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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Yummy Christmas Bars

The Christmas season has officially passed.  At least for me and now that we have a second to breathe I thought I'd share the recipe for the bars that I sent to a few family members.  A few years back, we received a whole box of delicious holiday yummies, that we of course gobbled up in a matter of days.  This was my inspiration for this year's gifts seeing that we were on a pretty tight budget. I honestly feel that some home made goodies makes the best presents anyway.

  I have done my fair share of bar making.  These used to be a staple in my house for breakfast, breaks and lunch throw-in's.  I've tried probably 10-15 different recipes and a few of my own.  Never really loving the end result.  Don't get me wrong, they all tasted wonderful, but it seemed like a lot of work and modification for something that tasted pretty simple out of the package.  So after searching out something for my dad, given his sometime erratic dietary requirements, I stumbled upon a website detailing the recipe for a very simple, very wholesome Lara-type bar.  While never actually eating these bars before, I figured the simplicity of 4-5 ingredients was enough to slim down what I had been doing prior and reinvent my own wheel.  I checked my cupboards for the goods and found I was missing whole dates.  Now let me warn you, before you set out on a date hunt around the holidays...just go to Whole Foods.  Surprising, I know.  It was the last place of 8 places I visited that actually had whole pitted dates at a reasonable price.  If my memory serves me correct they were $2.69 for 8 oz.  With all this being said, if you are fortunate enough to have a Winco around...just head there.  Save you a lot of time and money.  I do miss that store....
   Back to the cupboard.  I glance at my pitiful rendition of a food processor.  Years back I purchased the blender/processor duo.  While the blender does it's job, the supposed food processor is an entirely different story.  I don't even think that thing would chop garlic anymore.  Not to mention I feel i like i need to put in earplugs to protect my eardrums from the horrilble high pitched noise it makes when I push the 'On' button.  My child starts crying, my husband leaves the room and even my dog buries his head in the pillows.  I was feeling a little down but then I had a vision of a food processor in a cabinet of this house that we were watching.  Reinstating my motivation, I borrowed that Cuisinart 11-cup food processor and got to work. 

1/4 c. chopped dates (you chop them...don't buy the prechopped variety coated with sugar)
1/4 c dried tart berry (I used cherry flavored cranberries)
1/3 c. chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts
Dash of cinnamon

Chop your nuts in the food processor till desired consistency is reached.  I liked mine a little more on the little pebble side than big chunk side.  Pour into bowl and dash your cinnamon.  Mix.

Add dates and cranberries and process till a paste is formed.  Upon initial blending and having prior use of such a poor excuse for a food processor, I thought this paste would never happen.  I stopped at small pieces and added dried prunes and Voila! Paste.

*note*I did find a little more fruit was necessary but perhaps that's because upon the first go around I didn't get my 'paste' and settled for tiny chopped bits.  I figure the more fruit the better though as I LOVE dried fruit.

Take paste and scrape out into bowl.  Prepare plastic saran wrap on counter for bar formation.  Mix and knead with your hands till all pieces have been coated thoroughly and you're able to make a bar like formation.  *note* nobody ever said you had to do bars.  you can do balls or fun christmas shapes if you so desire.

Place in plastic wrap and cover tightly.  Store in the fridge until you're ready to devour these little delicious treats!  They taste so good I seriously though they might be bad for you!

Other varieties I prepared:

Added sunflower seeds and flax seeds to a grinder and made a seed flour almost.  Sprinkled in my bars to up the ante.

Peanuts and chocolate chips.  Dash of vanilla and you have Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Tropical variety fruit and dates pureed with a sprinkle of coconut and nutmeg.

The options are truly endless but check out this website for more!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh how I LOVE Scones!

