Monday, December 13, 2010

Baked Potato Soup

There is nothing that makes me happier than to have a pot of soup bubbling on the stove. Especially when it's frigid, like it has been the last two weeks.

I tried this baked potato soup from Annie's Eats last week. It smelled so good and had a fabulous taste. The only problem was that there were not enough potatoes. The original recipe is good, but next time I will add three or four more potatoes. Oh and just crumble the potatoes, don't food process them. You'll get a gummy sticky yuck.

It's a time investment to bake the potatoes beforehand instead of microwaving them, but I think they taste better and are easier to work with. And I like to have the oven on to warm up my downstairs.

When I scooped the potato flesh out, I left a tiny bit (about 1/4" inch) in the skins and saved the shells to make potato skins. Yum. I'll tell you about those soon.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Umm, what?

I don't know what happened to the last two weeks.

Gone and gone.

So while I get my blogging act (and other acts) together, two pictures for you.

Boo singing for her preschool Christmas program.
This program was priceless. I'll try to post some video later on.

And the moment I've been waiting for...
Kitty in her first pigtails!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Shelf

Remember how Kitty likes to put herself in small spaces?

Sometimes she likes to wedge herself between the refrigerator and the wall.
With her apple and the apple she stole from her sister.

Now she has figured out how to combine small spaces and climbing.
Don't try to stop me!
What do you mean this doesn't look comfortable?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spinoccoli Pizza...that turned into all out veggie pizza

I love vegetarian pizza.

But broccoli on my pizza? Ewww.

However, this recipe for Spinoccoli Pizza with a white sauce was too tempting to pass up.

The white sauce was so good.

But I couldn't stop at just spinach and broccoli. I had to add some sauteed onion and then some chopped tomato for a splash of color.
See? Isn't it pretty with the red? It's a Christmas pizza!

So the verdict? I've been missing out all these years! One of the best veggie pizzas I've ever had.

The crust was fantastic as well. I used this recipe for the crust, with a few adjustments to make it a whole wheat crust. And I also spread garlic butter over the edge of the crust.
Although I'm not sure why my crust grew horns while it was baking.

Pizza Dough

This makes enough for two pizza crusts. I put half of the dough in the freezer and am hoping it's a dough that freezes well!

1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 TB vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water, room temperature
2 TB olive oil

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over the top.

Add bread flour and salt to a mixer and mix briefly to blend.

Add the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture.

With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture and the olive oil. Mix until a cohesive dough is formed.

Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.

Press down the dough to deflate it. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at this point.) Cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes. Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Shape the dough with lightly floured hands.

Veggie Pizza

For the white sauce:

1 TB butter
1 TB flour
3/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 tsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 TB grated Parmesan cheese


Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.

Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until bubbling and light golden, about 1 minute.

Whisk in the heavy cream and garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and bubbles.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated Parmesan until completely melted and smooth.

Putting it all together:

Okay, you've got your pizza stone preheating in the oven and your dough shaped on a cornmeal pizza peel.

Spread white sauce over the dough, leaving about a 1" border.

Brush garlic butter over the 1" border.

Top with veggies. This was a great combination:

1 cup frozen broccoli florets, thawed, cut small, and then sauteed with onion in olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion, sauteed with broccoli in olive oil

1 cup packed fresh spinach, cooked in olive oil, just until wilted

1 chopped tomato

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

grated Parmesan cheese, sprinkled over the top

I didn't have any mushrooms, but would have sauteed those up and added them as well.

Slide the pizza from the pizza peel onto the pizza stone. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 500 degrees, until the crust is golden brown.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

J's Christmas Gift

Every Christmas, I buy J an immersion blender.

Every year it is broken by mid-February.

So this year I'm going with this. After he blends his protein shakes, he can mix concrete with this 16 pound blending dream.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pumpkin pie craft

We had so much fun doing the fall leaves craft, we had to do another one.

This one was only slightly less messy.

But it smelled great!

Here's what you need:
- circles cut out of orange construction paper (I had a two different sizes - 6 inches across and 3 inches across)
- glue (not a glue stick)
- a mixture of ground cinnamon, ginger and cloves
- wipes or wet paper towels

- Drizzle glue over the orange circle
- Use your finger to spread the glue so the whole circle is covered in a thin layer of glue
- Wipe fingers clean of glue and make sure they are dry
- Sprinkle cinnamon mixture over the gluey orange circle
- Tap excess back into bowl

Now you have a yummy 'pumpkin pie'!

