Friday, November 9, 2012

Thanksgiving Menu

Brie and bread (tip for next year, slice bread ahead of time)
Ranch dip and chips
Fruit dip and sliced apples


Cornbread stuffing
Mashed potatoes
Broccoli casserole
Roast carrots and parsnips?
Cranberry sauce
Rolls and butter
Cornbread (tip for next year, do not turn on crockpot to warm bread)

- Chocolate chip cookies
- Apple pie
- S'mores?

- Pumpkin beer
- Hard cider
- Regular beer
- Rum and Coke?
- Water, bottled
- Milk
- Soda: Diet Coke, Coke
- Cocoa and marshmallows
- Tea, both herbal and caffeinated

Have football on
Have board games or cards visible
Have music on in kitchen
Set up fire pit on back patio?

Acorn mirrors
Stamped napkins
Sunflower vase
Fall garland
"Happy" Fall sign
Fall yard sign
Orange throw blanket (tip for next year, do not buy linens on Amazon)
Orange runners
Yellow tablecloth
Fall wreath

Put on new couch slipcover
Clean both bathrooms
Clean cat box
Vacuum floors and furniture
Make sure bathroom door has a good lock and lighting
Move furniture
Do dishes
Disinfect all countertops
Take out trash and recycling
Put away laundry
Have an area for guests' coats
Make bed
Hang artwork and mirrors?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pumpkin-spice Hot Cocoa

This is so simple!
Just prepare a packet of Swiss Miss according to the directions on the box, then add a pumpkin-spiced marshmallow. The pumpkin flavor is subtle and nice.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Easy Sausage and Pasta Dinner

This recipe is based on this recipe for Eating Well. However, I used pork sausage, added spinach, changed a couple amounts/times, and changed the mixing order - if you make it precisely as Eating Well instructs, you will have a mass of sticky cheese instead an evenly mixed result. My version is below.

Sausage & Arugula/Spinach Pasta


  • 12 ounces whole-wheat short pasta (about 7/8 of a package)
  • 2 links of hot Italian pork sausage, removed from casings
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bag of arugula and baby spinach salad mix
  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more to taste (could use Pecorino Romano)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, according to package directions (6-8 minutes for the whole wheat elbow macaroni I used). 
  2. Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, arugula and spinach, and tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, until the greens wilt and the tomatoes begin to break down, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and keep warm.
  3. Combine pepper and salt in a large bowl. Measure out 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid; drain the pasta. Whisk the cooking liquid and oil together; add the pasta and toss to combine. Next, add the 1/2 cup cheese. Serve the pasta topped with the sausage mixture and an extra sprinkle of cheese, if desired.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How to Make a Reuben Sandwich

A yummy Reuben sandwich!
- Rye bread (I used seedless)
- Butter
- Corned beef
- Sauerkraut
- Thousand Island dressing (I used Kraft)
- Swiss Cheese
1) Prepare Sauerkraut - Remove from bag and place into a strainer over a bowl. Press kraut to remove excess liquid. Continue to let excess liquid drain into bowl as you prepare the rest of the meal.
2) Start toasting - Get a pan. Melt butter into pan over medium-low heat. Place empty sandwiches (just bread) into pan to toast one side of sandwich.
3) Melt butter in microwave until liquid. Pour over top side of sandwich bread and flip to toast the newly buttered side.
4) Warm it up - Place a slice of cheese onto the bread to warm it in the pan. Meanwhile, heat up the corned beef. You can do this in a separate pan, or heat it on a plate in the microwave.
5) Combine it - From the bottom, layer the meat, then the dressing, then the kraut, then the cheese. Enjoy!
Under the bread, it looks like this.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pasta Dinner

@AnimatorsWife made this for craft night so I got the recipe from her!
The garlic bread is from Pepperidge Farm.

The recipe appears here on It is also copied and pasted below:

Tomato Cream Pasta


1lb penne pasta
2tablespoons olive oil
1onion, diced
1clove garlic, minced
1(14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
1tablespoon dried basil leaves
3/4teaspoon white sugar
1/4teaspoon dried oregano
1/4teaspoon salt
1/8teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2cup heavy cream
1tablespoon butter


1.Cook pasta according to package instructions.
2.In a saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Make sure it doesn't burn. Add tomatoes, basil, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and continue to boil 5 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates.
3.Remove from heat; stir in whipping cream and butter. Reduce heat and simmer 5 more minutes. Toss with pasta.

Tip from @AnimatorsWife:
Make sure you use crushed tomatoes, not diced.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Girls' night BBQ

BBQ menu:
Sliders with wheat buns (at least they cook faster).
Potato salad
Macaroni salad

Desert menu:
Store-bought sampler

Monday, October 1, 2012

Basmati Rice

There is a ton of valuable rice cooking information here from Maureen.
My Basmati Rice:
Place 3 1/2 cups water in a saucepan. Add one tablespoon butter and two cups Basmati rice.
Heat until the water is boiling. Stir once. Then lower the heat to simmer and cover the pot.
Cook for 23 minutes with the lid slightly ajar.
Make sure the water is gone.
Serves four people, although the dog loves plain cooked rice too.
Add a sprinkle of Persian sumac spice if desired.

