March 31, 2010

A little tease...


You’ll have to bear with me on this one! Tonight was a continuation of Retro Week. Dinner ended up being Tuna Melts as I was consumed with a cake I was making. In honor of Retro Week I had decided that I would make a cake that my grandmother frequently made. Let’s just say I am calling it “Cake with a Kick”! At the same time, I was invited to guest blog on a great foodie’s new venture. So, the cake is appearing there. Unfortunately, the site won’t be up for a day or two. As soon as it is, I will let you all know because, honestly, this cake is too scrumptious! Let’s just say we were cutting pieces off and dipping them in the icing as I was slicing it! Spicy, sweet, fantastic!!! So, stay tuned and I will let you know as soon my grandma’s cake is online!!

Retro Tuesday's Cheeseburger Pie

I am a little late in posting! Yesterday was so crazy I never even made it to my computer. Dinner was not particularly inspired. In my defense I was driving kids from 4:00 - 7:30pm. This dinner came together before I left and then Brittany just popped it into the oven. Combined with a salad, it was a quick meal. Without my commitment to “cooking to save” I can guarantee you we would have had takeout. And while Cheeseburger Pie is not the most attractive dinner, it wasn’t unhealthy and full of fat. Light Bisquick, lean ground beef, onions,cheese, eggs and skim milk. That’s it! Combined with a salad, dinner was done. What I am realizing about all these retro meals is that they are mostly very simple. I am sure our mothers didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen either!


Cheeseburger PIe

1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion
2 eggs
1 cup milk(i used skim)
1/2 Cup Bisquick(I used light)
2 cups cheddar cheese

In frying pan, cook ground beef and onions. Drain beef and put into greased pie plate. Sprinkle cheese over beef. Whisk eggs, milk and Bisquick and then pour over meat mixture. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes. Could it be any easier? Kids love this one and it is a great alternative to hamburgers.

March 29, 2010

Retro Monday's Chicken Divan

Since we are beginning Retro week, I figured what better way to start then with a casserole. I actually love casseroles: one dish, prepared ahead of time, easy cleanup. What more can you ask? Well, maybe a good tasting meal would be good too! Tonight I broke out the Chicken Divan recipe. Chicken Divan holds a special place in my heart. Many moons ago, it was one of the first(and only) meals Mart ever made for me. Why a 23 old ever thought to make this, I don’t know! But I do remember that it was so good. My one issue tonight was that I didn’t want to use Cream of Anything soup. I just don’t like that big clump of something that comes out of the can. So, I just eliminated it. And honestly, I don’t think anyone missed it. This isn’t the most low cal recipe but it was so good to see the kids lapping up the broccoli(I am not even sure it registered what they were eating, the sauce was so good). It was also so good to have to only pop this in the oven and make some rice when it was time to eat. I’m thinking its time to bring Retro back in style!


Chicken Divan(serves 4-6)

1.5- 2 pounds chicken tenders
1 large package of Broccoli Florets(Frozen - I used Cascadian Farms Organic)
3/4 cup mayo
1/4 sour cream
1/2 lemon
chicken broth to thin sauce
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup bread crumb - preferably fresh or panko
1/2 stick of butter, melted

Roast chicken tenders in oven at 400 for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Shred meat. In 9 x12 pan, place broccoli(still frozen) in layer. Place shredded meat on top. In small bowl, whisk mayo, lemon and sour cream. Use chicken broth to thin sauce if neccessary (should be just slightly pourable). Pour over chicken and broccoli. Sprinkle cheese on top. Melt butter and pour in bread crumbs. Stir until well mixed. Sprinkle over cheese. Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling. Serve over rice for a complete dinner!

March 28, 2010

Rice Pudding

To start off Retro Week, I decided to make Rice Pudding. I must confess that I am not a big fan. Or at least wasn’t. I tried making this recipe a few weeks ago and it just disappeared in my house. Everyone, including me, loved it. I made it as a treat for my husband as I knew that he loved it. I think the kids loved it more then him! This is definitely a decadent treat. Some rice, milk, cream, sugar and raisins combine for a creamy sweet treat. This was so good I would serve it to company. Its a very easy recipe; just give yourself sometime to make it, you need to keep stirring, stirring, stirring!


Rice Pudding(adapted from America’s Best Kitchen)

1 cup long grain rice
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup + 1 tblsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp cinnamon

In large pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil, add rice, cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes(until water is mostly absorbed). Add milk, half and half, and sugar. Continue cooking on low to medium heat, stirring frequently until pudding thickens and spoon just stands up in pot. (This took about 25 minutes). When thickened, stir in vanilla and raisins. Remove from heat and transfer to glass bowl. Lay plastic wrap directly on top of pudding and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature or chilled. (Or be completely over the top and add whipped cream!) Enjoy!

It's Retro Week!


Ok, maybe not this! :) If you are too young to remember Swanson TV Dinners, what a shame! In my house they were very rare, usually when my parents were going out to dinner and didn’t have the energy to make us dinner. But for whatever reason, we thought they were great!

