Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chocolate Goop

There are wonderful cooks and great recipes that come from both sides of my family. I am so thankful that we don't have any "secret" recipes that people refuse to share.  We love to share our recipes with people.  My Mom's side of the family has a really nice family cookbook.  When I got married, my Great-Aunt Helen sent me a copy.  There are quite a few recipes I grew up eating in there and I've discovered quite a few new recipes from the cookbook.  My favorite chicken salad recipe (I promise I'll post it someday) and a wonderful broccoli cheese soup recipe are in the cookbook.  There is a recipe called "Aunt Helen's Chocolate Goop," that I've been wanting to make for a few years.  I always assumed it would be too hard, and usually was missing an ingredient or two.  This weekend, I looked at the recipe and realized it was really easy...and I had all but the evaporated milk.  When I went grocery shopping, I picked up a can of the evaporated milk.  It took less than 10 minutes to make the chocolate sauce.  It is so good!!! We brought some with us when we had dinner with friends on Sunday evening.  I picked up some ice cream and chocolate chip cookies from the store and we had wonderful sundaes.  I also made my husband a mocha with it on Monday morning.  I have some homemade mint syrup...and plans for peppermint mochas with a friend next week.  The recipe made just short of 1 quart of chocolate  sauce. I don't have any quart-sized mason jars, so I used 2 16-ounce jars.
I told my Mom I was making this recipe and she said "Once you make it, you'll never want the stuff from a bottle again."  She was right!

Aunt Helen's Chocolate Goop

4 squares unsweetened chocolate (I used Baker's)
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups white sugar (you can use less if you like darker chocolate)
1 12-ounce  can evaporated milk.

1) Melt butter and chocolate squares over low heat.
2) Add sugar. Stir well.
3) Slowly add milk and stir.  Simmer 2- 3 minutes.
4) Store in refrigerator.

Microwave instructions:
1) Melt butter and chocolate in microwave.
2) Add sugar.  Stir well.
3) Slowly add milk and stir.  Cook on high 2 - 3 min.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Buttery Salmon

This recipe does not really have butter in it. It is just the name my husband gave the recipe when I made it the first time.  My mom made salmon on the grill quite a bit when I was in high school, so when I went to college, I missed eating salmon.  When I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment, I was disappointed to learn that the George Foreman grill didn't do a great job with salmon.  I was determined to find a better recipe.  I sat down and searched for "salmon" at allrecipes.com.  A recipe called "Baked Salmon II" caught my eye after I read a review from a woman who said her kids liked the recipe.  I didn't have kids yet, but I figured that kid-friendly salmon would probably be tasty!  I also had (almost) all of the ingredients in the recipe, which is a plus when you are in college.  I made this for my husband a few months after we started dating and I'm still making it almost 10 years later.  It is always a hit when I make it.  Both of my kids really like it...there aren't many recipes that a 2 year old, 5 year old, and 2 adults all get excited about. The first time I made this recipe, I didn't have any lemon juice...but I had some mojo marinade, so I used that.  I've made it with the mojo and the lemon juice, but my husband and I both prefer it with the mojo.  I think it is just the memories of being a college student.  I've also kept the amount of oil and other ingredients the same as I've increased the amount of salmon I make.  It helps the flavor of the salmon come out a little more. The last time I made this, I was out of foil, so I just baked the salmon in a glass dish...it turned out great. If you want to cut down on the mess, go ahead and bake the salmon in foil.