Maureen's Full Rice Tutorial:

Add a tablespoon of oil to the water when cooking rice so the grains stay separate and don't stick together.

To keep rice (especially brown rice) fresh longer, store it in the refrigerator. Brown rice should be stored at 55 degrees F. or lower.

Never stir rice while it cooks because it will crush the rice grains, releasing starch, and make the rice gummy.

Most foods take 3-4 hours to digest, white rice has such a low fiber content it only takes 1 hour to digest.

Microwavable rice costs almost $6.00 per pound. Bulk rice costs less than $0.50 per pound.

• 1 cup dry rice = approx. 7 oz. (wt.)
• 1 lb. dry rice = approx. 2 1/4 c. (vol.)
• 1 cup cooked rice = approx. 8 oz. (wt.)
• 1 lb. cooked rice = approx. 1 pt. (2 cups)

• 1 lb. dry rice yields about 6-7 cups cooked rice

How to Prepare Rice
American-grown rice is a clean product that does not need washing or rinsing before or after cooking. Most U.S. rice is enriched with iron, niacin, thiamin, and folic acid. Rinsing rice, or cooking rice in excess water and draining, results in loss of enrichment and other water-soluble vitamins and minerals.

For best results, always follow package directions. When directions are not available, use this easy chart:

Proportion & Yield

Parts liquid to 1 part rice (by volume)
Cooking time (minutes)

U.S. arborio

20 - 30

U.S. basmati

20 - 25

U.S. jasmine

20 - 25

Brown, long grain

40 - 45

25 - 30

White, long grain

18 - 20

White, medium grain

20 - 30

White, short grain

20 - 30

Top of the Range: Combine 1 cup rice, liquid (see chart), 1 teaspoon salt (optional), and 1tablespoon. butter or margarine (optional) in 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling; stir once or twice. Reduce heat; cover and simmer. Cook according to time specified on chart. If rice is not quite tender or liquid is not absorbed, replace lid and cook 2 to 4 minutes longer. Fluff with fork.

Other Cooking Methods
In addition to cooking rice on top of the range, you can prepare it in a conventional oven, microwave oven, or rice cooker.

Conventional Oven: Cooking rice in the oven is an efficient use of energy when other foods are baking. Boiling liquid must be used to start the cooking process.

Combine 1 cup rice, liquid (see chart), 1 teaspoon salt (optional), and 1 tablespoon butter or margarine (optional) in a baking dish or pan; stir. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes (30 to 40 minutes for parboiled; 1 hour for whole grain rice). Fluff with fork.

Dog waiting for rice to cook.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Easy Roast Chicken

This recipe is from @AnimatorsWife, who said "As for the chicken, I tried a trick I learned in that knife skills class. I cooked it at 450 degrees for the first 20 minutes, then turned it down to 375 for the rest of the cooking time. That's supposed to make the skin crispy (seems to have worked!)."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made them again for the baby shower - everyone loves these cookies.
For the recipe, see my earlier post here.

Using Spritz Cookies in Jar

I made these cookies for a baby shower at work. Some cookies had pink sprinkles for the staff who were expecting girls. For the person who was waiting to be surprised, I used pink and blue sprinkles together. This recipe is from @AnimatorsWife from her mother-in-law.

Spritz Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter (or 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup shortening)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix dry ingredients together.
3. Blend shortening and butter with egg and vanilla until fluffy.
4. Mix dry ingredients into moist ingredients and beat well.
5. Cool in refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour.
6. Fill cookie press and form cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet.
7. Sprinkle cookies with colored sugar.
8. Bake 10 minutes or until brown around edges.
9. When baked, remove to foil and let cool.
My Tips
I didn't want to use a cookie press, so I used a medium cookie scoop and then pressed the ball down into a circular shape.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Scotch Eggs

 This Scotch Eggs recipe was prepared by The Animator's Wife from one on Pepperplate.
Copied recipe:

Scotch Eggs


1pound pork sausage meat
2teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4hard-cooked eggs, peeled
1tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/8teaspoon salt
1/8teaspoon ground black pepper
1egg, beaten
2/3cup dry bread crumbs
1quart oil for deep frying


1.Heat the oil in a large saucepan or deep fryer to 365 degrees F (180 degrees C), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns brown in 1 minute. Lower the eggs carefully into the hot oil. Fry for 5 minutes, or until deep golden brown.
2.Divide the sausage into four equal parts. Mold each part around one of the hard-cooked eggs, rolling between your hands to shape. Place the beaten egg and bread crumbs into separate dishes. Dip the balls into the egg, then roll in the bread crumbs until coated. Shake off any excess.
3.In a medium bowl, mix together the pork sausage and Worcestershire sauce. Combine the flour, salt and pepper; mix into the sausage.


