Saturday, December 24, 2011

cinnamon swirl bread

Have you heard? Our collective kitchens just got a little more crowded, and just in time for Christmas!

I think my favorite day of the year might just be Christmas Eve. I have a lot of fond memories of the day growing up- all centered around being with family. I remember the wonderful smells of the kitchen vividly, probably because we've got the same scent conjured up in here now- from the cinnamon swirl loaves that recently came out of the oven. They smell amazing. They smell like Christmas. And the recipe I used (from couldn't be simpler (especially if you have a bread machine to do most of the work for you, as we do).

From 12/24/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

  • 1 cup warm milk (70 to 80 degrees F)
  • 1/4 cup water (70 to 80 degrees F)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • GLAZE:
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 4 teaspoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In bread machine pan, place the first eight ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons water or flour if needed).
  2. When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll each portion into a 10-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Brush with butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough. Roll up tightly jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Pinch seams and ends to seal. Place seam side down in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Cover with foil; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until golden brown. Remove form pans to wire racks to cool completely. Combine glaze ingredients; spoon over loaves.

Mexican orzo salad

From 12/23/2011 (by Eye-Fi)
I didn't have any chickpeas on hand- or any peppers other than orange (red would have made it even more festive), but it was still deelish- and a good combination of textures.

  • 1 (16 ounce) package orzo pasta
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (8.75 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 5 limes, juiced
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil


  1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the orzo, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drain.
  2. Place the drained orzo in a large salad bowl, and fold in the red pepper, yellow pepper, green onions, red onion, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, corn, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the lime juice and oil over the salad, toss to coat, and refrigerate at least 2 hours to chill before serving.

Monday, December 19, 2011

homemade pizza dough

From 12/19/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

We've made this recipe (Jay's Signature Pizza Crust) the past couple of times we've made homemade pizza, and the dough has been loved by all.

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour.
  3. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.
  5. Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
From 11/09/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas sugar cookies

From 12/16/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

We made these sugar cookies with the kids. I prefer them without icing, so we kept most of them plain or with a few sprinkles, Then today I set the kids loose with this icing (I used a bit of Agave nectar instead of corn syrup). If you can tell, I did quite a few myself, as our kids aren't known for doing anything in a reasonable amount of time. The cookies, however, are going fast.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

tuna salad (with curry powder and Parmesan)

A easy on-the-go dinner (especially for a Friday)- we packed these tuna salad sandwiches to eat at the Children's Museum before their Member's Holiday Event yesterday. And I'd have to say it was some of the best tuna salad I've had. I doubled the recipe and added some celery to, too. And less mayo than called for, which, to me always seems like a good plan.

  • 1 (7 ounce) can white tuna, drained and flaked
  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried minced onion flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1 pinch garlic powder
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the tuna, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, and onion flakes. Season with curry powder, parsley, dill and garlic powder. Mix well and serve with crackers or on a sandwich.

Here is the original recipe/source.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

easy cranberry and apple cake

I tried out another version of this tonight (with orange juice instead of apple cider- and it's NOT vegan or gluten free) for our monthly Teams meeting, and this one turned out even better, so I thought it worth posting. It got compliments all around. And it's easy, as well as a great seasonal dessert. Here's the recipe I used.

Friday, November 18, 2011

cranberry-apple cake (gluten-free, vegan)

I love baking with cranberries, and this was so, so good! (And the smells were remarkable). It would only have been improved with some walnuts or pecans, in my opinion. And I think it would have benefited from a bit of the flour mixture being incorporated with the carn-apple mixture beforehand (the recipe doesn't say to) because the fruity mixture stayed very moist at the bottom-- it was still tasty as could be with a spoonful of both the cakey and the fruity- a great combination of tastes.

From 11/09/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

Here is the recipe for the gluten-free, vegan recipe. I made mine the non-gluten and vegan variety (and with about half of the cane sugar than the recipe called for).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

country pumpkin muffins (with walnuts and raisins)

These are my new favorite muffins. And they will put you in a neighborly sort of mood.

