Sunday, September 22, 2013

Chocolate zucchini bread

I love zucchini bread..especially chocolate zucchini bread!!! My aunt makes the best zucchini bread ever!!! But alas, since we have moved I can't find my recipe box... better get on that pronto..the holidays are coming up and I am gonna need it....So anyhow, had to do some research on finding a new recipe.  There are all different kinds or recipes but  most call for a cup to 2 cups of oil. No zucchini bread needs that much oil unless you are baking say 4 or 5  loaves.  I decided to develop one that uses applesauce to keep the bread moist, and just use around 1/2 cup oil for 2 loves.  Thinking even next time to cutting down the oil to 1/3 of a cup and just using 2/3 cup applesauce.  If so I will make the changes to the recipe... My ex mother in law made wonderful chocolate zucchini bread, and she just cut  the sugar down in the basic recipe and added a box of sugar free instant chocolate pudding and chocolate chips to the batter and it was amazing.. so I should try that too :)

I use a micro plane grater to grate my zucchini's.. and I usually buy the really small ones so the seeds are barely existent... and I also when I do make it, try and grate an extra batches worth to stick into the freezer so in the winter when I want to make some zucchini bread I can just whip it up lickety split..thinking ahead ;)
**Really grease your loaf pans, this bread has a tendancy to stick.

 Make this today.. enjoy

Chocolate zucchini bread

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
2-3 T vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa (baking kind)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 cups finely shredded zucchini
1/3 cup chocolate chips (mini kind) optional

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 2 loaf pans really well.
In large bowl whisk together sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs,vanilla & cinnamon.  Add flour, salt, baking powder & baking soda.  With spoon start mixing together, when about 3/4 of the way combined add zucchini  & chocolate chips (if using)and mix just until mixture comes together. Pour into 2 loaf pans and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into bread comes out clean.  Remove from oven & immedately invert bread out of the baking pans to cool.  Slice and enjoy.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Chocolate chip oatmeal pecan cookies

I love these cookies.. they are soo good... my friend Chris since I have known since elementary school loves them so much, when she comes over she asks me to make these for her, and I do... then we have to have some tea, visit and eat cookies :)  which is always a good thing :)

You can leave out the chocolate chips, and add a touch of cinnamon and raisins and they are equally as good, although us girls LOVE usually I don't do that, but I have and it is still good.  You can use what ever kinda chocolate chips you like, I usually use semi-sweet, but you can use dark, or milk chocolate use what you like.  I also use pecans, but again use what you like and have on hand...

I use a 1/4 sheet pan for baking. And I can put 6 cookies per baking sheet.  I used a 1/3 measuring cup to measure these cookies, then I take a wet hand and flatten them down and they make around 9-10 big cookies...  Make these for your family today...enjoy

Chocolate chip oatmeal pecan cookies

1 stick butter/margarine softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 t baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups oats (I use old fashioned)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350, and spray a baking sheet or line with a silpat.
In large bowl with a wooden spoon, cream (mix) the butter.  Add both sugars, vanilla and egg and with spoon work together until smooth and creamy.  Add flour, soda & salt and just start combining, add chocolate chips, & pecans mixing until just comes together (don't over mix). With 1/3 measuring cup, scoop out mixture flattening dough out so you have an even 1/3 cup,  remove dough to the baking sheet (I just wiggled the scoop a little and the dough came right out) continue placing 6 cookies on your baking sheet. Wet the palm of your hand a little shaking off any excess water, and flatten cookies down.  Place in oven and bake for around 17 -18 minutes or until bottoms are lightly golden and the cookies are done.  Do not overbake.  Let cool for a minute then remove to a baking rack or onto waxed paper.  Enjoy

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pimento cheese spread

OH MY GOSH!!! Where has homemade pimento cheese spread been my whole life??? I am asking myself that question... I have seen it multiple times on TV being made, and in cookbooks etc... and my only recollection of pimento cheese is the yuckky stuffy from the grocery store that I avoid like the plague.  I remember trying it one time and almost gagging..LOL from that stuff..YUCK.. NOT me.  the commerical stuff... no thank you ..I'll pass :)

But homemade, where you control what goes in there, put the flavorings and things you like in it... yes please....
I have a secret... I don't like cheese..there I said it.. I am not a cheese fan.  I like cheese on things... tacos, nachos, pasta, lasagna, but too much cheese I am not a fan.  My sister did you get into our family?? LOL  anyway, I was walking by the little jars of pimentos at the grocery store, and it hit me.  I am making pimento cheese spread.  So I researched and saw all different ways, spicy, creamy, salty and thought woah..thinking I am going to come up with my own recipe, I can put what I like in it,so this is how the recipe was born.

