Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Lasagna...Remember, Make Two

I have been deep in holiday baking.  The week of Thanksgiving I made 29 pies, 12 loaves of pumpkin bread, 24 pumpkin ginger spice cupcakes...oh, and then I made all of Thanksgiving dinner...

I am tired, but I am doing what I love.  My holiday wish for all of you is that you too are doing what you love.

(And I am pretty sure that everyone over the age of 25 is tired.)

When we are tired, nothing beats comfort food, unless it is comfort food that you baked a few weeks ago and put in the freezer...especially if it is in a recyclable tin.

So...remember the golden rule that I discussed a few weeks ago, and make this...

Kitchen Tart Golden Rule Lasagna
(Doubles and Triples Easily)

2 eggs
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces small curd cottage cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan
1 box of no-boil noodles (I like Barilla)
1 pound ground beef
24-30 ounces sauce (I like Rao's)

Mix eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese together in a bowl.

Spray the bottom of the cooking pan.  Spread 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the pan.  Lay noodles to cover the bottom of the pan.

Layer in this fashion for as many layers as you like…

Sour Cream mixture
Ground Beef
Mozzarella Cheese
Cheese mixture
Ground Beef…

For the last layer do…
Mozzarella Cheese

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

If frozen you can either thaw overnight and then cook 60-70 minutes, or cook directly from the freezer and bake 90-120 minutes until hot throughout.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Never Make Just One Lasagna

I have a Kitchen Tart Golden Rule...Never make just one lasagna.

I recently offered to make a lasagna for one of my kid's teachers for her to feed to her family for dinner one night.  As I was preparing to make it I looked at our menu for the week and realized that we would not need a lasagna for ourselves that week, and for a brief moment I considered making only one lasagna...then I remembered the Kitchen Tart Golden Rule.

I will be sharing my lasagna recipe in a few days, but in the meantime ponder this...

Top 10 Reasons to Make Two

10. Making lasagna is not hard, but it is messy.  Once you are stuck in the dish hell that is cleaning up from lasagna, you may as well have something extra to show for it.  Hey, make three if you are feeling ambitious.

9.  It is so easy once you are making one to make two.  In fact, the way I make lasagna it is actually easier to make two than it is to make one.  I say this because my lasagna uses sour cream and cottage cheese instead of ricotta, and if you make the mixture for two you don't have to measure, you just dump the whole container in the bowl.  Brilliant.

8.  There is room in your freezer.  If there isn't room in your freezer take something out...look, now there is room in your freezer.

7.  Lasagna tastes as good from the freezer as it does fresh.  I dare you to try and tell the difference.  (That is not an invitation to dinner, make your own lasagnas you free loader).

6.  Using that much cheese helps support the economy of the great state of Wisconsin.  Go, Packers!

5.  You may not want lasagna tonight, but you probably don't want to cook one night next month so now you don't have to.

4.  If you freeze it in a disposable pan and use paper plates to eat it you will literally have no dishes to do that night...look away environmentalists.  Look.  Away.

3.  There is always a friend in need who could use a lasagna, and they don't care that it came from your freezer.  Someone you know has probably moved today, had a baby today, or is just having a hard day today.  Think about how happy you would be if someone just showed up on your doorstep with a lasagna.  (Hint, hint...Kitchen Tarts need food too).

2.  Rao's Marinara Sauce may be on sale at your market.  (If you don't understand this one, put down your phone or your computer mouse, go to your grocery store and buy a jar of it right now...ask for a plastic spoon in the deli department and crack that puppy open.  Spoon it into your mouth and then write me an email and thank me for introducing you to heaven.)

1.  Lasagna is comfort food, it always has been and it always will be.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Roads End Sloppy Joe's

The legend tells us that this recipe was used to save my Grandmother when she was entertaining at her home on Roads End in Maine.  She was hosting a large number of guests for a party and had made a big batch of her famous fish chowder the day before.  My Grandmother was born and raised in Maine, fish chowder was right in her wheel she opened the lid of the pot before reheating it that morning for the crew and it gave a big bubble, she knew that it had turned.  But you don't grow up in Maine during the Great Depression without knowing a thing or two about how to fix a meal to feed many with what you have.  So she decided to make Sloppy Joe's, or as she called affectionately called them Osie Dosies.

Simple enough, right?  Well...not so much...

