Friday, January 30, 2009

Potato Skins a la Velveeta

These potato skins are just flat out awesome. If you are looking for a low fat version, I can not give you one. It would be a travesty to do such a thing to a potato skin. These are filled with butter, sour cream, bacon and two kinds of Velveeta. These will probably just osmosis right to your thighs, but it's worth it. I promise.

I'm going to give you the basics of the recipe and then you can adjust quantities for however many potato skins you want to make. And I don't have to tell you that you will get two potato skins per potato because you are smart that way.

Potato Skins A La Velveeta

Potatoes (either baking or Yukon Gold)
1 pkg bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 16oz carton of sour cream (NOT fat free)
1 pkg regular Velveeta
1 pkg Mexican Velveeta
Real butter
Salt and pepper

Bake the potatoes and set aside until cool enough to handle. Cut in half and scoop out most of the inside, leaving some potato on the skin. To assemble, spread a small amount of butter over inside of skin. Then layer, salt, pepper, bacon, sour cream, Mexican Velveeta and regular Velveeta. Repeat until all skins are filled. Bake at 400 until cheese is bubbly, about 10 minutes.

The reserved potato can be made into mashed potatoes. Now that is a win-win situation.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Spinach Pesto Pasta Salad

This is a super easy meal that I make on the weekends. The pork sits in the crockpot all day simmering in a rub of minced garlic, cumin, seasoned salt, chili powder and cayenne(nothing says I love you like a touch of heat) and the pasta is tossed with homemade spinach pesto and sauteed red peppers and zucchini. I've brought my kids up on less traditional food and they love any kind of pesto. This is one of their favorite pasta dishes and the pulled pork, well, they smother it in barbecue sauce and hope like heck they get to eat this in heaven.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

2 pound boneless pork roast, trimmed of fat
3 garlic cloves minced
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup water
Sourdough sandwich rolls
Barbecue sauce

In a bowl, combine garlic, seasoned salt, cumin, chili powder and cayenne. Rub all over pork roast and place roast in crock pot. Add water. Cover and cook on low 8 hours.

When pork is done cooking remove from crockpot and place in a large bowl. Take two forks and begin pulling pork apart, shredding into small pieces.

Assemble sandwiches using sourdough rolls. Stuff with pulled pork, drizzle with barbecue sauce and top with lettuce, or topping of choice (my kids like Miracle Whip spread on the sourdough roll). Serve with Spinach Pesto Pasta (recipe below).

Spinach Pesto Pasta

2 cups spinach, washed, patted dry and torn
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red pepper, seeded and thinly slices
1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 box whole wheat bow tie pasta

Combine the spinach with the garlic and pulse a few times in a food processor. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add red pepper and zucchini. Saute until softened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta according to direction and drain. Put pasta into a large bowl. Add 1/2 of the pesto and toss until well coated(you can add more pesto if needed). Add red pepper and zucchini and toss. Top with additional Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Store remaining pesto in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Giant Popovers

Giant Popovers

6 tbsp. butter, melted
6 eggs
2 cups of milk
2cups of flour
1 tsp. salt

Beat eggs until frothy. Add milk, butter, flour and salt. Beat well with mixer. Pour batter into well greased muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Make a slit in the top of each popover to let steam out. Bake a few more minutes. Makes 18.

No, this is probably not a good diet recipe. I ran out of bread today and did not want to make a trip to the store, so I made these. My family really likes them.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hamburger Vegetable Soup (Low Fat)

This food blog has been a challenge to me because I am a very 'fly by the seat of my pants' type of cook. I throw in this or that, season to taste and don't really think much about the amount of ingredients I use. I don't treat food as a science, it's more of a relationship of seasonings, textures and pleasing others. Sherri asked for some hamburger recipes and this is a soup that I like to throw together when it's bitterly cold outside (such as today when it's snowing) and I need something to warm everyone up.

