Everyday recipes, life and craziness from Jen's house.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Garlic Steak

It has been hot here in Kansas lately.  How hot?  Really hot.  It's been over 100* for the past several days, with 100's forecasted for the next week.  The heat index has ranged from 105*-120*.  As a side note, even though I'm complaining about the heat, I know that I am lucky to have air conditioning.  I'm not working outside.  I can wear shorts, tank tops and sandals.  I'm not wearing 60 or so pounds combat gear walking patrols in the Middle East.  So while it's hot in Kansas, it's really not that bad.

Soldiers running across flight-line

So anyways...it's hot in Kansas.  Too hot to fire up my oven...even too hot to use my stove.  So last night for supper we had garlic steak, potatoes, corn on the cob...cooked on the grill.  We also had broccoli and cauliflower salad and cole slaw.  Yum! 
Garlic Steak
1/2 c. butter, softened

4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 t. garlic powder
1/8 t. Worcestershire Sauce
1 T. parsley
1/8 t. pepper (fresh ground is great!)
Steak (your choice...we usually have ribeyes)

Preheat your grill for high heat.  Mix the softened butter with the garlic, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, parsley and pepper.  Sprinkle both sides of the steaks with salt and pepper.  (I like Penzey's Smoky 4/S Special Seasoned Salt)  Grill steaks 4-6 minutes per side, or to desired doneness.  Baste each side of the steaks with the garlic butter while grilling.  When steaks are done, remove from grill and brush the steaks liberally with the garlic butter.  Allow to rest 2-3 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!  

The garlic butter is also really great on bread, potatoes, or anything that you want a garlic-y taste! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Watermelon and Feta Salad

So I should be writing my dissertation, but here I am blogging instead.  It's writing, right??? 

A few days ago, I stumbled across a recipe for Watermelon and Feta salad.  I didn't really look at the recipe, and I have no idea where I saw it.  Magazine?  Internet?  Cookbook?  Last night I figured I'd experiment.  I googled Watermelon and Feta salad, I googled the ingredients, and in the end, I decided to just to play around with the flavors.  I was expecting something that was OK, but when your 9 year old son is yelling about how good it is and asking for more, I knew I had something to share!  It is sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy, with a little minty-ness going on.  YUM!

Watermelon and Feta Salad

2 cups chopped watermelon
1/3 c. diced feta cheese
2 T. diced red onion
1-1/2 T. dried mint (fresh mint would be fabulous in this dish...but all I had was dried.)
1-1/2 T. olive oil
1-1/2 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. honey
pinch of salt
1/8 t. pepper

In a bowl, mix the watermelon, feta, red onion and mint together.  In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and salt/pepper together.  Pour over the watermelon mixture and chill until ready to serve.  Enjoy~

I can't wait to make this again!  This is not my picture, but it looks like what I made!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Drink of the Summer...Spiced Limeade

I think I've found my new drunk drink for the summer!  It is so good, so refreshing, so easy and once you make it, you'll be making it over and over again!  It is hot, hot, HOT in Kansas right now, and this adult beverage will cool you down.  Just be careful (speaking from experience here), it goes down very easy.  All you need are four ingredients:  ice, water, frozen limeade concentrate and Captain Morgan Spiced Rum. 

Did you know that Captain Morgan was a real person?  According to http://www.captainmorgan.com,

"In 1654 a young Henry Morgan left his native Wales for the West Indies. He never looked back. A born leader, he quickly made became Captain Henry Morgan and became famous as a legal pirate or Buccaneer, defending British interests and generally rocking the Caribbean.  Captain Morgan’s awesome exploits on the high seas earned him a knighthood and by 1680 Sir Henry Morgan was a plantation owner and Governor of Jamaica. There he lived out his final days until his death in 1688.
Centuries later Henry Morgan became the figurehead for a company that became as famous as the man himself… The Captain Morgan Rum Company."
 OK, OK, I'm finally getting to the recipe...

