Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mommy Guilt

You know that feeling when you know you could have done something more and you just didn't feel like it? Yeah, that was me, two nights ago when faced with the task of making dinner. Many of you already know, my dad suffered a massive stroke last Wednesday and since that day, I have felt like nothing short of shit. I have not been inspired or even cared really about dinner or even food for that matter, and rightfully so. My family however, isn't used to the I don't give a rat's ass approach to dinners. Hot dogs (they were at least cheese dogs) and mac'n just didn't cut it. Mac'n is what Payten calls Mac'n Cheese, just to keep you all up on the terminology.

Mommy guilt was taking over in a major way after that gourmet dinner, so guess where I turned? Not some mommy help group, no! I turned to the Internet! Which I suppose could be a mommy help group, but for me it is the recipe finding Mecca. Jasen will tell you, it's rare that we eat the same dinner twice. RARE. Hence the looks on their faces when hot dogs showed up for dinner.

Ooey gooey, cheesy goodness and not on a hot dog.
What did I find you ask? I found Chicken Cordon Blue Casserole. When I rolled this little dish out, I thought it was going to get a standing ovation, without even being tasted. I think it could have tasted like doggie do, Logen's new favorite saying, but it wasn't hot dogs, so they were welcoming it with open arms. Wait for it...the first bites...the first reactions...WE HAVE A WINNER!!! Ding ding ding!!! It's good mom! Yes, mommys got her groove back. Good bye guilt. See ya around.

I had some and it really was good and it was easy, but don't tell my family that! We may be making this one again! Maybe. Well, at least it will get into my book in the hopes that it will some day be made again. Maybe.

My mom always
used Uncle Ben's
Chicken Cordon Blue Casserole
2 cups cooked rice, I used wild rice, I love it.

3 cups of cooked chicken, kind of shredded, chunky

slices of swiss cheese, I used lacy swiss, which are bigger slices, so it just depends on how many to cover the casserole.

10 slices of ham, cut in pieces

2 cans cream of chicken soup, I used low fat

1/2 cup milk, I used skim

1/2 cup sour cream, I used low fat

10 ritz crackers, crushed

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp parsley

Cooked and right off the grill.
Just like a hot dog.
This is how easy it is. Cook the chicken breasts and shred. I seasoned them with some garlic and pepper.

Spray a 13x19 pan with cooking spray. Cook the rice according to the package and put onto the bottom of the pan. Then, arrange the chicken on the rice. Now, top with the swiss slices until covered. Top the cheese with the ham pieces.

Mix the two cans of soup with the milk and the sour cream until smooth and pour this evenly over the ham. Spread it around so the entire thing is covered.

Now, mix the crushed crackers, paprika, garlic powder and parsley in a separate bowl and then use that mixture to cover the entire casserole.

Bake it at 350 for 30 minutes and serve.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Po-tay-toe Po-ta-toe

You say po-tay-toe, I say po-ta-toe. Call em what you want, I love them. I think it's a carb thing. If it's a carb, I want it and not just a taste, I want to gain about 20 pounds from eating so much of it.  Yeah, that's me, a self proclaimed carb lover. Slather cheese all over it, yeah, it's even better. With that said, this next one is like my dream.

First layer of many. Oh yes,
these are going to be good.
Potatoes, covered in cheese and bacon. OOOO MMMMM GGGGG! Not to mention, you throw them in the crock pot. Easy peasy lemon squeezey.

Mr. Man learning how to
be a "cheft" as he calls it.
I have made these twice already and both times, big hit. The first time was for the Fourth of July. They cooked all day on low and when you walked in, the smell was awesome, not to mention it was blazing hot outside and I didn't have to fire up the oven because they were in the crock pot! Second time, last night, at home, just us. Now, my lovely little Payten is the queen of saying I don't like that as soon as she sits down at the table. Not for this. She likes this. (She most certainly is a chicken nugget lover, so getting her to actually say she likes something other than a chicken nugget is awesome.) I'm not sure if it because it is carbs or if it was that they basically put this together on their own, minus using knives. I can only imagine the damage that my kids could produce if I allowed them to use knives. I'm thinking they would be the next Vegas act. You know, Payten tied to a spinning wheel and Logen throwing daggers around her. Yea, that kind of damage. Don't laugh. It could happen. For real.
Don't we look all nice and Leave it to Beaver-like on
camera. Little does everyone know, at this very momentwe are secretly plotting on how to bring mommyinto a crazy woman screaming fit. Oh yeah, we got this!

