Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! I apologize for my lack of posts these past few days. Between the holidays and my lack of appetite, it's been difficult to find time to cook new dishes. Corey and I are expecting twins in early July, and the Peanuts have wreaked havoc on my eating habits and appetite, so it's been hard to cook just about anything! However, I am starting to feel like my old self and should be back up and running on Monday with some new recipes to share.

In the meantime, Sadie says happy holidays to you! She was very blessed by Santa Paws with a REAL prime rib bone (thank you, Cherolyn), a big chewie bone, a Christmas Crustacean toy, and a Roadkill Raccoon from her favorite auntie, Kara. I hope that you and your families were similarly blessed!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Creme de Menthe Brownies

We had a Christmas cookie exchange in the office yesterday, and I ended up with nine different kinds of delicious treats, along with the recipes to make them. As such, you will probably be seeing several baked goods come across this blog in the next few days, as everything I have tried has been quite delicious. Here's a recipe for Creme de Menthe Brownies, which is the dessert that I contributed to the cookie exchange. Enjoy!


Recipe Notes

Make sure that each layer cools completely before adding the next layer to the brownies! It can sometimes be difficult to find the old-fashioned cans of Hershey's chocolate syrup. I have the most luck finding this grocery item with the ice cream toppings. If you look with the rest of the hot cocoa and "squeezable" chocolate syrups, you probably won't find it.

Bottom Layer Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-16 oz. can chocolate syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (I like to use good-quality vanilla, but imitation extract will work)

Bottom Layer Instructions

1. Cream butter and sugar.

2. Add eggs, flour, salt, chocolate syrup, and vanilla (in the order listed). Blend well.

3. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan and bake, 20-25 minutes, at 350 degrees. You will probably have gooey brownies in the center and well done brownies on the edges if you stick to this timeframe.

4. Let cool while preparing middle layer.

Middle Layer Ingredients

  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
  • 2 tbsp. creme de menthe liqueur (I substitute mint extract when I don't have creme de menthe)
  • 2-3 drops green food coloring

Middle Layer Instructions

1. Blend powdered sugar, butter, creme de menthe, and green food coloring.

2. Mix well and spread over cooled brownies. (This is accomplished most easily with a bent icing knife). CHILL THOROUGHLY.

Top Layer Ingredients

  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  • 6 tbsp. butter

Top Layer Instructions

1. Melt butter and chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler.

2. Let cool to icing consistency. Spread over chilled brownies.

3. Cut into diamonds or square shapes for serving. Serves 48.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Baked Onion Rings

Corey loves these, and they are so much better for you than fried onion rings!


Recipe Notes

This Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe calls for a hot pan with heated oil prior to baking. I typically just swirl a little olive oil over the foil in my jelly roll pan prior to putting it in the oven, and they turn out about the same. The onion rings might be a little crispier if you heat the oil in the pan first, but it's another step that I like to leave out if I am short on time.


  • 1-1/2 c. cornflakes
  • 1/2 c. plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Coarse salt & ground pepper
  • 1 medium sweet onion (such as Vidalia), sliced and broken into rings
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. In a food processor, pulse cornflakes and breadcrumbs until fine crumbs form. Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl.

3. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, flour, and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Dip onion rings in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Dredge in cornflake mixture and place on plate.

5. Pour oil onto a rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan. (I line mine with foil first.) Place in oven and heat for 2 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and tilt to coat evenly with oil.

6. Arrange onion rings on baking sheet. Bake, turning once, until golden brown (approximately 16 minutes). Season with additional salt and serve.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Almost" Luby's Mac & Cheese

The perfect comfort food for winter time! Loved by adults and kiddoes alike. Serve with steak or grilled chicken instead of mashed potatoes. Or just have it alone with some vegetables and bread for dinner. Warning: this is NOT a healthy recipe (although it is not nearly as bad for you as the steakhouse mac & cheese varieties we love so much).


Recipe Notes
Amazingly enough, tt can be difficult to find shredded American cheese these days - Randall's doesn't even carry it any more! The closest I've been able to find is a Kraft Classic Melts variety, which is an American and cheddar cheese blend. I have found it at Rice Epicurean. For me, that works just fine.

  • 2 c. dry elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1-1/2 c. milk (I used skim, 2% probably works the very best)
  • 3 c. grated American cheese, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. salt


1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large sauce pan, melt butter and whisk in flour. As the butter is melting, I like to add a couple of tbsp. of milk so that the butter and flour don't scorch.

3. Gradually add milk, whisking well to combine.

4. Add 1-1/2 c. shredded cheese and mix until melted and creamy.

5. Stir in macaroni, salt, and 1 c. cheese (only 1/2 c. shredded cheese will be left to use).

6. Turn into a lightly greased 2 quart baking dish (8x8 or 9x9). Cover with foil.

7. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle top with remaining 1/2 c. cheese. Continue baking for one minute or until remaining cheese melts.

Spiced Pecans

These are a great bar snack or accompanyment to an appetizer buffet. I made a big tray for a party Corey and I are having this weekend. These are sure to go fast and watch out! They are spicy.



  • 4 c. pecan halves
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. chili paste (check the imported section of your grocery store)
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 4 tsp. salt, divided


1. Combine all ingredients except for salt in a large mixing bowl. Add 3 tsp. salt.

2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

3. Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan (preferred) with parchment paper. Spread nuts in a single layer on parchment paper.

4. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool and store in a cool, dry environment (such as a metal tin or glass jar). Plastic containers are not recommended for storage - they may soften your pecans.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I tried my hand at calzones last night, and Corey and I both liked them, so I guess we'll call them a success. You can really put any combination of meats, cheeses, and vegetables in these. I generally followed an old Real Simple recipe and then also added fillings based on what I had on-hand.