Also, Boo cut her own hair again. :(

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fall Leaves Craft

Last week we had cousins come to play, and Boo wanted to do a craft. Since there would be three adults around, I took a chance on a messy, sticky craft. The kids loved it!

Here's what you need:
Fall leaf coloring page
Corn syrup
Food coloring
Wipes or wet paper towels


*The corn syrup will leak through a regular piece of copy paper, so either copy your coloring page on cardstock, or put a piece of cardstock (or two pieces of copy paper) beneath the coloring page.*

Pour a teaspoon or two of corn syrup on the leaf.
Add a drop of food coloring.

The kids 'color' the fall leaves by smearing the corn syrup around the page with their fingers.

And it's an edible craft - the kids can lick their fingers when they are done!

Be sure to have some wipes or wet paper towels at the ready for wiping sticky hands and faces!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tandoori Chicken

So I'm branching out to Indian food. America's Test Kitchen has some great Indian recipes, including one for Tandoori chicken.

But this time I went with a recipe from Penzey's for Tandoori chicken. I had picked up a jar of Penzey's Tandoori seasoning on my last trip. Tandoori seasoning is a mixture of coriander, cumin, sweet paprika, garlic, ginger, cardamom and saffron (mmm, saffron!).

I had some Tandoori chicken at local restaurant not too long ago and it was spic-ay and bright red. I was a little disappointed that mine was neither spicy nor bright red. But then I read that they get that color from food coloring (cheaters). And the girls gobbled up the chicken, which would not have happened if it had been too spicy. So it ended up being a winner.

The yogurt marinade gave the chicken a great flavor and was super moist. Next time I may make
extra marinade to serve on the side for dipping, but the chicken was still great without it.

Tandoori Chicken

1 lb. chicken breast
1 cup plain yogurt
2 TB Tandoori seasoning
1 1/2 TB lemon juice (or juice from half a lemon)

Mix yogurt, Tandoori seasoning, and lemon juice for the marinade.

Put the chicken in a 8x8 glass dish and pour the marinade over the chicken.
Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Remove chicken from the marinade and make in a preheated 325 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Then broil chicken for 10 minutes.
We ate this with curried chickpeas and Indian Rice Pudding for dessert. Low on the veggies...but you can't win them all.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Curried Chickpeas

I love Indian food.

When I was growing up, we lived next door to an Indian family. In the evenings I would linger by the side fence so I could take in the aromas of their cooking.

My first date with J was to a fabulous Indian restaurant that rivaled Ottavio's and Noble Court for my favorite restaurant.

Thanks to Penzey's Spice I learned to make Chicken Curry.

And thanks to America's Test Kitchen, I made some wicked Curried Chickpeas.

It's unusual for me to adapt an ATK recipe, but in this one I used less onion than the original recipe and more raisins. And cooked it just a tad longer at the end. My recipe is below.

Curried Chickpeas


1 onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp canola oil
4 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tsp)
1 tsp ground ginger (or 2 tsp grated or fresh minced ginger)
1 tsp curry powder
2 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 3 cups cooked chickpeas, if using from dried beans)
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 TB minced fresh cilantro (or 1 TB dried cilantro)
2 tsp lime juice

Combine onion, oil and 1/4 tsp salt in a skillet. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until softened, about 8 minutes.

Uncover, increase heat to medium-high and cook until onion is lightly browned, about 4 more minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger, curry, and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook about 30 seconds.

Stir in the chickpeas, broth and raisins and bring mixture to a simmer.

Reduce heat to low, cover and cook about 8 minutes.

Uncover, increase heat to high and cook until most of liquid has evaporated, about 3 more minutes.

Take the pan off of the heat and stir in the yogurt, cilantro and lime juice.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Check back tomorrow for Tandoori Chicken!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Oreo Cookie Tower

I saw this in my Martha Stewart magazine last month. I was able to find a picture of it online here.

I so want to do this for New Year's Eve!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I've got great news.

Hulu has episodes of Good Eats!!

They only have five up at a time however. So I've already run out and am having to re-watch episodes.

Going Crackers was a great episode, I had to try his recipe for seeded crackers. I didn't have a pasta roller, so I enlisted J to roll out the dough for me. He's much faster than a pasta roller.

They were great! I loved the sesame seed taste. Now I need to find a place to buy sesame seeds and poppy seeds in bulk.

Alton Brown's Seeded Crackers

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp aluminum free baking powder**
3 TB olive oil
3/4 cup plus 1 TB water

**If you don't have aluminum free baking powder, use 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp cream of tartar.**


Whisk together white and wheat flour, poppy and sesame seeds, salt, baking powder.

