Monday, September 19, 2011

Just add a little butter y'all!

What a great weekend!! Friday evening, my parents came in and we met them at Russo's for some yummy pizza before heading back to our house. My current fave from there is the Chicken Rustica.
Saturday morning, I got up fairly early for a 9 mile run. I misread my map though and ended up running 10.5 miles. That's okay though, because it was one of the best runs that I've had in a long time. That morning time made ALL the difference.
Afterwards, Cody's parents arrived and we all enjoyed waffles before the ladies headed down to the Metropolitan Cooking Show to see Paula Deen.
Paula did not seem all that interested in cooking. She told us that we could catch her at least three times a day on Food Network, so instead she shared stories and answered questions while her husband and another chef cooked.
It was not quite what I was expecting, but she was hilarious and very entertaining. We walked around the show for a few hours after that and found quite a few goodies before heading back up to the boys.
That night we had a good southern meal. Smoked ribs, baked potato salad, coleslaw and beans with fresh apple pie with Blue Bell Vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Baked Potato Salad



    • 3 large baked potatoes, cooled, peeled and cubed
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled ( I use the precooked kind)
    • 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, divided
    • 2 green onions, sliced and then chopped ( green part only)
    • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
    • 1 dash celery salt or 1 dash seasoning salt
    • 1 dash garlic powder
    • 1 dash paprika
    • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (optional)


  1. Gently stir together all the ingredients in a large bowl using a large spoon, reserving a little cheddar, green onion and bacon for garnish.
  2. Transfer to a serving dish.
  3. Top with reserved shredded cheddar, green onion slices and bacon crumbles. I like to refrigerate it so that I can serve it cold.

Easy Cole Slaw


    • 1 (16 ounce) bags coleslaw mix
    • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 3 tablespoons milk
    • 2 tablespoons vinegar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients except cole slaw mix in a large bowl and combine well.
  2. Add the cole slaw mix and toss to coat.
  3. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight to allow flavors to blend.

Apple Pie
from All Recipes


1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust

pie (we used one for the base and sliced the other to make the lattice top)

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored

and sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.

Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.

Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

Sunday, we got up and enjoyed these breakfast treats from the Little Kitchen that could. I made the inside part on Saturday night, so it made our Sunday breakfast super easy to make. I subbed breakfast sausage and jalapenos in the recipe.
Southwestern Breakfast Cups
from The Little Kitchen that Could


2 to 3 cans buttermilk biscuits

1 small can diced green chilies, drained

1 small can diced black olives, drained

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 cups finely chopped ham

1/2 cup diced onion

3 to 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix everything, except biscuits, in large bowl, set aside.
3. Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.
4. Put 1 biscuit into each cup spreading it up the sides of the cup.
5. Put about 1 heaping tbs of ham mixture on top of each biscuit.
6. Bake 20 minutes or until biscuits begin to brown.

7. Serve immediately.

Then we went to church and Ikea before hitting up Beck's Prime for a quick lunch. A perfect weekend and lots of yummy food!

** I've passed my 3-year blogaversary! Look at this first post right after Hurricane Ike!! I had A LOT of time off of school with very little to do in our apartment, so I started a blog. Who knew I'd still be blogging!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Copy Cat: Pasta Salad

Teachers copy. There I said it. Not in the same way that a student might copy on a test (heaven forbid!), but we do use each others' ideas. It's how good teachers become great teachers. I like to take this principle to lunch time. I will scan the table and look for yummy meals that other teachers bring and either ask for the recipe or google until I find something similar. I noticed that a few weeks ago, several teaches had different versions of pasta salad, so I googled until I found something that looked good. This is a fairly quick recipes, makes quite a bit of food and its "leftovers" are delish!



Read more about it at,231,152181-233206,00.html
Content Copyright © 2011 - All rights reserved.

For the Salad Dressing:

3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash Garlic flavored (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. fresh basil, finely minced (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. fresh oregano, finely minced (or 1/8 tsp. dried)
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

For the Salad:

8 oz. (1/2 lb) pasta, cooked
3 cups assorted vegetables
1/2 cup chopped red or sweet Vidalia onions
1/4 cup green onions, minced (optional)
1 red pepper, finely chopped (or use roasted red peppers)
vegetables of your choice

*I marinated some chicken breasts in Italian dressing and cooked them on the stove. I cut them into bite sized pieces and mixed into the salad at the end.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Using colorful pasta and vegetables makes for an especially attractive salad.

Mix garlic and herbs, cheese, black pepper and whisk ingredients for dressing together (or process in a blender/food processor until smooth).

Remove the pasta from the cooking water using a large mesh or straining spoon. Do not discard the water.

In a large bowl, pour the dressing over the cooked and drained pasta while still hot.

