Friday, October 31, 2008

Butterfinger Eyeballs

I started these super-sweet little confections last weekend. I made the filling, rolled it into little balls, and froze the balls on cookie sheets. Then I stored them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer until today. When I got home from work today, I dipped them in the white chocolate (sans shortening - I think we all know I hate shortening) and decorated them. Voila! Butterfinger Eyeballs.

People seemed to like them. I like them but I like the Oreo Truffles better so I kept wishing they were Oreo and not Butterfinger. But these are good and they're decorated all cute so who really cares.


Butterfinger Eyeballs

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 Butterfinger candy bars, finely chopped
3 cups white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons trans-fat free shortening (like Spectrum Organic)
Reese's pieces candy and red decorating gel to embellish the peanut butter balls

In a large mixing bowl, combine peanut butter and butter until thoroughly combined. Add confectioners' sugar and mix until combined - it will be a bit dry at first, but it will come together. Stir in chopped Butterfingers. Shape the dough into 1" round balls and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Place in the freezer to chill for at least 1 hour.

Place white chocolate and shortening in a small heat-proof bowl - set over a small pot of simmering water and stir often. Remove the pot and bowl from the heat when the chocolate is almost smooth, then gently keep stirring until the chocolate finishes melting.

Working with just a few peanut butter balls at a time, place a toothpick in the center of each ball and dip into the melted chocolate - shake off excess and place back on a parchment lined baking sheet. Gently press 1 Reese's pieces candy on top to create a pupil. Repeat procedure with remaining peanut butter balls. Place in the refrigerator and chill until set. Use the red decorating gel to create the bloodshot markings.

Yield: About 50

Pumpkin Cheeseball

We went to my friend Steven's house for his Halloween party and I brought some food. One of the things was this Pumpkin Cheeseball. It is not made of pumpkin. It is just made to look like a pumpkin. I thought it was pretty cute. It's a typical cheeseball - cheesy, yummy, fatty. It has a nice little kick from the cayenne pepper.

This is what it looks like when it's wrapped up in saran wrap, preparing to be transported to Virginia:

This is what it looks like when the Tooth Fairy is digging into it at his party:

For the record, Steven the Tooth Fairy said he would eat the cheeseball again. It seemed to be fairly popular. We liked it a lot, too. We served it with some crackers from Trader Joe's. I would make this again!

Pumpkin Cheeseball
Cooking Light Bulletin Boards

2 (8-ounce) blocks extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) container chive-and-onion cream cheese
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 broccoli stalk
Red and green apple wedges

Combine Cheddar cheese and next 4 ingredients in a bowl until blended. Cover and chill 4 hours or until mixture is firm enough to be shaped.

Shape mixture into a ball to resemble a pumpkin. Smooth entire outer surface with a frosting spatula or table knife. Make vertical grooves in ball, if desired, using fingertips.

Cut florets from broccoli stalk, and reserve for another use. Cut stalk to resemble a pumpkin stem, and press into top of cheese ball. Serve cheese ball with apple wedges.

Note: To make ahead, wrap cheese ball in plastic wrap without stalk, and store in refrigerator up to 2 days. Attach stalk before serving.

Yield: 16 servings

Pumpkin and Red Lentil Curry

OK I lied. This is called Pumpkin and Red Lentil Curry, and I used butternut squash and yellow split peas. So it's kind of the same but not the same. I'm sure it tastes the same though. Pumpkin is close to butternut squash, and yellow split peas are pretty much the same as red lentils. It's all good. I was just unable to find pre-cut pumpkin and really, really did not want to have to carve one up.

The curry turned out to be a pretty standard curry. Nothing particularly special.


Pumpkin and Red Lentil Curry
CL, October 2006

Because pumpkin has a neutral taste, it works well in Indian curries, where it takes on the flavors of the spices. For the best results, choose pie pumpkin, which is smaller, sweeter, and more tender than the larger pumpkins used for carving jack-o'-lanterns. You can substitute brown lentils and cook them 20 to 30 minutes longer, adding more broth, if necessary.

