Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Not so Wordless Wednesday~

Our little state and my little town in particular got hit with the worst floods they have seen here in 100 yrs. 3,000 families in my town were evacuated. Roads are closed. Rivers are cresting 10 feet high. Schools are closed. Sewer plants are flooded so one town can't flush. Can you imagine? We are in a real mess.

We spent 15 hours fighting the small river that was flowing past our house yesterday. John was up around the clock pumping out water.

When the rain let up for about an hour I ran out and took a few shots. This one was particularly ironic.

Flood 6

My heart goes out to all the families here who are sitting in shelters, wondering what is happening to their home and possessions. Wondering if they will have a home to return to.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cheesy Kielbasa and Potato Casserole

Cheesy Kielbasa Potato Bake 2

I must be on a "make up a casserole kick" lately. I swear I have been brainstorming casserole ideas in my head all week.

This inspiration came from the coupon section of the Sunday paper, I kid you not. I saw a recipe for a breakfast casserole using kielbasa and I thought, hmmmm, I think I can do something similar and turn it into a non-breakfast kinda dish.

Buh-bye eggs. Hello leeks, mushrooms and cheese.

When I had all the ingredients in the bowl I was tempted to add in some more liquid. I almost went for the chicken broth, but then I worried that it would be too wet. I know the kielbasa is going to cook and let out a lot of juice, so even though it looked like it was a little dry going in, it came out of the oven perfectly moist.

Success again. I'm on a roll.

Actually this would be pretty good served at breakfast or brunch, but we ate it for dinner with a nice spinach salad.

Cheesy Kielbasa Potato Bake in pan

Cheesy Kielbasa and Potato Casserole

1 pound of kielbasa cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bag (20 ounces) refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes
(I used Simply Potatoes, they are in the refrigerated section, if you are using frozen hashbrowns, make sure to thaw them first)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)plus extra for the top
1 cup sour cream
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thin (you can substitute 1 medium onion, chopped if you don't like leeks)
1 package baby bella mushrooms, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9x13 inch baking pan.

In a skillet cook the leeks in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add in the mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are tender. Transfer to a large bowl.

Cut the sausage into ½ inch cubes and add to the bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir gently to combine. Spread into pan. Sprinkle with a little more shredded cheddar.

Bake 40 – 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Cheesy Kielbasa Potato Bake 1

Cheesy Kielbasa and Potato Casserole

Potatoes, kielbasa, leeks, mushrooms, and cheese, baked until it's ...

See Cheesy Kielbasa and Potato Casserole on Key Ingredient.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Baked Apple Donuts

Baked Apple Donuts in basket

I have to be honest with you.

I made this recipe way back in the beginning of November and somehow it got lost in the blogosphere, and I just now found it again.

This is a Tasty Kitchen recipe (aka Pioneer Woman's recipe site).

I like the Tasty Kitchen site. I even have a few of my recipes posted there, but the one thing that truly bugs me about it is that it's so darn time consuming to submit a recipe. Have any of you tried?

You have to list each ingredient by cup, ounce, each, etc. Who has this kind of time?? I'm a cut and paste kinda girl, I don't have a half hour to upload a recipe.

I hope she works those kinks out, I mean what does that woman do all day??? Geesh, lol.

So anyway, I made these back in November, and they were a hit for breakfast. The boys really liked them and being portable always helps. Grab one or two and go.

Baked Apple Donuts pan

Doesn't the batter look like egg salad??? I thought it did.

Baked Apple Donuts
Recipe from Tasty Kitchen – Mary Ostyn
Printable recipe
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2 cups cored and finely diced apples

½ cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix the first 5 ingredients with a fork. Add the shortening and mix until the shortening is broken up. Set aside. In another bowl combine the eggs, milk and diced apples. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.

Baked Apple Donuts in basket 1

Spoon into a greased muffin pan, or use paper liners. Bake 20 – 25 minutes or until muffins are light to medium brown. While donuts are baking, melt the butter and set aside. Combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. When the donuts are done and before they have had a chance to cool, dip them in butter and then in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday~

I know this is supposed to be Wordless Wednesday, but sometimes I have a hard time being non-verbal, just ask my husband. So consider this my Non-Wordless Wednesday. Wait, does that even make sense??


