Monday, December 31, 2007

The Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup

Well, our senate is doing something right. Or, shall I say, the senate's staff is doing something right! This bean and ham soup is delicious! My husband had two servings and said he wouldn't change a thing in the soup. That's high praise, I'm telling you. So interesting to see how 2 pounds of beans, 1 onion, and a ham bone can go so far. Simple food made delicious once again.

The Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup Recipe

2 pounds dried navy beans
four quarts hot water
1 1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the navy beans and run hot water through them until they are slightly whitened. Place beans into pot with hot water. Add ham hocks and simmer approximately three hours in a covered pot, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hocks and set aside to cool. Dice meat and return to soup. Lightly brown the onion in butter. Add to soup. Before serving, bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Serves 8.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Burgers and Fries

My husband's surrogate parents sent us some burgers and steaks from Omaha Steaks so I decided we should barbecue tonight! He cooked the burgers and I made oven fries. It's a pretty good oven fry recipe so I'll post it. It's off of - a pretty good website for recipes. Anyway, I used more salt than called for, omitted the cayenne, and used a tablespoon of oil since one teaspoon seemed pretty skimpy for fries. Also, I covered the cookie sheet with foil and sprayed it with cooking spray. All in all, I'm pretty satisfied. Only my picky husband didn't like them. Everyone else ate them up with enthusiasm.

Oven Fries

Submitted by: Barbara Harris
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Ready In: 45 Minutes
Yields: 6 servings

"Couldn't be simpler or more tasty. Cut potatoes are coated with oil, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes, and then baked. They emerge crusty and nippy on the outside and all potato on the inside."

2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground cayenne

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with foil, and coat well with vegetable cooking spray. Scrub potatoes well and cut into 1/2 inch thick fries.
2. In a large mixing bowl, toss potatoes with oil, sugar, salt and red pepper. Spread on baking sheet in one layer.
3. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until potatoes are tender and browned. Serve immediately.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Penne with Kale and Ham

Penne with Kale and Ham

1 bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 to 2 cups ham, chopped
2/3 cup beef broth
16 ounces penne pasta
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain. While it is cooking, in a large sauté pan, heat garlic and red pepper flakes in oil over medium heat until garlic starts to sizzle. Stir in ham. Add kale and toss to coat with oil. Add broth. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, adding more broth if necessary, until greens are tender and most of the stock has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Toss with pasta and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

This was more delicious than I imagined it'd be. And it's very healthy. I used whole wheat, organic pasta to make it even healthier. It sounds like total hippy food but I assure you it does not taste like sprouts and tofu!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Stir Fry

This stir fry was divine. I marinated the chicken in Yoshida's teriyaki sauce all day. I used the following vegetables: onions, green pepper, shiitake mushrooms, baby bok choy, and bamboo shoots cut into strips (you can buy them in the can that way). I stir fried the chicken then added the onions. After those cooked for a while I added the green pepper. Then the baby bok choy (stems, no leaves yet). I added a tablespoon of butter and even though that's not authentic it made it taste so good! I put the lid on the pan for a little while so the bok choy would cook. Then I added the mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and leaves of the bok choy. I put the lid on again for a minute or so until everything cooked. At the end I drizzled sesame oil and incorporated it into the stir fry.

This was seriously one of the best stir fries I have ever made. I really love baby bok choy so I think that made a big difference.

Sorry I haven't updated lately. I will have to upload photos from the past couple of weeks and backdate the entries.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Dinner!

I made dinner at my house this year, as every year. I figure if I have the children then Christmas should be at my house.

I was going to make rolls the night before but ran out of steam. Therefore, we had whole wheat store-bought rolls. No matter, they were tasty.

I roasted some green beans. I got fresh green beans from Trader Joe's. I put them on a baking sheet, drizzled them with olive oil, and sprinkled white pepper and kosher salt on them. Then I roasted them in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes. They could have gone a little longer but I love green beans with a snap to them.

These potatoes are so delicious. My dad got the recipe from someone. Essentially, you cut the potatoes into sticks. Lay down a layer in a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cut an onion into strips and lay half down onto the layer of potatoes. Sprinkle with garlic salt (or garlic powder), dot with butter, and sprinkle cheese on that layer. The cheese can be any kind, I suppose, but I used Tillamook's mild cheddar. Repeat the layering one more time then cover and put in a 375 degree oven for about an hour. These are very good. So good, in fact, I may make them again very soon!