1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium)
5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled fresh pumpkin (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 cups organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup dried small red lentils
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 lime wedges

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in pumpkin and next 7 ingredients (through jalapeño); cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until pumpkin is just tender. Stir in lentils; cook 10 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir in salt and black pepper. Ladle stew into individual bowls; sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Yield: 6 servings

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thai Tomato Soup

Seriously, whenever we make our favorite Thai Tomato Soup, we always say, "Do we have a photo of this?" And one of us is like, "Yeah totally, we've made it so many times - surely we have a picture by now." Nope. No photo.

It's red. It's tomato soup. It just happens to be spicy.

We had it with some grilled cheese sandwiches made with Vermont white cheddar. Delicious.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu with Snow Peas, Peanut Butter, and Mushrooms

I think it's expected that I am always cooking something interesting, as no fewer than 5 people asked me what I was making for dinner throughout the day. That's funny to me.

So what did I make? Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu with Snow Peas, Peanut Butter, and Mushrooms. It sounds kind of weird, but it's really good. The peanut butter is not at all overwhelming, the spicy factor can be changed depending on how much Sriracha you add (naturally, I doubled it), and even the shiitake mushrooms were tasty. We don't usually like shiitakes. Even me, and I love mushrooms. This is good, comes together in 20 minutes, and was even easy for me to make whilst feeling ill. Good times. We would make this again.


Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu with Snow Peas, Peanut Butter, and Mushrooms
Cooking Light, January 2008

One serving of this colorful and filling vegetarian entrée gives a boost to skin and hair with all the vitamin C and about 15 percent of a day's worth of folate and vitamin E. Serve over fortified white rice to add more folate to the nutritional profile.

1 (14-ounce) package extrafirm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons canola oil
3/4 pound snow peas, trimmed
1 cup red bell pepper strips
3/4 cup water, divided
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place tofu cubes on several layers of paper towels. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand 5 minutes.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu to pan; cook 7 minutes or until lightly browned, gently turning occasionally. Remove from pan; keep warm. Add snow peas, bell pepper, 1/4 cup water, onions, ginger, and garlic to pan; stir-fry 3 minutes. Add mushrooms; stir-fry 2 minutes.

Combine remaining 1/2 cup water, tamari, peanut butter, cornstarch, Sriracha, and salt in a small bowl; stir well. Add tamari mixture and tofu to pan; cook 1 minute or until thickened, stirring constantly.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hearty Lasagna

We have been watching The Sopranos for the first time. We are just about to start season 2 tonight and I am excited. As some of you may know, in the first season, Carmela makes a lot of baked ziti, lasagna, and other delectable pasta dishes for family dinners and for her priest. Every time we watch an episode, I crave some good, cheesy Italian food.

A Sopranos cookbook was published, and a lot of the recipes are available online, so I checked them out so I could make "Carmela's" recipe, but all of the recipes are SO INCREDIBLY full of meat. Uncle Junior's Sunday Gravy, a staple in many of the recipes, uses more animal parts than I ever imagined putting together in one pot. So I had to find a different recipe.

For some reason, I had no straightforward Italian dishes. My program is filled with all these fancy pasta recipes that I've collected over the years, but for some reason I never bothered to collect the simple ones. So I put out a request on the CLBB and was provided with this recipe. While it calls for meat, soy crumbles were recommended.

I made it with the soy crumbles but otherwise followed the recipe. It bubbled over a little bit while baking, soiling the perfectly-cleaned oven Gibby had toiled away on yesterday, so I felt kind of bad. But then I felt better when a perfect and delicious lasagna emerged. It is absolutely delicious. I love it. I want to eat it forever. Gibby didn't care for it too much but he isn't a fan of lasagna in the first place. But I am satisfied and can now put on tonight's Sopranos DVD with a tummy full of delicious lasagna. And I have a ton of leftovers for the week!