Spiced Limeade
1 can frozen limeade concentrate
1 can water
1 can Captain Morgan's Original Spiced Rum

In a pitcher mix the limeade concentrate, water and rum together.  Chill.  When ready to serve, fill a glass completely with ice (this is important!)  Pour the limeade mixture over the ice.  Garnish with a slice of lime.  Enjoy~

Although I haven't tried this, I'm sure it would be great...fill a blender full of ice, pour the limeade mixture over the ice and blend!  Frozen Spiced Limeade!
Now that I've spent the last 37 minutes writing this post, I guess I should get back to writing my dreaded dissertation.  pffftttt...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Helen's BBQ Meatballs and a Walk Down Memory Lane

June 17, 1995
BBQ Meatballs
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1-1/2 c. oats
½ c. milk
1 egg
½ chopped onion
1/2 t. garlic powder
¾ t. pepper
1 t. salt

Mix all ingredients together and form into 12 meatballs.  Place in a greased 9x13 baking pan.  Pour sauce over meatballs.  Cover with tin foil and bake at 350* for 1-1/2 hours. This recipe is easily doubled (or even tripled!)  just remember to double (or triple!) the sauce.  Enjoy~

BBQ Sauce
1 c. ketchup
¾ c. brown sugar
1 T. liquid smoke
1/2 t. garlic powder
½ onion, chopped

Mix all ingredients together and pour over uncooked meatballs.

This is my mother-in-law Helen’s recipe.  She made these meatballs one of the first times I visited their house in Iowa.  16 years later, I still enjoy when she makes them!  Since Jeff and I just celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary, I decided to take a walk down memory lane.  We didn’t have the typical dating life, engagement, wedding or even first year of marriage.  (I think most military families can relate!) I’m not sure what I expected, but my life has turned out far better than I ever imagined! 

Dating:  Jeff and I met in Wiesbaden, Germany.  We were both in the Army and lived in the same barracks building.  One Saturday night in February 1994, Jeff and I went to a party together.  Two days later, he left for Norway for about 3 weeks.  The day he returned from Norway, there he was knocking on my door, still smelling like wood smoke, asking if I’d like to watch a movie. And the rest is history!  During the months we dated, we spent time apart due to Army life…field problems and work schedules.  (Throw in two broken arms from a bike accident and a 30 day convalescent leave to Maine)  

Engagement:  In March of 1995, Jeff’s two years in Germany were up and he was on his way to Ft. Rucker, Alabama for training and then on to Ft. Benning, Georgia.  I was due to move to Ft. Riley, Kansas in January 1995.    One night shortly after Jeff left Germany, I got a phone call from him.  You have to remember that this was before everyone cell phones…in my barracks there was one phone per floor, which was sitting on the floor in the hallway.  No table, no chair, just a phone sitting on the floor.  So there I was, in my pajamas, sitting on the floor in the hallway talking on the phone when Jeff asked me to marry him!  We decided to get married on June 17, 1995 in Maine and he would send me my engagement ring.  A week or so later, I got my engagement ring in the mail!  While I was waiting for my ring, I stalked the mail room every day.  I would check it at lunch, just in case, and then beg to leave work just a little bit early so I could check again.  Then one day, it was there!  I was officially engaged, ring and all!  I have never run into anyone else who received their engagement ring in the mail!    

Our wedding:  My parents pretty much planned our wedding (thanks Mum and Dad!)  I told them the date, the church I wanted to be married in, the color of flowers for bouquets and away they went!  I flew to Maine on Sunday, bought my wedding dress on Tuesday, Jeff flew in on Wednesday, bought our wedding rings on Thursday, his parents few in on Friday and we got married on Saturday.  I flew back to Germany on Thursday and Jeff flew back to Georgia on Friday.  Call it a whirl-wind wedding, but it was perfect!  Beautiful weather, beautiful church, beautiful reception at my parent’s house on the ocean.  I have such happy memories of our wedding…even though my mum fell down in the church and hurt her thumb.  In all of the pictures, she has her thumb up, Fonzie style…not because she thought she was cool, but because her thumb hurt!

Our first year of marriage:  We lived apart for the first 6 months of being married.  I lived in Germany, Jeff lived in Georgia.  On Christmas Day 1995, I left Germany.  Thanks, Kathy Silver for driving me to the airport!   I finally arrived in Iowa Christmas night and Jeff and I had our first married Christmas together.  1996 began with us living in a small apartment in Columbus, Georgia.  Jeff was on flight status and had a crazy schedule with lots of TDY’s, schools and field time…in short, he was gone a lot!  However, he was home on our first anniversary, 17 June 1996, which was spent with dinner out and tickets to an Olympic softball game a few weeks later.

