Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chocolate Chip Orange Muffins

Recipe name: Chocolate Chip Orange Muffins
Source: no idea
Servings: 4
Cookbook date: November 27

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup oil
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, combine egg, milk, orange juice and oil. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until just moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.
Grease a muffin tin and bake for 14-18 minutes.

I love making homemade muffins, because often the recipes are so simple. I thought these had a terrific flavor, just perfect for a lazy morning anytime during the holiday season.
The muffins remind me a lot of an actual chocolate orange, a holiday treat I love. We got 9 muffins out of the batter. I will most definitely make these again next year!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hearty Cheese Dip

Recipe name: Hearty Cheese Dip
Source: Adapted from recipe on
Servings: Lots
Cookbook date: November 22

1 (2 pound) loaf processed cheese, cubed
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2/3 cup water
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (16 ounce) jar picante sauce

Place ground beef in a large skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain beef, and mix in water and taco seasoning mix. Cook and stir 2 to 4 minutes. Slowly melt cheese in the skillet. Stir occasionally to avoid burning. Mix in salsa. Cook and stir until well blended. Serve warm.

I created this dish while Tiffany was away volunteering for the Junior League on Saturday. It didn't take long to put together and was just the thing for a cold winter day. I'm not a huge fan of processed cheese so I halved the amount called for in the recipe and added "real" cheese for the other half. We didn't have any taco seasoning so I created my own from a recipe on

We had this with tortilla chips and we both liked it. So now we have two pounds of cheese dip in the fridge. That is a lot of dip. I know what I'm eating for lunch for the next week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Oh No She Didn't...Black Bean Brownies!

Recipe name: Black Bean Brownies
Source: somewhere online
Servings: 8

1 box of Brownie mix
1 15 oz can of black beans

Drain and rinse the beans. Return them to the can, and fill the can (with the beans in it) to the top with water. Pour the beans and water into a food processor and puree until smooth (this part may take a while).

Combine the pureed beans with the brownie mix. Do not add any other ingredients, such as oil or eggs, to the mixture. Mix until combined. Pour into a greased brownie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

This is what I thought when I first saw this recipe. If I'm remembering this correctly, when I found this recipe online there were lots of comments on a discussion board from various people swearing that these brownies just tasted "fudgey" and that nobody would notice that it was made with beans. It simply sounded too bizarre for me to not try!

So we made the brownies the other night, and just like I've been forgetting for the past 2 weeks, I forgot to take a picture of them. They simply look like dense brownies, though. And as for the taste....overall they weren't too bad! I do believe, though, that they have a slight bean aftertaste. I actually think this could be remedied by adding some chocolate syrup to the mix to enhance the chocolate flavor (this is a trick my mother-in-law taught me in order to make any brownie mix taste better).

So yes, believe it or not, I think I will make these again!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Super Yummy Appetizer

Recipe name: Chicken Enchilada Dipp
Source: Simply Tasty
Servings: 8-10 (as an appetizer)
Cookbook date: November 15

Chicken Enchilada Dip

2 boneless/skinless chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded
2 8oz packages of light cream cheese, softened
4 green onions, chopped
1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chiles
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chopped dried cilantro
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika

In a non-reactive bowl, combine all ingredients. (Stacey recommends a food processor so the chicken pieces are really small, making it easier to dip. Or you can just shred with forks if you like the chicken pieces bigger.) Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

This is yet another fantastic recipe from Stacey over at Simply Tasty. We made this at our election party a few weeks ago. It was great to serve a heavier appetizer that was out of the ordinary. I would definitely recommend this for your next dinner party, any large family gathering, or a Super Bowl party! If you are the host or hostess, the dip is especially great because it comes together quickly, and you can make it a few hours (or even a day) ahead of time.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

CrockPot Chicken Noodle Soup

Recipe name:
source: adapted from Weight Watchers
servings: 4
Cookbook date: November 8

Chicken Noodle Soup

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped

2 medium stalks celery, chopped

1/2 of 1 medium onion, chopped

3 cans chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 small bay leaves

10 ounces frozen green peas -- (1 pkg.)

6 oz angel hair pasta or spaghetti noodles, broken in half.

Put frozen chicken breasts in microwave. Cook on full power for 5 minutes to allow the chicken to thaw and mostly cook. Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients (except peas and pasta) in a CrockPot. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces. It is ok if it is not cooked all the way through at this point. Add the chicken to the CrockPot, cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center. Add the peas and noodles and cook 10 minutes longer, or until noodles are al dente.

Tim and I thought this was a super yummy and easy to make chicken soup recipe. It had plenty of flavor, and the veggies were a great addition (I've always been a chicken soup purist, so adding celery and peas was like a walk on the wild side for me)! The only thing I would change next time is that I would add the peas 15 minutes before dinner time, and the pasta 10 minutes before dinner time. Adding the peas 10 minutes before didn't give them quite enough time to cook.

