Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fugal Fridays - Fruit Infused!

This is a new blogging event that I'm going to try to participate in on a regular basis. You can find it at Fugal Fridays. The rules are simple: prepare a meal for four costing under $10 (commonly used condiments don't count). Well, hey - I can do that! I mean, we spend around $30 a week on groceries for the four of us, so a ten-dollar meal is no biggie.

I'm a tad bit late in posting this - it was supposed to be posted by this morning at the latest. But it was a really good meal, so I'll post it anyway.

I list the cost of ingredients assuming you buy the cheapest available - I buy store brand of everything!

The meal I chose to prepare features two special, fruit-infused dishes that are very delicious, and very inexpensive.

The Spread:
Ginger-Fruit Crockpot Chicken
Pasta Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
Ginger-Fruit Gravy

Ginger-Fruit Crockpot Chicken
This was a delicious main course, and very inexpensive. Our grocery store sells chicken leg quarters in a 10-lb. bag for $5 - that's 50 cents per pound. The marinade consisted pretty much of common items with negligible cost. Of course, you could just go out and buy a marinade - but this was very easy and quick to mix up, and costs next to nothing!

1/4 cup pineapple juice - $0.15
2 tbsp. apricot jam - free (home canned)
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup water
2 chicken leg quarters (1 lb. total) - $0.50

Prep: Combine all ingredients in quart-sized freezer bag and freeze until ready to use.

To cook: The morning before you want to actually eat this, cut the bag away from the frozen chicken and marinade and plunk the whole thing into your crockpot. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 4-6 hours, until chicken is done (juices run clear when you poke the thickest part of the thigh).

Pasta Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
6 oz. macaroni - $0.65
1 tbsp. olive oil - $0.17
2 eggs - $0.34
1/4 cup orange juice - $0.08
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. mustard
2 tsp. honey
1/8 tsp. pepper
Several large lettuce leaves - free (from garden)

Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente. Drain, and rinse with cold water. Toss with olive oil. Cover and place in refrigerator.

Bring eggs to a boil, then turn off heat. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse in cold water. Peel and chop eggs, and add them to the pasta. Return to fridge while you make the vinaigrette.

Combine orange juice, vinegar, mustard, honey, and pepper in a container with tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously to mix. Pour over pasta and eggs. Return to refrigerator and chill until ready to serve.

Just before serving, cut up lettuce and add to the salad.

1 cup long-grain rice - $0.60
2 cups water

Cook according to directions on rice package.

Ginger-Fruit Gravy
Sauce from chicken
1 tbsp. corn starch

Pour sauce from crockpot (after cooking the chicken) into a saucepan. Bring to a boil on the stove. Spoon about 1/4 cup into a small bowl. Whisk in corn starch, then pour back into the saucepan, stirring constantly. Heat until thickened. Serve over rice.

There you have it: an entire meal for four, costing a grand total of $2.49 plus an insignificant amount for condiments and spices. Am I good or what?!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Two Marinades

I have lots of baggies of chicken leg quarters in my freezer. I decided to make some marinade to dress up a couple of them. When I want a no-fuss, no-work meal, all I have to do is cut away the bag, dump the frozen block into the crock pot, and cook it all day. Thanks CrockPot Lady for the idea!

Each marinade is poured into a quart freezer bag with two chicken leg quarters and a quarter cup of water.

Teriyaki Marinade (the one on the left)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. black pepper

Fruit Ginger Marinade (the one on the right)
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tbsp. apricot jam
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. lemon zest (or 1/2 tsp. lemon extract, or 1 tbsp. lemon juice)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt

To make/use either marinade, combine all ingredients. Pour over chicken in bag. Add 1/4 cup water to the bowl the marinade was in, swish it around, and pour over the chicken - makes sure you get all that good marinade stuff in with the chicken. Freeze.

To cook, plop chicken and marinade into slow cooker. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Cook on low 6-8 hours, or on high 4-6 hours. Serve chicken and resulting sauce over rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes - yum!

I'll post the results when I actually cook these. I look forward to it!

Rustic Garlic Onion Pizza

What do you do when you want to make pizza, but don't have enough time or any major pizza ingredients?

