Oatmeal Pancakes

On the weekends, husband and I like to have at least one nice breakfast.  Whether it be at our favorite breakfast spot in town, or making something a little special.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, September 2010.

I did not alter the recipe in any way.

Oatmeal Pancakes

1.1 oz all purpose flour (1/4 c)
1 c quick-cook oats
1 tblsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 c nonfat buttermilk
* I didn’t have buttermilk, so I used the shortcut trick. 1 tblsp white vinegar put into a liquid measuring cup, and fill with milk to the 1 cup mark. Let sit for 5 min. Use as needed.
2 tblsp butter, melted
1 large egg
Cooking Spray

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.  Combine the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Combine buttermilk, butter and egg in a small bowl.  Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Spoon about 2 1/2 tblsp batter per pancake onto griddle.  Turn pancakes over when tops are covered with bubbles; cook until bottoms are lightly browned.

Husband really liked these pancakes.  I thought they were OK.  To me the taste was exactly the same as a bowl of oatmeal.  Some fresh fruit or chopped pecans may have helped push me over the edge to love…

Mississippi Mud Cake

Oh My.  Chocolate and Marshmallows?  An frosting that tastes like liquid fudge?  This is one rich cake, but it’s so good.

This recipe is from – Fannie Flagg’s Original Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook.

I did not alter the recipe in any way.

Mississippi Mud Cake

1 1/4 c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 c sugar
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa
5 eggs, separated
1 c water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift flour, baking powder and alt together 3 times, set aside.  Combine sugar and cocoa; mix well.  Beat egg yolks in large bowl of electric mixer.  Beat in water, vanilla and sugar mixture at medium speed.  Beat in flour mixture.  Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; stir on-fourth of chocolate batter gently into whites.  Fold egg whites into remaining batter.  Pour into a greased and floured 13×9 pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and sprinkle marshmallows evenly over cake.  Bake 5 minutes longer, or until marshmallows begin to melt.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.  Spread with mud icing.

Mud Icing

1 c butter or margarine, melted
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa
1/2 c evaporated milk
4 c sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c chopped pecans (optional) – I opted out of the pecans this time.

Combine butter and cocoa in a large mixing bowl; stir in evaporated milk.  Gradually beat in sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in pecans.  Pour over cooled Mud Cake.

As I said before, this is one rich cake.  But oh so good.  Somehow I even wound up with a few pieces left after my event last night, maybe I’ll go get a piece…

Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Burritos

Almost every time we go out for Mexican food, husband will get a shredded beef burrito.  So this was a no-brainer to try.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 1997.

Substitutions noted below.

Slow Cooker Beef & Bean Burritos

2lb. London Broil
1.25 oz package taco season mix – I used the Trader Joes mix
Cooking Spray
1 c chopped onion
1 tblsp white vinegar
4.5 oz can chopped green chiles
16 oz can fat free refried beans – I used the Trader Joes fat free refried black beans
12 8inch fat free flour tortillas
1 1/2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese – I used the Trader Joes three cheese blend
1 1/2 c chopped plum tomato
3/4 c fat-free sour cream

Trim fat from meat; rub seasoning mix over both sides of meat.  Place mean in an electric slow cooker coated with cooking spray; add onion, vinegar and green chiles.  Cover with lid; cook on low heat setting for 9 hours.

Remove meat from slow cooker, reserving cooking liquid; shred meat with two forks.  Combine meat and reserved cooking liquid; mix well.

Warm beans and tortillas according to package directions.  Spread 2 tblsp bean down the center of each tortilla.  Spoon a heaping 1/3 c meat mixture on top of beans.  Top each with 2 tblsp cheese, 2 tblsp tomato and 1 tblsp sour cream; roll up.

Using two forks to shred the meat was a bit time consuming.  After I finished (of course) I remembered a trick I read on Pintrest.  Chicken can be shredded by putting it in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, I wonder if it would have worked with this beef?  I’ll try it for sure next time.

I thought this beef would be a bit more flavorful.  The next day the flavor had really sunk in and was super yummy.  This makes A LOT of shredded beef and I’m trying to decide the best way to use these leftovers.  Husband really liked these burritos and is ready for me to make them again.

Honey-Glazed Almonds

Husband and I are both big fans of the almond.  He loves an almond covered in dark chocolate.  I love almonds covered in yogurt.  So I thought this would be a great alternative for both of us in the “covered almonds” department.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, November 2011.

One change, noted below.

Honey-Glazed Almonds

1 1/2 c raw, unblanced almonds
1 tblsp sugar
1 1/2 tblsp honey
1/2 tsp ground chipotle chile powder – I used cayenne pepper.
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the almonds in a medium nonstick skillet; cook over medium heat for 6 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a 2-cup glass measure.  Microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds.

Add honey mixture to pan, and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Arrange almond mixture on prepared baking sheet in a single layer; let stand 10 minutes.  Break apart any clusters.


We both really liked these.  The spice adds a little kick of an aftertaste.  This would be a great recipe to triple and give out as a homemade Christmas present.