Hearty Lasagna
CL, Jan 1995

3/4 pound ground round (Note: Sub soy crumbles)
Vegetable cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups nonfat cottage cheese
1/2 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 (15-ounce) container nonfat ricotta cheese
1 egg white, lightly beaten
12 cooked lasagna noodles
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Italian provolone cheese
Fresh oregano sprigs (optional)

Cook meat in a large saucepan over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble; drain and set aside. Wipe pan with a paper towel. Coat pan with cooking spray; add the onion and garlic, and sauté 5 minutes. Return meat to pan. Add 2 tablespoons parsley and next 7 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Uncover; simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Combine remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, cottage cheese, and next 3 ingredients in a bowl; stir well, and set aside.

Spread 3/4 cup tomato mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodles over tomato mixture; top with half of cottage cheese mixture, 2 1/4 cups tomato mixture, and 2/3 cup provolone. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spread the remaining tomato mixture over noodles.

Cover; bake at 350° for 1 hour. Sprinkle with remaining provolone; bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with oregano, if desired.

Yield: 9 servings (We got more like 12)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Zen Temple Dumplings

You know by now that we're a sucker for a good vegetarian dumpling. We've made a whole bunch of different types. And we're big fans of using wonton wrappers! They are so versatile. Love them! So here is yet another vegetable dumpling recipe! It's fairly simple to others we've made except it uses asparagus, green onion, and water chestnut as the filling. This is exceptionally tasty and gives it a nice texture. We really liked it. We still like this other recipe more, but this one was still very tasty!!


Zen Temple Dumplings
CL, April 2007

"Zen" refers to a style of Buddhism (most Buddhists are vegetarian), and this dish is representative of what Zen Buddhist monks might eat at temples throughout Japan--hence the temple reference in the recipe title. Asparagus and green onions give these dumplings a lovely green hue. Enjoy them as an appetizer or a main course with a side of vegetables or tofu. The dumplings can be prepared up to a month in advance: Place uncooked dumplings on a baking sheet and freeze; store in zip-top freezer bags. To serve, steam the frozen dumplings for about 10 minutes or until the wonton wrappers are translucent.

1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup (2-inch) slices asparagus (about 1/2 pound)
1/4 cup (1-inch) pieces green onions
1 (8-ounce) can whole water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
1 (8-ounce) package mushrooms, stems removed
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
36 wonton wrappers
Cooking spray

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced green onions
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

To prepare dumplings, drop ginger and garlic through food chute with food processor on; process until minced. Add the asparagus, 1/4 cup green onion pieces, and water chestnuts; pulse 4 times or until chopped. Add mushrooms, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; pulse 4 times or until mixture is finely chopped.

Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to keep from drying), spoon about 2 teaspoons mushroom mixture in the center of wrapper. Moisten edges of wrapper with water. Bring 2 opposite corners together. Press edges together with fingertips to seal, forming a triangle. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray while assembling; lightly cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Repeat procedure with remaining wonton wrappers and mushroom mixture.

Add water to a Dutch oven to a depth of 1 inch; bring to a boil. Coat a metal vegetable steamer with cooking spray. Arrange 9 dumplings in steamer, slightly overlapping. Steam dumplings, covered, 8 minutes or until tender. Remove dumplings from steamer; cover and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining dumplings.

To prepare sauce, combine 1/3 cup soy sauce and remaining ingredients. Drizzle over dumplings.

Yield: 9 servings

Sichuan Green Beans

I needed a quick side dish for dinner and I had some frozen green beans, so I threw this together. It was very yummy! We were pretty surprised. I didn't even have to add extra red pepper for it to be spicy, and even though the addition of balsamic vinegar seems weird, it worked really well. I did not add any shallots because we did not have any. We would definitely make this again.

green beans

Sichuan Green Beans
Cooking Light, September 2008

In restaurants, these green beans are typically deep-fried in oil. This simplified home version stir-fries the beans until browned and blistered, then combines them with lively seasonings for a robust side dish.

1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Cook beans in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse under cold running water; drain. Pat beans completely dry with paper towels.

2. Heat a 14-inch wok over high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to wok, swirling to coat. Add green beans to wok; stir-fry 3 minutes or until browned. Spoon green beans into a bowl.

3. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to wok, swirling to coat. Add shallots, garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper; stir-fry 15 seconds or just until garlic begins to brown. Return green beans to wok. Add vinegar, soy sauce, and salt to wok; toss to combine.

