Thursday, December 24, 2009

Shepherd's Pie and Taco Stew

Shepherd's Pie

  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup peppers and onion mix (frozen)
  • can of mixed veggies (no salt added), drained
  • can of diced tomatoes (no salt added), undrained
  • pouch of brown gravy mix
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 pouch mashed potatoes
  • shredded Parmesan (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Brown the beef. Add the peppers to the pan with some salt and pepper. Cook until onions are translucent. Prepare pouch of mashed potatoes while this is cooking.

Add can of diced tomatoes and gravy pouch. I added the same amount of water that the pouch of gravy asked for. Stir in spices and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. This way it was kind of soupy at the end, which was good but I was expecting more of a stewy sauce. Next time, I may use less water or even make the gravy before and adding it already thick. Add the mixed veggies and transfer to a 2 qt casserole dish. (I sprayed the dish beforehand just to be sure.)

Top with the mashed potatoes and parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes.

Yummmmmy. Like I said before, I would like the sauce a little more thick but the flavor was PERFECT.

This stew was FABULOUS. Make it. and sooon.

Taco Stew
from Whole Foods online recipe database
  • 1/2 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 Tb taco seasoning (I make my own of chili powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin and coriander)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1-15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup corn kernels (it says frozen but I used canned...)
  • 1 cup medium salsa
  • sour cream, for garnish
Brown meat in a large pot over medium high heat. Drain, remove and set aside. In the same pot, sauté onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add meat back to pot and sprinkle mixture with taco seasoning to blend. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Top with sour cream and serve.


YUM! The sour cream is completely necessary. It's cold and gives that lovely velvety textrure to it. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Buckeye Delights and Mint Snowtops

Greek tilapia! So simple and YUMMMY. You saute some garlic and onion, then add a can of diced tomatoes and about a tablespoon of dried oregano.

Stir together and bring to a simmer. Top with tilapia fillets and cover the fillets with the mixture.

Cover and let simmer until fish is done, about 6 minutes. Top with crumbled feta (I use Reduced Fat) and viola!

The cheese adds such a tangy velvetiness. It's just amazing. Seriously, my FAVORITE fish meal.

Buckeye Delights
Prize Winning 2008 Recipe from Betty Crocker's Christmas Cookie book
  • Cookie Base
    • 1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie dough mix
    • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used shaved baking chocolate)
    • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
    • 1 egg
  • Filling
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I used crunchy and you couldn't tell)
    • 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Topping (I used a can of frosting mixed with extra melted chocolate for frosting)
    • 1/2 cup whipping cream
    • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1 Tb smooth peanut butter (again I used crunchy)
Heat oven to 350°F. Line 36 mini muffin cups with mini foil candy cups (about 1 1/4 inch).* In large bowl, stir cookie base ingredients until dough forms. Press about 1 tablespoon dough into each foil cup. Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until puffy and set. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Remove from pan.

*I used regular liners and in regular muffin cups (only made 12).

In small bowl, mix filling ingredients until well blended. Press about 1 teaspoon mixture on top of each cooled cookie.

In 1-quart saucepan, heat whipping cream just to boiling over low heat, stirring occasionally; remove from heat. Stir in 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until cooled. Spread about 2 teaspoons chocolate mixture over each cookie cup.

Place remaining 2 tablespoons chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon peanut butter in resealable food-storage plastic bag; seal bag. Microwave on High 30 to 60 seconds or until softened; knead to mix. Cut off small tip from one corner of bag. Squeeze bag to drizzle chocolate mixture over each cookie cup. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set. Store covered in refrigerator.

