Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Brie and Roasted Red Pepper Quesadilla

flour tortilla
roasted red pepper
brie cheese
black pepper
  1. Preheat a nonstick skillet on medium heat.
  2. Cut the roasted red pepper in strips and distribute them on half of the flour tortilla.
  3. Season with black pepper to taste.
  4. Slice the brie and distribute it on top of the roasted red pepper.
  5. Fold the tortilla in half over the roasted red pepper and brie.
  6. Cook the quesadilla in the skillet, flipping occasionally, until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is a little browned and crispy.
I had this for a snack yesterday and for dinner today.  The idea for this flavor combination came from the recipe for "Aubergine Tartine," from the book "The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day."  It is basically a baguette topped with roasted garlic, roasted eggplant, roasted red pepper, arugula, and brie.  I made it last week when I had some baguette left, but I didn't have any on hand.  It worked very well to put it in a quesadilla!  I almost added some spinach and shredded mozzarella tonight, but I decided to keep it simple.  I'm sure it would be good that way, too!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Quick Lentils and Rice

1/4 cup dry lentils
1/4 cup uncooked brown rice
1 cup water
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
chili powder
red pepper flakes
black pepper
1/2 cup frozen corn
4-5 cherry tomatoes, cut up
1/4 cup shredded colby jack cheese
  1. Rinse and drain lentils.
  2. Combine the lentils, rice, water, onion, garlic, and spices. 
  3. Bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.  The lentils should be cooked through, and the rice will not be quite done at this point.
  4. Add the frozen corn and tomatoes.  Cook for 10 more minutes.
  5. Turn of the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
  6. Add salt to taste.  Stir in the shredded cheese until melted and creamy.
I threw this together today because I didn't know what I wanted to eat.  I had all the ingredients already.  Lentils don't require soaking, so they are quick to cook up.  I didn't really measure the spices.  It was probably about 1/8 of a teaspoon of each, but that is to taste.  It probably would have been good with some green onion added with the corn and tomatoes, but I didn't have any.  You could also use shredded cheddar cheese.  Check the lentils and rice as it is cooking to make sure they are the doneness you want.  This makes one serving, and it was very tasty! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lighter Creamy Pasta Salad

2 cups (dry) shell pasta
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped celery
2-3 green onions, sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3/4 cup chopped ham

1/4 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

additional plain yogurt
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Add the frozen peas to the pasta for the last minute of cooking time.
  2. Drain the pasta and allow it to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients together.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the pasta, peas, celery, green onions, hard-boiled eggs, and ham. 
  5. Add the dressing to the large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  6. Allow the pasta to sit in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
  7. Before serving, check the consistency of the pasta salad (the pasta will absorb some of the liquid from the dressing).  If it seems to need more dressing, just stir in additional yogurt a spoonful or two at a time until the pasta salad is the consistency you want.
I made this for a week's worth of lunches, and it was really good.  I like macaroni salad and creamy pasta salad, but the thought of using a whole cup of mayonnaise or something like that was just not appetizing.  I looked online for a lighter version, found Macaroni Salad with Bacon, Peas, and Creamy Dijon Dressing, and tweaked it a little.  You could always change up the vegetables, leave out the eggs, switch up the ham to something else, or adapt it to your taste in other ways.  It really got thick after I let it sit in the refrigerator, but it worked out really well just stirring in some more yogurt.  I think I used an additional 1/2 cup of yogurt, but I didn't measure.  The flavor was not affected by adding more yogurt, and it gave the creaminess without all the fat of mayonnaise.  I need to remember to make this again!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tomato Basil Soup

