Monday, March 28, 2011

Sugar Cookie Bars - Frosted

I love to cook and bake all types of things, even the most detailed recipes for pastry, but I DO NOT LIKE TO MAKE FROSTED SUGAR COOKIES!  Something about all that rolling, cutting, baking, cooling, frosting, and decorating, takes the fun out of it for me.  Of course, I do love eating them, just not all that other stuff.  I ran across the best idea on one of my favorite cooking blogs (Mommy's Kitchen) here.  Why didn't I think of this sooner?  Duh!  I took the basic idea of baking sugar cookies as sugar cookie bars, frosted them, and decorated with colorful sprinkles!  I used my own sugar cookie recipe because its super easy and I had everything on hand. WAH-LAH!  They were beautiful, delicious, cheap, and would be a great dish to share if you have to take something for goody day or potluck.  I stirred up some homemade vanilla frosting, tinted it with food color to frost the cooled cookie bars.  Easy peasy!  I didn't even use a mixer.  I think you will love these and they are definitely a recipe I intend to keep on using!  I will never even think of decorating a ca-zillion of those little cutouts again!

I got this cookie recipe from a favorite blog - 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Quick and Easy Sugar Cookies

  • 1/2 cup room temp (soft) margarine (melted is fine)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-1/2 cups flour

In a medium sized bowl cream together the margarine and sugar. Beat it until it is smooth and fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla, mixing well. Stir in the salt, baking powder and flour. Blend it all up until it makes a nice smooth dough. Spread into a sprayed (prepared) 8 x 8 baking pan. Bake in a completely PREHEATED oven for approximately 15 minutes or until the cookie starts to brown at the edges.

Remove from oven to cool completely.

HM Vanilla Frosting (small batch):

2 Tablespoons room temperature margarine (or melted is fine)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar.

Stir all until very smooth.  If its not creamy enough for you, add another teaspoon of milk.
Tint with either gel food paste or a few drops of food color.

Spread on cooled cookie and add some sprinkles.  (If you don't want frosted cookies, just sprinkle on some colored sugar before baking!)

Cut into small squares!  These are soft, delicious and VERY PRETTY TOO!

This recipe is being shared at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Easy English Muffins


I make up a big bowl of dough (the folks from MOTHER EARTH magazine and this blog showed me how) and from that bowl of dough I make a variety of dishes.  I can make round loaves of crusty bread - bakery quality - to serve with soups and salads.  I can make this delicious Homemade Pizza.  I also make rolls, bread sticks, and one of our favorites, Homemade English Muffins.  Yes.... all from the same bowl of dough, which can be kept in the fridge for my spontaneous cooking delight for about two weeks.  I posted the recipe for the dough when I posted instructions for the Homemade Pizza, but I will post it again simply because it is so good and easy.  Who doesn't have one minute to stir up homemade bread before you run off  to work?  You might think you don't have one extra minute in the morning, but after you taste recipes made with this dough, you will know that you have the time!

No-Knead Dough

3 cups very warm water (NOT luke warm) (think “hot but no hurt” - like hot bath water)
2 teaspoons or 1 packet active dry yeast
6 ½ cups all purpose flour (unbleached is best)
1 Tablespoon salt

Instructions: Measure 3 cups of very warm water(should feel hot to your hand but you can hold your hand under there without wanting to remove it). Stir in the yeast until mostly all dissolved. Let it sit while you measure the flour and salt.

In a very large mixing bowl put the 6 ½ cups of AP flour. Add 1 Tablespoon salt and stir well to combine.

Let the water/yeast sit for about 5 minutes so that it becomes bubbly and frothy.

Pour into the bowl of flour/salt mixture. Stir (a wooden spoon works great) as much as you can. It will be very shaggy. Just stir as much as you can, pushing the dough over on itself with the spoon to incorporate all together. It will not be a ball or anything, just a big bowl of shaggy dough. Cover with plastic wrap (I use a plastic grocery bag) and let sit on the counter 2 hours (if you will be home). After the 2 hours, the dough will have risen and flattened to pretty much fill the bowl. Place the covered bowl in the fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours.