You can eat this with crusty bread, or on crackers/breadsticks.  But I remember seeing one time a chef on TV made grilled pimento cheese sandwiches. So that is what I did, and oh my gracious I was in absolute heaven.  The best grilled cheese sandwiches ever.. My husband was like this stuff is awesome, and this is the best sandwich ever... A win/win in my book anytime :) thanks honey... I put a thin layer of the pimento cheese in between 2 slices of bread and put a little butter on the outsides of the bread, and cooked it over medium low (that is the trick, you need a lower heat so that the sandwiches have a chance to melt all that cheesy goodness without burning the bread). 

NOTE** Also, I used about 1/2 T of grated onion, you don't want pieces of onion in your dip cause it will overpower the taste of the dip, I just used a micro-plane grater), and I  used about 4 dashes cayenne pepper (start with 2 dashes and taste it, then go from there).  Also you have to let the cheese spread sit for a while and let the flavors blend, so you don't want to go overboard with the seasonings/flavorings.  They will get stronger and intensify while sitting. Also, I used finely grated cheese, but you can use what you have and like. 
Start with 1/3 cup mayo, and mix then add a tablespoonful at a time until lightly creamed together.

Make this for your family today.. enjoy

Pimento cheese spread

8 oz finely grated mild cheddar cheese
1/3 cup mayo (plus more if needed)
2 oz. jar of chopped pimentos, drained
1/2 T grated onion

Seasonings of your choice (I used a dash of seasoned salt *remember cheese is salty so use accordingly, a few grinds of cracked black pepper, 1/4 t garlic powder & 4 dashes cayenne pepper)

Place all ingredients in bowl and mix well with fork till mixed.  Cover dish and place in fridge to meld flavors.  Serve with crusty bread, crackers/breadsticks or make heavenly grilled cheese sandwiches.. Enjoy

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Crockpot Spaghetti sauce w/ Meatballs

Who doesn't love the easy of the crockpot/slow cooker?  I know I sure do.. It makes getting dinner on the table easy when you have a busy day. 

My 3 year old has been asking me for sghetti & meatballs.. (well that's how he says it :)  we had a really busy day today, so thought how can I make this easier so I don't have to fuss with it.. ah yes..crockpot here I come...
I use really lean ground beef (93/7) to make this.  You don't want to have a lot of added grease to your finished sauce so use lean meat.  Also these are softer than say if you oven bake or fry your meatballs.  They simmer from the raw state in the sauce for hours, so they are a little softer, but oh so delicious. I also got out my micro-plane grater and grated my onion, celery & carrot for my sauce, you can chop this mixture too, but I was in a hurry and didn't feel like grabbing  my food processor out... You can also add chopped up mushrooms or green, red or yellow peppers.....make these for your family today.. we like our sauce a little sweeter, if you don't cut back on the brown sugar...enjoy

I serve this over spaghetti, but use what your family likes, or you have on hand.  I serve this with extra grated Parmesan cheese over the top.

Crockpot Spaghetti sauce w/meatballs

1 lb. extra lean ground beef (I use 93/7)
2 slices white bread torn into very small chunks
2 T half & half
1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs(start mixing it with 1/2 cup and if it's not firm enough to make meatballs add the remaining 1/4 cup)
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 grated parmesan cheese 
1/4 grated onion
 Seasonings of your choice ( I used seasoned salt & pepper, and a sprinkle of Mrs. Dash, and Italian seasonings)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jar or large can of Spaghetti sauce
1 small can tomato paste
1 small can tomato sauce
1/4 cup red wine
2-3 T brown sugar
splash of Worchester sauce
1 bay leaf
1/4 of a grated onion
1 grated carrot
1/2 stalk of grated celery
Seasonings of your choice ( I used pinch of red pepper flakes, dried parsley, Italian seasonings, Mrs. Dash, salt & pepper)