Anyway, for all of you out there, this is SUPER easy, doesn't heat up the house on a hot day and the everyone seemed to like it.

Cheesy Crock Pot Po-tay-toes
6-7 large potatoes, washed, leave the skins on, sliced about 1/2 inch thick

Shredded Cheddar, you can use as much or as little as you like

Bag O Bacon Bits, the real kind, not those gross fakey ones

1/2 onion sliced thin (optional, have done it both ways. I prefer it with onions)

Pepper to your taste

1/2 stick of butter

Garlic to taste, I put it in just about everything!

Lined with foil and
ready to rock!
Tin foil

Top with sour cream when cooked.

Ok folks, line the crock pot with foil and leave some extra at the top to fold over to trap the steam.
Quick garlic tip!!
Break off a few fresh cloves, with
the skin on, pop into the
microwave for 10 seconds or so
and you will be AMAZED at how
easy it peels and crushes.
You can thank me later.
(In the tone of a hypnotist.)
Look into our eyes, let our cute
little faces deceive you.
We will get you when your back is
turned. You don't see that knife on
the cutting board.
Cut a few pats of butter and put on the bottom and then put a layer of potatoes down. Crack on some pepper if you like, add some shredded cheese, bacon bits and onions to your taste. Add a little butter and continue to layer up to the top. I like to end with the cheddar, bacon and onion on the top. Now, fold over the extra foil to make it like a pouch. This helps keep in the steam. Cover with the crock pot lid and set it to low or high, depending on how fast you need them done. I have done it on 8 hours low and I have also done them on 4 hours high. Both times they turned out nice and soft, just like a baked potato. Feel free to top with sour cream and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Calling All Freegans!

Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.

Come and get it, for FREE!
I got this definition from although I already knew what a Freegan was. I had learned about Freegans from a news spot on Channel 9, here in Chicago, during lunch one day at work. Now that I am no longer currently employed, due to downsizing, I have to say, some of this Freegan stuff isn't so out there. I actually consider myself to be a Freegan in someways according to the definition and I never mind helping others.

All of you probably already know, I love cooking and especially baking. In the past, my co-workers were usually the recipients of many of my baked goods because can a family of four really eat all of that? Well, maybe. Should we? No. If I just let loose and ate everything I wanted, when I wanted, I would weigh 400 pounds and that would be a much BIGGER problem than all of this extra baked goodness. Here in lies my problem(s).

My position has been eliminated. Problem. I love to bake and there is always left overs. Problem, depending on how you look at it. If I eat all of these yummy baked goods, I will weigh 400 pounds and will not be a good role model of healthy eating for my kids. Problem.

If there was a problem Yo, I'll solve it. Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it. So sorry, the Sirius 90s on 9 in my car has been bringing out little tidbits of music that should have been long since forgotten, but anyway. 

Solution, Freeganism! Kind of. Now here's what I am thinking. If there are left overs from my baking extravaganzas, I get on here, blog about them and it is a free calling. (Insert the sound of a cattle bell and someone yelling come and get it here.)

First come, first serve, FREE. Send me a text, email, Facebook, whatever, let me know how many you want, you bring your own container to take it home in and it is yours.

Whaddaya think? Could this actually work? Let's experiment in Freeganism right now.
I have 6 of these little beauties waiting for someone to Freegan their asses. Let me know if you are interested. First come, first serve. Bring your own container to take. 

Just so you know, the friends I did give them too said, best cupcakes I have ever had and another wanted to know how to make the awesome frosting. 

