Saturday, February 13, 2010

Italian Beef Sandwiches

Prep time 10 min
Total time 6 hr 10 min
Makes 8 servings

1 jar (16 oz.) roasted red peppers, undrained
1 boneless beef chuck eye roast (2 lb.)
1/2 cup KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing
1/4 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 loaf French bread (24 inch), cut into 8 pieces, partially split

DRAIN peppers, reserving 1/4 cup liquid. Place meat in slow cooker; top with peppers, reserved liquid and dressing. Cover with lid.

COOK on LOW 6 to 8 hours (or on HIGH 4 to 6 hours). Remove meat from slow cooker, reserving peppers and 1-1/2 cups liquid in cooker. Discard excess liquid. Shred meat with 2 forks; return to cooker. Stir in cheese.

SERVE in bread.

Recipe from Kraft Foods.

*We ate this with French bread made from the night before.  Jeff loved them and gave it 5 stars.  I liked them, too, but I give them 4 stars.  They reminded me of Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.  The prep time is a bit decieving--the intial prep is less than 10 min, but then before you serve them, you do have to take time to shred the beef.

Banana Cream Pie

Adapted from allrecipes
Makes 1 9-inch pie


3/4 cup white sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
4 bananas, sliced

1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add milk in gradually while stirring gently. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is bubbly. Keep stirring and cook for about 2 more minutes, and then remove from the burner (it took a little longer for me).
2. Stir a small quantity of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks, and immediately add egg yolk mixture to the rest of the hot mixture. Cook for 2 more minutes; remember to keep stirring. Remove the mixture from the stove, and add butter and vanilla. Stir until the whole thing has a smooth consistency.
3. Slice bananas into the cooled baked pastry shell. Top with pudding mixture.
4. Chill for a few hours.

*Great flavor, but a little runny.  Next time, I think I'll add a little less sugar, but otherwise, we liked it!  We used a Nilla wafer crust.  Also, I added only 3 bananas because I was afraid it would overflow.

To make Nilla wafer crust:
Mix 1-1/2 c crushed vanilla wafers with 6 T melted butter
Bake for 5 mins at 350 degrees. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

French Bread

From allrecipes
Makes 2 loaves


1 1/4 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon cornmeal

1 egg
1 tablespoon water

2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted (optional)

1. In bread machine pan, place the first five ingredients in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed).

2. When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Roll each portion into a 10-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seams to seal.

3. Sprinkle a greased baking sheet with cornmeal; place loaves seam side down on prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes.

4. Whisk egg and water; brush over loaves. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across the top of each loaf. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.
*As good as fresh baked from the store and the bread machine makes it easy (as long as you plan ahead)  My bread machine dough cycle takes about 1 hour 20 minutes.  I made as instructed except used regular flour and used only an egg white with water for the glaze (I had one leftover).  It was a hit.  I'd be interested to see how the bread flour changes this.

Brown Sugar Asparagus

Prep time: 8 minutes
Cooking time: 16 minutes
Serves 6 (or less if you love it like we do)

2 pounds fresh asparagus spears
3 T butter
2 T firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 c chicken broth
Orange zest strips, optional for garnish

1.  Snap off the thick woody ends of the asparagus spears and discard.
2.  Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted.  Stir in brown sugar.  Cook, stirring continually, until brown sugar dissolves.
3.  Add the asparagus to the brown sugar mixture, turning to coat.  Sautee for 2 minutes.
4.  Add the chicken broth to the skillet.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Transfer the asparagus with a slotted spoon to a serving platter, reserving the pan juices in the skillet.  Cover asparagus to keep warm.
5.  Cook reserved pan juices in the skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until reduced by half.  Drizzle over the asparagus.  Garnish with orange zest strips, if desire.  Serve immediately.

*I love asparagus.  My husband and I can usually finish the whole plate (the kiddos help a little bit).  Definitely a treasured recipe!

Best Steak Marinade in Existence

Recipe cut for 4 servings (original served 8)
From allrecipes

2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic (optional)

1.  Place the soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, basil, parsley, and pepper in a blender. Add hot pepper sauce and garlic, if desired. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds until thoroughly mixed.

2.  Pour marinade over desired type of meat. Cover, and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Cook meat as desired.