Cooking to Save has been an interesting experiment. The main idea, to save money by eating home instead of eating out, is still there. But new components of it keep coming up. The latest is that I am suddenly remembering meals I used to cook and had forgotten about. Some I’ve left just the same as I remembered them. Some I am tweaking, taking into account healthier alternatives. Some of these old recipes are so delicious and easy to make. So, this week I am bringing back the old! Tonight is “make your pizza night” here but I am making a great, homey dessert that my husband is thrilled about. I made it a few weeks ago and it disappeared. I’ll share it with you later today when it is done. And tomorrow night I am working on an “oldie but goodie” that I’ll bet most of you have forgotten but will be making later this week. It’s that good! So stay tuned for a blast from the past all week! Any suggestions are welcomed!

March 26, 2010

Chocolate Chip Currant Cookies

Does everyone like Chocolate Chip Cookies? It certainly seems that way. As my awareness of what we eat has grown, I have somehow developed an aversion to buying store bought cookies. Too many unknown ingredients with too many strange names. Unfortunately for my kids, I don’t bake cookies too much either. So, you know what that means....not too many cookies in the house! Some may think that is a good thing, but with 3 teenagers, I hear a lot of complaints. And a lot of whining. It’s amazing that even a 14 year old can whine effectively! So, today I decided I would be “the world greatest mom”.(This is how I like to refer to myself! :)) But, I only had about 45 minutes in which to become this. I settled on throwing together some quick chocolate chip cookies. I like to put currants or raisins in mine. Besides being healthy, I love the extra texture and sweetness they add. And I love brown sugar so these have a good amount. They came out of the oven crispy and delicious and by the time the kids walked in the door, they were still slightly warm and gooey in the middle. Plus, I even had some to pack for lunches today. The kids were thrilled. (Although my elevated state did not last long:( ) I highly recommend you try these this weekend; just don’t eat all the dough before it goes in the oven! Wouldn’t you like to be greeted by these?

Chocolate Chip Currant Cookies(based very loosely on Toll House Cookie Recipe)

2 1/4 cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup Butter(Very, very soft)
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Currants(or Raisins)

Preheat oven to 375. In small bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt. In large mixing bowl with mixer set on medium high, cream butter(soft almost to the point of melting) and sugars. Add vanilla and eggs, beating each egg into mixture. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture just until fully integrated. Fold in chips and currants. Drop by large teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookies sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until browning. Cool on baking rack (and try not to burn your mouth when you sample!)

And the winner is....

Kimberly! You have won the great Kitchen Prep Bowls! Congratulations! Please email me your full name and address ( and they will be on their way!

Last Chance to Enter and Win!

Tonight at 5pm I will randomly select a winner of the Kitchen Prep Bowls! Come on, enter to win! They’re fantastic and you will love them! Leave me a comment to enter...its not hard(see below for more ways to enter). Have a great Friday!21002_500

March 25, 2010

Mart's Mac and Cheese Returns

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember my post “The best meal is made by my husband.” Tonight’s will be “The best meal is my husband’s recipe made by me!” Mart’s Mac and Cheese has returned! I had some ham left from last night’s pre- Easter dinner. I also knew that I would be out driving kids from 5:30 to 6:30. So, out came Mart’s recipe. The Mac and Cheese was very good; I am not sure it was as good as his(although I didn’t mention this at dinner). Doesn’t food taste so much better when somewhen else prepares it ? I decided while I was making it that 1 onion had to be too much. I was wrong; I didn’t put as much in and it did lack for a little “oomph”. The kids broke out hot sauce and proclaimed it perfect with Mac and Cheese. But, it was the perfect meal on a busy night. I left it in the oven on time bake and it was hot and bubbling when we walked in. Now, if only I had someone to do the dishes(as well as a laundress :)). Then life would be perfect! For now, I am happy with dinner on the table without a takeout box in sight.

Note:If you’d like the recipe for Mart’s Mac and Cheese(with ham) it is listed up top in the cookbook tab.

March 24, 2010

Apricot Cider Glazed Ham

Since yesterday was Easter Cookies, I decided today must be Easter Dinner!! I don’t actually do Easter Dinner as my sister handles that holiday. We usually do a brunch so I decided we would have our own little mini dinner here. On the menu: Baked Ham, Roasted Asparagus(see cookbook up top for recipe) and Popovers. I have a great ham recipe that I cut out of Parade Magazine years ago. It is from the late, great Sheila Lukins of Silver Palate fame. I’ve tweaked it over the years but it is still as delicious as ever. It was also a really nice change of pace from the usual chicken, pasta and beef. Of course, I had visions of a nice, conversational dinner. Unfortunately, everyone was cranky ! Of course, it was carbs to the rescue; Will ate 3 popovers and his mood improved immensely. Moral of the story: with kids, always have lots of carbs. You never know when you might need them.


Apricot Cider Glazed Ham (adapted from Sheila Lukins)
(serves 6-8 but this recipe easily doubles or triples)

3-4 pound ham
whole cloves
2 Tblsp Apricot Jam
1 heaping tblsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup apple cider
1 cup dried apricots

Preheat oven to 350. Score ham in a diamond patter with a sharp knife. Set pan in shallow roasting pan and stud each diamond point with whole clove. In a small saucepan, melt apricot jelly, then whisk in mustard. Brush onto ham.


Pat the brown sugar all over the ham. Pour apple cider into pan with apricots. Bake for 30-40 minutes , basting frequently, until ham is glazed and brown. Place on serving platter with apricots . This ham is even great at room temperature! So Good!!

Welcome and Giveaway!

