Attention Family! I've been saying it for years, now I am preparing you for when it happens, I am retiring from cooking in less than 5 years. The only thing I will make is my morning coffee, and that is only because I am too lazy to get dressed and go out for it!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Cake!

Today's guest blogger is MK. This was her cake of choice for her 14th birthday earlier this week.
ZUCCHINI? Yes, there is zucchini in this cake, but you better not let that fool you. This is an amazing cake, with invisible veggies. (and its healthy, so you can eat that extra piece!) The recipe is from a FAMILY FUN magazine.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 325. In a mixing bowl, cream together the sugars, butter, and oil. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and buttermilk and mix well. In another bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, and salt. (You should grate the zucchini before the next step.) Then, slowly spoon the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix until combined. (taste the batter and say YUM!) Fold in* the grated zucchini and chocolate chips.
Put the batter into your pan of choice. Spray pan with cooking spray first. (I recommend a bundt pan or a 9 x 13) Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until it's done. Test with a cake tester, it should be clean. When it cools, top with chocolate icing or a chocolate ganache.

* fold in means you use a spatula, not the mixer.
Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat the cream and chocolate in the top of a double boiler (over medium heat) until chocolate melts. Remove from heat, and beat until smooth. Whisk in corn syrup and vanilla. Let the icing cool for a few minutes, then spoon over top of cake.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I did not grow up eating a lot of gravy. We had gravy at Thanksgiving, and maybe Christmas. On the other hand, your Dad grew up eating lots of gravy, and he was the first one to show me how to make gravy. Then we got cable and Food Network, and BAM!, now we have gravy whenever we want! Make gravy according to the ratio (yes, there is a ratio) for a few times, then you will be knowledgeable enough to make gravy from pan drippings.

Basic Gravy

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 14.5 ounce can chicken, beef , or vegetable broth(low sodium)

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour to form a paste (this is what is known as a roux). Slowly add the broth, a little at a time, whisking all the while. When you have added all the broth, start seasoning! Garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper are good in all gravies. Try some Worcestershire sauce in beef gravy. How about thyme or sage? The gravy needs to boil to thicken properly, you don't need to stir it constantly, but check it frequently. To finish off the gravy, add 2 tablespoons milk, cream, sour cream, or water. Taste for seasonings, and there you go, gravy!

Do you see the ratio? one tablespoon fat to 1 tablespoon flour, to 1 cup liquid.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hash Browns

Okay, now you have a few baked potatoes in your fridge. Make some hash browns, serve with beer brats and red cabbage, and you have another easy meal.

Hash Browns

3 or 4 potatoes, already baked
1/2 onion
1/2 green bell pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
Put a large frying pan on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan. Peel and chop 1/2 onion, add to pan. Chop 1/2 green pepper and add to pan. Mince two cloves of garlic and add to pan. Peel and dice potatoes, add to pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are brown, and onions and peppers are soft. Don't stir too often, or potatoes will not develop a crust.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Meatloaf and Baked Potatoes

You guys know that not everybody likes meatloaf, right? So, make it for yourself, for comfort food. Spend just a little time putting it together, bake some potatoes in the oven alongside the meatloaf, make a salad, and you have dinner (and enough meatloaf for meatloaf sandwiches the next day)!


2 pounds ground meat (85 % lean beef, or beef and turkey)
1/2 to 3/4 cup oatmeal
1 small or medium zucchini
2 good size carrots, peeled
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 eggs
ground pepper
garlic powder
onion powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the ground meat in a large bowl. If you have a food processor, grind the oatmeal. If you don't have a food processor, just use the 1/2 cup of oatmeal. Add oatmeal to meat. Grate the carrots and zucchini in the food processor, or use a chopper and finely chop. Add veggies to meat, along with seasonings. Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray. Mix meatloaf mixture using your hands. Do not over work or compact the mixture! Put the mixture in the pan and shape into a loaf. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for 15 minutes (if possible). Serve with ketchup.

After you get the meatloaf in the oven, wash potatoes well and put them in the oven. They will need about an hour to cook. Go ahead and cook a few extra for hash browns later in the week.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Poppy Seed Chicken

This is an easy recipe to take to a potluck or have for dinner. And yes, we eat a lot of chicken, its cheep!!!!