Buttery Salmon
Adapted from All Recipes

2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or mojo)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
12 - 16 ounces salmon

1) To make marinade: mix all of the ingredients, except for salmon, in a medium sized glass bowl.
2) Place salmon in a medium sized glass baking dish.  Cover with the marinade.
3) Refrigerate for at least one hour, turning occasionally.
4) Preheat oven to 375.
5) Transfer the salmon to a clean glass dish or baking sheet.  Top with marinade.
6) Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Lunches

I know that most of my readers (all 10 of you) are moms.  School is out in Brevard County, so for many people that means having to come up with fun, creative lunches.  My husband comes home for lunch most days, which is a huge blessing.  The tough part is that I came home from preschool pick-up 15 minutes before my husband came home for lunch.  I would like to say that I mastered the 15-minute lunch this year.  But I didn't.  It was really easy for me to get stuck in a rut with lunch.  Now that it is summer, I have a little extra time to make lunch.  I thought I would share some ideas for lunches that don't take too much time.  If it is a crazy day, don't feel bad if you hit a drive-thru.  We all do it :)

Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas

  • Make extra taco meat for dinner and have burritos or nachos for lunch the next day.
  • Make (or buy) a second pizza crust and save it for pizza the next day
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches (I like to add ham or tomato to mine)
  • Tuna: salad, wraps, pita pocket sandwiches, melts, crackers. My son loves it when I give him a small butter spreader, tuna, crackers, and cheese and let him make his own tuna and crackers.
  • Rice and a can of black beans (Thank you, Shelley)
  • Frozen meatballs (homemade or store-bought) made into subs or spaghetti and meatballs
  • English muffin pizza.  I like to buy English muffins when they are BOGO and freeze them. I just take out what I need about 30 minutes before I want to start cooking. 
  • Pita bread pizza
  • Turkey and cheese roll-ups.  You could also use chicken, roast beef, or any other meat your family likes.
  • Homemade "lunchable:" cheese, crackers, and meat. 
  • Carrots and peanut butter.  Trust me, it's good and it fills you up! 
  • PBJ.  Try it with almond butter.
  • Pita bread stuffed with peanut butter, granola, strawberries, bananas, and honey.
  • Quesadillas.  You can make them with just cheese, beans, or leftover meat.
  • Black bean burgers (homemade or store bought)
  • Cheese tortellini with sauce.
  • Good side dishes are at our house are fruit, veggies, and cheese.   

Thursday, May 19, 2011

1 Head of Cabbage, 2 Recipes

I am just about done harvesting my red and green cabbage for the year.  I preferred the "Late Flat Dutch" variety of cabbage I grew last year to the "Early Jersey Wakefield" I grew this year.  The Wakefield seemed to be more prone to cracking.  It was also much smaller. I planted quite a few heads of red cabbage, most of them stopped growing after January and were really small.  I seem to have better luck with green cabbage than red cabbage and I'm not sure why. 
Last week I harvested my last head of green cabbage.  I used it to make two different recipes.  One is cooked and the other is a slaw.  They are both easy and taste great.  The confetti cabbage is a great side dish with fish, chicken, or sausage.  The slaw is great by itself or on top of fish tacos.  The recipe for the slaw calls for jicima. Sometimes I put it in and sometimes I don't.  It was pretty expensive when I went to the store last week, so I left it out.  After eating quite a bit of cabbage this year, I am looking forward to a break...but these were two great recipes for my last head of cabbage.

Confetti Cabbage

1/2 head cabbage, diced
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced
4 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth

1) Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and green onions and saute for 5 minutes.
2) Add cabbage, red pepper, and chicken broth.  Stir to combine.  Cook, covered, over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Green Cabbage, Mango, and Red Pepper Slaw with Citrus Vinaigrette

1 mango
1/4 medium-sized jicima (optional)
1/2 head thinly sliced green cabbage
1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
4 or 5 scallion greens, thinly sliced

1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons cider or rice vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil

1) Peel and cut the mango. Cut into 1/8 inch strips.
2) Cut jicima, if using, into 1/8 inch strips.
3) Combine all slaw ingredients.
4) Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients.
5) Pour over slaw just before serving.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fried Green Tomato BLTs

My garden is full of tomatoes this year!  I decided to harvest a few tomatoes while they were still green and try making fried green tomato BLTs.  These are a lot of work, but if you have the time, they are worth it!  