You see, it was during a meat shortage and people were limited to a pound of meat a person.  So, once again being a resourceful woman, she gathered all of the younger house guests and sent them one at a time to collect the meat until she had enough to make a batch to feed the masses.  My father was one of the errand boys and assures me that the story was not as amusing then as it is now ;)

In my grandmother's notes on the recipe she has it multiplied out to feed as many as 100, so needless to say, this recipe doubles, triples, quadruples and more with ease.

Roads End Sloppy Joes

1 lb. ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 8 oz. can tomato soup
1 can tomato sauce
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. chili powder

Brown hamburger in heavy skillet.  Drain the fat.

Add onion and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  If your skillet is very full cook slightly longer.

Serves: 6

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hot Artichoke Dip

This photo is just the artichoke hearts, it will look different
when cooked...more like a creamy cloud of delish.

This dip is so easy and so tasty that you will bring it to every holiday party.  Every one.

Serve this
with crackers.  Ususally I am a Ritz girl, but here Town House are best.

Enough said.

Hot Artichoke Dip

2 cans of medium or large artichoke hearts, cut into small pieces
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
6-8 dashes of Tabasco

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Put into an oven safe dish (I like a deep souffle dish) and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Serve with crackers.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Why Seafood Is Important to Me...

Note: I have not been compensated in any way to talk about my love of seafood.

If you don't already know this about me, I grew up on the ocean near one of the biggest fishing ports on the East Coast.  I could see the fishing boats coming and going as I sat on the porch, heading out to the deeper areas to catch swordfish or whatever else they were fishing for.  When I would visit our family home in Maine I would hear the lobster boats fire up their engines every morning (except Sunday back then) to go out and support their families earlier than I could imagine even crawling out of bed.  I would see the lobstermen and the fishermen in the towns where I spent my youth and I would see how hard they worked in the lines on their faces and the rough skin on their hands.  I knew some of their children.  I knew some of their stories.

So to me eating seafood has always had two parts to it: the first was always the fact that it tasted good and it was good for me, but the second was about more than was about the supporting hardworking people and their trade.

Today is the last day of National Seafood Month, so it is fitting today that I remind you to eat your seafood.

For some great recipes from the Seafood Nutrition Partnership click here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Crock Pot Baked Potato Pizza

Sometimes something sounds wrong but is so right...baked potato pizza is one of those things.

This meal was so simple and so satisfying all at the same time.

It is a great pizza alternative for those with gluten issues.

The recipe is written how I like it, but the toppings are really up to you.

Bang this one out for dinner tomorrow...

Baked Potato Pizza

4 large baking potatoes
Olive Oil
Marinara Sauce
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Turkey Pepperoni

Clean the potatoes and poke all over with a fork.  Lightly coat each potato with olive oil and salt and wrap individually in aluminum foil.  Place the potatoes in the crock pot on high for 4.5-5 hours or on low for 7.5-8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Remove the potatoes from the crock pot, unwrap from the foil, and split in half with a knife on a sheet pan.

Scoop the marinara sauce into the crevice of the potato.  Top with mozzarella cheese and turkey pepperoni.  Repeat for the other three potatoes.

Cook the potatoes for 5-10 minutes in the oven, or until the cheese is melted.

Serve hot.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tuna Melt

This post is not about being natural, organic, or making things from scratch.  This post is about my childhood and cheese that puckers up when you cook it and white bread and comfort.

This post is also about celebrating National Seafood Month.  Do you know how healthy seafood is for you?  It is one of the true power foods!  I try to eat seafood 3-4 times a week (growing up on the ocean has left a mark on this girl).  Because my family seems to need more food variety than I do, I often fit in one of my servings at lunch with a little tuna.

When I was a kid I loved tuna fish.  There were weeks on end when I would have it for lunch every day.  Every once in a while though, my mom, who we all know does not love to cook, would do something really special for me and make me an open faced tuna melt.

There are many recipes that you have as a child that you cannot recreate, this recipe is not one of those.  This is easy and it is simple and it reminds me of being 7 years old and sitting on my scratchy couch and watching Murder She Wrote.

Thanks, Mom.

Open-Faced Tuna Melt

1 can of chunk white tuna fish, drained and separated with a fork
1-2 Tablespoons of Helmans Mayonnaise (2 tastes more like childhood, 1 is more responsible as an adult)
1 teaspoon of relish
4 pieces of small white sandwich bread (I like Pepperidge Farm)
4 slices of American Cheese

Preheat the broiler.

