Monday, October 18, 2010


I love cooking, as you know, but I need to bake more often. I tend to stick to my stand bys, which hubby loves, but I think something new once and a while would be nice. I was pondering this thought when I was in a baking mood a few weekends ago. So I turned through the marked pages of an ol' favorite of a cookbook and got a few ideas. I, in turn, made some pretty darn good ginger snap cookies.

Giant Spice Cookies

1 package spice cake mix (they didn't have this in my local store and hubby didn't feel like running around town, so I picked a Ginger Bread mix)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup molasses 6 teaspoons vanilla extract In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, ginger and baking soda. Stir in water, molasses and vanilla and mix well. Using a cookie scoop, place 1-inch balls on greased baking sheets. Flatten slightly with a glass coated with cooking spray and sugar. Bake at 375° for 13-15 minutes or until surface cracks and cookies are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Hubby's Rating: Like it! He isn't big on cookies unless they are no bake or peanut butter. He enjoyed these the first day, but didn't touch them after that.

My Take
: I was so excited to see how these turned out--I was hoping for a soft, big cookie.
I mean, look at the picture from the cookbook! And then look at the cookies I pulled out of the oven....bummer! They tasted good, especially with a glass of cold milk, but they weren't what I was expecting! They had a bit too much ginger (probably because I used the ginger bread mix instead of a spice cake mix). But, I am still intrigued by that elusive giant, soft cookie picture, so as soon as I find a spice cake mix, I will try again!

Recipe adapted from: Taste of Home. (Click to see pictures of the Giant (soft looking) spice cookies).

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lasagna Roll-Ups

I have been spying this recipe for a while now...wondering if it was really as easy as it looked and if there were improvements I could make to the recipe. My husband was gone for 5 days on a training week for work, so I wanted to make him one of his favorite meals, with a twist and I finally dove into the following recipe. I must say, it turned out great and we'll be keeping my changes and making it again!

Lasagna Roll-Ups

8-12 Lasagna Noodles, cooked
4 Cups meat sauce (homemade, or 1 jar store bought)
1 24 oz container cottage cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 teaspoon each of basil, bay leaves, oregano
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 Tablespoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.Mix cottage cheese with 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, then add basil, bay leaves, oregano, Italian seasoning and garlic powder, stir well. Set aside. Make sure lasagna noodles are cooked, almost to the point of al-dente, but still firm, about 8 minutes in a rolling boil. Take from boiling water and place in a dish with cool water so they do not stick. Spray a 9X13 casserole pan, then lay one lasagna noodle flat in bottom. Top with meat sauce, then cheese mixture. Roll up noodle and place seam down in dish. Repeat with remaining noodles. Top roll-ups with extra meat sauce. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and add remaning shredded cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Pull from oven and let sit 5 minutes. Serve with a side salad and garlic bread!

Hubby's Rating: Love it! He is a big lasagna fan. He said this hit the spot and he loved the leftovers just as much today!

My Take: I love lasagna too, but it's just a pain to make and can be expensive with all the ingredients I add (using my mom's traditional recipe). I like doing the crock pot lasagna because it's easy--but there is always tons left over so I tend to save that for company. I'm glad I found this recipe! I made 10 roll-ups last night. We each had 2 for dinner last night, then 2 for lunch today. I froze the remaining two to pull for a lunch sometime in the next two weeks or so. I can see myself making a pan of this again very soon and saving some for friends of ours that just had a baby. What made this really easy last night was I used meat sauce that I had prepared in the crock pot and froze 2 or so weeks ago. It had hamburg and sweet Italian sausage. If you want to keep the costs down on this easy lasagna, you could easily cut the meat (which I might do to make a meatless Monday version). I am also looking forward to sneaking some spinach in to this next time for extra nutrients. I'm fiddling with the idea of using the basic recipe but using alfredo sauce, chicken and spinach, too.

Recipe Adapted From

Monday, September 20, 2010

Taco Pizza

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted, but that's life! My new goal is to post at least one new recipe a week.

Last night for Sunday night football I made Taco Pizza. I tried a new recipe for the crust and adapted a recipe for the toppings. We're eating the leftovers tonight and it got a high rating for the hubby, so you know it must be good!