And so there you have it,  the highlights of dating, getting engaged, getting married and our first year together!  All brought to you by my mother-in-law’s meatballs.

These are not my meatballs, they are from PW.
 I am at the car dealership...waiting for my car to be serviced and I forgot my SD card with my meatball pictures!  So, PW's picture will have to do!  :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Orange Couscous Salad

 I love salads...green salads, pasta salads, potato salads...all kinds of salads!  Especially in the summer time when it's hot.  There's nothing like having a cold salad for dinner as a meal, or along with some sort of grilled meat.  Yumm.  Check out my other Couscous salad recipe!  Couscous Salad

So last week, I wanted to make some couscous salad, however, I was out of feta cheese, which in my opinion, goes very well with couscous in a salad.  Instead, I googled couscous salad recipes and found this one from Eat Better America.  And of course, I changed up the recipe to fit my tastes.  This salad is a define "make again."  In fact, I can't wait to make it again this week! 

Couscous Fruit Salad

1 (10 ounce) package plain uncooked couscous

 1 orange, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 T. olive oil
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 t. oregano
1 t. parsley
3 green onions, sliced (white and green part)
1/4 c. dried cranberries (Craisins)
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. green grapes, quartered
1 can Mandarin oranges, drained
2 T. sliced almonds

Cook the couscous according to the package directions.  Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Zest the orange and lemon into a small bowl.  After zesting, juice the orange and lemon.  Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano and parsley.  Whisk the ingredients together.

Mix the green onions, dried cranberries, raisins, grapes and almonds together with the couscous.  Add the dressing and mix together.  Fold in the Mandarin oranges.  Chill and serve.  Enjoy~

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rhubarb Cherry Crisp

The Miller Family has been on the road for the past 10 days.  Jeff did an awesome job planning our trip.  He did all of the research on places to stay and items of interest to see, which made our trip very smooth.  On Day 1, we drove up to Iowa for Jeff's 25th High School Reunion pulling our RV. 
Class of 1986 Dunlap High School
We stayed in Dunlap, Iowa for a few days and then loaded everything and everyone (including Jeff's parents) into the truck and headed to South Dakota still pulling the RV! 
Corn Palace
The Badlands
JP and the Jackalope at Wall Drug

We traveled to Mitchell to see the Corn Palace, then to Wall to see Wall Drug, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site and the Badlands and then stayed 3 nights in Rapid City. 
My best girlfriends at Flintstone Village! 
From there we went to Sturgis, Deadwood, went in a gold mine and panned for gold, we went to Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Flintstone Village, Reptile Gardens and the Wind Cave. 
Mount Rushmore
Dinosaur Park in Rapid City
Wind Cave
Day 8 took us back to Mitchell and then finally we headed back to Dunlap on Day 9.  This morning we packed up the Miller family and drove home to Kansas.  Whew...  It was nice to finally pull into our driveway.  

10 days, 2,000+ miles, 3 different campgrounds, lots of good times and laughs~

And, I also got to see my friend Beckie Graham from high school.  She was visiting the Black Hills with her family.  We got to eat lunch together...it was so great to see her!  Hopefully we'll be able to get together a little more often than every 23 years!  :)
Beckie and Jen
While on vacation, I like to buy local cookbooks.  You know the ones...they are usually spiral bound cookbooks that are put together by some group trying to raise money.  I LOVE these cookbooks.  To me, they are "real" cooking.  Don't get me wrong, I like the fancy cookbooks, too...the glossy pictures, the expensive ingredients, the directions that are pages long and it takes hours to actually cook the recipe.  But the spiral bound ones...well...  They are full of real recipes that real people make.  They're family recipes, recipes that make it to family picnics or get-togethers.  Recipes that remind people of good times.  Good home cooking.  I picked up one of these spiral bound cookbooks in South Dakota.

