Friday, December 28, 2007

Pepperoni Bake

Brian has been home this week, which has been really nice. I took the boys to piano lessons yesterday and he stayed home and made dinner-- it was great coming home to a good smell. This is one of the kid's favorites.

Pepperoni Bake

3 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1/2 jar (appox. 13 oz) spaghetti sauce
1 lb shredded Cheddar cheese
25 slices pepperoni sausage
salt and pepper to taste
onion powder to taste
garlic powder to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cook and drain noodles.
In a 9x13 inch baking dish combine cooked macaroni, 3/4 of the cheese, pepperoni, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Top with the rest of the cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Biscuits and Gravy

Every now and then I get a hankering for biscuits and gravy- it takes alot of time to make gravy, but in the end, we all enjoy it.

Drop Biscuits
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 T. oil
1 c. milk

Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet, bake at 450 degrees for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Brown and crumble one 1 lb pk. breakfast sausage

Remove browned sausage, set aside.
Whisk 3 c. milk and 1 c. flour, add to sausage grease.
Stir with whisk until thickened.
To serve: cut a biscuit in half and pour gravy over it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Swedish Raisin Rye Bread

My mom's side of the family is Swedish and one year my mom made this bread for Thanks-giving or Christmas and we all loved it- she has made it each holiday ever since and to me, it's just not a holiday without it! Serve with butter to spread on it.

Swedish Raisin Rye
1/4 c molasses
1 T. yeast
3 c water
1 c wheat flour
mix and let set 10 minutes.

1 tsp. salt
2 c. rye flour
3-4 c wheat- or more till dough no longer sticks to side of mixer.
Mix 10 minutes-- in the last 4 minutes put in 2 c. raisins.
Form into 3 round loaves and place in greased pie pans.
Let rise till doubled, then bake 30-40 minutes. (knock on bread to hear a hollow sound- then it's done)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Chili Chicken Roll ups

This is the most amazing dinner I make. Everyone of of us absolutely LOVES it! The smell of fresh bread and the cream cheese and green chilies... Oh my goodness. The taste is incredible- completely lives up to the smell!

Chicken Chili Roll Ups

1 Basic Roll Recipe

1 pk cream cheese
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 4 oz can green chilies
a dash or two tabasco/red pepper sauce
2 c. diced chicken

Make the Basic Roll Recipe. Roll out into a large rectangle, as if making cinnamon rolls. Mix the remaining ingredients together (with a mixer is easiest, but not necessary). Spread chicken/cheese mixture onto the rectangle of dough and then roll up and cut- just like you would cinnamon rolls.
Place onto a cookie sheet, with enough rooms so the sides do not stick together.
Bake at 350˚ for 20-25 minutes.

Excellent served with salad or fresh cut veggies.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Cinnamon Rolls

I love the smell of cinnamon rolls baking!
We have cinnamon rolls Christmas morning. I will make them the night before and put them in the fridge, then bake them Christmas morning.
I put craisins in these.
I use this roll recipe for alot of things- dinner rolls, pizza dough, etc. It's a good basic recipe. I've used it so many times, I have it memorized. I normally only put in one cup of wheat flour in this recipe-

Quick Rolls

1 1/2 c. warm water
3 T and 1 tsp. sugar
2 T yeast
1 egg
1/2 c. dry milk
2 T butter
1 tsp. salt
4 to 5 c. flour

Mix all together in a mixer with a dough hook, adding enough flour so that the dough no longer sticks to the sides of bowl. Let knead for 5 to 10 min. Roll out into desired shape.

For cinnamon rolls:
Roll dough into large rectangle on a floured surface
Put on in even layers:

Molasses (I think this makes them more caramelized on the bottoms, but you could skip molasses by just using brown sugar)
Raisins (craisins or diced apples work nice as well)

Roll dough up like a snake (Jelly roll style) and cut in 1 1/2" sections. Place in greased glass baking dish (9"x13" or similar) let rise for about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 min- tops should be lightly browned.