Welcome to Cooking to Save's new home! I am excited about our new space and in the next few days you'll see more activity here. The cookbook section will be completed and you'll be able to find all my recipes in one complete location. In the meantime, enter to win the contest for my favorites prep bowls. They are so great; I promise you once you have them you won't need anything else. I love having many bowls(that all stack into 1) of all different sizes - you don't always want a huge mixing bowl!


Here's how to enter:

1.   Leave me a comment here and tell me if you like my new home or feel free to leave a suggestion!

2.  Follow me on Twitter here. (@cookingtosave) Then please retweet the giveaway to share it with all of your friends!

3.  Become a Fan on Facebook.. (I love fans!! :) ) My facebook page is here. Leave me a comment on my fan page.

So, as you can see, you can have up to 3 entries to win. I will randomly select a winner Friday at 5:00pm, EST. (Unfortunately, this giveaway is only for US readers).

Thanks again for stopping by! I have some great new recipes coming this week so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out my past recipes and posts by clicking on the tab “Old Stuff” (witty, aren’t we?!) at the top!

March 23, 2010

Cookies for Easter!

I’m getting in the Easter mood here! The weather has been so nice, you can actually see a few buds on the trees. Spring and Easter go hand in hand in my mind! But unfortunately, rain has come to New England so this afternoon I decided to work on some cookies for Easter. I have a great shortbread cookie recipe that I love and I somehow came up with the idea that it would be fun to turn them into a delicious chocolate dipped sandwich cookie. The result? So yummy! Let’s just say I will need to make more for Easter! And, to make it even better, you can’t imagine how easy these cookies are. You make the dough, put in the fridge for an hour or more, slice and go! Try them and watch them disappear!

Chocolate Raspberry Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter at room temperature
3/4 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour

6oz, chocolate chips
1 tblsp Crisco
Raspberry Jam
decorative sprinkles

With mixer on medium, mix butter and sugar until fluffy. Add salt, vanilla and flour and mix on low, just until dough comes together. Remove from bowl and form into 2 logs on wax paper(see picture at bottom) Refrigerate until chilled. (at least 1 hour).
Remove from refrigerator and slice about 1/8” thick. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 300 for 20 -25 minutes. (Take them out before they brown, they will firm up when cooling). When cool melt chocolate and crisco in microwave. Stir until smooth. Make sandwich with 2 cookies and a thin layer of jelly. Dip each sandwich into chocolate 1/2 way down (top only) and then dip in sprinkles, if desired. Let cool on wax paper. ( Store in tin).

March 22, 2010

Balsamic Flank Steak

Well, the party is over here. After being away for a few days, we are back on track of eating at home. Since we all over indulged a little while we were away (more on that in another post), tonight I wanted to have a big salad. My boys need some substance with it though so I decided a little beef would perk it up. And, since it is spring, Flank Steak came to mind. Flank Steak is one of those meats I don’t make very often, but when I do, everyone loves it. Then I forget about it again for a few months! Flank Steak can be a little dull though, so I concocted a marinade to spice things up. I love marinades but don’t love buying the store bought ones; always so much sodium. It’s amazing what you can throw together to make a marinade. I whisked the marinade together about 3:00 and poured it over the meat. At 6:00 tonight all I had to do was put together a salad and grill up the meat. I ended up pouring some Caesar Dressing on top of the salad - it was yummy! Not a morsel left. The meat turned out wonderfully; Brittany suggested that next time I serve it with rice and a vegetable. In her words, “It tasted like steak tips”. Not a bad review! So, if you haven’t already done so, time to break out the grill!

Balsamic Marinade for Beef(I used a 2 1b Flank Steak)

1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tblsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tblsp Dijon Mustard
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp Italian Seasonings(preferably no salt added, if not, omit salt)

Whisk ingredients together and pour over meat. Marinate for at least 2 hours.
Remove meat and place on grill. Discard marinade.

Big News and Giveaway!!

I am moving!! Well, not me, but my blog! I have a new home with a new, easier web address: This new site will allow me to have more features and you to be able to access recipes in an easy, concise way.  To thank you for following me to my new home, I am having a giveaway this week!  One lucky reader will win a set of my favorite glass prep bowls:

These are the best bowls! I use them everyday for more things then I could ever have imagined. It is so nice to have a bowl in any size, from the tiniest to the largest.  And they nest so they don't take up much room at all. I know you will love these; my guess is that, like me, you won't need any others!  Here's how you enter to win:

1.   Visit my new site,, leave me a comment  and tell me if you like my new home or feel free to leave a suggestion!

2.  Follow me on Twitter here. (@cookingtosave) Then please retweet the giveaway to share it with all of your friends! You'll receive another entry in the giveaway. 

3.  Become a Fan on Facebook.. (I love fans!! :) ) My facebook page is here. Leave me a comment on my fan page.(If you are already a fan, just leave me a comment and I will give you another entry!)

So, as you can see, you can have up to 3 entries to win. I will randomly select a winner Friday at 5:00pm, EST. (Unfortunately, this giveaway is only for US readers).

Please make sure to change your bookmark or RSS feed to !  I am really excited about the changes, please come see me at my new home, enter to win the giveaway and  get ready for some new recipes this week! Spring is here!

March 18, 2010

Inspiration and Excitement

Cooking to Save is on the road for some inspiration!  And... couldn't we all use some inspiration :)?  Or at least a little excitement?  So, check back on Monday... I will have some excitement to share with you.  And, I definitely mean share!  