Place the bread on a sheet pan and place under the broiler until just brown.  Turn the bread over and repeat.

In a small bowl mix the tuna fish, mayonnaise, and relish until well combined.

Scoop an even amount of the tuna fish mixture onto each piece of bread and spread it out to the edges.  Place a slice of American cheese on top of the tuna and put the sheet pan back under the broiler.  You will know it is done when the cheese starts to pucker and bubble.  It may even get a few small brown spots, don't worry...they just add flavor.

Serve open faced.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Pumpkin Party Dip

In the world that we live in of loving everything pumpkin, I needed to come up with a party dip that would be easy, yummy, and have the almighty pumpkin in it.  This was my creation.  It started with the awesome creation that I learned about last year of combining fluff and cream cheese.  Mix it up with some Fall flavors and pureed pumpkin and you are good to go.

I like this kind of fluff, because it is what I grew up with, but any fluff will do.  Don't worry if the ounces on the jar are one over or one less than what is the recipe, as long as they are close you will be fine.

Pumpkin Party Dip

1 block of cream cheese
1 7.5 ounce jar of Marshmallow Fluff
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of all spice
pinch of cloves

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine all of the ingredients.  Mix  on medium speed until well combined, scrapping down the sides and bottoms of the bowl twice.  Spoon the dip into a bowl.

I like to serve this with ginger snaps and apples, but feel free to get creative and use whatever makes you happy :)  

Friday, October 9, 2015


Sometimes I feel like I make the same kid food over and over again.  Macaroni and cheese.  Spaghetti.  Peanut butter and jelly.  Pizza.  Quesadillas.


So...out of pure boredom this wonderful concoction was born...the Pizzadilla.  

My oldest son told me that it was his new favorite the first time he ate it.  Victory.  Victory and one more thing to put in the old kid food arsenal...

The recipe below will make one Pizzadilla.  I made two for my three children to share.  The recipe will easily double, or quadruple, or whatever you need.  If you are making one for yourself throw in some of your favorite toppings, just make sure to have the filling thin enough to let the cheese work to seal in all the goodness.  


2 6-inch flour tortillas
3 Tablespoons of spaghetti sauce, store bought or homemade
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
6 pieces of pepperoni

Heat the griddle over medium-high heat.  (You can also use a frying pan if you do not have a griddle pan).

Spread 1 1/2 Tablespoons of sauce on each tortilla.  Sprinkle one of the tortillas with cheese and then arrange the pepperoni on top.  Put the other tortilla on top of the first, sauce side down, and transfer to the griddle.  Cook on the first side until the cheese begins to melt, flip, and cook on the other side until the tortilla is lightly browned and the cheese inside is fully melted.

Cut into fourths and serve.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal

I love a good bowl of oatmeal in the morning, and once Fall comes around I find apple-cinnamon is the only way to go.  In the Spring I like berries, in the winter I like berries and nuts, but in the Fall this version is King.

We used to eat the pre-packaged instant oatmeal, but as I had kids and became more wary of what I was letting them eat I decided it was time to find an alternative.  Once you try this, you will never want to go back to the pre-packaged.

You can easily adjust this recipe to your tastes...if you like more cinnamon, go for it.  If you have more of a sweet tooth a little extra sugar might be for you.  If you are a vanilla fan, add an extra splash.  Oh, and if you are one of those freaky people who has extra time in the morning you can make this with old-fashioned slow oats too.

This recipe makes enough for one person, but it can easily be doubled, or tripled.

No matter what, this meal is a quick and easy way to start your day off right.

Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal

1 cup water
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup instant oats
1 cup medium diced apple
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Put one cup of water and a pinch of salt into a small pot over high heat and bring to a boil.  Add 1/2 cup of instant oats, turn the heat to medium-high, and stir occasionally until the oats begin to plump and there is very little water left.  This should take 1-2 minutes.  Turn off the heat.

Add the brown sugar to the oatmeal and stir.  Add the apples and stir again.

Now you can add the cinnamon and vanilla and stir.  Pour the contents of the pot into a bowl and let it sit for about 5 minutes before eating.  Yum!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Crock Pot Lasagna

As I have mentioned before, I have a love-hate relationship with my crock pot, but recently I have been seeing a lot of recipes for crock pot lasagna, and I thought that I should give my own lasagna recipe a try in the dreaded crock pot.  Turns out it was pretty good.  I still prefer the old fashioned lasagna in a pan, but for a day when I cannot be home to put it in the oven, this will do.