Banana Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting
Cake Ingredients
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 egg yolks
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk
3 crushed bananas
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites, beaten

These are my whipped egg whites,
but the milk and flour for the
frosting looks very similar.
Combine the sugar and butter on low and add the egg yolks then beat on high until fluffy.
In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk them to be sure they are thoroughly incorporated with each other. Alternate, starting and ending with dry ingredients, the milk and the dry mixture. Add the mashed bananas and vanilla and beat until combined. Now, whip up the egg whites until stiff, but not dry and fold with a spatula into the batter.
 Brat 2 helping to whisk the drys together.

The perfect job for Brat 1. Mashing the bananas.
Bake at 350 until the toothpick comes out dry. About 15 minutes or so, but don't over bake! Dry banana cake is gross.

Brown Sugar Frosting
1 cup milk
5 Tbs flour
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 Tbs vanilla
1 tsp of salt if using unsalted butter

Whisk milk and flour together over medium heat until it thickens. Now, I have never done this here is my advice. STAY RIGHT WITH IT! IT GOES FROM THIN MILK TO THICK PASTE FAST!!! Once it is thick, set it aside to cool.
Combine the sugar, butter and vanilla and beat on medium for 5-10 minutes. Then add the thickened milk and beat again on medium until the graininess of the sugar is gone. I was very skeptical about the graininess going away, but it did! 

Frost the cupcakes and top with chopped pecans if you like.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Remember when?

Every single year, without fail, I get nostalgic about my childhood summer vacations to a little cottage in Michigan. Custer, Michigan to be exact. It is just east of Ludington, which is famous to us for The House of Flavors Ice Cream Shop where you can order something called the Super Pig, Clown Town, where we watched the attendant get run over by a go kart and we laughed until it hurt when we saw it happen and Fort Dahl, the mecca of all cheesy souvenir shops. It was every kid's dream, but besides the kitschy charm, I remember the foods we used to eat.

On our way for a Jeep ride! 
This is the Jeep I learned to drive stick on,
well before I was 16.

We were a crew and I miss this scene.
This is looking away from the cottage, 
right before the first turn going out.
Why Noni is carrying a purse in the middle of the woods is beyond me.
Left to right: Auntie Do, Me, Amber, Ingrid, 
Dena and Noni.
 I'm sure Auntie B was behind the camera.
We ate different things up at the cabin with my two great aunts and my Noni. They really were GREAT aunts, Auntie Do and Auntie B. They would make all kinds of different things, like beet tops. Let's just say I will NEVER be devoting a blog post to beet tops. Besides those lovely beet tops, they made their own jelly which was spread on Amish bread, I remember wheat germ, which I had never heard of before, and my favorites, Ranger Cookies.

Oh baby, here they are!
(insert squeal here)
Ranger Cookies are kinda like a chocolate chip only better.
Auntie B and Do would send them in a care package every Christmas, along with the Sour Milk Cookies, a post for another day. We also enjoyed them at the cottage and since it is now summertime, cottage time, I wanted to make them. The problem was, I didn't have the recipe.

Enter Ingrid, my crazy awesome cousin, who used to orchestrate dog shows at the cottage. Now you may be thinking, where did they get the dogs at a cottage in the middle of the woods? Yeeeaaaayyy, Dena, Amber and I were the dogs, which she trained and we put on a dog show to raise money to use in town. Oh, yes, and now, would you believe it, Ingrid really does train dogs in her spare time and YES, they are real dogs this time, but back to the story. I got in touch with Ingrid, Auntie Do's granddaughter. Ingrid gave me the total hook up! She had the recipe and gave it to me! THANK YOU!!!!

Ok, so here I am with one of my very favorite cookie recipes in hand and I just had to get started. Thankfully, I had all of the ingredients.

Every year I would look forward to driving up that little path that wound deep into the woods and opened to a little dark log cabin and a lake. Even now, I can feel that tingle of anticipation as we neared the opening in the woods. As I started baking these cookies, heart full of nostalgia, I had the same excited tingle inside.

