December 14, 2011

Diana's Famous Rolls

Before my lovely friend, Diana, gave me this recipe, I had never had much luck with rolls.  But this recipe rocks 1) because it's delicious, and 2) because it's forgiving.  The first time I made it, I actually added four times too much water (don't ask), and after adding more flour, they still turned out!  The next time I made them, I followed the recipe, and they were amazing--AMAZING.  I will probably never look for another roll recipe again because I love them.  Here they are:

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Diana's Famous Rolls

* Yields 4 dozen rolls

2 cups milk
8 Tbsp butter (one stick)
2 Tbsp yeast
1/2 cup water
3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp salt
6 - 6 1/2 cups flour
Butter for brushing tops of rolls

1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, scald the milk.  Remove from heat, and throw in a stick of butter to melt.  If it's taking a long time to melt, put it back on the off-but-still-warm burner until it melts completely.  Meanwhile, soften your yeast in the water. 
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups flour, sugar, and salt.  Add milk mixture, and stir to combine.  Add yeast and water mixture.  Stir in the rest of the flour (6 - 6 1/2 cups) until it forms a nice, soft, smooth dough.  Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it, and let it rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.  
3. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions, and grease 2 cookie sheets.  Roll out each dough portion into a large circle about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut the circles into 12 "pizza slices" or triangles.  Roll each slice, starting with the large end, into a crescent shape.  Or, if you want, they work just as well in regular round roll shape.  Place rolls on the baking sheet and brush with butter.  Cover, and let them rise until doubled (about 30-40 minutes).  
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake rolls for approximately 12 minutes, or until they're golden brown.  Brush with melted butter as they come out of the oven.  This will not only give them a buttery delicious flavor, it will actually prevent too much steam from escaping, leaving you with super moist rolls.  Cool, huh?
5.  Yum!  Devour those rolls.

December 7, 2011

Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies

I had a few friends recommend the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion to me a while back, and I finally went and checked it out from the library.  I also had a Christmas cookie exchange party this week and wanted to bring something amazing, so I looked through the Baker's Companion for ideas.  Lo and behold, this candy cane cookie recipe jumped off the page at me and shouted, "Make me!"  So I did.  I have to give you fair warning--they're kind of labor intensive.  But they ended up being pretty fun once they were done.  Who knows?  Maybe making these will become a Christmas tradition.

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Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies
(from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion)

5-1/3 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp peppermint extract or flavoring
2 cups flour (or 8.5 oz, if you're measuring by weight, as they suggest in the Baker's Companion)
Red food coloring
Sugar for sprinkling (optional)

1. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and shortening on a high speed for 30 seconds.  Add the sugar, egg, and milk, and stir until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Mix in the baking powder, salt, vanilla, and peppermint.  Stir in as much flour as you can.
2. Now that you have your dough made, put 1/4 of it in a separate bowl, and use the food coloring to dye it red.  Now separate the remaining dough into two equal parts.  Leave one of them plain, and dye the other light pink.  Separate each color of dough into 6 equal portions.  This is where, for me, it was easiest to just roll them all into little balls, stick them on a plate, and put them in the fridge to chill overnight.  If your dough happens to be easier to work with than mine was, you can continue on ahead at full speed.  I found though that chilling the dough made a huge difference in the coming steps.

3. When you're ready to assemble the cookies, lightly flour a large work space and preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Roll each dough ball into a rope 12 inches long.  Lay your strips of dough side by side, alternating colors, until they form a large rectangle.  See picture below.  Take a floured rolling pin and roll it across all of the strips of dough.  This will push the ropes together into one big rectangle of candy cane-y goodness.  You want the rectangle to be about 14x9 and about 1/4" thick.  Now you have one giant rectangle of striped dough.  Pretty nifty, right?

4. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the dough into diagonal strips about 1/2 inch wide.  Now cut each strip in half, so you end up with strips about 5-7 inches long and about 1/2 inch wide.  Place the strips on an ungreased cookie sheet, and carefully curve one end down to form a cane shape.  As a side note, make sure you turn them the right way so that they look like a J.  Christmas is about Jesus, after all.  Sprinkle them with sugar, if desired.
5. Bake them at 375 for 7-8 minutes, then remove them from the oven.  Let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Don't overcook them or they will become ultra crispy very quickly.  Be ye warned.  Also, be careful as you're taking them off of the cookie sheet because they can be kind of fragile, and you might end up with a lot of broken candy canes if you try to rush it.  
6. Merry Christmas!  Eat your Christmas-y, pepperminty, candy cane cookies!

December 5, 2011

How to Price-Match at Walmart

I've had a lot of people ask me lately about how I grocery shop and feed my family on a small budget.  So now I reveal to you my biggest secret (or at least the one I've been most excited about lately)...


Walmart.  It's a controversial store...but they price match!  I used to be anti-Walmart when it came to grocery shopping.  I was not a fan of giving up my full grocery store first.  Let's face it.  It's kind of a bummer when you grocery shop at Walmart.  Where are the free samples?  Where is the super duper fresh produce?  Where are the happy people that put your bags of groceries into your cart for you and then offer to help you to your car?  Well, they're not at Walmart.  So for a while I refused to shop at Walmart for groceries, even though my husband insisted that I could get things cheaper there.  But then money got tight and I started looking for ways to save a few more dollars.  I ventured into the grocery section of Walmart with skepticism.  In order to prove to my husband that I wouldn't save that much money at Walmart, I started keeping a spreadsheet of the prices of items we normally bought and how much they cost at each store.  And after a few weeks of doing this, I realized that Walmart actually did have lower prices on a lot of things.  But it wasn't until I started price-matching that I saw the real difference.  And now that I do it every time I go grocery shopping at Walmart, I'm more than willing to give up my free samples and super duper fresh produce and happy people helping me with my bags of groceries.  I get kind of a thrill out of coming home and saying, "Honey!  Guess how much money I saved this week with my coupons and price-matching!"

