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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Shepherd’s Pie Stuffed Potatoes

This twist on twice baked potatoes is from one of my favorite TV chefs, Rachael Ray.

  • 4 large Russet potatoes, scrubbed clean (I used 6 regular potatoes for portion control and cost)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided, plus additional for drizzling
  • Salt
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 pound ground sirloin or ground turkey
  • 1/2 pound button or crimini mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown or Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese, for sprinkling on top (I used whatever we had in the fridge)

Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.

On a baking sheet, toss the potatoes with a hearty drizzle of EVOO and some salt. Bake in the oven until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool.

Turn the oven off and pre-heat the broiler.

While the potatoes are cooling, place a medium skillet over medium-high heat with one turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon. Add the bell pepper and half of the onion to the pan, season with salt and pepper, then cook until the veggies are tender, 5-6 minutes. Transfer them to a large mixing bowl.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut a thin slice lengthwise off of the top to expose the inside. Scoop out the potato flesh, taking care not to pierce the wall of the potato, and transfer to the bowl with the veggies (reserve the potato shells). Add the sour cream and paprika to the bowl and mash. Reserve warm.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with two turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the ground sirloin or ground turkey to the pan and cook until golden brown, 5-6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to turn golden brown, 4-5 minutes.

Add the remaining onion and garlic to the pan and cook until all the veggies are tender, about 5 minutes more. Push all of the ingredients to the edge of the pan and add the butter to the skillet. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and cook for about 1 minute. Add the stock, mustard, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and some salt and pepper to the skillet and stir to combine. Bring up to a bubble and simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes.

Fill the potato shells with the beef and mushroom mixture, then top each of them with the reserved mashed potatoes. Transfer to a baking sheet and sprinkle with the cheese. (You really need to pile each of these three layer high! Pack it on!) Pop the potatoes under the broiler until the cheese is melted and tops are golden brown.

Serves 4-5

Monday, March 23, 2009

Overnight Asparagus Strata

This hearty, versatile dish is great served for breakfast, lunch, or supper. I love the flavors and make-ahead ease. This is a tasty way to sneak veggies into the kids. Throw in whatever your family likes, what's on sale, or what's in your fridge that day. Give it a healthy makeover without sacrificing flavor by using whole wheat muffins, skim milk, reduced fat cheese, and even turkey bacon/ sausage if you like.
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
5 English muffins, split and toasted
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Colby-Jack cheese, divided
1 cup diced fully cooked ham
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp pepper

In a large saucepan, bring 8 cups water to a boil. Add asparagus; cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately place asparagus in ice cold water. Drain and pat dry.

Arrange eight English muffin halves, cut side up in a greased 9x13-in. baking dish. Fill in spaces with remaining muffin halves. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese, asparagus, ham, and red pepper. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt, mustard, and pepper; pour over muffins. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the edge comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

Yield: 6-8 servings.
(Recipe from Taste of Home April/May 2004)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Couple of Ideas...

I was wondering, since we are all either expecting or have a newborn (or almost all of us), are there any recipes that you guys usually make ahead to have a few ready meals once the baby comes??

I have these for my list so far:
2 Lasagna (regular kind)
2-3 Chicken Enchilada guts (so all I have to do is thaw and roll)
1-2 Chicken Pot Pie guts

After that, I draw a blank... What else freezes well that I can start getting these made?

Second idea: I was wondering if we could make a list, maybe not a true post so we could keep it visible on the website, of your opinions of "must have" cookbooks? Whether they are great for ideas, basic recipes that are easy to adjust, or whatever...

My must have's are: The Better Homes and Garden's Cookbook and the Ball: Complete Book to Home Preserving

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Grilled Bread with Zesty Lime Butter

This is a fun twist on traditional garlic bread.


  • 2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons chili lime seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 loaf French bread, cut in 1/2 lengthwise (French Bread Recipe)


Preheat a grill pan over a medium-high heat.

Combine butter, chili lime seasoning and lime juice in a bowl and mix well to blend.

Using a butter knife lightly coat both halves of bread with the lime butter. Place on grill and grill about 4 minutes.

