Monday, February 28, 2011


My husband loves granola.  He eats it as a cereal and loves it on yogurt.  The only problem is that granola can be really expensive.  I found a recipe for granola bread in Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day that called for homemade granola, so I decided to make my own granola.  It was easy, inexpensive, and my husband loves it.  It makes about 6 cups, so make sure you have a big jar to store it in.  You can experiment with the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit in this recipe.  The proportions are perfect in this recipe, so I usually don't change the amount of nuts, seeds, or dried fruit I use.  I have made it with both almonds and pecans, but I think the pecans are the best.  I love how they taste coated in honey and maple syrup! I would love to make one with pecans and only use dried cherries for the fruit, but dried cherries are pretty expensive.  This recipe uses a dried berry mix that has cherries, blueberries, and cranberries in it.

Adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup (the real stuff)
1/3 cup coconut oil, softened (if you do not have coconut oil, use canola oil instead)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups rolled oats
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
3/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried berry mix, chopped (I use cherries, blueberries, and cranberries)

1) Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare a high-sided cookie sheet or a lasagna pan with parchment paper.
2) Mix honey, maple syrup, oil, water, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt in a large measuring cup.
3) In a large bowl, combine the liquid mixture with the dry ingredients, except for the dried fruit, and mix until everything is coated with the honey mixture.  Spread the mixture evenly over the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until the granola is golden brown. 
4) After baking is complete, add the dried fruit.
5) Allow to cool, store in jars.

Mac and Cheese

I love macaroni and cheese and I think that my Mom's recipe is the best in the world.  When I went to college, my roommate had to teach me how to make macaroni and cheese from a box.  I only knew how to make the homemade stuff.   I am going to post 2 macaroni and cheese recipes today.  The first one is my Mom's recipe.  The second one is from the Pioneer Woman.  My Mom's recipe uses velveeta (my favorite guilty pleasure) and the Pioneer Woman's recipe uses cheddar.  Other than that, they are very similar recipes. The one made with velveeta is much creamier than the one made with cheddar.  I know that velveeta isn't really cheese, and it has an odd ingredient list, so I wanted to try a recipe that used cheddar.  I ended up adding some provolone and smoked gouda to the cheddar recipe.  It was really good...but I still like my mom's recipe better.  Both of these recipes can be baked, but I didn't bake mine.  I really like the creaminess of the sauce right out of the pan.  Since I wasn't baking it, I left out the egg in the Pioneer Woman's recipe.  I also cut the amount of pasta in half because I knew that a full amount would be way too big for my family.  If you want to make a full recipe or bake the maccaroni and cheese, this is the link to the Pioneer Woman's macaroni and cheese.

Mom's Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
8 ounces velveeta, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste

1) Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Drain, but do not rinse.  Set aside.
2) While macaroni is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat (I use my cast-iron for this).  When the butter is melted, add the flour and stir constantly until you have a nice, smooth mixture. 
3) Add the ground mustard and milk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce bubbles and begins to thicken (about 5 minutes).
4) Add the velveeta and stir over low heat until the cheese is melted.
5) Add the macaroni, salt, and pepper to the sauce.  Stir to mix.
6) The best side dish for this recipe is a slice of white bread topped with peanut butter and honey, folded in half.

The Pioneer Woman's Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

2 cups dried macaroni
¼ cups (1/2 Stick Or 4 Tablespoons) Butter
¼ cups all-purpose Flour
2-½ cups whole milk
2 teaspoons (heaping) Dry Mustard, More If Desired
1 pound cheese, grated  (I used cheddar, smoked gouda, and provolone)
½ teaspoons Salt, More To Taste
½ teaspoons Seasoned Salt, More To Taste
½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper

1) Cook macaroni until very firm. Macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain.
2) In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn.
3) Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.
4) Add in cheese and stir to melt.
Add salt and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed!
5) Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.