From 11/09/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

We packed up the autumn delights along with some Anjou pears and headed next door-- where an old woman and her epileptic son, who's my mom's age, live-- around lunchtime today to shoot the breeze on the ills of today's world. He calls me Betty Crocker for my homey ability to make baked goods without a box mix (though that's not always how we roll). And she commented that when she was mothering her brood of seven, she would have never have let her child go out looking the likes of Abigail, hair unkempt, no socks... She meant it in a complimentary way, though, emphasizing how much unnecessary work she put on herself (and driving herself crazy in the process), making sure her children all looked perfectly presentable, bathing them until they were ten years old herself. We like to make a big deal about the important things and leave the other things to the wind. They were taken aback at Jack and Abigail's good manners.

I substituted some wheat flour and some cane sugar here and there, and the muffins turned out fabulous. Plus, they were made with loving hands, which occasionally slopped and stirred some out of the bowl, inviting us to taste test (the batter's great!). And the recipe makes a bunch.

From 11/09/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

From 11/09/2011 (by Eye-Fi)


* 2 cups sugar
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 3 eggs
* 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
* 1/2 cup water
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 cups raisins
* 1 cup chopped walnuts


1. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin and water. Combine flour, baking powder, soda, spices and salt. Add to pumpkin mixture; blend well. Fold in raisins and walnuts. Spoon into greased muffin tins, filling 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

orzo with Parmesan and basil

In trying to use up some ingredients we've had in the pantry for a while, I seeked out an orzo recipe, and found this.
I used a bit less Parmesan than the recipe called for and used 1/2 olive oil instead of butter (which I substituted for earth balance). Jack asked if we could have it every day. I told him we'd make it again, but the likelihood of every day is slim. It was very good-- and tonight was a lazy night, so while it would normally have been a side, it became our main course complemented with some edamame and apples.

Monday, October 31, 2011

apple chicken

1 1/4 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I just left bigger pieces of chicken)
4 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Add apple slices, saute 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 the wine and chicken broth, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Mix remaining wine and broth together with remaining ingredients; add to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens.

A great fall dish-- we served it with mashed potatoes, peas, and these homemade rolls (substituting some of the ingredients to make them a little healthier-- Abigail and I are happily back on the wheat with little to no effects).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Apple Pie Brownies

I know it's been awhile since I've posted at all, but I finally got around to trying my hand at one of Jonathan's favorite childhood memories. He claims it was as good as he remembers.

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 – 1 1/2 cups chopped apple (I used 2 apples)
1/2 cup walnuts, optional
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbs. cinnamon

Grease a 9″ square baking pan. In a large bowl, beat the melted butter, sugar and eggs. Stir in the apples and nuts. Mix in the dry ingredients and pour into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Now to find the energy to update the pictures on this blog...

Friday, September 23, 2011

gluten-free apple crisp

From 09/23/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

Technically, mine isn't gluten-free, since I added a bit of spelt flour to thicken up the "crisp," as the recipe said to "crumble" the topping over the apples, and mine was too wet to crumble. It left a bit to be desired, but with some ice cream on top, it tasted pretty good. I like that it's sweetened with agave nectar. And, we picked the apples ourselves this morning.

Friday, September 2, 2011

healthy spelt banana muffins

I stumbled across this tasty recipe for wheat-free banana muffins here when we had two ripe bananas that no one wanted to eat. I'm finding that spelt flour (not gluten-free) is a nice substitute for all-purpose or wheat flour in baking.

From 09/02/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

  • 2 1/4 cups Whole Spelt Four
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil (melted)
  • 1/2 cup Raw Agave
  • 2/3 cup No Sugar So Delicious Coconut Milk
  • 2 cups Mashed Banana
  • 1tbsp Vanilla
  • 2 dashes Cinnamon
~Preheat Oven to 325 degrees and spray muffin tin with baking spray (I found a coconut oil one and it's great!)
~Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, turning once after 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, July 25, 2011

vegan gluten-free zucchini bread

This was my first attempt with baking gluten and dairy-free (I did try a boxed brownie mix that proved to be chewy and delicious), but it turned out super and made my house smell HEAVENLY (And I'm pretty sure I'd feel the same way even if I weren't on this restricted diet right now). It's a great moist consistency and just the right sweetness. I was even inspired to share with my family. Gail gobbled up her thick slice like it was a bowl of marshmallows. Child got the sweet-tooth. Jack, though at first dissuaded by "zucchini" in the name, eventually tried and asked for more. And I didn't tell Mike it was made for me. Did he notice? Nope.