  As promised...more frequent blogging entry numero uno!  I have been thinking about these scones for a good while now.  I have lemons and frozen strawberries from this summer on hand.  I figure a scone in the making.  Now which recipe?  If you've ever searched for scone recipes, there's enough to make your head spin.  I have read my fair share and feel that the most important thing to keep in mind while making these is to not handle your dough too much and to keep your ingredients as cold as possible.  Now with this all in mind, I set out to make my own scone recipe.  Well kind of...
  What started as just lemons and strawberry goodness quickly turned into strawberries, peaches and apple goodness.  I ran out of strawberries!  Whoopsi!  So you'll see in the pictures the different rows so to speak, and now you'll know why.  I underestimated the amount of red deliciousness that I had on hand.  So I used what else I had on hand  : )

Very much inspired from

White Chocolate Multi-Fruit Scones

10 tbsp grated frozen butter (I used salted) + 2 tbsp
1 1/2 c. all purpose unbleached flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
Dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. whole milk
Zest of one lemon
White chocolate chips
Strawberries, peaches and apples (or whatever fruit you might want to use up)

Grate the butter and keep it in the freezer till ready to use.

Combine sour cream, baking soda and zest in a small bowl and let stand.

Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Prepare a floured surface and get your rolling pin ready.

Dump in frozen butter into dry ingredients and mix with your hands till all your butter bits have been well blended and represent small peas in your batter.  Pour in milk and sour cream mixture and mix till barely incorporated. Turn out onto floured surface.  Continue kneading and incorporating with your hands till you have formed a a relatively smooth ball.  This should not be anymore than 8-10 full kneads.

Roll dough out to be roughly 12 inch square.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips and fruit.  Try to bring the mixture all the way out to the edges.  Roll up your dough like a pinwheel, carefully eeking away with a scraper if any of your dough has stuck. 

With a floured sharp knife,  cut your scone shape of our of your log.  Place on sprayed parchment paper lined cookie sheet seem side down.  Melt 2 tbsp butter and brush over tops. 

Put in the middle of your 400 degree, preheated oven and cook 18-20 minutes until lightly golden brown on top. Let cool 3-5 minutes before moving to rack to completely cooling.  Best served immediately!

I am storing mine in the fridge.  The use of fruit that is normally kept in a cool environment leads to me believe that this is the method of preservation for these little gems.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Random Photos for the curious reader...

I want to thank all of those who have checked out my blog.  Things have been absolutely crazy for me recently and thus the reason that there haven't been too many new posts.  On the bright side, we are finally moved in and I have all of my kitchen gadgets and goodies back at my fingertips.  We also have a camera ready to snap away those delicious images. 
  Tomorrow morning I'm setting out to make Lemon Strawberry Scones, Zucchini Fritters and Lara-Type Energy Bars.  I will of course keep you posted on everything!  Pictures and of the course the almighty recipes that I do my best to follow.  ; ) 
  In the meantime, I wanted to post a few pictures of some random events to keep those of you that are checking this little blog of mine still interested.  Again, these are recipe-less but for those of you who might be more into the visual aspects of what's in store, please enjoy!

 This was a spread I created on 24 hour notice for a dear friend's wedding reception.  Some basic staples but it was almost gone at the end!  It was a joy to come up with something on her special day.

This was breakfast for my Pub family.  Some type of Apple Spice Cake...Scrumptious!  I must say I do miss my mornings where I check the fridge and of course the time and what delicious breakfast treat I can come up with...perhaps upon a return visit I should surprise my old friends with some more muffins or perhaps that braided bread for Adele!

Banana Muffins with 'Eggs' Benedict and a mock Hollandaise Sauce

Years ago I first made this Fruit Makeover Pizza for 4th of July.  I have been making it upon request ever since!  Super simple and super can't have just one slice. 

Well that's all for now folks!  I'll be blogging more frequently from now on...I PROMISE!!!  So stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Polenta Pesto Heaven

Wow is all I really have to say here.  I've been venturing out lately in about everything I've created recently.  It's all been edible but nothing has stood as vibrantly flavored as this dish.  And the best part?  It was SOOOOOO simple.  All of these ingredients could be made from scratch and it would probably taste even more fantastic but given certain time constraints...I.E. Having a toddler running around, I think recipe taste amazing as it is. 