Yield: 6 servings

Friday, October 24, 2008

Golden Leek & Potato Soup with Cheddar Toasts

Tonight we made Golden Leek & Potato Soup with Cheddar Toasts. I was supposed to make it last night but I was tired. I don't think I like making dinner on Thursdays because I get home late. I am tired of getting home late in general. I am tired of not having enough time to cook properly and we're both getting tired of frozen food and fast food. At least tonight I had enough time to make our tasty soup. Now we're off to Baltimore to see NOFX in concert!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rice & Bean Burritos with Avocado

I made the filling for these Rice and Bean Burritos that we've made a zillion times and love. I was too pressed for time to make the actual burrito so we just ate the filling. It was delicious.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chocolaty Pancakes with Sauteed Bananas

This recipe needed a little bit of work on the nutrition, so I tweaked it a bit and it was DELICIOUS! Mmmmmm. Nutella makes everything better. And the sauteed bananas, sugary and maply and delicious, came close to tasting like the fresh St. Lucian bananas we had on our honeymoon. Yum yum. This is a make-again.

The changes I made: light sour cream, fat-free half&half instead of the whole milk, less vegetable oil, only 1 Tbsp of butter, significantly less sugar, and only about 2 Tbsp of maple syrup.

Edit: Denise wanted me to clarify what "significantly less" sugar means. I used about 2 Tbsp of sugar, versus 1 lb of sugar.

Much better, and still very tasty.


Chocolaty Pancakes with Sauteed Bananas
Real Simple, October 2004

1 cup pancake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup Nutella (hazelnut-chocolate spread), at room temperature, or chocolate
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound sugar
4 bananas, peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
¼ cup maple syrup

Place the pancake mix in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the egg and Nutella or chocolate. Add the milk, sour cream, and oil. Stir into the pancake mix and whisk just to combine. Let the batter rest according to the label directions. Place a nonstick griddle or skillet coated with oil, butter, or cooking spray over medium heat. Spoon 1/3 cup of batter per pancake onto the griddle. Turn when bubbles rise to the surface and the edges look cooked. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve with topping.

Sauteed Banana Topping
In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the bananas and gently coat with the butter mixture. Cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the maple syrup and bring just to a boil. Stir gently and serve immediately.

Yield: 8-10 pancakes

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Crispy and Delicious Asparagus and Potato Tart

Crispy and delicious! Any recipe with those words in the title can't possibly be bad. And it lived up to its name! It was crispy and delicious! To me at least. I loved it and plan to take it for lunches this week. He did not love it. He said it was just OK. This is probably due to the use of his much-hated phyllo dough. I figured that since it was all buttery and contained potatoes, it would be more palatable to him, but I was wrong. But I loved this and would make it again.

I used fat-free half-and-half instead of the cream, low-fat cheddar blend cheese, and only 2 Tbsp of butter. These changed worked just fine!

This is what it looked like coming out of the oven:

This is what it looked like on our plate (I cut it into a neat square!):

It went very well with a prepackaged Caesar salad.

Crispy and Delicious Asparagus and Potato Tart
Jamie Oliver, c/o

Filo pastry can be bought in all supermarkets now, yet it often gets forgotten about. You can usually find it in either the fresh or the frozen pastry sections. Next time you're out shopping, pick some up - everyone should keep some at home because it's wonderful to use as a base for sweet and savory tarts, or to wrap around cheese or spiced meat fillings. It goes really crunchy when cooked, so it's great with softer things. For this recipe, I've used it to make a quick open tart - perfect for a picnic or a simple lunch with a salad. You could even make individual ones and serve them as starters.

1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Sea salt
1 pound asparagus spears, woody ends removed
8 ounces filo pastry
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup freshly grated Lancashire cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Cheddar
3 large organic or free-range eggs
1 (8-ounce) container heavy cream
1/4 whole fresh nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper

Put your potatoes into a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile blanch your asparagus in a separate pan of salted boiling water for 4 minutes, and drain in a colander.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Get an ovenproof dish - I've used many different shapes and sizes. Layer the sheets of filo pastry in the dish, brushing them with melted butter as you go and letting about 1-inch hang over the edge. You want to get the pastry about 5 layers thick. Put a clean, damp kitchen towel over the top and put aside.

