Archive for November, 2009

Menu Mondays

November 30, 2009

Sunday: Prep day

  • Chop veggies for the week
  • Make sweet potato/black bean mexican combo for lunches

Monday: steak, broccoli, pasta

Tuesday: pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw, roasted potatoes

Wednesday: beef stroganoff, salad, homemade bread

Thursday: leftover pulled pork

Friday: leftover beef stroganoff


Menu Mondays

November 23, 2009

Short week this week, as we’re traveling to my family near Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving…

Sunday: Prep day

  • Chop broccoli and snap off green bean ends
  • Make bechamel sauce for Tuesday
  • Make cinnamon rolls for my co-workers for Monday morning staff meeting

Monday: steak, broccoli, pasta

Tuesday: open-faced sandwiches with bechamel sauce, green beans

Wednesday – Saturday: Visiting family and stuffing myself full of gravy. (Did I mention I’m OBSESSED with turkey gravy?!)

Baked Ziti

November 21, 2009

Annie’s baked ziti is the best.

Hands down.

I’ve tried dozens of recipes, and DH was never quite satisfied with it….until now. He actually told me “Don’t change ANYTHING. Do it exactly this way, again”

That means he liked it. LOL

I did make some changes, and they’re noted below…

I also made this dish completely except for cooking it (I let the sauce mixture cool before assembling) and let my DH pop it in the oven for dinner the following night. The only change is it took about 20 more minutes in the oven, since it was cold from the fridge.

Baked Ziti

(Annie’s Eats)

1 lb. whole milk or 1% cottage cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
Table salt
1 lb. ziti
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
20 oz. turkey Italian sausage (I used 1 lb. regular sweet italian sausage)
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
5 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves, divided (I used dried)
1 tsp. sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
8 oz. low-moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

3 cups baby spinach (I added this to the cheese mixture)

– Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F.

– Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in a medium bowl, gently stir in spinach; set aside.

– Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5-7 minutes.  Drain the pasta and leave in colander.

– Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Crumble in the turkey sausage and cook until nearly browned.

– Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is softened and the sausage is completely browned.

– Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.

– In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and heavy cream.  Transfer the mixture to the now-empty stockpot over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes.

– Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella.  Stir to combine.

– Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.

– Transfer the pasta to a 9×13″ baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top.

– Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.

– Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

– Remove the foil from the pan and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer.

– Cool for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.


Baked Pineapple

November 21, 2009

I really love this side dish — admittedly, it isn’t the healthiest. I haven’t tried to adapt the amount of sugar, but I do put a minimum amount of butter on it.

If you serve ham for Christmas, I recommend making this for something different this year. It’s delicious with ham/pork! And it re-heats well.

Since it’s an old 1950’s-1960’s recipe, it’s written a little vague, but here it is!

You probably don’t need more than a 1 1/2 qt or so casserole for this, unless you’re doubling the recipe!

Baked Pineapple

(Old family cookbook)

1-20 oz. can crushed pineapple

1 cup sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup water

1 tsp vanilla extract


– Mix all ingredients together in a bowl

– Pour into a casserole dish (2-4 quart work best, I think)

– Dot the top with butter (I use about 2.5 tbsp, broken into small pieces)

– Sprinkle with cinnamon

– Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.

Crockpot Kahlua Pork

November 21, 2009

I was curious about this Kahlua pork I’d seen on the cooking blogs — I actually had two recipes bookmarked for it.

Okay, so maybe at first I was curious because I thought they meant Kahlua, the alcohol…not kahlua, the cooking-pig-in-a-pit method. But still.

So in the interest of ramping up my arsenal of crockpot recipes (I love having enough on hand we don’t get sick of them!) I thought I’d try it out.

Problem was, I couldn’t decide between the two recipes. So I read both, took from each what I liked, and made it my own.

The one kahlua pork recipe is oven-only, but I liked those ingredients better than the other, which was crockpot, but in a complicated change-the-heat-after-a-period-of-time sort of way.

Well, I leave at 7:30 am and I don’t get home until 6:30 pm — there will be no changing heat halfway through cooking! LOL

So I made it my way, and it was DELICIOUS. I served it with a baked pineapple side dish (to keep with the hawaiian theme), and rice to soak up the delicious pork/liquid smoke juices. DH loved loved loved it, and begged that we have it again!

My only change is that next time, I’ll make slits in the pork roast and put pieces of garlic into the meat…rather than mincing the garlic and just adding it to the pot!

Kahlua Pork

(Adapted by me from here and here)

2-3 lb. pork roast/butt/shoulder/whatever

1 tsp kosher or sea salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

3 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup liquid smoke (you can find this near the ketchup in the grocery store)

1/2 cup chicken broth



– Mix the kosher/sea salt, garlic powder, and black pepper together to make a spice rub

– Rinse the pork roast, pat dry, and then rub the spices all over it

– Place in the crockpot, fat side up

– Sprinkle minced garlic over roast in crockpot, add liquid smoke and chicken broth to the pot

– Cook on low, 8 hours

– Remove from crockpot and let rest 5 minutes, then shred pork

– Return to crockpot and let sit long enough to absorb some of the juices

– Serve over rice 😉

Random Acts of Kindness Winners

November 21, 2009

Okay! The three winners of the random acts of kindness are…

True Random Number Generator

#3: Molly Jean of The Rookie Chef

#7 Erica of Simply Satisfying

#10 Ashley of Time Well Spent

I’ll need each of you to email me at and provide full name and mailing address.