March 17, 2010

Fresh Eggs

Here in New England, there really is no fresh produce to be had this time of year.  Too cold, too snowy, too...winter.  Everything in the stores is shipped from some distant universe so by the time it gets here, it doesn't last long and it is always a little less flavorful. Yesterday, I had a small field trip to the one place where winter doesn't mean "closed until spring": the local farm. As I walked in, they urged me to go see the new baby cows. But I was there for some other goodness.  And, I was not disappointed! Here's what greeted me when I entered the barn:


Oh, I was so excited!  Have you tried really, really fresh eggs?  There is a huge difference from the ones that come on a truck to your grocery store.  God only knows when some little chicken gave them up. Or, in what conditions that chicken lived.  I know all about the chickens at that farm.  In fact, my kids have gone to summer camp there and spent time collecting the eggs from the chickens. Really fresh eggs have wonderful flavor; you taste one and suddenly remember what an egg really is like.  Suddenly you remember what you have been missing.  And suddenly, you have inspirations to make so many egg dishes!  So, even if  there is nothing green growing yet where you live, try and find a farm with chickens.  I promise you, it will be worth the extra drive!

March 16, 2010

Irish Soda Bread


One day to go before St. Patrick's Day!  Why not make a quick, easy Irish Soda Bread?  I must admit, I have never made one before.  But this year, in my Cooking To Save spirit, I decided to make one instead of buying it.  My neighbor gave me her mother's recipe; I couldn't believe how easy it was! There's no yeast so don't get worried.  Her recipe was simple and quick to put together.  For classic recipes, I do think old recipes are usually the best.  As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".  As it baked away, my whole house smelled delicious.  The one downside to Irish Soda Bread is that it doesn't last long; definitely best eaten warm or within a day.  My oldest, Ryan will attest to that... he walked in last night, decided he had to grill a piece and slather it with butter.  It was gone in a heartbeat! I love this recipe though, it calls for golden raisins.  The golden raisins really add a sweetness to it and make it extra good.  Why not surprise the family with a little Irish?  Depending on your wardrobe, it might be easier then wearing green!


Irish Soda Bread  from the files of Grace Davis

3 ½  cups sifted flour
2/3  cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½  cups golden raisins
1  Tbl. caraway seeds
2 eggs
1 ½ cups buttermilk
2 Tbl. melted butter

Preheat  oven  to 375 (350 for glass).  Grease a 9” loaf pan or   2 ½ quart bowl.  Sift together flour, sugar,salt,powder,and soda.  Add raisins and caraway seeds to dry ingredients and toss to coat raisins.  In a small bowl mix eggs,buttermilk and melted butter.  Pour onto the dry ingredients, mixing just until moist.  Bake for  1 hour.  If using a glass bowl, leave in the oven  about 1 hour more with the heat off.

March 15, 2010

Red Pepper Mayonnaise

This could be the perfect condiment!   We love, love, love red pepper mayonnaise. So simple and so delicious.  It takes only a few minutes to make this...

Become this:

Tonight was destined to be a bad night in terms of getting dinner on the table.  My oldest was at a friend's and I needed to pick him up early.  Unfortunately, when he originally told me where he would be, he was off by about 40 miles.  (But in his excuse, both towns started with "G". Sometimes, you can't believe how oblivious kids are!)  So, instead of being home at 4:30, it was close to 6 when we walked in.  I will confess and tell you that as we drove by a take out wing place, I seriously considered stopping.  But I had made the red pepper mayo this morning and figured it would spice up the plain chicken sandwiches I would now be making.  I am feeling quite virtuous for having resisted the wings! :) So, chicken got thrown on the grill, buns were toasted and a quick salad was made. I pulled out the red pepper mayo and a boring dinner seemed brighter.  This mayo is so good - perfect on a grilled chicken sandwich, also fabulous on BLT's and Roast Beef.  I have a little left from tonight and I am sure it will end up on someone's sandwich tomorrow.  

Red Pepper Mayonnaise

1 large Red Pepper
2 Tblsp  Mayonnaise(Regular or Light- I use Hellman's)
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400. Wash pepper, cut in half and remove seeds. Line a baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place pepper halves on pan and roast until skin is black, approximately 15-20 minutes. (see photo above) Remove peppers from oven and wrap in foil from pan to steam for 15-30 minutes.  Unwrap and peel skin off pepper.  Place pepper, mayo and salt in blender and blend to mix.  Voila!  That's it... just refrigerate and you are ready to enjoy this wonderful mayo.

March 14, 2010

Momofuku Compost Cookies

Have you heard of these? They seem to be all over, a recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC.  The bakery is very hot and with creations like Momofuku Compost Cookies and Crack Pie, how could it not?  The recipe was even featured on Regis and Kelly.  Although I am so old, I haven't seen the show since it was Regis and Kathie Lee,  I wandered over to their site where the recipe for the cookies were featured.  Its a cookie recipe within a recipe: you can add whatever ingredients you want.  Chocolate, Potato Chips, Pretzels, Raisinets, you name it, it can go in these.  I decided to use chocolate chips, potato chips and Rice Krispies.  I think next time I would add pretzels in place of the Rice Krispies, there is so much going on in this cookie, they weren't very noticeable.  So, I am hoping a lot of you will make these cookies and post what you used. Of course, I am hoping this so I don't have to make them all(and eat them!) They are really delicious and really addictive; I just went in and found that my kids have been devouring them in the last 20 minutes.  And one last note:  my cookies were a little thin.  Next time, I think I will refrigerate them overnight before baking.  

