Wednesday, December 31, 2008

About a boy

Thatboy has the biggest sweet tooth and because of the season, it's easy to indulge him. For the Jewish New Year we all dip apples in honey, a reminder of the sweet year to come. Well I see your apples and honey, and raise you... in a big way. I want to wish all my readers a sweet 2009, and before that ball drops and we all swear off anything with sugar for at least a week, I leave you with some of my sweetest recipes. And they're not all unhealthy! Some have some real redeeming qualities.

Please stay safe tonight everyone! And, of course, Happy New Year!

4 Ingredient Peach Cobbler
Thatboy says this is the best peach cobbler he's ever had in his life. It makes me feel a little like Sandra Lee, but after a bite or two, I don't even care. Besides, it's hard to get fresh peaches in December!

  • 2 cans sliced peaches in juice
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Pour peaches and juice in bottom of baking dish.
  2. Sprinkle cake mix over peaches.
  3. Cut butter into small pieces and dot over cake mix.
  4. Sprinkle pecans on top. Bake for 45 minutes.

Strawberry Surprise Pie
Some people call pies and cakes made with Jello "mirror" cakes because of the shiny surface. I prefer to call this one a surprise because of the secret hiding below the surface - bananas. Sure you could leave them out, but then you'd have no surprise! The addition of cottage cheese helps make this a pie that's not only sweet, but kinda good for you - maybe even breakfast food!

  • 1/2 packet of strawberry jello
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 12 ice cubes
  • 8 oz cottage cheese
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • premade graham cracker crust (I know, totally cheating, right?)
  1. Dissolve strawberry jello in boiling water and stir for three minutes.
  2. Add ice cubes and stir for 2 more minutes, removing any ice cubes that don't melt.
  3. Stir in cottage cheese until well blended.
  4. Make layer of bananas on bottom of crust.
  5. Spoon strawberry mixture over bananas. Refrigerate one hour.

Steamed Apples
I can't get away from giving you one sweet apple dish, and this is one of my favorites. Although usually baked apples are made in the oven, it's just as easy to make them stovetop. It's the perfect winter treat!

  • 2 apples
  • sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. Core apples, but not all the way through so that there is a cavity in each apple.
  2. Fill this cavity with sugar.
  3. Place 1/4 Tbsp butter on top of each filled cavity and sprinkle cinnamon over top.
  4. In a saucepan place water and bring to a boil. Lower to simmer and place apples in water. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Lemon Pie
  • 1 box lemon sugar free jello
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • ice cubes
  • 1 cup cool whip
  • pie crust - baked and cooled
  1. In a large bowl, combine boiling water and jello and stir 2 minutes.
  2. Add ice cubes, 1 at a time, stirring until dissolved for another 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in cool whip until blended and smooth. Pour into pie crust. Refrigerate overnight.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What have you done?

Although my nickname at Thatboy's office is Superwife, I definitely have my lazy days. Those days where I stay in my pajamas all day and never leave the couch. Those days where the thought of coming up with a creative dinner just seems like work. Unfortunately "frozen dinners" in Thathouse consist of frozen chicken breasts, frozen ground meat, and frozen soups. That's when meals get very lazy. I start thinking "what makes up a dinner? A protein, a veggie, and a starch. I know, I'll just throw them all together, and cover them with cheese!" Don't all start applauding just yet, this kind of genius takes years of practice.

Chicken and Potato Casserole
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 6 red potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Arrange potato in baking dish, place layer of chicken on top, and layer of red onion.
  2. Mix together cheese and milk in small bowl and pour over layerers. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 40 minutes.
Serves 2.
Each serving has:
Calories 598.5
Total Fat 5.4 g
Saturated Fat 1.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Cholesterol 77.9 mg
Sodium 700.7 mg
Potassium 2,616.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 98.3 g
Dietary Fiber 12.2 g
Sugars 4.0 g
Protein 39.9 g

Monday, December 29, 2008


Let me take you back back back. All the way to the week before Christmas. Back when I promised to show you all the reasons why I hadn't been blogging lately.

