Sunday, April 25, 2010

SMS: Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler Pie (with a change)

The SMS recipe this week was the aforementioned Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler Pie. I have never used rhubarb in anything so I was somewhat excited to try something new. It looks like rhubarb is in season from April to October but after 4 separate trips to the grocery store, I gave up on finding rhubarb. So my pie is actually Strawberry Peach Cobbler Pie. I used canned peaches so my pie filling was a bit runnier than it would normally be. Because of this I added an extra tablespoon of corn starch. The filling was still a little thin but the flavor was divine. I think my absolute favorite part was the Cobbler topping. Don't leave out the lemon zest, it adds a subtle but delicious flavor!

Check out Tracey's Culinary Adventures for the recipe and to check out her beautiful cobbler pie. Also be sure to take a look at the rest of the SMS baker's creations.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I heart cooking clubs- Potluck

This week's theme at IHCC was Potluck, so basically I could pick any Mark Bittman recipe I wanted. I decided to give the Simplest Bean Burgers a whirl, and I am so glad I did! These are, hands down, the best alternative burger I have ever tasted. They were also so dang easy! I had some leftover pinto beans in my fridge, so that is what I used for my beans but I think canned beans would turn out just as yummy!


2 cups well-cooked white, black, or red beans or chickpeas or lentils, or one 14-ounce can, drained

1 medium onion, quartered (I used dehydrated onion)

1/2 cup rolled oats (preferably not instant)

1 tablespoon chili powder or spice mix of your choice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 egg

Bean-cooking liquid, stock, or other liquid (wine, cream, milk, water, ketchup, etc.) if necessary

Extra virgin olive oil or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, as needed

I also added about 1/2 a cup of cheese to our burgers and a 1/4 cup stewed tomatoes. They were a little loose so next time I would use tomato paste or he also recommends ketchup.

1. Combine the beans, onion, oats, chili powder, salt, pepper, and egg in a food processor and pulse until chunky but not puréed, adding a little liquid if necessary (this is unlikely but not impossible) to produce a moist but not wet mixture. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes if time allows.

2. With wet hands, shape into whatever size patties you want and again let rest for a few minutes if time allows. (You can make the burger mixture or even shape the burgers up to a day or so in advance. Just cover tightly and refrigerate, then bring everything back to room temperature before cooking.) Film the bottom of a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet with oil and turn the heat to medium. A minute later, add the patties. Cook until nicely browned on one side, about 5 minutes; turn carefully and cook on the other side until firm and browned. 3. Serve on buns with the usual burger fixings. Or cool and refrigerate or freeze for later use.

More sweet potatoes

My husband's birthday is the day before my oldest son's birthday (my husband's birthday was stressful that year). I gave him the choice of any kind of dessert he wanted for his birthday and he picked, drum roll please, sweet potato pie. The first time he tasted sweet potato pie was a couple years ago, during the Thanksgiving season. We purchased one from Costco and it was so delicious. It tasted smoother and creamier than Pumpkin Pie. Anyway we have sort of been on a personal quest to find a recipe that tastes similar. The one I made didn't, so the quest continues, but it was pretty good in its own right. I got the recipe from here and it is worth a try if you like sweet potatoes. The only thing I would change if I make it again is, I would leave out the lemon juice. I didn't feel like it added to the taste, it was slightly distracting for me. Oh, I also cheated and used a frozen Marie Callendar's pie crust, just because I was short on time.

My Baby turns 9

It was my oldest "baby" boy's birthday this past week. We haven't had his birthday party yet (that will take place on Saturday) so no cake, but I let him pick what he wanted to eat for breakfast and lunch on his birthday. Dinner, we surprised him with Chuck E Cheese, so no choice there, he got pizza, but he said it was the best surprise ever. Afterward we took him out for ice cream at Baskin Robbins. The most difficult thing I made was breakfast, and it was super easy. I made what our family calls Hootenanny, also known as German Pancakes or Puff Pancakes. They are so simple and a great way to use up some extra eggs. You can go traditional and top them with syrup or just about anything else you can think of. I like mine with peanut butter and a little maple syrup. Yum!