2 teaspoons butter
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons flour
1 cup milk
1 can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the basil, onion, and garlic.
  2. After about a minute, stir in the flour and cook for a minute or two.
  3. Whisk in the milk and heat to almost boiling, stirring occasionally (don't let it boil).
  4. Puree the tomatoes in a blender until very smooth.
  5. Stir the tomato puree into the milk mixture, and heat to almost boiling, stirring occasionally (don't let it boil).
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
This recipe is adapted from a Cream of Tomato Soup recipe from allrecipes.com.  I use the blended tomatoes instead of tomato juice, and I added in the dried basil and garlic.  I think I probably could have used a little more basil and garlic.  You could easily leave them out, too, as well as the onion.  It does have those chunks of onion in the soup, which isn't what traditional cream of tomato soup is like.  I didn't have any fresh onion, which is why I used the dried onion.  I might add the onion to the tomatoes when I puree them next time, to avoid the chunks.  I haven't tried it with fresh basil, but that would probably be better added at the end rather than at the beginning.  This is really easy to make, and I always have milk and canned tomatoes on hand.  I had it with some grilled cheese and topped it with the cheesy crackers I made yesterday!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

1-2-3 Cocoa

1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons water
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Mix the sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and water.  Bring up to a boil on medium heat.
  2. Stir for one minute (it'll start to look a little fudgy).
  3. Stir in the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts steaming and is as hot as you want it.  (Don't boil it!)
  4. Stir in vanilla.
This is my version of the two cocoa recipes on the Hershey's Cocoa Powder container.  I like it a little less sweet and more cocoa-y, so you could add sugar if you want.  This is perfect for after a walk in the snow!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Banana Berry Smoothie

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 ripe banana
6 frozen strawberries
1-3 teaspoons sugar (or to taste)

Put all ingredients in the blender and mix until blended.

I actually don't measure the yogurt when I make this.  I just put two BIG spoonfuls of yogurt in the blender and add milk to equal 1 cup.  The banana should be ripe, because the sweetness means you don't need to add much sugar.  Usually by Wednesday or Thursday the bananas I bought over the weekend are perfect, with little brown spots.  You can use however many strawberries you want, too.  The frozen strawberries give the smoothie that frozen texture.  It's also very good with raspberries.  It's a great breakfast!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Easy Salad Dressing

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients and shake well.  Store tightly sealed at room temperature.  Shake well before each use.

This is the easiest salad dressing, but it's very tasty.  It is the scaled down version of Absolutely Fabulous Greek/House Dressing, and I use it most of the time now instead of ranch or other storebought dressings.  It's certainly better for you!  I measure mine right into one of those vinegar pitchers (?) that has a tight lid.  I just shake it up and pour it on the salad.  I like the vinegar taste in the dressing, but if it's too strong you could increase the olive oil.  I've read that the typical ratio of olive oil to vinegar in dressings is higher than in mine.  Very simple to make!

Cranberry Orange Bread

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, very soft
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon orange zest (or zest from one orange)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups chopped cranberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar together until well-blended.  Add the egg, orange zest, orange juice, and milk, and mix until well-blended.
  4. Combine the dry ingredients and wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in the chopped cranberries.
  6. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes.  It is done when a toothpick comes out clean and the edges are starting to pull away from the pan.
This is a pretty easy quickbread recipe, and it smells so good while it's baking!  The times I have made it I made it the day before so it would have time to get really "orangey."  It's moist and good as is, but it's also really good with some butter.  I based this off of Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread, and I made a few changes.  I changed the process, used brown sugar for part of the sugar, and added milk for part of the orange juice.  I also made it with half white and half whole wheat flour.  For the cranberries, I think I measured out 2 cups of whole cranberries, then chopped them in the food processor.  They ended up different sizes this way, but that's okay.  Also, I don't have a picture this time, because I made it to bring with me to a friend's house.  Then I ended up not going because the kids were sick, so I put the whole loaf in the freezer.  If you have any cranberries left over from buying them around Christmas, this is an excellent use for them!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pesto and Pesto Pizza