First there was the Christmas Stocking:

My friend got it the day before Christmas, just in time for stuffing it with goodies for her son's first birthday! She loved it, her son loved it, and she couldn't believe it was my first stocking. To tell you the truth, I was a little surprised myself. And proud! I can't make to make homemade stockings for Thathouse next year! And the host of little babies that all my friends seem to be having lately (so far we're at 6 boys between 2008/2009).

Then came Thanksgiving December. We were to have friends over before we left and as every good hostess, I requested dietary restrictions which was a good thing, since she's sticking heavily to white meat (not including pork) and I don't do seafood. I decided to do a Thanksgiving meal since turkey is a fantastic white meat and I've never gotten to make one before! I spent all day brining a turkey and making sides when the call came - illness forced our guests to cancel. Luckily Sisterwife jumped in to save the day (and if she's figured out my blog yet she's going to be hysterical laughing at this point in time). Her and her husband, who were already coming over later that week gladly decided to forgoe the red meat I'd promised them for Thatgirl's first turkey. But Sisterwife came exactly on time, and rather than whip out the camera, we sat down to a hot meal. You're stuck with pictures of what remained. Lucky for you, I always over do it when company comes so there was a lot left over.

The turkey! Thatmom (and Thatdad) make the turkey every Thanksgiving and they are not briners. But I had heard good things about it, and so I decided to give it a try. Thatboy said it was the best turkey he'd ever eaten! It was perfectly done, moist, and flavorful. I had a terrible fear of undercooking the bird and serving raw turkey to my guests, but who would have guessed 2 hours is all a turkey needs? I also roasted the turkey breast side down for an hour before flipping it, and Thatmom thinks that may be the weirdest thing she's ever heard of, but it came out well!

Gravy. Made from pan drippings and the roasted giblets and turkey neck. Thatboy was a little hesitant about this. I think he asked 4 or 5 times "why are you keeping the turkey neck and giblets?" Of course for fun I was keeping them in a plastic bag in the fridge right on top of his lunch box........... I took the turkey out of the oven 2 hours before the guests arrived, and had piping hot gravy ready to pour over it! Perfect!

Thatboy's favorite part of Thanksgiving is the stuffing, so I made a ton of it! Thatmom always makes two kinds of stuffing, in the bird and outside of the bird, but since so many people are worried about bacteria by cooking in the turkey, I made this outside the bird just in case. I also used chicken sausage since it was originally made for someone who doesn't eat pork.

I felt bad about not having anything green, and having so many starches, so I threw some spinach in the skillet with toasted pine nuts and raisins. Nothing fancy. Not really Thanksgiving-y, but it added some green color to the table. The raisins add some sweetness and the pine nuts add a nutty flavor and this is a great way to get someone to eat spinach!

Sweet potatoes. Not my best dish. Don't get me wrong, I love everything made with sweet potatoes (as does PI, Sisterwife's husband) but Thatboy didn't like the consistency. I put the sweet potatoes in the food processor and they came out a little pureed (Thatboy calls it baby food). I spoke with Thatsister-in-law's sister while we were out of town because she makes the most fantastic sweet potatoes and she said she mashes them with a fork, so they're still chunky. Thatboy likes hers better, so I'm going to use that technique from now on. Topping them with pecans and brown sugar however will probably stay.

Cranberry Relish. Thatboy wasn't a fan of this either. I wanted to make it on my own and not use any of my mom's recipes for this Thanksgiving so I didn't use her fabulous cranberry relish, but that was a mistake. Thatboy thought this was too tart and not nearly as sweet as my mom's. I know her secret ingredient, so maybe next time I'll use that. All I know is that it was very exciting to watch the fresh cranberries boil away on the stove!

Mashed Potatoes. These were a huge hit. I'm still kinda tasting them in my mouth, and it's been two weeks! I think what sends them over the edge is the heavy cream and white cheddar cheese. Yeah - that's pretty much all it takes right?

