Monday, December 28, 2009

Meal Plan Monday


It's a little late, since I didn't really have a plan until now. With the holidays I haven't been on top of my game, but think I have a plan for this week. We are having a 2nd Christmas on the 29th, which also happens to be my birthday. Hubby will be preparing a smorgasbord of my favorite foods, which we will be enjoying with some of his family. The rest of the week will be devoted to returning the house to normal, with the removal of our dying Christmas tree and decorations. So here is the plan for this week.

Mon- Pasta Fagioli soup
Tues- Bday dinner: BBQ ribs, homemade Ravioli, Chicken and Dumplings and chocolate cake
Wed- Leftovers
Thur- Leftovers
Fri- Tuna with Cheesy Garlic Biscuits (new recipe)
Sat- Breakfast
Sun- Braised Beef with noodles

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and has a happy and safe New Year!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A few of my favorite things....

Well, it's that time of year, where we start the inevitable binge on Christmas desserts. Thankfully we are celebrating Christmas at my parent's house this year, so I don't have to make as much as I normally do. I still got requests though, from my Mother in Law on her favorites, when she comes after Christmas. So I've started baking, storing my completed creations in coolers in the garage. That's one of the things I love about living in Ontario, it's cold enough to freeze things outside, LOL. Comes in handy since we've still yet to buy a freezer.

So far my list is half completed. I've made Chow Mein Noodle Cookies and Knock You Naked Brownies, which you can find on previous posts. The recipes I'd like to share with you today are Lemon Graham Squares and Roll Out Sugar Cookies. I first made the lemon squares last Christmas. I normally make lemon squares with a shortbread crust, so thought I'd see what this recipe was like. Hubby and I love lemon, so I knew they wouldn't be wasted. I have to say I prefer these to my original lemon bars. I find they taste tangier and the brown sugar in the crust add a deep, warm and comforting feel to them. These are super easy to make and taste amazing.

When Mr.B was 2, I had a vision in my head of the perfect Christmas, complete with us decorating sugar cookies, as a family. My vision didn't turn out the way I had wanted it too, but the cookies were divine. I've been making them every Christmas since. And the vision of the perfect Christmas is also improving with every passing year, now that Mr.B is getting older and more patient.


Queenie sat on the sidelines for these, and was the sprinkle Quality Control Girl, LOL.


I let Mr.B roll, cut out and decorate 1/3 of the dough. I kept the rest for me to roll and frost with a really great frosting I found on Cooking for your Family. It was a nice evening with the kids, who enjoyed sampling one of Mr.B's creations, before bed.


Rolled Sugar Cookies
Submitted by Maureen via Pillsbury

1 Cup sugar
1 Cup margarine or butter
3 TBS milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Heat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, combine sugar, margarine, milk, vanilla and egg; mix well. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt; mix well.
On lightly floured surface, roll out 1/3 of dough at a time to 1/8 in. thickness. Cut with cookie cutters. Place one inch apart on ungreased cookies sheet.
Bake 5-9 minutes or until edges are light brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets

Sugar Cookie Icing
Submitted by Kris, adapted from allrecipes

1 C powdered sugar
1 heaping, slightly overflowing T of milk
1 level T of light corn syrup
1/8 tsp of almond extract*
choice of food coloring

Mix all ingredients together well. Seperate in small bowls and tint with food coloring. If you're adding sprinkles to the cookies, add them quickly, before this icing hardens on the cookie. If the icing has sat, untouched, for a while, you may need to stir it to soften it up again. This recipe needs to be doubled in order to have enough to frost all the cookies from Maureen's recipe. I just divided it into different bowls to make all the different colors I wanted.


Lemon Graham Squares
Submitted by: ~Mommy2Jeremy&Tyler~

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 24 squares)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter, melted

In a bowl, combine the milk and lemon juice; mix well and set aside. In another bowl, combine cracker crumbs, flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in butter until crumbly. Press half of the crumb mixture into a greased 9 inch square baking dish. Pour lemon mixture over crust; sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Bake at 375* for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into squares. (Makes 3 dozen)
This post linked to

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie with Homemade Biscuit Crust

I know this wasn't on my Meal Plan, but after going out in the -6 degree weather ( that's 20 degrees F), I just wanted something hot and comforting for dinner. I really love this recipe, since the filling is creamy and the biscuit topping is tender and soft. I love to spread butter on the hot biscuit topping and then mix everything together. SIGH....