2 c. powdered sugar
3 to 5 T. milk (use enough milk to get the consistency of honey)
Dribble over cinnamon rolls, after they have cooled for at least 30 min. If you put the frosting on while the rolls are still really hot it will just melt into the cracks and not be very noticeable.
These are good without frosting as well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sweet Potato Pie

I decided to make a sweet potato pie with some of the extra sweet potatoes-- after all, how much of it can Naomi eat, anyway??
I thought it would be alot like pumpkin pie, but it's a bit different. It has more ginger and nutmeg too, so that adds a different flavor to it. I got the recipe from It came out good, I did have to bake it longer than it called for. Brian and the boys really liked it-- and so did Naomi!

Sweet Potato Pie II

Oh- and yes, we will be eating this for breakfast tomorrow! :-)


I just realized that I didn't include my recipe for frosting for the gingerbread men so here it is:

Cookie Frosting
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 T. milk

Mix together, add more powdered sugar or milk to get desired consistency.  This is enough for about 3 batches of gingerbread men.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gift Boxes

Well, I finished the boxes for Brian's bosses-- yea!! I gave them: pancake mix, baked oatmeal mix, whole wheat bread, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, gingerbread men, crab apple jelly and Mexican wedding cakes (recipe below).

And then, as tradition would have it, we had to make some comic relief gingerbread men for a few friends that appreciate our sense of humor.

Mexican Wedding Cakes
1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans

Butter, sugar and vanilla. Work in flour, salt and nuts. Form into 1" balls, bake at 400 degrees on ungreased baking sheet. 10-12 min, until set, not brown. While warm roll in powdered sugar, cool, then roll in powdered sugar again.

Hootenanny Pancakes

On Saturdays I try to have a "good" breakfast-- something that everyone likes. Since Jesse is the one that doesn't like oatmeal, he's caught onto this and looks forward to Saturdays. This is one of our Saturday breakfasts.
I got this recipe from my Great-Aunt Maggie in Oklahoma. It's like a big popover, also similar to German oven pancakes. I love this recipe-- it just goes too fast!

Hootenanny Pancakes
1 c. white flour*
1 c. milk
6 eggs
1/4 c. butter**

Put butter in 9" x 13" baking dish, set in 425 degree oven to melt.

Beat flour, milk and eggs. When butter is melted, pour batter into it, put back in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
This is best served with a fruit sauce, but we like it with syrup as well.
This recipe doesn't work very well with Whole Wheat.
*Can be made with rice flour for a gluten free pancake, it doesn't poof up much, but is still very good.
**Olive oil works great, and just has to be heated in the oven, but you will need to put some salt in the batter if you don't use the butter-- I think about 1/4 tsp. salt.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sweet Potato Pancakes

I add things to our pancakes all the time. It's quite easy- I just use my whole wheat pancake recipe and add what I want.
Last week Sweet Potatoes were on sale for $.20/lb-- I got 5 really large ones for $1. So I baked them all-- Naomi will eat them too, and I figured I could freeze them. They are very easy to bake-- just wash, dry and then oil them. I use olive oil, but any veggie oil will work. Put them in the oven and bake for about an hour at 350 degrees- it varies depending on the size of the potato, the skinny ones were done, but the fat ones I had to bake for another 15-20 minutes. Then you take them out and let them sit and cool for a little while, the skin peels right off. You might want to lay some foil on the bottom of the oven, because they do tend to ooze a little.
This morning I mixed up my pancakes, then mashed about 1 cup of sweet potato and added it to the pancake batter, along with about 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice.
You can see in the pictures that full whole wheat pancakes (these are made with soft wheat) aren't as fluffy as the ones that have part white flour in them. I like them a little thin- you can cut back on the milk to make them thicker.
Variations of pancakes: Peanut butter, rhubarb, strawberry, apple & cinnamon, banana, blueberry and raisin & oat. Just add 1 cup of whatever you want, plus any spices. If it's more liquid like, then cut back on the milk a little. If it's thick, like peanut butter, use your mixer, so it blends it well.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Baked Oatmeal

Brian loves this oatmeal! Definitely one of his favorites. He could eat it every day. The kids all enjoy it too and it is such a wonderful smell to greet you in the morning!

Baked Oatmeal
1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups regular oats
1/2 cup craisins or raisins

Mix all together. Pour into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, if you'd like. Refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, put it in a cold oven and set it at 350 degrees. Bake about 40 minutes.
This is a little cake like, not like regular oatmeal.

