pieces.

Stuffed and Grilled Venison Loin - courtesy Freevenisonrecipes.com

Tender venison loin, wrapped around tasty stuffing and grilled. Can't beat that! Here's the recipe...

1 large venison loin (backstrap)
2 cups breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons celery, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cracked black peppercorns
1 egg
1/4 to 1/2 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

Saute the onions, celery and garlic in olive oil until tender. In a mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, sage and parsley. Mix in the sauted vegetables, the egg, and just enough beef broth to make the stuffing into a thick paste.

Trim any silverskin off of the venison loin. Butterfly the loin and season it lightly with salt and pepper on both sides. Cover the cut side of loin with the herbed stuffing, roll it back together and tie it with butchers string. (Soak the string in water before tying the loin to prevent it from burning on the grill.)

Grill the stuffed venison loin over charcoal, at a medium temperature for twenty to thirty minutes. Turn one time after fifteen minutes. Coat the outside of the loin with olive oil before it goes onto the grill, and baste with oil once more when it's turned. When the internal temperature reaches 145F (medium rare), remove, slice into sections and serve. Remove at 160F if you prefer your venison medium well.

The meal turned out really well, and it was so much fun to find recipes and cook!  Next week - Super Bowl!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Shrimp and Grits!

When we were in North Carolina this past summer, I bought some stone ground grits.  Tonight I finally made Shrimp and Grits.  I got the recipe this past summer as well from a friend of mine.  My husband has, over the past couple of years, developed a real liking for Shrimp and Grits.

This recipe is probably one of the best entrees I have ever made.  It was absolutely delicious.  Hubby said they were some @#%$^ good grits.  He really liked it meaty with all the shrimp and sausage - just like they make them in North Carolina.  It was spicy enough with the Frank's, but he added some Cayenne pepper to make it hotter.

It isn't a meal that is carb friendly - I looked up the grits after dinner.  One cup of grits has about 100 carbs - oops!  Anyway, once in a while, who cares.

Here is the recipe.  Enjoy.  I did make two changes.  I added a bit more stock.  My gravy was very thick.  I added the andouille sausage, because Hubby wanted some.

Charleston Shrimp and Grits
Adapted from Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison’s “A Real American Breakfast”
This recipe calls for stone-ground grits, which can be an acquired taste. If you’re not a stone-ground fan, or even a fan of grits (yet), feel free to use quick-cooking grits and follow the cooking directions on the package.
Serves 4
    1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, halved lengthwise, and deveined
    Juice of 1 lemon
    Frank’s Hot Sauce
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
    1 1/2 cups stone-ground grits, not instant or quick-cooking
    6 thick slices bacon, chopped
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
    2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
    1 cup chicken stock
    1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 cup (about 1/4 pound) grated medium to sharp Cheddar cheese
1. Combine the shrimp with the lemon juice and a couple of generous splashes of hot pepper sauce. Set aside.
2. For the Grits: In a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, bring 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil. Whisk in the grits a few handfuls at a time. (They will bubble up initially.) Reduce the heat to a very low simmer and cook over low heat for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently toward the end.
3. For the Gravy: While the grits are simmering, fry the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until brown but still limp. Stir in the onion, green pepper, and garlic and continue cooking until the onion and pepper are limp, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions, sprinkle the flour over the mixture, and continue sauteing for 5 minutes longer. Stir in the stock and remaining salt and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat while you finish the grits.
4. When the grits are thick and creamy, stir in as much of the butter as you wish, followed by the cheese. Add a splash of hot pepper sauce and additional salt if you like. Cover the grits while you finish the gravy.
5.  Return the gravy to medium heat and stir in the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, mounding the grits in large shallow bowls or on plates and covering them with shrimp and gravy.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mexican Inspired Salad

So tonight I was trying to think of something somewhat healthy for dinner.  This morning we went to the Boy Scout breakfast.  Yum!  I was good though, and didn't eat any pancakes or biscuits.  I did eat sausage gravy though.

So for dinner, I was thinking to myself that a big salad would be great.  Boy was I right.  I looked in the fridge and saw that the only meat that was thawed was some sausage.  I decided to use that and made a Mexican style salad with the ingredients that I had available.  Here goes - sorry no picture, but I wasn't thinking a blog worthy dinner.