This is a pretty quick recipe, using canned cream soup and frozen vegetables. It is quite similar to the Bisquick Pot Pie, except I use my Mom's Baking Powder Biscuit recipe to put on top. It just makes it feel more like home. I think it was just what we needed tonight, since we all ate with much enthusiasm, LOL. Great comfort food, for those cold winter nights.


Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Crust

1 2/3 cup frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup cut-up cooked chicken
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can of milk
2 C flour
1/3 C shortening
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs baking powder
3/4 C milk (more if too thick)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together the milk and soup, until smooth. Add in vegetables and chicken and mix well. Pour into a 9 inch pie plate. In another bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in shortening, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the milk and mix well, adding additional milk if needed. The batter should be thinner than a biscuit batter, almost like a super thick pancake batter. Evenly spoon batter onto the soup mixture, trying to smooth is out, as much as possible. Bake uncovered, for 45 minutes, until bubbling and crust is golden brown.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chocolate Reindeer Cookies

We volunteered to make treats, for Mr.B's Christmas party, tomorrow. I first made these cookies 3 yrs ago, for a cookie swap party. I thought the kids in Mr.B's class would get a kick out of them, and that he would love helping me make them. He was super excited and had to try real hard not to eat the candy, LOL. He was in charge of eyes and antlers and I think he did a fabulous job. I had originally bought M&Ms for the eyes and nose, but remembered that the school is peanut free. I had to quickly come up with an alternative. I rummaged through our remaining Halloween candy ( yes we still have some) and found a bunch of candy necklaces. I figured they would make great eyes. I cut the strings and we went to town. I used some red frosting for the noses. Since I only needed 2 dozen for school, we had a dozen left over, so we used the M&Ms on those. These cookies are crispy around the edges, but soft in the middle. They really aren't that sweet, so I figured that was a bonus for the kiddos.


Chocolate Reindeer

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Refrigerate: 3 hours
Cook Time: 7 minutes per batch
Makes 3 dozen or 36 (1 cookie) servings.

3 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons McCormick® Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
72 small pretzel twists
72 candy-coated milk chocolate pieces
36 small red gumdrops

1. Mix, flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; set aside.
2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Gradually stir in flour mixture until well mixed. Divide dough into 6 portions. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate about 3 hours or until dough is easy to handle.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of dough into a 6-inch circle. Using a knife, cut each circle into 6 wedges. Place wedges about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
4. For antlers, lightly press pretzels into the upper corners of each triangle. Press in chocolate pieces for eyes. For a nose, press a red gumdrop about 1/2 inch from the point.
5. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are firm. Do not overbake. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Recipes tested and approved for McCormick by the Better Homes and Gardens® Test Kitchen.

This post linked to

Saturday Night Special
Recipe of the Week

Monday, December 14, 2009

Meal Plan Monday~ Dec 14th


Good morning everyone! This upcoming week will be a busy and eventful one for us. It's Mr.B's last week of school before Christmas Holidays. He will also be performing in his first Christmas concert at school. I'm so excited to go see my little boy sing on stage with his class! We still need to finish Christmas shopping and start wrapping gifts. I'm also starting my baking this week, with Mr.B helping me make Reindeer Cookies for his class party. Keep an eye out for those in the next few days..... Here is what's on the menu this week. I just hope I have enough energy at the end of the day to follow through with it, LOL.