I admit that I was too scared to ask how price-matching worked for a long time, but when I saw the lady in front of me doing it one time, I got up the courage.  And now I've done all the dirty work for you.  So just sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of my labors.  Without further ado, I give you...the rules of price-matching at Walmart.

(Bear in mind that these are the rules as they were explained to me.  As I understand it, all Walmart stores should price-match, but there are some things that seem to be up to the discretion of the individual store.  So if some Walmart worker yells at you for doing what I'm about to explain, I'm sorry.  They're probably just having a bad day because this always works for me.  If you want the exact, detailed policy from, go here.)

  • Walmart will match the price of an EXACT item that is advertised by another store.
  • The other store must actively advertise the price of that item.  So if you want to price-match something from a store that doesn't put out an ad (like Costco or Winco), it's no bueno.  They won't price-match it for you.
  • If the Walmart you're shopping at doesn't carry that EXACT item because they don't sell that brand, you can substitute a comparable brand for the same thing in the same size.  That means that if Kroger is on sale at another store, you can buy Great Value for that price.  Or if Meadow Gold is on sale at the other store, but Walmart only sells Viva, you can substitute it.  Just remember, it has to be exactly the same product in the same size, just a different brand.
  • Walmart does NOT price-match with other Walmart stores, Sam's Club, or any store's prices advertised on the internet.
  • The ad you're using to price-match must be valid for the same day you're buying it at Walmart.  Sorry, no using last week's ads.
  • You DON'T have the ad with you to price-match...technically.  I have only been asked to show the ad once, and I price match every time I go shopping.  According to one cashier, you only have to have the ad with you if the discounted price is more than 50% off the Walmart price.  But if you look it up on the Walmart site, they say that you don't have to have the ad ever.  So if they give you trouble, site that one to them.  I generally bring the ads with me, just in case, but most of the time I just have the prices listed on a post-it note, and I guess they figure if I took the time to write them down, they're probably the right ones.
  • You can only price-match if the ad says an exact price, not a percentage off or buy-one-get-one.  
  • Walmart also honors other stores' coupons if they have an exact price listed.
  • You can price-match produce and meat too.  So if you have a package of chicken that says a total price on it already, just tell the cashier that you want it for such-and-such-price-per-pound, and they'll ring it up for you.  Who cares about the price that's printed on there, anyway?  You're price-matching.  Beauty!
  • Let the cashier know you're price-matching before they ring everything up.  I like to separate my groceries into two categories on the little belt thing: the things that are regular price and the things that I'm price-matching.  Since they have to enter in your price-matched items one at a time, they'll be a lot happier with you if you tell them in advance that you're price-matching all of that stuff so they don't ring it up too quickly and then have to take it off and ring it up again.  Plus, that's just courteous.

I hope this helps.  It sure helps me, anyway.  Happy price-matching, everyone!

November 22, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pinwheels

My sweet mother-in-law gave me some AirBake cookies sheets for my birthday, and to my surprise, it they came with a little cookbook.  I glanced through and quickly decided that I wasn't going to make most of them, but one recipe caught my attention.  I thought about how delicious it looked and sounded for several days.  Finally, I just had to make them.  They didn't look quite as picture-perfect as the picture in the cookbook, but they tasted amazing, just the same.  These cookies take a little bit of work, but they are amazing.  Make a big batch!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pinwheels
(a WearEver Airbake recipe)

*Yields approximately 2 dozen cookies

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp water
8 Tbsp (one stick) butter, softened
2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 egg

1. Combine the chocolate and water in a double boiler and melt, stirring occasionally.  Or, if you're like the me and don't own a double boiler, just put the chips in a heavy-duty ziploc bag and pop them in the microwave at 50% power for 30 seconds.  Mush the bag, then microwave again for 10 seconds at a time (mushing between each time) until the chips are just melted.  Some people say you can add a bit of water with the chocholate chips, but either way should work.  Set the chocolate aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together using an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Beat in the peanut butter and the egg, beating until smooth after each addition.  Stir in the flour mixture.
3. Remove a little more than half of the dough and set it aside.  Add the chocolate mixture to the dough that's left in the mixing bowl and stir until mixed thoroughly.
4. On a floured piece of wax paper or plastic wrap, pat each piece of dough into an 8 x 8 square.  If the dough is extremely sticky, put it in the fridge for a few minutes to help it harden up a bit.  Brush the top of the chocolate square with a bit of water, then top it with the peanutbutter square.  Roll up the doughs like you'd roll up a jelly roll, keeping the roll straight and even.  My roll looked a bit...funny.  If any of you have tips for rolling it up so it looks as perfect as it does in the Airbake picture, please leave a comment and let me know how you did it.  Don't worry if yours looks funky though, because it will taste great, regardless.
5. Wrap the dough roll in plastic wrap, and chill it in the refrigerator for several hours (or even a few days, if you're not in a hurry).  I actually let mine rest on the rounded holder that I've got for my rolling pin, so then it held its rounded shape along the bottom, instead of flattening out on one side.  If you're totally confused, this is what I'm talking about...
...except imagine that the rolling pin is actually a roll of delicious, peanut buttery cookie dough...
6. When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Slice the roll into 3/16-inch slices and place them on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 14-17 minutes, or until the cookies are firm and just slightly colored.  Let them cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes before removing them to cool on a wire rack.
7. Take these bad boys to your neighborhood Christmas cookie exchange.  Yum.