Stuffed Cornbread Pan

Every once in a while, husband and I will go to the mall to walk around and window shop.  A trip to the mall always includes a stop in Williams-Sonoma, just to see what new and amazing things they have (that we usually can’t afford..).  One such trip, we found a ‘Stuffed Cornbread Pan’ on sale and couldn’t pass it up.

The included recipe was for cornbread stuffed with cheese, but I was thinking bigger.  Cornbread stuffed with smoked sausage.  Brownies stuffed with snickers or cookie dough.  Chocolate chip cookies stuffed with caramels or marshmallows.  The possibilities are endless!

I used the pan for the first time the other night.  Cornbread stuffed with smoked sausage, it was so good!  The cornbread recipe was great and could be made and baked in a 9″ square pan.  Here is the original recipe:

Buttermilk Corn Bread Squares w/ Pepper Jack Cheese

12 cubes pepper jack cheese, each 3/4 inch
2 c yellow cornmeal, preferably stone ground
1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
4 tsp backing powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c buttermilk, at room temperature
2 eggs, well beaten, at room temperature
8 tblsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease the wells of the Stuffed Cornbread Pan

Place a cube of cheese on the spike of each well so that the top of the cheese is flush with the top of the spike.

In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, stir together the buttermilk, eggs and butter until just combined.  Stir the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture until just combined.  Divide the batter evenly among the wells.

Bake until the edges of the corn bread are just turning golden and a toothpick inserted just outside the center of the cornbread come out clean, about 15 minutes.  Let the cornbread stand in the pan for 2 to 3 minutes.  Using a small offset spatula, gently life the cornbread out of the pan.  Serve warm.  Makes 12 cornbread squares.

Just a side note: we did get this pan on sale and I was unable to find it on the Williams-Sonoma website.  I’m thinking its discontinued. 😦

Pumpkin-Honey Beer Quick Bread

There was this one week where I made two pumpkin dump cakes for two different parties, and still wanted more pumpkin.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, November 2008.

I altered slightly, noted below.

Pumpkin-Honey Beer Quick Bread

14.6 oz all purpose flour (about 3 1/4 c)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2c water
1/3c ground flaxseed
2 1/2c sugar
2/3c canola oil
2/3c honey beer (at room temperature) – I used Heineken instead
1/2c egg substitute – I didn’t have any egg subs, so I added 2 more eggs
2 large eggs
1 15oz can pumpkin
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour, salt, and next 4 ingredients (through pumpkin pie spice) in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk.

Combine 1/2c water and flaxseed.

Place sugar and next 4 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at med-high speed until well blended.  Add flaxseed mixture and pumpkin; beat at low speed until just blended.  Add flour mixture; beat just until combined.

Divide batter between 2 (9×5 – inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack; remove from pans.  Cool completely on wire rack.

This bread is GOOD.  Somehow the top comes out with a slight crust, and is wonderful warm with some butter.  However, this bread made a giant mess of my kitchen, which I didn’t like, my counters still feel like there’s a fine mist of flour everywhere.  When I make this again, I WILL NOT use my mixer.  The wet ingredients went flying, as did the flour and dry ingredients.  Save the mess, mix this one by hand.

Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

We love this casserole.  I have made it for work functions, family breakfast’s, book clubs, you name it.  Super easy and so good.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, April 2008.

I alter the recipe slightly, noted below.

Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Cooking Spray
12 oz turkey breakfast sausage – I used pork this time
2 c 1% low fat milk – I used 2%
2 c egg substitute
1 tsp dry mustard
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tps ground red pepper – I used chili powder
3 large eggs
16 (1 oz) slices white bread – I used a 16 oz loaf of sweet italian bread
1 c (4 oz) finely shredded reduced-fat extrasharp cheddar cheese – I used a 3 cheese blend
1/4 tsp paprika

Heat a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add sausage to pan; cook 5 min or until browned, stirring and breaking sausage to crumble.  Remove from heat; cool.

Combine milk and next 6 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Trim crusts from bread.  Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Add bread, sausage and cheese to milk mixture, stirring to combine.  Pour bread mixture into a 13×9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, spreading mixture evenly.  Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Remove casserole from refrigerator; let stand 30 minutes.  Sprinkle evenly with paprika.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until set and lightly browned.  Let stand 10 minutes.

Like I said before, we love this casserole.  It’s a great recipe to have on hand for visitors or a holiday morning.

Meatballs in Pasta Soup with Basil

I could make soup every night of the week, and husband would be a happy man.

This recipe is from ‘The Complete Book of 400 Soups’.

I altered slightly, all noted below.

Meatballs in Pasta Soup with Basil

14 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups vegetable stock
3 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped ** for the onion, celery and carrot – I used the Trader Joes mirepoix mix.
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small red chili, seeded and chopped ** I couldn’t find a red chili, so I subbed a small jalapeno
1 tblsp tomato paste
11 oz small pasta shapes
large handfull of fresh basil, torn
salt and black pepper
basil leaves to garnish
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

For the meatballs:
1 thick slice white bread, crust removed  ** I used wheat bread
3 tblsp milk
12oz lean ground beef or veal  ** I used ground turkey
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, crushed
grated rind of 1 orange
1 egg, beaten
2 tblsp olive oil

First prepare the meatballs.  Break the bread into small pieces and place them in a bowl.  Add the mile and leave to soak for about 10 minutes.  Add the beef, parsley, orange rind and garlic, and season well.  Mix well with your hands.