Once again Thanks to the Organizing Junkie for hosting Meal Plan Mondays. Head on over to check out tons of other great meal plans!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New England Baked Beans

One of my favorite and most special dishes my Mom would make, while growing up, was Baked Beans with homemade bread. I remember coming home from school, to the wonderful smell of rising bread and I would be so excited. There was just something so comforting about this dinner. Over the years I've really missed my Mom's baked beans. She makes them in the pressure cooker, so I've always been hesitant of making any in the crock pot or the oven. I took the plunge last night and it was very interesting, LOL. First of all, once I put the soaking liquid back into the pot, with the beans and condiments, the beans started floating, so I really couldn't tell if I had enough water. I added more, which was my first mistake. 5 hrs later and the beans were still swimming in liquid. I drained the liquid into a pot and reduced to until super thick. Then I poured it back into the beans. The second mistake was, I did not put the partridge in at the beginning. I was afraid that it would over cook and be tough. Well, I put it in 45 minutes before the beans were done and it came out super tough. (Partridge tastes like dark chicken meat, times five). None the less we ate it and mixed in with the beans it wasn't so bad, LOL. Not quite like what Mom use to make, but pretty darn good if you ask me.


New England Baked Beans
Adapted from Cooks.com

1 pound dry navy beans (or other small white bean)
1 1/4 C. brown sugar
1 C. ketchup (may sub chili sauce for more kick)
1/2 C. dark molasses
2 T. your favorite mustard
2 T. vinegar
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
salt to taste

Sort and rinse beans, then place in a large pot and cover with water plus 3 inches. Let beans soak 8 to 12 hours. Drain and rinse then add fresh water to cover. Bring to a rolling boil, cover, lower heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid. Place beans and all remaining ingredients in a 6 quart pot. Mix well. Add enough of the cooking water to cover plus about 1/2 inch above. Cover tightly and place in preheated 325 degree oven. Bake for 4-5 hours, stirring a couple times, and adding liquid if they start to get dry.

Cindy's notes: I like to add partridge or chicken breast to my beans. They soak up the sweet molasses taste and it's heavenly. If you decide to do this, add the meat before baking the beans in the oven.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Corn Dogs

Corn Dogs or POGOs, as us Canadians like to call them, was some of my favorite food, growing up. My Mom use to buy some POGO mix, in a box, and I remember fighting with the rest of the family over who would get the last one. Well, they've stopped making the mix, so I've been searching everywhere for a homemade corn dog batter. I found a recipe a few years back and tried it. It was good, but not as good as I remembered. It must have been the hot dogs, since I made them a few nights ago, and they were awesome! (Nobody believes me that food tastes differently in the U.S. than it does in Canada...). These are super simple to make. The batter is pretty thick, which ensures a nice coating on the hot dog. The kids loved them, as did Hubby. It's a shame they are deep fried, since I could eat these once a week, LOL.



8-10 Hot dogs
1 cup Cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 T sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t Chili powder
1 t salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup Oil
Oil for frying

Impale the hot dogs on skewers, popsicle sticks or trimmed twigs. Dry the dogs well and set aside. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Beat milk, eggs and oil in another bowl. Stir milk mixture into dry ingredients just until the batter comes together. Heat about 1" of oil in a skillet till just shimmering, about 360°. Pour batter into a tall glass. Dip the dog in the batter to cover. Fry dog in hot oil on both sides till browned (about 2-3 minutes). Remove to paper towels. Continue as above with the rest of the dogs till all done.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

3 Cheese and Bacon Macaroni

I made this this past weekend, since I had some leftover cheese sauce, from a previous meal. I jazzed it up by adding 2 different kinds of cheese, to my cheddar cheese sauce. Mr.B loves bacon, so I knew that would be a great way to get him to eat homemade mac'n'cheese. He seems to prefer the blue box, to homemade. It turned out really good. Salty and smoky from the bacon, with a nice crispy buttery cheesy crust. YUM-O!!! The kids loved it and Hubby polished it off when he got home from work.