And finally, getting ready for the Holidays! There was holiday shopping to be done, and activities to plan. I made boxes for Thatniece and Thatnephew to open each day we visited filled with activities. Activities like making Christmas cookies and watching Christmas movies, making hot cocoa and going to look at the decorated house lights, celebrating Chanukkah and making latkes and sufganiyot. All the activities went over great and each one was a brand new first time experience for the kids which is always fun. And of course there were all the Christmas office treats!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Don't forget the Platinum Chef Challenge deadline is almost upon us! Later this week I'll post the rest of the Christmas update with all the goodies and sweets that give you something to have a New Years resolution about.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stirring up the dirt

Does everyone remember the Friends episode where Rachel makes trifle? The pages stick together in the cookbook and she ends up making a trifle which includes ingredients for a shepherd's pie.

Ross: "That tastes like feet."
Joey: "I like it."
Ross: "Are you kidding?"
Joey: "What's not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Goooooood."

This trifle is a little more traditional. There is no meat in it at all. Instead it uses fresh red berries which always make me think of Christmas. It also uses alcohol, which forms the baseline for my Christmas activities. And if you got to spend Christmas with Thatinlaws then you'd be pouring alcohol into all of your dishes also!

This was also a great chance to use the Mayhew Jelly I picked up in Savannah. I got a fascinating lesson on Mayhaw berries from the owner of the wine store where I found the jelly. It's basically just a great sweet jelly that I love to use in tarts and thought would work well with the strawberries and raspberries in the trifle. I was right! I love traveling to new places and bringing home specialties to try.

Mixed Berry Trifle
  • 1 pound cake, cut into 8 slices
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 4 Tbsp Mayhaw Jelly
  • 1 pkg of instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 carton cool whip
  1. Make vanilla pudding according to package directions.
  2. Arrange half of the pound cake on the bottom of a glass bowl.
  3. Spoon half the sherry over the cake.
  4. Layer the strawberries over the cake and top with 2 Tbsp of the jelly.
  5. Pour half the pudding over the layers.
  6. Layer the remaining cake, sherry, raspberries, and jelly.
  7. Spoon the cool whip over the layers and refrigerate overnight.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Baby I'm in love with you

There are few things in life better than hot soup on a cold, wet winter day. It's even better when that soup is already in your freezer, so all you have to do is heat it up. Or in my case, heat it up and add more to it! I took my potato leek soup and added chopped up pieces of ham, some frozen peas, and some grated cheese. It's even warmer and more filling than the original!

Happy Channukah everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

She once had me

Merry Christmas everyone! This is a special note from Thatdog to remind you not to forget about your four legged family members this holiday season. I'm lucky, because Thatgirl and Thatboy never forget about me. They always ensure there are loads of special treats for me. Most of the time they hide these treats in what they call the "garbage can" which means I have to work a little bit for my rewards. Unfortunately, there's something wrong with my super secret hiding spot where I like to bury my "garbage can" treats. I hide them between the couch cushions, but when I go back to find them, they've mysteriously disappeared.

Around the holidays though, Thatgirl spends a lot of time in the kitchen. And I get to help out. I love to position myself right at the edge of the kitchen. Close enough where she can see me patiently waiting, but far enough away where I don't have to worry about the hot oven things or the knives she's always dropping.

When I've been an especially good boy, Thatgirl gives me some of her extra special treats. She makes a lot of my treats herself, because she says that way she knows what I'm eating. These treats are so yummy, that she and Thatboy sneak them too! This time when she made them, she coated half of them in coconut especially for the two of them. She explained to me that while coconut probably is okay for me to eat, the kind she had was sweetened and she doesn't like me having sweetened foods. The honey in these treats make them sweet enough for me anyway.

So remember, little furry friends give you their love year round. Don't forget them this time of year in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. A treat here, a new toy there, maybe even a warm new sweater!

Thatdog's Holiday Balls
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  1. Combine all ingredients until well mixed.
  2. Roll into small balls.
  3. If for two legged consumption, roll the balls in coconut or chocolate chips.

Friday, December 19, 2008

In conversation

Traditionally my favorite thing for breakfast is an omelet. And I like mine nice and Greek - filled with feta, tomatoes, and spinach. But I'm not close minded when it comes to food. In fact, one of my friends recently took me for my first Korean hot pot experience. I love trying new food adventures and creating my own adventures in the kitchen. I decided to make Chinese Chicken Omelet - kinda like Egg Foo Young.