Now, any time you want to take dough from this bowl remember that you should sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour.  This keeps the dough from sticking to your hands and also, I think feeds the yeasties in the rest of the dough that you would be storing in the fridge.

Homemade English Muffins

Get out a small saucer.  Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of plain yellow cornmeal on the plate.

After sprinkling your bowl of dough with flour, remove a piece a little bigger than a golf ball.

Start heating your skillet to medium.  You will need a lid or something to lay over the skillet to keep the heat in.

Pat your dough ball on the saucer with the cornmeal like you are making a fat cookie.  Flip it over and pat a little more so that the disc is flat and has cornmeal on both sides.

Place this dough disc in the now heated skillet.  Turn the skillet to med-low.  Make as many more english muffins as you wish.  Place the lid on your skillet (or whatever you are using to cover it with -sometimes I use a cookie sheet because I don't have lids for all of my skillets).  The english muffin will cook about 1 1/2 minutes.  It will start to get taller and puff up.  When you peak under the english muffins and they are starting to brown in spots, flip them over.  Replace your lid and cook some more until both sides have little brown spots (like storebought english muffins do), and then let them cool a few minutes on a plate.  A true english muffin is not sliced so if you want to be AUTHENTIC, take a fork all around the middle of the english muffins and pry the top from the bottom.  Now put on some butter, honey, jelly or whatever your heart desires and try not to eat them all - BECAUSE THEY ARE SO GOOD YOU WILL WANT TO.

I keep the leftovers (if I have any) in a tupperware dish.  They slice and toast great in a toaster for eating later on.

NOTE:  If you don't have cornmeal, just use flour.  They don't turn out quite the same consistency of a true english muffin, but they are delicious and my mantra in cooking is that I always want to be able to vary my ingredients if I have to (in lieu of going to the store and spending more money) and still being able to put something good on the table!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Quick and Easy Sugar Cookies (also very cheap)

I made dinner the other day for my mother-in-law and her two sisters as well as my niece and her boyfriend! Good food and family always makes for a good time.  I made my daughters' favorite HAMBURGER SOUP (I will post the recipe soon).  Also I made a loaf of french bread and a loaf of pizza bread!  For sweets, I made an oatmeal pie (which was a flop and I threw that recipe away) and a batch of these Quick and Easy Sugar Cookies. They used basic ingredients I already had in my pantry and were fairly speedy since they made a small batch.  I rolled some in colored sugar and some in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  The soup was perfect (I only had one small bowl leftover) but the cookies stole the show!  If you need a quick, easy dish to share, this would be a good thing to take!

(I got this recipe from a favorite blog - 

Quick and Easy Sugar Cookies

  • 1/2 cup soft margarine or shortening (I used margarine.)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring (optional) (I did not use this because I didn't have any.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
In a medium sized bowl cream together the margarine or shortening and sugar. Beat it until it is smooth and fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla, mixing well. Stir in the salt, baking powder and flour. Blend it all up until it makes a nice smooth dough. Drop the mixture by small spoonfuls onto an oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for about 8 to 10 minutes.
If desired, you can color the dough with food coloring for special occasions. You can also form them into small balls and roll them in a little granulated sugar right before baking.
I love this recipe because it is so easy to prepare. I think it goes together even faster than most cookie mixes. It is cheap and easy too, costing only about 50¢ to 60¢ for the whole batch. If desired, this recipe can easily be doubled.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Menu Plan for week of 3/21


Breakfast:  Leftover HM biscuits, cereal, chocolate chip pumpkin bread (gift)

Lunch:  PB sandwich, banana

Supper:  BBQ Boneless chicken on the grill (from the freezer), baked shoestring fries & onion, leftover greenbeans and corn (from Sunday nights supper of Smoked Turkey (from the freezer) with HM rub seasoning, baked potatoes, crusty french bread, seasoned green beans and corn)


Breakfast:  Leftover HM biscuits, cereal, chocolate chip pumpkin bread (gift)

Lunch:  Smoked Turkey Sandwich (leftover turkey from Sunday), strawberries,

Supper:  Taking daughter #2 prom dress shopping so we're eating at Culvers.  Leftovers for Dad

Next day prep:  Mix up apple/oatmeal muffins using plain muffin recipe from (subbing 1 cup oatmeal for 1 cup flour and adding in one grated apple) for baking Wednesday morning.