When the potatoes are done, mash them with the cheeses. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and cream and stir into your cheesy mashed potato. Grate in the nutmeg, season well with pepper and mix together. Spread the mashed potato over the filo pastry, then bring up the sides of the filo and scrunch them together to form a rim. Take your blanched asparagus and line them up across the filling, making sure you cover it all. Brush all over with the remaining melted butter and pop into the preheated oven for around 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve just as you would a quiche for a quick lunch or supper, with a salad.

Yield: 4 servings

Creamy Chocolate Dessert

This dessert is similar to some other things I've made, like the Mandarin Cream Delight and the Rhubarb Custard Bars. Cookie base, creamy filling, Cool Whip on top. And much like those other desserts, this one is delicious as well. I used fat-free cream cheese, fat-free Cool Whip, and sugar-free Jello pudding mix. I forgot to sprinkle cocoa powder on top but it's not important. Still very delicious! We look forward to taking this in our lunches this week and we would definitely make this again.

OK so it's supposed to be a neat little square, but I failed and it fell all over the plate. And then I did it again. And again. So here is what happens when you drop it on a plate. If you want to see a neater version of it, click here.

Creamy Chocolate Dessert
Originally from Cooking Light
Posted on Joe's Blog

For the crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

For the filling
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 cups stabilized whipped cream, divided
3 cups milk
2 3.9 ounces packages instant chocolate pudding

To prepare the crust
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a food processor, add flour and sugar - pulse until combined. Add butter - pulse mixture just until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans. Scoop the mixture into a 9" x 13" baking pan coated with nonstick spray. Place into the oven and bake until lightly browned, about 18 to 22 minutes. Remove and place pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare the filling
In a large mixing bowl, add cream cheese and sugar - beat until fluffy. Add 1 1/2 cups of the whipped cream and fold just until combined. Scoop the mixture onto the crust and spread smooth. Cover loosely and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 1 hour.

In a large bowl, add milk and pudding mix - beat until it begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Cover and place into the refrigerator until set, about 1 hour. Drop dollops of the pudding over the top of the cream cheese layer and use an off-set spatula to spread it smooth. Spread remaining whipped cream over the pudding layer. Cover and place into the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Dust with natural cocoa powder before serving, if desired.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Stuffed Vegetables with Spinach and Artichoke Hearts

I meant to make this last night but I was too stressed out and had a migraine so we ordered Chinese food and bubble tea. So this got bumped to today. We made our delicious Stuffed Vegetables with Spinach and Artichoke Hearts and it was delicious as usual. I think I added a few too many pecans this time but that's OK. I had a rough day because I didn't do so well on my counseling certification exam (scores are sent out in 6 weeks, but I am anticipating a failure) so this was a nice way to calm down for the evening.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Impossibly Easy Spinach-Parmesan Pie

The meal itself was good, albeit a little soggy. He said it would be a good way to get someone to eat spinach because there are other flavors involved. It could have benefited from some cayenne, I think. But we did like it. I don't think we'll make it again though.

The only change we made is that we used a Hungry Jack mix instead of Bisquick because for some reason our grocery store only carries the liquid Bisquick and not the mix anymore.


Impossibly Easy Spinach-Parmesan Pie
Betty Crocker

1 tablespoon butter or margarine
4 medium green onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain
1/2 cup small curd creamed cottage cheese
1/2 cup Original Bisquick® mix
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 eggs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic in butter 2 to 3 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir in spinach; spread mixture in pie plate. Spread with cottage cheese.

2. Stir Bisquick mix, milk, lemon juice, pepper and eggs until blended. Pour into pie plate; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and nutmeg.

3. Bake about 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Is Anything in Lauren's Tummy?

Yes, but it is all crappy frozen food or Popeye's. Why? Because I am tired and busy. This is a stressful week for me because I had a big project for work due on Monday, and I am busy studying my butt off for my test on Saturday. What test? My counselor certification exam. If (when?) I pass it, it is one of the steps towards becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor. In addition, if I pass it I get some nifty credentials and can be Lauren Gibson, NCC (national certified counselor). It doesn't really mean a whole lot but it's at least fun to add letters after my name.