This is going into some of the gift boxes I'm making too-- it fits great into a jar. I put powdered milk into the mix, so I'll just tell them to add applesauce, eggs and water.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Baked French Toast

I'm always on the look out for breakfast that I can mix up the night before and bake the next morning. We tried a new one today-- and I used my Whole Wheat Bread

12 pieces of Bread
6 eggs
1/2 to 1 c. milk
1 tsp Vanilla

Layer the pieces of bread in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Whisk eggs and milk and vanilla (approximately 2 cups total), pour over the bread. Sprinkle cinnamon on the top. Cover with foil, let sit in fridge all night. Place in cold oven and heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 30-40 min.  Serve with syrup.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tightening the belt

Well, over the next year we are going to try to save at least $200 each month. Now, our budget is already pretty tight, so at least $100 is going to come from what was my grocery budget. THis means I'm going to either have to get really creative or eat alot of mac and cheese... and since Brian isn't a huge fan of mac and cheese, plus, it's really unhealthy- I guess it's creative time!
First, I'm going to to cook out of my pantry, as much as possible. On a good note, I've been stocking the pantry and have lots of beans and rice and there's plenty of meat in the freezer (4 turkeys and venison). 
Cooking of this tight of a budget means menu planning-- I like to plan breakfast, lunch (on the weekends) and dinners for a month at a time.
I have tried to do that here, but I can never get it laid out the right way with the html code... so I'll have to work on that. Until then, I guess you just get to see what we ate as we go along. By the way-- I'll be working with a $200 food budget each month-- this also has to cover diapers/wipes for Naomi.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Whole Wheat Pancakes

At least once a week I try to make whole wheat pancakes for breakfast-- I'm sure the boys would be happy if they got them every day. If you use a soft wheat you can do 100% Whole Wheat, if you use a hard white wheat, it's ok too, but hard red wheat makes it a little heavy. I have run out of soft wheat (I've got it ordered though!) so just used 1 cup wheat flour and 2 cups white flour, that way they weren't so heavy.

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Mix together:
3 cups fresh ground soft wheat flour
1/4 c. sugar (optional)
2 T. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. milk*
1/3 c. oil
2 eggs

Mix thoroughly. Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot griddle. Depending on the type of wheat flour you use, you may or may not see bubbles form to show you when to flip the pancakes. If you make this recipe with all white flour, you will see bubbles, if you use a hard red wheat, you probably will not see bubbles. I tend to just watch and flip them when the underside is brown.
This makes a good sized batch, enough for 6 good eaters-- we normally have just a couple pancakes leftover.

*Can replace milk with 2 1/2 c. apple juice

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tuna Bake

I found this recipe on, just modified it a little-- but it's one of my favorites. I do have to double it to make enough, but that's normal for my 4 big eating men! :-)

Tuna Bake

1/4 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. chopped green pepper
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk*
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup (*gasp*)
1 (12 ounce) can tuna, drained and flaked
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 T. oil
3/4 c. milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 egg
2 teaspoons water

In a saucepan, saute onion and green pepper in butter. Whisk flour and milk, add. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in soup, tuna. Pour into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish.
On a lightly floured surface, roll biscuit dough into a 12-in. x 9-in. rectangle. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting with a long side. Cut into 1-in. slices; place over tuna mixture. Beat egg and water; brush over the swirls. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until top is lightly browned.
*The sauce comes out much thicker and rich if you use 1 can evaporated milk + milk to equal 3 c. of milk.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Jesse's dinner

I have given the boys a food budget and had them make dinner once a week, they went through and found some they liked. They had $20- so $5/meal to work with. It was Jesse's turn to cook tonight- so this is what he made. I will say that it caused alot of pots and pans to be washed, but it was tasty. This is what we did:

(16 ounce) packages uncooked elbow macaroni
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb ground meat
6 oz can tomato paste + 1 can water
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

1/4 c butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and bouillon cubes, and cook until it reaches desired tenderness.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Saute onion until golden and add ground meat. Cook over medium heat until evenly brown. Stir in tomato paste, salt and pepper; simmer over low heat until heated through.
Heat 1/4 cup butter in a deep saucepan; whisk flour and milk and stir into melted butter. Cook over medium-low heat until sauce thickens; stir in salt to taste and white pepper. Pour half of the sauce over the cooked macaroni and stir in mozzarella cheese. Spoon half of the macaroni mixture into prepared dish and top with ground beef mixture. Spoon the remaining macaroni over the ground meat mixture and pour the rest of the sauce over the top. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

My friend Suzanne gave me this recipe, I was a little hesitant to make them, but she usually makes wonderful cookies, so I gave it a try and now I'm addicted! These are so moist and delicious! I made a couple modifications- so here's my version:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 small can of pumpkin (15oz)
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour.
Mix together
Stir in 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Drop by teaspoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake @ 350 for 11-14 minutes... till bottoms are barely golden - do not overbake

Thanks Suz!