You make a gourmet pizza!

This recipe was born tonight out of a desire for pizza. I really wanted to make pizza, but there were a couple things stopping me. If I made a traditional yeast pizza crust, we would have to wait to eat until it was almost Zaylee's bedtime. And we had no real pizza toppings, such as pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, olives, green peppers, pizza sauce, etc.

All we had was onions. And mozzarella.

And a really good recipe for yeastless focaccia.

Rustic Garlic Onion Pizza
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
(remember the focaccia I keep making? Yup - this is that recipe)

1 tbsp. minced garlic (the kind you get in a big jar and keep in the fridge)
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
4 oz. sliced mozzarella
Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 425. Grease a baking sheet.

Make crust by combining water, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir until the mixture forms a ball. Plop ball of dough into prepared pan. Pour olive oil onto your (clean) hands and, with oiled fingers, spread the dough out flat - to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness.

Smear garlic as evenly as possible over the crust. Spread onion slices over garlic. Top with sliced mozzarella. Bake for 18-20 minutes. The mozzarella started getting really browned on top. At that point, I pretty much decided that next time I'll wait to add the mozzarella until later. But when we ate it, the browned cheese added a great flavor, so I'll just keep adding it at first like I did tonight.

After baking, remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. Return to oven and bake until Parmesan starts browning and edge of crust is lightly golden.

As I was eating this, I decided that this is the best pizza I've ever made. Of course I will always love a good saucy, gooey, topping-laden traditional pizza. But this was fancier and more gourmet than I've ever done, and it was absolutely fantastic! The uneven edges and slightly burnt onion pieces gave this pizza a very rustic feel, hence the name of the pizza.

How did the rest of the family like it? Zaylee picked all the cheese off and ate it first. Then she found the onions. She picked them off. And ate them all! Then she ate the bread. And then she took another piece. Needless to say she really enjoyed this pizza. And Thomas couldn't get enough of the crust. He confiscated Jeff's crust and wouldn't give it back. Jeff had to take another piece.

Another great thing about this pizza - not only was it inexpensive and made with random ingredients I just threw together, not only was it easy, not only was it delicious and fancy (does food get any better than all that?) - this pizza is also low calorie. I ate 3 pieces.

Pizza heaven.

Makes 8 pieces.
175 calories per piece.

The New Man in my Life

Honey, don't get mad. I hope you'll understand. I never wanted to hurt you. But there's a new man in my life.

I invited him over for lunch today. I couldn't help it - he's so good-looking! He was a perfect gentleman in every way. He smiled the whole time, and flirted outrageously. He showed a great sense of style in his white pants and yellow buttons. The red shoes were a great accent to complete the outfit. By the way, he's blond.

Zaylee and I were totally smitten. We absolutely adored him and his irresistible smile. I think we'll invite him over more often.

Zaylee had a little friend over too.

Hot Dog Men
Enough hot dogs to feed your family
Macaroni and cheese

Make a slit down the middle of one end of each hot dog; this will be the legs. At the other end, make a small slit each side; these will be the arms. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, and add the hot dogs. Boil for about 5 minutes until the slits open up.

Serve mac and cheese on plates; top each plate with a hot dog man. Use ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise for face, clothes, buttons, hair.

And smile! These are too cute not to!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Crock Pot Breakfast Risotto

I am a frequenter of the blog A Year of CrockPotting and yesterday found a really great-looking recipe I had to try. It was called CrockPot Breakfast Risotto, and it looked like it would be really good. I put the ingredients together in the crock pot last night before going to bed (after changing the recipe around as I nearly always do!), then got up around 4:30 to turn on the pot and let it cook. Unfortunately, my little crock pot doesn't heat the same as a larger one. When we got up this morning, the rice was still hard, and the liquid pretty much unabsorbed. I finished cooking the risotto on the stove. Next time, I'll save myself a bunch of trouble by just turning on the pot before I go to bed.

Other than the problems getting the stuff cooked, we all really enjoyed this recipe. It tasted fabulous - creamy and flavorful.