1 tube polenta (I used an herbed variety)
1 jar Classico Alfredo sauce
1 jar Classico Marinara sauce
1 bag shredded Italian Cheese
Pesto (I used about 3/4 of the pre-made kind)
1 medium onion - chopped
1 small pepper - chopped
6 oz mushrooms - chopped
1 tsp marjoram
1 tbsp butter
1/4 c. dry white wine

Preheat oven to 400.  Slice polenta about 1/4' thick.  Prepare baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick spray.  Bake polenta till crispy and flip to other side.  This should take about 6-8 minutes per side.  Once crisped, remove from oven and let cool.
  While baking polenta, heat olive oil in medium skillet over med-high heat.  Saute onion 3-4 minutes and add pepper.  Saute an addition 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms, butter and marjoram.  By this time you should have some nice brown spots on the bottom of your pan.  Deglaze the pan with the wine and make sure you stir frequently to get all those yummy bits off the bottom.  Continue sauteing an addition 2 minutes. 
  Prepare 8x10 (ish) baking dish by coating bottom of pan with 1/2 c. marinara sauce.  Layer in polenta. Spread a tsp of pesto on each polenta slice. Top with mushroom mix.  At this point you could add a protein of your choice.  I used about 1/2 c. veggie crumbles.  You could omit this altogether if you want it to be completely gluten free.  Top with about 1/2 c. alfredo and 1/2 c. marinara.  Sprinkle on 1/2 c. cheese.
  Repeat with remaining polenta, pesto and sauce.  You'll want to make sure the sauce on top covers all the edges of the polenta.  Bake uncovered about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle 1 c. cheese.  Move pan closer to heat source in the oven and continue baking an additional 10 minutes until top is melted and bubbly all over. 
  Let stand 10 minutes before digging in! 

*I will definitely up the quantities next time.  This would probably serve 5-6 for dinner if accompanied with a salad and some garlic bread.  In my house it lasted barely 24 hours. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

This one is a staple in my house.  So easy.  So quick.  So delicious!  You could sub out zuchini and onions for the base.  Or perhaps mixed veggies?  Onions and green chilis for a mexican flare?  I have never tried any of these but I don't see how you could go wrong.


2 10 oz packages frozen chopped broccoli - cooked till crisp tender and drain
2 packages Morning Star Farms chicken nuggets
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c. mayonnaise
cheddar cheese
3 1/2 tbsp melted butter
3 c. cornflakes (measured and then crushed)

Layer in drained broccoli in bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Top with nuggets.  Mix together soup and mayonnaise and cover nuggets.  Sprinkle cheese.  Combine cornflakes and melted butter till fully coated.  Cover cheese with cornflakes.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes till bubbly.  Cool 15 minutes before serving.

**Original recipe calls for 4 chicken breasts - boiled and shredded.  I have done this and it sees to take forever.  If you are a meaty family, I believe you could just as simply use some natural alternative...frozen chicken strips?  frozen chicken nuggets? This would speed up assembly greatly if you could skip the boiling and shredding process. 

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

So I've mentioned the Bountiful Basket and I've mentioned Vegetarian Times but I haven't mentioned how great it is when the recipes from the Times coincide with the ingredients received in my basket!  The Times had a whole section on poblanos this month.  Unfortunately most of their recipes called for double the amount I had on hand.  They did give me some inspiration though and thus we have...

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

3 poblanos - sliced in half and seeded
1 lb Ground meat *your choice.  Chicken, Turkey, Beef?  I used Morning Star Farms Crumble*
1/2 onion chopped
Red bell pepper - diced
3 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 c frozen corn
1/2 c. shredded zuchini
Juice of one lime
Chili powder
Garlic powder
Shredded cheese (I used a mexican blend)

Sour Cream

  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Parboil sliced pobalanos for about 6-7 minutes until a little tender.  Remove and drain. 
  In the meantime, heat a med skillet and toss in onion.  Satue 2-3 minutes and add all other veggies and meat*.  Continue cooking for about 3-4 minutes.  Sprinkle in spices and juice.  Cook till all veggies are done.  Gently stuff peppers with veggie/meat combo.  Top with cheese and bake in preheated (350) oven till cheese is melted.  Top with sour cream and cilantro and serve!  To make this dish a little more hearty you could serve this over quinoa or rice. 

*Only add meat in this step if it is some form of mockmeat.  Otherwise you will need to brown your meat first.  Drain and remove from pan.  Set aside and continue with onion saute.