A few things I learned...

1. It does not hold together like a regular lasagna...treat it more like a really thick stew.
2. My kids like lasagna better in a bowl.
3. The noodles get quite soft.
4. I had to tweak the recipe a little bit from my old stand by, so if you decide to use your own recipe instead of mine keep that in mind.  One of the things that I decided to do was to leave out the eggs.  The eggs are used to bind your lasagna, so it may have been part of the reason that it did not hold together like a regular lasagna, however I would still not use eggs in this.
5. Normally you would let a lasagna stand for 15 minutes or so before cutting it which helps it to set.  With this lasagna you cannot do that.

Here we go...

Crock Pot Lasagna 

1 pound of ground beef, cooked and drained
1 box Barilla no cook lasagna noodles (you will not use the whole box)
5 cups of your favorite tomato sauce (homemade or store bought)
4 cups of shredded mozzarella
1 Tablespoon of dried basil, or 2 Tablespoons of fresh basil
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces cottage cheese

Mix the basil, sour cream, and cottage cheese together in a bowl and set aside.

Pour one cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of your crock pot.  Place a layer of lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.  You will need to break the noodles in half to make them manageable to serve.  I found that I broke a few of them into more pieces to make each layer complete.  Work it like a puzzle.

Spoon 1/3 of the sour cream mixture on top of the noodles and spread it around as best you can.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the meat mixture on top of the lasagna.  Top with 1 cup of sauce and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.


1/3 Sour cream mixture
1/3 meat
1 cup sauce
1 cup mozzarella

Repeat again...

1/3 Sour cream mixture
1/3 meat
1 cup sauce
1 cup mozzarella

Then for the last layer...

1 cup sauce
1 cup mozzarella

Cook on low for 4 hours.

Friday, October 2, 2015

New York Times Dutch Oven Bread--My Way

**This recipe is adapted from the New York Times Dutch Oven Bread that swept the nation a few years ago.  The recipe's creator was actually Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery**

A few years ago a friend passed along a recipe to me that totally changed how I viewed making bread.  It was the recipe for bread in the Dutch Oven that the New York Times published from Sullivan Street Bakery.

I used to look at making bread as a chore that required time and patience...with three young kids, both of those items are often in short supply.  This bread requires neither, but it also requires both.  The neither comes from the fact that you do not need to babysit this bread and need it and take care of it.  The both comes from the fact that it takes about 12 hours from start to finish.

I often serve this bread at dinner parties and people always make a huge fuss over the fact that I made fresh, crusty bread.  I like to share my secret with them so that their friends can make a fuss when they make it too :)

It is best served with my recipe for honey butter that I have included below.

In the original recipe they use instant yeast, but I am old-fashioned and really like to see my yeast growing before I add it to my flour mixture.

New York Times Dutch Oven Bread--My Way

1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
Warm water
 Additional flour for shaping

Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of water that is 105-110 degrees for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl mix flour and salt.

When the yeast is ready add it to the flour mixture.

Add an additonal 1 1/2 cups of warm water to the flour and stir well.

It will be really messy looking...that is okay.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put aside away from any cool drafts for 10-12 hours to let it rise.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

When the oven is ready, put your dutch oven with the lid on it in it to preheat the pot.  While the pot is preheating release the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured cutting board (I flour my hands too because this dough is really sticky) and shape it into a round circle, tucking all seams.  The dough will be very wet and will not take shape well, this is normal.  Do not add more than a dusting of flour.  Cover the dough with saran wrap and set it aside.

When the pot is preheated remove it from the oven and take off the lid.  Drop the dough into the pot, replace the lid, and put it into the oven for 30 minutes.  When the 30 minutes is complete remove the lid of the dutch oven and put it back in the oven, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the oven and immediately remove the loaf of bread and place it on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.

Cut while warm, spread with honey butter, and try not to eat the whole loaf at once.

Honey Butter

1 stick of salted butter, softened
1 Tablespoon of real honey


Place the butter into a small bowl and mash with a fork until spread out.  Drizzle the honey over the butter and mix well until combined.  Put the butter into a crock covered with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mozzarella Sticks

I love mozzarella sticks.  Always have, probably always will.  I used to buy them in big bags at Costco, and they were good, but not great.  So, I decided to try making them myself.  SO worth it!