Momofuku's Milk Bar Compost Cookies

1 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar 
3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar 
1 Tbsp Corn Syrup 
1 tsp Vanilla Extract 
2 Large Eggs 
1 3/4 cups AP Flour 
2 tsp Baking Powder 
1 tsp Baking Soda 
2 tsp Kosher Salt 
1 1/2 cups Your favorite baking ingredients!(chocolate chips, raisinets, rollos, cocoa krispies,etc)
1 1/2 cups Your favorite snack foods (chips, pretzels, etc)

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars and corn syrup on medium high for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

On a lower speed, add eggs and vanilla to incorporate. Increase mixing speed to medium-high and start a timer for 10 minutes. During this time the sugar granules will fully dissolve, the mixture will become an almost pale white color and your creamed mixture will double in size. 

When time is up, on a lower speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix 45-60 sec just until your dough comes together and all remnants of dry ingredients have incorporated. Do not walk away from your mixer during this time or you will risk over mixing the dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

On same low speed, add in the hodgepodge of your favorite baking ingredients and mix for 30-45 sec until they evenly mix into the dough. Add in your favorite snack foods last, paddling again on low speed until they are just incorporated. 

Using a 6oz ice cream scoop, portion cookie dough onto a parchment lined sheetpan.

Wrap scooped cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 1 week.

DO NOT BAKE your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.

Heat the conventional oven to 400F. (350F in a convection oven)

When the oven reads 400F, arrange your chilled cookie dough balls on a parchment or silpat-lined sheetpan a minimum of 4" apart in any direction. 

Bake 9-11 min. While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle and spread.

At 9 min the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for the additional minutes if these colors don't match up and your cookies stills seem pale and doughy on the surface. 

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or an airtight container or tin for storage. At room temp, cookies will keep fresh 5 days. In the freezer, cookies will keep fresh 1 month.

Yield: 15 6oz cookies

What I'm Working On ....

I have the strangest cookies going right now.... The dough is chilling and they'll be in the oven later this afternoon.  If the batter is any indication(yes, we've been nibbling :)) they are going to be fantastic.  I'll post later.. unless we are too busy eating them all!

March 12, 2010

Roasted Asparagus

Today I was in the grocery store with my 17year old.   We were rushing to pick up a few things on our way to an appointment and were literally blowing through the store.  We both stopped though,  when we saw them bringing out the asparagus.  It wasn't just any asparagus, it was the yummy, baby asparagus you can only find in the spring.  It must be spring!  I grabbed a big bunch and vowed that no matter what, we would eat it tonight.  So, tonight became a simple steak on the grill and roasted asparagus with parmesan cheese.  So, so, delicious! There were only 3 of us eating and we were all fighting over the asparagus. Roasting it is my absolute favorite way to make it. The roasting imparts such great flavor to the asparagus and the parmesan just finishes it off.  Try some this weekend.  I promise you, it will feel like spring in your house, too!  

Roasted Asparagus (should serve 4!)

1 bunch of asparagus(approx 1- 11/2 lb)
1 tblsp olive oil
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground Pepper
1/3 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400.  Toss asparagus with olive oil, sprinkle of salt and a few turns of pepper mill.  Lay in a single layer on baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until starting to brown. (Keep an eye on asparagus, once it starts to brown, it goes fast). Grate parmesan cheese over asparagus and put back in oven for 3-5 minutes.  Serve immediately.

March 11, 2010

Sweet Apple Pork Tenderloin

Tonight I am finally serving the Pork Tenderloin I have been thinking about for the last week.  It is a simple meal but I kept hoping we would all be home at the same time to enjoy it.  The week has been crazy though and really fast dinners have been the order of business. But tonight, pork tenderloin is here.  My boys just sampled it and loved it(and it doesn't hurt that the house smells fabulous!)  I have served this recipe for family and friends and it always gets great reviews. It's one of those meals that seems like so much more work then it is.  Of course, my favorite meals are the ones that look like a lot of work but aren't!  I serve the pork with mashed potatoes and a vegetable.(Tonight was roasted asparagus).  Don't be afraid of the liquor in it, it all cooks off in the oven.

Sweet Apple Pork Tenderloin  (serves 4)

1 medium pork tenderloin
1 tblsp olive oil
1/2 cup apple jelly
1/2 cup applejack brandy
2 tblsp dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 375.  In skillet on top of oven, heat oil and lightly brown tenderloin.  Remove and place in roasting pan.  Over low flame, whisk apple jelly, brandy and mustard until jelly is melted and mixture is smooth. Pour over tenderloin and cover with foil. Bake for approximately (depending on weight) 20 minutes.  Remove cover and cook another 10 minutes or until meat is cooked through(or until meat thermometer reads 140).  Slice and serve immediately, pouring jelly mixture over the sliced tenderloin.  

Angel Hair Pasta with Bacon and Peas

I have a Pork Tenderloin I am dying to make.  Every night, I think, "tonight's the night"!  Unfortunately, it happened again last night. :(  (But, really tonight I am making the pork, I don't care if I have to eat it all by myself!) So,  I decided to make a pasta dish that had come in an email to me from Everyday Food.  It was very good, very easy and fast. I believe I had dinner on the table within 20 minutes.  I made a few changes to amp up the flavor and I think next time I will add a little more onion or shallots.  But, otherwise, it was a great way to have dinner on the table in just a few minutes and it was "not the usual" pasta and red sauce.  Along side a salad and if you are feeling very decadent, some bread, it is a hearty, delicious meal.

