Thursday, January 31, 2013

Crock Pot Chili

This was a WONDERFUL recipe - great for those cool days when you really want to be able to go out all day, for work, errands, or school, and come home to a ready to enjoy dinner that will fill you up and leave you satisfied.

I found this on Coleen's Recipes about a year ago, and finally got around to making a version of it last night! I tweaked a few things based on personal preference, and what I had available and listed those changes in the version below. My husband and son both really enjoyed this recipe, and I did too! I was a little light on the seasonings and thought it needed a little bit more flavor (the original recipe called for a small can of chilies, which I omitted, but think it needed them - that's why I suggest adding a can of diced tomatoes with chilies, which I will be adding next time!)

We served ours over some steamed brown rice, and it was hearty, filling, and comforting on a cold night!

Getting the ingredients ready to go!

Everything but the beans ready in the crock pot.

The soaked beans on the stove (I did the quick soak method).

All the ingredients ready to simmer the day away!

Crock Pot Chili slightly modified from Coleen's Recipes


1 16-oz bag dry Pinto beans
1 lb ground beef
1 medium/large onion, diced
1 can rotel tomatoes with chilies (I didn't include this in my version but wished I had, I thought it needed it)
4 medium carrots, grated (about 2 cups)
3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dry oregano leaves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
½ teaspoon black pepper
5 cups chicken broth (or water and chicken bouillon)
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. Either pre-soak your beans overnight, or do a quick soak in the morning (rinse them, then place in a large pot with 5 cups of water; bring to a full boil and allow to boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to sit for 1 full hour. Then drain them, rinse them well, and continue with the recipe).
  2. Place soaked beans, ground beef, onion, rotel tomatoes (if using), carrots, seasonings, and chicken broth in a large crock pot.
  3. Cover and set to low heat for 10 hours, stirring a couple times to break the ground beef up (I put mine in frozen, and stirred it after about 2 hours and then once or twice more in the afternoon/evening).
  4. About 30 minutes before you're ready to eat, stir in the cheddar cheese and let that melt in.
Serve over rice, with cornbread, with more cheese, sour cream, etc. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How do you like your tuna?

I came home this afternoon starving for lunch and decided to whip up a quick tuna fish sandwich to enjoy. It got me thinking... how many recipes are there out there for variations of tuna sandwiches? I figured there were MANY (and boy are there!) but it also made me wonder - how do you prefer your tuna sandwich? Totally traditional, melted, with new bold flavors?

Here are a few recipes I found on

BBQ 'Pulled' Tuna Sandwich

Spicy Tuna Sandwich

Crunchy Curry Tuna Sandwich

Hot Curried Tuna Sandwiches

Hawaiian Tuna Sandwich

Mayo-Free Tuna Sandwich Filling

Tuna Egg Sandwich

Tuna, Avocado and Bacon Sandwich

Carrie's Garlic Pesto Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Darra's Famous Tuna Waldorf Salad Sandwich Filling

Tuna Melts

Tarragon Tuna Salad

Tuna Salad with Cranberries

And the list goes on!! If you want to change things up, check out one of these well-rated recipes above!

As for me, I am a "traditional" girl when it comes to tuna!

Tuna Sandwich
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 can tuna in water, drained
2 TBS mayonnaise (or mayo substitute)
2 TBS pickle relish
Dill pickle slices
2 thin slices tomato
1 large romaine lettuce leaf, in half


  1. Combine tuna, mayonnaise, and relish in a small container. Stir until well mixed.
  2. Layer half of the tuna mixture on one slice of bread. Top with pickles, tomato, lettuce and remaining slice of bread.
  3. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Carrot Cake

This cake recipe is absolutely wonderful! I made these into cupcakes (I got 26 total, baked for 20 minutes at 350) and used my own cream cheese frosting. I made a couple minor modifications to the original recipe, reflected below. This cake is moist and has a wonderful mild flavor. This was my first time making homemade carrot cake, and I'm in love. I can't wait to make this one again, I think I'll try it in round cake pans next time for a layered cake... mmmm. :)

Carrot Cake slightly modified from Carrot Cake III by Tammy Elliott on

4 eggs
1 cups vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting
1/8 cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan (or cupcake pans if desired).
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans (if using). Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  4. Prepare the cream cheese frosting. In a medium mixing bowl, beat all frosting ingredients together with an electric mixer until well-combined and smooth (taste test and adjust as necessary). Frost cake (or cupcakes) when cooled completely.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meal Plan week of 1/28/2013

Ahh food, glorious food! Another week of meals to think about and then to enjoy. :) Looking forward to some good dinners this week! I have my first round of tests at school this week, so I'm aiming for quick and easy as much as possible.