Mix in oil.

Add water and stir until just combined.

Turn dough out onto a floured board. Knead a few times, to ensure dough is evenly mixed and smooth. Cut into 8 pieces and cover with a towel 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Flatten one dough ball and pass through a pasta roller at the widest setting. Reduce the pasta roller and continue rolling through and tightening down until dough is about 1/8" thick.

Place dough sheet on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using pizza cutter, cut sheets into 2x2" squares.

Bake 8-12 minutes or until browned and crisp. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Baked brie with apple compote

I'm a huge fan of brie.

Then I found out you can bake it! What could be better than that?

So I gave baked brie a try earlier this year.

Big time flop. I was so disappointed.

But I had to try it again when I saw this.

Holy smokes.


I can't wait to make it again.

Baked Brie with Apple Compote


1 sheet of puff pastry, cut to a 10-inch round
1 round Brie cheese
1 egg beaten with 1 TB water

For the apple compote:
1 TB unsalted butter
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/4 c sugar
Pinch grated nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Add the diced apples and cook until the apples have released most of their juices, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix in the sugar and nutmeg and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 12-15 minutes longer.

Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Place puff pastry on a greased baking sheet.

Cut the round of brie in half horizontally to you have two thin discs of brie. Place the bottom disc in the center of the pastry puff.

Spread half of the apple compote on the brie and top with second disc of brie. Top brie with remaining apple compote.

Bring the edges of the puff pastry up around the brie. Pinch the edges so just a small portion of the apple compote is exposed.

Brush the puff pastry with egg wash.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, until the puff pastry is golden and crisp.

Let brie rest five minutes before serving.

**Adapted from Annie's Eats***

Friday, November 12, 2010


Kitty loves....

...milk. wear Boo's bike helmet. try to put on clothes. sit in time-out. All I have to do is say, "No, no" and she takes herself to time-out. (Somedays Boo spends a lot of time there, so Kitty thinks that's the hip place to be.) play chase. say 'dada' and never 'mama'. play dress-up. play with the Fur Real dogs at Target. read Duck & Goose, Bear Snores On, and ABC Babies.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Apple Pie Cupcakes

I've been looking for a reason to make these apple pie cupcakes for about 6 weeks. I finally got my chance this week for book club. And they did not disappoint.

I don't believe I have ever made a non-chocolate cupcake. But there's a first time for everything. For not being chocolate, this cupcake was marvelous.

The original recipe used a buttercream frosting, but I had to go with the whipped cream frosting. And I was glad I did.

Apple Pie Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

3 cups sifted cake flour**

1 TB baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup milk

**If you don't have cake flour, put 2 TB cornstarch in the bottom of a one cup measuring cup and fill the remainder of the cup with all-purpose flour. Do this for each of the 3 cups called for in this recipe.**

In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Add the vanilla and mix well.

Mix in half of the dry ingredients, then mix in the milk, then stir in the remainder of the dry ingredients, just until combined.

Divide the batter evenly among 24 cupcake liners. They will be about 3/4 full. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes.

Cool for 5 minutes in the pans, then transfer to a cooling rack.

For the apple filling:

2 TB butter

2 tsp cinnamon

2 TB sugar

3 large apples, peeled, cored and diced

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the cinnamon and sugar and cook until the mixture begins to bubble.

Lower the heat to medium and stir in the apples. Cook mixture for about 10 minutes, until the apples are somewhat tender.


For the frosting:

1 3/4 cups plus 2 TB heavy cream
3 TB powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients. Beat on medium-high speed until the whipped cream holds stiff peaks.

Putting it all together:

Cut a cone out of the top of each (completely cooled) cupcake. I like a lot of filling, so I scraped out a few more cupcake crumbs after I got the cone out so I had a nice big hole.

Fill the holes with (completely cooled) apple mixture.

Pipe a swirl of whipped cream frosting on top.

So I thought I was done, and took my finished cupcake pictures. But then I thought I better sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pumpkin carving

Boo was not interested in carving pumpkins. So she drew a nice face on the pumpkin and was a little upset that we carved it anyway.

Kitty eagerly sat at the table to see what this pumpkin carving was all about.
The great unveiling of the insides of the pumpkin...
Boo was disgusted.

So Kitty happily did the dirty work.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lasagna rolls with spinach and ricotta

This is maybe my favorite dish. Chicken enchiladas get second place for taking so darn long to make.

In the recipe below, I only included spinach and cheese for the filling (that's all I had when I made it and took pictures). But throwing in some sauteed mushrooms and onions is oh-so-tasty. The measurements are a little general, depending on how much cheese and sauce you like. Personally, I like to pile it on.