Crock Pot Breakfast Risotto
2 tbsp. butter
3/4 cup rice (arborio works best, I used long-grain)
3 tbsp. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
Dash cloves
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup apple juice
1 cup evaporated milk

Melt butter in crock pot. Add rice and stir around to coat the rice with the butter. Sprinkle sugar and spices on top of rice. Combine apple juice and evaporated milk; pour over rice. Stir around a bit. Cover and cook until rice is done and liquid is absorbed. I really don't know how long this should cook. According to the recipe, you should cook it on high for 3-5 hours, or on low for 6 hours. I had mine cooking for a little over 3 hours, and it wasn't done, but that's just my crock pot. So basically, cook it until it's done.

This is good served with fruit and milk. We used some canned peaches and it tasted so great!

This makes 3 servings. If you need more, you can just double the recipe.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Crock Pot Chicken

Something about cooking chicken really slowly makes it really good. This chicken is tender and juicy, and practically falls apart when you try to get it out of the crock pot. It's delicious!

Jeff did this up this morning. I don't remember all the exact stuff he did, and he's already gone to bed so I can't ask him. So I'll just write down generally what he did.

Crock Pot Chicken

Cut up a few potatoes, some celery, and an onion. Toss with a bit of olive oil and some seasonings. Place in the bottom of crock pot.

Place a whole chicken on top of the vegetables. Top it with seasonings such as garlic powder, paprika, basil. I don't recall what all seasonings he used, so get creative - that's pretty much what he did, and it worked great!

You can add a bit of water to the pot, or not. If you do, only add 1/4 to 1/2 cup. If you don't, that's fine.

Cover the crock pot and cook on low 8-10 hours, or on high 4 to 5 hours.

Place chicken and vegetables on serving platter. Make a gravy with the pan drippings: pour drippings into a saucepan. In a small container combine about 1/4 cup milk and 1 tbsp. flour. Whisk into pan drippings and heat until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Peaches N' Cream Dessert

June 21 - National Peaches n' Cream Day

I've been tossing around an idea for this since the beginning of the week. I didn't end up doing it exactly as I had planned, because we've had a somewhat busy day and I never got around to doing the time-consuming stuff I originally had up my sleeve. But I came up with something similar, and still quite tasty.

Since I came up with this as I was going, I will give more of a "concept recipe" than an actual recipe - telling what I did, but with no real amounts or official directions or anything. It's just a basic concept that can be changed around or played with in countless ways. This was just one of those recipes where that works better.

Step 1: Make a crust.

I had thought about doing a graham cracker crust, but we had a bag of drying-out peanut butter cookies on the counter, so I just crushed them up instead. I added a little butter to some of the crumbs, and pressed about 2 tablespoons each into two 4-ounce ramekins.

Possible variations: You could use graham cracker crumbs, or Nilla wafers, or whatever cookie crumbs appeal to you. You could even bake up a pastry crust. Instead of ramekins, you could use a paper-lined muffin tin, or a pie plate.

Step 2: Make a filling.

My original plan involved the custard filling from my Peaches n' Cream Pie a while back. It is creamy, holds up well, and is absolutely delicious with peaches. But it happens to be a little bit time-consuming, and involves heating up the stove. Today was busy and hot, and neither time-consuming nor heating the stove was going to happen. So instead I whipped up a box of vanilla pudding. I used a 6-serving box and 2 cups of milk, to make it nice and thick. After mixing, I spooned a bit into each ramekin (we now have lots of leftover thick pudding). Then I let it set in the refrigerator for one hour.

Possible variations: Use the custard filling for the pie I mentioned. Or make a cheesecake filling using a Jell-O cheesecake or your favorite no-bake recipe. Or use a different flavor of pudding. Just make sure you let it set up before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Add the fruit.

I topped each ramekin with 3 slices of canned peaches. I didn't rinse off the syrup they came in, and it all pooled up on top of the pudding. That was unexpected, but turned out okay.

Possible variations: This is a simple one. Use fresh fruit instead of canned, or use a different type of fruit. Arrange it prettily.

Step 4: Top it with a sauce.

I was going to do some fabulously fancy and delicious sauce for this, but my imagination broke. I poured about a tablespoon of evaporated milk over the peaches in each ramekin.

