Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I think everyone should have a pancake recipe that isn't Bisquick (no disrespect) or Krusteaz (disrespect).  My kids love these - it's a Saturday Morning Specialty at our house. :)

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 TB sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 large egg

3 TB unsalted butter, melted and briefly cooled (I buy more of this than salted butter because we use it in anything that calls for butter - less greasy)

2 c. buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk, whisk 1 Tablespoon lemon juice with regular milk and set it aside for a few minutes)

Vegetable Oil Spray

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, and then the buttermilk.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the buttermilk mixture into the well and stir with a rubber spatula until you can't seen dry flour anymore.  (Don't mix it too much, it will affect how your pancakes rise.)

Lightly spray a heated skillet (or whatever you're using) with vegetable oil and drop the pancake batter on in 1/4 cup scoops.  Wait, you all know what to do at this point, right? :)

Italian Pasta Salad

This is Sally Plautz's recipe in the second Sisters' Cookbook.  I'm putting the smaller version here because I think her recipe is meant to feed The World.  (Five lbs of pasta, three bottles of dressing, etc.)  I was just trying to feed my family, man!  Take it easy!  This is a great, easy pasta salad for summer parties.

12 oz. tri-color pasta

1 bottle of Italian dressing

1 English cucumber, seeded and chopped (ha! I didn't seed mine)

1 c. grape tomatoes, halved (or quartered, if you prefer)

1/2 c. pepperoni

1 green onion chopped fine (optional)

Italian blend cheese, grated (I bought the bagged kind)

Boil pasta according to al dente directions (don't over-cook).  Drain and rinse with cold water to speed up cooling time.  Put cooled pasta in a large serving bowl.  Add cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions and mix well.  Poor dressing over the salad and mix it in until it's as juicy as you want it.  Leave some salad dressing to freshen the salad when you're ready to serve it.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Just before serving, add shredded Italian cheese.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Never Fail Chocolate Cake

Never Fail Chocolate Cake
This recipe was given to me by my good friend Tammy Fenberg.  i have tweaked it just a bit to make it even more foolproof.  it is fast and easy, especially if you don't have a box mix.

1C. buttermilk/sour milk (add 1 tsp. vinegar to 1 C. milk; let sit five min.)
1 C. oil
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine above ingredients; mix well

3 C. flour
3 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 C. sugar
1/4 C. special dark cocoa (if you can find it; regular works, too, but is not as fabulous)
1 box chocolate jello pudding mix

Sift above ingredients into a large bowl.
Add wet combination; mix on medium speed.
Add 1C. hot water slowly while mixing.

Bake @ 350˚ for 35 minutes

Fudgy Chocolate Frosting
1/4 C. softened butter
3/4 C. cocoa
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/4 C. milk
dash of salt

Saturday, May 18, 2013

1 Meal x 3 ways: Jerk Chicken with Roasted Peppers and Pineapple

This is the first of the recipes, Jerk Chicken
Being a busy mom of 6 (picture me wearing a sweet little apron over a skirt, with heels and pearls) I love a recipe that I can make once and use for several days.  This recipe requires you to make a large portion to begin with and divide it into three meals, changing it up a bit for the second two meals.  I have tried freezing it and it works pretty well.

Jerk Chicken
3 red onions: 1 coarsely chopped and 2 sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
2 jalapeno peppers halved and seeded (at our grocery store you can buy them already chopped= time saver!!)
3 TBS grape juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1 TBS paprika
1 TBS cumin
2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 chicken drumsticks
8 chicken breasts
*since this recipe was designed to feed  family of 4 and I need it to go further, I always use16 chicken breast, since there's so little meat on a drumstick*
Salt and Pepper
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 yellow pepper, sliced
2 red peppers, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced

*preheat the oven to 400 degrees *
In a food processor, combine the chopped red onion, garlic, lime juice, jalapenos, grape juice, orange juice, paprika, cumin, allspice, and thyme.  Pulse a few times, then add a little olive oil to make a paste-like consistency.
In a roasting pan, or glass casserole dish, sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper, then pour the spice paste over the top, making sure to get all the chicken pieces covered.  Roast in the oven for 45 minutes.
In another casserole dish arrange the pineapple and peppers and the other 2 red onions.  Drizzle some olive oil over the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  After the chicken has been in the oven for 15 minutes, add the peppers and pineapple dish to the oven to cook along with it for the last 30 minutes.

Divide the cooked food so that the first meal gets half of everything, the second and third meals each get 1/4.  (Like dividing a 4/4 measure of music into one half note and two quarters :)

 Meal #1
Each person gets a helping of the chicken, the veggies and some steamed rice.