Hamburger Vegetable Soup

1 pound extra lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
Dash of red pepper
1 small sweet onion, chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 14oz can diced Italian tomatoes
3 14oz cans low fat beef broth
2 cups water
2 cups whole wheat egg noodles or bow tie pasta

In a large stock pan brown hamburger with onions and garlic. Add seasoned salt, cumin, paprika, red pepper and stir until seasoning are well incorporated. Add carrots, celery and zucchini. Cook, stirring often for about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add noodles, cover and simmer until noodles are tender (about 10 minutes). Serve with a crusty loaf of sourdough bread for dipping.

**I put the leftovers in individual serving containers, freeze and take to work for lunch.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Casserole With No Name.....

A Casserole for Sherri
1 lb of ground beef
1 can of Healthy Request Tomato Soup
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
3 raw potatoes, diced
1/3 cup of instant rice, uncooked
1 chopped onion
1 and 1/2 cups of chopped carrots
1 cup of chopped celery
1 tsp of parsley flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef in a cooking skillet sprayed with butter flavor cooking spray. Spray the crock pot, too. Combine meat, tomato soup, and tomatoes. Sir in potatoes, rice, onion, carrot, and celery. Add parsley flakes, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours.
Sherri, I have decided to let you name this casserole, since I posted it for you.

Can be a diet recipe if you use 90% lean ground beef.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Annie's Great Start Scramble

Jon and I started our 30-day diet. I know, diet is a horrible word, but when you say diet and eat something like this, it's not so bad. I like to make scrambles and throw in a mix of vegetables, meat and cheeses. For this one, I used what vegetables I had, topped it with some Parmesan cheese and salsa and this was enough for both of us. I also whipped up a fruit smoothie with mixed frozen fruit, yogurt and juice (I'll post that recipe later). It's a good way to kick start any day.

(For this recipe, I used only half of the vegetables I cooked so that I will have enough for another scramble.)

Annie's Great Start Scramble
5 eggs
1/4 cup low fat milk
1 medium zucchini
1 red pepper
1 cup torn spinach leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Combine eggs and milk in a bowl and whisk about 1 minute. Set aside. In a skillet, over medium-high, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add zucchini, red pepper, spinach leaves and season with pepper only (salt brings out water and the vegetables will be watery when added to the eggs). Saute until the red pepper and zucchini are slightly cooked, but still have some crunch, about 3 minutes. Spray another skillet with cooking spray, and heat on medium. Add eggs. Scramble until just soft and add 1/2 of the vegetables. (Set aside the other 1/2 for another scramble). Stir until well mixed and eggs are completely cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with shredded Parmesan and salsa. Serves 2.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sausage, Sauerkraut, and Noodle Bake

I told Annie I would post some recipes from when I was "being good" on a diet. This is one of my favorites. Of course, low fat sausage does not taste quite as tasty as regular sausage, but it beats carrots and celery with a stick!

Sausage, Sauerkraut, and Noodle Bake

1 16 oz package of low fat cooked smoked sausage or kielbasa, cooled and sliced
2 cups of cooked noodles, rinsed and drained
1 16 oz can of sauerkraut, drained
1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup (Healthy Request or 98% fat free)
1 small can of mushrooms, drained
A dash of black pepper
A dash of paprika (I know! Finally! You know, it's not like we could have put it in an Apple Pancake....)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the sausage, noodle, and sauerkraut in a bowl. Add mushroom soup and black pepper. Mix well. Pour into an 8x8 covered casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Cover. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Food Joke of The Week : Brought to You From the Comic Strip Frazz

Child: How come milk goes bad but cheese doesn't?
Frazz: Because cheese already did.
Child: The stuff that makes milk bad makes cheese good?
Frazz: Sort of.
Child: So cheese is like the computer hacker who goes to work for the security company.
Frazz: Only with more Vitamin D.

