Light Wheat Biscuit Mix

>> Friday, April 30, 2010

I love the convenience of having a mix on hand, but do not like all the added preservatives that come with such a mix. Also, I try to use whole wheat flour as often as possible. So I went on a quest for a homemade biscuit mix that incorporated whole wheat flour, and I found one on the Hillbilly Housewife website. This mix can be used in any recipe that calls for biscuit mix or bisquick (the brand name). I keep mine in the refrigerator, and it should keep for 3-6 months in there, although it's never around that long in this house!

Light Wheat Biscuit Mix
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons baking powder
2 cups solid vegetable shortening (see note below)

1. Measure your flours into a LARGE bowl. Add the salt and baking powder. Mix it all up with your hands.

2. After the salt and baking powder are evenly distributed throughout the flour, add the shortening. Using your hands, mash the flour and fat together until the entire mix is light and crumbly. Try not to overmix. You will want small lumps to remain (about the size of peas or dried beans).

3. Transfer the biscuit mix to a resealable container. You should have about 10-1/2 cups of biscuit mix. (I store mine in a small cereal container)

Note: I read up a bit on coconut oil, and learned that i can be substituted for shortening in any recipe. Of course, I read this AFTER I bought the shortening to make a batch of biscuit mix, so I will just have to wait until next time to try it out.



Cheesy Bruschetta Toast

Ok, so I had a picture of these. But I can'tforthelifeofme find it! Perhaps I deleted it. Dumbness. But they look really snazzy, like you know how to cook or something. Impress your friends! My kids have been known to nosh on them too!

Stuff you need:

whole grain baguette/French bread/whatever... the long skinny kind, like tall as a toddler.
2 roma tomatoes
1 tea. olive oil
1 tbl. fresh basil (finely chopped- or use a food processor)
salt & pepper (to taste)
shredded mozzarella cheese

Slice a 1/2 lb. baguette into small ovals and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake at 450 for 6-8 mins until toasted, turning once. (you can skip this step if you're lazy like me- it will just be a bit squishy in the middle)
In a small bowl, stir together seeded and chopped roma tomatoes, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Spoon small amount of mixture atop each bread slice, sprinkle with mozzerella cheese. Return to oven and bake 2 mins, until cheese is melted.



*I always half this recipe for just me and my husband. But if you're going to feed more than 3 people, the full recipe is sure to impress :)*

What you need:

1 pkg manicotti noodles (14 noodles)
1 1/2 lbs large curd cottage cheese
2 eggs slightly beaten
2 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese (1/4 cup dry)
1 tsp. salt
1 jar spaghetti sauce (1 lb 10 oz size)

What you do:

Start by cooking the noodles. (For half the recipe, 6-7 minutes makes them perfect: sturdy enough to hold up when you stuff them, but soft enough to eat.) Combine the rest of the ingredients (minus the sauce). Pour enough sauce in the pan to generously cover the bottom of it. Once the noodles are done, stuff them with the mixture. I will admit, this part is time consuming (usually takes me about 10-15 minutes). But it is so worth it! I have found that a baby spoon works best because it is small enough to actually stuff down into the noodle. I hold the noodle with one end in my palm so it doesn't leak out while I stuff the other end. Place stuffed noodles in pan and cover with the rest of the spaghetti sauce. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 15. (For half the recipe I do 30 covered and 5 uncovered).

Not the best picture, but this is what it looks like before you bake it (and pretty much it looks the same when you take it out of the oven)



Fish Tacos!

So I don't have any pictures for this post! (Sorry) I made these delectable tacos last Friday and I have one word for you... A-MAY-ZING!!!! I modified a few things so see my adjustments along side the ingredients.
Also if your the type that loves guacalmole for any Mexican dish (I raise my hand in guilt) don't bother making any for this dish. The Tapatio sauce is wonderful and tastes better with the fish. I made a huge bowl of guacamole for our party of 4 and everyone kept going for the Tapatio sauce.

2 ounces tequila *I didn't use any. Granted I know alcohol burns out when you cook it and I will typically still put it in when a recipe calls for it but I just couldn't bring my self to buy a bottle of tequila to only use 2 ounces.