Ranger Cookies
1 cup butter soft
3/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp milk
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup chopped walnuts
12oz. chocolate chips
2 cups of crushed cornflakes(it says optional, but I used them)
1 cup coconut (says optional and she didn't use it, so neither did I, but I might experiment next time)

Beat butter and sugar until mixed. Add eggs, vanilla and the milk and mix.
This is all of the dry, including
the crushed corn flakes.

Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl.
I kind of flattened them a little
before baking because they
seemed dense.
Fold together the dry ingredients with the already mixed wet ingredients.
Drop by the spoonful onto a greased sheet or onto parchment.

Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes and then cool on a wire wrack.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Waffle Fries as the Dipping Device? You have to be Kidding!

The Superbowl has come and gone. I was happy to see that Tom Brady, all by himself, did not win the Superbowl. I can not stand that smarmy face and just to see him lose at something made me feel good and tingly inside. I know, what a bitch. Oh well, that's what I am and apparently his wife is too. Ok, enough about that, let's get to what is most important on Superbowl Sunday.

You got it, the schnacks! Oh how I love a good schnack. I could live on them as meals. Yes, cream cheese is a household staple over here. I use the 1/3 less fat. It makes me feel slightly, slightly less guilty about the dips made over here. I am not alone in this love. My true love, Jasen, also loves a good schnack. Maybe that's why we go together so well. We LOVE to eat. It's on the verge of being a sickness. Over eaters anonymous, hi, my name is Dana and this is Jasen. Hello Dana and Jasen.

I am always looking for a great new schnack. Something a little different. Something fun. As I was on Pinterest, I was browsing around, (insert the sound of tires screeching to a hault here), waaaaaiiiit!!! What is that?! Loaded baked potato dip! And you use whhhhaaat to dip in it?? This can't be real! Waffle fries as the dipping device. You have to be kidding me!!

Yes people, this one is a keeper. It is really good. It made Tom Brady's loss even better. Do I even need to say it again, waffle fries as the dipping device!!

Loaded Baked Potato Dip
3 TBS of REAL bacon bits, not those crappy fake ones
16oz sour cream, I used the light. I always use the light.
2 cups of finely shredded cheddar
1/3 cup of chives
2 tsp of hot sauce
Garnish with bacon bits and some chives and a little cracked pepper on top.
A bag of waffle fries, I suggest two bags, made to the directions on the bag.

Stir together the bacon, sour cream, cheddar, chives and the hot sauce. Cover and chill for at least an hour.
Garnish with the chives, bacon and cracked pepper.

Serve with waffle fries out of the oven.

Sopa Whhhaaat???

Pinster, Pin Nailer two names Jasen has come up with for my latest obsession. Pinterest. Yes, me and millions of women across America are obsessed or addicted to Pinterest. I pin tons of stuff, but if you look at my boards you will see that the majority of my pins are, you guessed it, food. Imagine that.

I pin just about anything that I think looks good and hope that some day I come back to it and actually make it. As you well know, one of my requirements on cooking is it must be easy. Yes, there are times that I do extend my self and make a time intensive recipe, but usually, it is fast and easy. Go ahead, snicker, fast and easy. This recipe is just that.

Sopapilla Cheesecake. Sopa whhhaaaattt? That's what I thought at first. What the heck is this? I have never heard of it before, but the cinnaminny goodness on the top just pulled me in. I had to make this and eat this. Eat ALL of this. I took a look to see what it was going to take to whip up this delightful concauction and guess what?! It's easy! Uh oh, this could be dangerous. Fast, easy AND delicious. Shit, I'm doomed.

I quickly slapped this together and baked it and the smell in my house made me gain five pounds. I could not wait for the timer to go off and dig in. BBBBBEEEEEEEPPPPP! There it is! The timer is going off. Get out of my way! Here I come my sweet little sopa whatever the heck you are.

I set this onto the stovetop to cool and I could barely control myself. Let's just say Jasen and I did not let it cool all the way and we dug in while it was warm, actually steaming. Hey everyone, listen to me when I say, blow on it! For real. You are going to be tempted to take that first bite while it is molten lava, blow on it.

This sopa whatever it is, is so damn good hot right out of the oven or ice cold out of the fridge the next day. If you are looking for a super easy, super duper yummy little treat, you have found it here. My only warning blow on it and prepare to gain five pounds, at least.