Fried Green Tomato BLT
Makes 2 Sandwiches

1 green tomato
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/2 cup peanut oil
6 - 8 slices bacon, cooked crisp
10 spinach leaves
2 slices havarti cheese
4 slices bread, sliced thick and toasted
Red pepper-cilantro mayonnaise (recipe below)

1) Slice the green tomato into 4 slices. Pat dry.
2) Heat peanut oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
3) Combine the cornmeal, flour, and seasoned salt in a shallow dish.
4) When oil is hot (about 5 - 7 minutes), dredge the tomatoes in the flour and cornmeal and place in the oil.  Fry for 3 minutes on each side.
5) To assemble the sandwich, place a small amount of the red pepper-cilantro mayonnaise on one slice of bread.  Top with spinach, cheese, bacon, and fried green tomatoes.  Drizzle mayonnaise on top.  Top with second slice of bread.

Red Pepper-Cilantro Mayonnaise

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1) In a food processor, combine mayonnaise,  roasted red peppers, and garlic.  Pulse until the red peppers and mayonnaise are smooth.
2) Stir in cilantro.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Vegetarian Chili

Sometimes I feel like I always do the same things for Meatless Monday: black beans and eggs.  I wanted to try something new last week, so I  decided to try vegetarian chili.  I looked up some basic info on chili seasoning, bought some canned beans, and started experimenting.  This recipe ended up making a ton of chili.  Next time, I may leave out the pinto or kidney beans and cut down on the tomato sauce, just so I have a smaller recipe.  This tasted great.  My son and husband loved it (my daughter isn't really into beans). I served this with some fruit and muffins on the side.  It was a great meal and the leftovers were yummy!

Vegetarian Chili

1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can black beans (undrained)
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup Israeli couscous
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 28 oz can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste
cheddar cheese

1) Heat oil in a large saucepan or stock pot over medium heat.  Add the garlic, onion, and pepper.  Saute for 5 minutes.
2) Add beans, couscous, tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, and chili powder to the saucepan. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
3) Remove lid and cook over medium heat for 10 - 30 minutes, or until the chili reaches the consistency you are looking for.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top with cheddar cheese.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


When I was in college, I enjoyed eating at McAlister's Deli....even after I worked there one summer.  One of my husband's favorite menu items there was the Big Spudinski.  It was a baked potato with kielbasa and cheese that came with barbecue sauce on the side.  The last time I was at a McAlister's, the Spudinski wasn't on the menu.  They still had plenty of great things for us to order, but I could tell my husband was sad that the Spudinski was gone. A few weeks ago, I came across 1/2 pound of turkey kielbasa in the freezer.  It wasn't really enough meat to do much with, so I decided to make Spudinskis for us.  It was an easy meal that turned out great.  I know I will be making these again!


3 large baking potatoes
1/2 pound kielbasa
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1) Preheat oven to 400.  Scrub potatoes and prick them a few times with a fork.
2) Bake potatoes for one hour, or until they are soft.
3) While potatoes are cooking, brown kielbasa in a skillet over medium heat, about 3 minutes per side.
4) When potatoes are done, split each potato.  Top with kielbasa and cheddar cheese.  Place on a baking sheet.
5) Bake for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
6) Serve with barbecue sauce on the side.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza Ring

My son turned 5 a few weeks ago and requested strawberry soup for his birthday lunch and pepperoni pizza for dinner.  I wanted to do something creative with the pepperoni pizza, but I still wanted it to be kid-friendly. I remembered that my son really enjoys taco rings, so I decided to do a pizza ring.  When I make taco rings, I usually use refrigerated crescent dough.  Lately I've been making my own bread for most things, so I wanted to make this with homemade pizza dough.  If you are short on time, feel free to use the crescent dough in this recipe.  I made a recipe of my favorite pizza dough and used the leftover dough to make white pizza later in the week.  The pizza ring turned out great.  I even left the pepperoni out of 2 rolls for my daughter.  We dipped the rolls in ranch dressing and had watermelon and corn on the cob as side dishes.  I had a very happy 5 year old that night!