1 lime, zested and juiced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil *Used Olive oil instead
1 tablespoon seafood seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)*USE!! Dont try to substitute.
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 (6 to 8-ounce) portions mahi mahi or halibut fillets
1 small to medium red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped *Serrano peppers instead (more flavor, less heat)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 to 10 tomatillos, peeled and coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 generous tablespoon honey *Used Agave honey and it tasted fine
1 small ripe avocado, halved, seeded and flesh removed
Cooking spray
8 soft flour tortillas *Gross! You dont eat FISH TACOS with flour tortilla. Buy CORN!
1/2 small white or red cabbage, shredded *Didn't use any.
In a small bowl, combine the tequila with the lime zest and juice, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, seafood seasoning, and chili powder. Coat the fish in the dressing.

Heat medium skillet with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, japaleno and garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes or until the mixture begins to soften, then add the coarsely chopped tomatillos. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and stir in the cumin. Cook until the tomatillos soften, about 6 to 7 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Carefully add the sauce to a food processor with the lemon zest and juice, honey and avocado. Process until it becomes a thick salsa. Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Heat an outdoor grill or skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Add the fish and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Char the soft tacos over an open flame on a stove burner or grill to soften and char.

Serve the fish with tortillas alongside and top the fish with cabbage and salsa as you eat.

and Vuala up and let me know how you liked it!!


James Beard's Blonde Brownies

>> Thursday, April 29, 2010

I recently came across this recipe in a cookbook dedicated to brownies that my mom has had since I can remember. I was a true believer after I made the first batch. They are so yummy - especially served warm.

James Beard's Blonde Brownies
1/2 cup butter
5 oz white chocolate
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (I actually double this because I LOVE the taste of vanilla)
1 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups pecans or walnuts (I have made it with both, and I actually prefer the pecans, but go with whatever suits your fancy!)

1. Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat.

2. Remove from heat, stir in the sugar, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. (IMPORTANT: Stirring in the sugar completely before adding the eggs helps to cool the butter/chocolate mixture, thus preventing the eggs from scrambling)
3. Quickly stir in the flour, salt and nuts to just lightly mix.

(sorry, this cutie is not currently available for hire)

4. Spread in a well-greased 9x13 baking pan.

5. Bake at 325F for 30 minutes. Do not over-bake or they will lose their chewy texture.
6. Remove from pan to a rack to cool. While still slightly warm, cut into squares with greased knife.



Chili Spaghetti

OK, don't look at the title and think "Hormel Chili" in a can, dumped on some spaghetti. It is soooo not that. This recipe comes from my mom, I'm not sure where she got it. It was my favorite meal growing up. I think she even made it for my birthday dinner once or twice! Anyway, it's super good. Pretty easy, too.

Start with these ingredients:

2 tsp EVOO
1 lb ground beef (missing from the photo)
1 med onion (chopped finely or grated)
2-3 garlic cloves (crushed or grated)
2 (14.5 or 16 oz) cans of tomatoes (Mom says whole, undrained and cut up. I say, let someone else cut 'em up! So I use diced whatever kind I have. Italian, chili ready, fire roasted, they're all good)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2-3 Tbsp. chili powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
7 oz spaghetti broken in 3" pieces.

First, grate or finely chop your onion. I use a box grater, I hate cutting onions. PS- This method will still make you cry.

Start browning the hamburger with the onion.

And grate in the garlic cloves (or toss 'em in if you chopped 'em). See all that oil and greasy goodness? Yeah, we're gettin' rid of that soon.

After the hamburger is cooked through, drain off all the fat. I have a nifty trick. I find my colander and stick just ONE paper towel in the bottom and then drain the mixture in that (over the sink, I'm bad).

This next picture is upside down, I don't know how to flip it. But you get the idea, dump all the cans of tomatoes and sauce and paste in with the beef mixture.

Stir everything together.
Add chili powder (I never measure. Use this much, more or less, depending on how you like it to taste)

Same with the cinnamon.

Here is the beautiful Chili Sauce. I love it because it tastes like a normal spaghetti sauce, just kicked up a notch with chili powder. YUM.
NOW- let the sauce sit and simmer on low for as long as you want. The longer it sits, the yummier it is.

While the sauce sits, start boiling your water for the pasta.

Break the pasta into 3" pieces. Not really sure why, that's just what my mom's recipe says to do. So I do it :)
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Serve pasta with a big spoonful of chili sauce on top. I didn't feel like grating the cheese, but it would be really good on it!

Now if you make this, you may be saying to yourself, "Becca, this makes a ton of sauce. Like, enough for say, 8 people! What do I do with the rest?!"

