Saturday, March 26, 2011

New House!

Hello dearest followers and fans!  I haven't been able to even be online much because we're so busy getting our new house ready for moving in next weekend!  The big project so far is the kitchen, where we replaced the faucet, Nick is fixing the walls and preparing them to be painted, and we ordered all new stainless steel appliances.  I can't wait!  By next weekend the kitchen should be all done and my new recipes will be posted from there!  We also have a great dining room that's got a wallpaper issue- it's quite ugly.  I'm working on taking that down so we can paint in there as well.  It's going to look awesome!!  So far I got the border down, and today I'm going to work on the rest.

Nick's dad helping us replace the faucet ...

My work so far in the dining room...

The kitchen is a bit of a mess, but it's going to be perfect when we're done!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Recipe #103: Pumpkin-Peanut Curry Noodles with Five-Spice Seared Scallops and Shrimp

Longest recipe title yet.  This one is from Rachael Ray's Book of 10.  This hearty delicious Thai-style dish makes a little bit of a mess in the kitchen, but it's worth every dirty pot and pan.  Nick helped me make this, and it turned out great- maybe too many noodles.  You do NOT need a pound of noodles (unless you really want them...)  I used 10oz and still had too many, but you'll have to use less sauce so it's not soupy.  Adjust to your tastes and how many your feeding.

Also, be careful if you're using a zester or grater to mince your fresh ginger... I'm missing skin on three of my knuckles because the ginger slipped while I was grating it.  Not fun...

ANYWAYS, here goes:


  • 1 pound spaghetti (I recommend 10oz whole wheat spaghetti instead)
  • Salt
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil or peanut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 inches ginger root, minced or grated
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup tamari dark soy sauce, eyeball it
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cooked pumpkin
  • 2 rounded tablespoonfuls mild or hot curry paste, found on international foods aisle
  • 3 tablespoons five-spice powder
  • 12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 10 jumbo or 12-14 large scallops, trimmed and patted dry
  • 4 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces, then thinly sliced lengthwise into matchsticks


Heat a large pot of water for noodles. When water boils, salt it and add pasta to cook to al dente or with a bite to it.

While pasta cooks, heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil. Add garlic, ginger, red bell pepper, and pepper flakes to the pan and cook together a couple of minutes, then add peanut butter and melt it. Whisk soy into peanut butter, then stir in pumpkin and curry paste. The sauce will be very thick. Turn down the heat to low. Add a ladle or 2 of pasta cooking water to thin sauce a bit and simmer over low heat. Adjust salt, to taste.

Heat a small to medium skillet over high heat. Pour the five-spice powder onto a plate with some salt. Press both sides of the shrimp and scallops into the powder. Add 3 tablespoons of remaining oil to hot skillet. Place the shrimp in the pan and cook 1 minute, flip and sear the other side until just opaque. Remove shrimp to a plate and set aside. Add another 3 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and heat back up to smoking. Add the scallops and sear on both sides until opaque. Remove scallops and add to the plate of shrimp.

Drain pasta and return pasta to the pot. Add the curry-pumpkin sauce and toss thoroughly. Serve noodles on 4 plated and top with scallions and seafood

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Recipe #102: BEEF JERKY!

A coworker from a previous job used to bring in his homemade beef jerky, and it was SO addicting... so addicting in fact that I asked for a dehydrator for my birthday to make my own!  This is better than any jerky you can buy in the store, and did I say it's ADDICTING??  Here's the recipe he gave me (from with some notes at the end...  (be sure to read them!)


  • 2 pounds beef round steak, cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon meat tenderizer
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika


  1. Place beef strips in the bottom of a large bowl. Pour soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, brown sugar, salt, pepper, meat tenderizer, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika over beef. Mix to assure all the meat is evenly coated. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Remove meat from bowl and place between two pieces of plastic wrap; pound to 1/8-inch thickness.
  3. Arrange the meat strips on the tray of a dehydrator and dry at your dehydrator's highest setting until done to your liking, at least 4 hours. Store in an airtight container or resealable bags. 
 Cutting the steak into strips

 We made a double batch

 In the marinade for an overnight soak

 One of five layers!

 My little minion!

1.  You can make spicy jerky by adding your powdered pepper of choice to the marinade.
2.  Meat on the bottom of the hydrator will dry faster, you must keep an eye on it and rotate out the "done" jerky as it finishes.  We couldn't fit all the beef in the hydrator at one, so I take from the bottom, then add new to the top until everything is finished.
3.  The jerky is done when it's not easy to bend the strips.
4.  No, you don't cook it first.
5.  Try not to eat it all at once.  You'll get heartburn.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Recipe #101: Cran-Orange Pork Chops

I've said before that I'm not the biggest fan of pork chops, but I'll definitely eat them again with this sauce! The cran-orange sauce that goes on these chops is so perfect with the pork.  This is a modified cook book recipe.  I couldn't find fresh, regular cranberries, so I used a can of them (but NOT cranberry sauce).  I also made the big mistake of reading the amount of orange concentrate wrong and used the whole can instead of 2 tablespoons, but I liked how much sauce it made.  Sometimes mistakes are a good thing!


