Archive for July, 2008

YouBars are here!

July 30, 2008

No pictures, and no taste-reviews yet, but I just wanted to post that I received my YouBar samples!

I was one of the lucky individuals who received a box of 4 YouBars to sample, courtesy of YouBar and BlakeMakes!
Reviews on the flavors and pictures coming soon!

Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach

July 30, 2008

When I saw this recipe I knew we had to try it —  DH LOVES gnocchi. And it looked like another fast weeknight meal. I’m ALWAYS up for fast weeknight meals!

And I share the blogger’s agony with a tiny kitchen. 🙂 
Her pictures are much better than mine — it was dark by the time I was done cooking, so no natural light!

This was very tasty. I used the good old parmesan in the green can, because it’s what I had, and it worked just fine. It probably would’ve been better with fresh, though.
DH also requested that I add some tomatoes next time. Works for me!
Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach
(Two Novice Chefs, One Tiny Kitchen — adapted from “Real Simple”)
2 (9-oz) or 1 (17.5-oz) package gnocchi (you can use fresh or frozen. We used frozen, and ended up adding 2 16 oz. packages. that’s a whole lotta gnocchi!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 pound italian sausage, casings removed (we used sweet italian sausage)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (i used 1 tsp. pre-minced)
1 5-oz bag baby spinach
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnishing
– Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions; reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid
– Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium/medium high heat.
– Add the onion and cook until softened
– Add the sausage and cook, crumbling it with a spoon, until browned and cooked through
– Add the garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper and cook, tossing frequently until the spinach wilts
– Add the drained gnocchi, the reserved cooking liquid, and the Parmesan cheese, and toss.
– Divide among bowls and sprinkle with additional Parmesan.

"Daddy D’s" Creamy Shells and Cheese

July 30, 2008

Well — mine aren’t shells, but they are creamy and cheesy! DH is always requesting a “creamier” mac and cheese when I make baked… so I thought this time I’d make stove-top style mac and cheese with a little velveeta to make it creamy.

I halved Katie’s recipe, and still have enough macaroni and cheese to feed an army. The recipe below is what I made. If you feel a compelling urge to make 2 pounds of macaroni and cheese, you can double it (that’s also the original recipe on Katie’s blog).
DH said it was a little too “cheese” tasting. I’m really not sure what that means. Perhaps next time I’ll use some velveeta to make it creamy, but I’ll also include some “real” cheese to make it taste better.
“Daddy D’s” Creamy Shells and Cheese
(Good Things Catered)
1 pound of shells (I used whatever I had on hand…and the name totally escapes me at the moment)
16 oz. block of Velveeta cheese
1/2 stick butter
3/4-1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 tsp. garlic salt (I used powder)
ground black pepper
– In an extra large pot 3/4 full of boiling water and a pinch of kosher salt, cook the shells until just past al dente
– Meanwhile, chop the block of Velveeta and butter into 1 inch cubes
– When the pasta is done, drain, rinse, and toss with a bit of hot water, then put back into the pot
– Toss in velveeta, butter, and about 1/2 of the milk
– Gently fold in ingredients until beginning to melt and becoming creamy
– Add garlic salt, and as much ground pepper as you like
– Slowly add the remaining milk until desired texture is reached
-Serve and enjoy!
I served mine with open-faced turkey burgers and steamed broccoli.

Menu Monday

July 28, 2008

Monday: Steak(Free Omaha Steaks! Woohoo!), veggie

Tuesday: Turkey Burgers and Cheesy Macaroni

Wednesday: Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach

Thursday: Spaghetti

Friday: Leftovers

Fiesta Rice

July 23, 2008
This rice dish looked like it was right up my alley — unfortunately, I didn’t particularly care for it.
I found it to be a little too spicy for my tastes (that could probably be remedied with a few ingredient changes, though!)
I may try it again…we’ll see.
I served it as a side to some ground-turkey-taco’s. THOSE were delicious! 🙂

Fiesta Rice
(Misadventures with Tori)

*Warning: This recipe makes A LOT of rice — Tori says 8 cups prepared — so if you don’t want leftovers, or aren’t sure…I highly reccomend making half.

*Warning #2: Tori also says it took her forever to get her rice cooked. As I was short on time, I cooked up some quick-cooking (

2 teaspoons olive oil (I omitted)
1 (10 oz.) package frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed (I omitted because of DH’s aversion to corn as a filler in recipes)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped green onions
1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice (I used half white and half brown quick-cooking rice)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
dash of salt
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with chiles, undrained (I couldn’t find that size, so I used 1.5 10 oz. cans)
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed (Tori recommends — even if you halve the recipe — keep the entire can of black beans. I agree!)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

– Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat
– Add corn to the pan, cook 10 minutes, or until corn starts to brown, stirring occassionally
– Remove from pan and set aside
– Melt butter in the pan, add onions and saute for 5 minutes or until tender
– Stir in rice, cumin, and garlic; cook 1 minute
– Add chicken broth, black pepper, salt, and diced tomatoes to pan; bring to a boil
– Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occassionally
– Remove from heat, stir in reserved corn and the black beans
– Cover and let stand 10 minutes
– Stir in cilantro and lime juice

Menu Monday

July 21, 2008

Nothin’ fancy this week — short week for DH and I, and we go visit my family and friends back home on Friday!

Monday: Steak, broccoli, pasta
Tuesday: Spaghetti w/ meat sauce (DH has a meeting in the evening)
Wednesday: Tacos with Fiesta Rice
Thursday: Tacos and Fiesta Rice leftovers
Friday: Half day of work — probably fast food on our way out of town for dinner!

Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

July 20, 2008

I got this recipe from Better Than Takeout — and since our local Farmer’s Market has had some really nice cauliflower lately, figured we’d give it a try.

It really is a tasty dish, I just think the cheese I used didn’t have enough bold flavor. Better Than Takeout reccommends Gruyere, or White Cheddar and Mozzarella. I used a mexican blend and a little mozzerella, and the cheeses just didn’t have enough sharp flavor. I’ll definately try it again with a bolder cheese!
Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin
(Better Than Takeout)
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1.5%)
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, split (I only had pre-minced on hand, I used that)
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1/2 cup grated cheese (recipe originally asks for Gruyere)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. cauliflower florettes
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2-3 tbsp grated parmesean cheese
– Bring the milk to a summer in a saucepan with the bay leaf and garlic. Cover, turn off the heat, and let infuse for approximately 10-15 minutes.
– Melt butter in a saucepan (make sure you use a good sized one so you can mix in the milk, and then the cauliflower!)
– Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute to remove the raw flour taste
– Gradually whisk in the milk (I removed the bay leaf at this point)
– Cook, stirring, until thick
– Stir in the cheese, and season with salt and pepper
– Set aside
– Heat the oven to 425 degrees F
– Bring a large potof water to a boil, salt it (as for pasta), and blanch the cauliflower florets until just shy of being tender (about 5 minutes)
– Drain well and pat dry with a tea towel
– Season with salt and pepper
– Toss with the sauce and dump into a gratin dish (I just used a round Corningware baking dish because I didn’t have a “gratin dish”)
– Scatter breadcrumbs and parmesean over the top and bake until bubbling and lightly browned (approximately 15-20 minutes for me)

Roast Beef Blintzes

July 17, 2008
This is another recipe my DH has requested, and that his grandmother used to make. I really love these — they’re just delicious!

The roast beef and onion combo inside the delicate crepe is probably the “lightest” feeling beef dish I’ve ever eaten.

And, of course, sour cream never hurt anyone!

Roast Beef Blintzes
(My recipe)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
– Place eggs in a small bowl and whisk well
– Add salt and milk
– Add flour gradually, stirring to make a smooth batter (You should do this by hand…the batter is thin enough that the KitchenAid isn’t needed)
– Heat a non-stick skillet until it is hot (Work over medium-high/high heat)
– Using a quarter cup measure, pour 2-3 tablespoons of the batter into a skillet and work quickly: Tilt the skillet so that the batter covers the bottom. When the bottom of the crepe is golden, flip over and cook the other side.
– Recipe makes 9-10 thin crepes.

I can’t cook crepes to save my life. Not even 8 years of french, being forced to try and make them EVERY YEAR in class, gave me the skill. I also can’t cook pancakes. I have no idea why.
So my DH is responsible for all of the crepe-and-pancake-making that occurs in our household. *Tips hat to DH* Thanks!

Roast Beef Filling
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 1lb beef roast
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
1 cup beef broth

– Lightly salt and pepper each side of the roast
– Add it to a hot skillet and sear both sides (about 3 minutes each)
– Meanwhile, add diced onion and 1 cup beef broth to your crockpot
– Add the seared roast to the crockpot and cook on high 4-6 hours, or low 8-10 hours
– Remove the roast and shred the meat, using two forks
– Add the meat back to the crock pot, mixing together the shredded beef and onion
– (You may want to drain out some of the juice — you don’t need a really wet beef to make these)

– Lay out a crepe and add 1-2 tablespoons beef/onion mixture to the middle of the crepe.
– Fold the crepe around the meat — you can fold it like a burrito, or, you can fold in each of the sides, then fold in the top and bottom, making a square
– Sit them seam-side down
-Heat a skillet with 1 tablespoon butter
– Add all of the filled crepes, seam side down, and brown the bottom, searing them shut. Then flip them over and brown the top.

Serve warm, with a dollop of sour cream!

Menu Monday

July 14, 2008

This week actually has some blog-able recipes! Rock!

Saturday: Fruit Salsa

Sunday: Banana Bread Muffins


Monday: Steak and corn on the cob

Tuesday: Roast Beef Blintzes and broccoli

Wednesday: Spaghetti with meat sauce

Thursday: Roast Beef Blintz leftovers and cauliflower gratin

Friday: BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Family-Recipe Banana Bread

July 13, 2008

Mmmm…I’ve made many an internet-recipe-banana-bread — but nothing tops the family recipe!

I made this banana bread into muffins (So DH could easily share with co-workers), but it makes a darn good bread loaf as well. I’ve included baking instructions for both.

Banana Bread

(Family Recipe)

1/4 cup soft shortening (I used butter)

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2/3 cup mashed bananas (I used about 3 bananas)

3 tablespoons sour milk/buttermilk (I used regular milk today and it was fine)

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)


– Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

– Mix together shortening and sugar

– Add egg, mashed bananas, and buttermilk

– Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt

For 1 loaf of banana bread: generously grease a bread pan (grandma’s directions say to then line the loaf pan with two-thickness of wax paper, and grease the wax paper.) Add batter. Bake 1 hour (start checking it at about 50 minutes)

For 12 muffins: line muffin tin with paper liners, or, grease generously. Load tins with batter and bake for 25-30 minutes.

I sprinkled mine with a little bit of large-granule sugar to make them pretty