In crockpot, add spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, paste and wine.  Whisk till smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.  In bowl add meatball ingredients and with hands mix well.  Form into meatballs and drop into sauce in the crockpot.  Continue till all the meat is used, and very gently stir the meatballs into the sauce  covering to coat each one with sauce.  Cook on high for about an hour or until the sauce is rapidly simmering.  Move to low and simmer for 5-6 hours stirring occasionally until meatballs are done.  Serve over cooked pasta and sprinkle the top with freshly grated parmesan cheese... enjoy

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chicken pot pie soup

Oh my gracious... this is absolutely my new favorite soup.. this stuff is heavenly :)  I had chicken pot pie soup in a restaurant recently.  I had never had it before and it was wonderful. But as my typical self ; I thought I bet I can put my own spin on it and make it better at home... which is exactly what I did. And the bonus, on the table in about 30 minutes from start to finish, even better in my book.  Super good & super easy.. Make this today.. Enjoy

**NOTE**  I used pre-cooked chicken (I used the cut up chunked pre-cooked chicken from Tyson you can find it in the refrigerated section by the lunch meat at your grocery store, the kind you put in your salad) but you can also chop up rotisserie chicken or use left over chicken, use what you have.   (I would NOT recommend using the stuff out of the can, it is too mushy for this recipe)

Chicken pot pie soup

1 package Tyson pre-cooked chicken, cut up in small pieces (or use leftover chicken see note)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 box chicken stock
1 potato cooked, diced (I cooked mine in the microwave for a couple of minutes until fork tender)
2 cups frozen mixed veggies
1 T white wine
splash of worchester sauce
1 refridgerated pie crust

1/4 cup half and half
1 heaping T of sour cream
3 T of corn starch

Seasonings of your choice (I used 1/2 teaspoon each of poultry seasoning, garlic & onion powder,  dried onions, & parsley flakes)
Just a pinch of seasoned salt & pepper, dried thyme, celery seed )

Preheat oven to 400. Grease a baking sheet with nonstick spray and unroll pie crust in a even layer.  With fork prick all over the crust to keep it from puffing up.  Sprinkle lightly with poultry seasoning, pepper and a pinch of kosher salt.  Bake for around 10-15 minutes until light golden brown. Remove from oven. With a fork break up into small pieces to top soup.

While crust is baking in big pan add the soup & whisk in chicken stock.  Add rest of ingredients (except half & half, sour cream and cornstarch) mix together well.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for around 5 minutes.  In bowl whisk together sour cream & half and half, stir in cornstarch.  Add mixture to boiling soup, and stir until mixture comes back to a boil and thickens.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Remove from heat and spoon soup into bowls and top with the pieces of pie crust on top.  Enjoy

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pear crisp

My friend gave me an entire bag of pears. She picked them from her Aunt's tree and had so many she didn't know what to do with them.  I started thinking what to do with all of these yummy pears.. Thinking, pear tart, pear crumble, pear pie, pear & applesauce, then it hit me..Pear crisp... It is fall and I love all things topped with a crisp topping, you know butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, oats, & a little flour... Heavenly, goodness right there... I made it just like I make apple crisp and voila.. perfection.. so darn good... I invited my friend over and she said oh my gosh..this is soo good... love hearing that :)  so use what you have.. pears, apples etc.. it's all good.. enjoy
**NOTE** These pears were small and not very ripe, a little on the hard side still, so I baked them extra longer & used a little extra sugar.  If your pears are RIPE, cut down on the sugar & total baking time..

Pear crisp

10-12 small pears
3/4 cup sugar
2 T. lemon juice
1 T vanilla
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger (I used the spice kind from McCormicks)


1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oats
2/3 stick butter, softened
pinch of salt
1/2 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray baking dish with nonstick spray.  Wash, peel and core pears.  Chop into medium dice, place in large bowl. .  Add sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, 1 t cinnamon & ginger and stir to combine well. Pour into baking dish. 