November 21, 2011

Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing

Here it is!  The dressing that pulls a Cafe Rio-esque salad together and makes it taste delicious.  I must admit, the other day I had extra dressing and extra cilantro lime rice, so I just mixed them together to see what it would taste like, and it was amazing.  I'm pretty sure that anything you put this dressing on will taste amazing.  Enjoy!

(P.S. This recipe concludes my knock-off Cafe Rio recipe series.  Alas, I wish I had more recipes, but this is all I've got.  If you have any other recipes, feel free to send them my way by leaving a comment.)

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Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing
1 small bunch cilantro (stems removed)
2 large or 4 small tomatillos
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
2 cups prepared ranch dressing (if you don't have any handy, you can use this recipe for homemade ranch dressing)

1. Wash and dry cilantro leaves.  You can use a salad spinner or just pat them with paper towels.  Chop cilantro leaves into small pieces (or throw them in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds).  Roughly chop tomatillos.
2. Combine cilantro, tomatillos, garlic, lime juice, and jalapeno (if using) in a food processor or blender.  Pulse until finely pureed.  Add prepared ranch dressing and pulse until combined.  If the dressing isn't quite the right balance for you, try adding another tomatillo.
3. Chill for 1-2 hours, then shout hooray and eat your delicious salad.

November 12, 2011

Cafe Rio Enchilada Sauce

The first time I went to Cafe Rio, my sister actually pulled me aside and prepped me for how to answer the barrage of questions that about to come (and it was a good thing she did, because I couldn't understand anything they were saying they were talking so quickly).  This was what she told me to say:

"Sweet pork burrito.  Mild.  Black.  Enchilada style.  Yes."

If you've been to Cafe Rio before, you know what I'm talking about.  But of all these answers, the most important one--the one I was NOT to mess up--was "Enchilada style."  If you're going to get a burrito, and you don't get it smothered in enchilada sauce, you're going to miss out majorly.  And this, my friends, is why I was so excited to run across this recipe for enchilada sauce.  Now you can smother that burrito at home too with saucy deliciousness!  What are you waiting for?

Cafe Rio Enchilada Sauce
(from Favorite Family Recipes)

1 small (4 oz) can diced green chiles
1 (7 oz) can salsa verde
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Smother that burrito!

Note: You can refrigerate it overnight after simmering, and that way the flavors blend even more.

November 9, 2011

Sweet Pork

Here it is!  The post you've all been waiting for--sweet pork!  I've actually got two different recipes for this one, so take your pick.  Or make both, if you're feeling adventurous.  The first recipe is the one my family uses.  The second came from my awesome friend, Jenny.  With these recipes, you'll be set to make yourself some enchilada-style burritos, salads, tostadas, tacos... You name it!  When I was in college, our apartment decided to have a party and invite a bunch of people over for pork burritos.  I even went to Cafe Rio and asked them if I could a bunch of those tins that the meals come in--just to make it even more authentic.  I think they charged me for a side of pinto beans or something for them.  It was a rockin' party.  The only problem was...we didn't realize just how much people would love the food, and we totally ran out.  So if you're planning on having a knock-off Cafe Rio party, make sure you make plenty of food so it doesn't all get devoured before you get a chance to try any.  With that said, I digress.  On to the recipes!

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Cafe Rio Sweet Pork #1

5-6 lb pork roast
1 Tbsp cumin
1 cup brown sugar
20 oz bottle Dr. Pepper (caffeine free works just as great too)
12 oz bottle red taco sauce

1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Cover, and refrigerate overnight to marinate the meat.
2. In the morning, pour the contents of the bowl into a slow cooker (or at least the roast and enough marinate to cover it).  Cover, and cook on low 6-8 hours.  Remove the roast, shred, and return it to the slow cooker.  Cook for another hour on low.
3. Sweet pork heaven!

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork #2

Pork roast
1 can Coke
1 cup brown sugar
1 small (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
1 (7.75 oz) can green el pato sauce

1. Place the roast and just a bit of water in a slow cooker, and cook on low overnight.
2. In the morning, shred the roast and place it back in the slow cooker, along with all of the remaining ingredients.  Cook on low all day (or until you just can't take it anymore and you HAVE to have some sweet pork right now!).
3. Sweet pork heaven!

Pico de Gallo

This is another knock-off Cafe Rio recipe that you could use for all sorts of things.  It's simple and delicious.  It's like one step...two if you stretch it.  Have fun!

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Pico de Gallo

4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1. Combine all ingredients.
2. Yum.

November 7, 2011

Cilantro Lime Rice

My mom had us all over for dinner last night for knock-off Cafe Rio.  If you haven't had Cafe Rio (or Costa Vida), then get yourself to a state that has one and eat some delicious food!  We did our own little version of their pork salads.  I was in charge of bringing the rice.  I was a bit skeptical about making a knock-off recipe, but it turned out amazing.  As part of a pork salad, it's to die for, but it also makes a nice side dish for any Mexican-type meal.  If you are a poor, unfortunate soul that hasn't ever tasted Cafe Rio, make this.  Actually, everyone should make this.  I know, I know, this is only the rice, but there are more Cafe Rio-ish recipes to stay tuned!

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Cilantro Lime Rice

2 cups rice
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth also works well)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (with stems removed), snipped into small pieces

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and rice, and saute, stirring, until it starts to get golden brown.  Remove from heat, and stir in broth, water, and salt.
3. Pour the mixture into a 9x13 baking dish, and spread it all out evenly in the pan.  Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 1 hour.  When I made this, I was running late, so I just upped the temperature to 375 and baked it for 45-50 minutes, and it turned out just great.  
4. Meanwhile, juice your lime.  When the rice is finished baking, stir in the lime juice and cilantro.  Serve immediately (hopefully as part of your amazing sweet pork salad--recipe to come!).