I wanted to use up some of the zucchini that is taking over our garden. I'm thinking raisins would also have made a good addition (I definitely added the walnuts). And I modified the recipe a bit to eliminate the refined sugar-- I substituted raw cane sugar and some honey (just a few good squirts). I went crazy with the cinnamon 'cause I'ma cinnamon-loving gal. Here's the recipe.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

pineapple-cashew quinoa stir-fry

From 07/01/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

Do yourself a favor-- this was really good, and I didn't follow the directions exactly as they said-- I simplified, and it still turned out fantastic- full of juicy flavors and textures that were just right.

Recipe from Veganomicon-- see full recipe here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

greek-style tomato-zucchini fritters with fresh herbs

From 06/29/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

I heart these. They were downright delicious. Iris didn't appreciate the texture, I don't think, so out they came, but the others did well with it. Even Mike admitted they were pretty good, for tofu. It was the first time I've used the food processor for tofu, so that was exciting. I got to use our first garden yield- zucchini, too.


1 lb firm tofu, squeezed to remove extra water (place a heavy dinner plate on top for 10 minutes or so), then crumbled
1/4 cup ground walnuts
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp tomato juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs, plus 1/3 cup for coating
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1/2 lb zucchini, grated and squeezed to remove excess water
1 lb seeded, finely chopped tomatoes, drained to remove extra liquid
Olive oil


Preheat the oven to 350F.
Blend the tofu, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you wish. Scrape into a large bowl and mix in the bread crumbs, dill, and mint — it should have the consistency of a thick cookie dough. (Add more breadcrumbs by the tablespoon if it’s not quite there). Fold in the zucchini and tomatoes.
Create golf-ball sized balls of the mixture, and drop into the bread crumbs and roll to coat. Flatten to about 1 inch thick.
Rub a large cookie sheet with olive oil, and as you complete each fritter, arrange so they do not touch. Spray with olive oil, then place in the oven and cook for 35 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

From Veganomicon.

Monday, June 27, 2011

chickpea-quinoa pilaf

Of course, when the youngins' saw this, they began to whine, "I don't like this!" Even Iris studied it curiously between her fingers before letting it drop to the floor. So I protested, "But you haven't even tried it." And after I made them try it, guess what? They liked it. All three of them. Jack even managed to down the the "onluns."

From 06/27/2011 (by Eye-Fi)


2 Tbsps olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
several pinches freshly ground black pepper
1.2 tsp salf
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
2 cups cooked or 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I substituted northern beans, as I didn't have any chickpeas on hand)
2 cups vegetable broth or reconstituted bouillon


1 In small stockpot over med heat, saute the onions in olive oil for ~ min. Add garlic and saute for 2 min.
2 Add tomato paste, coriander, cumin, black pepper, and salt; saute for another min.
3 Add the quinoa and saute for 2 mins.
4. Add the chickpeas and broth; cover and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, lower heat to very low and cook for ~18 min, or until the quinoa has absorbed all the water; stir occasionally.
5. Fluff with a fork

From Veganomicon

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

banana butterfly birthday cupcakes

I made these dear cupcakes for Abigail's birthday, and they went over very well. They were fairly healthy, moist and all around yummy.

From 06/07/2011 (by Eye-Fi)
Going fast...