Angel Hair Pasta with Bacon and Peas (adapted from Everyday Food) serves 4-5

4 slices thick cut bacon sliced into 1/2" pieces
2 -3 shallots halved and sliced very thin
1 box frozen peas, thawed
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 pound fresh angel hair pasta
salt and pepper

Fill large pot with salted water and heat to boil for pasta.  In the meantime, heat skillet and saute bacon pieces until crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon(leave fat in pan).  Place shallots in pan and cook until soft 2-3 minutes.  Add half and half, peas and salt and pepper to taste and cook for  a few minutes until sauce starts to thicken. Cook pasta and reserve 1/2 cup liquid before draining. After draining, put pasta back in pot and add sauce, adding some of remaining liquid if needed( I only used a little).  Add parm cheese and bacon on top.  Mix lightly and serve with additional parm cheese on side, if desired.

March 10, 2010

Fast Food

It's been over 2 months now since we've started making a conscious decision to eat at home.  Unbelievably, it has gotten so easy to do.  It is our "normal" now and the kids don't even think about it anymore.  As most of you know, I keep a counter running on the sidebar to give us all an idea of how much we've saved.  Where I really notice the difference is in my checking account.  I just don't have money flowing out of my account as much.  It really makes me careful about where I spend my money elsewhere, as well.  I just don't enjoy spending like I used to. (This is why the economy has not bounced back quickly!:)  

Some people have asked how we are saving when I am shopping at Whole Foods, etc. If you are reader of my blog, you know that I pretty much buy what I want in the grocery store.  Yes, clearly sometimes it would be cheaper to pick up a pizza.  But this new way of living is more then just saving.  It is about mindfully making meals for my family to share as well as saving money from not eating out. Last night was a great example of why this plan is so great.  I walked in with the kids from soccer at 6:40 pm.  On the way home, it crossed my mind that picking up some takeout would be so easy.  Fortunately, I had a plan!!  Dinner was on the table in less then 20 minutes.  Burgers and Salad.  So here's what fast food now looks like in my house:

This was a strawberry spinach salad I threw(literally) together and tossed with Brianna's Blush Vinaigarette.  Since spring has come to New England, I had some (grass fed) beef I made into patties and put them on the grill.  The burgers were yummy, the salad delicious and I felt good that the kids had eaten enormous portions of spinach!  Grand total for a family of five for this meal:  under $15.  

March 9, 2010

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

For those of you wondering what I was up to yesterday:

Well, finally at 9:30 last night I had a finished Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.  It was fabulous.... or so the Mart and Ryan pronounced.  The two younger ones were already in bed and I was collapsed on the couch.  This ice cream stuff is hard work!  When you read the manuals,  they tell you that if you keep the canister in the freezer, you can have ice cream anytime you want it in less then an hour.  Lies, I tell you!  :)  I decided yesterday morning that I would make Vanilla Bean.  At 1:30 I started it.  At about 4 in finally went into the refrigerator. (The mixture needs to be refrigerated before it goes into the ice cream machine, otherwise it will not firm up.)  The suggestion was to refrigerate it overnight. (Maybe I should have read the instructions in greater detail.)  Instead, I took mine out about 4 hours later.  I must tell you though, it was worth it.  I had a few small spoonfuls and it was fantastic.  Very decadent.  What I have noticed is that homemade ice cream is not something you tuck into and eat a huge bowl.  A small scoop or two is plenty.  Even the boys said so.  I used a recipe from the ice cream guru, David Lebovitz.  I think we need to move onto frozen yogurt now!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (adapted from David Lebovitz)

1 1/2 cup milk
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar(scant)
1 vanilla bean, split 
2 cups heavy cream
5 egg yolks
1  tsp vanilla

Heat milk and sugar on low in saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and place in milk mixture alone with the pod. Cover and remove from heat and allow to infuse for an hour.

After the hour, set up ice bath to make ice cream. In large bowl, place ice and water.  On top, place 2 quart bowl. Set strainer over smaller bowl and pour cream through. In separate bowl, mix egg yolks. Rewarm milk and slowly pour milk into yolks, mixing continually.  Put back in pan and reheat(stirring constantly) until custard thickens (enough to coat back of spatula). Pour mixture through strainer into cream. Stir over the ice bath until cool and then refrigerate(preferably overnight). *Because I couldn't wait that long, I put bowl over ice bath in refrigerator for 2 hours, then took out ice bath and left bowl in refrigerator for 2 more hours. Very chilled!

Now the fun part! Remove the vanilla bean and place in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.   Some work, yes....but oh so worth it!! :)  

The finished product, still in the ice cream maker.  I would like to say I have a beautiful picture in a pretty bowl, but the boys got into it before I had a chance!

March 8, 2010

Tonight's Dinner

Tonight's dinner is that Fabulous Chicken Salad from January.  I tweaked it(and changed it on the original recipe- see sidebar) and added Parmesan cheese to the breading.  For some reason, the parm cheese called my name tonight. :)  I liked it even better.  What isn't better with more parm cheese? 