Fresh or frozen, raw or cooked vegetables (or any combination) may be added. Broccoli, carrots, corn, baby corn, peas, green beans, onions, cherry tomato halves and marinated artichoke quarters are all good candidates for inclusion in a pasta salad.

Blanch the prepared vegetables in the pasta water. This can be done by putting the vegetables in a steamer or a large mesh spoon or sieve and holding it under the steaming hot (not boiling) pasta water for 1 or 2 minutes, depending upon the size of the vegetables. Alternatively, if you're using mixed frozen vegetables, they may be microwaved. Do not overcook the vegetables - they should be brightly colored and still crisp. Dehydrated vegetable mixtures also contribute extra color when rehydrated in the pasta water.

Add the vegetables to the pasta salad and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. More salt, pepper, herbs and cheese may be added, or a little lemon zest or juice, or even a pinch of granulated garlic.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! We have both sets of parents in this weekend and are looking forward to spending some quality time with them! The girls are heading into town today to see Paula Deen! SO excited!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Spaghetti Squash

After hearing about it for so long, I finally remembered to pick up a spaghetti squash when I was at the grocery store a few weeks ago. Those suckers are not cheap, but a decent sized spaghetti squash makes enough for quite a few meals (for 2 people..)
I used this recipe for the spaghetti squash and I know that the butter made it unhealthy, but that's okay. I think that I could've subbed evoo and it would have tasted fairly similar. I steamed broccoli and made this Parmesean crusted tilapia. I had enough spaghetti squash left over to make two more meals out of it (seasoned and grilled chicken breast, cut it up and put it in the rewarmed squash). Love it!
The coolest part (I think) is once the spaghetti squash has cooked and you are opening it. When you use a fork to scrape the squash, all of the sudden these pieces of spaghetti just appear. You should try it! : )

Baked Spaghetti Squash

from the Steamy Kitchen


1 small spaghetti squash (about 3-4 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely minced parsley (or basil)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake spaghetti squash for 60 minutes, or until a paring knife pierces easily through skin with little resistance. Let squash cool for 10 minutes.

2. Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Use a fork to remove and discard the seeds. Continue using fork to scrape the squash to get long, lovely strands. If the squash seem difficult to scrape, return the squash to bake for an additional 10 minutes.

3. Heat a large saute pan with the butter and the garlic over medium-low heat. When garlic becomes fragrant, add parsley, salt and spaghetti squash strands. Toss well, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and taste to see if you need additional salt. The spaghetti squash should have a slight crunch (i.e. not mushy) - but if you like it softer, cover the pan and cook 2 more minutes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kitchen Organization

As mentioned in the previous post, I have for some reason all of the sudden found organization to be a great priority in my life. It began with the kitchen. I have completely rearranged where everything is and thinned out a lot of things. I am very happy with the outcome (although I am without thinking grabbing for things where they are no longer...their new locations make so much more sense, I just have to get used to them). I will spare you pictures of the rest of the kitchen, but I wanted to show you the top of my pantry.

My goal is to eventually have it completely full of Oxo containers because that will look so clean, but that would be expensive to do all at once. (Oxo people, that could be read as teacher/grad school student would be overjoyed to receive oxo containers...j/k..kind of). I saw via blog stalking (I mean reading) and pinning that a lot of people are using chalkboard labels on their food containers, well low and behold we had a container of chalkboard spray paint from the inside of the cabinet door that is my grocery list (write it, snap a pic with my iphone and I'm ready for the grocery store). I decided that if it worked on the cabinet door it was worth a try on my containers. I used painters tape to tape off a square(ish..) on each of the containers (and I also had paper covering the rest of the container), I sprayed one coat, waited 5-10 minutes and sprayed another coat of paint. After letting it dry for 24 hours, I covered the surface with chalk and it was ready for use.
Recipes to come this week! Get excited!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Holy Grad School Batman

I know that I made the right choice by deciding to do grad school and I know that the past three weeks have been unusually busy due to the beginning of school with lots and lots of 5 year olds, but y'all I am already feeling overwhelmed. I know that I will eventually get in a pattern of how to get everything completed, but until then, I could really use prayers for focus (I'm beginning to think I might be a tad ADD...y'all my entire house is being reorganized when I need to be reading...) and staying calm.

and way more important, today is my mom's birthday!! So if you are a family member/friend, be sure to wish her a happy day!! (Ps: I won't tell you her age...but if you add 25+25+5 you might be able to figure it out :) LOVE YOU!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Salted Caramel Brownies