My only critique of this recipe is that it's too much butter, even for me, and I love butter. I would use 1 - 1 1/2 sticks of butter and it would still be plenty. Also, I didn't find chili lime seasoning so I used Baja Citrus and it tasted great so I'm sure anything similar would work. I don't have a grill pan so I broiled it in the oven for 4 minutes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Curried Lentil Soup

I made this a while back and loved the earthy taste and the fact that it is super healthy. I've been very interested in getting good protein lately in forms other than meat. I am no vegetarian by any means, but I do believe good health can come from reducing our meat intake. I found it in a magazine called Family Circle. I just love lentils in any form. If you're looking for a healthy and very filling meal, this soup will definitely be enough. For someone looking for good-tasting food that is also good for you, this hits the spot.

-1 Tablespoon olive oil
-1 large onion, chopped
-1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
-2 teaspoons curry powder
-1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
-1 Cup dried lentils, picked over
-4 1/2 Cups low-sodium chicken broth
-1 Cup water
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 bunch (about 3/4 pound) fresh kale, rinsed, tough stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 8 Cups)
-1/4 Cup 2% Greek yogurt

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook onion and carrot, stirring occasionaly, 5 minutes. Stir in curry powder and cook one minute more. Add tomatoes, lentils, broth, water and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to pot. Bring to a boil, then partially cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes or until lentils are tender. In batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth; return to pot and gently reheat. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, salt and kale. Cook 5 minutes or until kale is wilted and tender. Dollop each serving with 1 Tablespoon yogurt.

Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes

Per Serving: 314 calories; 4 g fat (1 g sat.); 22 g protein; 50 g carbohydrate; 11 g fiber; 1,028 mg sodium; 7 mg cholesterol

Friday, March 13, 2009


If you haven't noticed, all the authors on our blog are new moms or moms-to-be. April had Tate in December, Ligia had Chrysalis in February, Jami had Ella in March, Lyanna and Taylor are both due with little girls in June, and I'm due with a surprise in May. So at one point all six of us were pregnant at the same time! Congratulations to all of you and good luck with your growing families!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Valentine's Day Cake

So I've been wanting to post recipes for a while but am just now getting to it. Having a newborn around makes it difficult to get to the computer. But I would like to share this one that I made for my sweet hubby on Valentine's Day. It's super easy. I got the recipe from Alex's mom (Cheryl). I was quite fond of the frosting and adding the sliced berries was my own personal decorative touch. Hope you enjoy my first post. :o)

Valentine's Day Cake:

Cream until fluffy:
3/4 Cup butter
1 3/4 Cups sugar

Add and beat for one minute:

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
(Danncy Mexican, if you can get it)

Combine separately:

2 Cups unsifted flour
3/4 Cup cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add dry mixture to batter alternately with 1 1/3 Cups very cold water, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Pour batter into a fun heart shaped cake pan (I got mine at Walmart for $6) and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until done. Cool completely before frosting.


6 Tablespoons butter
1/2 Cup cocoa
2 2/3 Cups unsifted powdered sugar
1/3 Cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla (Danncy Mexican, if you can get it)

Cream together the butter and cocoa. In a separate container, add the vanilla to the milk. Add the powdered sugar alternately with the milk/vanilla mixture. It's amazing how these few simple ingredients can make such a yummy frosting. Trust me.


I used strawberries because I love the strawberry and chocolate combo. You'll need about 8 medium sized strawberries sliced vertically. Then just get creative. I suppose you could use other fruit if you'd like too. I might try sliced pineapple or raspberries. Any fresh fruit goes well with chocolate. Have fun experimenting.

Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Blue

So, last night I was looking at my "monthly menu" and decided I needed to stray... Looking at what I had onhand that wouldn't last much longer, I can up with this. Annelyse told me about 15 times how great it was, she even said "Mommy, you should make this EVERY day!" That would be a bit much for me, but this one's definitely being added to the menu!

-1 lb. Chicken, cubed pretty small
-1/2 lb. Ham, I used a Ham Steak (I love those things), cubed smaller than chicken
-1 can Cream of Potato Soup
-2 cups Chicken Stock, or boullion, (I recently found "Kitchen Basics" Chicken Stock- BEST STUFF EVER!!!!)
-1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
-3/4 to 1 cup chopped onion, I used sweet
-1 tsp fresh ground pepper

-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1/4 cup water mixed with 3 tbsp corn starch
-2 cups, and a little extra for topping, shredded swiss cheese
-about 1 cup bread crumbs or homemade croutons

-Egg noodles, enough to feed family (dish serves about 6 adults)

Put first set of ingredients in Crock Pot on High for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

Add cream, water/corn starch mixture, and 2 cups swiss cheese to Crock Pot. Mix well and cook for about 20 to 30 minutes on Low, or until sauce is thickened.

