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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shell Casserole

This is the second recipe out of the May '08 Nesties Cookbook. This is Kelli's recipe, and she actually lives in the GR Area too! :waves to Kelli:

Since I'm sick with a head cold, I didn't quite get the full taste experience. I had to wait for H to get home to try it and see what he thought. He was definitely impressed! This will have to go on the menu again once I'm better so that I can really taste it!!

No picture for this one. My camera died as I tried to take a pic, and by the time the battery charged there wasn't anything to take a pic of. Well anything that looked nice.

  • jumbo pasta shells, 15-20
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey (used 1 1/4 lbs)
  • 1 packet burrito mix (used taco mix)
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 oz. onion & chive cream cheese
  • taco sauce
  • Doritos, crushed
  • shredded cheddar/mozzarella cheese (used a Mexican blend)
  • Cook pasta according to package directions
  • Cook and drain meat. Add water and burrito mix
  • Simmer until liquid has evaporated.
  • Mix in cream cheese.
  • Fill shells with meat mixture and place in 9x13 pan. (I sprayed the pan with Pam before filling shells)
  • Pour taco sauce over shells. Use however much you like.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 350 degree for 45 minutes.
  • Uncover, add crushed Doritos and cheese.
  • Return to oven until cheese is melted.

Next Time- H couldn't think of anything to change. I'll have to try them once I'm well in order to determine if anything should be changed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Internal Observation

I'm discovering that I'm a very spiteful person. I bring this up in reference to the books I choose to read, or don't read as this is the case.

Last year all anyone heard about was Twilight. My 16 year old sister was really into the books when they first came out, and I thought nothing of it. Then the craze started, and I wanted nothing to do with it. I hate following the crowd. It wasn't until I saw the trailer for the movie that I thought "hmm, that looks good." And since I know that books are always better than the movie, I wanted to at least read the first one before going to see the movie. I managed to read the 4 books in 4 days, and all before going to see the movie.

Now I understand the appeal of the books. But I wasn't going to read them simply because everyone else was. It was the movie trailer that finally convinced me to give the books a try.

Now the big thing (at least in the world of my Nesties) is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Everyone is recommending it, and gushing about Jamie (the main guy character). I went so far as to put the book on hold at the library and pick it up. I brought it home, and it sat around not being read. Well, I take that back. I read the first couple pages, but didn't make it farther than that.

Finally I handed the book off to H since he didn't have anything to read. He got through it, and is actually on the 4th book of the series, Drums of Autumn. He told me that I'd like the books. He's read some of the books I've read, and he just has a really good sense of what I like. It's not that I don't trust his opinion, quite the opposite. It's just that I don't want to follow the crowd.

The book is too popular, if that is possible. There are too many people talking about. I love it when someone on the book club board says they don't like something about the book. The outcry from the girls who love the books is amazing. I chuckle to myself. It's like blasphemy to them. Yup, I'm spiteful alright.

Wonder if something will convince me to change my mind about this series???

Friday, March 20, 2009


Awhile ago my fellow May '08 Nesties had the idea to compile recipes and make a cookbook. After waiting awhile (thanks to the holiday rush) I finally received my copy of the cookbook this week. H and I make our weekly grocery trip on Thursday, so before making my menu and grocery list I went through the cookbook and chose a couple recipes to make right away.

One was Rachael's Low Fat Stromboli. Seemed easy enough to make and it's something that we haven't had before. It turned out really good. H and I both liked them a lot. It's a recipe that comes together pretty quick, we can work together and each make our own. I don't think my version is quite as low fat as Rachael's. ;)

  • frozen or fresh pizza dough (about the size of a tennis ball) (used 13.8 oz pkg of refrigerated pizza dough)
  • 1 pkg fat free or low fat mozzarella cheese (used 8 oz bag shredded mozzarella- didn't use all)
  • 1/2 pkg turkey pepperoni (used 3 oz pkg regular pepperoni)
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • spray butter or light butter/margarine (used Pam spray)
  • garlic powder
  • oregano
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 15 oz can of pizza sauce for dipping

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Roll out dough on floured surface and lightly coat with butter. (split dough in half to make 2 before rolling out).
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and Parmesan.
  • Evenly coat dough with a layer of pepperoni and then mozzarella cheese.
  • Start to carefully roll dough from one end to the other stopping before reaching the end, then flip other end over to seal. Seal open sides as well.
  • Transfer to cooking surface, if using Pyrex (recommended) do not grease, if using baking pan/sheet then lightly grease.
  • Lightly coat the top of Stromboli with butter, and sprinkle some Parmesan and oregano.
  • Bake about 20-25 minutes or until golden on top.
  • Serve with your favorite sauce for dipping.
Next Time- Don't really need the pizza sauce. Most of the can went to waste since we didn't really need it. This would also be good with other meats, like ham (love ham on my pizza!) or even veggies.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chicken Stir-Fry

This has become a favorite of H and I. I found this recipe on, and it's by Emeril. Usually his recipes involve a lot of ingredients that I don't use. While I make a few substitutions, for the most part we use this recipe as is.