WEDNESDAY (make up some 5-minute a day bread dough for Thursday supper):

Breakfast: Apple/oatmeal muffins (mix up the night before so ready to bake in the AM)


Supper:  Home alone so I'm having tuna casserole.  Haven't had that in years!  Will post how it goes.


Girls night / American Idol

Breakfast:  Leftover muffins, cereal, or cinnamon toast & chocolate milk (using HM chocolate syrup)


Supper:  Besh Goulash Ever  or spaghetti (w/ my niece coming over to join us)

Dessert:  Maybe some homemade strawberry icecream  We had homemade chocolate pudding instead!  It was so yummy!

Thursday night prep:  Mix up dry ingredients for oatmeal and get other ingredients/pan out and ready to go.


Breakfast:  Try peanut butter baked oatmeal recipe found on (get most of recipe ready the night before - to just mix together and bake in the AM)

Lunch:  Maybe leftover tuna casserole

Supper:Chili in the crockpot


Breakfast:  Blueberry biscuits (trying new recipe)

Lunch:  HM Pizza

Supper:  Hopefully friends coming over for Supper:  Bacon dogs, hot dogs, other finger foods.




Supper:  Parmesan chicken, pasta, salad, and french bread

Friday, March 18, 2011

Peanut Butter Sheetcake - I'm having Two Pieces!

Do you see in this picture that I'm having two pieces of Peanut Butter Sheetcake?  Yes! I! AM!  This cake is so delicious!  And... OF COURSE... I could not just sit there eating one piece when its that good.  My excuse is that if I was eating a layer cake, I would be getting two layers, so I just made two layers out of my sheetcake.  OK?  And, no I did not feel worse for the wear!  I could have eaten three!  Seriously, this is one of the BEST CAKES I HAVE EVER EATEN!  Definitely a keeper!

Make this Peanut Butter Sheetcake and you will see...
This recipes was linked to The Grocery Cart Challenge Friday Recipe Swap
Peanut Butter Sheetcake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used 1 cup of homemade plain yogurt.)
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup butter (I used margarine - and remember 1 cup = 2 sticks)
  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 cup butter (I used margarine - 1 stick = 1/2 cup)
  • 2/3 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (I used more like 3 cups because I wanted a creamier frosting)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat 400 degrees.

For cake:

Combine sugar and flour and set aside. In a medium bowl mix eggs, baking soda, and sour cream well. Set aside. In a small saucepan combine peanut butter, butter, and water. Bring to a boil. Add the boiled mixture to the flour mixture. Stir and add sour cream (yogurt here works fine) mixture. Pour into a SPRAYED 15×10 inch sheet/jellyroll type pan. Bake 20 minutes or until done. Test by inserting toothpick in the center of the cake.


Combine the butter, peanut butter, and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Add the powdered sugar and the vanilla. Mix well. It will be thick. Pour over cake while both are still warm. My frosting did drip over the sides a little, so pour and spread slowly. Let cool, slice, and serve.

The only problem I had with this cake was when my husband suggest I cover it in foil and my foil stuck to the frosting (most of frosting was safe as it had "hardened" a little bit), but I caution you not to cover the cake unless you put some toothpicks or something on there to keep the foil from sticking.  This is a very BEAUTIFUL sheetcake and you will want it to look perfect!  My husband was in BIG TROUBLE!  LOL.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Girls Night - "Kinda" Empanadas and Homemade Mexican Rice

Last night was Wednesday night.  That means "bowling night" for Big Daddy and Girls Night for us girls.  Well.. daughter #1 likes to hang with the big dogs so she went to the bowling alley with her Dad.  Daughter #2 and I decided to make some "ultra" fun food since the two pickiest eaters would be at the bowling alley and to eat while we were watching American Idol.  It was tremendous.  We have so many favorites we just don't know who is likely to win!