1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup caster sugar (I used raw cane sugar, ground up some in the food processor)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 med. bananas)
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup milk (I used soy milk)


100 g. reduced fat cream cheese (I used half a block of Neufchatel)
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1-2 tsp, fresh orange juice
sprinkles for decorating
strawberries for decorating

1. preheat oven to 350. Grease muffin pan or line with muffin paper

2. Beat (with electric mixer) butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add banana. Beat until combined.

3. Sift flour and baking soda over banana mixture. Add milk. Using a large metal spoon, gently stir until combined. Distribute evenly into muffin pans. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. To make cream cheese icing, combine cream cheese, sugar and oj with electric mixer until smooth. If too thick, add more oj. Spread frosting onto cupcakes, decorate with sprinkles and strawberries as butterfly wings and serve.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

marinated salmon with mango-kiwi relish

I doubt anyone is as tired as I am of seeing Chicken Thigh Supper pop up on here week after week after week. It was good but not THAT good.

image via

I plan on making this tomorrow for our fish Friday (recipe courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine circa March 2004)-- maybe with some sweet potato fries and some arugula salad (my new favorite). I love when it's time to cook for a new season! And I LOVE salmon.
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup diced peeled mango
  • 1/2 cup cubed peeled kiwifruit
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

  • To prepare salmon, combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add fish to bag; seal. Marinate 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
  • While fish marinates, heat grill pan or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove fish from bag, discarding marinade. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fish, and cook 5 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
  • While fish cooks, prepare the relish. Combine mango and the remaining ingredients. Serve over fish.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

chicken thigh supper

I discovered a great new cookbook that I checked out from the library last week- Good Mood Food by Donal Skehan-- he looks like an Irish teen sensation, but he does know how to cook. Skimming through it, I kept thinking how good the food on every page looked. I have about ten bookmarked, as that's about how many slips of paper I pre-cut, and I thought that would at least keep me busy for a while. Last night, I made this dish, which was very savory. I pan-seared some spinach in the same pan, which was a nice touch, served with bread.

image via Good Mood Food Blog

From blog--

"This is a super dish for a big group of people, served with a tasty salad; it’s perfect for weekday entertaining. If you can’t get a hold of chicken thighs, you can use any other cuts as long as they’re on the bone. This gives the meat a really great flavour.

Serves 4

6–8 chicken thighs
200g pancetta, diced, or bacon bits
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
75ml/3fl oz red wine
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 red onion, chopped in half moons
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 sprigs of thyme
2 teaspoons of English mustard powder
2 tablespoons of olive oil

In a large deep frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and brown the chicken and pancetta, until you get a nice colour on the thighs. Set aside on plate covered with kitchen paper.
In the same pan, add the rest of the oil and fry the garlic, onion, rosemary and thyme for 2 minutes. Sprinkle over the mustard powder and stir through.
Add the tinned tomatoes and red wine, and bring to the boil. Add the chicken and pancetta pieces back to the pan, turning the chicken pieces to coat.
Cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes over a low heat or until the chicken is cooked through. You may need to extend the cooking time depending on the size of the chicken thighs. I don’t add salt to this recipe as the pancetta can be quite salty, but make sure to taste it and add seasoning if needed.
Serve with a tasty salad and some hearty wholemeal bread."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

banana sour cream pancakes

For the eve of Lent ("Fat Tuesday"), we indulged in Banana Sour Cream pancakes (found here) topped with Strawberries and whipped cream, and eggs. Those were some yummy pancakes- definitely a treat!

From 03/08/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

banana sour cream pancakes

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Unsalted butter
  • 2 ripe bananas, diced, plus extra for serving
  • Pure maple syrup


Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Distribute a rounded tablespoon of bananas on each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced bananas, butter and maple syrup.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

toad in the hole

I found this recipe in a Williams-Sonoma magazine-- about the only thing I'll ever get out of one of those. But it looked divine, and it held up. When I told the kids the name, it got some eyes, but once we explained that what was in it was just things that they really like (i.e. kielbasa (which we used instead of sausage, since that's what we had on hand), eggs, orange peppers, spinach, etc.), they downed it fairly quickly. We had it with homemade oatmeal bread with strawberry jam, cantaloupe and OJ.


  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 whole eggs plus 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp. whole-grain mustard
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 3 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. mild pork breakfast sausage links
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 4 oz. spinach
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh chives


In a bowl, combine the milk, eggs, egg white and mustard. Using an immersion blender, blend until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the flour and the 1 tsp. salt and blend for 30 to 60 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the batter for 2 hours.