In another bowl combine flour, sugar, oats salt & cinnamon.  Mix well.  Add butter and with fork mix until combined and crumbly resembling the size of peas.  Sprinkle over pear mixture.  Bake for around 40-45 minutes (***see NOTE).  Check with inserting fork into a pear and when the pear is soft, and the crisp is bubbly and light golden brown, remove from oven... Serve (can top with ice cream. or whipped cream) optional.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fresh green beans, new red potatoes, onions & kielbasa one pot meal

I love fresh green beans in the summer time... there is nothing like them...I like them cooked lots of ways...with bacon, (what isn't better with a little bacon ;)  new red potatoes, onions, garlic, kielbasa, or just plain.. I could go on and on... but I usually do the bacon route, but thought I had a package of kielbasa that needed using, so I tried it..and it was absolutely delicious... My 3 year old ate seconds (yeah he's eating.. well that's another whole blogpost altogether sigh..)  Use what you have, if you have turkey kielbasa, or polish sausage instead of kielbasa use it.. If you wanna add a clove or two of whole garlic smashed, add that.. as always use what your family likes... enjoy

One pot meal:  Fresh green beans, new red potatoes, onions & kielbasa

1 T. bacon grease (or olive oil)
3-4 cups fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
6 red potatoes, washed and cut into chunks
1 package, kielbasa, sliced
1 beef bouillon cube
1/3 cup water
salt & pepper to taste
1 onion, peeled, medium diced

In large pan with a lid add bacon grease, melt and add onion.  Stir onion covering in hot grease.  Cook on medium high heat for just a couple of minutes, add green beans, and red potatoes, salt & pepper (being careful not to over salt, cause the bouillon cube and kielbasa both have salt in them).  Stir vegetables to coat and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Add kielbasa, water & bouillon cube stirring well.  Cover pan and bring to simmer, turn heat down to medium and cook for 5-10 minutes till vegetables are 3/4 of the way done, stirring often.  Remove lid from pan, turn heat up to medium high and cook till the water is almost completely gone, and vegetables are done about 5-10 more minutes.  I like my beans cooked completely soft and my potatoes soft too.  If you like your vegetables a little crunchy, cook less time.  Turn off heat, stir and adjust seasonings if necessary.. Enjoy

Monday, September 2, 2013

Healthy sloppy joes

Healthy and sloppy joes are not something you see in the same sentence... but they are when you use really lean meat and sneak in lots of veggies... I added red & green pepper, zucchini, red onion to my meat, then slow simmered the sauce & meat together..YUM  Use what you have.  If you have chopped frozen veggies (I have seen them small diced for soups or fajitas in the frozen section by all means use them) or you can get them pre chopped on the salad bar, or if you have another color pepper use that.  I have even sometimes finely grated carrots in this mixture... any way I can sneak some more veggies into my boys I will do...

 My family likes the sloppy joes more on the BBQ side and less on the tomato side so I use tomato soup, ketchup etc.  I make these with extra lean ground beef, but have made them with ground turkey & ground chicken too.. good and super easy.

  My hubby who like stuff on the hot side likes these topped with cheese, diced onion & jalapenos.. but the kiddos on the other hand, not so much... make these for your family today, so good and easy....

Healthy Sloppy Joes

1 lb. extra lean ground beef (or can use ground turkey or chicken)
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced fine
1 small red & green pepper seeded,diced very small
1 small zucchini, seeds & ends removed, diced very small
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can tomato soup
1/2 cup ketchup
2 T mustard
3 T brown sugar
1 t worchester sauce
1 t red wine (optional)

Seasonings of your choice (I used salt & pepper, chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic & onion powder, Mrs. Dash, couple of dashes of cayenne pepper)
Hamburger buns for serving
condiments (mustard, chopped onion, cheese, jalapenos) optional

In large pan, place olive oil, heat over medium high heat.  Add onion, peppers, zucchini (salt & pepper)and cook for 2-3 minutes until vegetables are starting to soften.  Add ground beef & garlic, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and start breaking up and cooking until meat is no longer pink.  Drain meat if necessary (usually not necessary since your using lean meat).  Add remaining ingredients, bringing meat to a simmer , turn heat down cover and simmer until hot and vegetables are really soft. Turn off heat, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Serve with buns and condiments of your choice.. Enjoy