November 3, 2011

Orange Rolls

This recipe comes to you straight from the lovely ladies at my church.  These orange rolls are delicious, and maybe I just haven't been around enough in the orange roll world, but I've never seen orange rolls assembled this way.  I think I actually said, "Whoa!" when I saw how they were putting them together.  And boy, were they tasty.  I ate so many of them that I actually started to feel sick.  They were amazing.  Enjoy!

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Orange Rolls

2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 pkgs yeast (or 4-1/2 tsp yeast)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
3 eggs
7 cups flour

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
zest of one orange (just grate it on the small side of your cheese shredder)

1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 Tbsp butter
Juice of one orange
Powdered sugar

1. Scald milk by heating it in a small saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan.  Don't get it so hot that it boils.  Technically, since we have pasteurized milk now, you can skip this step, but it actually breaks down the proteins in the milk, which gives you a better dough in the end. Throw your cold stick of butter into the milk.  This will melt the butter and cool the milk to the right temperature.
2. In small bowl, combine yeast and 1/2 cup warm water.  Let it sit and dissolve for a moment while you mix together the sugar, salt, eggs, and flour in a large mixing bowl.  Add the yeast mixture and the milk.  Mix until well-combined, cover it with a towel and let it rise until doubled in size.
3. Make the filling by combining butter, sugar, and the zest of one orange.
4. When the dough has doubled, roll it out into a big rectangle and cover it with the filling.  Cut dough into 1-inch strips (a pizza cutter works great here).  Stack 3 strips on top of each other until you've used up all of the strips.  Now take the pizza cutter and cut each strip into 1-inch squares.  Place the squares turned on their sides into greased muffin tins (one square per muffin spot).  Cover, and let rise until doubled.  It should look something like this...

5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake rolls for 12 minutes.
6. While the rolls are baking, combine vanilla, almond extract, butter, the juice of the orange you zested, and enough powdered sugar to make it the right consistency.  This will depend a lot upon personal preference.
7. Glaze those rolls!  When your rolls come out of the oven (if you have incredibly heat-resistant fingers, which I do not), you can grab them and just dip the top of each roll into the glaze.  This will just barely coat it and leave it shiny and delicious-looking.  If you're like me and can't take the heat, just wait for them to cool and then drizzle it on.
8. Eat them now before everyone else does!

October 26, 2011

Corn Chili

I found this recipe when we were newlyweds and I was in my final semester of college.  Money was tight, and that meant that recipes that were hearty and filling (but didn't include meat) were on the menu.  I threw together this chili with whatever I had laying in the pantry and some guidance from good old  It takes no more than 20 minutes from the time you decide to make it until it's on the table.  This made a surprisingly big pot of chili that lasted quite a while.  Try serving it with sour cream and tortilla chips.  Or pair it with a little homemade cornbread, and it's the perfect meal to warm you up on a chilly autumn day.

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Corn Chili
(adapted from Corn Chili on

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (or less if you don't want it to be too spicy)
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp taco seasoning (optional)
2 cans corn (or 1 lb frozen corn)
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced OR stewed tomatoes (regular or Mexican-style for more spice)
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, drained
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained
2 chicken bouillon cubes (or 2 tsp granules)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
2 Tbsp tomato paste

1. In a large stock pot, cook onion in oil over medium heat for one minute.  Stir in cayenne pepper, oregano, and taco seasoning.  Cook one minute more, stirring.  This recipe can easily be adjusted to suit your tastes.  Play around with the spices, adding more or less, to achieve that perfect chili taste that will win you first prize in the neighborhood chili cook-off.  
2. Stir in corn, tomatoes, beans, bouillon, water, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, and tomato paste.  Cook, uncovered, until heated through and slightly thickened, 10-15 minutes.  If it's too thick, just add more water. Too thin?  Add a bit more tomato paste.
3. Serve your chili in a large soup bowl and let it warm you right up.

October 22, 2011

Beef Taco Bake

One of my neighbors gave me this recipe a few weeks ago.  It sounded simple and tasty, so I was excited to try this week.  I tweaked it just a bit to my personal preference, and it tasted great.  Each night, it gets better and better somehow.  And the best part is that it's lasted us three dinners so far, and we still have some left--which is surprising.  Usually a dish like this will last two nights max, but this one is really filling, so you don't have to eat much to be satisfied.  I'm definitely keeping this one.

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Beef Taco Bake

1 cup rice, uncooked (white or brown works just as well here)
3/4 lb ground beef
1 package taco seasoning (or just under 1/4 cup taco seasoning and about 1/2 cup water)
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 can tomato soup
1 cup salsa
tortillas (optional)
sour cream (optional)

1. Cook rice according to package directions and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Meanwhile, brown ground beef and drain the fat.  Stir in taco seasoning (and however much water the taco seasoning tells you to add).
3. Combine rice, ground beef, black beans, corn, tomato soup, and salsa in a 9x13 baking dish.  Cover and bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly.
4. This dish can be served alone or rolled up in a tortilla with a dollop of sour cream.  Enjoy it again and again until it's gone.

October 21, 2011

Baked Ziti

Last year my church did a recipe night where we all made a favorite recipe and brought it to share.  This baked ziti recipe was a sure hit.  I went back for seconds... and possibly thirds.  When I found out how easy it was to make, I was sold.  Thank you, Heather, for this awesome recipe.

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Baked Ziti

8 oz ziti or penne pasta, uncooked
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 cups water
16 oz cottage cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese (divided into separate 1-cup portions)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine all ingredients (reserving 1 cup of mozzarella cheese for later) in a 9x13 baking dish.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 55 minutes.
3. Uncover, top with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and bake uncovered for 5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.
4. Bam!  Eat it up.  That was delicious and easy, right?