Freeze it my friend. Save it for a rainy day :)



Kielbasa & Potato Skillet

When I saw this recipe, I thought "what the hay is kielbasa?!" Well let me tell you, you can find Turkey Kielbasa at Smith's by the sausage. And it is spectacular! This dish is super easy for when you have to make dinner, but really don't want to.

 And there's a kind of crappy picture of what it is supposed to look like. It tastes and smells even better. Here's what you'll need:

1 tbl. butter
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. sliced bell pepper
1 lb. diced red potatoes
1/4 tea. pepper
6 oz. lean turkey kielbasa, sliced
1 1/2 c. frozen broccoli
1/2 c. shredded cheese

Melt butter in skillet on medium heat. Add potatoes & pepper. Cook 10 mins. Add kielbasa, broccoli, onion, & bell pepper. Cover & cook for 8-10 mins. stirring frequently. Remove from heat and sprinkle with cheese. Let cheese melt for a minute and serve.


Ina Garten's Carrot Cake, Meet Paula Dean's Cream Cheese Frosting

A friend of mine referred me to Ina Garten's Carrot Cake recipe, & Paula Dean's Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe sounded DELISH so... here is a fav of mine... I've made it several times & it never lasts very long...

For the Cake:

2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/3 cups vegetable oil (I want to try this with Coconut Oil after all the talk of Coconut Oil on the blog)

3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup raisins (I like the Golden Raisins)

1 cup chopped walnuts (I've also used Pecans, depends on your preference)

1 pound carrots, grated

1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple (I've used a can of crushed/diced Pineapple, drained... works just as well)
(I also add in shredded coconut, because... I love coconut!)

What to do....

Before you begin mixin':

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans (makes for easy clean up)

And now... for the Cake...

1. Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl, then add the vanilla.

2. In another bowl, sift together your dry ingredients... 2 1/2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

3. Add the dry to the wet.

4. Toss the raisins and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour, I do this in a sandwich bag.

5. Fold in the carrots, pineapple, coconuts and nuts to the batter... Do this based on what you want... i like lots of carrot and pineapple in mine, if you want less, add less... its all you!

6. Now... Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean (and enjoy the smell!! no scented candles needed). Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.

And now, Paula.... For the Frosting:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick salted butter, room temperature

1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans/walnuts

Mix it all, but the nuts...

The Grand Finale....

Frost the top of one of the cakes.... stack... lather that baby up in the cream cheese frosting... top with the nuts and.... HELLO added inches to your waistline! the extra time you'll need to spend in the gym is SO worth it.....

Thanks Ina, Paula & the Food Network!

The only picture I have of this cake is from my husband's birthday... and don't judge... I have none of my nice dishes, or cake plates, or anything here in Guam... All of my wedding presents are in Storage in AZ, so I'm cooking with the bare minimum



This is Ryan's grandma's recipe and by far the best banana bread recipe I have come across!I make it into muffins! easier for 'serving' or in our case, eating 'on the go'
Preheat oven to 325
1 cup (3) VERY ripe bananas- mine are basically black!
1/2 cup of oil
2 eggs
(put in a large bowl and whip them REALLY well)

In a seperate smaller bowl:
2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of nuts (OPTIONAL)
1 cup sugar

Take the contents of the smaller bowl and dump into large bowl then mix. Grease either loaf pan or muffin tin really well (or use paper cup liners) and fill til about 1/2-2/3 the way full. Bake 1 hour for loaf or 22-23 minutes for muffins until toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!


Chicken Tortilla Soup

I was told I don't need pics to post! yeah! So I PLAN on taking pictures- as soon as I ACTUALLY cook something (that's right folks, I haven't cooked in a week now! It's my anniversary and hubby's birthday- so I feel justified!) but when I DO cook, I will post pics- PROMISE! Here's a recipe that I have used like CRAZY! A dear friend made this for me after I had Hailyn and we eat it at least once a month now- and it makes LOTS of leftovers(yeah!) and it takes about 5 minutes to do! Can't beat that! and firemen approve (and they are the biggest food critics ya'll!) Awesome for chilly nights like tonight!