I had a hard time describing how to fold the pizza ring without having step by step pictures.  For a great demonstration of how to fold the ring, see this video.

Pepperoni Pizza Ring
Makes 8 rolls, can easily be doubled

1 pound of pizza dough (or one roll of refrigerated crescent dough)
8 pieces of pepperoni, I like Applegate Farms the best
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Ranch dressing, for dipping

1) Roll dough into a 8 x 11 inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise into two pieces. You will have two long rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half so that you have 4 squares.  Cut each square in half, diagonally.  You should end up with 8 triangles.
2) Arrange the triangles on a round pizza pan in a circle.  Let the sides overlap a little bit.
3) Top the wisest part of each triangle with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese.  Fold over the top (outside) and tuck it under the bottom of the triangle.
4) Bake at 400 for 15 - 20 minutes.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Creamy Tomato Soup

My husband has been ordering tomato soup from restaurants lately. I've noticed that his favorite tomato soups are the creamier ones.  I like roasted red pepper added to my tomato soup.  I decided to combine his love of creamy tomato soup with my love of roasted red peppers.  I ended up using the roasted red peppers from a jar.  Sometimes they are cheaper than buying and roasting a red pepper on your own.  A jar of roasted red peppers is one of my staple convenience foods in the house.  They seem to come in handy quite a bit.  I prefer the "real thing,"  but when red peppers are expensive, or you are short on time, the ones from a jar work just fine.  I  topped the tomato soup with croutons and asiago cheese.  We had grilled cheese with tomato on the side.  It was a wonderful meal and I will definitely make the soup again.

Creamy Tomato Soup
Adapted from Food Network

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 jar roasted red peppers, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
kosher salt
black pepper
Croutons and cheese for topping

1) Combine broth, tomatoes, and red peppers in a large saucepan over medium heat.  When the soup bubbles, whisk in the heavy cream.
2) Simmer over low  heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3) Use an immersion blender to make the soup creamy and smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4) Serve with croutons and cheese on top.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Slow Cooker Goulash

As my kiddos get older, my afternoons are getting busier and it's time to learn more about my slow cooker.  Right now I have 5 slow cooker recipes:  barbecue pulled pork, taco pulled pork, pot roast, calico beans,  and Italian beef.  I have one slow cooker cookbook, but it has so many recipes that it can be overwhelming (there are pages and pages of pot roast recipes). I borrowed a slow cooker cookbook from a friend a few months ago and finally had a chance to really look through it the other day.  I came across this recipe while I was meal planning and noticed that she'd tried it and written that it was "very good."  I trust her judgement, so I decided to try the recipe.  When I went to the store, lamb stew meat was cheaper than beef, so I bought the lamb.  It was my first time cooking or eating lamb.  It tasted a lot like beef.  My son didn't know the difference.  He still thinks I was joking when I said it was lamb. I used Hungarian half-sharp paprika in this recipe and it was pretty spicy.  My son had to dip his meat and carrots in quite a bit of sour cream.  If you don't like things too spicy, consider using sweet paprika or a mix of the Hungarian and sweet.

Slow Cooker Goulash
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

1 pound stew meat (beef or lamb)
4 medium carrots, sliced into 1 inch pieces
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
3 cups cooked egg noodles
Sour cream

1) Combine meat, carrots, onions, and garlic in slow cooker.
2) In a medium bowl, combine beef broth, tomato paste, paprika, lemon zest, salt, caraway seed, black pepper, and bay leaf. Stir into vegetable and meat mixture.
3) Cover and cook on low 8 hours (4 hours if you have a newer slow cooker that overcooks things).
4) 30 minutes before you eat, add the red pepper.  Turn heat to high.
5) Serve over warm egg noodles. Top with sour cream.