Glazed Carrots

I recently was treated to an amazing culinary course this past weekend thanks to my most amazing friend.  Though not what I expected, I left the class feeling better then ever about my refrigerator and it's contents.   My relationship with recipes has never been too strict but I still always get the nagging feeling of "Well nope!  Can't make that one...I'm missing that one ingredient."  Michelle Reynolds helped to allow me feel even more confident when I open up the doors to that chilly box.  Anything is possible with what you have on hand...unless of course your pantry, cupboards and freezer are completely empty.  Then you're S.O.L. Sorry.
  But on the upside, I participate in the most unbelievable program called Bountiful Baskets.  If you don't know what it is...stay tuned.  I'll be posting pictures.  Quick run down is that you pay a contribution fee every week or two and you get a large supply of fresh regional produce.  It is then up to you what to do with it all!  That's the exciting part for me because *insert Forest Gump voice here* you never know what you're gonna get.  I recently received plantains which sat next to my potatoes for a few weeks until I discovered that nothing can taste bad with rum, butter, maple syrup and a few fresh cracks of cinnamon!  Especially when drizzled with vanilla yogurt.  : )
  Now keeping this all in mind...I went to go make dinner last night.  I opened up the doors and checked out my carrots that are near their end.  I hate throwing away food so I decided this would be the staple of my side dish.  That's when some Balsamic Glazed Carrots came to mind.  I had some cabbage, also from my basket, that had been sitting around a while and some frozen french cut green beans.  Sounds like the making of a healthy yet satisfying accompaniment. down so there won't be pictures for a while but let's just say this dish was so tasty that my son was begging for more!  Yay!!  Success!!

Balsamic-E Veggies
4 carrots - peeled and cut into 2" sticks
3/4 c. thinly sliced cabbage
1/2 c. frozen french cut green beans
2-3 cloves garlic - chopped
2 tbsp hoisin sauce (from the amazing Teriyaki know the one I'm talking about.  I accidentally purchased this flavor variety but was shooting for the veri teriyaki so use that if it's in your cupboard)
1/4 c. balsmic vinegar
2 tbsp unpacked brown sugar
Sprinkle of kosher salt

Heat oil in skillet and add carrots.  I had some wok oil sitting around and thought that would add a nice flare.  Get a nice sear on the carrots and add remaining veggies and garlic.  I covered my carrots and sauteed about 5-7 minutes.  Cook for an additional 2 minutes and add in Hoisin sauce and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt, sugar and toss.  Place in preheated oven (350) for about 15 minutes while you finish up the rest of your meal.  Serve over rice, couscous, quinoa for even more satisfaction.

Old pictures...

While I can't remember the exact recipes of these, I just wanted to share some old food pictures of composed dishes I've made.  These are pretty much the reason I started this blog.  I would make something, take a picture, it would taste delicious and I couldn't remember how to make it again!  It was and still is truly maddening.  Hopefully I will get better at this and keep better track of what I add to these dishes to make them so scrumdillyumptious!

                                          Some type of potato corn chowder with veggies.

                                      Stroganoff...where is the darn recipe?!?!?  This was soooo good.

                    Can we say YUMMY?!?!?!  These were from Vegan with Vengeance (I think)                        Banana oatmeal waffles? 

Tofu scramble

There is simply no better way to start your day than this delicious tofu scramble.  I have tweaked and will continue to tweak this recipe so remember to have fun when composing your own version.  Tofu is extremely versatile because it soaks up all the delicious spices you have to offer giving it just about any flavor you desire.  My initial winning dish was adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance.  With the addition of a few elements, you can have greatness here.

Easy Breezy Tofu Scramble

1 pkg extra firm tofu - lightly squeezed and drained
2 links Tofurky sausage (or Morning Star Farms patties or omit completely)
1/2 onion finely - chopped
2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
Grated carrot
1/2 c. mushrooms - sliced and chunked
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp Bragg's
1/4 c. nutritional yeast

Heat oil in large skillet.  Add onion and saute about 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic, sausage, mushrooms and carrots.  Saute 4-5 minutes till veggies are crisp-tender.  Add spices and saute, stirring constantly about 1 minutes.  Crumble in tofu and stir until spices have permeated all sides of tofu.  Add braggs and about 1/4 c. water.  Cover and simmer about 10 minutes.
Once water is almost evaporated add yeast and stir till dissolved.  Serve at once.  Top with parsley and cheese of your choice or as is.