Preheat an oven to 425ºF.

In a 10-inch fry pan over medium heat, warm 1 tsp. of the oil. Add the sausages and brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Wipe out the pan with paper towels. Return the pan to medium heat and warm 1 tsp. of the oil. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the sausage. In the same pan over medium heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the oil. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the plate.

Pour the remaining 2 Tbs. oil into a 12-inch fry pan and place in the oven until the oil is hot and just smoking, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the batter from the refrigerator and stir in the cheese. Carefully remove the pan from the oven. Add the sausages, bell pepper and spinach to the pan, then pour in the batter. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the batter is puffy and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes; do not open the oven door early as this will cause the toad in the hole to deflate. Garnish with the chives and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

photo via Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Monday, January 31, 2011

chicken tortilla soup

From 01/31/2011 (by Eye-Fi)
The other day when I happened to be in Giant Eagle, samples of this were being given out. It was very good-- I took one of the recipe sheets. It would have been too spicy for the kids, so I just did away with the hot peppers and only added half of the chili powder, and it wasn't spicy at all. I probably could have added a little more, but the kids liked it. And Iris discovered avocados, which I served with the soup, along with tortilla chips and salsa.

From 01/31/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

Chicken tortilla soup

3 Thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 C chopped green onions
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (we skipped this and replaced it with 1/2 a red bell pepper)
1 pablano pepper, diced (we skipped this too)
2 TBSP canola oil
1 stick of butter (we used a cup of Smart Balance)
1/2 C flour
1/2 C shredded Mexican 4 cheese blend
1/2 C fat free Greek yogurt
4 C chicken broth
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (7 oz) can fire roasted diced green chiles (we skipped this)
1 C frozen corn
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder (I used only 1 tsp)
salt, to taste


Heat oil in large pan and saute chicken, onions and peppers, seasoning with 1/2 the cumin and chili powder.
While chicken is cooking, melt butter in large stock pot over med. heat. whisk in flour, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk 1/4 C at a time, then the cheese, yogurt, and chicken broth, ensuring each ingredient is well incorporated before adding the next.
Stir in remaining ingredients including the cooked chicken, bring to simmer and serve.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

potato kielbasa skillet

Even the kids, who usually reject all potatoes proclaimed that they liked this. I boiled the potatoes first because Mike likes his potatoes extra-soft.

potato kielbasa skillet

large potatoes
, cut in bite sized chunks

1 lb kielbasa, sliced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup broth
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I skipped this)

  1. In dutch oven, brown potatoes, kielbasa, onion and peppers in oil.
  2. Add seasonings and broth.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Cover tightly and cook for 20 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.
  5. Uncover and put cheese on top.
  6. Simmer until cheese is melted.

Monday, January 17, 2011

baked turkey taquitos

(image: Bree via the creative mama)

We had these tonight, and they were definitely worth a mention here- healthy, easy to prepare, easy for the kids to pick up and eat, tasty. Plus, we got to have "apple-cados"- one of Gail's favorites.

company muffins

These are always so good. simple. And they're filled with fruits and veggies-- not that we have a problem getting our kids to eat them-- they'd much prefer some cucumber or bell pepper slices to a slice of greasy pizza. We know, they're not normal. Iris had about half of one mashed up this morning (with the nuts and raisins removed). She kept opening wide her little beak. The other kids really love them too.

From 01/17/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

Company Muffins
Recipe from Simply in Season

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oat bran or rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl combine and stir well.

2 large apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
1 1/2 cups carrots (finely shredded)
1 cup walnuts (chopped) or flax seed meal
1/2 cup raisins

Add and stir to coat. Make well in center

2 eggs (slightly beaten)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil

In a separate bowl mix together. Pour into flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven at 375°F for 18-20 minutes.

From 01/17/2011 (by Eye-Fi)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

homemade soft pretzels

From 01/12/2011 (by Eye-Fi)
See more of the process here.


4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping


In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.