Quick Pizza Dough

1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tables olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of flour, oil and salt. Mix until smooth. Add remaining flour a bit at a time until dough reaches desired consistency. Let rest 5 minutes. Turn out onto a light floured surface, cover and let rest 10 minutes. Spread onto desired pizza pan and bring up edges to hold extra toppings. Bake for 10 minutes with no toppings. Remove from oven and let rest.

recipe adapted from

Taco Pizza
1 lb of ground beef or turkey
1 small onion, chopped
1 small-medium sized green pepper, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
1 envelope taco seasoning
shredded taco cheese
sour cream

Heat oven (or turn down to) 425 degrees F. In a large, deep skillet (or a dutch oven) brown meat, onions and green peppers. Once meat is no longer pink, add tomato sauce, taco seasoning and tomatoes. Stir and let simmer 5 minutes. Pile toppings onto crust, top with cheese. Bake in pre-heated oven 10-15 minutes (remember your crust is pre-baked). Plate with sour cream for dipping!

Recipe Adapted from

Hubby's Rating:
He loved both the crust and the toppings. Combined rating: Love it! And, the pizza crust was a keeper. I don't think I'll try another!

My Take:
The pizza crust was what I have been looking for. Easy to make, easy to spread, thick, held up well to lots of toppings, tasted wonderful! I will keep this recipe for YEARS to come! The toppings were dynamo! I can't wait to make this again! I followed the original recipe and only added 1 cup of shredded cheese, next time I will add more. We didn't have any sour cream for dipping, but next I make this, I will have some on hand! This would be nice with a salad and some tortilla chips and salsa. So good!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Re-use Recipes

Today I'm writing about a way I re-used some of that salsa I made and a way to use up some of that garlic butter I made.

First, the garlic butter. I had about 4 Tablesponns left about 2 weeks ago, so about 5 days after I originally made the garlic butter (don't ask me why it's taken me so long to write this post!). My husband wanted mashed potatoes for dinner, which he doesn't get often because I hate peeling potatoes. So, I compromised and made smashed potatoes--where there is no peeling
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Smashed Garlic Potatoes for Two
2 medium-large Maine Potatoes (or any kind of potato you like. new potatoes or red potatoes are nice for this recipe)
4 Tbsp Garlic Butter (link to recipe above)
3-6 Tbsp milk (I used skim)
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cut potatoes into quarters and boil until slightly tender (about 10 minutes). Drain in colander. Smash with peels in a bowl by hand (use a potato masher or a fork). Add remaining ingredients (only 1-2 Tablespoons of milk at a time). Mash the way you like them. Serve piping hot!

Hubby's Rating:
Love it! I can't go wrong with mashed potatoes, but like I mentioned...I hate peeling potatoes! If someone has a solution for me that doesn't involve instant, I think we'll try it!

My Take:
Very good! If they were red potatoes, it would have been VERY close to the same potatoes you get in those big chain restaurants! Do those chefs hate peeling potatoes too?

I have lots of salsa on hand at the moment. I had a container in the fridge that needed to be used before we went on vacation, I had 1 chicken breast begging to be used and I had a few veggies here and there. So, I went to a favorite.

Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken (With Rice) (adapted to feed 2 people with minimal left overs)

1 large chicken breast half, skinless, boneless
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 Tbsp flour
1 jar salsa (in my case I used about 2 1/2 Cups medium, chunky salsa)
1 Cup frozen corn
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 Cup shredded mexican style cheese (optional)
dollop sour cream (optional)

Combine taco seasoning mix and flour. Coat chicken and place in slow cooker (with remaining seasoning mixture). Top with salsa. Cook on high for 4 hours. Turn to low and add peppers, onions and corn. Cook for 2-4 more hours. Serve over white rice with tortilla chips if desired.

Recipe Adapted from Taste of Home Cookbook--Fast Fixes with Mixes.

Hubby's Rating:
I've been making this recipe for several months now and he always likes it! Like it!

My Take:
I've tried this with different salsas, different veggies, etc. I think with this recipe, the key is to keep it simple. You can cut your chicken into bite sized pieces before cooking, you can use a pork roast instead and then shred it, you can make it all vegetarian and use beans. This recipe is very versatile and we love it!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Vacation is over!

I didn't post for a bit because it was vacation time for me! I meant to post before vaca to let everyone know I would be gone, but time got away from me. So, for this week, I'll skip the weekly installments of What I Wanna Try Fridays and Snack Time Saturdays.