Meal #2  Sweet and Spicy Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken
First we add a few more ingredients to our 1/4 portion of the chicken and peppers already cooked

1 lb spaghetti
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tsp ground ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
3 TBS peanut butter (stay with me!)
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
Hot Sauce-a few dashes
2 TBS canola oil
2 TBS honey
1 small package slaw mix
4 green onions
3 TBS sesame seeds

Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions.  While the pasta is cooking, heat the chicken stock in a small pan.  Once warm, add the ginger, garlic, peanut butter, tamari, hot sauce, canola oil, and honey and whisk to combine.
Using whatever method you can, shred the chicken, then put it in a big mixing bowl with the peppers and pineapple.  If you think your family will eat it, you can also add half of the slaw mix.  I choose to omit this.
 Drain the pasta, add it to the bowl, then drizzle the sauce over the top.  Toss to combine.  Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

*My kids were surprised that they liked this, since they saw me with the peanut butter and all...*

Meal #3 And my favorite!!  Jerk Chicken Quesadillas
Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack cheese, grated

Arrange small portions of the Jerk Chicken and pineapple and peppers on a tortilla, add grated cheese, place another tortilla over the top and heat using desired method (frying pan, broiler, George Foreman Grill).  I'm sure David Martinez would know the exact method.  He was a whiz with the quesadillas at the beach!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup

I have soup problems. It's all I make in the winter, and it's winter 9 months of the year in Colorado.
I like this one because it's got so many veggies in it and my kids might take a bite. That's exciting to me.  Sometimes they eat a cup full. And always I eat the rest.

1/2 T Olive oil
1 T butter
 1/2 c sliced carrots 
2 stalks celery, diced
1 c diced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 medium potato
32 oz chicken broth
1 T brown sugar (I add a lot more to taste)
1 T kosher salt
3/4 t dried sage

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil and butter. When butter is melted add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add the squash and potato, sage, salt and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer with the lid on for 30-40 minutes or until everything is tender. Check a piece of squash and also a piece of celery and potato to make sure they are fork tender. Stir in the brown sugar. 
Use an immersion blender, or transfer soup to a regular blender and puree until smooth. 

You can add a little parsley or drizzle a bit of heavy cream or sour cream on it. I just add more sugar until it tastes like I want. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gardiner Bars

These will take you right back to school lunch.  Courtesy of the Scott and Sarah Gardiner family test kitchen.
Cookie Base:
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup salted butter
1 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter, divided
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting:
1/2 cup salted butter
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 c milk (pref 2% or whole)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 c powdered sugar
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda, then whisk in quick oats, set aside.  In a new mixing bowl, whip together butter and sugars until pale and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes).  Blend in 3/4 c peanut butter.  Stir in eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until combined.  Mix in vanilla.  With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Spread cookie mixture in an even layer into a 15X11 rimmed cookie sheet (it will be fairly thin once spread).  Bake in preheated oven 13-15 minutes, until lightly golden.  REmove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes, then dollop remaining 3/4 c peanut butter by the spoonfuls over peanut butter bars.  Aloow dolloped peanut butter to rest about 1 minute then carefully sperad peanut butter into and even layer over top.  Prepare chocolate frosting according to directions listed below and spread over peanut butter layer.  Allow to cool before cutting into squares.  Store in a single layer in an airtight container at room temperature.

Frosting Directions:
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in cocoa powder, then whisk in milk and bring mixture just to a boil.  Once mixture reaches a boil, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Add in powdered sugar and mix until well blended.  Immediately pour frosting over peanut butter layer and spread into and even layer (frosting sets quickly).

Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken

I have never been to China, but I am 78% sure this is the least authentic recipe for Kung Pao Chicken, ever.  I do not care.  Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken includes some of my favorite vegetables (green peppers, red peppers, zucchini) and none of those completely unnecessary vegetables (I'm looking at you, celery and water chestnuts!) that I often get from more authentic restaurants.  I had a lot of cravings for this chicken when I was pregnant with Miles, so I know what it's supposed to taste like.  This recipe is pretty darn close.  It's from a cookbook full of restaurant knockoffs that I borrowed from the library. 

Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken

1 lb. 1/2" cubed chicken breasts
1 small egg
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
2 green onions
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 T. soy sauce
1 T. cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. cold water
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
2 divided T. vegetable oil
1 chunked red pepper
1 chunked green pepper
1 chunked small zucchini
1 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Sugar, to taste
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
4 cups cooked white rice

  1.  In a zip-top bag, combine meat with egg, water, cornstarch, and salt; marinate, chilled, for at least 30 minutes. 
  2. Slice the green onions, both the white part and greens, into 1/2" pieces.
  3. Combine water and soy sauce , stir in dissolved cornstarch and rice wine vinegar, and chill.
  4. About 20 minutes before serving time, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a hot wok (or large frying pan).  Stir meat, drain, and discard marinade.
  5. Quickly stir-fry the meat for 60-90 seconds.  Transfer to a large container.
  6. Stir-fry the peppers until almost tender.  Add the onions and zucchini, remove, and reserve with meat.
  7. Heat the remaining oil and stir-fry garlic and season with pepper flakes and ginger.
  8. Stir the reserved sauce mixture before pouring into seasoned garlic.  heat through to thicken.  Sweeten to taste with sugar, adding a bit more ginger and/or red pepper flakes, as needed.
  9. Add cooked food to sauce and stir in peanuts.  Serve over hot rice.
Serves 4-5.