Possible variations: Just about anything! I considered using sweetened condensed milk. I think that would have turned out better, but I only had one can of that, versus three or four of evaporated milk. So I used the latter. You could also try heating the syrup from the canned fruit with some corn starch to thicken it up, and pour that on. Or melt some jam or preserves and spoon it over the fruit. Or use sweetened cream, whipped or plain (this is, after all, supposed to be "peaches n' cream"). Get creative!

Step 5: Serve and enjoy!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Corn Dog Bread

Okay, this one was invented as a simple, quick, yet delicious lunch. Everyday Food Storage had a recipe for corn dogs that involved cooking corn bread with a hot dog on a sandwich maker. But I don't have a sandwich maker. I kept wracking my brains trying to figure out how I could make something similar using what I have available. Finally, I decided I would just mix hot dog pieces in with the corn bread batter, bake it like normal, and call it good!

Corn Dog Bread
2 hot dogs, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil

Saute hot dog pieces in a skillet coated with cooking spray. Set aside. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 9-inch round cake pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl combine eggs, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture and hot dog pieces all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

Serve warm with butter, or with ketchup and mustard.

Next time I make this I will definitely use more hot dogs, probably at least four. These were good, but just needed a bit more hot dogs!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pakistani Kima

I'm not really sure how to describe this delicious recipe. It's sort of a very flavorful hamburger curry-like dish. And it's goooood!!!!! It's just the sort of unique, distinctive flavor that appeals to me.

Pakistani Kima
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion, or 2 tbsp. dry minced onion
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Dash each pepper, cinnamon, and ginger
(can also add tumeric, but I didn't have any)
1 (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes, undrained
2 cups potatoes, diced
2 cups frozen peas or green beans

Brown ground beef in large skillet with garlic and onion. When meat is browned, stir in curry powder, salt, seasonings, tomatoes, potatoes, and peas. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, adding a small amount of water if necessary.

Serve with rice.

Makes 6 servings
200 calories per serving (not including rice)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Surprise Tuna Salad on Gannat (French Cheese Bread)

I started making this bread this afternoon, just for the sake of baking something. I had been looking through old posts on our family blog, and came across one where I said how excited I was to have purchased a bread machine recipe book at a yard sale. I was like, "Huh? I don't remember that!" I had to go check my cookbooks, and sure enough, there it was. So I flipped through and found this yummy looking recipe for Gannat, or French Cheese Bread. We had all the ingredients, so I started it up.

Later this evening, Jeff took the kids to the library so I could have some "me time." As he was leaving, I said I'd try to figure something out for dinner, and he suggested "something with tuna." We have a huge pile of tuna in the pantry, and try to prepare meals with it frequently. I immediately thought of making a tuna salad to go on the fresh loaf of bread.

I came across this great recipe at I changed it around a bit, as I am prone to do, based on the ingredients I had and what I was in the mood for. And here's what I came up with.

Surprise Tuna Salad
1 (6 oz) can tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 medium apple, peeled and chopped (I used red delicious)
1/4 cup raisins (the recipe calls for golden, but I used regular)
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. Italian dressing
1 1/2 tsp. sweet relish
3 slices bread
6 slices mozzarella cheese

Combine first six ingredients. Chill until serving. Spread 1/3 of mixture on each slice of bread; top each with 2 slices cheese.

Gannat (French Cheese Bread)
3 tbsp. water
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, cut up, softened
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar (I realized later that I forgot the sugar. It still worked fine)
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar or Swiss cheese
2 tsp. active dry yeast

Measuring carefully, place all ingredients in bread machine pan in order specified by owner's manual.

Here you have two options:
1. Program basic or white cycle and desired crust setting; press start. When bread is baked, remove from pan; cool on wire rack.
2. Program dough setting; press start. When dough is completed remove from pan and let rest covered for five minutes (if your machine does not have a dough setting, remove after first rise). Shape into round loaf and place in greased 8-inch pan. Cover and let rise until doubled. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Flavored Fudge

On a whim I checked the list of national food holidays, and found out that today is National Fudge Day. Well, I gotta celebrate that one! So I broke out a couple bags of baking morsels and a can of sweetened condensed milk. Yum!