Lasagna rolls with spinach and ricotta


8-10 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 to 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups best red sauce
3/4 bag of baby spinach
1 to 2 cups shredded mozzarella

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and some oil (so the noodles won't stick together) and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a clean work surface.

Drizzle some olive oil in a pan and saute spinach until slightly wilted.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9"x13" pan with cooking spray.

Working with one noodle at a time, spread with about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta and 2 tablespoons of the marinara then top with spinach and shredded mozzarella.

Starting at one end, roll up noodle snugly then arrange in pan either seam-side down.

Pour remaining marinara over assembled rolls then sprinkle with mozzarella.
Bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Best Red Sauce

I have the best lasagna roll recipe to share.

But first, the best red sauce recipe.

I adapted it from this recipe for lasagna. The lasagna is excellent, but only use 3/4 lb. of meat. Use Italian turkey sausage...awesome.

I use this sauce for spaghetti, pizza, lasagna and lasagna rolls. And the sauce freezes really well to boot.

Best Red Sauce

olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves minced garlic (about 1 tsp)
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
1 (14 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 TB sugar
1 TB salt
1/2 TB dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper

Heat some olive oil in a large pot. Saute onion and garlic.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

Simmer for about an hour.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween 2010

We celebrated Halloween all week this year. We happened to have several costumes in our arsenal this year, so we changed it up a few times.

You've seen our Zoo Boo costumes.

The girls went to costume story time at Barnes and Noble as a ladybug and a cat. Boo and Kitty were the only ones there, so they got a ton of attention from all the employees.
Then there was the preschool Halloween party and visiting J's work...Cinderella and Elpheba.

You can actually see her green make-up in this picture.
Loading up the trick-or-treat bag.

And then the church Halloween party, and only Boo made it to this one. Kitty had a rough day and really just needed to go to bed. But Cinderella found a friend in Spiderman and they had a great time together. Pictures coming soon.

Then we have the actual trick-or-treating costumes...a witch and her cat.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I came across several pumpkin whoopie pie recipes and I thought they looked tasty. And Halloween-ish. So one afternoon, Boo and I gave them a try.

Whoopie pies and I were not made for each other.

They actually taste really good. But I am not at all a fan of the texture. Cakey cookies and that filling. Not for me.

So I loaded them up to take to a friend. Because if you like whoopie pies, they are yummy.

But on the way they fell off the stroller and were unsalvageable.

Ill-fated from the start.

BUT if you like whoopie pies, you should give these a try.

Chocolate Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Makes about 24 cookies, 12 pies.

1 3/4 cups flour
1 /2 tsp salt
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 TB baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk together to blend. Set aside.

Combine the butter and sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

Beat in the egg.

Blend in the buttermilk and vanilla extract until incorporated.

Mix in the dry ingredients, blending just until combined.

Drop about 2 teaspoons of batter per cookie onto the cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 12 minutes in a preheated 400˚ oven, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Allow to cool on the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg

Whip together cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Pipe or spoon about 2 teaspoons filling on the flat sides of half the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, keeping the flat sides down.

Friday, October 29, 2010

S'mores Oatmeal

We love oatmeal.

Pumpkin spice.

Apple cinnamon.

But last Sunday I was in a mood, so Boo and I made S'mores Oatmeal. Completely inappropriate breakfast, but awesome.

I'm used to eating my s'mores with peanut butter, so I added a spoonful of peanut butter to my oatmeal. It was sooooooooooo good. But Boo and I had a fight after she ate all the good stuff off the top and wanted more chocolate and marshmallows for the bottom half of the oatmeal.
Boo wears her costume basically all the time.

Annie uses a kitchen torch to toast her marshmallows, but as we are torch-less around here, I just popped the ramekins in the toaster oven. But be very careful - it takes less than a minute to toast the marshmallows. And they go from perfect to ruined in about five seconds.

S'mores Oatmeal
Cooked oatmeal
Chocolate chips (or broken up chocolate bars from grandma's latest package...or trick-or-treating)
Mini marshmallows
Creamy peanut butter
You could also use broken up graham crackers, but we didn't have any around. And it was still super yummy without them.

Scoop cooked oatmeal into a ramekin. Stir in a spoonful of peanut butter.

Sprinkle marshmallows and chocolate on top of the oatmeal.

Place ramekin in a toaster oven on the broil setting and keep an eye on it. It will take less than a minute for the marshmallows to get toasty.