Monday, July 28, 2008

Garden Update!

Our garden has gone mad! Its is producing veggies like we have a stand at the Farmer's Market.

The tomatoes are finally starting to turn red!I am so excited to start making marinara sauce.

We did make salsa last night, but I will save that for another post. Also, my little kitchen scale in the background, I went to weigh the tomatoes & it said "OVERLOAD". Who knew.
Some of the green onions we used in the salsa:

And this is just the garden harvest from one day. One. day.

I also decided to try to pickle our banana peppers. I cut them up & started the soaking process on July. 15th. We opened up a jar of them on Saturday and everyone loved them. <>

I found the recipe on It is called No-Cook Refrigerated Pickled Peppers. I am too scared to can, but I think they jars are pretty so I used them.
You will need:
1 lbs banana peppers
1 tsp minced garlic
1 3/4 cups of water
1 1/8 cup of vinegar
3-4 Tbsp of pickling salt.

Just slice & core the peppers. Then pack into the jars. Add the garlic. Dissolved salt in the water, then add the vinegar. Now pour into the jar.
They will be ready in 7-10 days.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Better Stop While I Am Ahead

Another feat overcome last night!!! I was feeling ambitious after the success of the lasagna that I decided to tackle another nemesis. Rice. I can not even cook Minute Rice correctly. My rice is crunchy or watery, its never light & fluffy, unless I use the rice cooker.

We were discussing my rice fears at the last cooking club & my friend Julie said "Oh you should try my mexi-rice recipe. Its no fail." Sure it is, I thought to myself.
So imagine my surprise when my rice turned out!!! The hubs said I can not cook anything else the rest of the week since I cooked two things perfectly I should stop while I am ahead. I tend to agree with that statement! It tasted a lot like the Manny's rice but fresher & with a little more kick!

Here it is, the no-fail Mexi-Rice recipe:

1 C uncooked long grain white rice
2 C chicken broth
1/2 C tomato sauce
1/4 C chopped onion
1 can diced green chiles
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbs vegetable oil
Cumin, chili powder, salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add rice, onion and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often.

2. Add rest of ingredients, bring to boil.

3. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer 25-30 minutes. DO NOT open lid while simmering, or the rice wont come out right. Fluff with a fork.

I did not have any diced canned green chiles, so I cut up one of my garden salsa peppers (fresh from the garden) & sauteed it with the onions, garlic & rice.

I served this with some chicken quesadillas.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Holy Batman!

This has nothing to do with the Dark Knight, Batman is just really popular so I thought I would title my post this way to get your attention because this is huge for me.

I made lasagna & it turned out right!!! Lasagna & I have this problem, I have yet to make one successfully, it usually turns into Lasagna Soup. Its one of things that I just can not do, like make rice. (A feat I will try to overcome tonight)

So I was little leery about making the Tomato Basil Lasagna with Proscuitto, but the recipe was intriguing. It didn't call for any ricotta cheese, minimal mozzarella and I think more importantly, I had other things to do last night so I didn't keep checking on the lasagna in the oven.

I served this with a Garlic Ceasar Salad & some cheesy breadsticks. It was really good, even the hubs liked it & he is not one to like a dish that isn't loaded with meat.

Tomato-Basil Lasagna w/ Proscuitto
Cooking Light
5 garlic cloves
1 (16-ounce) carton 1% low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Romano cheese, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 large egg
1 (26-ounce) bottle fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce (such as Muir Glen)
Cooking spray
12 cooked lasagna noodles
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped prosciutto or ham
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375°.
Drop garlic through food chute with food processor on, and process until minced. Add cottage cheese; process 2 minutes or until smooth. Add cream cheese, 2 tablespoons Romano, basil, pepper, and egg; process until well-blended.

Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over the pasta sauce; top with 1 cup cheese mixture, 1/3 cup prosciutto, and 3/4 cup pasta sauce. Repeat the layers two times, ending with noodles. Spread remaining pasta sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Romano and mozzarella.

Cover and bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until sauce is bubbly. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let lasagna stand 5 minutes.

I did not buy jarred tomato basil sauce. I used 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 cup of tomato sauce, fresh basil, oregano & Italian parsley from my garden. I put all of this in a saucepan & let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Then I transferred half of it into a blender & blended until smooth.

Monday, July 21, 2008

No pics, but good recipe

I didn't have a chance to take pictures of these, but I wanted to post the recipe b/c it was delicious!
Zucchini, I know, I sound like I am repeating everything! But I made a choco-zucchini muffin & bread recipe.

Choco-Zucchini Cupcakes

Instead of cupcakes, I used my mini-muffin pan and a regular loaf pan. I also did not frost these, which brought up the conversation at the homestead on what makes a cupcake a cupcake & a muffin a muffin. So I google'd "cupcake vs muffin" and apparently there is a huge debate on how to tell the difference. My take is you frost a cupcake, you don't frost a muffin. Easy enough!

I froze the bread portion of this recipe & we had the muffins for breakfast. In the recipe I did substitute egg beaters for the eggs.

More Squash

In my futile attempt to use up the squash I am making casseroles that I can freeze.
I found this recipe at my goto recipe site, Let's just say, this made a lot, a whole lot. I froze a small Pyrex dish, as well as 4 single serving sizes & I kept 4 servings in the fridge.