1 cube butter
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar

Heat oven to 425°F. Put a 9x13 pan in the oven with the cube of butter. Allow butter to melt, being careful not to burn. Put eggs in a blender; beat 3 minutes on high. Add milk, flour, salt, and sugar. Beat 3 more minutes. Pour egg mixture into melted butter in pan. Bake 20 minutes. Serve at once.
Optional- I find it easiest to cut with a pizza cutter.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

SMS: Sweet Potato Bread with Cinnamon-Rum-Orange Glaze

First of all, I have to say I was so excited to do this post and to bake this bread, for several reasons. I was excited because, some of the bloggers who participate in Sweet Melissa Sundays, are people whose blogs I have been frequenting over the past year so it almost feels like getting to rub shoulders with my own personal celebrities. The other reason is just because I love sweet potatoes. My pictures don't do the bread justice (aka they suck). I would love to be a great photographer but alas, my gift seems to be more along the lines of appreciating great photography. Anyway the cake was delicious and I can guarantee I will be making this again in the fall!

The recipe is dead easy and I followed it pretty closely. The only changes I made were using a little less sweet potato (the only cans I could find were 12.75 oz cans) and I didn't have rum so I used two tsp. of rum flavoring and then added enough water to equal 1/4 cup. I also think I overcooked my glaze, which is why it looks less glossy and pretty compared to the other SMS'ers.

Anyway be sure to check out the SMS blogroll to see how beautifully everyone's cakes turned out and for the recipe take a look at Lorelei's blog. Thanks for picking this one Lorelei, it was awesome.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I heart cooking clubs- Pantry raid

I just joined the "I heart cooking clubs" group. Originally I planned to wait until next weeks theme to get started but I really like the Pantry raid theme, and decided I would use it for tonight's dinner. I found a recipe by Mark Bittman (who is the chef/cook the group is focusing on for 6 months) that uses dried pinto beans. I happen to have a bag of dried pinto beans that has been in my pantry for probably as long as we have lived in our house (5 years). I made Chili non carne and used the tomato variation. The recipe was basic and hearty. It is a perfect fall meal so I will be using it again for sure. We added a little hot sauce and extra seasoning because it was a tiny bit bland (although that was probably my fault because I made 1.5 times the beans the recipe calls for and forgot to add extra seasoning). I read his instructions wrong and didn't let them cook as long as they were supposed to before adding the tomatoes, so I ended up pouring everything into the electric pressure cooker and dinner was saved! Nobody likes crunchy, not cooked enough, beans.

Chili non Carne

Makes 6 to 8 servings
Time: About 2 hours, largely unattended

Chili means different things to different people; I think of it as slow-cooked red beans seasoned with cumin and chiles, though some insist that chili should be made with meat and few or even no beans. To me, at that point you've entered the realm of cassoulet, though the second variation includes meat. Other beans you can use: red or pink beans are traditional, but you can also use cannellini or other white beans alone or in combination.

1 pound dried pinto beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if you like

1 whole onion, unpeeled, plus 1 small onion, minced Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup bean-cooking liquid, vegetable stock, or water 1 fresh or dried hot chile, seeded and minced, or to taste (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste (optional)

1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

1. Put the beans in a large pot with water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming the foam if necessary. Add the whole onion. Adjust the heat so the beans bubble steadily but not violently and cover loosely.

2. When the beans begin to soften (30 minutes to an hour, depending on the type of bean and whether or not you soaked the beans), season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the beans are quite tender but still intact (about as long as it took them to begin to soften).

3. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid if you choose to use it. Discard the onion and add all the remaining ingredients except the cilantro. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low.

4. Cook, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary, until the beans are very tender and the flavors have mellowed, about 15 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice, crackers, or tortilla chips and bottled hot sauce.

Chili with Tomatoes.

This simple addition makes a big difference; you might also add 1/4 teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon: Substitute 2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomato (canned is fine; don't bother to drain) for the bean or other liquid. Cook carefully, adding a little more liquid if needed. Top with freshly grated cheddar or other semihard cheese if you like.

Chili con Carne.