Garden Veggie Pita Burgers

Oh. My. Goodness.   This one is always a winner.  I've had it up my sleeve for years and use the sauce in numerous applications.  As a dip to tortilla or raw veggies, on top of Indian (i know it's sooo not traditional but it tastes soooo good!), on top of tacos or burritos...pretty much anything that would require a delicious creamy kick.  The veggies can be substituted out for anything that you have in your fridge.  This one is a piece of cake for families that are in crunch time. 

Oh!  One more thing...this can easily be made vegan by using Vegannaise and Tofutti Sour cream in the sauce.  


1 med onion - sliced
1 red bell pepper - sliced
1 8 oz package mushrooms - sliced
Lawry's season salt (or which ever you choose)

Veggie Burgers (I like morning star farms)
Pita pockets
Grape tomatoes

1/2 c. finely chopped English Cucumber
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. sour cream
Dash of garlic powder and onion salt
3 tbsp dill
Few cracks of pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Mix up sauce ingredients. Cover and put in fridge to chill.
Prepare baking sheet with aluminum foil and nonstick spray.  Arrange bell peppers and onions in rows.  Don't worry if they're touching but do try to keep them somewhat apart as some folks don't like onions and vice versa.  Lather with nonstick spray (or drizzle of lightly flavored oil *not olive*) Sprinkle generously with season salt and a few cracks of pepper.  Bake in oven for about 10 mins.  Add mushrooms.  Toss and sprinkle again with season salt. Bake an additional ten minutes.  Toss and see that most of the liquid has evaporated.  If it hasn't continue baking in increments of 5 minutes till done.

  At this point you'll want to start assembly.  I am a fan of microwaved veggie burgers.  I find the oven dries them out a little too much.  *yes, meat lovers, you can use a regular patty in here...or chicken even* 
  Microwave veggie burgers according to manufacturers directions.  Slice into strips.  Microwave pita pocket till pliable and snip into strips.  Arrange along the bottom of a salad bowl.  Lay down lettuce.  Place a dollop of roasted veggies on top of lettuce.  Smear a few tablespoons of sauce on veggies and top with sliced veggie burger.  Arrange tomatoes along outer part of pita for a beautiful presentation.  Enjoy!

It's Apple Season!!

Upon the arrival of my new Vegetarian Times, I immediately begin to flip through the pages.  The front cover shows a delicious pasta with only 5 ingredients *i made this and it didn't turn out as delicious as the cover made it look*  I continue flipping to find this amazing bread pudding recipe.  To me, however, it sounds a bit more like a french toast bake than a bread pudding but I thought I'd venture out and try this.  While I have posted pictures of a recipe, it is not of this exact one.  Continue on below and find out my adaptation...
Apple Cinnamon-Bread Pudding


Ingredient list

Serves 12
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2    tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs. butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/2 baguette, cut into 1-inch-thick slices (5 cups)
  • 4 apples, peeled and quartered, each quarter cut into 4 slices (4 cups)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups low-fat milk


1. Preheat oven to broil. Coat 10-inch round casserole dish or 4 1/2-qt. Dutch oven with cooking spray. Combine sugar and cinnamon on small plate. Put melted butter in shallow bowl. Set aside.

2. Halve each baguette slice. Dip each halved slice first in butter, then in cinnamon sugar, and set cinnamon-side up on baking sheet. Set remaining cinnamon sugar aside. Broil bread slices 1 to 2 minutes, or until cinnamon sugar gets dark and bubbly on top.

3. Spread 2 cups apple slices on bottom of prepared casserole dish. Top with 2 1/2 cups bread slices, cinnamon-side down. Repeat layering with remaining apples and bread slices. 

4. Whisk together eggs, egg whites, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk in milk until smooth. Pour over bread and apples. Weigh down pudding with salad plate to keep bread submerged, and let stand 1 hour in refrigerator, or overnight.