This sweet potato casserole is one my dad made. He gave me the recipe finally but I have yet to make it myself. It is so good and also very good for breakfast the next morning!

Ham! I was going to get a Honeybaked Ham until I found out how freaking expensive they are. Instead, I got one from Trader Joe's. Personally, it was a little too smoky for my tastes but everyone else loved it. I am fairly picky about that smoke flavor anyway.

The night before Christmas dinner I made a rum cake. Basically, it's a yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding, and 1/2 cup of spiced rum. Then after it has baked you make a glaze with rum, water, and sugar. It's very good but if you don't like rum you wouldn't like this cake for sure. I thought the cake was pretty with the crown of walnuts at the top.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Dinner Hodge Podge

Kalbi marinated pork loin, stir fry vegetables, and rice cooked in vegetable broth. Oh, and garlic bread.

Wait a minute. GARLIC BREAD? What? Turns out I had buttered too many pieces of bread for the breakfast casserole I made for the next morning and so I added garlic bread to dinner. It did work in a sort of crazy way, though. Hey, I can never say no to bread.

This was Baxter's plate.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Beefy Mac

It has been a while now but I browned some ground beef. Meanwhile, I was cooking a package of deluxe mac & cheese. When the ground beef was mostly browned I added some onion. After the mac & cheese was all done I combined everything and added a cup of salsa, corn, and one chopped tomato. This was very tasty, even if it wasn't all that nutritious.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Spanish Chicken

I made this dish up. I had chicken breasts, Spanish flavor Rice-a-Roni, and olives on hand. I didn't want to just cook the chicken and rice separately so I combined it. This dish was delish! The chicken was very tender, the olives were nice, and the rice was flavorful. I added a can of diced tomatoes (per the rice instructions), a can of pinto beans (drained and rinsed), and peas.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tangy Pork and Sweet Potatoes

I have to be honest; I did not taste this. I did, however, cook it and the people in the household attested to it's goodness. Here is the recipe:


1 1/2 pounds boneless pork, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, cut into wedges
2 cups hickory flavored barbecue sauce, divided use
1 1/2 teaspoons dried mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced

Place pork in a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Top with sweet potatoes and onion.

Combine 1 cup barbecue sauce, dried mustard and garlic in a cup; mix well and pour into slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 1/2-7 hours, or until pork and potatoes are very tender.

When ready to serve, stir in another 1 cup barbecue sauce. Have a fresh green salad and some crusty bread on the side.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Turkey Tortellini Salad

This was pretty good but it should have had double the tortellini. The pesto was plentiful and it would have been less powerful with more pasta.


2 9-ounce packages refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 7-ounce jar pesto
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 turkey cutlets (see previous recipe), cut into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 cups halved and sliced zucchini
1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper

Prepare tortellini according to package directions; drain and rinse under cold water.

In a large bowl, combine pesto with vinegar, salt, sugar and pepper. Add turkey to pesto mixture along with zucchini, bell pepper and the cooked tortellini; toss and serve.

(How to cook turkey cutlets: Rub turkey cutlets with salt and pepper. In a skillet coated with vegetable oil, cook cutlets over medium-high heat, turning once, about 5 minutes.)

Saturday, December 15, 2007


I made my peanut butter chocolate cookies for the Cookie Party tonight. I had to make 12 dozen. Wow!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Blasts of Yumminess


1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup Reese's Pieces
1 cup peanut butter chips
Reese's miniature peanut butter cups, unwrapped


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla.

3. Combine the flour, cocoa, and baking soda; stir into peanut butter mixture.

4. Mix in the Reese's Pieces and peanut butter chips.

5. Form by the tablespoonful into your hand. Smoosh a peanut butter cup into the bottom middle of the cookie. Lay on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Smash lightly with the bottom of a glass (I use a ramekin). You may want to cover the bottom of the glass with plastic wrap for less sticking.

6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on sheet before removing then cool on racks.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Italian Spinach Pie

Meh. This was all right... I don't think I'd make it again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Greek Penne and Chicken

Oh my, this was tasty! I added kalamata olives (because, seriously, wtf - this dish was screaming for it!) and used whole wheat pasta. The pasta held up well with the other strong flavors. I didn't add garlic bread like I had in my meal plan but this meal was enough as is. Maybe a salad would have gone well with it, too. We're just not big salad people, especially in the winter.