We also had a Fruit Salad prepared by myself (see photo)

  • 1 container strawberries
  • 1 bunch red grapes cut in half
  • 1 bunch green grapes cut in half
  • 1 container raspberries

  • Mix, adding lightest ingredients (in this case raspberries) last. Serves 5-6 people.
Sarah of Speak Boylese made wonderful Salted Caramel Cookies. The recipe appears on her blog here.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Baking Bliss Meetup

My baking group did its version of the TV show Chopped. Everyone got a secret ingredient and baked something with it and the two mandatory ingredients, sugar and butter. Mine was cinnamon.

I baked a cinnamon coffee cake using this Coffee Cake II recipe.
Caramel Brownies recipe made by Lisa; Laura's Tasty Kakes were based on this recipe by Gourmet Magazine; Melanie made this Raspberry Macarons recipe; Cynde made this Elcairs II recipe

Cinnamon Coffee Cake II

This recipe is based off CM's Cinnamon Coffee Cake recipe on the Cooks dot com website. However, I made some modifications. This first time I baked it, I used this recipe (original recipe plus first modifications). Then I made some more modifications. Here is how I made mine the second time around:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
a little more than 1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
Cinnamon Crumb Topping:
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients for cake. Beat together egg, oil and milk, then add to dry ingredients - add half, combine, then add the second half.
  3. Brush a 9-inch circular cake pan with butter. Dust the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Fill pan with cake batter and level off top with a spatula.
  4. Make the Cinnamon Crumb Topping and crumble it over the top of the cake. Next, bake the cake.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
My Notes:
The little bit of extra oil took care of the dryness problem. It took 20 mins to bake.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cinnamon Coffee Cake I

This recipe is based off CM's Cinnamon Coffee Cake recipe on the Cooks dot com website. However, I made some slight modifications. Here is how I made mine:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
Cinnamon Crumb Topping:
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients for cake. Beat together egg, oil and milk, then add to dry ingredients - add half, combine, then add the second half.
  3. Brush a 9-inch circular cake pan with butter. Dust the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Fill pan with cake batter and level off top with a spatula. Next, spread the Cinnamon Crumb Topping over top of cake and bake.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
My Notes:
Cake came out a little dry but otherwise fine. Took it 23 mins to bake. Had to invert cake pan, press it to cake stand, and tap it to release the cake.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Make-Your-Own-Pizza Party

For Party
for six ladies,
8" pizza crusts, one per person
1 jar pizza sauce
4 cups mozzarella cheese
BYO toppings (peppers, feta, mushrooms, olives, spinach, artichoke, brie, pear...)
  1. Place on pizza stone in preheated 475 F oven for about 8 minutes
For Pear and Brie Pizza
This is the pizza at the bottom of Photo 3 and it is Sarah H's recipe based on a pizza she had at a pub in Ottawa.
  1. Brush crust with olive oil
  2. Add a light sprinkling of red pepper flakes
  3. Top with slices of brie cheese
  4. Top with slices of pear
  5. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese
  6. Bake in preheated 475 F oven for 8 minutes
After the pizzas, Lindy treated us to an edible arrangement that was delicious!

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Going into the oven and just after they came out
    Ready to eat!

    This recipe comes from the packaging for Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Chips
    2 + 1/4 cups unsifted flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
    3/4 cup sugar
    3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 eggs
    2 cups Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips (one 11.5 oz package)
    Cookie Steps:
    1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside. Beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed until incorporated.
    2. Gradually blend dry mix into creamed mix. Stir in chcolate chips. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets (or line sheet with parchment paper). Bake for 9 to 11 mins or until golden brown.
    My Notes: Can make dough ahead of time, place in tupperware container in fridge, and scoop and bake throughout the week as you like. I used an OXO medium-sized cookie scoop to make my cookies.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    How Now Brownies

    How Now Brownies Recipe is from All The Cooks website.


    packages · (12-oz) chocolate chips
    ¾  cup · Unsalted butter or margarine
    ¾  cup · Sugar
    tsp · Vanilla
    ¾  cup · Whole wheat flour


    • 1 Heat oven to 350°F. Melt chocolate and butter together in microwave or over medium heat. Stir and let cool slightly. Beat eggs by hand in large bowl; add sugar and vanilla; continue to beat until smooth, 2-3 minutes. Add chocolate mixture and flour; stir well. Pour into greased 9 inches x 13 inches pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool; cut into squares.
    • 2 Yield 56 brownies.
    • 3 Fat 6.2 grams per bar / Source of Fiber
    My Notes: I uploaded my pics to All The Cooks app under my username, artchick27. It took my brownies almost 30 mins to cook. I checked to see if they were done using the toothpick method.

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    Brownies made by Stacy using Wheat Flour

    Stacy made hers using milk instead of water and thinks they came out more moist


    1/2cup white sugar
    2tablespoons butter
    1/3cup water
    2cups semisweet chocolate chips
    1/2teaspoon vanilla extract
    2/3cup whole wheat flour
    1/4teaspoon baking soda


    1.Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease an 8x8 inch square pan or 11x7 inch brownie pan.
    2.In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter and water. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour and baking soda; stir into the chocolate mixture. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
    3.Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies set up.

    My Notes: According to Stacy, the chocolate masks the wheat flour

    Meat House Steak Tips

    Bought steak tips from The Meat House
    To cook, used Foreman grill