The light batter that I use is reminiscent of a cheese curd...if you have never had a fried cheese curd get yourself to Wisconsin as soon as possible.  Let me know if you need recommendations on where to find the best ones ;)

Mozzarella Sticks

12 mozzarella cheese sticks, cut in half
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup bread crumbs, homemade or store bought
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Place the flour in one small bowl.

Place the beaten eggs in another small bowl.

Place the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese in a third bowl.  Mix these ingredients until combined.

One by one dip the cheese into the flour, tapping off any excess.  Next, move the cheese sticks to the eggs, coat completely and let the extra drip off before moving on.  Lastly, put the cheese into the bread crumb mixture and sprinkle some over the top of it with your fingers to make sure that the stick is entirely coated.  Move the stick to a sheet pan covered in parchment paper.

Repeat with the 23 remaining sticks.

When you have breaded all of the mozzarella, place the sheet pan in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours.

Heat about 2-3 inches of Canola oil to 365 degrees in a thick bottomed, deep pot.  Be VERY careful...if this oil splatters or spills on you it will burn you.  It is best to do this step when your children are not anywhere near the kitchen.
When the oil is heated, carefully place the mozzarella sticks in the pan, eight at a time and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until golden.  Remove with a frying basket or slotted spoon.

Make sure that the oil stays around 365 degrees, change the burner heat often to keep the temperature steady.  It is also helpful to wait a minute or two between batches to bring the oil back to temp.

When the batch is cooked, place the sticks onto a wire rack fitted over a sheet pan to cool.
When you are done frying, let the sticks cool for 5-10 minutes.  At this point you have two options...

1.  Eat them.

2. Put them back in the freezer on the wire rack and sheet pan, and when you are ready to eat them cook them at 425 degrees for 5-7 minutes.

If you are not eating them the same day freeze them for four hours on the pan and then transfer them to a plastic freezer bag.    

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pumpkin Waffles

It is officially the season of everything Pumpkin...lucky us!  Pumpkin spice is one of my favorite flavor profiles and seems to make things I love taste just a little bit better.

I like mine with a little frosting drizzle instead of syrup.  The recipe for the drizzle is below. need for further introduction...

Pumpkin Waffles

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
2 cups of milk
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 can pumpkin puree

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder. sugar, salt, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs and milk.  Add the cooled butter and continue whisking.  Add the vanilla and pumpkin puree and whisk until well combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dried ingredients and whisk until well combined.

Cook in a waffle maker set to the longest cook time (around 4-5 minutes is what I usually do).

When the waffle maker cook time is over remove the waffle and top with frosting drizzle or syrup.

The waffle will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  Yum.

Makes 5-6 Belgian Waffles.

You can freeze leftover waffles (if there are any) and reheat in the toaster for later enjoyment.

Frosting Drizzle

1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the ingredients together and drizzle over waffles.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cakey Sugar Cookies

I love sugar cookies, but not all sugar cookies.

Lots of people enjoy the thin, crisp cut out cookies that are covered in royal icing and me, they have always tasted a little harsh and factory like.

I like my sugar cookies a little cakey, super soft, and light on the frosting (that may be the only time I ever use the term "light on the frosting"...the whole reason that I like cupcakes is because they have a mound of frosting to a little bit of cake).

At Christmas I pump out dozens of these cookies each week.  They go to school, to friends, to family, and also right in my family's tummy.

Tips to make these cookies perfect...

1. Do not cut the refrigeration time short.
2. Do not roll the dough too thin.
3. Make the dough scraps into a flat disc and put them back into the refrigerator when they get a little soft and start to change color.  Leave them in there for 10-15 minutes.  Work with another section of dough until the time has passed :)
4. Do not worry about trying to decorate the cookies the same way that I did, find your own signature designs and have fun with them!  I found my style because I am really good at straight lines, but generally stink at art.
5. Use good quality food coloring (like Wilton) so it will not dramatically change the consistency of your frosting.

Cakey Sugar Cookies
(frosting recipe below)

3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of sugar
3 Tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 egg

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and put aside.

In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes, or until fully combined.  Add the milk and vanilla and mix well.  Add the egg and continue mixing until just incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in thirds, beating each time until well incorporated.

Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Roill out one half of the dough at a time to 1/8-1/4 of an inch thick.  (The dough will be hard to roll at first because it is cold and stiff, bang it a few times with the rolling pin and then put some muscle into it).  Cut out shapes and place directly on cookies sheets.  Leave the rest of the dough in the refrigerator until you need it.

Cake each batch for 6-9 minutes or until they are puffed.  It may take a batch or two to learn to eyeball the perfect time to pull them because it is just before they brown.  If a batch or two has slightly golden edges they will still taste amazing so don't worry about it :)

Let cool for 2 minutes on the pan and then place on the cooling rack until completely cooled.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies with a standard size cookie cutter.

Sugar Cookie Frosting

2 cups of powdered sugar
2-3 Tablespoons of milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
food coloring

Mix the sugar, 2 Tablespoons of milk and vanilla by hand in a mixing bowl until it just comes together.  It should be hard to mix, but a consistency that will be able to go through a thin tip in a piping bag.  If it seems to thick you can cautiously add the 3rd Tablespoon of milk.

Divide the frosting into bowls and add food coloring.  Place frosting into food bags and decorate your cookies!  I like to lay mine out on wax paper to decorate them.

Looks like a gingerbread cookie snuck into this picture...I will have to share that recipe around Christmas.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Giveaway $15 Amazon Gift Card

I LOVE Amazon!  (They are not paying me for any of this or providing the gift card--I truly do just love them).  The UPS truck probably thinks that I have a problem of crazy proportions because every day he pulls up to my house and unloads boxes of stuff, most of it bearing the tape that come on all of their boxes.

The truth is, a lot of what I have delivered is food.

I have them deliver milk boxes, applesauce pouches, breakfast bars, protein bars, macaroni and cheese...the list goes on and on...

So...I wanted to offer a little gift to one of you from one of my favorite companies.

To enter, comment below with your favorite thing to order from Amazon.  I will pick a winner at random at noon on Thursday.

Happy entering :)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Simply The Best Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread is one of my all-time favorite Fall treats.  (Do I say that about all Fall treats?  Can you guess what my favorite time of year is?)

I have been making this pumpkin bread for the last seven or eight years and it is always everyone's favorite.  It is probably the recipe that I have been asked for more times than any other recipe.  I based it off of a recipe that I found in a cookbook that a friend gave me years ago and made a few tweaks that make it fit my families taste and my style in the kitchen a little better.

I often make this for my kids' teachers in the Fall or for friends or play dates.  When I am making it for others I often cook it in the cute, small disposable paper bread pans that you can get at the grocery store or craft store.  In fact, I should probably just start attaching the recipe to the loaf because of all of the loaves of this that I have handed out I think that I have only had two people not ask me how to make it.  

One year for Thanksgiving I made four loaves and they were all gone in mere moments.  The bottom line is that if you make this, it will be a hit.

A few things that I think that you should know...

1. The sugar and oil mixture will look like crushed ice when you mix will never get creamy...don't worry.

2. This is my favorite "dry ingredients" bowl.  I don't even know if you can still buy it, my husband got it for me 4 or 5 years ago, but you can find one that is similar.  It is melamine which makes it really easy to handle, and it has the great pour spout which makes dry ingredients pour easily into wet.  It is technically a batter bowl, but try it for dry ingredients and you will see how well it works :)

3. I love Libby's pumpkin puree.  Like the old jingle says, "When it says Libby's, Libby's, Libby's on the label nothings better, better, better on your table, table, table."  A few years ago there was a canned pumpkin shortage and I went to the store nearly every day looking for it, when it finally appeared I became a hoarder and bought almost a whole case.

Simply the Best Pumpkin Bread

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
3 eggs
15 ounces of pureed pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two loaf pans.

In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  

Beat the sugar and oil in a large mixing bowl until well combined. 

Add the eggs and beat well, then add the pumpkin and continue beating until incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well by hand.  

Pour the batter into two the two loaf pans and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle of the loaves comes out clean.

Let the loaves cool for 10-15 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack.  Wait twenty minutes, or as long as you can stand it (for me this is about 5 minutes) before slicing and eating.

Freezes well. 

Note: If you decide to cook this in smaller disposable loaf pans shorten the cooking time to 35-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle of the loaves comes out clean.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An Apple A Day...