This cookbook, South Dakota Centennial Cookbook 1889-1989 is awesome!  It has a ton of recipes (282 pages) and lots of interesting tidbits about South Dakota's history and heritage.  It also has a yummy recipe.  Rhubarb Cherry Crisp. I knew it would be perfect to make tonight, since I had raided my father-in-law's rhubarb patch this morning before we left Iowa.  And it was perfect.  No TLS (Tastes like S***) here.  In fact, I got two thumbs up from my boys and was told it was a "make again." 

Rhubarb Cherry Crisp (adapted from Faye (Mrs. Kent) Freichs)

1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup melted butter
5 cups sliced rhubarb
1 can cherry pie filling

Combine the oatmeal, flours, sugar, brown sugar and salt.  Pour the melted butter into the mixture and stir with a fork.  The mixture will be crumbly.  Spread half of the mixture into a greased 9x13 inch plan.  Spread the rhubarb over the crumbs and spoon the cherry pie filling over the rhubarb.  Sprinkle the rest of the crumbs on top of the cherry pie filling.  Bake at 350* for 45 minutes.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Delectable Chocolate Bundt Cake

I love cake.  It's my favorite.  I'm not picky about cake...I like it all!  White cake, chocolate cake, cake with frosting, lemon cake, cheese cake, peanut butter cake with chocolate frosting...I could go on and on.  Cake, mmmm.  I love it!

I found a poem about chocolate cake by Michael Rosen. 

you know how the icing on top
is all shiny and it cracks as you
bite into it,
and there's that other kind of icing in
the middle
and it sticks to your hands and you
can lick your fingers
and lick your lips
oh it's lovely.

The rest of the poem is pretty funny.  You should check it out!

Anyways...I've been playing with a chocolate bundt recipe that I found on allrecipes.com Too Much Chocolate Cake  I've been trying to lighten it up and make it a little healthier, and I think I've perfected it!  I made my version of the cake last week for my students to celebrate the end of the semester.  I meant to take a picture of the cake before I brought it to class...  I guess the one picture I got tells you how much my students liked it!  Nothing but crumbs are left!

Delectable Chocolate Bundt Cake

1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package fat free, sugar free chocolate instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 c. plain, fat-free yogurt
1/2 c. reduced fat sour cream
1 c. applesauce (I use no sugar added applesauce)
1 egg white
2 eggs
1/4 c. fat free milk
1/3 c. water
1 T. oil
1-3/4 c. chocolate chunks (If you can't find chocolate chunks, use chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350*.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mix.  In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, sour cream, applesauce, eggs, milk, water and oil.  Mix well.  Pour into dry mix and stir until combined.  Add the chocolate chunks.

Pour/spoon (it will be thick!) the batter into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan.  Bake 55-60 minutes, or until the top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan until completely cool to the touch.  Invert cake onto a plate and serve!  Enjoy~

Here is my favorite bundt cake video clip...from one of my favorite movies, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."  

For more information about bundt pans, check this out!

Monday, May 2, 2011

7 Words and 7 Rules for Eating


I'm kind of interested in food, if you haven't gathered that already.  After all, the name of my blog is "What's Cooking at Jen's House!"  So I read a couple of food blogs every day.  I am on the constant lookout for new recipes.  I cook daily for my family.  But I'm picky about the food we eat.  I read labels.  I make my own bread instead of buying it (have you seen all of the ingredients that are in your average loaf of bread??)  I avoid buying foods that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup.  I try to dodge processed foods (although Velveeta "cheese" makes the best hot cheese dip.)  I also make JP's lunch most days.  Have you seen school hot lunches lately??  School lunch is a whole 'nother post for another day.  Don't get me started on school lunch....grrrr!  

A while ago, I found the 100 Days of Real Food Blog.  It's a pretty interesting blog and I do follow most of the rules.  I try to find items with 5 or less ingredients.  You'd be surprised at how many foods have more than 5 ingredients!  

While looking at Real Food, I came across Michael Pollan's 7 Rules for Eating.  Micheal Pollan is a food author.  He has 7 Words and 7 Rules.  The words and rules make sense and I really do try to follow them. 