I can’t seem to contain myself when the weather gets nice here in New England. I find myself buzzing around like a little bee. There are seedlings to be planted, gardens to plan, yard work to be done, planning for new garden beds, compost to turn, birdhouses to clean out, etc. The list never ends.

My in-laws are coming for the 4th of July. We can't wait to see them again. I look forward to entertaining in our outdoor spaces. John loves to grill and use the smoker, and I love making sides and desserts so it’s a win-win situation for both of us.

Tomorrow I’m off to the Boston Flower show with my friend Eva. I turned 46 on Sunday and this trip was Eva’s birthday present to me. Great gift huh? I’m sure I’ll find lots of inspiration at the show.

Enjoy your Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Crustless Pepperoni Pizza

Crustless Pizza in dish

My kids love pizza.

Love it.

Me - meh, not so much. Don't get me wrong, I like pizza. I mean I can appreciate a great slice, but I'm not one of those pizza nuts. My Gram and Mom made pizzas all the time. All the kids I hung around with in high school always wanted to come to my house cause of the pizza (and maybe because we had a ping pong table and a pool table too). We always had a cellar full of teenagers. I remember my Gram going up and down the stairs bringing trays of pizza to feed us all. Yup my house was pretty popular back in the day.

If a recipe has the word pizza in it, or is "pizza-like" in anyway, the boys are stoked. So when I came across this recipe at Jenny Mac's Lip Smack, I knew the boys would love it.

To me this is like a breakfast pizza. It reminds me of a quiche, but not quite. I changed it up just a bit and it really was terrific. The whole thing was gone in about 15 minutes. I did use fat-free evaporated milk and it still tasted great.

This is now on the breakfast menu at our house.

Crustless Pepperoni Pizza
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
2 ounces slicked turkey pepperoni
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Sauce for topping or dipping

Crustless Pizza

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9x9 baking dish or pie pan. Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and half the pepperoni into pan. Whisk together the eggs, flour, seasonings and garlic. Pour over cheese and pepperoni. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and carefully lay the remaining pepperoni on top of the cheese. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Crustless Pizza

Pizza for breakfast? Yes you can! This crustless pizza tastes ...

See Crustless Pizza on Key Ingredient.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spinach & Rice Casserole

Spinach Rice Casserole ECU

Some recipes just fall into your lap so to speak. Some you search for. Some you google to find and some are discovered on the many thousands food blogs we can now search. You can still scan old cookbooks and newspaper clippings but some recipes are just born. Born out of necessity or overabundance of ingredients, or plain boredom.

This is how this recipe was born.

I was looking for a casserole that would go well with the baked ham that we always serve for Easter. I had decided that I was going to do a baked mashed potato casserole, something I could make a day ahead and just pop into the oven. Then I started thinking about my Dad. My Dad is not a mashed potato kinda guy. He loves potatoes, just not mashed. I could already hear his grumblings in my head when he learned that the side dish would be mashed taters.

So I starting thinking about casseroles that I've made in the past and ways to adapt them to incorporate some of the things my Dad loves. He loves rice. He loves mushrooms and onions and he loves spinach. Now how could I put all those things together in one make-ahead dish and have it be 1) delicious and 2) moist 3) and most importantly, flavorful? I brainstormed a bit and pulled a few things from recipes I've made here and there and came up with this Spinach and Rice Casserole.

Spinach Rice Casserole in pan

I can hardly believe that I got it in one shot.

I nailed it.

This casserole is in a word...awesome. I think the use of the yellow rice really set it's apart from most of the other rice casseroles I've made. The balance of all the ingredients is just perfect. Not too spinachy, not to cheesy. Perfect.

Looks likes there's a new casserole in town.

I think Dad will be very happy this Easter.

Spinach Rice Casserole CU

Spinach & Rice Casserole
see end of post for printable recipe
2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 package (10oz) baby bella mushrooms (chopped)
1 package frozen cut-leaf spinach (16 oz) thawed and drained
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 can cream of mushroom soup
½ cup chicken broth
2 cups shredded cheddar, plus extra for the topping
3 cups cooked and cooled rice
(I used Goya yellow rice, Spanish style, 14oz box)*see note
1 tablespoon Lawrys seasoning salt
1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
Salt & pepper to taste

Oven to 350.