Does cheese really not go bad? Sorry folks, if the cheese is supposed to be yellow, I'm not eating the green stuff. I wouldn't advise you to eat it either.
A Second Opinion on Cheese Spoilage.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Ramen Noodle Beef Toss

Since Annie brought up Church in her last post, I thought I would take the opportunity to mention I am Catholic. Why is that significant? Because I need to confess: I got this recipe from a Church cookbook from when I was a kid, and I tweaked it a bit to my family's liking. (Yeah, if you think I am cheating Annie, I understand if you want to delete this, but I will move it to my blog. This recipe turns out to good not to share.) It kind of remind me of Jop Chae (Korean beef lomein).
Ramen Noodle Beef Toss
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 T soy sauce
2 pkg. Instant Ramen noodles (Oriental Flavor works best, but I couldn't find a stock photo of it)
2 c. of frozen Asian vegetable mixture
1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger
2 c. of water
2 T. of sliced green onion

Brown beef over medium heat in a nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray. This should take about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the beef from the skillet after the meat is browned into a large bowl. Mix the soy sauce and one of the seasoning packets from the Ramen into the ground meat. In the same skillet, combine water, vegetables, noodles (broken into several pieces), ginger, and the left over seasoning packet. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for 3 minutes, or until noodles are tender, stirring occasionally. Return beef to skillet, and heat thoroughly. Stir in green onion before serving.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Annie's Mexican Casserole

My husband grew up in a Mennonite family. If you know anything about Mennonites it's that the women can cook and throw one heck of a potluck. When I was growing up, during the summers my oldest brother worked on a grass seed farm owned by Mennonites. I loved to visit them and I had the awesome pleasure of attending one such potluck. Those women could make a mean casserole and marionberry pie.

Imagine my delight when I threw together this little casserole and after a few bites, Jon looked at his son and said, "I just had a flashback of sitting at the dinner table and eating something my mom made. This tastes just like it." That is a big compliment, to have my cooking compared to that of Jon's mother. So, of course, I wanted to share this easy to make dish with all of you.

Annie's Mexican Casserole

1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 small white onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium squash, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 19 oz. can black beans, drained
1 1/2 cups corn, frozen or fresh
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
15 corn tortillas, quartered
1 large can mild green enchilada sauce (you can also use red enchilada sauce)
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

In a skillet, brown beef, pork, onion and garlic. Add zucchini, squash, tomatoes, black beans, corn, cumin, chili powder and salt. Mix well and let simmer, covered for 5 minutes.

In the bottom of a greased 13" x 9" casserole dish, spread 1/2 of the tortillas.

Then top with 1/2 of the meat and vegetable mixture.

Next, pour 1/2 of the enchilada sauce over meat mixture and top with 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat, layering the rest of the ingredients.

Cover with foil and bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes until the casserole is bubbling around the edges.


Vegetarian - Omit ground beef and pork and add a can of pinto beans.

Lo-Carb - Use lo-carb tortillas such as Mission Brand.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Smoked Sausage and Sauerkraut

Smoked sausage that you purchase at a good Polish (or Hungarian) deli can not be beaten, even with a stick. However, this recipe turns out just fine with a 16 oz package of whatever is on sale at Jewel/Albertsons.

Smoked Sausage and Sauerkraut in a Slow Cooker

3 cups of unpeeled raw red potatoes
2 cups of carrots
1 chopped onion
15 oz can of sauerkraut
¼ cup of water
1 lb of smoked sausage, cut into circles

Spray slow cooker with butter flavored cooking spray. Combine potatoes, carrots, and onion in the container. Mix in the sauerkraut and water. Add sausage. Mix well. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Mix well before serving.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Green Chile Pork

I have had one affair in my life. Yes, it's true. But don't think less of me though because it just happened and it was love from the start. It's an affair that has continued to this day and there is no end in sight. My affair has been with Mexican food and it started because my best friend growing up has a mother who is from Mexico and she owned a Mexican restaurant in town. This was no ordinary 'Americanized' Mexican restaurant, this was the real deal. On Saturday mornings while the chorizo, eggs and potatoes were cooking, Rose was making homemade tortillas. As she pulled those awesomely warm tasty delights off of the grill, Nancy and I would smother them with butter and jam, roll them up and revel in the deliciousness. I became best friends with chicken fajitas, carne asada, tacos el pastor, chile verde and chile rellenos. Oh my.

One of my favorite dishes is chile verde. I have simplified the recipe (ok, I've Americanized it) and made it quick and easy to prepare before throwing it in a crockpot to cook so the pork can become fall apart tender. You can serve it in a tortilla with cheese, sour cream, tomatoes or whatever, but I prefer it in a bowl and scooping it up with a tortilla. Delish.