3 Cheese and Bacon Macaroni

4 cups dried macaroni
1/2 lb of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 4 tablespoons) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 C sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 C Mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 Ritz crackers, finely crushed
1/2C cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni until al dente and drain. In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for three minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn. Pour in milk and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low. Add in cheeses and stir to melt. Add salt and pepper and taste to see if you need to adjust seasonings. Add in bacon and cooked macaroni. Spoon into a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Mix cracker crumbs and 1/2 C of cheese together. Sprinkle evenly onto macaroni. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until to is golden brown.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

It's the 2nd week of December and I can't help but feel like I'm so far behind. We've yet to start our Christmas shopping and still haven't gotten our tree. I did finally get the decorations up, in the house, simply because I was tired of seeing the storage bins on the landing, LOL. This year is just flying by and I hope we can get our act together and get everything done on time. This week my plan is quick meals, so I can have more time to do what needs to be done. I still do need to start my Christmas baking, so keep an eye out for that too.


In no particular order:

Once again I'm participating in Meal Plan Mondays over at The Orginazation Junkie. Head on over to find tons of meals plans from busy Moms, getting ready for the Holidays.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Praline Sweet Potatoes

I've probably mentioned, in previous posts, that I don't really like sweet potatoes. I really don't know why, since I love sweets. I just can't seem to get the feel for these sweet potatoes. Regardless, I keep buying them and trying them again. Mainly because Hubby and my nephew like them so much. One of my fellow group owners on CFYF also has a blog, which I follow. I love her blog, Ms.enPlace, because she's from Louisiana and she has a wonderful personality. I also like to see what Cajun dish she is cooking and what spin she puts on dishes. So, I saw this recipe for sweet potatoes around Thanksgiving time, and thought, maybe this would finally be a way of me liking them. I mean how can you not like something covered with brown sugar, nuts and butter??? So I gave it a try. I used fresh sweet potatoes instead of canned, because well frankly I don't even think we carry canned yams here, in Southern Ontario. We probably do, I've just never looked for them, LOL.

These were really good. I especially like the contrast between the crunchy topping and soft sweet potatoes. The kids are still unconvinced that sweet potatoes are good, so they turned their noses up at it, after the one bite rule. Hubby and my nephew must have liked them, since there is only a tiny bit left this morning. This would be a really great alternative to sweet potato casserole, for Thanksgiving. Thanks MM for sharing your awesome recipe with us.


Praline Yams
Ms. EnPlace, adapted from Sugary Sam's Sweet Potatoes

1 40 oz can cut sweet potatoes, drained
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter, melted

Heat oven to 350. Place drained yams in an ungreased 2 qt casserole or baking dish. (Note: I like to spread the yams out even more in a larger dish so that the topping is more evenly distributed) If some pieces are too large, cut them to the size you'd like. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients; blend well. Sprinkle over yams. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until bubbly.

Cindy's notes: I used fresh sweet potatoes that I boiled until fork tender, then sliced about 1/4 inch thick.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Homemade Pizza and Deep Fried Veggies

Sometimes I'm just in the mood for good ole bar food. As was the case Tuesday night. Hubby was off, so we had planned to make homemade pizza. I on the other hand was craving zucchini sticks with ranch dressing. I knew the guys would never just agree to zucchini, so I also made battered mushrooms and homemade onion rings. Everything tasted wonderful! Sure we probably clogged our arteries up real good, with our double cheese, pepperoni, mushroom pizza and deep fried veggies, but I always say it's OK to indulge once in a while. Hubby mentioned that we need to tweak the batter recipe to add a few more spices to it, so we'll work on that next time we have deep fried veggies ( which really only happens once or twice a year, LOL). Notice the part of the pizza without toppings?? That was Mr.B's piece. He use to eat toppings, but this past year he has become a cheese pizza fan. No big deal, I just leave a corner of the pizza plain. I've yet to unpack all my cookbooks, so I've been trying out new pizza dough recipes. This is my favorite so far. I only have a picture of the onion rings, since my camera died and I lost a few pictures in the process.


Master Pizza Dough
Submitted by Amy

Makes 1 (14-inch) thick-crust pizza or 2 (12-inch) thin-crust pizzas.

3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package FLEISCHMANN'S RapidRise Yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup very warm water (120 to 130F)
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, and salt. Stir very warm water and olive oil into dry ingredients. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface10 minutes. Lightly oil 1 (14-inch) or 2 (12-inch) round pizza pan(s).** Sprinkle with cornmeal. Shape dough into smooth ball. Divide and roll dough to fit desired pan(s). Bake in preheated hot oven (450)for about 10-15 minutes.