1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
  1. (Optional) Toast the walnuts so they have less of a raw taste.  Just put them in a skillet on medium heat, shaking the skillet frequently, until they have browned and are fragrant.
  2. Put the basil, nuts, parmesan cheese, and garlic in a food processor and process until finely ground.
  3. Stream in the olive oil, a little at a time, while the processor is going, just until the mixture seems to come together.  You might need more or less than 1/4 cup.
For this recipe, I don't really measure the basil or olive oil.  I usually have basil because I bought it for something else, and I'm trying to use it up.  As I said above, just stream in the olive oil until the pesto is the consistency you want.  Also, in my last batch of pesto I had a bunch of parsley to use up, so I used parsley instead of the basil.  (I was going to use some thyme, too, but unfortunately, I let it get moldy.)  It turned out well!  Here is the link to the recipe I usually look off of:


The main thing I do with pesto once I have it is to make little pizzas out of it.  One time I actually made pizza dough and made a full-size pizza (which was delicious!), but usually I make individual size pizzas.  I pita pocket works perfectly for this.  Just take your pita and toast it first, if you want.  Then spread the pesto on the pita.  Next add some sliced tomatoes (I usually use cherry tomatoes because that's what I typically buy).  Then top it with some shredded cheese, such as mozzarella or that Italian cheese blend.  Put it in the toaster oven at 350 degrees for just a few minutes, until the cheese is melty and you can hear the pesto sizzling.  I usually switch it to the "broil" setting at the end just to get the cheese a little browned and make sure it's done all the way through.  One time I added spinach to the pizza, and that was good, too! 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

8 ounces sour cream
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 of a 12-ounce jar of roasted red peppers, drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 green onions, chopped.
  1. Blend the sour cream, cream cheese, red peppers, garlic, and salt in a food processor until well blended.
  2. Stir in the chopped green onions.
  3. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
This dip recipe is from one of those church cookbooks where everyone contributes a recipe.  In this case, it is from the Cuba Booster Club of Cuba, Kansas.  It is surprisingly good, both with fresh veggies and with chips.  I added the garlic and salt to the original recipe, and used green onions instead of chives.  Also, I processed the red peppers by themselves first and squeezed out some of the liquid, because I was afraid the dip would be too runny.  It was kind of runny when I first made it, but it thickened up after sitting in the fridge.  So I don't know if that extra step was necessary or not.  I made it the day before I planned to use it so it would have plenty of time for all the flavors to really come out.  It's such a simple dip, but so good!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fudgy Brownies

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9x13 inch pan.
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  4. Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  5. Stir in melted butter until mixture is smooth.
  6. Add vanilla and eggs, mixing in the eggs one at a time.
  7. Fold in the flour.
  8. Pour into the greased pan.
  9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
This is basically Chef John's Chocolate Mint Brownies, but I doubled the recipe, didn't use quite as much cocoa powder, cut the sugar by a little bit, and used double his amount of vanilla.  I also didn't make the icing, because I don't really think brownies need icing.  I used about half a cup of whole wheat flour and the rest white flour.  These were very chocolaty and sweet and fudgy.  I checked them at 30 minutes, because the original recipe said 35, and they were already done, so next time I would probably check them at 25 minutes just to be sure.  Make sure you let them cool completely before you cut them.  They seemed to be a little crumbly when I first tried to cut them but later they stayed together.  Pretty easy recipe!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Baked Squash and Apples With Ginger and Pecans

1 golden nugget squash (or other winter squash)
2 tart apples (I used Braeburn)
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel and cut up the squash (I got about 3 cups from mine) and the apples into a large bowl.  Make sure the pieces are reasonably close to the same size.
  3. Melt the butter and mix in the ginger, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. Pour butter mixture over the squash and apples and mix well.
  5. Pour into a buttered baking dish.
  6. Cover the dish with a lid or foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove lid or foil.  Sprinkle pecans over the squash and apples and bake, uncovered, for 25 more minutes, or until squash is tender.
This is something that could probably go either savory or sweet.  Since it has the pepper in it, and no sugar, it looks like it's going in the savory direction.  When I first tasted it, it felt like it would be better with a little brown sugar, but as I ate more of it, I got used to the taste and kind of liked it less sweet the way it came out.  I also cut way back on the ginger from the original recipe (which called for 2 tablespoons).  I haven't used fresh ginger before, and I didn't want to use too much, because 2 tablespoons sounded like a lot.  But I couldn't taste the ginger much, so maybe I'll increase it to 2 teaspoons or a tablespoon.  As far as working with the squash, I cut it in half and scooped out the seeds.  Then I cut it into wedges to cut the peel off.  Squash is a little hard to work with, but it's so good for you!