I really hope I pass it. I will be glad to be done with it. I will be making food for us on Thursday and Friday because we can't eat Popeye's forever, and I need to distract myself on those days anyway.

I also plan to bake myself some sort of delicious dessert this weekend to congratulate myself for being done, so keep an eye out for that.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pioneer Woman's Migas

This recipe is from The Pioneer Woman. It is a very simple Mexican egg dish that is kind of like scrambled eggs, except the corn tortillas (or, in our case, tortilla chips) break down and give the whole thing a very different texture. Make sure you're cooking it on low or medium heat when it says to, because cooking it at a high heat would probably prevent everything from mushing together. I found this to be quite delicious and would eat it again. He couldn't seem to get past the fact that it wasn't regular scrambled eggs, and I don't think he'd want to eat it again.


Pioneer Woman's Migas
From The Pioneer Woman

4 corn tortillas
Canola oil, to fry tortillas
10 to 12 large eggs
1/4 cup half & half
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
4 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 to 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced (leave white membranes if you like things spicy)
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, depending on your taste
1 cup grated Monterey Jack or Cotija cheese

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and half & half. Salt and pepper eggs, then set aside.

In a small skillet over medium heat, heat oil and fry each corn tortilla just until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Chop tortillas and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the olive oil with the butter. Add onions and bell peppers and cook until starting to turn brown/black, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add in diced jalapenos and stir to combine. Add tomatoes to the skillet and stir around, then add tortilla pieces, stirring gently to combine.

Reduce heat to low.

When the heat has decreased, pour egg mixture into skillet. Stir gently to cook with the peppers, folding mixture very gently as it cooks. Add in grated cheese and chopped cilantro, and stir to combine. Serve with black beans and iced coffee.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

M&M Cookie Bars

I'm trying to avoid making cookies and cakes and other desserts that involve nuts because we are not allowed to bring nuts to work (don't want to cause a kid to go into anaphylactic shock!) but I want to be able to take baked goods in my lunch. As I learned from Becca, M&Ms do have traces of peanut in their candy-coated shells, but it's not bad enough to warrant a ban.

Therefore, I made these delicious M&M Cookie Bars. They were absolutely delicious. And for once, I was able to cut beautifully clean squares. I love it. These are good warm or at room temperature. We would definitely make these again.

In the pan:

On my plate:

M&M Cookie Bars
From Joe's Blog

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups M&M's

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly spray a 10 X 15" jelly roll pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar, stirring until evenly distributed. Allow to cool slightly. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating very well after each one. Mix in vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture and when combined add in the M&M's. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 24-26 minutes, until they are shiny and golden brown on top. Try not to overbake these or they will be dry. A cake tester will most likely not come out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting.

Yield: we got about 2 dozen squares

Vegetable Soup with Corn Dumplings

We make a lot of new recipes and sometimes I get confused about whether we've tried something or not. I had a sweet potato I wanted to use up, so I searched my recipe program and found Vegetable Soup with Corn Dumplings. Then I realized we'd already made it and felt it was just OK. But by then I'd already bought all the ingredients so I went ahead and made it tonight.

And wouldn't you know it, the sweet potato went bad so I couldn't even use it. Figures.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tortellini with Mushroom (or Pea) Sauce

Tonight I pulled out an old standby, Tortellini with Mushroom Sauce. I used to make this for myself a lot when I was living alone. I've made it a few times for Gibby using peas in place of the mushrooms. So I made it again with peas tonight. It was tasty. We finally took a photo of it. Here you go!