Pepper and celery salt, to taste
2-4 pork loin chops (I used bone-in)
2 teaspoons cooking oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
2 tablespoons water (or chicken broth)
1 can cranberries (NOT the sauce)  (OR 1 cup of just cranberries)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 can frozen orange juice concentrate (or as little as 2 tablespoons for less sauce)
1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel (or zest)
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon salt


Season the pork chops, both sides, with pepper and celery salt.  Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat and add chops.  Cook chops and onion rings until chops are browned, turning once.  Add 2-3 tablespoons water (or broth) to the skillet and cover.  Cook over medium heat 15-20 minutes until no longer pink.  Remove onions with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, the orange juice concentrate, orange peel, sage, and salt.  Cook and stir over medium heat about 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens (I used a little flour since mine was a bit runny).  Stir in the onions; heat through.  Remove from heat.

Serve pork chops with sauce on top. 

The side I made was mushrooms sauteed in butter with dried rosemary, thyme, and sage.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Recipe #100: Chicken Minestrone Soup

Check it out, recipe #100!  Thanks to everyone who reads my blog, offers suggestions, and makes these recipes themselves!!  So, spring's coming but it still feels like the dead of winter (yay Cleveland), so soup is still quite appropriate.  Here's a good hearty one from one of my cook books.... I was very lenient with the amounts of vegetables here, and I added more pasta and broth and lots more chicken...  I like really chunky soup.  It's customizable!


1 cup sliced carrot (we used more)
1/2 cup chopped celery (we used more)
1/2 cup chopped onion (we used lots more)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 14oz cans chicken broth (and I added more later)
2 15-19oz cans white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
8-10oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces (we used 1.4lbs!)
1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (you guessed it- we used a little more)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup dried bow tie pasta (we used closer to 2 cups)
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, undrained


In a 5-6 quart Dutch oven, cook carrots, celery, and onion in hot oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add broth, white kidney beans, chicken, green beans, and pepper.  Bring to boiling; add pasta.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Stir in zucchini.  Return to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes.  Stir in undrained tomatoes; heat through and serve!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Recipe #99: Crock Pot French Dip!

Nick's latest new favorite thing to get at restaurants is a French dip, an overstuffed beef sammich that has a gravy sauce for dipping, called au jus.  Naturally, I had to find a recipe for this, and this was quite up to his standards... and super easy to make!!  I found this on  Talk about tender...  mmmm...


  • 4 pounds rump roast  (I used a 2.75lb one and that was plenty!)
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can beef broth  (I used a can of Campbell's Consomme)
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed French onion soup
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer  (I used Guinness, of course!)
  • 6 French rolls  (I found some other buns to use...)
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  1. Trim excess fat from the rump roast, and place in a slow cooker. Add the beef broth, onion soup and beer. Cook on Low setting for 7 hours. (I also seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). (I used my toaster oven)
  3. Split French rolls, and spread with butter. Bake 10 minutes, or until heated through.  (I topped them with shredded mozzarella cheese too)
  4. Slice the meat on the diagonal, and place on the rolls. Serve the sauce for dipping. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Recipe #98: Tomato Basil Soup


 This one's quite simple and makes a lot!  And of COURSE I had to serve it with grilled cheese!  This is from Rachael Ray's book Veggie Meals.

Veggie Meals: Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
2 cans (28oz plus 14.5oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can (14.5oz) vegetable broth
Coarse salt and black pepper, to taste
20 leaves fresh basil, torn or coarsely chopped (I bunched them and snipped with kitchen scissors)


Heat a deep pot or skillet over medium-low heat.  Add olive oil, garlic, and onion.  Saute onions until soft and sweet, 8-10 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes and broth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes longer.  Remove from heat and stir in basil.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Recipe #97: Tuna Casserole

There's probably a million ways to make a tuna casserole.... here's my version!


1 (12 oz) package of egg noodles (or comparable amount of elbow macaroni- I used both)
1/4 cup chopped onion (or more to taste)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup frozen green peas
3 (6 oz) cans tuna
2 (10.75 oz) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of onion soup
8 oz (approx) sliced fresh mushrooms, broken into smaller pieces
Salt, pepper, parsley, and garlic powder to taste
About 1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
Bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, cut into 6 pieces


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Cook the pasta in boiling water for 8 minutes and drain.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix noodles, onion, cheese, peas, tuna, soup, mushrooms, and seasonings.  Transfer to a greased 9x13 baking dish, and sprinkle the top generously with bread crumbs.  Put butter pieces evenly across the top.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Feed an army.