Basic Fudge
16 oz. (3 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Melt together chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan over low heat, or on the top of a double boiler. When chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Spread in a greased 8-inch baking dish and chill for 2 hours. Cut into squares.

Flavored Fudge
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
8 oz. flavored baking morsels (peanut butter, mint, butterscotch, etc. Today I chose to use cherry-flavored)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

Same directions as the basic.

I actually lined my pan with plastic wrap. Then all I had to do to get the fudge out was invert the pan and remove the wrap. It worked really well, and made for some fun designs on the bottom (which ended up being the top) of the fudge.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Celebrating 100 Posts and Father's Day

This is my 100th post. Hooray. Just thought I'd mention it.

Since my gift for Jeff for Father's Day was a new charcoal grill, we figured it would be appropriate to celebrate the day with some grilled burgers. I thawed out some ground turkey, wedged up some potatoes, baked up a loaf of focaccia, and we created a great meal together!

Onion-Swiss Turkey Burgers
1 pound ground turkey
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 tsp. soy sauce
2-3 tbsp. water
Dash pepper
Sliced Swiss cheese

Combine all ingredients except cheese. Shape into patties (four to six, depending on how big you want 'em. We did six). Set aside in refrigerator.

Heat grill to high heat. Grease cooking grid. Place patties on grill and cook 10 minutes. Turn patties over and place one slice Swiss over each patty. Cook ten more minutes or until cooked through. Serve on buns with favorite burger condiments.

Yeastless Focaccia Bread (I know I just posted this, but I'll post it again for kicks and giggles.)
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.

Stir together water, flour, baking powder, and salt until it forms a ball of dough.

Plop dough into greased baking pan. Using oiled fingers, spread dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Dough will be sticky and elastic. It does not have to be perfectly even, but make sure there are no holes. Rub the top and sides of dough with olive oil.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until just golden.

To serve with burgers, cut into squares. Slice squares horizontally.

This bread seriously rocks. It is awesome. It took me exactly five minutes to measure the ingredients, stir it into a dough, plop it in the pan, and spread it out. Plus 25 minutes to bake, and you've got yourself a 30 minute little loaf of bread. Sweet!

Baked French Fries (Does that make them French Bakes?)
3 small baking potatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 450. Grease baking dish.

Cut potatoes into thick wedges. Toss potato wedges with oil and seasonings. Arrange in single layer in greased baking dish.

Bake 30-45 minutes, turning halfway through. The thinner your wedges, the shorter the cooking time, and if they're pretty thin you might also want to lower the temperature a bit too.

Here's our new little grill, cooking its inaugural batch of burgers. It did a great job. I think this was the start of a beautiful thing.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kitchen Klutzes of America, Unite!

Today being National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day, I decided to do something simple. Yet special. So for each meal of the day, I prepared something that's simple enough for a klutz to prepare, but special enough for a holiday.


Crepes are one of those kinda fancy things that look fun, taste great, and are fairly simple to make. The only drawback is that you cook them one at a time, so they are a bit time-consuming. But totally worth it!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups milk
2 tbsp. melted butter or margarine
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in milk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Lightly butter a 6- to 8-inch skillet and heat over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter into skillet and immediately rotate skillet until the batter is a thin, even film over the bottom. Cook until the batter is no longer shiny and the bottom is lightly browned. Do not flip. Remove the crepe with a spatula or by inverting the pan over a plate. Repeat with remaining batter. This recipe makes about 15-18 crepes, depending on the amount of batter you use for each crepe. Serve with pudding, fruit, powdered sugar, pie filling, and/or jam. I chose pistachio pudding and bananas. Crepes can also be used as a main dish with meat and/or vegetable fillings.

Prepare filling before making the crepes. That way you can serve and eat them as they come off the pan. They're better fresh.

Note: This recipe is not entirely klutz proof - you need to keep an eye on it. I forgot about the last crepe and left it on for too long:

Rotini Bolognese

I chose this for the fancy name. Now, this is definitely not a traditional bolognese sauce. I looked up bolognese sauce just before writing up this post, and it is an Italian meat-based, slightly tomato-y sauce usually served over spaghetti. This recipe, originally titled "Bolognese on a Budget" has no meat. It features lentils, canned tomatoes, and onions. That being said, I still liked this sauce. I've never had real bolognese sauce anyway, so I don't think it really matters either way.