7 Words & 7 Rules for Eating

Pollan says everything he's learned about food and health can be summed up in seven words: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."  Probably the first two words are most important. "Eat food" means to eat real food -- vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and, yes, fish and meat -- and to avoid what Pollan calls "edible food-like substances."
Here's how:
  1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. "When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can't pronounce, ask yourself, "What are those things doing there?" Pollan says.
  2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.
  3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
  4.  Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. "There are exceptions -- honey -- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food," Pollan says.
  5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. "Always leave the table a little hungry," Pollan says. "Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, 'Tie off the sack before it's full.'"
  6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It's a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. "Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?" Pollan asks.
  7. Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.
Interesting, huh?  They make sense, right?  Why not try them?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Herb Dip

Yesterday was Easter.  For the past 7 years, we've spent Easter with the inlaw family in Iowa.  They are just 4 hours away, so it's easy to spend holidays with them.  Even when Jeff was deployed, JP and I traveled to Iowa for Easter.  We've enjoyed visiting with family and Jacob has enjoyed the small town Easter Egg hunt that's held on Saturday morning before Easter.  This year was a little different. JP had his league bowling awards and a bowling tournament on Saturday morning.  On Saturday afternoon, JP and I drove to Kansas City to pick up Jeff.  He's been in Seattle for the past 3 weeks.  On the way home, we met up with some geocaching friends in Topeka.  It was a normal busy Saturday before Easter!  So needless to say, we stayed in Kansas instead of traveling to Iowa.  No family this time, just friends.  A lot of military families depend on friends during the holidays...and this year we had a great Easter with friends!

We had Easter supper (remember, dinner is at noon!) at our friend Amy's house.  The menu was not the typical Easter meal...no ham, no leg of lamb.  Instead, we had turkey.  Amy's son went hunting on Saturday morning and brought home fresh turkey!  Fresh, wild turkey tastes very different than the turkey you usually eat on Thanksgiving.  We had a great time with some great friends.

One of the things that I brought for our Easter meal was Herb Dip and veggies.  Everyone liked the dip and gobbled (haha) up the veggies.  You can substitute dried herbs, but the fresh herbs really make the dip shine.  You can also change up the herbs you use...I think some fresh tarragon would be great!

Herb Dip
1/2 c. fat free Greek yogurt (or fat free plain yogurt)
1/2 c. sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1/2 c. mayo
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. red wine vinegar
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. onion powder

2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped (or 2 T. dried parsley)
Fresh dill (I used about 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill)  (or 1-1/2 T. dried dill)
4 green onions, sliced...use the white and green part (or 1 T. dried chives)

Mix the yogurt, sour cream and mayo together.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt and onion powder.  Chop the herbs and add to the dip base.  Mix well. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours and serve with veggies.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Semi-homemade (Easy-Peasy) Tortellini Casserole

Semi-homemade (Easy-Peasy) Tortellini Casserole is a big hit in my household.  Everyone loves it and wants seconds when I make this!  It's a hearty casserole that hits the spot.  And it's pretty easy to make.  It tastes like you've been cooking all day!  This recipe makes enough for our family of 3 to have seconds and even leftovers for lunch the next day.

Semi-homemade (Easy-Peasy) Tortellini Casserole
1/2 lb ground turkey (or beef)
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 jar Spaghetti sauce (I like Prego, but use whatever you like!)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste

1 t. Italian seasoning
1/2 t. sugar
1 package frozen cheese tortellini
5 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded, divided

1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, divided

Brown the ground turkey (or beef) with the diced onion and garlic over medium heat.  After the meat is no longer pink, drain.  Add the jar of Spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and sugar. 

While the ground turkey (or beef) is cooking, cook tortellini according to the package directions, but cook them 2 minutes less than the package says.  Drain tortellini.