October 5, 2011

Ham and Potato Soup

I'm sitting here on my couch all cuddled up in a blanket.  Tonight is supposed to be the first really cold night since last winter.  With cold weather on the brain, warm food comes to mind.  My crock pot soups are always favorites when the weather is chilly, but this ham and potato soup is one of my all-time favorites.  You can whip up a pot in about half an hour, and it is delicious in a bread bowl.

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Ham and Potato Soup
(adapted from Delicious Ham and Potato Soup on

3 1/2 cups potatoes, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup cooked ham, diced (even cutting up lunch meat works here)
3 1/2 cups water
5 chicken bouillon cubes (or about 2 Tbsp bouillon granules)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
5 Tbsp butter
5 Tbsp flour (also the same as 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp)
2 cups milk

1. Combine potatoes, celery, onion, ham, and water in a large stock pot.  Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are just tender.  Reduce heat to low and stir in bouillon, salt, and pepper.
2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat.  Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly to avoid clumps.  Continue cooking, stirring frequently for 5-7 minutes or until the mixture is slightly thickened.  This might take longer than that, depending on how low your heat is.  If it doesn't seem to be any thicker, keep cooking it until it does.
3. Pour milk mixture into the large stock pot and stir to combine.  Turn up the heat to medium, and cook until heated through.
4. Serve up some comfort with this soup in a homemade bread bowl.  Mmm...

Homemade Bread Bowls

What's better than soup?  Soup in a bread bowl, of course.  But what's better than soup in a bread bowl?  Soup in a homemade bread bowl.  It seems like a challenge--like you'd have to be crazy to make your own bread bowls, but it's surprisingly simple and is a sure fire way to impress guests.

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Homemade Bread Bowls
(from this recipe on
*Yields 8 medium bread bowls or 6 large bread bowls

2 (.25 oz) packets active dry yeast (or about 4 1/2 tsp)
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil (I like olive oil best)
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp cornmeal
1 egg white
1 Tbsp water

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Let it stand until creamy, or about 10 minutes.
2. Add salt, oil, and 4 cups of flour.  Beat well.  Stir in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with each addition.  When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes).
3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume (about 40 minutes).  If you have a cold house, which is usually the case when you're making bread or soup, just switch the oven to warm for a minute, then turn it off.  Place the bowl of dough and a shallow pan of warm water into the oven, and let it rise in the warm oven.
4. Punch the dough down, and divide it into 8 equal portions (or 6, if you want larger bread bowls).  Form each portion of dough into a round loaf (basically the same as a large roll).  Make sure that you get it into a nice rounded shape.  If it's too flat, there won't be any room for soup inside it.  
5. Grease 2 cookie sheets and sprinkle them with the cornmeal.  Place dough balls onto the cookie sheets (half on each sheet), and let them rise in a warm place until doubled (about 30 minutes).  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
6. In a small bowl, beat together the egg white (or the whole egg, whatever) and 1 Tbsp water.  Lightly brush the loaves with half of the egg wash.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake for 10-15 minutes more (depending on whether you made small or medium-sized bowls), until the loaves are golden brown.  If you're cooking both cookie sheets at the same time, remember to switch which pan is on the top or bottom here so they cook evenly.  Cool on wire racks.
8.  Cut the top 1/2 inch off of each bread bowl, and scoop out the inside bread, leaving a wall 3/4 inch thick on all sides.  Fill it with soup, and use the scooped out bread to dip in the soup.  Delicious!

September 30, 2011

Pizza Crust

I've played around with different recipes for pizza crusts.  Every single time, my hopes are high.  I bite into my freshly baked pizza, only to taste gross, dry, disgusting crust.  Disappointment.  But I finally found one that tastes great!  It was awesome, and even though I had to wait for it to rise, it was totally worth it.  This recipe yields two large pizza crusts, so if you only want to make one pizza, just refrigerate or freeze the other half of the dough before you let it rise. Okay, let's make some pizza.

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Pizza Crust
(adapted from Jay's Signature Pizza Crust on

*Yields 2 large pizza crusts

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil
3 1/3 cups flour
2 Tbsp melted butter (or olive oil)
Garlic powder to taste

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in water, and let the whole thing sit for about 10 minutes.  If you've never seen yeast dissolve before, sit and watch. It looks pretty neat, in my opinion.
2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution.  Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in the rest of the dough until it's smooth and elastic (or just leave it in your kitchen aid and let it do the work).  Divide the dough into two equally-sized balls.  If you're just making one pizza, now's the time to refrigerate or freeze one of the dough balls.  Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
4. Punch down the dough and form it into a ball again.  Let it sit for a minute to relax before rolling or stretching it out.  Preheat your oven to 425 while you're waiting.  Lightly oil your pizza pan or cookie sheet, and fill it with the dough.  If you want a puffier crust, just fold the edge back over onto itself and press to keep it in place.  Brush the crust with melted butter or olive oil, and sprinkle the garlic salt over the whole thing.  Let it rise 15-20 minutes more.
5. Top it with your favorite toppings (see here for all kinds of topping ideas) and bake on a low rack in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese and crust are golden brown.
6. Buon appetito!

September 26, 2011

Sweet Potato Fries

My little boy is starting to eat solid foods--a major step in life.  Consequently, I've been checking out all kinds of books from the library about how to make homemade baby food.  One of the recipes was Sweet Potato Fries for Baby.  Babies can eat sweet potato fries?  Lucky babies.  It sounded tasty enough to me, so I decided to make some for the little man.  But they looked so delicious as they were cooking that I did some tweaking and made an adult version for myself.  Yum!  Who knew that the inspiration for a new recipe could come from a baby food book?  I promise though, these taste nothing like baby food.  Just try them and see.