Last week for Meatless Monday we had Zucchini Parmesan. I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, but I was willing to try it! It was really simple, really cheap and really good! The cheesy gooey-ness of it satisfied me and the "meaty-ness" of the zucchini satisfied my husband.

Zucchini Parmesan

2 large zucchini, thinly sliced (into coins)
1 package fresh mushrooms, diced
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16 ounce) jar of spaghetti sauce
1 can tomato paste
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil. Add onions, mushrooms and zucchini. Saute until zucchini is almost tender and onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute several minutes longer. Meanwhile, mix spaghetti sauce and tomato paste. Drain vegetable mix, then add to 9X12 Casserole dish. Top with 1/2 of the shredded cheese, then spaghetti sauce, then rest of shredded cheese. Add grated Parmesan cheese if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until heated through and cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.

recipe adapted from

Hubby's Rating:
Like it. He isn't a huge fan of vegetables, so getting a Like it out of this dish is good! He hates eggplant and despises eggplant parmesan. He also isn't a big fan of chicken parm, so I knew I was pushing my limits with this one!

My Take
I liked this too! It isn't something I'd want every week, but having it a couple times while zucchini is in season would be nice! It's different and the zucchini is substantial enough to make this a main dish. If you're having dinner and you want to stretch it, maybe add eggplant or chicken? Serve with a tossed salad and garlic bread and you're all set!

Monday, July 26, 2010


I've mentioned before, my husband loves fish. We had Salmon Friday night for dinner and it was fabulous! I usually bake or broil our salmon with some lemon pepper. But, I wanted something just a TAD bit different. So, after picking up the salmon, I saw the store had Ken's brand marinade on sale. I found the No Sodium Lemon Pepper Marinade and grabbed that. When I got home, I put the salmon in my season and serve container from Tupperware, added 1/2 Cup of the marinade, covered it, tossed it around a bit and put it in the fridge. See the recipe below for more details!
Lemon Pepper Marinated Salmon
1/2 Cup Ken's brand no sodium Lemon Pepper marinade
1 pound fresh salmon
1 fresh lemon

Take salmon and place in a marinade container. Add marinade, shake or toss to coat. Place in refrigerator and let sit for at least 30 minutes--longer if you want a stronger flavor. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place salmon in a foil lined baking dish, skin side down. Top with slices of fresh lemon and bake for 20 minutes.

To check if salmon is done--it should be pink in color, flaky and when you press the back of your fork down onto it, it should give. Fish keeps cooking even after you have taken it out of the oven, thus you need to be careful not to cook it too long. If you want, you can bake it at a higher heat for a shorter amount of time--425 degress F for 10 minutes (for each inch of thickness).

Remove lemon from top and squeeze out juices. Enjoy!

*Note, I don't bother removing the skin because it just peels off once cooked. My husband will sometimes eat the skin (Yuck!) so it doesn't bother either of us. I HATE trying to take the skin off before cooking, thus my method!

Hubby's Rating:
Love it. I seriously can't go wrong with fish dishes or pizza!!

My Take:
Easy, fast and simple. I served it with a tossed salad and corn on the cob. A nice summer meal!

Fried Zucchini

Zucchini squash is in season here in Maine and we picked up some yesterday from a farmer right down the road. We picked up 2 medium/large zucchini and 1 small/medium. I used the smaller one for friend zucchini last night kind of as an appetizer for my husband and I.

Fried Zucchini
1 small to medium zucchini
1 Cup Italian style bread crumbs
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk
Vegetable oil

Mix egg with milk, in a shallow bowl, until bubbles form. Place bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a pan on medium heat. Wash zucchini well, cut off ends. Slice zucchini in 1/8th inch slices. Coat slices in egg wash, then bread crumbs. Fry in oil until golden brown on both sides and tender. Drain well on paper towels. Serve with marinara sauce if desired.
Hubby's Rating:
Like it. I forgot to ask him tonight so I just had to call him at work and he seemed a little stressed....woops!

My Take:
I used to have this at least once a week when I was in college, in the dining hall. Then they stopped making it :(. But, I'm glad I thought of it for last night. It was soo good! And, the zucchinis were 3 for a $ can't really beat that, can you? Wait until you read what I make with the other two zucchini squash!