These scared me since they were so hard. I guess I saw the cupcake shape and expected cakeiness. Well, they're not cakey but I wouldn't change a thing! When I finally got the nerve to try one, they were great!! It's a cookie base so the outside is hard but the inside is just perfect :)

Here's a fabulous cookie recipe that is a Christmas staple in our family, all centered around this one ingredient that seems to be near impossible to find! Seriously, our family scours the store every year for these and buys soo many bags it's ridiculous! :)

Chocolate-Mint Snowtops
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tb butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 - 10 oz bag of Hershey's Mint Chocolate Chips, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • confectioner's sugar
Take 1 cup chocolate chips and melt them in the microwave. (It's safest to do 30-second intervals, stirring and when they get close, 15 seconds.)

Cream sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, salt and baking powder.

Pour the melted chocolate into the the sugar mixture and combine. (Use a scraper to get all that yummy chocolate out!)

Slowly add the flour mixture. And I mean slooooowy - to avoid a big mess!

Add vanilla and fold in the rest of the chocolate chips.

After it's mixed together, roll out some plastic wrap and dump the dough onto it. This is the part my husband calls the "pile of poo"...which may gross you out if it weren't for the wondrous smell that you will be experiencing at this point. Roll into a tight log and refrigerate at least 20 minutes. The longer the better. My mom even freezes it for days sometimes. The firmer the dough is, the easier the next step will be.

Pour some confectioner's sugar into a shallow bowl. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and unwrap. Take off portions of the dough with a spoon and roll into 1" balls. Roll them in confectioner's sugar and place on a prepared cookie sheet. Do not tap off excess sugar! Every year I forget and the first batch isn't as pretty as the rest because of it.

Bake at 350 F for 12-13 minutes. YUMMM.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Turkey and Veg Stew, Tuna Casserole

Turkey Sausage and Vegetable Stew

Peel the carrots (but not the potatoes!) and then chop all them veggies up and I went ahead and chopped up the sausage as well (or crumbled, I guess).

Heat about 1 tb. oil in a big pot. Add the sausage and brown (but not cook). I threw in some diced garlic as well.

Remove the sausage and add 1 Tb. of paprika. It will not look good at first! Just bear with me.

Then pour in 2 cups of water and about 1 cup of beef (or veggie or chicken...) broth. Add in the chopped veggies and put the sausage back in.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until veggies are cooked to desired tenderness. I top it with some herbed sour cream (sour cream blended with fresh parsely) with makes it all velvety. mmmmmmmmmm.

Tuna Casserole 

I made a simple bechamel sauce recipe that I found in Everday Food. You melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Saute 1/4 cup onions. Add 3 tablespoons of flour. It will look like this:

Then, you're supposed to cook this for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. It started to get brown on the edges at 4 minutes so I stopped and slowly added the 4 cups of milk (I used 1%) whisking the entire time. Bring this to a boil while still stirring frequently. Cook for 10 minutes. Don't underestimate this stage. It took FOREVER. This meal's prep time was defintiely near 45 minutes. The sauce should be pretty thick.

Ok. Now for the rest of the casserole. I had already boiled 1/2 bag of WW egg noodles. It also calls for a 2 cans of tuna (I used a pouch and a can since that's all I had), a can of green beans (drained) and bread crumbs. I got a little creative with the topping and it turned out fabulous. I used some old corn muffins in the freezer, thawed them and then threw them in the food processor until they were coarse crumbs. Melt some butter and combine with the crumbs. How much butter you need depends on how much crumbs you want. Add it 1 Tb at a time until the crumbs are moist but not wet and still crumble easily.

Combine the sauce, green beans, tuna, noodles and salt and pepper in a 2 qt oven safe casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until crumbs begin to brown.

Not the healthiest meal on the block but HOLY YUMMMM. I actually wasn't expecting it to be that good but it WAS! Here's to hoping for more great soups and casseroles very soon :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Perfect Snickerdoodle

The Perfect Snickerdoodle
adapted from Whole Wheat Baking cookbook and Emeril's recipe

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (I used Smart Balance Butter Blend), softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 cup WW flour (plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tb. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Heat oven to 350 F. Prep all ingredients before beginning. (I do this before everything but I think it's extremely important for these cookies.) Soften butter, crack egg and measure out 3/4 cup sugar. Sift all AP flour, 1/2 cup WW flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt into a bowl. If you are patient enough, sift twice (this ensures really fluffy cookies). Combine 2 Tb. sugar and cinnamon in a small shallow bowl.