Did anyone else think that the 3-day weekend was the most amazing thing ever? I am got to enough to become normal again, spend quality time with my husband, see friends, do lots of reading for grad school and bike ride on trails (only a few scratches/scrapes/times of falling off the bike). I would be a better person if every weekend was 3-days.
Friday night I needed NEEDED chocolate (that's what the first 2 weeks of kindergarten will do to you). Brownies sounded amazing, but I wanted a different brownie recipe. After googling, I came across this Salted Caramel Brownie recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. The caramel was easy to make and best of all although you can taste the caramel and sea salt, the tastes are not overwhelming. It just tastes like a really delicious moist brownie. (No picture this time..eating the chocolate was the priority : ) Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Brownies

Yield: 16 brownies

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Bake Time: 35 to 40 minutes

5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into quarters
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 eggs
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
Fine sea salt

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with overlapping pieces of foil and spray the foil.

2. In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, melt the chocolates and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. (Or, melt in the microwave on 50% power for 30-second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth.) Whisk in the cocoa until smooth. Set aside to cool.

3. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture; then stir in the flour until just combined. Pour about half of the brownie mixture into the prepared pan and spread into the corners. Spoon 9 dollops of Salted Caramel Sauce on top of the brownie batter. Top with the remaining brownie mixture, spread into the corners and level the surface with a spatula. Again, spoon 9 dollops of the Salted Caramel Sauce on top of the brownie batter. With a dull butter knife, gently run it through the batter to swirl the batter just a bit (don’t do it too much or it will all mix together). Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top.

4. Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. Remove the brownies from the pan using the foil handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Chicken Fried Goodness

Happy Saturday and 3-day weekend friends!! What a beautiful day it is! Did anyone else see my Baylor Bears beat those TCU Horned Frogs last night!? Sic 'em! I started my day with a yummy green monster smoothie (I've started freezing bananas if they look like they're going to go bad before I eat them and using them in smoothies) and a 6-mile run (I run to Texas country and the glee that weird?). Now I'm off to read for grad school (I hope I'm not in over my head...), but wanted to share a yummy recipe with you first.

The Pioneer Woman now has a show on the Food Network...I missed it this morning though : ( I hope they replay it! On last week's show, she made chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes. Hello calories!! I had never made chicken fried anything before, so of course we put our East Texas hunter twist on it and made chicken fried back strap. The gravy made this meal amazing! I also made mashed potatoes, but couldn't bring myself to copy her recipe due to the amount of time it took to make and the amount of butter, so I used this recipe instead. (I thought about steaming some broccoli so that there would be some redeeming nutritional value to the meal, but thought it would not possibly overcome everything else we were eating...)

Chicken Fried Steak (Back strap)
from The Pioneer Woman
  • 3 pounds Cube Steak (tenderized Round Steak That's Been Extra Tenderized)
  • 1-½ cup Whole Milk, Plus Up To 2 Cups For Gravy
  • 2 whole Large Eggs
  • 3 cups All-purpose Flour
  • Seasoned Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Cayenne
  • LOTS Of Black Pepper. Lots.
  • Canola Oil, For Frying
  • Salt And Pepper, For Both Meat And Gravy

Preparation Instructions

Begin with an assembly line of dishes for the meat: milk mixed with egg in one; flour mixed with spices in one; meat in one; then have one clean plate at the end to receive the breaded meat.

Work one piece of meat at a time. Season both sides with salt and pepper, then dip in the milk/egg mixture. Next, place the meat on the plate of seasoned flour. Turn to coat thoroughly. Place the meat back into the milk/egg mixture, turning to coat. Place back in the flour and turn to coat.
(So: wet mixture/dry mixture/wet mixture/dry mixture.) Place breaded meat on the clean plate, then repeat with remaining meat.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop in a few sprinkles of flour to make sure it’s sufficiently hot. Cook meat, three pieces at a time, until edges start to look golden brown; around 2 to 2 1/2 minutes each side.

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm. Repeat until all meat is cooked.


After all meat is fried, pour off the grease into a heatproof bowl. Without cleaning the pan, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup grease back to the pan. Allow grease to heat up.

Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix flour with grease, creating a golden-brown paste. Keep cooking until it reaches a deep golden brown color. If paste seems more oily than pasty, sprinkle in another tablespoon of flour and whisk.

Whisking constantly, pour in milk. Cook to thicken the gravy. Be prepared to add more milk if it becomes overly thick. Add salt and pepper and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until gravy is smooth and thick. Be sure to taste to make sure gravy is sufficiently seasoned.

Serve meat next to a big side of mashed potatoes. Pour gravy over the whole shebang!

Traditional Mashed Potatoes

from All Recipes

6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and
1/2 cup warm milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
1. Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil; cook for 20-25 minutes or until very tender. Drain well. Add milk, butter, salt and pepper; mash until light and fluffy.