Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Berry Crumble

Even though we're experiencing blistering heat right now, we've got one thing that I always miss in the winter...berries. I mean, I know you can buy berries in the wintertime..but they are much more expensive! So with all these gorgeous summer berries--what do you make?
I saw this recipe and knew it was right up my alley. And you know what? Even though it is awesome a few minutes after you pull it out of the's even better the next day cold out of the fridge.

Summer Berry Crumble (adapted from Gina's Skinny Recipes)
1 cup strawberries-sliced
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 Tbl butter-melted

Oven at 375
Combine first 6 ingredients, then dust with cornstarch-toss to coat. Place into greased baking dish (I used a 9x9).
Mix the dry topping ingredients, then pour on butter and crumble over the top of the fruit mix.
Bake 40 minutes or until the top looks nice and golden brown.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I now pronounce you Italian Beef Pizza

Mawwige, mawwige is what bwings us togetha...
Man, I love The Princess Bride!...and that quote perfectly sums up this pizza. Because it truly is the perfect union of two things that were destined for one another.

What you never thought that Italian Beef and Pizza should be combined? It seemed totally rational to me. They are both italian. *shrugs*
Let me tell you something first before I get to the recipe. Unless you are living in might have's summertime and it's hot. And Missouri has a different kind of hot.  Sure..Arizona, you've got your 107. But it's a dry heat. Here in Missouri we've got humidity. LOTS of it. To the point that at 85 (which seems like it should be almost comfortable) you walk out the front door and feel like you've entered a steam room. Chokes you and soaks you..that's what our humidity does. On days like we've had lately I don't really feel like eating something with a fork, that is hot, and comforting. I want something that I can shove in my mouth so I can get back into the pool.
When Husband came back from the store with the ingredients for Italian Beef, I was a little put off. It's a hot dish and it can be messy. It wasn't the 'fast to eat' meal I wanted to cook. So I changed it up a bit. I'm so glad I did! It takes a little bit of prep work, but you can start it in the morning, then quickly put it together for dinner!

I Now Pronounce you Italian Beef Pizza

Using this pizza crust

For the beef (it's similar to this previous post)
2-3lb chuck roast
1 pkg onion soup mix
3 T brown gravy mix
1/2 jar pepperocinis w/the juice
1 onion chopped
2 jalepenos chopped (keep the seeds)
1 bottle of beer (I used Boulevard Wheat)

I did the beef in the crockpot-put the veggies down first, then put the beef on top, mixed the beer-soup/gravy mixes together then poured over the top. Low all day.

Let's not forget the wedding party of Bridesmaids and Groomsmen-
1 block cream cheese
1/2 bag preshredded mozzarella cheese
1 green bell pepper, diced

Oven at 500-
roll out your pizza dough (using 1/2 of the original recipe-you can save the other half for another day-it freezes well*)
Pre-bake this at 500 until it starts to get golden-then pull it out. Turn the oven down to 425

Your beef (having been cooked all day) should fall apart. Go ahead and pull it out and put it (and the veggies it cooked with) in a strainer and let the gravy fall through. You want it to be dry enough so it won't just make the crust soggy, but not totally void of the gravy goodness.

Take that block of softened cream cheese and add 5 Tablespoons of your gravy to it and give it a mix.

Flip your pre-baked crust over so you'll have more of a flat surface to work on. Your cream cheese/gravy is your 'sauce' for this smear it on there.
Top with the beef and soft veggies**, add the diced bell pepper, top with the cheese and return it to the oven for about 15 minutes. Your crust was pre-baked, your beef is cooked, so you are really just melting the cheese at this point.

We're ranch dressing fans on well, pizza in general, AND on our italian beef so I gave it a nice drizzle once it had been cut into pieces.
It was Heaven. Pure pizza Heaven. The cream cheese base was smooth and went perfectly with the beef!
There were sadly no leftovers.

*the pizza dough recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas. To save the other half, wrap it tightly in saran wrap then put it in a ziploc (yes, both!)-and put it in the freezer. The day you want to use it, just pull it out that morning and put it in the fridge.