Dinner: General Tso's chicken with brown rice and steamed veggies

Dinner: Trout fillets, steamed broccoli and garden salad

Dinner: Pork Chops with Sour Cream and Mushroom Sauce with mashed potatoes and peas

Dinner: Baked Ziti with Caesar salad and Garlic Bread

Dinner: Bacon-Wrapped Bratwust with macaroni and cheese and steamed broccoli

Dinner: Stuffed Zucchini, with garden salad

Dinner: Leftovers

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fantastic Bacon Wrapped Bratwurst

We had a package of 4 brats from our CSA and I wanted to find something new to try for them. I came across this recipe on AllRecipes and it looked awesome! It is an appetizer recipe, but I figured it would work great as a main dish as well. I modified the recipe slightly, and my modifications are reflected below.

I did get a LOT of smoke in the kitchen with this one! That brown sugar dripping off into the bottom of the broiler pan was burning and causing a lot of smoke to come up through the openings on the stove and into the kitchen, so I had the vent on the last half of this one cooking in the oven. My husband really liked the smell though, and it was definitely worth it - they tasted fantastic! Sticky, sweet, and of course bacon makes everything better. :) This was quick and easy and great for a weeknight meal.

The ingredients, lined up and ready to go,
4 beautiful brats.
In the apple cider to simmer for 15 minutes.
After simmering, I laid them out to cool while I prepped
the brown sugar mixture.
Rolling in the brown sugar mixture, pressing in to coat well.
Stretched out a piece of bacon and wrapped around
each brat, pressed the remaining brown sugar on top.
After 25 minutes in the oven, browned and ready to enjoy!
Served on a bun with mustard and BBQ sauce (for the boys!)
and a garden salad on the side.
Bacon Wrapped Bratwurst (slightly modified from Ssharp on

4 bratwurst
4 cups apple juice or apple cider
5 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
4 slices bacon


  1. Poke bratwurst several times with a small fork, and place into a saucepan with the apple juice or apple cider. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the bratwurst from the apple juice or cider, and allow to cool for a few minutes until they're easy to handle.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line the bottom of a broiler pan with aluminum foil, and put the rack on top.
  3. Combine the brown sugar and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl (or pie plate). Roll the bratwurst in the brown sugar and cayenne mixture to coat (press it in all around), then wrap each brat with 1 slice of bacon - secure edges with toothpicks if desired. 
  4. Place brats on the broiler pan and press any remaining brown sugar mixture along the tops of the brats.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until the bacon is brown and crisp, 25 to 35 minutes.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Allison's Trout

I was picking up our monthly meat CSA package a few days ago and the butcher's shop I pick up from had some beautiful fresh trout fillets in one of the meat cases. Oh how I love trout! It has been my very favorite fish for as long as I can remember. I know it's from growing up in Washington state and having it when I was young. It's such a lovely mild fish! Anytime I order fish in a restaurant I pretty much always order trout if it's available. This is the first time I've ever made it at home though. My husband prefers the meatier, and more flavorful fishes, plus I really don't cook seafood that often. We love it, I just don't cook with it that often! Kenneth really loves salmon and halibut - the meatier fishes but he suffered through so I could enjoy this one. :)

In any event, I thought this was a very nice recipe. I didn't have fresh mushrooms which was too bad, they would have complimented this dish very nicely. I used canned since that's what I had, but of course it wasn't the same. There was a little zing from the sherry and lemon and it was tender and a very nice dish. I think if I made trout again at home I'd broil or grill it with some lemon pepper, but I did enjoy this dish.

Just a few ingredients for this quick dish.
Beautiful fresh fillets, salted and peppered.
Sauce and mushrooms added to the pan.
30 minutes later, baked up, tender and flaky!
Ready to enjoy!
Allison's Trout by Prettypie on

1/2 cup butter
3 lemons, juiced
14 fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup sherry wine
3 pounds trout fillets
salt to taste
cracked black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a shallow baking dish with foil.
  2. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat; pour in lemon juice. Cook and stir mushrooms until tender, about 5 minutes; stir in sherry. Place trout fillets with skin sides down into prepared baking dish; sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper. Pour the mushroom mixture over the fish.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until sauce reduces and fish flakes easily with a fork, about 30 minutes.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pork Chops with Sour Cream and Mushroom Sauce

This is another good pork chop recipe that we all really enjoyed! It is very easy to adjust to your personal taste preferences. Just a few simple ingredients to start with and whichever seasonings you prefer (I liked a dash of chili powder, some garlic powder, and ground thyme in addition to the salt and pepper).

The chops are browned in a large pan, gravy ingredients are dumped on top and then you just let them simmer and get nice and tender! They went very well with some steamed veggies and brown rice. We all really enjoyed this dinner!

Browned, and then sauce ingredients mixed in.
Great with some brown rice and steamed veggies!