Amy’s Notes: Honestly, I think this recipe is so easy, I just mix it with a spoon at first and then switch to using my hands. I only knead until it is smooth --probably about 4 or 5 minutes. test it after a few minutes to see if you can pull a piece of the dough into a thin, tight membrane that you can see light through. If it breaks before you can get it there, knead some more

TO FREEZE: Just put the dough into a ball, put a very light coat of olive oil on it, then place it in two plastic bags, tied tightly. It will keep in the freezer for about 3 months. When you need to use it, simply take it out and thaw.


Deep Fried Vegetables
Adapted from Cooks.com

1 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c. milk
2 tbsp. oil
1 lb of veggies such as zucchini ( cut into 3-4 inch sticks), mushrooms, onions (sliced into rings), cauliflower (cut into florets) or dill pickle (sliced).
Additional flour (optional)
Oil for deep frying

Heat oil to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add egg and milk and whisk until smooth. Toss the veggies with flour, then dip into the batter. Gently drop battered veggies into the oil, making sure to not over crowd the fryer, since they will stick together. Cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve veggies with your choice of Ranch dressing, Ketchup or marinara sauce for dipping.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chicken Parmesan with Pasta Primavera

Last night's dinner was a bit of a challenge. It started off with Queenie being super crabby and clingy. Then to top it all off, I was out of bread crumbs!! Hubby had used them up making meatballs, a few weeks ago and forgot to mention we were out. I found out this little fact after I had pounded out the chicken, made the egg wash and seasoned the flour. So basically there was no going back. I looked in the cupboard to see what I could substitute and decided to go with Ritz crackers. I was a bit skeptical about the outcome, but was pleasantly pleased. I don't make chicken Parm very often, since I find it very time consuming, but I only had 3 chicken breast to work with, so figured this would be a good way to make them seem like there was more.

The first time I made Pasta Primavera was at my sister's house, many years ago. I was visiting for a few weeks and was making dinner for her and her family, to give her a break after work. I found the recipe in a Canadian Living cookbook. It was so simple to make that the recipe has stuck in my head this whole time. I like it because it's a great way to get a lot of veggies in, while enjoying one of my favorite foods; Pasta.


Chicken Parmesan

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 C flour
salt and pepper
1 egg
2 Tbs water
1/2 C seasoned bread crumbs
1/4C Parmesan
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
6 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
oil for frying

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large Ziploc bag, pound out chicken to 1/2 an inch thick. Place flour in a shallow dish or pie plate. Season with salt and pepper. In a second shallow dish whisk together the egg and water. In a third shallow dish mix together the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Add enough oil, to a large fry pan, to coat the bottom. Heat oil, over medium heat. Once oil is hot, take 1 chicken breast and dredge in flour. Then in the egg mixture and finally in the breadcrumb mixture. Repeat with each remaining chicken breast. Place in hot oil and cook on both sides until golden brown, 3-5 minutes each side. Once browned place chicken breast in a baking dish and cover with pasta sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake, covered, for 30-45 minutes; until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Pasta Primavera
Adapted from Canadian Living Cookbook

2/3 box spaghetti
2Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp onion powder
1 med zucchini, cut into thin strips
1 large carrot, cut into thin strips
1 rib celery, chopped
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 C chicken broth
salt and pepper
2 Tbs butter
1/2 C Parmesan cheese

In a large pot of boiling water, cook spaghetti. Meanwhile in a large skillet heat oil and butter, over medium heat. Once butter starts to bubble add in garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, then add vegetables. Season with salt, pepper and onion powder. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender, but slightly crisp, 5-10 minutes. Once pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot. Add butter to hot pasta and toss to coat. Once vegetables are tender, add spaghetti to the skillet, along with the Parmesan cheese. Toss to coat and serve.

Cindy's notes: I used Penne pasta, since that's what I was in the mood for. I also omitted the red pepper, since we didn't have any.