2 lbs. boneless pork roast cut into cubes
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt (heaping)
1 teaspoon cumin (heaping)
1 teaspoon chile powder (heaping)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large can (28 oz or so) green enchilada sauce
2 Tablespoons corn starch

Put cut up pork in a large bowl. Sprinkle with flour, salt, cumin, chile powder and pepper and stir to coat. In a large skillet heat olive oil. Add garlic and stir for about 30 second. Add pork. Cook in skillet until pork is browned, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a crockpot. Add green enchilada sauce and stir well. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Before serving, to thicken the sauce, put about 1/2 cup of sauce in a bowl and whisk in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or flour. Stir back into crockpot and let thicken for a few minutes. Serves 6.

(@ Katdish, this could be 'low carb' without the tortillas.)

Apple Puffed Pancake

Boy, it is a good thing that Annie and I are on the same team, because I could not compete with her recipe from yesterday. And those pictures! Heavens to Mergatroid, I was looking at those at 11:00 pm last night and got hungry. Don't worry, I waited until breakfast this morning to have a bite. Oooh what a bite.

Apple Puffed Pancake

6 eggs ½ tsp. salt
1½ cups of milk ¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 cup of flour ½ cup of butter
3 Tablespoons of Splenda 2-3 apples, peeled and sliced thin
1 tsp. vanilla 2-3 Tablespoons of Splenda brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix eggs, milk, flour, Splenda, vanilla, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Melt butter in 12- inch quiche dish or 9 x 13-inch baking pan in oven. Add apple slices to pan, return to oven until butter sizzles ( don’t brown). Remove dish, pour batter over apples, and sprinkle with brown sugar twin. Bake 20 minutes until puffed and brown.

Notice, there is no paprika in my first recipe post here. Now that is will power!

***I use Splenda because my mom is diabetic. You can use sugar instead.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Winter in Bend can be pretty chilly and this has become one of our favorites soups when the temperature seems to be hovering below freezing. Whether you are a wine aficionado or not, I highly recommend investing in a good bottle of white wine for cooking. The wine and Parmesan cheese take this from being a regular old cream of chicken and rice soup to a 'holy mackerel that is pure aweseomeness' soup that you and your family will love.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

2 Tablespoons butter
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 small sweet or white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
1 medium squash, halved and sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 package of long grain and wild rice, prepared according to directions
(I prefer to use Uncle Ben's Brand)
3 cups cooked, diced chicken
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk (preferably 2%)
Good white wine
Parmesan cheese

Prepare rice according to package and set aside.

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add zucchini, squash, parsley, salt and pepper and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add chicken broth and chicken and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

In a large microwave proof measuring glass (preferably 4 cup), heat milk in microwave for 1 minute. Add flour and whisk until all of the lumps are gone. Add to soup along with the cooked rice and stir well.

Add a generous pour of good white wine, about 1/3-1/2 cup (this is a relatively inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc wine but it is good for cooking. Make sure you test the wine before adding it to the soup) .

Cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve topped with shredded Parmesan cheese and a side of crusty french bread. Serves 8.

**Note** If I have leftovers, I put it into single serving containers and put them in the freezer. I take these to work and pop them in the microwave for lunch.

Welcome To Our New Food Blog

Yes, it's true. Helen and I are in cahoots on a new food blog. I know, it's madness and craziness - kind of like east meets west - but it will be fabulous, awesome and all that is truly brilliant rolled into one little blog. There's bound to be a little bit Helen and a little bit Annie and a whole lotta simply good food. (Hey, there's even going to be stuff Kat can dish or a chicken can cook or..well, you get the picture.) Feel free to send us a request for a recipe you'd like to see posted, or maybe you need an idea of what to cook to impress the neighbors your having for dinner. You only like to cook simple, good tasting dishes? No problem. We're all about simple and easy and we never forget the good taste! Got a cooking question? We'll be the Dear Gabby Abby of food.

So, join us on our culinary journey of sorts as we cook our way through bloggerdom. I guarantee there will be some good eats goin' on!