I will bestow my random acts of kindness on you — at random. You won’t know it’s coming, but when you receive it, please let me know!

I also encourage you to pass on the kindness on your own blogs and in your own personal lives!

Menu Mondays

November 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday: Prep day:

  • Make bread
  • Make baked pineapple for Tuesday
  • Make brown rice for Tuesday
  • Chop veggies
  • Chop fruits
  • Cook off extra chicken breast (from wednesday’s meal plan) for my lunch this week

Monday: steak, broccoli, pasta

Tuesday: kahlua pork (crockpot, but using a mix of this recipe and this recipe), rice, side salad, baked pineapple

Wednesday: spinach and cheese stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon, mashed potatoes, green beans

Thursday: leftover pork

Friday: spaghetti with meat sauce, side salad, homemade bread

Random Act of Kindness!

November 15, 2009

Several months ago, Sara (Psychgrad) over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen posted about several Random Acts of Kindness that had been bestowed upon her by fellow bloggers.

She decided to do a giveaway, and give away one of her own random acts of kindness.

I was the winner of that giveaway. And promptly forgot about it. Which is PROBABLY part of the beauty of the giveaway.

So Wednesday, I was off of work for the Veteran’s Day holiday, and the UPS man showed up at my door. I was more than a little confused, because I haven’t even started ordering Christmas presents yet, so I didn’t think I had anything coming…especially from…Amazon?

I ripped into it and discovered this:


Included was a little note from Sara, reminding me she hadn’t forgotten about the giveaway. She’d seen I was making quite a few crockpot meals (I love them, because they’re quick dinners on busy nights) and thought I’d find this cookbook useful!! And it’s from one of our fellow bloggers, so — bonus!!

So to Sara….

Thank you!!! I love it!!!

And to the rest of you…

Now it’s your turn!

I’m going to “pay it forward” so to speak, and do a similar giveaway. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. Here’s the rules (sorry, there have to be rules!)

1. Leave a comment on this post no later than 9pm November 20th. I’ll pick 3 comments randomly, on whose authors I’ll bestow an act of kindness. I’ll announce the winners shortly after.

2. My kindness can be anything of my choosing. It might be handmade and it might be purchased, but it will be selected just for you. I make no guarantees that you’ll love it (or not find it odd or quirky), but I guarantee that it will be heartfelt on my part.

3.  I’m going to have to limit my kindness to bloggers from North America, because International Shipping terrifies me 🙂

4. You must have a blog to participate — because how else will I know anything about you? LOL

All you have to do is have a blog and be willing to pass on the kindness by creating a similar post. If you don’t blog and you’d like to participate on your own, play the game the old-fashioned way: find a neighbour, stranger or friend in need and fill it.

Giveaway Winner!

November 14, 2009

Sorry for being so late getting this posted!

Per the integer generator, the winner of the Progresso gift box is…

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2009-11-14 02:13:21 UTC



I have a recipe for panko-crusted pork chops. They’re really yummy and

the recipe is a bit…asian, so there are some nice non-traditional flavors.

Oven-Fried Honey Chicken Nuggets…and a Giveaway

November 9, 2009

First, the recipe, then the giveaway 🙂


These were a very tasty twist on chicken nuggets! I used the panko crumbs that MyBlogSpark was kind enough to send to me as part of a gift package (the very same gift package I’ll be giving away to you at the end of this post!).

In general, I’m not much of a fan of panko. I feel like people talk it up like it’s this “wonder crumb” and it’s not. BUT, it really worked well on these nuggets.

The nuggest themselves don’t appear all that special on their own — but pair them with a sweet honey mustard, or a good BBQ sauce, and the underlying honey flavor really comes out!

The leftovers also re-heat really well for lunches 🙂

Oven-Fried Honey Chicken Nuggets

(Macaroni and Cheesecake)

1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs (Panko if you have it)
Olive Oil cooking spray
1 lb.  fresh boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
– Preheat oven to 375°F.
– Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray foil-lined baking pan (large enough to hold all chicken pieces in one layer)
– In shallow bowl, whisk together honey and vinegar. Set aside.
– Place bread crumbs in a small saute pan and toast lightly over low heat for about 3-4 minutes until lightly golden brown.
– Pour bread crumbs a little at a time into separated bowl.
– Roll chicken pieces in honey mixture, then in bread crumbs; place in pan.
– Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly.

Now the giveaway!

As I mentioned above, MyBlogSpark sent me a free gift pack of Progresso products to use, and also one gift pack to share with my readers. I used the panko from my gift pack for the recipe above, and used the broth a week later for homemade chicken noodle soup — which was also delicious! If you’re looking for creative ways to use your gift pack, try out

Gift Pack:


To Enter: Leave a comment on this post either about how you like to use panko, or how you make home entertaining easier on yourself (tips, tricks, or even dishes you serve that make it easier!)

Winner will be announced on Saturday, November 14th. Entries must be received by Friday, November 13th, 10pm EST.