Beat butter. Slowly add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

It's hard to depict light and fluffy in a picture but it's a really pale yellow and looks like it has almost doubled in amount. Add egg and beat until fully incorporated before adding vanilla.

Blend in sifted flour mixture, slowly, not all at once. You may have to add more flour. I had to add 2 more tablespoons of WW flour to get it to the right consistancy. It should be slightly sticky but also easily rolled into balls. If you're unsure of the consistancy, bake one or two cookies and if they raise up, it's right but if they spread out wide, you need more flour.

Round out tablespoons (don't use your palms, too much heat) with your fingertips and the roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture until covered. Space on greased cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. DO NOT OVERCROWD.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until the top lightly browns. Let sit for 2 minutes.

Move to cool on a wire rack. Makes 1 1/2-2 dozen.

Tilapia and Corn Stew - serves 2
from Weight Watchers in 20 minutes cookbook
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove minced (1/2 tsp pre-minced)
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used my last one from the small! :( oh well...)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chiles (recipe calls for half a can but we LOVE tomatoes and using the whole can only adds like 30 calories per person)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen lima beans
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tilapia fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until light golden, about 1 minute. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juice, the corn, lima beans and spices; bring to a boil.

Add the tilapia, stirring gently to coat the fillets with the liquid, return to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, covered until the tilapia is just opaque in the center, about 6 minutes. Ladle the stew into bowls.

I serve with corn muffins.

Puffins, anyone?

To redeem myself from a baking disaster Friday night, I decided to make the Mini Pancake Muffins I found..."Puffins" :) I don't have a mini muffin pan so mine weren't mini but they were delicious! I cracked an egg into the bowl and look what I found...

twins! I'm not kidding...that's only one egg. Crazy, huh?

Maple Pancake Muffins
adapted from Bakerella
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tb. sugar
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk*
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tb. maple syrup
  • 2 Tb. melted butter
  • chocolate, optional
*To make 1 cup of buttermilk, put 1 Tb. lemon juice in the bottom of a measuring cup and fill with milk to the 1 cup mark. For 2/3, use 2/3 Tb. lemon juice and fill to 2/3 cup and so on.

Preheat oven to 350 F and generously grease your muffin pan. I employed Alton Brown's muffin method while making these because...well, because AB is always right. :) Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a bowl and "sift" with a wire whisk. Basically, combine with a whisk and let the flour mixture fall through the wire whisk to create finer particles. (Using the word particles in a recipe definitely comes from watching too many episodes of Good Eats.) In another bowl, stir buttermilk, egg, maple syrup and melted butter until just combined.

Nice action shot, eh? :) Always add wet ingredients on top of dry ingredients to prevent mixing messes.

Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until just combined. AB uses 10 well-rounded strokes until everything is incorporated and then just walk away. Leave the lumps...they will work themselves out.

See, now I'm quoting the Muffin Man episode. It's pathetic, really. Oh well. Divide the batter into the muffin cups. I used 1/4 cup measuring cup to ladle it in there and somehow only got 11 instead of 12...hmm.

I topped a few of mine with chocolate chips, but you can leave them out or mix them in right before ladeling. You could get creative, any manner of toppings would work...but chocolate is always a winner in my book. I baked my muffins for 12-13 minutes and she baked her mini muffins for 8-9 minutes. Just keep a close eye on them and use a toothpick to check. Serve with maple syrup for dipping.

These were seriously good. Definitely will be repeated. I'm not sure if I would put the chocolate chips in the actual batter because mine sunk to the middle anyways and I don't think I could handle more chips than this...

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