Hearty Tex-Mex Squash-Chicken Casserole

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3 medium-size yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of celery soup, undiluted*
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream*
1 (8-ounce) jar picante sauce
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, undrained
1 (1.4-ounce) envelope fajita seasoning
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided*

Drain chopped spinach well, pressing between paper towels to remove excess moisture.
Sauté squash, bell pepper, and onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 6 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in spinach, chicken, next 6 ingredients, and 1 1/2 cups cheese. Spoon into a lightly greased 13- x9-inch baking dish.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, and bake 5 more minutes.

*Reduced-sodium, reduced-fat cream of celery soup, light sour cream, and reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese may be substituted.

I liked this dish, but I also am a big fan of veggies. I did use light sour cream & reduced fat cream of celery to lighten it up a bit. The hubs, he said it had too many veggies in it. I think it could do without the spinach, but otherwise it was a great dish.

Fried Sqaush by the hubs

As you may have figured out by now, our zucchini & squash plants are producing more than we know what to do with! Thursday I gave away 2 zucchinis & 4 squash, then Saturday we had one of each to give away. Its insane. Don't get me wrong, I love that they produce a lot of veggies, saves me from buying it at the store, but I am starting to have problems coming up with dishes for them!

The hubs decided he wanted to make some fried squash. He recalled making this with his grandmother when he was little. Well, frying and I just don't mix. I am not good at it & don't really want to perfect it since it isn't good for you. So I sat out on the patio and read my book, while he fried away inside.

They were quite tasty. He sliced the squash, then dipped them in an egg mixture (eggs & milk) then dipped them in flour that had S&P & Cavendar's Greek Seasoning. Fry them up until golden brown.

If you have any recipes for squash or zucchini, post them here! I would love to try them out.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pilsbury #2

As I mentioned, I am trying to use my cookbooks more often. I am one of those people who gets cookbooks, reads them, then puts them away, never to be opened again. Here is the downside to using the cookbooks: the recipes are not online. I normally update my blog when I am not near my cookbook, so I have been slacking.

I made the Raspberry Cream Coffee Cake this past week. I love to bake, but with 2 people in the house, its hard to justify baking something so large & rich. So I brought it in to my Work Barista. See, my coworker & I have a killer cube set up, which allows us to have a coffee machine/comfy chair/socialize area. What's a barista without coffee cake?

Of course the recipe is at home & I don't have it with me, but here are some pictures!

I do know that it had sour cream, cream cheese & raspberry preserves in it- that should get you started right?? ;) I'll post the recipe a little later.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Best of...

I have so many cookbooks at home. And what do I use them for? Oh display purposes. I am giving up valuable cabinet space for this? I decided to sit down, pull a cookbook out & make my meals for the week from it. Or at least try to make my meals for the week from it.

So for the next few posts we have "The Best of Pilsbury 2007". I had mapped out an Asian Chicken Crunchy Pasta Salad, Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake & Zucchini-Hamburger Casserole. I made my list like a week and a half ago. I just made this stuff on Monday & Tuesday.

Asian Crunchy Chicken Pasta Salad


rotini pasta- regular or whole wheat

sugar snap peas, maybe 1 or 2 cups

chicken, about 3 chicken breasts

green onions, about 12 bunches

sliced water chestnuts, one small can

Sliced Almonds


1 cup Mayo

2 tsp Soy Sauce

1/2 tsp Pepper

1/2 Ground ginger

So the story of the salad starts as this. I had every intention of making this for dinner on 7/3, only I went to Happy Hour instead.

So I get up on 7/4 and start dicing the chicken & sauteing it. Then my friend Julie showed up & we went off to the pool. (No worries, I finished cooking the chicken first, then put it in the fridge). SO then its the Fourth of July and I don't feel like cooking on 7/5, but felt I had to do something. So I made the pasta & the peas portion. I wasn't feeling well so I just put it in the fridge when it was done. 7/6 rolls around & we have plans for the day. Finally 7/7 I say I have to get this salad put together! I finished up the dressing & slicing the onions. Finally complete! So really this was a 6 day salad in the making. It was good, a little different & I think too many onions, but I am not an onion person so this could be the reason.

Here are the basics:

1. dice & cook the chicken. I seasoned mine with a little S&P

2. Cook pasta until almost al dente, then add snap peas. (I cooked my peas wwwaaayyy too long)

3. Drain pasta & peas & allow to cool.

4. Add sliced green onions, water chestnuts & chicken to the pasta & peas.

5. In a separate bowl, mix the dressing ingredients

6. Add to the pasta & chill until ready to serve. When serving, sprinkle with toasted almonds.

As you can tell from the pictures, I don't have any sugar peas, well I do, only they are out of the pods b/c I cooked them too long. BUT they were from our garden, as were the green onions!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

This was a thrown together dinner. I needed to use some chicken I had thawed, I have about 5lbs of zucchini & squash, so that needed to be sliced up. Found some herbed chicken couscous in the pantry. Dinner!

I had remembered about the chicken before I left for work, so I started marinating it in Kraft Tuscan Italian Dressing at about 7am. As soon as I got home from work, I fired up the grill. The chicken was so juicy & tender! I wish I could remember to marinate more often!

I had so much zucchini & squash. I usually saute them in a skillet with some olive oil & fresh herbs, then toss with Parmesan cheese. This time I did some in the skillet & some in the oven. I roasted the oven ones. The only difference we could tell was that the oven ones were not as soft & translucent.



Add the Far East Couscous & some decorative parsley & you have a well rounded meal!