5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle bread pudding with remaining cinnamon sugar, and bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until set in center and puffy and golden brown on top. Serve warm.
Cammie's Version:
Cinnamon Raisin French Toast and Apple Bake
Use the above recipe as your model...but...

6 cinnamon raisin bagels - cut down to about 1" chunks - brush with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and broil till carmelized

Add to your liquid mixture:
3/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp cinnamon
1 extra egg
1/2 c. chai (i used the protein version from bolthouse farms)

Cover and let soak overnight.  Bake covered till bubbly. Uncover and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top and continue baking extra 10 mins.

It's been a long time...

I'm afraid life simply doesn't allow the time to blog every recipe.  I've taken pictures up until the point of my camera breaking and I will be posting those recipes soon!  But for today...a crowd pleaser.  Kids and adults will enjoy these delicious pancakes!!

Banana Nut Pancakes
*check for allergies before continuing.  The nuts can easily be left out to please those who are not a fan of the nuttiness*
1 c. pancake mix (yes you can make your own)
1 ripe banana - mashed
1 egg
3/4 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg and cloves
pinch of salt
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1/4 c. raisins
1 tbsp flax seed

Mash banana thoroughly and add spices.  Measure milk and add egg. Lightly beat and add to banana.  Sprinkle in pancake mix, nuts, flax seed and raisins.  Mix till just moist.  Cook up like regular ole pancakes...bubbly in the middle and a little dry around the edges and flip for an additional 45 seconds of cooking time. 

Yummers! Top with your favorites...maple syrup and strawberries?  blend of cream cheese and whip cream for a sweet treat?  Just plain?? 

Friday, August 27, 2010

No Boil Lasagna

I LOVE lasagna.  I think I've made it pretty clear how much I love Italian cooking in general but lasagnas are at the top of the list.  The only problem is that with such a busy schedule, who really has time for all that prep work??  I recently made a no boil lasagna with regular noodles and it turned out awesome according to my husband.  I decided to try it again using a recipe of my own.  Okay...let's be honest...there was no recipe but here's what went into it:

1/2 med zucchini - shredded
1 med carrot - shredded
1 red pepper - diced
1 yellow onion - diced
5 crimini mushrooms - chopped
3 cloves garlic - minced

Saute above ingredients till tender.  Add garlic towards the end to maintain that true garlic flavor.  Season with a pinch of kosher salt.

15 oz. ricotta
2 eggs
1/4 c. parmesan
1 c. mozzarella - shredded
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
Fresh cracked pepper

Combine these ingredients in a small bowl and set aside

12 Uncooked lasagna noodles
1 28 oz jar Classico Marinara Sauce
1 small jar Alfredo sauce (I used Classico as well)

Now you're ready to assemble!
Spray lasagna dish with nonstick sprayer and spread 1/2 c.  marinara on bottom.  Layer 4 noodles along bottom. Top with ricotta mixture, veggies and 1/2 c. of alfredo sauce.  Layer 4 noodles and spread 1/2 c. marinara sauce on top.  Then continue ricotta, veggies and alfredo again.  Place last of the noodles on top.  Spread last of ricotta mixture and veggies and pour remaining marinara sauce on top.  Slowly pour 1/4 c water on top of it all.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in preheated 350 oven for an hour.  Uncover and sprinkle 1 c. Italian cheese mixture and 2 tbsp fresh basil.  Continue baking an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

**I would water down the initial 1/2 c on bottom for noodles.  Mine turned out a little too al dente and dry.  I would add an extra 1/4 c water along bottom.**