Put onto egg noodles, top with bread crumbs or croutons, then cheese. Enjoy!

I served it with Steamed Broccoli and Whole Wheat Rolls.

Monday, March 9, 2009

French Bread

I got this recipe from my friend, Elise, and have been very pleased with the result. Her notes are in brackets. I would highly recommend giving this one a try!

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5-5 1/2 cups bread flour


  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water (110 degrees) and sugar in large bowl; allow yeast to proof or foam (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add salt, oil, and 3 cups flour; beat for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in 2 cups flour to make a stiff dough.
  4. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. [I do not knead by hand; I use kitchen aid on medium for approximately 5 minutes.]
  5. Place in oiled bowl, turn dough to coat all sides, cover and let rise until doubled.
  6. Punch down and divide in half.
  7. Shape dough into two long slender loaves.
  8. Grease and sprinkle with cornmeal either a french bread pan or large cookie sheet.
  9. Place loaves in pan and cut diagonal gashes on top of each loaf (I use scissors).
  10. Cover and let rise until doubled.
  11. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  12. Note: You can sprinkle or spray water on the loaves during baking if you want a really crunchy crust. [Turn finished bread onto cooling rack to avoid soggy bottoms. And for a very soft crust, cover cooling bread with dish towel.]
  13. [It's hard to mess this recipe up. Try it. You will suddenly become a baker.]

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Peanut-ty Granola

So, granola seems to be one of my top 5 cravings while pregnant. I fell in LOVE with one sold at an Amish Market in Dover, DE. But, since that is 30 minutes away, I just couldn't justify driving all the way there just to get some one week. Thus, this recipe was born. It's very close, just a little less sweet than most granolas, but I love it!

3 Cups Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Almonds- sliced or slivered
1/2 Cup Unsalted Sunflower Kernals
2/3 Cup Shredded Coconut
3/4 Cup Wheat Germ
2/3 Cup Honey
1/3 Cup Oil
2/3 Cup Peanut Butter
2 tsp Vanilla**

Optional: 1/2 Cup: Crasins, Raisens, Chopped Dried Apricots, or Dried Banana Slices

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Mix last four in smaller bowl, then add to dry mixture. Mix well. Spread out on baking sheet & bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Add any dried fruit if desired. Spread out on wax paper or foil (I just wash my counter off and spread it on there). Break into clusters and store in airtight container. I love to eat it with yogurt or ice-cream/frozen yogurt.
** I forgot to put this the first time!! Glad I checked back...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Honey Apricot Syrup

This is a thick syrup that has a lot of flavor without being overly sweet. We enjoy this on pancakes and waffles regularly.

28 to 32 apricots, halved and pitted
1/2 to 1 cup honey
3/4 teaspoon fruit fresh*
1 to 2 cups sugar


1. Puree apricots to equal one quart; add remaining ingredients and mix well. Bring to a boil in a 3 to 4-quart saucepan and boil for 2 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and either freeze or process.

2. Process according to your local university extension's recommendations. For Utah County here are some resources: Principles of Boiling Water Canning and Preserving Apricots.
I followed the guidelines for processing apricot puree/nectar - 20 minutes.

White Whole Wheat Sour Cream Pancakes

These pancakes were surprisingly light for being whole wheat. James said he never would have guessed they were whole wheat if he hadn't known. This is a recipe where I substitute yogurt for the sour cream - less fat and uses up yogurt that didn't quite turn out. Yogurt and sour cream can be used interchangeably, cup for cup, in baking.

I originally got the recipe from

The syrup is made from a batch of Honey Apricot Syrup that Taylor and I canned this summer. It's quite thick, but very tasty! I will post that shortly.

2 1/3 cups white whole wheat flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
2 cups milk


1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, sour cream, and milk. Stir just until no lumps remain.

2. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Drop by 1/4 cup onto griddle and cook until golden on both sides.

Serve immediately with your favorite toppings.

Makes about 20 large pancakes.