Bold items are changes I made, and Italics are steps I skipped.

  • 1 (7-ounce) package mung bean (cellophane) noodles (omitted)
  • 1/4 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry sherry, optional (omitted)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons sliced on the bias green onions, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced gingerroot (1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (Note-the red pepper flakes give it quite a kick, if you don't like heat you may want to reduce the amount.)
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into thin strips (used 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 1 (14-ounce) bag frozen mixed vegetables (broccoli florets, julienne red peppers, sugar snap peas and water chestnuts), about 3 cups, thawed (used 16oz bag)
  • While assembling the other ingredients, soak the noodles in hot water to soften, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • To make the sauce, in a bowl, whisk together the chicken broth with the cornstarch. Add the soy, hoisin, sugar, and sherry, if using, whisk, and set aside.
  • Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil and when hot and nearly smoking, add the green onions, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Add the chicken and stir-fry until turning opaque and nearly cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add the vegetables and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  • Add the sauce, stir and toss, cooking until the chicken is all the way cooked through and the sauce is thick, about 2 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken and vegetables from the pan. Add the noodles, toss, and cook to warm through, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Transfer the stir-fry to a platter and garnish with additional green onions. Arrange the noodles on the side and serve immediately.
  • Serve over rice. Used the remaining chicken broth to make the rice. Add water to broth to reach the required amount of water.
Next Time- I've made this recipe enough, that I'm happy with the way we make it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Surprise!!

So I woke up today to this note on my alarm clock.

So, I go out to the dining room, and this is what I see!

This note is on the table in front of the flowers.

Plus there was a note on my camera, saying to "Watch Me, for a Surprise!" H put a video of himself on there saying that he wanted to give me a treat today, and when I woke up he'd do whatever I wanted and go wherever I wanted!

What a sweetheart!! Of course my first reaction was "Are you in trouble?" He said he knew that would be my first thought!! Nope, he just wanted to be spontaneous and romantic!! LOVE IT!!

Friday, March 13, 2009


So this is my second recipe that I didn't have inspiration for. Simply something I grew up eating, and I used that recipe as my basis for tonight's dinner. My family didn't use peppers, but H and I have been trying to incorporate more veggies. They are completely optional in this recipe. I serve this with Jiffy Corn Muffins. They go together great!

  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 15oz cans chili beans, used one medium and one mild sauce
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pint of home canned tomatoes
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp chili powder. (I usually add till I'm happy with taste, this is an approx.)

  • Brown hamburger, drain.
  • Add onion, pepper and garlic. Saute a couple minutes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients. Note: I blend the home canned tomatoes and the tomato paste in my blender to make sure that the paste isn't clumpy and that there aren't big chunks of tomatoes. This is at your discretion.
  • Cover and stir occasionally. This can cook as long as you'd like. It can be ready to eat once all the ingredients are added, or you can let it simmer for a few hours.
Next Time- I'm fine with the way tonight's chili turned out.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chicken Fajitas

This is the first recipe that is completely mine. Not based on inspiration from anyone or anyplace. I've been making this recipe for awhile, and have pretty much determined what we like best. I tried those fajitas seasoning packets you can buy in the store, but prefer just to use our own seasonings. You can change up the colors of peppers, to make the meal look prettier! We've used orange and yellow before, but stuck with green and red this time. You could also put salsa on them, but usually there is enough flavor without.

  • 3 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 3 peppers, cut into thin strips (I used 2 green and one red)
  • 1 large onion, cut into thin strips
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • tortilla shells, taco size
  • shredded mexican cheese
  • sour cream

  • Pour a little oil into skillet. Add chicken, and salt and pepper. Cook until browned and cooked through.
  • Add peppers and onions to skillet. Add a little more salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are softened and onions are translucent.
  • Add the chili powder, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Cook a couple more minutes, making sure seasonings are evenly distributed.
  • Serve on tortilla shells and top with cheese and sour cream.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sweet & Sour Chicken

OMG! This is so good. H said that it was better than what you can get at a restaurant since theirs is fried. I got this recipe from Molly's blog. I was supposed to make it last week, but forgot to buy rice and white vinegar. So it got added to this week's menu.