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vegetarian Meatloaf

   I've been a veg-head for nearly 15 years and I have always missed my mother's meatloaf.  About two years ago, I was introduced to another kind of meatloaf made from ground turkey and tons of sauteed veggies.  As I watch my sister-in-law prepare this dish I thought how easy this could be transformed into a delicious and healthy veggie meatloaf.  After a quite a few trials, I realized that I could get the best of both worlds by combining these recipes.
   I of course started out by making a veggie version and the turkey version for my carnivorous partner.  I would always have him taste test mine to determine comparability.  Well after tweaking mine little by little and watching him devour the portion I had intended for my consumption, I determined that the veggie version wins this contest. Even my son has loved it since we started him on solids and little does he know how many veggies he's eating!! And though I'm kind of a stickler for normal, everyday meatloaf, I'm sure the possibilities are endless here.  Apples, sage and stuffing mix?  Red peppers, water chestnuts and terriyaki sauce?  Black beans, corn and chipotle peppers?  These are all sounding so yummy...perhaps I should venture out!
  The veggies I use are by no means the only options as most of the time I am simply trying to use up what I have in my fridge...but here it is:

Vegetarian 'Meatloaf'

1 package Morning Star Farms crumbles
1/2 onion - diced
2 carrots - peeled and diced
2 stalks celery - diced
1 small zuchinni - diced
4 crimini mushrooms - chopped
1/2 package frozen spinach - squeeze dried
2 eggs
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp thyme
2-3 tbsp parsley
1 bay leaf crumbled
3 garlic cloves pressed
1/4 c. 'chicken' stock *or veggie*
1/3 c. parmesan cheese
1 c. bread crumbs *or to your likeness..this really helps the consistency and the varying degrees of dryness.  the more bread crumbs you use...the dryer and firmer your meatloaf will be*
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325  (I convection baked mine though just add baking time if you prefer regular baking method)

1. In medium saute pan, heat olive oil over med-high heat.  Add onions, carrots and celery and season with salt.  Saute for 5 mins or until onion are just tender.  Add mushrooms, zuchini and spinach.  Cover and saute for 3-5 mins until mushrooms have reduced and are soft.   
2. In the meantime, place crumbles in microwave safe bowl and defrost for 3 mins.  Some chunks might still be mildly frozen.
3.  Combine eggs, milk, chicken stock,  cheese and spices.  Add veggies and crumbles and mix thoroughly.  Slowly add bread crumbs till your desired consistency is reached.  I like mine to be able to hold it's shape after being molded.  If it falls apart in the bowl it's going to fall apart on your plate as well.  **My mother always told me the key to her meatloaf is to spank the hell out of it.  It had the best consistency of any meatloaf I've ever tried.  not mushy...not too dense...just perfect.  I use this same method on my own meatloaf and it seems to work pretty well.  Not to mention, this is a great way to relieve any built up stress.** 
4.  Spray 8x8 baking dish with nonstick coating.  Pour in bowl of meatload and press firmly into pan.  Bake covered for 30 mins.  Uncover and resume baking for an additional 30 mins.  The top should be firm to the touch with a little crispness to it.  Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Ideally meatloaves should be tipped over and come out of their pan...I haven't had such luck but if you have a secret tip up your sleeve be sure to let me know!

*Variations...You could try subbing a mixture of brown rice and lentils for the burger crumbles.  Though I have not tried it, I'm sure all the right flavors would still be there.  The original ground turkey recipe calls for 1 c. cooked lentils but I always seem to run out of time and stove top space.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Banana Crumb Muffins

Good Morning!
  It has been so long since my last blog I felt it necessary to post this recipe.  I think I'll do some back entries too though I do not have photos to go along with them.
  Every morning that I work at the Brew Pub, I do my best to bring in baked goods.  They like to eat them but secretly I'm looking for reviews of my baking skills.  So far no one seems to be complaining!  While I normally try to do healthy recipes, this one is definitely bending some rules.  In the future, I might sub out some of the white sugar for maple syrup, agave or honey.  I would also try to sneak in some shredded zuchinni. This time around, I just wanted something delicious and simple but of course I had to throw in a little twist.  In half of the muffins I filled the center with a peanut butter and honey concoction.  If I had cream cheese, I would have blended the PB and honey together with the cream cheese.  I think this might have set these over the top but we shall wait till delivery to find out if I hit another home run!



  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar *I reduced to 1/2 c.*
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted *Replaced totally with 1/3 c canola oil*
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. 
 *I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg into the dry batter before I added the banana mixture.  To the mixture I added a splash of vanilla extract...what is a muffin without a little vanilla??