Rotini Bolognese
1 cup lentils
1 3/4 cups water
2 (14.4 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 cubes bouillon (I used 1 chicken and 1 beef)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked rotini (or pasta of your choice)

Rinse lentils under cold running water and drain. Place the water and lentils in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until lentils just begin to soften, about 20 minutes. Stir the tomatoes and onions into the lentils; bring to a gentle simmer. Crumble the bouillon cubes into the lentil mixture and stir until it's dissolved. Simmer for about 15 minutes more, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta.

Cheese Fondue

This was my favorite meal today. I've never made fondue, but hey, there's a first time for everything. I had fun with this meal - it was really easy, and tasted fantastic!

Cheddar-Swiss Fondue
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup beef or chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. ground dry mustard
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 1/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
Extra flour
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

In a medium saucepan over low heat, mix together milk, broth, Worcestershire sauce, ground dry mustard, garlic and flour. Heat until almost boiling. Toss extra flour with cheese, just enough to coat the cheese (only about 1-2 tbsp, add it slowly. This wasn't in the original recipe, but helps to improve the texture of the fondue). Gradually stir cheese into milk/broth mixture. Continue heating until all the cheese has melted. Transfer to fondue dish (or crock pot) to keep fondue warm and cheese melted. Serve with stuff like vegetables, bread cubes, or meat.

I thought that this fondue would be fantastic with bread cubes. The only problem was that we had no bread in the house. We don't buy bread anymore, and I just didn't have any made. Well, I searched online for a quick bread recipe that was fast, simple, and not sweet or crumbly. After looking over several recipes, I found one for yeastless focaccia, and decided I had a winner. I skipped all the herbs on top because it was to be used for dipping. When I made it, I fell absolutely in love - this was the easiest, quickest bread recipe I've ever made! (though it wasn't exactly the prettiest...)

Yeastless Focaccia
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.

Stir together water, flour, baking powder, and salt until it forms a ball of dough.

Plop dough into greased baking pan. Using oiled fingers, spread dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Dough will be sticky and elastic. It does not have to be perfectly even, but make sure there are no holes. Rub the top and sides of dough with olive oil.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until just golden.

Let cool slightly, the cut into cubes to serve with the fondue.

To make this into a more traditional focaccia loaf, sprinkle with cayenne pepper, garlic salt and basil before baking. After it's baked for 20 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan, then return to oven for final 5 minutes.

All in all, we've had a great day, eating great foods that were easy and fun to make. Happy Kitchen Klutzes of America Day!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

I was SOOO planning on making a delicious batch of peanut butter cookies today in honor of this national holiday. But I got sick. And I didn't make any cookies. But to honor the day, here is a link to the recipe I was going to use to make cookies today. Enjoy!

**Update: I made the cookies a few days later. Here's some pics:

These were pretty good, but I think I prefer the peanut butter cookies I posted a few days before, since they have fewer ingredients and a stronger peanut butter flavor.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Potato Tomato Pot

I have this really old cookbook (from 1973) called The Potato Lover's Diet Cookbook, filled with low-calorie foods made with potatoes. It's one of those little books I love to turn to when I need something low on calories, but high on flavor. And high on potatoes.

Tonight's meal choice from this fun little book is a combination of some yummy vegetables, a little seasoning, and a little oil. It's more of a side dish than a main dish, but that never stops me from serving it front and center like I did tonight.

Potato Tomato Pot
2-3 medium potatoes, cut up
1 medium tomato, cut up (I didn't have fresh tomato, so I drained and rinsed a can of diced tomatoes and used that instead. Worked great!)
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, sliced
3/4 tsp. salt
Dash pepper
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. olive oil

In a bowl, toss all ingredients together. Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray, spread vegetable mixture into pan. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 minutes more or until potatoes are tender.

Makes 4 servings (side dish size)
About 100 calories per serving

This dish was pretty well-received tonight. Here is what was left by the time I finished eating.

Shortly after this picture was taken, the pan was completely emptied.