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Sweet Potato Fries

2 sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  You'll be so happy that you did when it comes time to clean up.
2. Peel and slice sweet potatoes into 1/3 inch slices.  Cut each slice into 1/3 inch thick strips.  They're starting to look like fries already!
3. Combine olive oil and salt in a mixing bowl, and add sweet potato strips.  Toss to coat the strips completely.  Place the sweet potatoes onto the lined baking sheet, making sure that they form a single layer with no fries stacked up on top of each other.
4. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, stir, then bake for 15 minutes more (for a total of 30 minutes).  Dip in your favorite fry sauce and devour.

September 21, 2011

Raspberry Jam

I've always secretly wanted to know how to can things--jam, fruit, salsa, apple get the idea.  But I've never really known how and never really wanted to invest time or money into figuring it out.  This month I finally jumped in and canned something--raspberry jam.  Sunflower Market was having a sale on raspberries, so I stocked up, borrowed a canner from a lovely neighbor, and got to work.  I am happy to say that even though my first batch was a little runny, it was still delicious (and even more so on top of a brownie a la mode). This is an old time recipe I got from The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Preserves, which I borrowed from the library.  Don't you just love books?  Since the recipe is more old-fashioned, it doesn't call for pectin--but don't let that scare you.  This jam turned out to be delicious.  I am officially a canner!

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Raspberry Jam
(from The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Preserves by Linda Zeidrich)

*Yields about 2 pints or 5 half-pints

2 lbs raspberries
3 cups sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice

1. In a preserving pan, mash the raspberries with a potato masher.  Add sugar and lemon juice.  I did a little bit of research, and I guess professional chefs will sometimes warm their sugar in the oven or microwave first to cut down on cooking time since warm things boil more quickly.  
2. Over medium heat, heat the mixture, stirring gently, until the sugar is dissolved.  Raise the heat to medium-high and boil the mixture, stirring frequently, until either a drop of jam mounds on a chilled dish or the jam "sheets" as it pours off of a chilled spoon.  See here for a more complete explanation.  The second time I made this jam I boiled it for about 12 minutes, and it was perfect.  Keep in mind though that altitude plays a big role, and I live at about 4300 feet above sea level.
3. Ladle the jam into pint or half-pint mason jars, add lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
4. Be proud of yourself for canning your own, homemade, old-fashioned raspberry jam, and forget about toast or peanutbutter sandwiches--just slather that jam on a brownie a la mode!

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September 20, 2011

Egg and Potato Skillet

We've had an overabundance of spinach in our household lately.  So in my zeal prevent any of it from spoiling before I used it, I spent a lot of time researching recipes that use spinach.  I found this potato skillet recipe on and used ideas from a lot of the comments.  The result was delicious and inexpensive.  I love when that happens.  Bon appetit!

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Egg and Potato Skillet
(adapted from Spinach and Potato Frittata on

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 regular russet potatoes, thinly sliced (or 6 small red potatoes)
1/4 cup onion, sliced
1 can mushrooms
1 cup spinach leaves, tightly packed and roughly chopped
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes (I used the Italian style, but I'm sure regular would be delicious as well)
1 tsp garlic salt
pepper to taste
4 eggs (The original recipe calls for 6, but since I added extra ingredients, 4 were all that would fit in my skillet.  If you have a bigger skillet, by all means use more)
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Toss in the potatoes, onions, and mushrooms, and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are just tender.
2. Mix in spinach, diced tomatoes, garlic salt, and pepper, cooking 1-2 minutes more until spinach is wilted.
3. In a small bowl, mix eggs and milk.  Pour egg mixture over the vegetables in the skillet, then sprinkle on the cheddar cheese.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook about 5-7 minutes more, or until eggs are no longer runny.  If you want your cheese to get a bit crispy, just remove the lid for the last few minutes.
4.  Butter up some toast and serve it up.

September 9, 2011

Honey Chicken

My mom had a bunch of family over for dinner the other day and made honey chicken.  It was incredible!  I asked for the recipe, and it turned out to be one of the simplest recipes yet.  Every time I've had this dish, it has been tender and flavorful.  Give it a try.

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Honey Chicken

2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Place chicken in slow cooker.
2. In a separate bowl, combine all other ingredients and pour over chicken.  Cook on low 4-5 hours.
3. Serve over rice and be amazed at the incredible flavor.  That was easy!

August 29, 2011

How to Wow Your Neighbors with a Mix-in-a-jar

I recently discovered that you can wow people by giving them a mix in a mason jar.  It's one of the simplest gifts you can give to someone, and if you put the ingredients in a layer at a time, it ends up looking pretty cool, like so.

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Pretty cool, right?  All you have to do is attach instructions for turning the mix into a final product and you have yourself a pretty, inexpensive, homemade, delicious gift.  I gave my grandma a brownie mix for Mother's Day.  My grandpa got a cornbread mix for Father's Day.  They make great new neighbor gifts, Christmas presents for get the idea.

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So how, pray tell, do you make one of these marvelous mixes?  Easy peasy.  Just take a recipe for something that you already love--for instance, the sweet cornbread recipe that I posted a while back.  Combine all of the dry ingredients, one at a time, making each layer flat before adding the next layer.  If you have way more of one ingredient than the rest (often flour or sugar), just split it up into two layers with another ingredient or two between to make it look prettier.  For the cornbread recipe, I added the dry ingredients in the following layers:

1/2 the flour
1/2 the cornmeal
White sugar
Baking powder
The other 1/2 of the flour
The other 1/2 of the cornmeal
Brown Sugar

As long as your ingredients are relatively the same texture, you can really put them in whatever order you like because they're just going to get mixed together eventually anyway.  The thing to keep in mind with layering is that you want to put the heavier ingredients toward the bottom and any ingredients that will have space between pieces (like chocolate chips or beans, for example) are on the top.  That way flour or whatever doesn't filter down in between them and make your layer look funny.  Making the layers vary from light to dark colors makes it look really nice too.  Just look how good these muffins in a jar look!