Recipe Notes
Be sure to watch these in the oven to make sure that they don't overbake.

  • 1 lb. tube pizza dough
  • 1/2 lb. reduced-fat pork sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 c. fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 c. part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 c. part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Marinara sauce, for dipping


1. Brown pork sausage with red bell pepper in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Set aside.

2. Combine cheeses (ricotta, mozarella, and Parmesan) in a medium bowl. Add baby spinach and stir well to combine.

3. Spray a cookie sheet with Pam. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

4. On a cutting board lightly coated in flour, separate pizza dough and roll it out into four equal circles, approximately 8 in. in diameter.

5. Place cheese and spinach mixture on 1/2 of the pizza dough circles, leaving a 1/2 inch border for sealing the calzone. Top with sausage and red bell pepper mixture.

6. Fold over calzones and seal, pressing both edges together to form a half-moon shape. Brush with olive oil.

7. Arrange calzones on cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until calzones are golden brown.

8. Serve with marinara sauce.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Simple Risotto

Risotto seems scary to prepare, but it shouldn't. This adaptation from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food is on the table in less than one hour. To add some protein, you can add broiled shrimp (as I did above) or sauteed scallops over your risotto. Otherwise, this is a nice vegetarian dinner that has less than 300 calories per serving and is very filling.


Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
286 calories - 14.7 g. fat - 0.7 g. fiber

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. butter (I used light butter)
  • 1 c. arborio rice or risotto rice
  • Chicken broth - one box
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste


1. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onion and cook until soft.
2. Add rice and cook 2-4 minutes, or until the rice begins to brown slightly.
3. Stir in white wine and allow to be completely absorbed.
4. Add 1 c. water and bring to a slight boil. Stir occasionally until all liquid is absorbed.
5. Begin adding chicken broth, 1/2 c. at a time, until risotto is tender and creamy. For me, this takes about 20-25 minutes and about 3 c. chicken broth.
6. Stir in Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Flank Steak Marinade

Corey and I tried this easy marinade last night on grilled flank steak, and it was really tasty!


Recipe Notes
This Cooking Light marinade suggests that you can marinate your meat at least four hours or up to overnight. I marinated a 1.25 lb. flank steak overnight and thought that the soy sauce component would be slightly more muted if I had only marinated the steak for the afternoon. I would suggest 4-6 hours of marinating time.


  • 1-1.5 lb. flank steak
  • 3/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/4 c. sliced scallions (green onions)


1. Combine all ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag.

2. Refrigerate at least four hours or up to overnight.

3. Grill to desired degree of doneness.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gran's Gingerbread

'Tis the season for gingerbread! I made some for the neighbors this weekend to spread some Christmas cheer. This recipe was my great great grandmother's (my grandmother's grandmother). It was submitted by my great aunt Susie for the original Houston Junior League Cookbook, and it was first published in 1968 and has been published in several editions since. Enjoy - my family makes this every


Recipe Notes

One recipe will make approximately 2 large loaves or 4 mini loaves. For mini loaves, adjust your baking time accordingly. In my oven, mini loaves took approximately 30 minutes.


  • 1/2 c. butter, softened (one stick)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. molasses (we use Grandma's brand)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 c. boiling water

1. Spray loaf pan(s) with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream butter and sugar. Add molasses.

3. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

4. Add flour, ginger, cloves, cinnamon.

5. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Add to batter.

6. Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

7. Serve warm for breakfast or dessert with a pat of butter.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Nana Noodles

My Nana used to make these noodles for me and my siblings when we would have an afternoon over at her house. These are the BEST when you are not feeling well, and they're also great on a cold day. Considering we're actually getting SNOW in Houston today, I thought it was appropriate to make some last night.


Recipe Notes
These may be eaten with the broth, like chicken noodle soup, or they can be eaten more like a pasta dish without the broth. Corey takes it one step further and puts marinara on top of his noodles. This recipe is not an exact science, so experiment to see what you like best!

  • Chicken broth
  • Wide egg noodles
  • Chicken breasts - 1 package
  • Celery (sliced)
  • Carrots (sliced)
  • Salt & pepper to taste


1. Bring a large pot full of chicken broth and water (equal parts) to boiling. Add chicken and boil until cooked through.

2. Remove chicken breasts to a cutting board, remove any excess fat. Cut into small cubes and set aside.

3. Skim any chicken fat off of the top of the chicken broth liquid. Add egg noodles, carrots, and celery and cook according to the package directions for the egg noodles.

4. Fold in cooked chicken and serve hot, either as a soup or a pasta dish.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Glazed Salmon with Broccoli Rice

This Real Simple Magazine recipe is really all that - just really simple! Serve with a salad topped with orange slices, blue cheese, pecans, and light champagne vinaigrette dressing.


Recipe Notes

I prepared the rice in my rice cooker (thank you, Trey Wolff!) and steamed the broccoli simultaneously in the basket insert for the top of the rice cooker. Otherwise, you can prepare the rice and broccoli on the stove.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)

497 calories - 11 g. fat - 38 g. protein - 2 g. fiber


  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 c. long-grain white rice (I use Texmati)
  • 1 head broccoli, stems discarded and cut into florets
  • Four 6-oz. salmon filets, skinned
  • 1 large red onion, cut into small wedges
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste


1. Heat broiler. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar and soy sauce; set aside.

2. Cook the rice according to package directions, adding broccoli during the last three minutes of cooking. Let stand off heat until broccoli is tender and fluff with a fork.

3. Place salmon and red onion on a foil-lined baking sheet. Rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spoon half of the soy/brown sugar glaze over the salmon and onions.

4. Broil 8-10 minutes until the salmon is opaque throughout.

5. Serve the salmon and onions over the broccoli rice with the remaining soy/brown sugar glaze.