We made a recipe I had written down in my cabinet called "KINDA" EMPANADAS.  I have to confess that I have never eaten an authentic empanada so I had no point of reference in it being "kind of" an empanada.  All I know is that we LOVED them!  Basically they are a buttery pastry crust (like a meat pie) filled with seasoned hamburger, onion, and cheese),  They were a teensy bit of work but very much worth the effort.  The crust that these little babies are made with was a prize in itself and you can bet next time I make Kinda Empandas, I will make sure to fold up some apples or cherries in that crust because that would be a little piece of paradise!  This crust is flaky, buttery, and crispy.  Just so GOOD!

In addition to the "KINDA" EMPANADAS (I realize this should be "kind of", but my recipe does say "KINDA"), I quickly scanned one of my favorite blog haunts for homemade mexican rice.  I found it at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures.  Her recipes are always right on for things my family will like!  This rice was perfect!  We loved it and again - who needs to buy those little sodium laden packets filled with all kinds of ingredients none of us can pronounce when you can make something this easy and this REAL!

Here's how I made "KINDA" EMPANADAS and HOMEMADE MEXICAN RICE - At Home My Way!

I should have taken a picture showing the filling.  These were just really great and a fun supper for "Girls Night"!

"Kinda" Empanadas


3 cups flour
3/4 cup cold butter / margarine (which is equal to  1/2 sticks)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup milk

Meat Filling:

1 pound ground beef
1/4 to 1/2 onion finely chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup water

Other ingredient:

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Dough instructions:

Mix flour, baking powder, salt.  Cut in butter/margarine.  Add milk.  Knead to form a big ball of dough.  (I think this whole process would work much smoother and easier in a food processor but I didn't think about it and did it the old fashioned way.)

Meat Filling Instructions:

Place meat and onion in a skillet.  Brown.  Drain,  add spices, stir.  Add water.  Stir.

Preparing the meat pie:

Form the dough into balls -a little smaller than a "shooting pool" ball.  Roll on floured surface with floured rolling pin thicker than a pie crust - like you are rolling cookie dough.  Roll like a small tortilla size.

Spray a cookie sheet (or two).  Place dough disc on the cookie sheet.  Place a scoop of meat on half, top with grated cheese, fold over and fold the dough up to make a pinched crust all around the round side of the now half circle.

Place in PREHEATED 400 degree oven about 15 minutes or until browning.  

Let cool 5 minutes or so before serving.  We at these like hot pockets!  They rocked!
This is my version of a recipe I found at

I will be keeping these leftovers in the freezer for re-warming in the oven on days when I need some lunch or a quick supper.  They were just excellent!  

Money saving tip:  I had not really used cumin other than the cumin that is already present in my chili powder.  When I went to buy some for making this recipe, of course I didn't want to spend a fortune!  I found bulk spices in the health food section of our Gerbes grocery store.  I put a small amount in a baggy and when they rang it up at the register it was $.05.  Wow!  5 cents!  What a deal - no little jar to add to the trash pile at a later date and how much cumin would I use.  This way I can buy a little bit - fresh - and it saves me money.  A win/win as far as I'm concerned.

Homemade Mexican Rice

  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I used 8-oz can of tomato sauce and saved the rest for another use)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (I used a 12-oz can of chicken broth because I didn't have any thawed from my freezer)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add rice.  Cook, stirring CONSTANTLY, until puffed and golden.  While rice is cooking, sprinkle with salt and cumin.  Stir in tomato sauce and chicken broth; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes!

I found the recipe for the Mexican Rice at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures here.

Meal Log for the Month

March, 2011


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It was a Two Crockpot Night and I been Working Like a Dog (as sung to the tune of ITS BEEN A HARD DAYS NIGHT by the Beetles!)

My husband and I commute to work together and we usually roll in the driveway at about 5:35 pm.  But, last night we had supper on the table at 6:15pm.  And it was not take out or frozen pizza.  By using two crockpots and mixing up some homemade cornbread, we had a Sunday-type supper on the table in 45 minutes.  Wow, we loved it!  And combine that with the fact that we are in the car driving to work at 7:15am each morning, we discovered a wonderful way to put dinner on the table.