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When all of your layers are in place, put the lid on the jar, tie a ribbon on it, and include instructions for adding the rest of the ingredients and cooking it.  Bam!  That was easy.

You want to try it now, don't you?  Well, my culinary friend, here is a website that has tons of ideas for mixes in a jar to get you going.  Happy mixing!

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Chili in a jar, anyone?

August 26, 2011

Strawberry Banana Protein Shake

When we first got married, my husband and I used to go running together.  We would run, I would get angry, and we would go home and make a smoothie.  I would feel better.  So if the endorphins you get from exercise aren't quite enough to make it worth the effort, just tell yourself that when you're finished you'll get to drink this smoothie.  It's all about motivation, people.

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Strawberry Banana Protein Shake

1 banana, broken up into a few pieces
2/3 cup frozen strawberries
1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder (we get the kind from Costco)
1/2 cup milk
1 packet Emergen-C (optional, if you want an added bit of flavor or feel under the weather)

1. Put all ingredients in the blender.  Blend!
2. Drink!  Be happy that you exercised and now get to drink this shake.

August 25, 2011

The Everyday Shopper's Guide to Buying Produce

Ever wonder how to pick the perfect avocado?  Do you have a hard time remembering when tangerines are in season?  Ever walk around the produce section pretending to look at produce but secretly watching the people who look like they actually know what they're doing when they pick out their vegetables?  If so, these two articles may just be for you.  They're from a website called Wise Bread that puts up all kinds of articles about frugal living.  Hopefully they will be of some help to you, as they were to me.

The first article, The Produce Worker's Guide to Choosing Fruits and Vegetables, is all about how to pick out some of the most common fruits and vegetables that people buy at the grocery store.  It's full of all kinds of little tips and tricks for picking the freshest produce and keeping it fresh at home.

Image Courtesy of
The second article, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables By the Month, deals with which fruits are in season at which times throughout the year--especially helpful if you're like me and have never successfully grown your own plant of any sort and have to buy all of your produce at the store and consequently have no idea when anything gets ripe.

Check these articles out!  You'll be happy you did.  And happy produce shopping!

August 23, 2011

Spiced Cantaloupe

I was recently asked to bring cantaloupe to a baby shower.  The only issue was that generally I'm not too much of a fan of melons.  So in an effort to make the cantaloupe more delicious to my taste, I pulled out my trusty Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook and turned to the Vegetables & Fruits section.  Lo and behold, there was a recipe for spiced cantaloupe.  With just one minor tweak to fit with the ingredients I had at home, this recipe was what I took to the shower.  And guess what?  People actually asked for the recipe!  I think I've found my new favorite way to eat cantaloupe.
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Spiced Cantaloupe
(this recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, etc. depending on how much cantaloupe you have on hand)

2 cups cantaloupe, cubed
2 Tbsp lemon juice (or lime)
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1. Put the cantaloupe cubes in a medium-sized bowl.  Pour lemon (or lime) juice over the cantaloupe, then sprinkle on the sugar and nutmeg.  Toss gently to combine.
2. Enjoy cantaloupe for possibly the first time ever (if you're anything like me).

August 22, 2011

And the Winner is...

Well, folks, today is the day that I announce the winner of my blog award.  Here's a big shout out to...

Breanna and her amazing blog Project Bake!

Project Bake is the amazing winner of this lovely award because her blog inspires me to bake things, even though baking is probably the kind of cooking that scares me the most.  Baking always seems so complicated and intimidating, but Breanna makes it seem easy.  Her blog also features some amazing photos, including this one of the beautiful Breanna herself.

Doesn't she just make you want to go put on your apron right now?  Do yourself a favor and check out her blog ( because it truly is amazing.  Congratulations, Project Bake!

August 19, 2011

Tex Mex Potato Casserole

I found this recipe as an alternate suggestion for a potato casserole on Potato Goodness Unearthed.  It was originally a microwave recipe (and you can go here to find that one if you're into microwave cooking), but I tweaked it a little to become a regular oven casserole recipe.  It's inexpensive to put together (roughly $1.46 a serving) and is a fun, original way to make potatoes.  Happy cooking!
Tex Mex Potato Casserole

1-1/4 lbs potatoes (the original recipe calls for Yukon Gold potatoes, but I just used regular russet)
1 cup onion, minced
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can (4 oz) diced green chiles
1/2 cup canned black beans
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Slice the potatoes as thinly as possible (a mandolin or Saladmaster would help a lot here, but you can do it with a knife).  Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine broth, chili powder, and cumin.
3. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 square baking dish, and (listen carefully--this can get a bit confusing) place 1/3 of the potatoes and 1/2 of the onions in the dish.  Layer with 1/3 of the cheese and 1/2 of the green chiles and beans.  Repeat layers.  You should have the final 1/3 of the cheese and potatoes remaining.  
4. Top the entire casserole with the remaining potatoes, creating a solid layer of potatoes with no gaps, if possible.  Essentially, you want to seal in the moisture with that top layer of potatoes.  Top with remaining cheese.
5. Pour the chicken broth mixture evenly over the whole casserole.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for and hour or so until potatoes are tender.  The thinner your slices, the faster they will cook.
6. Serve with avocados and salsa!  Taste the goodness.

August 9, 2011

Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix

Another make-it-yourself mix from the fabulous Melissa.  Enjoy!