Pork Chops with Sour Cream and Mushroom Sauce by JerJer on

6 pork chops
salt and pepepr
1 pint sour cream
2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can on mushrooms, drained (if desired)
Seasonings to taste: garlic salt, garlic powder, thyme, rosemary, oregano, dash of chili powder etc.


  1. Season chops with salt and pepper. Brown chops in skillet. 
  2. Pour sour cream and soup over them; add mushrooms as well if using. Let simmer for 1 hour, turning every 15 minutes or so.
  3. At the 30 minute mark, taste test and add seasonings as desired. Taste again before serving and make sure the gravy is properly seasoned to your preference.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oat-Rageous Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here's another good one for a cookie fix! I got a craving for some and decided to give this well-rated recipe on AllRecipes a try. I've been trying to make some of the recipes I've had saved in my recipe folder there (some for years) instead of searching new recipes when a craving strikes, or I have a certain type of meat I know I want to cook. It's been working out well - we really enjoy pretty much everything I've tried from AllRecipes.

This cookie recipe is very easy, and you can change up the add-ins to your taste preferences. If you want more peanut butter, add in half Reeses Peanut Butter chips and half chocolate chips, add some nuts if you like those, use a mix of white and semi-sweet chocolate. I used semi-sweet and it works well. The only change I made is using Stevia in the raw in place of sugar. Everything else I followed per the recipe. I hand rolled these into 24 medium sized balls and baked 10-11 minutes until lightly browned then moved them to the cooling rack immediately.

They are nice and soft in the middle and delicious!

All the ingredients, lined up and ready to go!
The butters and sugars in the mixing bowl, ready to be
creamed together.
I combined the dry ingredients while the wet mixture
combined in the Kitchen Aid.
Adding the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.
Finally, time for the CHOCOLATE!
Rolled dough balls, prior to baking.
Fresh from the oven!
Cooling on the kitchen table.
Perfect 3-bite cookies!
Yes, I still have my Christmas mugs
in the cabinet!
Oat-Rageous Chocolate Chip Cookies by Jaymie Noble on

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, peanut butter and sugars; beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto un-greased baking sheets. 
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Simmered Cranberry Pork Chops

This is a very simple recipe that is really yummy! My husband and I really liked this, but my son thought the sauce was too tangy. I had some fresh cranberries from a farmer's market basket I got a little while ago and had no idea what to do with them until I saw this recipe! It worked really well! I had to reduce the sauce after it simmered about 30 minutes and was still too soupy, so I let it boil uncovered about 10 minutes to get the sauce to the right consistency and that worked well for me. I used 4 large, thick cut pork chops and it filled up my largest non-stick pan so that worked for me!

Just a few ingredients needed for this one!
Browning the chops in the pan.
Pouring in the fresh cranberries.
Adding the sugar!
Simmering away.
Not the prettiest thing to photograph, but tasty!
Simmered Cranberry Pork Chops Inspired by Home Cooks on

6 pork chops
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
water as needed


  1. Salt and pepper chops; while heating 1 TBS oil in a large nonstick skillet. Brown chops slowly in oil.
  2. Add cranberries and sugar with 1/2 cup water to start. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes or until tender but not dry. Add water if necessary to keep chops from drying out.
  3. Taste sauce, add additional salt, pepper or sugar if desired. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Stuffed Zucchini

These are so good! I always have an issue using the zucchini I get in our farmer's market baskets every now and then. Kenneth and Kent will NOT eat it. I really like it, but haven't ever been super successful finding a good recipe to use it in. This one is a definite keeper! It was very easy to throw together and came out delicious. It reheats really well too; wrap in some foil, put on a baking sheet and bake 20-30 minutes at 350 until heated all the way through and you have fresh from the oven leftovers! :)

I made these exactly as the recipe states below (just scaled for 2 zucchini instead of 3), but might try cooking the sausage before mixing next time - though I don't think the mixture would hold very well. I also might try cooking them a little longer; removing the foil cover and baking 15 more minutes after the initial 45. There was something about the texture of the meat mixture that had me wondering if was completely cooked through a couple times when I was eating it. I'm sure that it was, but I would have liked it to be a little firmer in texture.

All the ingredients, ready to go!
My son helping scrape out the zucchini "innards".
All the filling ingredients in a  bowl.
Zucchini "boats" - filled, and sauced up!
Tucked in with a nice blanket of cheese.
Melty and gooey from the oven.
Absolutely delicious!

Stuffed Zucchini by LTHASKINS on

3 zucchini
1 pound pork sausage
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Trim stems from zucchini and slice lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and put in bowl. Mix seeds with sausage, garlic, bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Stuff squash with sausage mixture and place in 9x13 inch baking pan. Pour sauce over squash and cover pan with foil.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until sausage is cooked. Remove foil and cover with mozzarella cheese. Cook until cheese is melted.
Link Parties:
Sensational Summer Squash