When we lived in Wisconsin we had a beautiful old apple tree in our backyard that produced an insane amount of apples.  Like Strega Nona's pot, the supply of food from my tree was never ending.  For several weeks every Fall we would pick apples and make fantastic creations with our bounty.  My favorite by far though was always making apple sauce...

I am not a canner...I worry too much about food safety and was paranoid that I would not get it right and kill us all, so I almost always just made my applesauce for the refrigerator or freezer (except the one year when my expert canner friend offered to come over and help me...thank goodness for people who know things that I do not).

After trying a few different ways to make applesauce, I realized that my favorite is skin on, no sugar, touch of cinnamon, true perfection.

I love Texas, but I really miss my apples...

Elizabeth's Applesauce  

However many apples you have (usually 3-5 pounds works best), cut from the core in a large dice
1-2 cups of water, you can always add more if needed
2 cinnamon sticks

Place the apples into a large pot and pour in 1 cup of water.  The water should just cover the bottom of the pan around the apples.  If the water does not quite cover the bottom of the pan add an additional cup of water.  Bury the cinnamon sticks in the apples and place the pot over medium high heat.  When the mixture starts to bubble turn the heat down to medium low and simmer.

Cook the mixture until the apples are quite tender and then remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for 5-10 minutes.  When the mixture has cooled removed the cinnamon sticks and discard them.
Place an immersion blender into the applesauce and blend until you reach your desired consistency.  Spoon the applesauce in freezer safe jars and put them in the freezer until you are ready to use them.  (Make sure that you leave at least an inch of headspace for possible expansion during freezing.  They can also go straight into the refrigerator if you plan to eat it immediately...


I feel that I would be remiss if I did not mention that the absolute best way to eat this applesauce is warm from the stovepot.  Try it, you won't regret it.

(NOTE: If you do not have an immersion blender you can use a potato masher, or you can put it into a regular blender.  If you put it into a regular blender you need to cool it for an additional 10-15 minutes and use caution as hot items in blenders can cause burns.)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Crock Pot Chicken

The crock pot is not my friend.  People are always raving about these awesome crock pot meals that they make and I can never seem to make it work when I try them.  Often I find things get bland, or that everything made in my crock pot tastes the same.

I dislike my crock pot so much that I was actually excited when my old one broke during our so excited that I didn't even file a claim about it with the moving company.


There always comes the point where I want to make pulled pork, which actually tastes really good from the crock pot, and that point came last Fall during football season.  So...I went to the store and bought a new crock pot and recommitted myself to a cycle of trying meals I did not like.

But an amazing thing happened.  I have actually found several meals in the last 11 months that are turning out well in my crock pot!  I have discovered that I can make chicken and brisket and soup and other things that I never seemed to like that way before.

Maybe my old crock pot was just cursed ;)

This chicken that I started making in the crock pot is actually good for two meals.  I like to eat one on a Monday and one on a Wednesday...on the night in-between we eat something that is not Mexican food.  (Cook once, eat twice is one of my favorite rules).

Night #1--Chicken Tacos

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 jar of your favorite salsa
2 Tablespoons of Taco Seasoning (I like Penzeys)
Flour or Corn Tortillas
Shredded Cheddar or Jack Cheese
2-3 Chopped Scallions
Sour Cream

Place the chicken in the crock pot.  Pour the jar of salsa on top of it.  Sprinkle the Taco Seasoning all over.  Cook on low for 4-5 hours or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Remove the chicken from the crock pot and shred only the amount that you need for the tacos.  Put the rest aside to cool and then refrigerate for dinner tomorrow night.

Heat the tortillas in the oven or the microwave.  If you heat them in the oven then wrap them in aluminum foil and put into a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  If you want to heat them in the microwave put them in a stack on a microwave safe plate and cover them with a wet paper towel.  Heat for 20-30 seconds.

Fill the tortillas with the chicken, cheese, scallions, and sour cream and eat!

Night #2--Chicken Casserole

Leftover chicken from the recipe above, shredded (at least one cup is needed, but you can have up to five cups and the recipe is still great).
1 box of Spanish Rice, prepared according to their instructions (if you are supposed to add a can of tomatoes, like with Zatarain's which is my favorite, do that)
1 cup of salsa
10 ounces of frozen corn
6 ounces of cheddar cheese, cubed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, then pour into a greased 9x13 casserole dish.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30-40 minutes until it is heated through.  Makes 8-10 servings.