Seasoned Salt

Salt, garlic powder, turmeric, paprika, and onion powder.  These are ingredients that most people probably have in their spice collections.  None of them are very expensive, but some of them are just used in one or two recipes that I have.  I end up wasting a lot of garlic and onion powder because I only use a small amount, then the humidity gets to them and they turn into one big lump.  All of these ingredients can be used in seasoned salt.  Seasoned salt can be expensive if you buy the small shaker of it, and the larger bottles sometimes end up getting clumpy and hard if you don't use them fast enough.  Making your own seasoned salt is pretty easy and you can make as much or as little as you want.  It tastes great and is a good way to use up some lesser used spices.  You can also add dried herbs such as parsley, basil, and oregano to this.  I have a small jar of this by the stove and when it gets low, I just make more.  If you wanted to make a large amount, add some cornstarch and store it in the fridge if you aren't planning on using it all within a month of making it. 

Seasoned Salt
makes about 3 tablespoons

2 tablespoons salt (I used Kosher sea salt)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch (optional)
1/2 teaspoon other herbs and spices (optional)

Mix ingredients together and sore in a jar or lidded shaker.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Parmesan-Crusted Talapia

I was planning on making fried fish a one night a few years ago.  I went to make the breading and realized that I was out of flour and bread crumbs.  I ran to the computer and pulled up Google and did a search for talapia recipes.  This is the recipe I ended up trying that night.  I was hesitant to try it because I don't always have the best luck with Rachael Ray recipes.  They usually end up taking way too long.  This recipe is very simple and takes about 20 minutes even when you include the time needed to preheat the oven.  I recommend using fresh parsley in this recipe.  Whenever I've made it with dried parsley, it has a very "earthy" taste to it that leaves a strange after taste in my mouth.  This is another recipe that all 4 of us eat every time I make it.  You can serve it with tartar sauce (my son's favorite) or just a little bit of lemon juice.

Parmesan-Crusted Talapia
from Everyday with Rachael Ray

¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 talapia fillets (about 1 pound total)
Olive oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges

 Preheat the oven to 400°. In a shallow dish, combine the cheese with the paprika and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the fish with olive oil and dredge in the cheese mixture. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the fish is opaque in the thickest part, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve the fish with the lemon wedges

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cabbage with Herb Butter

I recently harvested my first cabbage of the season.  I knew I wanted to make buttered cabbage because I haven't had any since last spring.  I am also obsessed with Kerrygold cheese and butter, so I knew I wanted to use their garlic and herb butter when I made the cabbage.  A recipe for collards showed up on Kerrygold's Facebook fan page.  In my opinion, if a recipe works for collards, it should work for cabbage, so I tried the recipe as a side dish with our lunch.  It was a great recipe.  The parmesan cheese added nice flavor to the dish.  I would love to try this with collards sometime...if they ever grow!

Cabbage with Herb Butter
Adapted from Kitchen Kung Fu

1/2 large or 1 small cabbage, cored and sliced into thin strips
1/2 stick Kerrygold garlic and herb butter
1/4 cup chardonnay
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
2) Add cabbage and wine.  Stir to coat cabbage in butter.  Cook for 10 - 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
3) Add salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.  Stir before serving.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Baked Squash with Apples

I had a recipe swap with some of my friends a few months ago.  I blogged about the stir-fry with peanut sauce recipe my friend Wendy gave me at the swap.  This is another recipe from that night.  It came from my friend Krista.  I always trust recipes from her because she is a great cook and she has two toddlers, so her recipes are pretty easy to make.  The original recipe calls for acorn squash, but I had some butternut squash from our produce box, so I used that.  If you use butternut squash, you will need to carve out a larger "bowl" for stuffing the squash.  We are at the end of the season for winter squash, so it may be a while before I get to make this again...but I will make it quite a bit when squash is back in season.  We all loved it!