There are many reasons why I like this salad:
1.  It is great with a warm chicken cutlet or at room temp.  (Some of us ate early and some are not home yet)
2.  It's salad!  We can pretend it is a health food :)
3. Everyone in my house will eat it.  For those that don't think salad is a meal, I don't mention the word. Instead, dinner is that "great chicken cutlet thing".
4.  Not counting the brining, which is completely optional(I'll never tell), it is 20 minutes to make, start to finish!

Finally, if you are wondering what happened to my creation from the 2 previous posts.... it's still "in process".  I guess I should have read the recipe through before I started.  I'l let you know when it has reached its peak and is ready for the final show.  Hopefully, later tonight...... 

This is Complex...

I feel lied to... this is way more involved then I thought! I am on part 33 (or at least it feels like 33).  Two words for you :  ice bath!

What Am I Making?

I haven't run away or anything else exciting.  But I am finally back in my kitchen this afternoon(however briefly). Here's what I am working on:

Hopefully, I will have something a lot more exciting to show you soon!  And, oh yes, dinner would be nice, too.  :)   Stay tuned .....  Can you guess what it is? 

March 6, 2010

Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake

Tonight we survived Ryan's Swim Team here.  17 year old boys can eat!  And eat, and eat, and eat! Wouldn't it be great to be 17 again?!! :)  We finally got to dig into the Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake that I had made yesterday.  A friend of mine had told me about it and since then virtually everyone I know has told me that they have a recipe for it.  As much as I love chocolate, I can't believe I never heard about it! It was so easy to make and makes a big cake. (You make it in a jelly roll pan.) The cake is very moist (I used sour cream but some recipes use buttermilk instead). The icing is yummy; not too sweet, just right.  If you need to feed a crowd, this is the cake to make!

Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake

2 Cups Flour
2 Cups Sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks of butter, unsalted
1 cup of water
5 heaping tblsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour 15x10 jelly roll pan.  In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  In pan, melt butter and add cocoa and water, remove from heat and stir to mix. Pour over flour mix and stir.  Add eggs and sour cream and beat until smooth.  Pour in prepared pan and bake  for approximately 20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
While cake is baking, make icing:

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans*(optional)
1 1/2 cup Butter
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa
6 tblsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 box of Confectioner's Sugar(minus 3/4 cup)

Melt butter in pan, add cocoa, stir and remove from heat. Add milk and vanilla.  Slowly add confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.  Add pecans if using.  Pour over warm cake.  

March 5, 2010

Tarragon Lobster Rolls

Today, while I was out shopping for the invasion of 20 boys tomorrow night, I noticed that there was a sale on lobsters.  They cried out to me.....and somehow 3 of them landed in my shopping cart.  :)  It's been a long winter in New England and a touch of summer sounded so appealing.  My new Friday night dinner became lobster rolls.  I am a believer that fresh lobster rolls don't need much; too much seasoning and you suddenly lose the wonderful taste of the lobster meat.  I shelled the lobster, added a small amount of mayonnaise, lemon juice and tarragon and we were good to go. With a warm, buttery bun they were perfect! Don't you need a little sunshine in your house?

Tarragon Lobster Rolls(makes 5 rolls)

3 1 1/4 lb lobsters, cooked, meat removed and chopped
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup mayo
2tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp salt

top split hot dog buns
1 tbslp butter

In medium bowl, mix lobster meat with lemon juice.  In small bowl, whisk mayo, tarragon and salt.  Fold into lobster meat.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to meld flavors.  In pan, melt 1/2 tblsp butter over medium heat.  Add buns and cook until brown.  Add remaining butter and flip buns to brown.  Remove from pan, place on platter and add lobster mixture.  Serve immediately.

My Plans for the Weekend

This promises to be a crazy weekend in my house.  Words don't do it justice, so here goes my pictorial:

Soccer... Although we'll be indoor watching the kids play. I never take any indoor pictures because I am usually shivering in my coat wondering how it can be so cold at an indoor facility! Soccer season has started in my house!

Swimming.... and lots of it.  Sunday is my 17 year old's last big meet :(.  We've spent the last 10 years hanging out in very hot pools. (Definitely not complaining based on the cold soccer facilities).  I like to think of it as moisturizing my skin in a steam room. :)

And last but not least:

I'm going to be cooking - a lot!! I have the swim team (20 high school boys) coming for dinner tomorrow night.  I've done it before but this always scares me.  20 teenager boys are like a tornado! You have never seen large quantities of food disappear so quickly.  They walk in and, whoosh, their plates are full and they are back looking for more. 

I'll report back I plan to bake a lot of yummy treats for the boys.  And... I promised the kids I would make an ice cream they could actually eat for dessert!

Happy Friday!

March 4, 2010

A wonderful dessert....