Here is the recipe:

Greek Penne and Chicken
Serves: 4
Cook time: 20 minutes

16 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves -- cut into bite-size pieces
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts in water
1 tomato, chopped
10 kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste

In a large pot with boiling, salted water, cook penne pasta until al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high, melt butter, add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add chopped chicken and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Drain and chop artichoke hearts and add them, chopped tomato, feta cheese, fresh parsley, lemon juice, dried oregano and drained penne to the large skillet. Cook until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Season with salt and ground black pepper. Serve warm.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Quinoa and Black Beans

This was very good. I had picked up a box of quinoa at Trader Joe's a while back but really wasn't sure what to do with it until I came across this recipe. This was very yummy. The only alterations I made were using cumin seed (I did try to mortar and pestle it but it was still seedy), and canned corn because I didn't have frozen on hand. Most everyone except the toddler liked it.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sausage, Tomato, and White Bean Stew

Sausage, Tomato and White Bean Stew
Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

1 pound sweet Italian sausage (bulk or removed from casings)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup orzo

In a stockpot over medium heat, cook and break up sausage and until no longer pink. If necessary, drain all but 1 tablespoon fat.

Add onion and saute until softened. Add garlic and seasoning. Add broth, water, beans and tomatoes and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add orzo and cook for another 10 minutes, uncovered.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Okay, so this is totally cheating...!

The finocchiona sandwich from the marvelous Salumi. For those who may not know, this fantastic place is owned by Mario Batali's dad. I did not like salami until I ate Salumi's. It's a good bread, Salumi's own finocchiona salami, Salumi's homemade mozzarella, peppers, onions, and an olive oil and garlic mixture. Heaven!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Spaghetti and Garlic Bread

Tonight we made spaghetti with, not a hot dog, but an apple and gouda sausage from Niman Ranch. I wasn't impressed but perhaps the sausage would taste better with different foods. Eggs, maybe. Or a cream sauce.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Papa Murphy's Take-n-Bake

I do love this pizza. It's their Gourmet Chicken Pizza. So, while we cooked it in the oven we sure didn't prepare it. Oh well.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Oven BBQ Chicken, Rice-a-Roni, Corn

Well, tonight I really copped out. I poured barbecue sauce on chicken and threw it in the oven for 40 minutes. I made rice and heated up corn. Whee. I also fell asleep for about 40 minutes once I put the chicken in the oven. Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Kraft Taco Bake

Taco Bake from Kraft Kitchens

Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time: 35 min
Makes: 6 servings

1 pkg. (14 oz.) KRAFT Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. (1-1/4 oz.) TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Taco Seasoning Mix
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
1-1/2 cups KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
1 cup TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Thick 'N Chunky Salsa

PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Prepare Dinner as directed on package. While Macaroni is cooking, brown meat; drain. Add taco seasoning mix and water to meat; simmer 5 min.

STIR sour cream into prepared Dinner. Spoon half of the Dinner mixture into 8-inch square baking dish; top with layers of the meat mixture, 1 cup of the cheese and remaining Dinner mixture. Cover.

BAKE 15 min. Top with salsa and remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake, uncovered, an additional 5 min. or until cheese is melted.


Of course, I didn't use Kraft ingredients. I don't think any of mine were, come to think of it. Regardless, it was still yummy.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Pork Chops, Sauerkraut, and Whole Wheat Bread

Pork Chops, Sauerkraut, and Whole Wheat Bread

I salted and peppered the pork chops on both sides. I browned them for about two minutes per side. Meanwhile, the oven was heating to 350. I also mixed a jar of sauerkraut (drained), 1/3 cup of brown sugar, half an apple (peeled and chopped), and 2/3 cup of water. I put the sauerkraut mixture into a casserole dish then topped it with the browned pork chops. I covered it with foil and baked it all for an hour. It was really yummy! I was going to make mashed potatoes but got wrapped up in making granola bars so I ran out of time. Luckily, I had a loaf of whole wheat bread from my visit to Whole Foods on Friday.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Asian Feast Night (Again?)

Potstickers for an appetizer - yum!

I then made chicken stir fry and teriyaki flavored Rice-a-Roni.

It was a satisfying dinner.