**if you use whole pepperocinis like I did, make sure when you are picking through/shredding the beef pick out the stems-the long cook time with make them come off and you don't want to bite down on something like that b/c it would kill that perfect pizza moment!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

The cookie aisle is kinda like high school. 
The cookies that are eye level are the popular ones. They wear BiG brand names and make you clip coupons to get a better deal on them.  They come in all sorts of different versions-double stuffed, chewy, mint, choc'full'o'chunks, their colors might even vary dependant on the holiday season. 
Then you've got that bottom row. They aren't the misfits they are made out to be. They may not have the flashy labels or a huge price tag. They are stable, reliable, constant, dependable, these cookies never let you down. You can count on these cookies to stay the same time after time, season after season.
I think there is something to be said for those cookies.
They are understated and awesome.
They are crunchy. They have warmth from the spices. The cookie isn't overly sweet and it allows the icing to guide your tastebuds to a very happy place.
Delicious. That's what they are.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from SmittenKitchen )
2 1/2 cups of old fashioned oats (read the recipe before you dump it all in the bowl!)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1 Tbl + 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar (regular granulated white)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbl molasses
2 sticks salted butter-melted, but cool
2 eggs

Oven at 350-cookie sheets lined and sprayed with non-stick
Take 1/2 cup of the oatmeal and put it in the food processor and grind them up  to a good powder. Add the rest of the oats and pulse until you can see just a handful of large sides oat flakes.

Add all your dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl.Whisk it around to get them mixed together.
In a separate (and probably smaller) bowl-whisk the eggs, butter, and molasses together.
Fold the wet mix into the dry mix. Don't overmix this.
I rolled mine in about ping-pong ball size (probably 2 Tbl or so)-place on the baking sheet-make sure they are at least 3 inches from the next cookie. These guys need room to spread.
Total bake time is around 16 minutes. Rotate your pan at 7 minutes.
Let them rest of the sheet once you take it out about 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.
Make your glaze-

Cinnamon glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3-4 Tbl of milk
whisk until you get it to a nice drizzle consistency.

Once the cookies are cooled get glazin'!  I did the dip and drip method: Flip upside down and dip the tops in the glaze, let them drip for a couple seconds then flip them back right side and back to the rack until they were dry.

I know my recipe has stuff in it that you might not have in your cabinets. Don't go out and buy it! Click on the link and see SK's variation-she doesn't use rye flour or molasses.  I had rye flour (the recipe she varied off of used it)-I'm weird like that I guess. And since I don't keep DARK brown sugar, I added the molasses-b/c that is what makes brown sugar into dark brown sugar.

I should have counted how many cookies I got, but I didn't. I know I got ALOT out of this recipe. So there will be plenty for you to share. Or for you to hide behind the pasta boxes in the pantry so only you know where they are....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ham and Mushroom Stuffed Manicotti

And that little piggy cried "DANG that was good!"

Ok, so he probably didn't. But this dish...really good.

Ham & Mushroom Stuffed Manicotti (adapted from

1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 package cremini mushrooms, chopped
couple pats of butter
couple turns of the pan of olive oil
2 cups ham-chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 Tbl butter
3 Tbl olive oil
6 Tbl flour
3 Cups milk-room temp
1 1/2 cups swiss cheese-shredded
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese-shredded
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 box (14 tubes) manicotti-cooked as directed on the box

Got your tubes cooked and set aside? Good...preheat the oven to 350, would ya?

Working on the filling first-add your butter and oil to the pan, get them warm then add your veggies. Once those are softened up, add your chopped ham. I used my leftover ham from my roast (fyi..the recipe is a couple weeks old)-so mine was kinda sweet (still was awesome)-I'd think that those thick slices of breakfast ham chunked up would be good for this. Set it off the burner to cool, and after about 20 minutes add the parmesan to it.

Now the sauce-in your saucepan get the butter and oil together and liquidy..then add your flour-I add a spoonful at a time and whisk as I'm doing it. You don't want lumps. Now cook this (which is a roux btw) for a few minutes over low-medium heat..whisking, whisking, all the way. You'll need to be a bit ambidextrous with this next step. Up the heat to medium and with one hand add the milk, with the other keep whisking. Keep whisking until you feel the sauce come together. And you will.You'll be standing there whisking, thinking 'this is NOT working' and all of a'll have Bechamel sauce! Turn the heat back to low, ditch the whisk and get a nice sized spoon, dump your swiss and mozz in and slowly fold/stir/generally incorporate. Take a good spoonful (about  1/4 cup) and add it to the meat/veggie mix (combine).Turn it off, set it aside.