2-3 cups cooked chicken (SECRET: I buy a rotissiere chicken and peel off the meat and chop it up- yep I am lazy I mean BUSY!)
32 ounces chicken broth
1 can black beans undrained
1 can of corn dranied
THIS IS CRUCIAL: 1 jar TRADER JOE'S roasted garlic salsa (it's what makes this soup good and gives it that 'I spent hours on it' feel)
1-2 cups cheddar or mexican blend cheese
1 bag of tortilla chips

add the first 5 ingredients to the pot and stir, heating thoroughly (10-15 minutes on medium heat)
Then add cheese and a couple of handfuls of tortilla chips at the end- last 2 minutes or so. Serve. top with more cheese and chips, sour cream whatever you like- SO YUMMY! This is my go-to meal for whenever someone had a baby or I want to 'impress' someone, it tastes like someone spent HOURS on it- when it really was like 10 minutes. I usually go to Trader Joe's and stalk up on slas so I don't have to go there constantly to make this! ENJOY!


My Famous Banana Pancakes

>> Wednesday, April 28, 2010

These pancakes are my street cred. for culinary prowess. I piecemealed this recipe together myself! And they are awesome! And healthy! Have kiddos? Freeze 'em and toast 'em in the morning instead of buying Eggos.

 The secret ingredients of my masterpiece!

2 c. flour - you can do all white, or whole wheat, or half & half
2 tbl. sugar
2 tbl. flaxseed meal
4 tea. baking powder
1/2 tea. salt
2 eggs
2 c. milk
4 tbl. cooking oil
1 - 2 bananas, mashed (use the tines of a fork or a food processor)

Mix wet and dry ingredients separately then combine in large bowl until moist, beat on low- batter will be lumpy- and if you use all whole wheat flour, it will be a bit thick. Pour in 1/4 c. portions onto a hot griddle, flip when bubbles appear in the middle.

Some topping ideas: sliced strawberries and whipped cream. Yum!


Whole Wheat Waffles

Okay Becca, you asked I deliever. Becca asked if I had any other uses for the coconut oil and the answer is yes.

1 3/4 C. Whole wheat flour
1 t. Baking Powder
1/2 T. Sea Salt
2 Eggs
1/4 C. Coconut oil ( this is where Becca says, "sweet!")
1 3/4 C. buttermilk ( I have also used regular milk before and it still works out ok, but the buttermilk is really good)

Now whisk all the ingredients together.

Then cook in your waffle iron( if you don't have one, you must go get one, they are awesome! I got mine at Sams club for $30 and it was so worth it.)

Don't they look yummy?! I usually cook these once every two weeks for my little one. I break them into sections and freeze them. Then in the mornings I just take one out and pop it in the toaster. Once again these are so much cheaper than Egos, not to mention they taste so much better. Plus there are only 6 ingredients in these, if you read the back of store bought ones there is almost over 30 ingredients and I can't pronounce half of them.

And here is proof that they are Kid approved (cute kid approved if I don't say so myself)
** Some other uses for coconut oil is sauteing or stir-frying. The side of the jar also said that you can use it in your bath or massage it into your skin and you can also apply it to your hair, let sit for 1 hour and then rinse. I have not tried that, but hey!
Hope that helps Becca!


Aunt Belle's Guacamole

This is the best guacamole you will ever eat... and I'm not just saying that... a few of my friends can attest to this statement... I will provide references, if needed!

I have to admit, I never ate guacamole before CH (Chubby Hubby) and I got married. He was craving the delectable dip one day, so I told him to get me the recipe and I would make it. I have tried tasting a few guacamoles at restaurants, but I am always disappointed. This really is the BEST!

The original recipe is courtesy of his Aunt Belle. I have slightly altered it to reflect our tastes.

Aunt Belle's Guacamole
4 ripe Avocados (the ones that are more black than green, but not too squishy)
3 cloves of garlic (yes, it is a lot of garlic, but that's the secret to success)
1 shallot (here is where the difference is, Aunt Belle uses onion, but I hate the taste of raw onions, so I use the more mild shallot)
1 can diced green chile
1/4 cup-ish your favorite salsa (i say -ish b/c i have never actually measured the salsa, i just eyeball it; also to note, if you are really into the green color of the guac, use a green salsa, and you will have an amazingly green guac!)
1 medium tomato, diced
a splash or two of lemon juice
salt, to taste

1. Peel, pit and scoop the avocados into a bowl.
2. Finely chop the garlic and shallot (we are lucky enough to have a mini food processor that does this part for me, fast and very efficient), add to avocados
3. Add green chile and salsa to avocado. Then we smash and mix! (I have found that the potato masher does an excellent job of smashing the avocado and mixing the other elements at the same time. Doing it this way also produces a light and airy guac)
4. After you have smashed and mixed to your heart's desire, add the diced tomato, lemon juice and salt. Gently stir (you don't want to break the tomatoes down too much).
5. Serve with tortilla chips.



how to boil an egg (2 ways)

According to the experts at The Incredible Edible Egg, it is fairly simple to hard-cook an egg. Here is the recommended way to cook the eggs:

Step 1

PLACE eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in single layer. ADD cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. HEAT over high heat just to boiling.