This makes enough to feed 4, and since we are a family of 2, we had it again as leftovers and loved it just as much the second time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rachel Ray's Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

Recipe name: Rachel Ray's Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage
Source: Food Network
Servings: 4-6
Cookbook date: November 14


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
  • 4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf,
  • 4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock, canned or paper container
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup (3 turns around the pan) heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente
  • Romano or Parmigiano, for grating


Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.

Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.

Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese and sage leaves.

Tim here once again. The only substitute I used this time was nonfat milk for heavy cream. I know what you are thinking, nonfat milk isn't really a good substitute for heavy cream. That is what I thought as well, but the dish turned out great. Granted, it wasn't nearly as creamy as it would have been with the heavy cream but we both really liked it. I took the sausage out of their casings before I cooked them so it would be easier to break the meat into bite sized pieces.

I was a little concerned when I first read the recipe. I mean how is Italian sausage, canned pumpkin and a whole bunch of holiday spices going to all work out as an Italian pasta dish? Well, I'm still not sure why everything goes together so well but it does. You definately have to try this one. One word of advice, go heavy on the parm cheese at the end. Yum-O.

Easy fall weeknight meal: Cranberry Cheese Melt

Recipe name: Cranberry Cheese Melt
Source: no idea
Servings: 4
Cookbook date: October 26

2 oz cream cheese
2 oz shredded gouda or swiss
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
8 slices bread
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Mix cream cheese, gouda and walnuts and spread on half the slices of bread. Top with cranberry sauce, onion, cheddar cheese and remaining bread. Spray large skillet. Heat over medium heat until sandwiches brown on the bottom. Spray tops of sandwiches and turn to heat the other side.

The first time I made this sandwich I didn't care for it, and that is because I do not like raw onion. The second time I made it, I sauteed the onions before putting them in the sandwich, and that move totally saved this recipe, in my opinion. It is easy to throw together, has a taste that is a bit different from standard weeknight fare, and would go very well with a cup of hot soup on a chilly night. Enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A different (but good!) vegetarian dish

Recipe name: Rice with African Peanut Sauce
Source: no idea
Servings: 6
Cookbook date: October 30

3 cups brown rice, cooked
1 1/2 tsp canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 20 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp Tabasco sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil until the onion is soft and golden.
Add the curry powder and coriander, then cook for 1 minute more.
Pour in the tomatoes, then stir in the salt, crushed pepper flakes, and Tabasco. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
Stir in the peanut butter and peanuts. Cook for about 5 minutes more. Stir frequently so that the sauce at the bottom of the pot doesn't overcook. The sauce is done when it thickens. Serve the sauce over rice.

Once again, I forgot to take a picture. Tim and I have made this dish twice, I think, and we have loved it both times. It has such a different, yet totally yummy flavor. I'm always well-pleased to find a vegetarian dish that holds it own and doesn't make me think that I'm just eating large quantities of a side dish.

This would also be good with some sort of flat bread. If you try this out, let me know what you think!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

For your next holiday party: Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars

Recipe name: Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars
Source: Simply Tasty via Baking Blonde
Servings: 8
Cookbook date: November 4


1 cup butter (I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup yogurt and it turned out fine)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter


Grease a 9×9 inch square pan.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in the oats. Cook over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until ingredients are well blended.Press half of mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Reserve the remainder for topping.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust in the pan, and spread evenly with a knife or the back of a spoon.

Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate layer, pressing in gently.Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before cutting into bars.

Sorry that I don't have a picture for this one, but check it out on Simply Tasty if you want to see the finished product. I thought these were good, but Tim thought that they were outstanding. He says that this is his new favorite dessert item. As you can imagine, they are on the heavy side, so I don't imagine that I'll make them frequently, but Tim likes them so much that they may become a standard treat around the holidays.

My tip for making this recipe is to give the chocolate mixture time to cool in the pan before you spread the top oat mixture layer over it. I waited about 15 minutes before putting the top layer on, and I think that made things go more smoothly.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sweet Potato Burritos

Recipe name: Sweet Potato Burritos
Source: Unknown
Servings: 6-8
Cookbook date: Oct 21

1/2 Tbsp veg oil
Handfull of chopped onions
1 clove garlic minced
1 can refried beans
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp grounds cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp soy sauce
6-8 flour tortillas
40 oz can yams, mashed
Shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Meanwhile heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until soft. Stir in the beans. Gradually stir in water and heat until warm. Remove the bean mixture from the heat. Stir in all spices and soy sauce.

Heat tortillas in microwave oven for 30 seconds to 1 minute to soften. Put bean mixture on tortillas and spread sweet potato over the beans mixture. Top with cheese. Roll up burrito style and place on a lightly greased backing sheet. Sprinkle top of burritos with cheese. Bake for 12 mins.

Both Tiffany and I really enjoyed this dish. Usually we freeze the leftovers so we can eat them later. In fact, this time we doubled the recipe so that we would have plenty of leftovers. The bean mixture was a little too thin. Next time we will not add as much water. I would suggest just adding the water until the bean mixture gets to a consistency that looks good to you.