This is what we had:

Ham (we bought a small bone-in ham at Aldi for $8.00, which will also feed us sandwiches for lunch and I will be freezing the ham bone for making beans on another day)
Hashbrown Casserole
Homemade Cornbread Muffins
Corn (storebought, canned)
Large Lima Beans (from my freezer)

Directions for the Ham:

I took the ham out of the freezer that night before bed.  I ran some water on it, removed the wrapping and put it in the empty, unplugged crockpot (Crockpot #1) (with the lid) on the counter overnight to thaw out- so that I would have it all ready to go the next morning.

The night before, I mixed up the Hashbrown casserole:

1/2 bag of frozen hashbrowns (again from Aldi - very cheap) dumped into a different large crockpot (Crockpot #2)

Stir well to mix together in a small mixing bowl:
1 can cream of chicken soup (generic is fine) or make your own like here
1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt - I used plain yogurt because I had made homemade yogurt two weeks ago)
1 1/2 cup grated cheddar or colby cheese (I had an 8 oz rectangle of cheese from Aldi and grated half of it)
salt and pepper

Dump this mixture over the hashbrowns.  (If using the whole bag of hashbrowns I would double the chicken soup/sour cream (or yogurt) and use two cups of cheese).

Stir well in the crockpot.  Put a lid on it and put just the crockpot insert with the casserole in there in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, we plugged Crockpot #1 with the ham in it (covered with the lid) (a different outlet/circuit just to be safe) and turned it on low.

I removed the crockpot insert from the fridge (Crockpot #2) with the hashbrown casserole in it, put it in its crockpot, plugged it in and turned it on low.

When we got home, dinner was almost ready and I mixed up the following cornbread recipe.  This took maybe 2 minutes!

First preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Homemade cornbread muffins:
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (3 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal (I used yellow).
In a large bowl combine the oil, egg, milk, sugar and salt. Mix it very well with a fork or spoon -making sure the egg mixes well.. Measure in the baking powder, flour and cornmeal. Mix again until all of the dough particles are moistened. Do not over mix. The whole thing should take about 20 to 30 strokes. Spoon the batter into a dozen oiled or sprayed muffin cups or one round cake pan. Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before removing from the pan.

NOTE - I have this cool little pan that makes like twinkie size rectangle shaped muffins.  We love this size for cornbread.  I got it at Walmart a long time ago and it worked great for this recipe, BUT a muffin tin is what I use, too, since I don't always remember that I have that different pan.

I had made some large limas the other day and had a couple of servings in the freezer.  I thawed that out, opened a can of corn (my hubby is a corn LOVER and since that is the only vege he eats besides potato, that was what he wanted), and


It was SOOOO GOOD and I highly recommend using the multiple crockpot method to get dinner on the table FAST!

Monday, March 14, 2011

CINNAMON RAISIN BISCUITS (better than eating them out)

I know this picture is terrible!  But the biscuit was SO DELICIOUS!

This weekend it was our older daughter's 23rd birthday!  I had lots of cooking to do but since we weren't eating until 3:00, I wanted to have something "decent" for breakfast to ward off "the hungries".  I decided to try a new recipe I had lying around.  I love the cinnamon-raisin biscuits you get at Hardees.  And true to form, I just HAVE to be able to recreate this stuff at home so I don't have to leave the house to get my favorites.  These are PERFECT!  I decided they would also be good with grated apple added in instead of raisins, or omitting the cinnamon and adding a Tablespoon of blueberry pie filling to the middle of each biscuit before baking.  These are the perfect "starter" for lots of good ideas for biscuits. 

These are so delicious!  Instead of wopping open that tube of cinnamon rolls you find in the grocery store, try these!  They will taste so terrific you will never buy those canned cinnamon rolls again. 

Additional Hint:  I'm going to try flash freezing these (unbaked) and bagging them up for when I want a treat and don't feel like making too much mess.  This is a definite KEEPER recipe!

Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour (unbleached is BEST!)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening/margarine or butter (I used margarine.)
1 cup buttermilk or regular milk (I combined 1/2 cup yogurt stirred into 1/2 cup 2% milk because I still had homemade yogurt in my fridge.  Just stir until smooth before adding to the dry ingredients.)
1/3 cup raisins (I omitted because my hubby dislikes raisins but I know this would be great!)