Sopapilla Cheesecake from pinster
3 cans of cresent roll dough
2 blocks of cream cheese, soft
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
1/4 cup of melted butter
1 TBS of cinnamon for topping
3 TBS of granulated sugar for topping

Be sure to seal it up good.
Do the same when working
on the top.
Unroll and spread 1 1/2 of the cans of cresent rolls on an ungreased baking dish 13x9. Make sure you seal together where they are scored to separate.

There it is, that five pounds,
straight to my rear end.
Combine cream cheese, a cup of sugar and the vanilla until smooth. Spread this over the cresent crust.

Unroll and seal together the remaining cresent rolls and then put them on top of the cream cheese mixture.

Fresh out of the oven. OMG I want to lick the screen!
Now use your melted butter and a basting brush and butter the top. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the entire top. Coat that baby good.

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. You will see the bottom getting nice and brown. Let it cool until it is not molten lava and eat it up! Store in the fridge.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wanna Snnnnaaaaaccckkk????

Last weekend we went camping. This sounds like a pretty normal statement had it been July or August, maybe even September, but this was October. Not the beginning of October, the END of October. You know what happens at the END of October? It's cold! FRICKIN COLD!

Now I knew it would be cold. Don't get me wrong, I knew it would be cold. I knew we would be in a tent, I knew we would have a heater and warm sleeping bags. All of this I knew. What I didn't know was that the wrong rain cover for the top of our tent, which coincidentally is all screen, was packed. Our tent is a 12 man tent. The cover we had with us in the dark of a cold October night was made for a six man tent. At first we thought we just had it the wrong way on the tent. Round and round we went trying to make that cover fit. Why isn't this working? Hmmmmm...BECAUSE IT GOES TO THE OTHER TENT!

We made due and did our best to get it to cover as much screen as we could. Let's just say that once you were inside the ventilation was superb and the view of the stars was good too on one side of the tent. Anyway, we blow up the air mattresses and get all of the blankets set. Turn that little heater on full blast. My famous last words, I think it is getting warmer in here already.

We were there with Kim, our sitter, and her family and some of their friends. They all had campers, so no one else had any tent drama. We go and enjoy a nice WARM campfire, which always includes lots of yummy snacks. We may not have been prepared with the tent, but we were prepared with the snacks. All of you that know me know that I always am ready with snacks. Wanna snnnnnaaaaccck?

They look innocent, but so do babies and any mother
knows how innocent babies really are.
I busted out the pretzels. You may be thinking pretzels, really? Yuck. I know that is what I usually think about pretzels unless they are dipped in chocolate, but these are no ordinary pretzels. These pretzels come straight from Noni's kitchen. I have no idea where or when she got this recipe, but I have been eating these pretzels as long as I can remember. These pretzels are addictive. You will not be able to eat just one. I challenge you to try.

Here is what I did:

2 bags of pretzels, those mini ones,  not sticks or rods, regular pretzels
1 1/2 cups of Butter flavor Orville Reddenbacher Oil, the kind you use to make popcorn in a pot
1 tsp lemon pepper, heaping
1 package of powdered ranch dressing like Hidden Valley

Whisk together the oil, lemon pepper and the powdered dressing so there are no clumps. Put the bags of pretzels into a really large bowl. I actually used my roasting pan, so that I could easily mix them with out them spilling everywhere. Take the liquid mixture and pour it over the pretzels and then mix. I like to use a rubber spatula to mix, so that I can scrape the bottom and get the pretzels fully covered. You are going to let them sit and then turn them again, trying each time to get them covered with the oil mix. This is going to take some hours, yes hours, so do it on a day where you have time or will be in and out. Continue to turn them until all of the oil has absorbed into the pretzels. Store them in a ziploc bag.

That's it! Go ahead and try to eat just one. You won't be able to.

Although camping was freezing at night and NO it was not getting warmer in there, we did have an absolute blast on Saturday. The kids loved it and so did we. Thanks Kim for all of the fun!