*I used this to marinate 2 large rib eye steaks for about 8 hours, perfect amount of marinade.  I used black pepper in place of the white, did not use the hot pepper sauce, and used 1 fresh minced clove of garlic instead of the dried garlic.  I did not blend it and it turned out great; however, I could see how blending might make the dried herbs be less obvious.  I would have loved to have grilled these steaks, but as that option is not available to us right now, I broiled them in the oven.  Delicious!  I might not have choosen the same title (I'd still be open to trying another marinade), but we will make this again.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Citrus Sweet Potatoes

For a more intense flavor, bake whole sweet potatoes, instead of boiling them, at 350 for 1 ½ hours or until tender.

5 to 6 medium-size sweet potatoes
2 T light brown sugar
2 T fresh lime juice
2 T honey
½ t salt
1/8 t ground nutmeg
1/8 t ground cinnamon

1. Peel potatoes; cut into 1 inch pieces
2. Bring potatoes and water to cover to a boil in a large saucepan, and cook 12 minutes or until tender.
3. Drain and return potatoes to pan.
4. Add remaining ingredients. Mash with a potato masher or fork until smooth.

*I love sweet potatoes and will often enjoy them baked with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on them.  I used to crave them when I was pregnant and would have them as my lunch.  In other words, I was excited to try this recipe, but....high expectations often result in disappointment; it wasn't quite what I was hoping for.  I baked them in the oven and then peeled them with my fingers (they smelt so good!)  Unfortunately, the lime seemed out of place.  Also, I didn't have nutmeg, so I substituted the nutmeg and cinnamon with 1/4 t pumpkin pie seasoning.  We still ate them, but next time I'll just have them baked.

Easy Crock Pot Chicken

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 can undiluted can chddar cheese soup
2 cans undiluted cream of chicken soup
Just put in crock and let sit 6-8 hrs on low.
Just a hint, I always put in some garlic and onion powder, but you can season to your own liking and I serve over mash potatoes with some kind of rolls.

*Very easy!  My kids aren't big into mashed potatoes, so I served this over pasta.  It makes a lot of sauce.

**For lunch the next day, I used the extra sauce to make a twist on mac 'n cheese.  I broke up the left-over chicken in the sauce then added cooked tri-color rotini and broccoli.  I put it in a baking dish and sprinkled a little cheddar cheese then cooked it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (until bubbly).

Mrs. Sigg's Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 3 dozen

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt


1. Cream the butter, butter flavored shortening, and sugars. Add eggs and blend. Add peanut butter and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and stir until well blended.

2. Measure out tablespoonfuls of dough and roll into balls. Place 3 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheets. Make criss-cross pattern with fork.

3. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) 8-10 minutes until set, but not hard. Do not over bake. Leave on sheets for 2 minutes before removing. Cool, and store in covered container.

*Jeff doesn't appreciate the rich, flavorful taste of peanut butter.  Yum.  So when Jeff has to work late, we indulge in a little extra peanutty treat!  Maybe it is vindictive, but at least it is sweet!  I gave Jacob one of theses delights when he came home from preschool and I got an unsolicited, "I really love you, Mom!"  I've made these with crunchy or creamy peanut butter.  Both work beautifully, you decide whether or not you want little nuts in your cookies.  Rather than grease the cookie sheets, I just use parchment paper.

*Ever wonder what happens when you forget to use the fork to flatten the cookies?  I tried it on the last batch (no, not on purpose).  The only reason I blog about it is to report that Jeff liked them that way!  Score one for peanut butter!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tomato Chicken Parmesan

1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
7 ounces seasoned bread crumbs, with seasonings
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (pound to uniform thickness)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
12 ounces pasta sauce
6 slices Monterey Jack cheese (or mozzarella)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

2. Pour beaten eggs into a shallow dish or bowl. In another shallow dish or bowl, mix together the grated Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Dip chicken breasts into beaten egg, then into bread crumb mixture to coat (may refrigerate to help bread crumbs stick).

3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add coated chicken and sauté for about 8 to 10 minutes each side, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.

4. Pour tomato sauce into a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Add chicken, then place a slice of Monterey Jack cheese over each breast, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.