Frosting (I microwaved some leftover white frosting I already had in the fridge.  It doesn't take much):
But this is the recipe listed on the site:
1 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions modified a little bit but originally posted on  First get out a cereal bowl. Place the raisins in it and cover Them with warm tap water. Allow them to plump up while you prepare the dough.

Next, take a large mixing bowl. Measure the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt into it. These are the dry ingredients. They are called dry ingredients because they are not wet or sticky. So mix up these dry ingredients with a fork or a whisk, getting the salt and baking powder evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Measure the shortening (or if using margarine/butter). (I like using sticks of margarine or butter because I cut off 5 1/3 Tablespoons of the margarine/butter and don't have to measure anthing because this equals 1/3 cup.).  I cut this length of measured margarine into small slices on top of my dry ingredients.   Use a fork or a pastry blender to casually smash the shortening/butter/margarine and flour together until it is crumbly, but still has a few lumps the size of dried beans. One of the secrets of good biscuits is not to over mix at this stage. The lumps of shortening/butter/margarine make the biscuits tender and flaky when they bake. Add the milk or buttermilk and stir up the dough. Squeeze the raisins dry and add them to the dough. Mix in the raisins by kneading the dough about 10 or 12 times.

Drop the biscuits into a greased/sprayed large pie pan or cookie sheet.  Pat with floured hands just enough to take the sharp peaks off the biscuits.  Or pat out the dough and cut with a large glass for perfectly round biscuits. Don't pat the dough too flat - you want it about 1 1/2 thick.

If cutting the biscuits, after cutting, lay the biscuits on a greased/sprayed baking sheet or pizza pan.

Bake at 400° (make sure the oven is fully preheated before putting the pan in the oven)  for about 15 minutes, or until they are brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, mix up the frosting ingredients. Drizzle the frosting over the biscuits and serve. Leftovers may be heated up and used as snacks or breakfast the next day - that is, if you have any left!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

BAKED EGG ROLLS (Much healthier and we LOVE them!)

Last night we had a "girls night" at our house.  Hubby had bowling night and usually daughter #1 has girls night with her girlfriends but she was a little tired and so she joined her sister and I for American Idol.  Let me first say, I'm not a TV person really except I have to confess I can continually watch documentary type crime stories, the food channel, or the 24/7 news channels (I'm such a bore).  But, this season I tuned in for the first time (its Season 10) to American Idol.  I'm hooked.  My girls and I had a great time commenting about our favorites and,... of course, texting our votes in.  The girls cracked up at me as I said I would be "blowing up their phone" with my texts.  This comment made me LAUGH OUT LOUD and the girls thought I was completely ready for the nursing home because I thought this was so funny!  I guess "blowing up someone's phone" sounded so funny coming from this old 40's mouth.  And talking in their lingo didn't cause them to blink until I bursted out laughing. ...

Anyway, back to dinner!  Whenever its just the girls and I, we tend to have food that we ordinarily don't have when their Dad is home.  He is a complete MEAT AND POTATOES MAN although I have converted him to a few recipes like Hawaiian chicken, chicken & dumplins, lasagna, and even spaghetti.  But, definitely he would never consider eating something as delicious as homemade stirfry (lo mein) and we DEARLY LOVE IT!  I would have to say that of all the things I make that are homemade versions of restaurant food, the homemade chinese and the pizza are definitely KEEPERS! 

So, since we were having a "girls night" and I knew my daughters (ages 23 and 18) would be in the kitchen helping, we also made some egg rolls.  We prefer baked egg rolls.  I just feel like if I'm trying to eat on the healthy side by making homemade stirfry, I might as well make healthier egg rolls.  Plus, lately we just have this aversion to smelling grease frying in our house.  These are excellent!  Now, the texture is a little different because the egg roll won't be blistery and fried, but they are great.  A terrific side for homemade stir fry!

Here's how I do homemade egg rolls "At Home My Way."

Homemade Baked Egg Rolls  (This makes about 8 egg rolls)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 package egg roll wrappers found in the cooler section by the bagged lettuce

1 1/2 cups grated cabbage (I used angle hair bagged cabbage)
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 T. oil for the skillet
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar

DIRECTIONS:  Coat a large skillet with the oil.  Add the vegetables and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch, COLD water, soy sauce, vegetable oil, and brown sugar.  Stir well. 