Mexican Style Salad

Baby Romaine
Baby Spinach
1 lb. ground sausage cooked and drained
Black Olives
Black Beans - rinsed and drained
Cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips - broken up

1/2 cup Ranch dressing
1 Tbsp taco seasoning

I didn't give amounts - use what you would want.  I would next time add cilantro, Avocado, green onions (dang, I had those!) and other Mexican inspired ingredients.  The salad turned out really well, and my whole family wants me to make it again.  I was super excited, because my kids usually complain about salad but they didn't tonight!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey and Noodle Soup or Turkey and Noodles - Using leftovers from Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is over and I have leftovers in my fridge!  I know; it is surprising.  Who would have thought that someone would make more food than people would eat on a holiday?

One of my main concerns with Thanksgiving leftovers is making something tasty and healthy.  While I didn't watch my carbs too much on the holiday, I do have to watch almost every other day.  My goal in making leftovers is to morph my turkey into something that is low carb, or at least good carbs.

The whole wheat pasta that I used has lots of fiber and is made with whole grains.  It was a great change actually from the regular pasta I used to use.  The whole grain pasta doesn't fall apart, because it is much more substantial.

Anyway, today I made turkey stock and Turkey Noodle Soup - a really thick soup.  Hubby likes stew, I like soup, so I try to compromise and make a thick soup.  Maybe I should actually call this Turkey and Noodles....whatever.  It made for a terrific meal!!!

For the stock, I cleaned out my produce drawers from Thanksgiving.

Turkey Stock - my version today

1 turkey carcass
3 stalks celery, chopped in large pieces
3 carrots, chopped in large pieces
1 onion, chopped in large pieces
1 turnip, chopped in large pieces
1 small bunch fresh sage
1 small bunch fresh thyme
5 cloves garlic - whole
2 tsp peppercorns

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce and partially cover. Simmer for 2 hours.  Pull the carcass out and take off any meat.  Set aside.  Remove everything else from the stock and throw away.  Allow stock to cool.  Put in freezer safe containers and freeze.  Keep for up to three months.

Thick Turkey Noodle Soup or Turkey and Noodles - you choose

4 quarts turkey stock - thawed
8 oz, whole grain pasta - your choice
Leftover turkey from stock
Two tbsp Turkish seasoning - or steak seasoning of your choice
1 tbsp italian seasoning
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
One large bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1/8 to 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
salt and pepper to taste

Thaw four quarts of stock and bring to a boil in a stock pot.  Add Italian seasoning and Turkish seasoning to stock.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.  While pasta is cooking, make a roux with the butter and flour.

Whisk the roux into the soup mixture.  Add turkey and heavy cream to soup.  Stir in parsley.  Stir and season with salt and pepper to taste.

This soup was totally yummy!  I added a lot of turkey to make it a really thick, stick to your ribs soup.  The cream, while not a lot, added a richness and creaminess to the soup.  It hit the spot.  I have been making turkey and noodles or chicken and noodles for years, and I personally think this batch is the best I have made so far.  Homey comfort food at its best.

I hope your holidays were wonderful!  Talk to you soon!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pumpkin-Chocolate Whoopie Pies

We tried a test run on a dessert for Thanksgiving today.  I think it is a hit!  Pumpkin-Chocolate Whoopie Pies!!  My oldest and I have been checking this recipe out for a while now, and today we decided to give it a test drive.  I know this isn't a good carb choice, but it is holiday time, and the kids need tasty desserts!!!

This is a very easy recipe to make - didn't take much time at all.  My only comment would be about the chocolate mixture.  If one goes by the exact recipe, I think the chocolate will be too stiff.  I added more heavy cream as I was mixing to loosen up the chocolate, and I think it worked out well.  There was also a lot left.  I added some to the pies, and still had quite a bit left over.

The pumpkin cookie was moist, but not too sweet, and I really liked the middle - so did my son - he is cleaning out the bowl as I type.  This will definitely be on the dessert table this year.

Pumpkin-Chocolate Whoopie Pies

2 c. all purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. fine salt
2 large eggs
3/4 c. pure pumpkin puree
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1/3 c. unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/4 c., room temperature
3/4 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 c. confectioner's sugar, plus more for serving

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, melted butter and 1/4 c. heavy cream. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and whisk just until combined.

2. Drop dough in 2 tbsp. mounds, 1 inch apart, onto two parchment- lined baking sheets. Bake until tops of cookies spring back when gently pressed, about 14 minutes, rotating sheets haflway through.
Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.

3. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat room temperature butter, 1/2 c. cream, cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar on medium- high until fluffy, 2 minutes. Spread filling on flat side of half the cookies; sandwich with remaining cookies. To serve, dust with confectioner's sugar. Makes 10.

Per pie: 446 cal; 19 g fat (12 g sat. fat); 6 g protein; 67 g carbs; 3 g fiber.

Source: Everyday Food Magazine

Enjoy your holiday with family and friends!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dinner with Family

Ok - last Saturday night was family cooking night.  With pizza crusts from the hill, pepperoni from Volpi's, and sausage from the fireman, we were ready for pizza making.  The boys had a blast creating their masterpieces.

I love to shop on the Hill in St. Louis.  I usually try to go with friends, but sometimes I take the kids - they love to eat on the Hill.  Pizza or spaghetti is their favorite.

There are a few Italian grocery stores I love to go to on the Hill.  Viviano's, DeGregorio's, and Urzi's always have what I am looking for.  Volpi's is a great little meat place, where I like to get sausage and other meats.

I always make a stop at World's Fair Donuts on the way home.  They are the only donuts in the world worth stopping for.  Opened in 1977, this little donut shop is the Bomb!!!  If you get a chance, head down there.  Great donuts from scratch are hard to come by.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crabmeat Dip

A few months ago, I made a crab dip from a cookbook I bought while on vacation in the Outer Banks.  It was an easy recipe that was enjoyed by everyone.  I unearthed the recipe yesterday and made it for the Chicken and Beer dance.

The Chicken and Beer dance is an event that is put on by the Community Hall trustees- it is a local event that has been going on for years.  The chicken, beer, and music is provided, and people bring their own sides.

We had a good time dancing and hanging out with friends.  It is nice to have a night out with adults and no kids every once in a while.

Crabmeat Dip from A Taste of the Outer Banks

3 oz. package cream cheese softened
1/2 cup mayonaise
2/3 cup tomato soup, undiluted
1/2 pound crabmeat, cooked
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
Tabasco (optional)

Stir in mayonaise and tomato soup into softened cream cheese and blend well.  Mix in crabmeat, garlic, salt, pepper and Tabasco.  Serve with crackers, vegetables, or chips

I like to let the dip sit in the fridge for a while - let the flavors combine.  The soup really adds a creamy texture and great flavor.  Try it next time you are in a pickle for what to make!

Graham Cracker Banana Muffins

Ok so I went to the store and bought more graham crackers.  My muffins are in the oven as I type.  I just wanted to jot down the recipe so I could recycle the graham cracker box.  I don't have the nuts to put on top - I actually just used the last of my walnuts and totally forgot to buy more.  Oh well; maybe next time.

Banana-Nut Graham Muffins

16 graham crackers, finely crushed
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk - it called for fat free, but I used 2 percent
2 tbsp honey
2 fully ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine graham crumbs, sugar, and baking powder until well mixed.  Mix all remaining ingredients except nuts in a large bowl.  Add graham mixture; stir until just blended.

Spoon into 12 paper lined muffin cups; top with nuts.

bake 15-18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pan for five minutes.  Remove to wire rack; cool slightly.

My boys and I tried one - they took a lot longer to cook than what the directions said.  They were very moist; the moistest muffins I have ever tasted.  I thought they had an interesting flavor - we will see later!

I am taking these to a "Chicken and Beer" dance that Hubby and I are going to.  I hope everyone likes them!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Raspberry Corn Muffins

I wanted to make something for the boys this morning, since I didnt' have to work.  I had originally planned to make banana graham cracker muffins, but I didn't have enough graham crackers.  They are next on the agenda after a trip to the store.

I looked to my Good Housekeeping cookbook for inspiration.  That book always seems to have a recipe that sounds yummy.  I decided on the Blueberry Corn Muffins.  This past summer, my youngest developed a love for corn bread; I thought this was a great fit for him.

The muffins were great.  I used raspberries instead of blueberries, and mine were frozen, but they worked well.  The cornmeal added a coarser texture and an earthiness to the muffins that I really liked.

Blueberry Corn Muffins

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup blueberries or raspberries

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease muffin tin or use muffin cups.  In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a small bowl, with fork, beat buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla until well blended.  Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy).  Fold in berries.