Place 1/3 of the prepared sauce in a greased 9x9 inch pan.  Spread the tortellini over the sauce.  Sprinkle most of the shredded mozzarella and most of the Parmesan  cheese on top of the tortellini.  Save 1/4 c. of mozzarella and 1 T. of Parmesan for the top of the casserole.  Pour the rest of the prepared sauce on the cheese.  Top the casserole with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

Bake in a 350* oven for about 20 minutes.  The casserole should be bubbly and the cheese on top should be melted.  Serve with a green salad.  Enjoy~

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rogan Josh

The last time I was at Penzeys Spices in Omaha, I picked up a bottle of Rogan Josh Seasoning.  If you've never been to a Penzeys Store, each spice or seasoning is displayed in a little jar.  You can remove the lid and smell each seasoning.  JP loves to do this!  Anyways, the Rogan Josh smelled soooo good.  A little spicy, a little curry-like and a little exotic.  According to Penzeys, Rogan Josh is...
  • "Just a little spicy. A very popular dish from Northern India and Pakistan. This version of the red lamb stew comes from the state of Rajasthan, known for its hilly deserts and fierce, yet chivalrous warriors. Rogan Josh can be made with beef, but this blend is a great example of how a crafty seasoning can change the somewhat objectionable, "gamey" flavor of lamb into something far more delicious. Some blends are interesting-this blend is good." 
  • Hand-mixed from: paprika, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper, Korintje cassia cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and saffron.
The jar of Rogan Josh has been sitting in my cubboard for a few months.  Jeff doesn't care for spicy food, so I've been waiting to make this dish when he wasn't at home.  Wednesday night was the perfect night to make Rogan Josh!
I didn't have any lamb, beef or pork on hand, but I did have chicken...I'm not sure how traditional my version of Rogan Josh is, but JP and I enjoyed it!  I served the Chicken Rogan Josh over rice and veggies with a dollap of yogurt and a sprinkling of cilantro. 

Chicken Rogan Josh adapted from Penzeys

2 chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces
1 large onion, diced
2 T. olive oil
3 T. Rogan Josh seasoning
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. plain, fat-free yogurt
1 c. water

dollap of plain, fat-free yogurt
cilantro leaves

In a dutch oven, brown the chicken in the oil.  Remove the chicken and add the onion to the hot pan.  Add the Rogan Josh seasoning and salt and stir 1 minute.  Add the cooked meat back to the pan.  Mix the water and yogurt together.  Slowly add the water/yogurt mix.  Stir well.  Cook 1-2 hours over low heat.  Severve over rice and steamed veggies with a dollap of yogurt and a sprinkling of cilantro on the top!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April Fool's Day

Ok, I know I'm late with this post.  Here it is the 5th of April and I'm writing about what happened on the 1st.  But hey, better late than ever, right??

So every April Fool's Day, I try to pull one over on JP.  It usually involves food, and I usually trick him.  hee hee hee   I think it's great fun, and so does JP.  He's come to expect a trick and now that he's getting older, it's getting harder and harder.

This year, I had two tricks to play on him.  The first was in the morning.  The night before, I mixed up some Knox gelatin with juice and stuck it in the fridge.  April Fool's morning, JP went to take a sip of juice.  And guess what??  It was stuck in the bottom of his glass!  Bahhhahhhahhh.  This was a trick in itself.  The juice in the bottom of the glass was done so that he would think he was safe for the rest of the day.  Oh nooooo.  I had more trickery up my sleeve!

All week long, I told JP we were having chicken pot pie for supper on Friday night.  He loves chicken pot pie, so he was excited because I never buy or make it.  However, it wasn't really chicken pot pie!  Instead, I make peas, carrots and corn out of Starburst candies and mixed it with vanilla pudding.  I mixed in some chopped dried apples for the chicken stuck it in an individual pie plate and popped a precooked crust on the top!  It looked like chicken pot pie and I totally tricked JP!

Other years, I've made "Strawberry Pie" (meatloaf and pink mashed potatoes in a pie plate,) "Grilled Cheese" (toasted pound cake with cheese colored frosting,) and "Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes & Gravy" (chocolate rice krispie treats in a loaf pan and cool whip "potatoes" with butterscotch sauce as the gravy!)
Strawberry Pie 2010
Is this really a grilled cheese?
Grilled Cheese 2009

What did we have for supper on April Fool's Day?? Leftovers.  I know...so exciting!

Where do I get my ideas??  Family Fun.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Rouladen, red cabbage, fried potatoes, salad and Hefe-Weizen

We love German food.  It's wholesome, hearty and reminds us of good times in Germany.  Jeff and I lived in Germany for 5 years.  We lived in Wiesbaden for 2 years and Ansbach for 3 years.  I also lived in Nurnberg for 3 years with my parents when I was a little girl.