Pour sauce over vegetables in skillet and turn skillet off.  If this seems to be browning in you skillet a a little drizzle of water to deglaze the pan.

Spray a cookie sheet well with cooking spray or lightly oil.

Open the egg roll wrappers.  Take one off the pile.  Place a heaping tablespoon or 2 of the cabbage mix on the wrapper.  Fold in corners from opposite sides.  Turn and fold one of the remaining corners over all the way across.  Then, wrap the egg roll like a burrito.

Place folded side down on the sprayed/oiled cookie sheet.

Spray the egg rolls with cooking spray.

Place in preheated oven and bake 15-20 minutes or until browned.

These can be dipped in storebought sweet and sour sauce.  They can be bagged up and frozen for later and warm up good as well.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie

I now work at the same law firm I started working at when I was 18 years old and a newlywed (I've worked a few places "in between" but now I'm back with them making a full circle.)  We had a wonderful lady who worked with "our" attorneys since they were law clerks. She was really something and oh how I miss her!  She came to the office several times a week until after she celebrated her 86th birthday.  What a woman!  Her name was "Jamilee" and in addition to her impeccable dress, always perfectly painted nails, professional business suits,  panty hose and heels, complete with White Linen perfume until the day she retired, she also made the very best pies I had ever had!  I cannot believe I have kept up with her precious recipes for 25 years years!  My how time flies.

I probably make Jamilee's chocolate pie the most because more people tend to like chocolate pie at our house, but I also love to make her recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie.  (I will post the chocolate pie recipe soon!)  This lemon pie is so delicious!  Pretty easy, too.  If I can successfully make it as a newlywed, I bet anyone can do it.

I am not a pretty pie baker, but this one is delicious in spite of its tall crust and weepy meringue!

Lemon Meringue Pie

1 Baked Pie Crust (I either make my own or use Pillbury rolled pie crust)

(Hint-Make sure you prick your unbaked crust all around with a fork so that it bakes flat in the pie pan.)


2 egg yolks from large size eggs (yolks only, not the whole egg... save the whites for the meringue)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup COLD water
juice of 2 lemons (strained) (You can use bottled, just use 2/3 cup)
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon butter/margarine
1-2 drops of yellow food color

Beat egg yolks.  Slowly add sugar gradually and add the cold water, lemon juice, flour and salt. Whip to completely dissolve these ingredients.

Place over low heat (Jamilee recommended using a double boiler, but I am just very careful and stir CONSTANTLY over low-med heat in a nice heavy saucepan)  I use a whisk to whisk back and forth the entire time its cooking because IT WILL SCORCH.  The filling will start to thicken and boil.  When it starts to bubble, start timing two minutes, but don't stop whisking back and forth.  Keep stirring!  At the end of two minutes, add 1 teaspoon butter/margarine.  Add 1-2 drops of yellow food color until you like the color of the filling (purely a mind game here LOL).

Pour into baked pie crust.


2-3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
4-6 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or lemon flavoring

Beat room temp egg whites (two from the pie or use three for a bigger meringue) until foamy and soft peaks will form.  Add 2 Tablespoons granulated white sugar per egg white.  (If you are using two egg whites, use four Tablespoons of sugar; if you are using three egg whites, use six Tablespoons of sugar).  Continue beating with electric mixer on high.  Add the sugar a little at a time - not all at once. I use three egg whites for a nicer, taller meringue.  (I'm not a pro at meringue by the way....)  Beat until stiff peaks form.  Slowly fold in vanilla/lemon flavoring.  Pour over hot pie filling in crust.  Spread to touch edges of crust.  Fluff it with the back of a spoon to create nice peaks in the meringue.

Place in preheated oven 350 for approximately 10 minutes or until meringue starts to get tan on the peaks.

This pie is best served cold, and... my meringue always "weeps" away from the crust,  but I don't care.  Its completely DELICIOUS so I don't worry about how perfect it looks when it tastes that GOOD!


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