Poppy Seed Chicken

3 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup or cream of mushroom soup
16 ounce container of sour cream
2 teaspoons poppy seed
bread crumbs

Put chicken breasts in large frying pan, cover the bottom of the pan with water. Cook 15 minutes on medium. While chicken is cooking, stir together soup, sour cream, and poppy seeds. When chicken is done, cut into bite size pieces and stir into to soup/sour cream mix. Pour mix into buttered casserole dish, (9 x 9) and sprinkle on bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve over egg noodles, add something green like beans, broccoli, asparagus, or salad.

Spaghetti Sauce

Easy-peasy, and better than store bought. Keep bell peppers in your freezer, onions, crushed tomatoes, and spaghetti noodles in your pantry, Italian sausage in your freezer, and you can make this at a moment's notice.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Brown 1 pound Italian sausage in a large frying pan. While meat is browning, peel and chop 1/2 half of large onion, 1/2 half red or green bell pepper, and 3 cloves of garlic. When sausage is browned, drain, add back to pan, add chopped veggies. Add 1 large (28 ounces) can of crushed tomatoes with basil. Season with bay leaf, oregano, basil, and thyme. Cover and simmer over low heat. After 15 minutes, start large pot of water to boil for spaghetti noodles. Cook spaghetti noodles al dente. Taste sauce, adjust seasonings if needed. Drain spaghetti well, serve with sauce, salad, and Parmesan cheese. You can also add mushrooms, grated zucchini, or diced eggplant to the sauce.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cowboy Caviar

This recipe can be made from pantry staples. Mix it up to suit your preferences, serve with Scoops at any party, tailgating, or Sunday afternoon snack. Use Scoops instead of chips because it is juicy - have napkins handy. If B. is making this, he will use the hottest variety of Rotel tomatoes.

Cowboy Caviar

1 small onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 small can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies, drained
1 can corn or 1 can shoepeg corn or both :-), drained
1 can blackeyed peas, or black beans, rinsed and drained
small amount Italian dressing

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, blending well.
Pour your favorite Italian style dressing over all and toss well to coat.
Refrigerate overnight. Serve with corn chips.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

Okay, today I will give you a few instructions for making this, mostly this recipe involves chopping!

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
greek seasoning, use Montreal Steak seasoning if you don't have Greek
1/2 cucumber
1/2 red bell pepper
8 ounces Greek yoghurt
4 to 6 ounces feta cheese
1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt, pepper

Trim fat and yuck from chicken breast. Slice in half through the plane to make them thinner-they will cook faster and you will be finished faster! Lightly season both sides of chicken. Cook chicken in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. While chicken is cooking, put Greek yoghurt in large container (preferably one with a lid). Cut feta cheese into small pieces - cut vertical slices through block of feta, turn 90 degrees and cut perpendicular slices through block, now turn block on its side and cut again. Add cheese to container. Peel and dice cucumber - remove seeds from cucumber if they are large. Add cucumber to container. Flip chicken over in frying pan to cook the other side. Wash and seed bell pepper. Cut pepper into small bite size chunks and add to container. Add oregano to container. When chicken is done, cut into small bite sized pieces and add to container. Do not over cook chicken or it will be tough. Chicken is done when there is no pink on the inside of the chicken piece. Stir concoction in container well. If chicken salad seems dry, add more yoghurt, or sour cream, or mayo. Store in fridge. Check the taste before serving, it made need salt and pepper, depending on how much seasoning you used on the chicken. Serve in pita bread that has been cut in half - lettuce and tomatoes make it a really nice sandwich. Serves 4. Make sure you make enough for A. to take to lunch the next day.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Attention to my family....

I've been saying it for years, now I am preparing you for when it happens, I am retiring from cooking in less than 5 years. The only thing I will make is my morning coffee, and that is only because I am too lazy to get dressed and go out for it!

Today's recipe is for Chocolate Chip Mocha Bars. You all have made these so many times that you will not need any extra info besides the basic recipe.

Chocolate Chip Mocha Bars

1 yellow cake mix
2 tablespoons instant coffee
2 tablespoons hot water or leftover coffee
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup melted butter
12 ounces chocolate chips

In mixing bowl, dissolve coffee in hot water. Add cake mix, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, and melted butter. Beat until smooth, batter will be thick. Add chocolate chips. Press into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Cookies will harden some as they cool. Cut into bars and invite me over.