Here is the website where I found the original recipe:


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pumpkin Butter

2 cups pumpkin puree
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger

  1. Combine all ingredients in a crock pot.
  2. Cook on low for one to two hours, or until it has started to cook down a little and get thicker and turn brown.
  3. Take the lid off the crockpot and leave it to cook and thicken for another hour or two.
  4. After the butter has cooled, transfer it to airtight containers or jars. 
  5. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
I still had a couple pumpkins I had bought in October, so last night (after I got the call about the snow day), I roasted them in the oven and used the puree for this recipe.  (See the Pioneer Woman link below about "Making Your Own Pumpkin Puree.)  Last night I mixed the ingredients together and put it in the fridge for today.  Today when I cooked it in the crock pot I ended up not really paying attention to the time.  It seemed to be taking awhile, but it was starting from very cold rather than room temperature.  It smelled wonderful while it was cooking!  In step 3, I had the lid partially on the crock pot because I wasn't sure if it would splatter.  I think it took about 4 hours or so to get to where I wanted it.  The pumpkin butter turned out sweet, and the spices didn't seem very strong to me.  I could definitely taste the maple, though.  Next time I might use less maple syrup and more brown sugar.  I looked at several different recipes (see some of the links below) to compare.  Some used only brown sugar, some used white and brown, some used more maple syrup, and one of them called for honey.  There was also a range of spice amounts and types.  There was also a wide range of how long you can keep it in the fridge, from "up to a week" to "up to two months."  I probably won't worry about it too much.  I will have to make some more raisin bread to use with the pumpkin butter!





Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Beat the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until creamy.
  4. Beat in the eggs (one at a time), milk, and vanilla.
  5. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  6. Stir in oats, coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips.
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes.
  9. Cool for one minute on cookie sheet, then cool on wire rack.
I did make a few adjustments to this.  I used 1 cup of white flour and 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour, to sneak a little bit of healthiness into the recipe.  I also realized as I was about to add the oats that I had only 1 cup of rolled oats, so I used quick oats for the rest.  You could easily substitute other types of nuts (or leave them out), and there are lots of "chips" that could be used (milk, white, semi-sweet, butterscotch, swirled, etc.).  I used 1 cup of white chocolate chips and 1 cup of milk chocolate chips because that's what I had left over from other recipes.  I also discovered a new way to break up nuts.  I just left them in the bag (I only had a small amount) and pounded them for a few seconds with my jar of baking soda.  It was quicker than using my nut grinder, and more fun, and I had one less thing to clean up!  For my oven, it worked best to bake for 6 minutes, switch the cookie sheets from top to bottom, and bake for 5 more minutes.  They are nicely browned, crispy on the outside but not hard.  I'm sure my colleagues will enjoy them when I bring them to school tomorrow!

Here is the original recipe:


Starting out...

I've come to realize that I think about food A LOT.  I enjoy cooking and baking, which is obvious to anyone who knows me.  I like trying out new recipes, and I like sharing what I have made with others.

I have had a couple people tell me, after seeing all my Facebook posts related to food, that I should start a food blog.  At first I wasn't too sure, but then I started to think more about it.  And once an idea gets into my head, I kind of obsess about it and can't stop thinking about it.

So here goes.  Plus, it's a snow day, which seems like a perfect day to get this going and see what happens.  Most of my recipes come from other sources, with my own tweaks and adjustments.  I will always include the original recipe/source in my posts.  I especially like allrecipes.com and foodwishes.com (you should check out some of Chef John's videos!). 

Have fun!