Thatboy LOVED this. I was afraid it'd be a little too savory for breakfast, but he didn't think so at all. The celery and waterchestnuts add a great crisp bite to the egg and chicken. I love the fresh taste of the bean sprouts and the salty flavor soy sauce brings.

Chinese Chicken Omelet
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 4 mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 can water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • handful of bean sprouts
  • splash of soy sauce
  • handful of cooked chicken, diced
  1. In a large bowl, beat eggs with fork and add all ingredients but oil.
  2. Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Pour mixture onto hot skillet.
  3. Cook until underside is brown, flip and continue cooking until eggs are set.
Serves 2.
Each serving has:
Calories 301.6
Total Fat 18.6 g
Cholesterol 453.6 mg
Sodium 180.4 mg
Potassium 552.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 12.2 g
Protein 21.8 g

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm cooking inside

As soon as we finished putting up the tree, Thatboy turned to me and said, "So when are we having people over to see it?" Have I mentioned that Christmas revolves around a tree for my husband?

So I told him we'd start inviting people over. After all, it's not the holidays without friends is it? Which reminded me that other people are probably planning their holiday parties and potlucks right now. So I thought I'd post some great appetizer ideas. Tis the season. And while Christmas revolves around a tree for Thatboy, for me it's all about the company!

Breakfast in Blankets
These are perfect for holiday brunches, breakfasts or when you're heading over somewhere Christmas morning.
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 8 chicken breakfast sausages
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook sausages in a pan until done.
  2. Roll out sheets of puff pastry and cut along diagonal so that each sheet yields 4 triangles.
  3. Roll each sausage in the triangles.
  4. Place on a cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes.

Dill Dip
  • 1 cup Nonfat yogurt
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsps dill weed
  • 1 1/2 tsps seasoned salt
  1. Blend all ingredients together in bowl and chill.

Sausage Bites
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup tomato soup
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 2 polish sausages, cut into slices
  1. Cook onions in butter in pan over medium heat until onions are transparent.
  2. Add all ingredients but sausages. Stir well.
  3. Add sausages and heat on low heat 2 minutes or until sausages are heated through.

Fruit Dip
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • Sliced pears, apples, strawberries, raspberries
  1. Blend together sugar and sour cream.

Spiced Peanuts
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups peanuts
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  1. Melt butter on skillet over high heat. Add rest of the ingredients and stir to mix.
  2. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until nuts brown.
  3. Drain on paper towel.

Deviled Eggs
These are one of Thatboy's favorite appetizer treats. He ate three whole eggs before he realized how many he'd eaten.
  • 10 hardboiled eggs
  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • dash of celery salt
  • dash of garlic salt
  • dash of pepper
  1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise.
  2. Scoop out yolks and put in small bowl.
  3. Add mayo, mustard, celery salt, garlic salt, and pepper to yolks and mash together.
  4. Spoon mixture into egg-white halves. Sprinkle tops with paprika and serve.

Fruit Sundaes
No real recipes here, but provide fruit halves (pears, peaches, oranges, persimmons, pomegranates....) your favorite ice cream and toppings and create a sundae bar. Or you can have each guest bring their own favorite ice cream and topping!

Cocoa with a Kick
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups brewed coffee
  1. Heat milk on stovetop until scalding.
  2. Add cocoa powder and sugar. Stir well.
  3. Add coffee.

Holiday Punch
  • 2 cans frozen oj, thawed
  • 1 can frozen lemonade, thawed
  • 1 1/2 quarts ice water
  • 2 quarts champagne
  1. Combine oj, lemonade, and ice water in punch bowl.
  2. When guests arrive, pour champagne into punch bowl.

Not quite Wassail
  • 2 Liters Rose wine
  • 1 Quart apple juice
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Quart ginger ale
Mix together all ingredients and stir to dissolve sugar.
Add ice to your punch bowl or serve in glasses over ice!

Coffee with a Kick
  • 1/2 cup coffee (ground)
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 4 spoonfuls of sugar
  1. Combine coffee, cloves, cinnamon, and sugar in basket of coffee maker.
  2. Fill coffee maker with water for 8 cups. Brew as usual.