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pizza Pasta Bake

   MMM....the smells of fresh basil and garlic are filling my house this morning!  I love Italian cooking and after the spicy soup, I thought something a little more mellow would be in order for tonight's dinner.  I had a few ingredients that needed using up so you'll see a few additions.  The outline for this recipe comes from as I absolutely adore this website. 
  I believe that Italian dishes lend themselves to healthy add ins that will still leave the family clueless.  If they like pepperoni pizza and they like pasta...they should love this dish.  And they'll never know that you snuck some veggies in there.  You can do this by simply grating whatever greens you might want to throw in or if you some puree around, you could throw that in too.  Some suggestions would be pureed carrots, zucchini, butternut squash or spinach.  Remember though...add in a little at a time so as to not throw off the taste.
   I made this vegetarian by using Morning Star Farms ground beef and Yves pepperoni slices.  Simple as that!


  • 8 ounces rotini pasta
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 (28 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 4 ounces sliced pepperoni sausage
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 of 1 med zucchini - grated
  • 1/2 c. grated carrots
  • fresh basil and fresh oregano
  • Ricotta
  • 1 egg



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  3. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook beef with onion, carrots and zuchinni until beef is brown. Drain. Sprinkle chopped basil and allow heat to wilt.  Combine beef mixture with spaghetti sauce and cooked pasta and pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish.  
  4. In a small bowl mix together egg and 3/4 15 oz Ricotta.  Season with salt and pepper and finely chopped oregano.  Spread over pasta mixture.  Layer pepperoni and top with mozzarella.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden. 

**Variations -  Shredded asiago on top of ricotta layer.  Use Italian blend of cheese in place of mozzarella. I also added about 1/4 c. parmesan to sauce and pasta mixture before pouring into pan.  We like it cheesy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


   Not quite sure how many people will actually follow me and thus I am led to my introduction.  I am doing this blog more for my personal use rather than for others enjoyment.  I am a 25 year old working mom that absolutely LOVES to cook healthy, satisfying meals for my family and I try to plan these meals out way in advance.  This blog will mostly be about my adventures in the kitchen with a little toddler running around who loves to 'help' mommy!  I wanted to be able to keep a journal, so to speak, with pictures and recipes that I've tweaked to make my own throughout the years and hopefully I'll get some helpful input from other moms out there.  I'm always on the hunt for new and exciting ideas on what to make for dinner and things to do with my son. 
                                                       a little slice of family

      Back to the cooking...I have been a vegetarian for the past 15 years and my husband is an open-minded carnivore.  Our son, Ethan, is a picky eater who decides that meat is better to chew and then spit back out.  He'll get there.  I try to come up with recipes and adapt ones from cookbooks, online and magazines to suit our families unique tastebuds.   

With that being said...dinner tonight shall be....Vegetarian Tortilla Soup!
   This recipe calls for a stir fry mix of onions and peppers.  Well living in Victor, ID provides a slightly limited selection on what frozen mixes are available.  So instead I am going to be using fresh onions and peppers to make up for it. Any alterations to a recipe will be in italics.
  I'm 15 minutes into this recipe and already the house is filled with the most delicious aroma.  Can't wait to try this one.  I'm thinking I might add some Morning Star Farms Chik'n Strips on top as well.  We'll see....


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (1 pound) package frozen pepper and onion stir fry mix (1 onion and 1 red pepper)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin (2 1/2 tbs cumin and 1/2 tbs chile powder)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (3 cans diced tomatoes with green chile peppers)
  • 3 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained (subbed 2 cans)
  • 4 (14 ounce) cans vegetable broth (vegetable base boullion)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (11 ounce) can whole kernel corn
  • 12 ounces tortilla chips
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the pepper and onion stir fry mix, garlic, and cumin, and cook 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Mix in the tomatoes and chile peppers. Pour in the broth, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes.
  2. Mix corn into the soup, and continue cooking 5 minutes. Serve in bowls over equal amounts of tortilla chips. Top with cheese and avocado.         
So I've sampled the goods on this one and wowzers!  It's a spicy one.  Perhaps with all the fixings it would bet toned down a bit but next time I'll tone it down to only one can of peppers.