Grease a large casserole dish.

In a large pan over medium high heat, saut̩ the onion in the olive oil and butter until translucent. Add in the mushrooms and cook until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the spinach and garlic and cook for 2 Р3 minutes longer. Add the nutmeg and cook just 1 minute longer. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl stir together the cheese, rice and seasonings. Whisk together the soup and the chicken broth and stir into rice mixture. Add in the spinach/mushroom mixture and gently stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into prepared casserole dish and top with extra shredded cheese. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly.

*If you get the Goya 14 oz rice, you will have about a cup left over.

Spinach & Rice Casserole

This creamy, flavorful rice casserole is loaded with spinach, mushrooms ...

See Spinach & Rice Casserole on Key Ingredient.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Coconut Rice Pudding

Coconut Rice Pudding CU

No one in my house will eat this rice pudding with me.

Isn't that a shame?

This creamy, coconutty, silky rice pudding will never pass the lips of the three other people who live in this house.

I'm pretty sure the dog would eat it if I let him, but he's not getting any.

I had a total craving last week and this pudding was what I was aching for even though I knew I'd be the only one partaking. Luckily for me, my friend Tati came over after I had finished making it. She happily ate it up, and I happily shared more with her. She remembered her Grandmother in Slovenija making it all the time. She calls it "milk rice". I call it delicious.

With only 5 ingredients, this was super easy to make. All it took was time, and really it wasn't an exorbitantly ridiculous amount of time. You just need to stir it frequently, or you get the dreaded pudding skin if you don't.

I love that this isn't overly sweet. Just right.

Coconut Arborio Rice Pudding
Food & Wine Magazine - Feb 2010
1 quart whole milk (I used 2% and it came out fine)
1 cup Arborio rice (about 8 ounces)
½ cup sugar
1 – 14 ounce can of unsweetened coconut milk
½ cup coarsely shredded unsweetened coconut

In a large saucepan combine the milk rice and sugar with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat stirring frequently until the rice is tender and suspended in a thick, creamy sauce (about 30 minutes). Stir in the coconut milk and simmer, stirring occasionally until the rice is very tender and the liquid is thickened (about 10 minutes). Let cool slightly.

The mixture might look a little loose, but don't worry, it will thicken as it sits.

In a medium saucepan, toast the coconut over a moderate heat, stirring constantly, until fragment and golden (about 4 minutes). Transfer to a plate to cool.

Spoon the rice pudding into bowls garnished with coconut and serve.

Coconut Rice Pudding CU1

I've joined Key Ingredient so you'll be seeing a new way to print recipes from the blog. I had a few request from people who wanted a photo to go along with the recipe and I can't argue with that cause when I buy a cookbook, that's what I want to see, so hopefully this will be a solution. It's a pretty neat site (and free to join). It took a few tries to get it to appear correctly, but here it is. Hope you guys like it.

Coconut Rice Pudding

This creamy Coconut Arborio Rice Pudding is a breeze to ...

See Coconut Rice Pudding on Key Ingredient.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

I’ve been making this Eggplant Parmesan for over 25 years now. I know this because I remember it being one of the first dishes that I made without a recipe when I had just moved into the house that I still live in now. Wanting to impress at one of my first dinner parties, I decided to make eggplant parmesan. I was a vegetarian at the time (*GASP*, yup, I was vegetarian for over 20 years), and being young and not the greatest cook, eggplant was about the only meatless dish that I could think of to cook for a crowd. So eggplant it was and it was delicious. My first solo recipe without Mom or Gram guiding me, and it was wonderful.

I often wonder if the accolades from my guest about how great this dish was catapulted me into a world of cooking and baking. If it totally sucked would I still be as into cooking and baking as I am now? Something to ponder.

Eggplant Parmesan TS

This recipe has remained the same from the day I made it. I don’t bake my eggplant. I’ve tried it and it just isn’t the same. So this is a dish I only make a few times a year, one of them being Evan’s birthday in October. Let me also point out that no one in my house likes eggplant except me, another reason I don’t make it often.