Try this with the preceding variation: While the beans are cooking, put 1 tablespoon neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 pound hand-chopped or ground beef, pork, turkey, or chicken and cook, stirring, until the meat has lost its color, about 10 minutes. Season the meat with salt, pepper, and about 2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste. Stir it into the beans along with the other ingredients.

White Chili.

Substitute any kind of white beans for the pinto beans. In Step 3, when you discard the onion, stir in 2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken (grilled is terrific).

A year of pie

My Hubby loves pie. For almost every birthday he asks me to make him pie instead of cake. I don't mind baking pie but my crusts suck. Not the flavor so much but the presentation. I figure practice makes perfect, so this last Christmas I gave the Hubs a gift certificate for a pie a month. I have enjoyed making the pies so far and I do think I am slowly getting better, and my husband has enjoyed the pies so far, as well. One of his favorite pies is cherry, and I recently found a recipe I wanted to try for a sour cherry pie. It sounded yummy and I have never tried it so I gave it whirl. I didn't not use traditional pie crust dough because I had some leftover tart dough. It definitely did not come out pretty. I had trouble with the top crust. Every time I would try to place it on top it would fall apart. I am pretty sure it was being uncooperative because I didn't let it sit in the fridge long enough after I rolled it out but I was crunched for time. In the end I just tried to kind of mush it into place, so I tell myself it looks rustic :)

I used Dorie Greenspan's Sweet Tart Dough

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Lightly packed 1/2 cup ground blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
31/2 cups all purpose flour

1. To make the dough: Place the butter in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and process to blend well. Add the ground almonds, salt, and vanilla and continue to process until smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary. Lightly stir the eggs together with a fork and, with the machine running, add them to the work bowl; process for a few seconds to blend. Finally, add the flour and pulse until the mixture just starts to come together. When the dough forms moist curds and clumps and then starts to form a ball, stop! – you don’t want to overwork it. The dough will be very soft, and that’s just as it should be. (If you want to make the dough in a mixer, use the paddle attachment. First beat the butter until it is smooth, then add the remaining ingredients in the order given above. Just be careful when you add the flour – you must stop mixing as soon as the flour is incorporated.)

2. Gather the dough into a ball and divide it into 3 pieces. Gently press each piece into a disk and wrap each disk in plastic. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or for up to 2 days, before rolling and baking. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to a month.)

3. To roll and bake tart crusts: For each tart, butter the right-sized tart pan and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you are making more than one tart, work with one piece of dough at a time.

4. What makes this dough so delicious – lots of butter – also makes it a little difficult to roll. The easiest way to work with pâte sucrée is to roll it out between sheets of plastic wrap. Just flatten a large piece of plastic wrap against the counter and roll the dough between that and another piece of plastic. Turn the dough over often so that you can roll it out on both sides, and as you’re rolling, make sure to lift the sheets of plastic several times so that they don’t crease and get rolled into the dough. (If the dough becomes too soft, just slip it, still between plastic, onto a baking sheet and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes.) Remove one sheet of plastic and center the dough (exposed side down) over the tart pan. Press the dough against the bottom of the pan and up the sides, remove the top sheet of plastic wrap, and roll your rolling pin across the rim of the pan to cut off the excess. If the dough cracks or splits while you’re working, don’t worry – you can patch the cracks with leftover dough (moisten the edges to “glue” them into place). Just be careful not to stretch the dough in the pan (what you stretch now will shrink later). Chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. (Repeat with the remaining dough, if necessary.)

5. When you are ready to bake the crust(s), preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line the crust with a circle of parchment paper or foil and fill with dried beans or rice.

6. Bake the crust (or crusts) for 20 to 25 minutes, or just until very lightly colored. If the crust needs to be fully baked, remove the parchment and beans and bake the crust for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool.