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (used 20 oz. pkg of tenders)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Sauce: (doubled and saved half to use for dipping)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

  • Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg.
  • Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through.
  • Place in a single layer in a baking dish.
  • Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken.
  • Bake for one hour at 325 degrees. Turn chicken every 15 minutes.
  • If you like extra sauce, make another batch of sauce and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Stir constantly and let cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced - about 6-8 minutes.

Next time- wouldn't change a darn thing!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Title

I decided I didn't like my original title. After much collaboration with my Nesties, and a formal poll, "Bun in the Oven" won. Playing on my love of cooking and our efforts to conceive. Hopefully you'll all like it.

My Specialty

Brownies from a box! Haha! Tim and I have had our Costco membership for a couple years, and for the longest time he's been bugging me for the box of Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownies. I finally broke down, and bought them.

OMG! They are the best. Why should I bother slaving over a recipe, when greatness can easily come out of a box.

Now I don't feel this way about cooking, only baking.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hamburger Noodle Casserole

Found this on another blog I've been following. Decided to make it tonight since it seemed pretty easy, and would make good leftovers for when H got home from his part time job.

5 cups uncooked egg noodles (used a 16oz bag)
1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef (only used a pound, didn't read the directions right :)
2 garlic cloves, minced (used garlic powder, approx 2 tsp.)
3 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese (used whole 15 oz pkg)
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream (used rest of tub, about 2/3 cup)
3 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
2/3 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese (used cheddar and mozzarella, about 1 1/2 cups total)

  • Cook noodles according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook beef and garlic until meat is no longer pink; drain.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce, sugar, salt and pepper; heat through.
  • Drain noodles; stir into beef mixture.
  • In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, ricotta cheese and sour cream until blended. Stir in half of the onions. (didn't see the step to add onions, so I didn't. Oops)
  • Spoon half of the noodle mixture into a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with cheese mixture and remaining noodle mixture.
  • Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes.
  • Uncover; sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
  • Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted.
  • Sprinkle with remaining onions.
Next time- Use the correct amount of hamburger. Use less ricotta, it ended up fine, but less would have been better. Maybe even mix everything together, instead of doing the cheese middle layer, like lasagna.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Beef and Peppers with Noodles

I found this recipe in Mary Ellen's blog. H and I made it together tonight. I love having a helper! I couldn't find the noodles that Mary Ellen used. Apparently Meijer isn't very diverse! LOL! I bought Chow Mein Stir fry noodles. They worked fine.

  • 3 peppers - I used 2 green, 1 red - cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 onion, cut into strips (I used a whole onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb steak strips marinated in soy and Worcestershire with a touch of garlic powder and onion powder (marinated for 20-30 minutes) (used 1/2 lbs. eye of round steak)
  • 1 package powdered brown gravy mixed with 1 c water
  • 1 tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/3 c cooking sherry (used beef broth)
  • 1/2 package Chinese noodles (not sure what they are called - my parents bought them for us in Chinatown - they are medium, flat noodles that cook up quickly)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Chopped green onions for garnish


  • Heat a large saute pan over high heat
  • Add steak strips and cook until just a bit more than halfway done
  • Deglaze pan with cooking sherry, scraping up brown bits
  • Add garlic, onions, and peppers; saute for a few minutes
  • Mix gravy/water with Hoison and soy; add to pan
  • Bring to a simmer and let simmer for about 5 minutes; the sauce will thicken
  • In the meantime, boil water. Add noodles and cook until done - about 5 minutes. Drain.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large pan or wok over high heat
  • Add noodles and toss with approximately 2 tsp soy sauce. When done, garnish with green onions.

Next time- I would just use rice. And my picture doesn't look nearly as tasty as Mary Ellen's!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Creamy Chicken Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes

All of our recipes for this week are from blogs that I've been following.

So I just started following this blog, and I thought this recipe looked really good and yummy. It turned out really nice.

  • 2 cups uncooked penne pasta (I used a 16oz box)
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts (I used a 20oz pkg of tenders)
  • 1 can of chicken broth
  • 1 package of cream cheese (I used low-fat)
  • 1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 tsp garlic, chopped (I used garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved, about 2 cups (I used 1 1/2 pints of grape tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

  1. Cook pasta and drain.
  2. Cube chicken breast (1" cubes), heat half the chicken broth in a large skillet and add chicken. Cook until no longer pink (5-7 minutes).
  3. Add cream cheese, spinach, remaining chicken broth, garlic, salt and pepper. Heat for 3-5 minutes until cheese melts. Add tomatoes.
  4. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes until tomatoes are soft. Toss with pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.
Next time- I would use all 2 pints of tomatoes. And perhaps some mozzarella sprinkled on top.