Monday, February 15, 2010

How I Spent My President's Day...

Hangin' out with my nephew...

The Park.

Lunch. Meatloaf.

I just love this kid to pieces!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff is one of my husband's favorite dishes from his childhood.  I modified his family recipe slightly to reduce the fat--couldn't really tell the difference.  This is a yummy dish and easy to make.

2 lbs beef (round steak)
1 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon dry dill
1 1/4 cup sour cream
1 package egg noodles

Boil egg noodles per package instructions.

Trim fat from beef. Cut into 1/2 inch slices. Sear meat in hot skillet. Remove from pan when brown on all sides. Set aside.

In same skillet, melt butter/margarine. Sauté onion, garlic and mushrooms until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.  I prefer fresh mushrooms, but I used them on my pizza yesterday!

Add flour, ketchup, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth.

Gradually add beef broth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes.  Sauce will thicken.

Over low heat, add wine, dill and sour cream, stir until well combined. Add beef. Heat thoroughly.

Top cooked egg noodles with stroganoff.

Note:  I doubled the recipe in the pictures above.  Leftovers are required in our house!
Makes 4 servings



Friday, February 12, 2010

To My Very Special Valentine

What to say to the man I've spent a quarter century loving...

I love you...

for the way you make me smile and laugh, even when I don't want to;

for the way you sing nonsense songs, making up the words as you go along;

for being a great dad to our two beautiful daughters and setting an example of the kind of man they can love; 

for surving three women and their estrogen charged moments;

for the tiny crow's feet that have appeared over the last few years and not blaming me for putting them there;

for giving me your opinion when I ask, and only rolling your eyes at me when I don't listen;

for being my biggest supporter no matter what harebrained idea I decide to pursue;

for allowing me to have two-thirds of the bed with little complaint;

for running me a soothing bath when I'm tired and sore;

for being my rock when my steps are unsteady;

for the way you laugh (and cry) at the movies, especially the sappy ones I drag you to. 

You make me feel special every day.

The road has not been without its bumps, curves and flat tires, but I'm thankful that I've traveled that road with you.  I'm looking forward to where the road will lead us in all the years to come.

Happy Valentine's Day, Jim.  I love you.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine Treats

I found this recipe on one of my new favorite foodie blogs, Sprinkle Bakes.  These butter cookies looked so cute I thought I would give them a try.  I think they turned out pretty good, and Jim and Haley really liked the taste of the butter cookie, but if you visit Heather over at Sprinkle Bakes, no judging.  Hers are perfect!


2 cups unsifted cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp strawberry (or other flavor) extract
1/2 tsp rose food coloring
2 Tbsp unsifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups multi-colored nonpareil decors

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugars in a food processor and process briefly to mix.  Add the butter in pieces; pulse mixture until it has the consistency of cornmeal. 

Add vanilla and process until mixture forms a ball.

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions.  Return one portion to food processor.  Add the strawberry extract, food coloring and the extra tablespoons of flour to the processor and process until just incorporated.

Roll out each portion of dough between sheets of waxed paper.  Create a rectangle (about 11x8 inches) about 1/8 inch thick.  Leave the dough between the sheets of waxed paper and slide onto a baking sheet. (I was out of waxed paper so I used foil.  It worked okay, but waxed paper would have been much better.)  Refrigerate until firm, for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Remove dough pieces from refrigerator.  Pour the nonpareils decors into a shallow rectangular dish (such as a 9x13 pan).

Peel off the top sheet of waxed paper from both doughs.  Brush the vanilla dough very lightly with water.  Using the waxed paper, lift the strawberry dough and flip it onto the vanilla dough so they are stacked.  Press with your fingertips to seal the two doughs together.  Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and trim the edges even.

When the dough is pliable, roll up like a jelly roll, beginning with the long side.  Gently curl the edge with your fingertips so you don't get any air pockets as you roll dough into a log.  As you roll, the outer portion may tear, pinch tears together as they happen and keep rolling.

Gently lift log on top of nonpareil decors in the dish and roll until the log is completely coated with decors.  I used large colored crystal sugars and candy sprinkle hearts.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to slice, about 4 hours.  You can refrigerate up to a week or freeze up to 2 months.

Slice log into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick cookies.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Bake at 325 for 15-17 minutes.

I will definitely make these again.  Maybe green for St. Patty's day?



Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Savory Stuffed Meatloaf

Mmmm, meatloaf!  I grew up with meatloaf, albeit a very basic version.  My mom was a good cook but there wasn't much variety to our meals (very basic-- meat, potato and veggie), and the only seasonings I remember using were salt, pepper and Lawrys. There was a time when she made liver and onions...and I used to eat it and like it.  Eeeww...moving on...the topic is meatloaf!