My friend John, who’s been around even longer than the eggplant recipe, will literally drop whatever he is doing to make sure he gets some of it. He LOVES it that much.

Please note that when I make this recipe I never measure anything. I just throw it all together until it looks right. When I make this, I usually make a lot because I don't make it often. This recipe will make at least a three layer 9x13 dish.

Lisa’s Eggplant Parmesan

Printable recipe
2 medium size eggplants, peeled
Italian style breadcrumbs (I have also used Panko with great results)
2 eggs, beaten
You favorite pasta sauce
Mozzarella cheese (you can buy shredded or the big block. I usually use both so you get some stringy and some solid cheese)
Grated Pecorino cheese

Peel the eggplant and slice about ¾ of an inch thick. Dip into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs. If you are not going to fry these right away keep covered in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

Heat a good inch of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Make sure oil is hot when you put the eggplant in. Be careful in case of spatter. Fry each piece until golden brown and drain on a rack placed over a cookie sheet. You may have to add more oil, because the eggplant will start to absorb some of it about half way through. Let it heat back up a bit before you add more eggplant.

Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a baking pan and layer with eggplant. Top with a thin layer of sauce (don't put a lot of sauce between the layers) and a good amount of mozzarella cheese. I also sprinkle Pecorino Romano cheese on this layer.

Continue layering until you run out of ingredients. I usually use 2 - 3 large eggplants and make a huge pan but use what you have. Make sure to top with sauce & more cheese. .

Bake covered at 350 until hot and bubbly, about 30 – 45 minutes. Spray your foil with cooking spray so it won’t stick to the cheese.

Eggplant Parmesan CU

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

One of my favorite salads.

My fave salad 1

There is something so satisfying about the combination of a crisp pear and the smokiness of a great gouda. That crunch and smoothness together. It makes my mouth feel alive.

This is one of my very favorite salads.

A bed of field greens, a Red Asian pear, sliced thin, a hunk of the best blue cheese I have ever tasted (thank you farmers market), a sprinkling of walnuts and a few slices of great smokey gouda.

Be still my heart.

My fave salad

I top it off with a light vinaigrette and a little drizzle of honey.


My fave salad 2

I wish all my salads were this good.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunny Sunday

When you can lay on the deck and feel the sun warm up your shaggy little body, you know it's been a very good day.

Moose laying in the sunshine 1

Moose laying in the sunshine

When your buddy is there to share it with you, it's even better.

Evan Moose

Here's to warm, sunny Sundays.

May there be many, many more in store.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ranch Mac & Cheese

Ranch Mac Cheese

I'm not a ranch lover.

You will never see me reach for the ranch dressing, or the ranch flavored chips or dip. I'm more of a sour cream and onion type of girl.

My kids on the other hand are ranch lovers so when I saw this recipe for Ranch Mac and Cheese I knew it would be a something they would love.

Before your go imagining that a bottle of ranch dressing in poured into macaroni, let me assure you that is not the case. The ranch comes from a package of dry ranch dressing mix.

I had a few bites. It was tangy and very flavorful but just not my kinda thing. John and the kids loved it. I'm sure any ranch lovers that you may have in your house would love it too.

Ranch Mac Cheese CU

Ranch Mac & Cheese

Printable recipe

1 package (16 ounces) elbow macaroni
1 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon garlic pepper blend
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Colby cheese
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/2 cup crushed saltines
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, combine the milk, butter, dressing mix and seasonings; heat through. Stir in Monterey Jack and Colby cheeses until melted. Stir in sour cream.

Drain macaroni; stir into cheese sauce with the saltines. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Yield: 8 servings.

Ranch Mac Cheese SS

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Good Morning~

Last Days of Summer - yellow daisy

Good morning.
Here is your day.
You can not return, exchange, or repeat it.
Use it wisely.
It is a gift.

I read those words over and over and over again.

I think it's going to be my new mantra.

As readers of this blog know, I lost a friend last week. His passing has caused me to really reflect on my life and the importance of every single day.

I saw those beautiful words on a blog I discovered called Bright and Blithe. Every post of Gina's moved me.

Beautiful photographs, touching words and inspiring ideas. Thanks Gina.

Enjoy the gift that was given to you today.