2.  Spoon into prepared muffin tins.  Bake until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean - 20 to 25 minutes.  Immediately remove muffins from pan.  Cool on wire rack or serve warm.  Makes 12 muffins.

I hope if you have today to share with your family, you have great family time!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cubed Beef Stroganoff

I know I have talked about this before, but I am going to mention that we get a side of beef each year once again.  The reason this time, is that I made a beef stroganoff with cubed round steak that was really very good.

I am always wondering what to do with some of the meat that comes with the side.  We always seem to get a ton of cubed round steak, and I always have a problem deciding what to do with it.  It is a very tough cut of meat.  I have dredged in flour and egg, and made a version of chicken fried steak, but I don't want to do that all the time.  I have made a beef stroganoff before in my electric skillet, but again, the meat is usually pretty tough.

This time, though, I finally got smart.  I cooked my meat mixture in the oven for two hours - made for the most tender beef stroganoff I have ever made.  It was one of my best dishes, I think.

Here is the recipe - I don't have a picture.  The ones I took didn't turn out well.

Cubed Beef Stroganoff

3 lbs. cube steak, cut into bite sized chunks and combined with steak seasoning
1/2 tbsp steak seasoning
olive oil
1 leek, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 to 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp steak seasoning split
1 - 2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 1/2 quart beef stock
1 lb. pasta - your choice, cooked per package directions.
sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
Italian parsley chopped

Heat oil (enough to liberally coat bottom of a large oven proof skillet or brasier).  Add leeks and cook until softened.  Add garlic and mushrooms - you may have to add more oil to pan, and cook until softened.  Add meat and saute until meat is browned.  Add rest of steak seasoning, Italian seasoning,  and beef stock.  Stir to combine.

Cover pan and cook in a 300 degree oven for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.  Remove from oven.  Add flour; combine until mixture is thickened to your likeness.  Add sour cream and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve over pasta.

I didn't put a lot of measurements for the ingredients, because I add until the taste is where I want it for my family.  I also used a whole grain pasta - it really holds up well in this recipe.  The steak seasoning I used is a very bold seasoning with a lot of pepper - adds a great punch to the dish that is a little mellowed by the sour cream.

I hope you all enjoy! This was an easy recipe to make.  There were leftovers, and dinner was enjoyed by all!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

One Mistake - A New Recipe

I used to wonder how recipes were created.  I figured out one way a few months ago.  I was cooking some chicken breasts and thighs in the oven, and darn it! I overcooked them a bit!  While that really isn't a big deal with the chicken thighs, I was worried about the chicken breasts - they get so dry.  I could tell by looking at them that they were dry.  I didn't want to get rid of them, but I wasn't sure what to do with them.

I decided to put the chicken in the food processor.  I don't know why, but that was my decision.  I made a spreadable chicken salad.  I didn't know how it would turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Hubby and my oldest went nuts - they really liked it.

My philosophy concerning this particular salad is to just put in whatever ingredients you have in the fridge.  I have made this salad with quite a few ingredients, and it always turns out well.

Here is the basic recipe.

Chicken breasts and/or thighs
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Steak seasoning

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place chicken on a sheet pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and steak seasoning.  Cook about 10 on the first side, flip and cook about 6 minutes on second side, or until chicken is done.  Let cool.

When chicken is cool, cut into medium sized chunks and place in food processor.  Process until chicken is starting to break up.  Add any combination of other ingredients to the chicken and process until desired consistency.

Here are my other ingredient combinations that I have come up with.

hard boiled eggs

Black olives

Black olives
Green onions

Come up with your own combinations - this is a creative dish!

Put mixture in a large bowl and add mayonnaise and Dijon mustard.  Combine; season with salt, pepper, and steak seasoning if desired.

This turned out to be one of my favorite recipe creations.  I really like that it came out of a mistake in cooking.

This is also a good recipe for those who are watching carbohydrates.  What I have added to my chicken is either low in carbs - or has no carbs at all.  Just watch what you put the salad on.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Eating Healthy - Learning about food

For the past year, I have been working on lowering my blood sugar.  I found out last August that my blood sugar was over the “normal” range.  My doctors wanted me to start taking medication to lower my levels, but I wanted to try doing it naturally.

When I talked to his office, the nurses were less than enthusiastic about me trying it on my own, and they had no problem telling me so.  Needless to say, I pushed, and was given three weeks to bring my levels down.