Eggplant Tartines with Hummus and Arugula

Last night I wanted to make something quick so I made the Eggplant Tartines from a few weeks ago. It was still very yummy but I put a little too much Sriracha (!) so it was super spicy. But we still liked it!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Spaghetti Pie

Spaghetti Pie is always delicious. It was delicious for our dinner. It will be delicious as leftovers for the rest of the week. I love spaghetti pie.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Swiss Chard Tacos with Caramelized Onion, Fresh Cheese and Red Chile

I've made some Rick Bayless recipes before and they really are either hit or miss. Either we LOVE them, or we don't really like them at all. This recipe of his, which was published in the April/May 2006 issue of Eating Well, falls into the latter category, unfortunately. That surprised me since it has gotten good reviews on food forums. Maybe it's because I used Mrs. Renfro's salsa instead of a chipotle salsa? Maybe because I used flour tortillas instead of our much-hated corn tortillas? I don't really know. But we found them to be bland and kind of odd-tasting and not very good. Thank goodness we still have some corn casserole to get us through the night.


Swiss Chard Tacos with Caramelized Onion, Fresh Cheese and Red Chile
Rick Bayless via Eating Well, April/May 2006

1 (12 oz) bunch Swiss chard (about 10 cups)
1 1/2 Tbsp canola or extra virgin olive oil
1 large white or red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup reduced-sodim chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
1/2 tsp salt
12 corn tortillas, warmed
1 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese, such as feta or goat cheese (4 ounces)
3/4 cup Smoky Chipotle Salsa, bottled salsa, or hot sauce, for serving

1. Cut chard crosswise into 1/2 inch slices.

2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown but still crunchy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add broth (or water), salt and the greens. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the greens are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is nearly dry, about 4 minutes.

3. Serve with warm tortillas, cheese and salsa (or hot sauce).

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes

A long time ago I made Magnolia Bakery's chocolate cupcakes and they were very good. So when we were craving some traditional vanilla cupcakes, I decided to try Magnolia's vanilla version.

They were easy enough. I didn't make the buttercream from the other Magnolia cupcakes - instead I made the frosting from these cupcakes. I sprinkled some Halloween sprinkles on top and they were cute. The taste, however, was disappointing. I think we've changed our taste pallets so we are more sensitive to butter. I felt that these cupcakes were so buttery tasting, it was almost like eating a very sweet stick of butter. They also left my hands a little bit greasy, which means I wasn't just imagining it. I'm glad I halved the recipe and didn't make the full 2 dozen! We won't be making these again.


Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes
Magnolia Bakery via Food Network (Sara's Secrets)

Everyone is always asking us which is the most popular cupcake at the bakery. Most people are surprised that it is what we call the vanilla vanilla - the vanilla cupcake with the vanilla icing (and the most popular color for the icing is pink). If you would like to make a layer cake instead of cupcakes, divide the batter between 2 (9-inch) round cake pans and bake the layers for 30 to 40 minutes.

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Yield: 2 dozen

Denise's Corn Casserole

Tonight we made Crispy Tilapia Sandwiches again, and they were very yummy.

But the real star of our dinner was this corn casserole. The recipe was given to me by Denise, care of her mom (Thanks Mrs. Neal!). I have to be honest - I almost didn't make it when I saw the ingredients. A stick of butter? Jiffy corn muffin mix contains ingredients I am ashamed to even post here. But I did my best to make it slightly healthier... low-fat sour cream, low sodium corn... still used the full stick of butter. But it's OK because it makes a GIGANTIC pan of casserole. It is absolutely delicious and I would definitely make it again. The leftovers are going to last us all week so that's excellent. Maybe I can try to figure out a way to make it healthier. I don't know. It's really good.


Denise's Corn Casserole

1 can of cream of corn
1 can of whole corn, drained
8 oz sour cream
One stick of butter
1 egg
1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix

Mix it all together, pour into greased 9x11 casserole dish and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the casserole will not come out clean due to the mixture of sour cream/butter/creamed corn, but as long as it’s not wiggly you should be fine.

Yield: a lot

Friday, October 03, 2008

Thai Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Tofu

Much like the Thai tomato soup that we enjoy, this recipe spices up a regular butternut squash soup and makes it delicious. The crispy tofu is also delicious. If you like spicy things, you will really like this soup. I would definitely make it again!!