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Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix

1/4 cup powdered buttermilk
3 Tbsp dried minced onions
3 Tbsp parsley
1 Tbsp dried minced chives
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container until ready to use.

To make into ranch dressing:
1. Combine 1-1/2 Tbsp ranch dressing mix with 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup mayo.  Less milk makes it creamier, more milk makes it thinner.  
2. Ranch your salad, your carrots, your celery, your french fries...

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One-Pot Spaghetti

My husband stumbled across this recipe one night for a jazzed up version of spaghetti.  We thought it was pretty good, but when we had the leftovers the next day we realized that we'd found a keeper.  If all you have is ingredients for spaghetti but want something slightly more sophisticated (that actually tastes good the next day), this is the recipe for you.

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One-Pot Spaghetti
(adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook--14th edition.  Apparently my "New" cookbook isn't new anymore, now that there's a 15th edition)

1/2 lb ground beef
1 can (6 oz) sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth OR 1 can (14 oz) broth (or try beef broth for a different taste)
1-3/4 cups water
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 oz uncooked spaghetti
Parmesan cheese

1. In a large saucepan, combine ground beef, onion, and garlic.  Saute over medium heat until meat is brown and onion is tender.  Drain any drippings.
2. Stir in mushrooms, broth, 1-3/4 cups water, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and black pepper.  Bring mixture to a boil.
3. Add spaghetti (it helps if you break the noodles in half before you put them in) a little at a time, stirring constantly.  Return to a boil and reduce heat to low.  Simmer gently, uncovered, for 17-20 minutes or until spaghetti is tender and sauce is desired consistency.  Make sure to stir it frequently or some will stick to the bottom of the pan and some will stick out the top and not cook.  
4. Sprinkle on a little parmesan cheese, and you're in business!

August 4, 2011

Homemade Taco Seasoning

This recipe was sent to me by my lovely friend, Melissa.  Making your own taco seasoning is apparently super easy and delicious.  Give it a shot next time you want to make tacos!

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Homemade Taco Seasoning

1 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt (or regular, if that's all you've got)
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional, if you want an added kick)

1. Mix all ingredients together in a ziploc bag and shake until well blended.
2. Store in a dry place until you're ready to use it.
3. Brown meat, add 1/4 cup water, and as much seasoning as you want to make it flavorful.  Stir and let sit for about a minute.
4. Enjoy your tacos!

Thanks Melissa for sharing your recipe!

July 26, 2011

Baked Ham & Poppy Seed Sandwiches

Everybody loves a good sandwich, but a sandwich kicked up a notch?  Oh yes.  This recipe comes to you as a combo of two recipes--one from Nummies, and one from Allrecipes.  Enjoy!

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Baked Ham & Poppy Seed Sandwiches
(a bit from Nummies and a bit from Allrecipes)

1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1/3 cup dried minced onion
2 Tbsp prepared mustard
16 dinner rolls
16 slices ham (honey ham is my personal favorite)
16 slices swiss cheese (or cheddar, which is basically the only kind of cheese I ever have on hand)

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Combine margarine, mayo, poppy seeds, minced onion, and mustard.  
2. Spread mixture even onto both sides of each roll.  Place a slice of ham and a slice of cheese on each roll and replace the tops of the rolls.
3. Place rolls onto a cookie sheet and cover with aluminum foil.  Make sure the foil is tight so the sandwiches don't dry out while baking.  You can wrap each sandwich individually, but that takes forever.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cheese is deliciously melted.  
4. Enjoy your little sandwiches.

July 21, 2011

Lemon and Almond Broccoli

I found this recipe when searching for a new way to prepare broccoli.  It was light, and the lemon added a fresh taste that made me feel healthier somehow. With a couple of very minor changes, I enjoyed the result.  I'm not sure it's one that I'll make all the time, but it was definitely nice to have a change of pace in the broccoli department.  Lemon and Almond Broccoli is a nice summery side dish.

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Lemon and Almond Broccoli

1 head fresh broccoli, cut into florets
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Salt and pepper

1. Steam or boil broccoli until tender.  Drain water and return to pan.
2. Add butter, and mix it all around in the hot pan until the butter is melted and evenly distributed.  Add lemon juice, almonds, salt, and pepper, and toss to coat evenly.
3. Serve as a light side to a heavier main dish.

July 20, 2011

Apple Bread

I'm a fan of quick breads in general.  They're easy to make and let me satisfy my sweet tooth without eating cookies or something.  I adapted this one mostly from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that I have with a few suggestions I picked up from the comments of various Allrecipes apple bread recipes.  I've made this bread with Fuji and Gala apples because that's what was on sale.  Almost all kinds of apples work for this bread, but steer very clear of Red Delicious when you're baking with apples.  Golden Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, Macintosh, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, and Fuji apples all work nicely.  Enjoy!

Image by Two Peas and their Pod
Apple Bread
(adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook) 

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 egg, beaten
1 cup sugar (if you're feeling adventurous, try doing half white, half brown sugar)
1-1/2 cups finely shredded, peeled apple (or about 3 regular-sized apples)  If you like biting into nice, soft, little apple chunks, shred two of the apples and dice the remaining apple
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp applesauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a loaf pan and set it aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg.  Make a well in the center.
3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine egg, sugar, shredded apples, butter, and applesauce.  Pour the entire apple mixture at once into the well you made in the flour mixture.  Stir until just moistened.  It will be lumpy, and that's a good thing.  Overstirring will actually lessen the quality of the finished bread.
4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan (sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if you wish), and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf.
5. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then remove from pan and let cool completely on wire racks.  For best results, wrap it up and store overnight before slicing (yeah right!)
6. Relish in your moist, delectable loaf of apple bread.
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