That night, I went to the grocery store, and I spent two hours there looking at every food label, trying to understand exactly what I was eating.  I found websites geared towards diabetics to understand what food was making my blood sugar rise.

This website – from Self magazine allows the reader to figure out what is in almost any food.  I found this to be extremely helpful.  I also went to the American Diabetes Association website.  While I haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes, I thought this website would help me get a handle on how to not become diagnosed with Type II diabetes.

I realized pretty quickly that I was eating about 100 carbs before I left my house each morning (bagel, 56 carbs; banana, 30 carbs; and orange juice, 25 carbs).  I was totally amazed.  My ideas of healthy eating were totally blown away.  I had to revamp my entire diet.

One of the things my doctor’s office told me was that I was going to have to eat like a diabetic.  For someone who loves to cook, that sounded like a death sentence.  The diabetic web sites, on the other hand, stated that if a person ate according to the food plate, pyramid – whatever is the correct term – was fine.  I thought to myself, “I can do that.” 

I started changing what I ate, and three weeks later, my blood sugar was down by over 40 points.  I had also lost about 9 pounds!    This past year has been eye opening.  My blood sugar has stayed at normal levels with no medicine, and I have lost 50 pounds.  I feel much better. 

Here are some of the changes I made

Breakfast:  before I would eat a bagel, banana, and orange juice.  Now I eat a tortilla with 7 carbs, turkey and cheese, and V-8 juice.  Every other day or so, I still have a banana.

I used to eat crackers for a snack, but that is total carbs.  Now I snack on a serving of nuts – usually almonds. 

Lunch: I used to take leftovers, but now I take WASA crackers with Laughing Cow cheese and some lunchmeat.  For my fruit, I take blackberries and raspberries.

Dinner:  if I make pasta, I make sure that I am using a whole grain pasta with fiber – that means it will go through my system slowly.  I have lean proteins, vegetables and one carb serving.  Last night for example, I made tater tots for my family, and I ate one serving – 22 carbs.  That was the only carb in my dinner.  For the rest of dinner we grilled pork chops and brats, and I made some spinach.

I have found that my food choices have really affected the way I feel.  Prior to my diet change, I would get tired every day around 1:00, but now I usually don’t.  I just don’t get that afternoon slump any more.

More later.  Enjoy your day!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Gooey Butter Cake - my favorite!

I know I haven't posted in a while, and I know this isn't a good blood sugar recipe, but sometimes, you just have to say, "What the hell."

I love gooey butter cake; it is one of my all time favorite desserts of all time.  If I am not mistaken, it has its roots in St. Louis history, along with toasted ravioli.  I found a recipe in one of my cookbooks - A Taste of the Hill, a St. Louis local cookbook.  It turned out so well - and it was so easy too!

Gooey Butter Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
3/4-1 box powdered sugar to sprinkle over top
3 eggs
1 pkg. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix cake mix, 1 egg melted butter; pat into bottom of ungreased 9 x 13- inch glass baking dish.  mix powdered sugar, 2 eggs, cream cheese, and vanilla.  stir until well mixed and then pour over top of cake mixture, making sure that the cream cheese mixture covers the edges.  Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining powdered sugar and cool.

I made sure my eggs and cream cheese were at room temperature.  I personally think that the cake is better today than yesterday.  It really set up well and tasted to me, better.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Quick trip to visit family

My kids and I took a quick trip to Ohio to see my grandma - she is 100 - and to Canada to see my cousin and her new baby.  While it was a quick trip, we had a great time.

 Grandma was amazing.  At 100, she is slow, but she is all there.  I am amazed every time I see her.  I have such great memories of her - she has been a part of my life since forever.  I am blessed to still have her in my my life.  While I know I won't ever have pumpkin pie or potatoes cooked in bacon fat; yum!

My kids talk about her quite a bit.  She is their great grandma, and she loves to sit there and hold her hands and stroke their faces.  While they are at an antsy age, they sit quietly for her and answer all her questions.  The link between the young and the old is a wonder to see.  When they were younger, they used to beg to sit by her at meals.  They think she is pretty cool.

I also spent time with my aunt.  She is one of my favorite people in the world.  She always has an upbeat attitude, and is just plain fun to be around.  She and her husband winter in Florida every year and spend the rest of the year in Ohio.  She and her hubby are very creative, and they seem to work well together.  I am glad they found each other.