*Our whole family loves this meal!  Even better, I usually have these ingredients on hand so it's a good answer to what's for dinner when it's already dinner time.  A few special tricks to make it especially good:  (1) Pound the chicken breasts to uniform thickness; they should be about 1/4 inch thick.  (2) Use a good pasta sauce.  We like the brands Western Family and Prego.  There are other good ones, too, but I avoid the canned sauce (like Hunts) if possible.  (3)  We prefer Monterey Jack cheese, but tonight I used mozzarella.  If mozzarella is what you have on hand, I suggest using a thin slice or grate the cheese.  Bon Appetite!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Simple Syrup

1 c water
1 c sugar
6 strawberries, sliced (optional)

1. Bring water, sugar, and, if desired, strawberries to a boil in a saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. If necessary, pour syrup through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, discarding fruit; cool. Makes about 1 ½ cups.

*The strawberries make this syrup, yum!  We used frozen berries and didn't strain them (as you can see in the photo--and don't worry, we didn't drink it straight, the glass was merely to show the beautiful pink color of the syrup).  I did think it was a little runny, so after trying it, I returned it to the stove and added 2 t cornstarch mixed with an equal amount of cold water.  This did make it a little more syrupy.  Simple and easy, I'll never let having no syrup in my pantry stop me from making breakfast again.  See also French Toast.

French Toast--Jensen style

Shown with Simple Syrup

Makes approximately 10 regular size French Toast, estimate 1 egg = 2 toasts

5 eggs
1/3 c milk
1 t vanilla
2 t cinnamon

1.  Preheat grill or skillet to 325 degrees.
2.  Whisk all ingredients except bread together in medium size bowl (measurements not exact, do what looks right).
3.  Dip bread slices on each side in egg mixture.
4.  Cook on skillet for a couple of minutes on each side, flipping only once during cook time.
5.  Butter the first side cooked after the toast is flipped (this saves time having to butter them when they come off the grill--especially when feeding children).
6.  Serve hot with syrup or toppings of choice.  (When cutting up for children, use a pizza cutter to make the job easy.)

*My father-in-law served a mission in France so I once asked him if the French really liked to eat French Toast.  "No," he answered, "it's an American thing, but they do cook bread every day and seldom use preservatives."  French Toast was hence name for the ingenious way to use the day-old or dried bread.  Tonight, I had leftover ciabatta and since it was just me and the kids, French Toast was a perfect choice for dinner. 

*Try using different kids of bread for variety.  For example, we have made these using cinnamon raisin bread, swirl bread, banana bread, wheat bread, and French bread.  If the bread is really dry, just soak it in the egg batter a little longer.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 slices Swiss cheese
4 slices cooked ham
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat a 7x11 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Pound chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness.

3. Sprinkle each piece of chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Place 1 cheese slice and 1 ham slice on top of each breast. Roll up each breast, and secure with a toothpick. Place in baking dish, and sprinkle chicken evenly with bread crumbs.

4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from oven, and place 1/2 cheese slice on top of each breast. Return to oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Remove toothpicks, and serve immediately.

*The first time I had Chicken Cordon Bleu, my high school date for the Winter Formal made it.  Actually, I think he "cooked" from a frozen package, but frozen food or not, I loved it!  With just a little practice, this meal is simple and delicious--one of my favorites.


1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese
2 t mustard
Bon appetite seasoning (or 1 t celery salt + 1/2 t onion powder)
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Mix all ingredients except walnuts together.  Adjust measurements to taste.  Form into a ball and roll in walnuts.  Serve with crackers.

*These are tradition in my mother's family.  Can't beat recipes tested by three generations!


2 ripe avocados
1/2 pint sour cream
1 T Lawry's seasoning salt
1 tomato, chopped

1.  Slice avocado in half, remove pit.  Coarsely slice through while still in skin.  Remove avocado and place into medium size bowl.

2.  Add remaining ingredients, adjust measurements to taste.

3.  Serve with chips, etc.

*This always makes me think of my dad and New Year's, a fringe benefit of being a store-keeper's daughter as it was an excellent way to use extra ripe produce.  Yum!

Disappearing Fruit Dip

Prep: 10 min

For variety, try substituting orange juice and orange peel for the lime.

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow cream
1 T lime juice
1 t grated lime peel
Dash ground ginger

Assorted fresh fruit

In a mixing bowl, beat until smooth. Makes 2 cups.

*Good, fun, nice touch for fresh fruit.  The first day I served this, I actually forgot to add the ginger.  The next day, I added a splash to what dip I had left.  The ginger definitely adds a hint of tanginess that I enjoyed.