Wiesbaden, Germany
Ansbach, Germany
Nurnberg, Germany
So a few days ago, I made Rouladen, which is a braised beef roll with gravy.  Rouladen is one of our favorite dishes.  It take a little time to make it...it's a little labor intensive... but it is well worth it!


9 slices of bacon
1 onion, finely chopped
1 lb sirloin, thinly sliced length-wise.  (My grocery store sells it already sliced, but you can ask your butcher to slice it for you.)
1 T. olive oil
1/4 c. mustard (you may use more/less depending on the size of the sirloin)
1 dill pickle, sliced length-wise into quarters
1 t. parsley
1/2 c. white wine
3 c. beef broth
1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. water or milk

Finely chop the onion and 1 piece of bacon.  Place the chopped bacon, 3/4's of the onion and the olive oil in a Dutch oven, or a large, deep frying pan.  Cook the onion mixture over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

To prepare the beef, I use a large cutting board and lay the pieces of sirloin on it.  Spread the mustard on each piece of beef.  Place 2 pieces of bacon on top of the mustard.  Sprinkle the bacon with salt, pepper, the remaining chopped onion, and parsley (about 1/4 t. for each piece of beef.)  Place the pickle slice along one of the short ends of the beef.  Starting with the pickle side, roll the beef up.  Secure each roll with 2 toothpicks (or you can use string if you'd like!) 

Push the cooked onion and bacon to one side of the pan.  Turn the heat up to med/high.  You may need to add another Tablespoon of olive oil.  Place the beef rolls into the hot pan and brown on all sides.  Once the sides are browned, move the rouladen to one side of the pan.  Pour the wine into the pan and stir up the brown bits that are on the bottom.  Add the beef broth.  Place the rouladen in the middle of the pan and stir in the onion/bacon mixture that was pushed to the side.  Turn the heat down to low.    Cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.  Occasionally turn the rouladen over and stir the broth.

Mix the flour and water (or milk) together.  Remove the rouladen and increase the heat to high.  Once the liquid is boiling, slowly pour the flour mixture into the pan and whisk.  The gravy should thicken quickly.  Turn the heat to low and add the rouladen.  Coat the rouladen with the gravy.  Serve with potatoes (pan fried or mashed are great!)  Enjoy~

Friday, March 25, 2011

Homemade Granola Bars

We are on Spring Break here in our part of the world.  The local school districts schedule their spring break at the same time Kansas State has theirs, so it's a win-win situation in our house!  Add block leave for Jeff, and you've got a family that's ready for a week off!  To celebrate our time off, we planned a 5 star, luxury Bahama get away 3 day geocaching trip across Kansas.  Read about our GeoTrip at my other blog, JJJ Geocaching Jaunts!  Planning a 3 day trip takes a lot of work and time...Jeff did most of the cache and route planning.  I was in charge of planning for the food:  three lunches on the go and snacks. I knew I wanted to bring granola bars, but I hate all of the added "stuff" in prepackaged granola bars.  So I scoured the Internet (allrecipes mostly) and found a recipe that I liked.  I did make a few changes, and will make a few more when I make them again!


 Homemade Granola Bars (adapted from Chewy Granola Bar recipe)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup sunflower kernels
1/4 cup dried cherries
3 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks)

In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, peanut butter, corn syrup, butter and vanilla. Stir in the oats, sunflower kernels, cherries, wheat germ and flax seed. Fold in chocolate chips.

Press into an 8-in. square baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until set and edges are browned. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into bars. 

What did we think?  We LOVED them!  They were gobbled up!

What did I change?  I used dried cherries instead of raisins (I didn't have any raisins on hand) and used chunky peanut butter instead of smooth.  I also used ground flax seed instead of sesame seeds and chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips.  I wrapped each bar in a small piece of plastic wrap and kept them in the cooler.

What would I do next time?  I have a few changes!  Next time, I'd double the recipe!  I'd also use honey rather than the corn syrup and use 1/3 c. of brown sugar instead of 1/2 c.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but the granola bars were a little too chocolaty!  Next time, I'd use 1/3 c. mini chocolate chips instead of 1/2 c. of the chocolate chunks.