Thai Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Tofu
Moosewood via Cooking Light Bulletin Boards

Packaged frozen winter squash is perfect for this recipe, but if it's not available, look for pre-cut butternut squash in the produce section of your market, or peel and seed your own squash. You'll need 4 cups chopped. Puree the soup in a blender before adding the spinach and tofu.

1 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups vegetable broth
1 kaffir lime leaf (optional)
2 12-oz packages of frozen cooked winter squash*
1 lime
2 cups fresh baby spinach
chopped fresh cilantro

Pan-Fried Tofu

1/2 cake firm tofu (about 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

In a soup pot, whisk together the coconut milk, curry paste, sugar, salt, and broth. Add the lime leaf and frozen squash, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the squash is thawed, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the Pan-Fried Tofu. Cut the tofu into small cubes and put them in a bowl. Toss with the soy sauce and the curry paste. Heat the oil in a small skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Lightly grate the lime peel and juice the lime. Add 1 teaspoon of the zest and 2 tablespoons of the juice to the simmering soup. Stir in the spinach and tofu and cook just until the spinach wilts. Add more sugar and salt to taste. Serve the soup garnished with cilantro if you like.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Market Sandwich

I guess this is from Self magazine, but I found it on It's super-easy and super-quick and is very yummy.

Despite the ease of it, I did change some stuff and screw up some stuff.

Change: I didn't boil the vinegar, I just put the onion in a bowl and tossed some red wine vinegar (not white) on them, turning every 10 minutes or so. I like how onions taste when they have marinated in red wine vinegar better than plain white.

Screw up: I mixed the chipotle chile in with the black beans and cumin. This turned out to be a really good choice though because it ensured that the chipotle flavor was even throughout the sandwich.

We both really liked this and would definitely make it again.


Market Sandwich
Self magazine, October 2008

1/2 cup white vinegar
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1 teaspoon finely chopped canned chipotle chile with sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
8 slices whole-grain bread
2/3 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta
1 medium avocado, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tomato, cut into 8 slices

Boil 1 cup water with vinegar in a small stainless steel saucepan. Add onion; turn off heat; let sit 30 minutes; drain. Puree beans and cumin in a blender. Mix mayonnaise, chipotle and lime juice in a bowl; spread on 4 slices of bread. Top remaining slices with bean puree, onion, cheese, avocado, cilantro and tomato. Close sandwiches; serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Oven-Roasted Green Beans

I had planned to make roasted cauliflower tonight, but then I discovered we had run out. Usually I have a bag in the freezer. So I had to scramble to find a new side dish because, as I told Denise earlier, I am trying very hard to have more side dishes. I did a search in my recipe program for green beans (which I DID have in the freezer), quickly found a recipe and went and made it. Then just now when I came to post about it, I realized that this recipe is one we made a long time ago and only sort of liked.

This time, we really liked it a lot! I wonder what the difference was. The recipe is Oven-Roasted Green Beans (you have to scroll down - it is from a time before I started making separate posts). I am moving this back into the make-again folder!


Couscous with Roasted Almonds and Edamame

Didn't have time to post this yesterday, so I apologize! Last night we made this couscous. It's bright orange because it's boiled in carrot juice! Sounds weird, but it was very good. I liked it a lot. I'd consider making it again since it was so fast.

We had it with some twisty breadsticks sprinkled with garlic salt and it was yummy.

Side Note: I just realized I wasn't getting any comments, and then I realized I never changed my email address when I changed domains. So if you've left a comment on my blog in the past oh, 2-3 months or so, don't be offended if I never answered you back. I'm sorry!


Couscous with Roasted Almonds and Edamame
Shape magazine, June 2008

1 medium clove garlic
1 1/2 cups carrot juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame
2 medium scallions
4-5 sprigs fresh cilantro
3/4 cup couscous
1 oz roasted unsalted almonds

Mince garlic to make 1 tsp. In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, combine garlic, carrot juice, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add edamame and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 4 minutes.

While edamame simmers, chop scallions to make 1/2 cup and cilantro to make 2 Tbsp; set aside. Increase heat to high and return edamame to a boil; stir in couscous. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop almonds. Fluff couscous with a fork; add scallions, cilantro, and almonds.

Yield: 4 (small) servings