Pumpkin "Pie" for breakfast

During the winter one of our traditions is to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast. It started one Thanksgiving when I had tons of pie leftover and figured, you know, it's probably better for the kids then some sugary cereal- so why not?!
Now between Thanksgiving and Christmas I make sure to make pumpkin pie a few times. My husband doesn't care about pie crust, so for our breakfast "pies" I just leave the crust out- kind of a pumpkin custard. I just pour it into a 9x13 and bake like it says on the can. This baking dish is a bit larger than a 9x13, so I don't have to be quite as careful as I'm putting it in the oven.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Crab Apple Jelly

We have a Crab apple tree in our back yard. The last 2 years it has really produced. But it's peak is in August-- the hottest time of the year! So I juice them then, because I do want to make jelly, but I don't want to stand over the hot stove all day. I was feeling sorry for all the women before AC and freezers were invented. Anyway, I juiced them and stuck all the juice in the freezer so I can make jelly on cold days that I don't mind the heat of the stove.
I like the use the "Low Sugar" pectin-- it uses almost 1/2 the amount of sugar to make the jelly (4 cups rather than 9 cups!) and I don't notice a difference in taste.
I have had to start giving my jelly a "water bath"-- boil them for 10 minutes, in order to get them to seal properly. 10 years ago when I started making jelly, I would put the hot jelly in the jars, screw the lids on tight, turn them upside down for 5 minutes, then set them aright and they would seal. They must be making the seals different than they used to- because lately, only 1/2 of my jars have been sealing. So this time I gave them a 'hot water bath' and they all sealed perfectly. I'm so relieved! These are just a part of the Christmas baskets I'm making for Brian's boss's.

Breakfast for 10

For breakfast this morning I made Breakfast Pizza. A couple weeks ago we were giving about 6 pre-made pizza crusts. I used 4 right away, but stuck 2 in the freezer.

I'll give the recipe for 1 here:
Breakfast Pizza
6 eggs, scrambled
1/2 lb breakfast sausage, browned
1/4 c. grape tomatoes, quartered or diced fresh tomatoes
1/2 to 3/4 c grated cheddar cheese
1 pre-made pizza crust

Scatter tomatoes on pizza crust, followed by scrambled eggs, sausage and cheddar cheese. Place in 350 oven for 10 to 15 min, then broil for a couple minutes to make the cheese bubble.

Oh, and in case your wondering, it was almost enough for everyone- 5 of the kids had a bowl of granola after eating a piece of pizza.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dinner for a crowd

I come from a family of 10. My parents adopted 6 kids after I had already been out of the house about 7 years. My siblings are from Ethiopia and Haiti and there are still 5 at home. They live 90 miles away in a small town, so my mom likes to come here to shop and they spend the night so she can shop longer. :-) So there were 10 hungry eaters at our table tonight. Here's what I made:

Taco Rice

2 lbs ground meat (brown and drained if necessary)
26 oz jar of salsa
16 oz can tomato sauce
salt to taste
5-6 c. cooked brown rice (2 cups uncooked)

Mix together, serve topped with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips on the side.