Step 2

REMOVE from burner. COVER pan. LET EGGS STAND in hot water about 15 minutes for large eggs (12 minutes for medium eggs; 18 minutes for extra large).

Step 3

DRAIN immediately and serve warm. OR, cool completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water, then REFRIGERATE.

And now for my interpretation...

Step 1

PLACE eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in single layer. ADD cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. PLACE on burner over high heat.
Step 2
WALK AWAY and enjoy a large bowl of cereal.
Step 3
GO BACK INTO KITCHEN 1 HOUR LATER, after daughter asks, "What is that popping sound in the kitchen?"
Step 4
DISCARD EGGS and start over using PREVIOUS METHOD!

DISCLAIMER: This is a product of my 36+ weeks pregnancy brain. I usually make decent hard-cooked eggs.


Butternut Squash Mac

>> Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Homemade mac and cheese, with the vitamin A of butternut squash? Yes please. The girls actually eat it, too! (granted, they think the squash are carrots. But I'm ok with this deceit)

What you need:

2 c. cubed & peeled butternut squash (about 1/2 in. cubes)
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 lb. elbow mac (make it whole wheat!)
2 tbl. butter
2 tbl. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. shredded cheese (chedder, monty jack, whatever!)

- Toss squash with oil and salt and arrange on a foil-lined tray. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, until tender and set aside.
- Cook pasta for 2 minutes; (less than package directions) drain and place in a bowl with squash. Meanwhile, melt butter over low heat, whisk in flour; cook for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk, bring to a boil then simmer. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

- Add cheese and stir until melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta and squash. Spoon into a greased square pan, sprinkle extra cheese on top and bake at 375 for 10 minutes.


Ketchup and Minute Rice, the Recipe

Growing up, my mom would feed us kids hot dogs and rice. We were fortunate enough to have ketchup with our hot dogs. This recipe is a memory of that time. Living in Alexandria, VA, at the age of 19, hungry with nothing in the cupboards but ketchup and minute rice, I remembered how the rice would mix with the ketchup in the dish of my childhood. Because I had no hot dogs, and I remembered I liked ketchup and rice, I said, "what the heck?!"

Eat at your own risk!

1 bag Minute Rice
Your favorite ketchup
hot dogs (optional)

1. Cook minute rice according to package instructions.
2. Add ketchup to taste.

(no pics are available, as this was last made 15 years ago)


Homemade chewy Granola bars

>> Monday, April 26, 2010

Okay, so recently I found out that my little girl has a slight allergy to foods with red dye #40. Yep, I am one of THOSE moms. You know the ones who are in the middle of the grocery isle reading the back of a box with a magnifying glass.
I am always trying to find quick snacks that I can grab for my little girl and it seems that all the easy stuff, you know the fruit snacks, goldfish, pretzels etc ALL had food dyes in them. Hence the reason for this post. I found this recipe on another cooking blog and have since made it many times. It is SO easy and there is NO way it can be messed up!! Its quick, simple and involves 5 ingredients, 1 pot, 1 spoon and no love.

1/2 C. Peanut Butter
1/3 C. Honey
1/4 C. Coconut oil
1 C. Oats
1 C. total of any combo of: sesame seeds, coconut flakes, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, mini chocolate chips or any other creative mixture your little heart desires. ( I usually do one cup of mini chocolate chips. If i am making them for my daughter I do a little more than half a cup, cause Heaven knows she does NOT need that much chocolate)

* In a medium size saucepan, melt together peanut butter, honey and coconut oil. ( this takes less then 2 min. you just need it to all melt together. Do not boil it)

* Remove from heat and add 1 Cup of oats

* Then add the 1 Cup of your choice of mixture ( If you are doing the chocolate chips wait till the oat mixture cools before adding them so they don't melt)

* Stir well and the spread mix into 8x8 or 9x4 pan

* Chill for 3 hours and then cut into bars.

* Wrap in plastic ( I store mine in the fridge)

These are so great for something to just grab in the mornings, and they are super cheap to make. Especially if you think about the cost difference between a $5.00 box of granola bars packed with preservatives, vs this recipe. ENJOY!


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