Baked Squash with Apples
Adapted from The Joy Kitchen

1 butternut or 2 acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed
3 large apples, cored and diced
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup orange juice

1) Preheat oven to 325. Grease a baking pan large enough to hold the squash.  Add 1/4 inch of water to the pan.
2) Bake squash, cut side down, for 45 minutes.
3) While the squash in baking, mix apples, raisins, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
4) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the apple and raisin mixture and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
5) Add the orange juice and simmer, stirring often, until the fruit is tender, about 8 minutes.
6) Remove the squash from the oven. Pour off the water from the pan and turn the squash cut side up. Fill with the apple mixture. Bake until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes more.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Soup

I've been neglecting my blog lately because the whole family has been sick, so I haven't been doing very much blog-worthy cooking.  My poor husband got sick on Superbowl Sunday, so I had to change our menu for that night.  The original plan was pizza night and I was going to make buffalo chicken pizza for my husband and I.  My friend Shawna posted a recipe for buffalo chicken soup on her blog.  Since I had all of the ingredients on hand, I decided to make it.  This is such an easy and tasty recipe.  It is also the perfect recipe for someone with a cold...just add a little more buffalo sauce to clear out your sinuses!

Buffalo Chicken Soup
Adapted from Mom Makes and My Fiance Likes It, So It Must Be Good

2 large chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 to 1 cup of your favorite Buffalo Wing Sauce (I used 1/4 cup and added more to my bowl)
1 cup shell pasta
blue cheese for topping

1) In a medium bowl, add flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge the chicken chunks and set aside.

2) In a dutch oven over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides. Remove the chicken and set aside again.

3) Add remaining tablespoon of butter to pot and add vegetables. Cook until soft and translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4) Add back in the chicken, chicken stock, hot sauce, and shells. Cook until noodles becomes soft. The longer you let it sit, the spicier it will get!

5) Top with blue cheese.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Jambalaya Pasta

Since it is Valentine's Day, I am going to post one of my husband's favorite meals instead of doing something meatless.  I had this dish for the first time at a restaurant called Semolina when I was in college.  I didn't eat there very often because of the location, but I always enjoyed the food.  A few years ago, my friend Shelley invited me over for Jambalaya Pasta.  She has so many wonderful cajun recipes and I always enjoy her company, so I accepted the invitation!  When I saw the recipe, I was excited to see that it was from Semolina.  This is a pretty long, involved recipe, so I am just going to post the link to the recipe.  I used shrimp and hot Italian sausage for the meat in this recipe.  I also used linguine as the pasta because I had an open box that I wanted to use up. I didn't have any taso, so I left that out. I have never made it with taso and it always turns out great.  You can be creative with this recipe.  Feel free to change the meats, add more veggies, or use a different pasta.  Just make sure you don't skip the cheese.  The smoked gouda is really important!  The toughest part is the creole sauce.  It makes quite a bit more than you need, but it freezes really well.  I know that Shelley has made cajun pizza with it before.  I read variations of the recipe online that called for canned tomato sauce with hot sauce added to it.  I think that it is worth the time to make the creole sauce.  It could easily be cut in half.  I like to make the creole sauce the day before I make the pasta.  I froze the leftover sauce in freezer bags so that I can make more jambalaya pasta or maybe even some cajun pizza.  I'll have to get more ideas from Shelley!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

I stumbled upon this meatless recipe after a friend sent me a recipe for homemade larabars.  I realized that the blog contained quite a few vegetarian recipes, so I looked around for Meatless Monday ideas. I came across a recipe for Black Bean Chili-Topped Sweet Potatoes.  I bookmarked it and knew I had to make it as soon as possible. I already knew we liked the combination of sweet potatoes and black beans, so I was pretty confident this meal would be a hit.  I decided to make my own black beans this time.  I used Lysander's black bean soup mix and added 3 cubes of sofrito from my freezer.  This meal was delicious and I can't wait to make it again!

Loaded Sweet Potatoes
Adapted from Enlightened Cooking

4 sweet potatoes
2 cups black beans
1/2 cup cheese
1/2 cup salsa
spicy taco seasoning, I used Penzys Salsa Salad Seasoning (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 350.  Wash sweet potatoes and use a fork to make a few holes in the potatoes.  Place potatoes on a baking sheet and cook for 1 hour, or until soft.
2) Heat black beans over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
3) Cut each sweet potato in half.  Top each sweet potato with 1/2 cup of black beans, 2 tablespoons of cheese, 2 tablespoons of salsa, and taco seasoning (if using).