And thankfully there was enough left over for Brian's lunch tomorrow... barely! :-)

Mom's Whole Wheat Bread

Growing up my mom made homemade bread. It's aroma filled the house and it was always so delicious, eating a nice hot piece with real butter. (Mmm, she made that too!)
For a wedding present my parents gave me a grain grinder and bread mixer. What wonderful gifts! I have used them so much over the years!
For a long time I would get Wheat Montana's Prairie Gold, it's a great wheat and grinds up so nicely. But my bread would come out flat. Loaves are supposed to be pretty and round on the top! I tried everything- I thought maybe they were getting bumped too hard when I would put them in the oven, because they looked pretty good before baking, but no matter how careful I was, they were still flat. Anyway, my mom finally gave me the answer- for bread to rise perfectly it needs enough gluten and Prairie Gold is a softer wheat, it is a hard white wheat, so it has less gluten in it. So I bought some Bronze Chief, which is a hard red wheat. I'm not sure what the difference is, though when I grind it the flour has a more coarse texture- almost a little sandy feeling. But the bread is perfect now! Look how lovely they came out! I am so happy with it.

Mom's Whole Wheat Bread
4 c. warm water
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. molasses
2 TB. yeast
Mix and let set for 10 min.
Then add:
1 TB salt
10 - 14 c. wheat flour

As the mixer is going add the flour one cup at a time until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the mixer. Let it knead (mix) for 10 minutes. Pour some oil on the counter where you plan to shape the loaves. White flour bread can have flour on the counter, but when you use whole wheat you really need to have it oiled so it doesn't stick to the counter.
Separate into 4 even pieces. Flatten each piece, (one at a time) so it's about 12"x 6". Roll up. Tuck ends under and place in greased loaf pan so that no edges of the dough are visible- they are all tucked under, so it looks nice and smooth.
Let rise in warm place approximately 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
In the winter time when our house is cooler, I warm the oven to it's lowest temp (mine is 170 degrees) then turn it off and set the bread in it to rise with the door ajar.
This bread is best in the first few days, if you need to keep it longer, put it in the fridge, if you won't eat 4 loaves you can freeze some for later use.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Zucchini Bread

This year we planted 4 Zucchini plants in our garden-- and boy did they produce!!
I like zucchini, just served as a veggie, Jesse likes them raw- better than cucumber. But I had so much, I had to do something with it.
Growing up I never cared for zucchini bread- but this recipe has completely changed that. So delicious!!

Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup applesauce
3 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt

Mix moist ingredients first, mix well.
In separate bowl add and mix dry ingredients.
Mix all together. Pour into 2 greased bread pans and bake at 350˚ for 70 minutes.

Ok, just so you know, I don't really use a separate bowl to mix the dry ingredients, I have everything in my mixer and put in the flour then add the cinnamon, baking soda, etc and with a fork, stir it into the flour a little before turning the mixer on again.

This is a really sweet bread, I think I will try cutting the sugar a bit next time since we tend to eat this for breakfast, and I don't think we need that much sugar in the morning. :-)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Gingerbread houses

This week we made gingerbread houses.

A few years ago I would take the boys to a church that hosted a Gingerbread house decorating party. A gal had them made and supplied all the frosting and candy. It was so much fun and now we moved to another state and I believe she stopped doing it after having a couple kids-- I can't imagine the work! She must have made at least 20 houses each year.

I used this site as a guide.

I used my own gingerbread recipe- which makes wonderful gingerbread men.
I did use their recipe for the glue type frosting- it worked very well.

Here is a whole album on our gingerbread houses.

I had to make the dough one day, then let it set out all night to dry. Though, next time I will let it set for at least 24 hours, as there was some pulling away from the glue after they were built. The next day I glued them all together and then let them set for about 24 hours-- it was actually longer because I glued them on Friday and we decorated them on Monday.

Gingerbread Men
1/4 c. boiling water
1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 tso. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 c baking molasses
3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 egg
1/2 c brown sugar
Melt butter in boiling water. Add all the other ingredients. Then chill the dough for 2 hours. Roll out and cut into shapes. Push red hots (buttons) into the men before baking. Bake at 350 degree for 8-10 minutes. Cool and decorate with frosting. Makes 24 cookies.

I had to make 2 double batches for 2 gingerbread houses- My houses were pretty big though. I used 8 1/2 x 11 paper and so the walls were 8 inches long. I probably could have gotten 3 houses out of it, if I had made them smaller. We'll have to see how the hold up over the next month- if they start falling apart I will make smaller ones next year.
I did have enough dough left over to make about 12 good sized cookies, which we enjoyed as well.

Credit for this recipe goes to my friend Sarah- who got it from one of her friends. :-)


Ok, I love cooking and I was thinking, maybe I should make a blog for it- it would be kind of fun.
So here I am!!


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