So now we have our cast of characters. I chose to make TWO 9x9 cooking dishes full of this and one is still hanging out in the freezer. You can easily do this in a bigger pan (9x13) and have a larger serving.
Add a smear of the white sauce to the bottom of the cooking dish
Stuff the tubes with the meat/veggie mix. Easier said than done. Honestly? I split mine open, filled them, then put them seam side down. *sigh* Glad I got that off my chest.

Once you have them filled and all cozy laying next to one another in the dish, pour on the sauce. Top with the rest of the grated parm and tuck it away in that nice warm oven for about 30 excruciatingly long minutes.

It should get bubbly, and a little golden around the edges. You'll need to let it cool down for about 15 minutes (again torture) to avoid instant mouth scald.

But it's worth the wait. It is SO worth the wait.  The creamy swiss cheese sauce, the salty ham, the meaty mushrooms, and the lovely back up flavors of the pepper and onion.

Quite easily in my top 20 meals I've made-EVER. And freezes great!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Meet Cotton

Remember when my heart got broken back in March? You'd think I would have recovered by now. But my heart still ached for that silly dog. And even though we had 4 dogs already that keep me busy. 2 cats that keep me busy. 2 human kids that keep me busy. My heart was just NOT happy. And despite the fact that we did not NEED another pet/baby...It wasn't a phase or a random thought I could get to go away...

...Husband finally realized the reason I'd been so down WAS indeed dog related. So I'm pleased to introduce you to Cotton!

 She's my new little Labrador love. Please ignore the no make up and my freakishly large hands (I'd like to blame the angle of the shot, but my hands are kinda wide). We got her on Saturday and she's 7 weeks old. It's been 7 years since I had a puppy..I've forgotten how small they are, how sharp those teeth are, how much potty training sucks...but I'm remembering the love, that delicious puppy breath, that soft belly skin. We're so glad to have her, and I can't wait to watch our new puppy-baby grow up with our human-babies!
                                                       Lots of kisses
                                                     Lots of cuddling
In general lots of just 'almost makes you want to puke' cuteness. I can't stand it.

Baked Banana Oatmeal

Oatmeal for breakfast means you are eating healthy.

Let's ignore the drippy peanut butter and white chocolate topping. Yes, let's just pretend it's not there and're eating's ok.

Baked Banana Oatmeal (adapted from

1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
3/4 cup of milk ( I used 2% )
1 egg
1/2 cup mashed banana ( I keep little containers of mashed nanners in the freezer )

Mix together dry
Whisk together wet
Pour into greased baking dish (I used a 9x4-yes..weird-if you don't have one you could probably use a loaf ban, or just double everything and use a 9x9)
Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

You could be perfectly sensible and eat it as is. Or you could be completely ridiculous and melt 1/4 cup of peanut butter w/ a 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips and pour it over the top, like I did. I do ridiculous well. Also..since I forgot to add in the brown sugar from the original recipe, I thought it needed something to make it sweeter. Great combo really..peanut butter and banana, didn't you know?
Oh and I also dashed the top with salt..ssshhh. Just do it. The salt pops this OVER the top.

I think I might now be in LOVE with baked you know. It might be my new favorite way to make it..and stay tuned b/c I'm gonna be making all sorts of different styles of it.

Yum..and filling.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Quick pictureless post..

Just wanted to check in with you guys to assure you I'll be around soon with some really yummy recipes!
We recently took a family trip to IN (where my family is from)-20 hours total with the two kids was a bit exhausting. Then back in MO where I run our rental business we've had some I'm trying to get new people app'd up and moved in..blah blah.
New things-
Awesome camera (I think I already touched on that)
New flat screen tv for the bedroom
New puppy-whoa what? Yes...Husband finally caved and we got one..she'll get her own post with pictures soon. :)

Not so fond farewells-
My hair girl who was also a tenant who completely screwed us over and trashed the place, bailed on lease, rent, friendship, and *sob* my hair.
Our 52 inch projection screen and wait for it.....Dish network. I'm still adjusting to NOT having Food Network and *sobs* DVR. However we've got the new tv and Netflix through the Wii. Honestly I'm so tv obsessed that it might be healthy for me to take a break for awhile. will be..I'm just not so happy with it right now.

Since I am 'good' tv-less, Yo Gabba Gabba is keeping the kid's attention, and the pup is sleeping..I'm gonna tackle this house. Maybe since I won't have the giant tv distracting me I'll be able to keep a clean house? And um, that was one of the Husband agreements on getting the pup..that I'd work harder on the house. B/c evidently I don't work hard enough cooking and taking care of the kids...*snickers*

I'll be back soon with food..I promise!