The actual pie recipe that I used (for the filling) is here. I used canned sour cherries, and I didn't have a lime but I did have lime juice so I just added a couple squirts of that. I also didn't bother with putting the egg wash on the top of the crust. Anyway it turned out to be delicious even if it wasn't pretty. Just one more reason not to judge a book by its cover.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chili Rellenos Casserole

I hate wasting food. It happens all the time that I buy produce and don't use it all before it goes bad. The other night I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner when I noticed I had some leftover evaporated milk in the fridge, so I decided to find a recipe that would use it up. I made some slight changes to a recipe that I found on allrecipes for Chili Rellenos Casserole. I thought it was pretty good, my husband said he was pleasantly surprised, but the two older boys were not big fans. Ah well you can't win 'em all.


  • 2 (7 ounce) cans whole green chile peppers, drained
  • 16 ounces Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese blend, shredded
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 can evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Lay half of the chilies evenly in bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the cheese, and cover with remaining chilies. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, and flour, and pour over the top of the chilies.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, pour enchilada sauce evenly over the top, and continue baking another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, and place under the broiler for 5 minutes. Serve with salsa and sour cream, if desired.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Wheatie" Joes

I love sloppy joes. They are simple and yummy. My husband, the not too much meat guy, isn't quite as fond of them. So over the last 11 years that we have been married I have tried to find a compromise. This is one of them. By using cracked wheat in place of ground beef, I keep most of the flavor that I love and he gets a meatless meal. Also using cracked wheat is cheaper than ground beef. So I guess it is a win-win-win situation. I have tailored this recipe to my family's taste, feel free to do the same. You could even do half ground beef and half cracked wheat. This makes enough for about a dozen wheatie joes, depending on how much of the mixture you want in each bun.

4 cups beef broth
1 cup of cracked wheat (or you could also use bulgur wheat)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2- 1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
2/3 cup barbecue sauce

1. Bring the beef broth to a boil over medium heat. Add the cracked wheat and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Stir frequently.
2. Chop onion and bell pepper and saute in olive oil until they just start to brown. Add in garlic, and saute about two more minutes.
3. Add the sauteed vegetables to the cooked cracked wheat. Mix in mustard, ketchup and barbecue sauce.
4. Serve on buns. Top with cheese if desired.

Mexican Bean and Rice Soup

This soup is "soup-er" easy. Okay, forgive me, I am not usually one for bad puns! I promise, no more. Anyway my family really loved this soup, especially the hubs! There are only a few ingredients and I had them all in my pantry. This is a great food storage recipe. I got the recipe from my husband's aunt.

2 (16-oz) cans refried beans
3 c. vegetable broth (I used chicken because that is what I had)
1 can corn, drained
1 c. cooked rice
1 c. mild salsa

Place beans and broth into a pot and stir well to mix. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, add remaining ingredients, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I served with tortilla chips. You could also add cheese and sour cream. This soup really was dead easy and so quick!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Coffee Break Muffins

I don't drink coffee but I like the smell and have been wanting to try Dorie Greenspan's recipe for these muffins, with a little tweaking of my own. The only thing I changed was that I used Postum instead of espresso. I liked them and will make them again but I think next time I will add a tablespoon of cocoa powder just because I personally felt like they needed a little something extra. I thought about adding chocolate chips but I think that might make them a little too sweet and I liked the fact that they were not overly sweet first thing in the morning.
Here is the recipe with my changes...

2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp. postum
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup hot water with 1 tbsp. postum, cooled
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare a muffin pan.
In a large bowl whisk together the first 6 ingredients. Add the brown sugar. In another bowl whisk the remaining ingredients. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients. Whisk gently but quickly to blend. Do not overblend. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake for 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Banana Pancakes and my baby's 2nd birthday

Today is my third little guy's birthday! He is turning two so he can't give me a lot of opinions on what he wants for his birthday but I know he LOVES bananas. So today will be a banana themed day. I have a recipe for banana pancakes but I tweaked it to be a little healthier and, in my opinion, a little tastier.

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg beaten
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. applesauce (instead of oil)
1 mashed banana
1/2 cup chocolate or pb chips (optional)

Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add in the wet ingredients. Stir until just moistened. Grease a hot skillet. Drop batter by 1/4 cup and sprinkle chocolate or p.b. chips on top (I used both). Cook on both sides over medium heat for about a minute or two.