A bit of meatloaf trivia... (from my trusted sources at Wikipedia)
  • Meatloaf has European origins, dating back to the 5th century.
  • It is a traditional German/Belgian/Dutch dish.
  • It is cousin to the Italian meatball.
  • American meatloaf has it's origins in scrapple a mixture of ground pork and cornmeal served by German-Americans in Pennsylvania since Colonial times.
  • The American version is usually topped with ketchup.
  • Happens to be Marvin O'Day's rocker name, and one of my all time favorites from the 80s.  Did I mention I met him once upon a time?  Did I mention I still listen to both Bat Out of Hell I & II?
Typically, when I make meatloaf, I toss in a variety of things I happen to have on hand, from peppers and mushrooms--ooh, I love mushrooms, they should be their own food group, but I digress--to oatmeal, eggs and hot sauce, with every type of seasoning you can imagine.  And I NEVER measure anything.  As long as it sticks together, we're good.

For today's post, however, I did measure everything and checked it twice so I could share the recipe.

I adapted this recipe from Betty Crocker's Hamburger Cookbook, circa 1977.  Yes, it's a magazine cookbook.  See, in 1977 it was $2.95.

2 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup crumbled bacon (I use Hormel Real Crumbled Bacon)
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup oatmeal
2 Tbsp parsley
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp granulated garlic (or garlic powder)

Yes, I know not all the ingredients are pictured...and yes, the onions and spinach are for the stuffing mixture.

Combine all meat mixture ingredients.

Spread 2/3 of meat mixture in ungreased large (9x5) loaf pan.  Line the pan, pressing flat on the bottom and up the sides to within 3/4 inch of the top edge.

1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup fresh leaf spinach
2 cups soft bread, cubed (I used whole wheat bread)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
1 cup cheddar/jack cheese, shredded

Melt butter in skillet. Add onion and spinach.  Cook and stir until onion is tender.  Remove from heat. 

Stir onions and spinach in with remaining stuffing ingredients.

Spoon stuffing mixture into the middle of the meat mixture.  Press firmly. 

Top with remaining meat mixture, covering stuffing completely.

Bake in 375 oven for 1 hour 10 minutes or until cooked through completely.  Drain off fat.  Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.


Next time, for a different variation, I think I'll stuff it with a layer of cheddar cheese, followed by sliced tomatoes, a layer of feta cheese and a layer of sliced mushrooms. Hey Trudy!  Remember those giant stuffed burgers we made on the grill when we were in high school?  Yeah, I'll make them like that.  :)

Makes 8 servings

Gute Meatloaf!! (English translation:  Good meatloaf!)


Monday, February 8, 2010

Creamy Salsa Dressing

I just have to post this recipe.  It's so so simple and fantastic!  It's actually a dressing used in a Weight Watcher Tex-Mex recipe that I'll post the next time I make it (so I have some pictures).  The dressing was so good, I just made it to put on romaine lettuce.

1/3 cup Picante Sauce
3 Tbsp Lite Sour Cream
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix together!

I used Pace's Picante has no fat and no WW points (at least for 1/3 cup).  The only points come from the Light Sour Cream.

I know, it looks like a normal salad, but I included the picture anyway!

Makes a bit over 1/3 cup. I absolutely love the flavor.  You can definitely taste the bite from the apple cider vinegar, but I've always had a thing for that tang.

Photography note:  When I take pics after dark, with no natural light, they don't turn out nearly as well as those where I can use natural light.  I'm learning, what can I say!

Hope you like the dressing as much as I do!


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Creamy Gooey Baked Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese is by far the most requested meal in our house--by Eden, Haley and all of their friends--which works for me because it's Jim's specialty, meaning Jim actually prepares it so I don't have to cook!  It's thick and creamy and gooey and scrumptious!

2 1/2 cup macaroni
1/4 butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
2 1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Cook macaroni until tender, drain.  Melt butter in microwavable bowl. 

Stir in flour until smooth (creating a roux).

Gradually add milk.

Microwave on high at 2 minute intervals, stirring in between, until sauce has thickened and bubbles. Season with salt and pepper.

In casserole dish make alternate layers of noodles and cheese, saving some cheese for the top.

Pour hot white sauce over top of macaroni, cutting into the layered mixture of noodles and cheese so the sauce seeps in, but do not stir.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes until brown and bubbly.

Makes 8 servings