We also went to my cousin's house in Canada.  She and her husband live on a farm, and he raises pigs.  I have never seen such a large operation.  The boys both got to hold a baby pig.  I think they had the best time in Canada - it was their first trip to a foreign country, and they enjoyed looking for the differences between the two countries.

I was impressed how my kids interacted with their new cousin, a five month old baby boy.  Spending so much time with him prompted my kids to ask all kinds of questions about how they acted as kids.  They wanted to know if they did the same things their baby cousin was doing now.  I have to say, it was really cute.

We also went to Niagara Falls - what a beautiful place.  I was there once before, when I was a freshman in high school.  The falls haven't changed, but the area around sure has.  There is so much to do, other than the falls.  I have to say, it was strange to see the difference in the falls between my two visits.  The first time I was there, I don't remember anything but the falls and one little gift shop.  Now there are go kart tracks, many gift shops, restaurants, a Ripley's theatre, and so much more!  Not being into commercialism, I amazed myself, because I want to go back and explore more.

My cousin was a great host!  Niagara Falls is only about an hour and a half from her house, but of course, the QEW was closed and we had to figure out a different way to get there.  A short trip ended up taking more than twice as long to get there.  Even though it took a long time to get there, we had a great time.  We stopped at McDonald's for lunch.  It is the first time the boys have been there in a year.  I think they savored every bite!  

On our last day in Canada, we saw one of my other cousins.  She is woking her way through college, so she has to work a lot.  We at at the restaurant where she works.  We didn't get to spend much time with her, but it was good to see her.

Our trip was short, but I am so glad we went.  I didn't get to spend very much time with my grandma - she had a busy week planned.  I wasn't the only person to visit; my dad and stepmother, my brother, and a friend from California came to visit too.  She is a very popular person.

Family is very important.  I hope I teach that to my kids as they grow up.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer camp

The boys went to cam for the first time this year.  It was only for three days, but I totally missed them!  I can't believe how much I missed their noisiness, hugs, arguments, snuggles, and all that goes with raising boys.  It was so quiet Monday night and cooking dinner for two was strange.

They went with two of their friends from school.  The camp is located in a small town about an hour away.  There is a nice lake and the boys cabin sat right on the lake.  They told me they had the best view of the lake, but the worst bathroom.

Going to their camp brought back so many memories of my days at camp.  I think my summer camp times were some of the best times from my childhood.

All the councilors at camp had camp nicknames - the boys' councilor's name was "Falcon."

 They had a blast, though, and are ready for more next year.  I have a year to get ready for the empty nest again.  

Baked Eggs

Yesterday, I  decided to bake my eggs for breakfast.  It was so easy.  I also made toaster hash browns to go with them, but I cooked mine in the oven.  It was a quick easy breakfast that I am adding to my breakfast menu rotation.

Baked Eggs

4 eggs
chopped ham or other meat
salt and pepper
grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Butter two ramekins on sides and bottom.  Add chopped ham to the bottom of the ramekins.  Add two eggs to each ramekin - try to not break the yokes.  Add salt and pepper and little broken bits of butter to the dish.  This helps the eggs to not burn.  Top with grated cheese.

Place ramekins in a shallow pan and fill pan with water.  Bring to a simmer on the stove top.  Place in oven for 5-7 minutes until whites are just set.  Serve immediately.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Frog in the Pool!!!!

Last night, Dad and the boys were going to get into the pool.  First we had to get out the largest frog we have ever seen in our neighborhood.  It took a few minutes to scoop it out of the pool as he was hopping from side to side very quickly.  The boys thought it was pretty cool - he was large!

Anyway, he seemed to kind of pass out for a few minutes.  We carried him to the water in our ditch in the front yard and set him down.  I didn't hold out much hope for him, but when I went back later to check on him, he was gone.  I guess he woke up and hopped away!

KC Masterpiece Buffalo Sauce

I received a bottle of KC Masterpiece Buffalo Marinade as a gift from Foodbuzz and Masterpiece.  It is very easy to use.  Just pick your meat, and marinade for 30 minutes in the fridge.  If you want even more flavor, just brush on more while on the grill.

I chose to make buffalo shrimp tonight for dinner.  All I did was clean the shrimp and marinade in the buffalo sauce for 30 minutes.  It couldn't have been easier, and the flavor was pretty good too! If you are looking for a quick meal, KC marinades are for you.