When the bread is thoroughly incorporated with the meat, add enough beaten egg to bind the mixture. Shape small spoonfuls of the mixture into balls about the size of a large olive.
** I used a little too much egg (approx half), the mixture would be fine without adding the egg.

Heat the oil (from meatball ingredients) in a frying pan and fry the meatballs in batches for 6 to 8 minutes, until browned all over. Use tongs or a draining spoon to removed them from the pan and set aside.
** Do this in a separate pan than the one you’ll be making soup in. I didn’t and had quite a mess on my hands…

Puree the cannellini beans with a little of the stock in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Set aside.

Heat the oil (from the soup ingredients) in a large pan. Add the chopped onion, garlic, chili, celery and carrot; cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Cover and cook gently for a further 5 minutes.
** Cook gently? This was a new phrase for me. So I covered and turned the heat to low.

Stir in the tomato paste, the bean puree and the remaining vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
** I also added 2 cups of water. The stock alone wasn’t enough liquid.

Stir in the pasta shapes and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, until the pasta is tender, but not soft. Add the meatballs and basil and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season the soup well before ladling it into warmed bowls. Garnish each bowl with a basil leaf, and serve freshly grated Parmesan cheese with the soup.
** As you can see in the picture below, I skipped more basil. I used a Parm/Asiago blend from Trader Joes.
** 11 oz of pasta is A LOT, I would cut this to 7 or 8 oz max.

 We had a friend over for dinner when I served this soup, and we all liked it.  Husband and friend did not like the orange rind in the meatballs.  And as I said above, 11 oz of pasta is a lot, I would definitely cut this down.  I’ll be making this one again, with a few slight tweaks.

P.S. – By the time this soup got to leftovers the next day, it had turned into a pasta dish instead of a soup.  The 11 oz. of pasta had soaked up all the liquid.  So less pasta, and adding 3 or 4 cups of water will keep this a soup until leftovers.

Pierogies and Kielbasa

I’ve never had a pierogi before this recipe, did you know it has polish origins?  For some reason I thought the pierogi was an Italian dish.

This recipe came from Food Network Magazine, July/August 2011.

The recipe calls for a grill (or grill pan), neither of which I have, instead I used a 6 quart chef pan.

Grilled Pierogies and Kielbasa

1 lb kielbasa (pork or turkey), cut into 4 pieces
2 tblsp whole-grain mustard
2 tblsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white oinion, cut into 6 pieces
1 lb frozen potato and cheddar pierogies (do not thaw)
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 c roughly chopped fresh parsley

Preheat a grill to medium. Grill the kielbasa, turning, until marked 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter.
I heated my pan to medium, and cooked the kielbasa for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the mustard and vinegar in a large bowl.  Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil until smooth.

Toss the onion and pierogies with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, covered, until the pierogies thaw and the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Turn the pierogies and onion and continue to grill, covered, until the pierogies are cooked through and the onion is tender, 4 to 6 more minutes. Transfer to the baking sheet or platter.
Since I was using my chef pan, I cooked the pierogies and onion for 10 minutes, turning frequently to brown the pierogies and soften the onion.

Slice the kielbasa into pieces and add to the bowl with the mustard dressing. Roughly chop the onion and add to the bowl along with the pierogies and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and toss.
I added the sliced kielbasa and mustard dressing directly to the pan, tossed so everything was coated and turned the heat to low. I let it sit for 3 minutes, added the parsley and served.

Husband and I were both on the fence about this one.  It wasn’t bad, but not amazing either.  Considering I wasn’t sure I could find frozen pierogies here in the south, I probably won’t go out of my way to make this recipe again.

Confetti Chili

As the weather cools I turn to soup, chili and stew as a staple in our diet.  When I make chili, it’s a Crockpot, whatever is on hand kinda thing.  Below is my basic recipe, please alter with whatever you may or may not have in your kitchen.

Oh, the blue Crockpot. It’s fugly, but it works.

Confetti Chili

Trader Joes Mirepoix
1 cup frozen corn – I like the TJ’s fire roasted corn
2 cans diced tomatoes – OR – 1 can diced tomatoes and 1 can tomato sauce
1 can black beans – rinsed – OR – 1 can refried black beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can white kidney beans

1 lb. stew meat – browned
1 lb. ground beef – browned
1 lb. ground turkey – browned
2 links chicken andouille sausage – cut into bite size pcs.
1 or 2 links smoked sausage – cut into bit size pcs.
1 heaping cup of diced rotisserie chicken
** I will only use 2 of these options.

Seasonings – these are all to taste:
Chili powder
Smoked Sea Salt – another TJ’s find
Pepper – it don’t matter if it’s black or white
Celery Salt or Celery Seed
Onion Powder – Penzeys has a great Toasted Onion Powder
TJ’s Black Pepper Sauce
TJ’s Habanero Hot Sauce
TJ’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend

If needed, add a little water to cover everything.

Everything goes in the Crockpot on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8.