Doesn't this ice cream look wonderful?  Too bad we couldn't eat it tonight! We had a really simple dinner from my freezer stash: chicken soup.  Since I had bought the ice cream maker yesterday, I decided I would make a chocolate ice cream and try out the new machine. My kids absolutely love ice cream, especially Brittany.  As I've become more aware of reading labels, I am always amazed at what is in the ice creams at the grocery store, even high end ice cream.  Even though the ice cream I was making tonight was certainly not low fat(milk, cream, sugar, bittersweet chocolate) I think a little homemade ice cream is so much better then a big bowl of chemicals.   So, this afternoon I got everything ready and as we were eating dinner I popped it all into the ice cream maker.  It is delicious!  We all took a little taste as I was scraping it out of the bowl.  But then I realized... it was so rich and so chocolatey(is that a word?) that if we ate it tonight, we might be up all night. It was akin to having a large cup of coffee.  The kids were actually happy with their few spoonfuls, it was enough for them tonight and hopefully, we'll all sleep well and maybe I will let them have some ice cream after school tomorrow!  I am going to work on perfecting a peppermint stick ice cream in the next few days(safer then chocolate) and will post the recipe soon.  

March 3, 2010

A Variation on Spaghetti

Doesn't this look good? This was our dinner tonight... or some of ours.  I wanted to use the meat sauce I had in the freezer from a few weeks ago.  (I know what you're thinking...didn't they have sauce last week?)  I was determined that we were having spaghetti this week because last week I bought a spaghetti squash and didn't use it.  $9.43 worth of spaghetti squash!!! So, tonight I made "real" spaghetti for the kids and the adults had spaghetti squash(that's it, in the above picture). It was so delicious!  I really didn't miss the pasta at all!  I am feeling quite virtuous, in fact. :)  The kids were adamant that they weren't eating it, but I think next time I will try it for everyone.  If you are wondering how I made the squash... I put the whole thing in the oven at 375 for almost an hour.  Then I took it out, scooped out the seeds and took a fork to it, scraping out the squash, which comes out in strands just like spaghetti.  My only complaint.... it made a ton($9.43 gets you a lot of squash!) If you're on a health kick, give it a makes a great pasta substitute.  

Speaking of health kick, we have one slight problem here:  I just bought an ice cream maker. Stay tuned for tomorrow night's indulgence!

March 2, 2010

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

And I do mean grilled!  Here's my proof I'm keeping it real:

Can you see me in the dark?  Yes, I am out in what's left of the snow, grilling my chicken!! It was worth the cold and of course, no pan to scrub.  There is nothing like chicken right off the grill. Especially in a cool salad, the combination is so yummy and enticing. Besides needing to put the chicken on the grill, I had everything prepared this afternoon so when I walked in from driving carpools tonight dinner could be ready in under 15 minutes.  Got the romaine lettuce washed and in bowl.  Grated the parm into the lettuce.  Made the croutons.  Made the croutons again(kids came home and ate them all.)  Really, I could have just served croutons and lettuce tonight with a little dressing and they would have been happy.  The croutons were to die for.  I used brioche rolls and purposely left on the crusts..... a little olive oil, kosher salt and lots of pepper and they were ready to go in the oven:

While the croutons were in the oven, I quickly put together my dressing and left it in the fridge until later.  It was so good, but just a disclaimer:  no eggs and only 1 very small clove of garlic.  I don't like a lot of garlic(nor do I like everyone reeking of it) so I don't use a lot. If you are a garlic glutton, use a big clove!!
Either way, try this salad -it is so much better then anything you will get out!

Chicken Caesar Salad

In large bowl, place torn, clean, romaine leaves from one large head of lettuce. Grate a good amount(at least 1/2 cup) of fresh parmesan cheese.  Add croutons*, 2 large sliced grilled chicken breasts and dressing**.  Toss salad!


3 brioche rolls cubed(makes about 6 cups)(Or leftover Italian Bread)
2 tblsp olive oil
Kosher Salt

Toss cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper and lay on cookie sheet in single layer. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.  Let cool and put aside.(Hide these if you want to have any left !)


2 tblsp mayonaise
1tblsp + 1tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove of garlic
1/2 tsp Worcestershire 
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil(I used something in between!)

In blender mix all ingredients except oil.  With blender on low, add oil in slow, steady stream. Serve immediately or refrigerate. (If refrigerating, take out for 10 minutes before using and blend again.)

I tried it so you don't have to.....

If you are a fan of my page on Facebook, you may have seen a few weeks ago that I posted a link to the New York Times, with an idea for oven fries.  The claim was that by heating the pan first, the potatoes will get crispier. Sounded good. Don't do it!!  I am going back to my oven fries(see sidebar for recipe)! They were a total bust last night.  For whatever reason, they stuck to the pan and I was scraping potatoes off the pan to try and come up with enough to feed the crew.  And they weren't nearly as crispy as my recipe.  :(  So, the moral of the story is.... if it ain't broke, don't fix it!! 

March 1, 2010

My new favorite accessory...

Clearly, I need to get a life.  As I write this, it strikes me that many of you will think I am completely insane.  A few weeks ago when we were childless for a weekend,  Mart and I wandered into Sur la Table. (If you don't have one near you or haven't seen a catalog, its like Williams Sonoma).  We browsed in ways you never can with kids running through the store.  I managed to find quite a few things on the sale table.  Included in my stash is my new favorite kitchen accessory:

A Salt Box!  Oh, how I love this! :)  It is the most fabulous thing I have bought in a long time(hence my comment that I need to get a life).  It sits on my counter right near my stove, filled with kosher salt.  No more digging in the cabinet for the salt, no more screaming "who didn't put the salt shaker back?"  Nope, not for me.  All I do now is open the top and take a pinch (with clean hands, of course) or dip my measuring spoon into it.  Can I just say that this is life changing?  I love, love, love my salt box.  And it looks so nice on my counter, too.  Don't you need one now?