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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Recap

So, you saw the recipes I posted already from Thanksgiving.  The Spinach & Artichoke Dip, along with the Herb & Onion Dip.  While they were opposites in how well they went over, you have to live and learn.  The spinach dip will be saved, and made for future get togethers.  I'll have to find a different recipe for chip dip. The Oatmeal Cranberry Bars are still to come. 

Since Baby Rebel had a complete meltdown just as we were serving dinner, I completely forgot to take a picture of all the food I made.  I'm actually kind of bummed about this, since all the food looked really good.  I got out the china my mom gave to me from when she got married.  So the table looked really nice.  Everything looked nice dammit!  But it's not the baby's fault.  Mommy and Daddy weren't in the room, and he was around people he's not familiar with.  He had reached his limit.

We'll just have to live with the pictures I took of the appetizers, and the bars I made since they weren't served with dinner. 

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Source- Kraft Foods

This recipe rocked!!  My sister-in-law, Jen, had only tried this and was already threatening to take me home to Chicago so I could cook for her!  

I've changed the preparation instructions because the Kraft site had you making it in the microwave, which I absolutely hate to do, and they had you spreading the cream cheese on the bottom first.  So, if you want the original directions, click the Kraft link.  Also, the addition of the sour cream made the dip less dry, and definitely was needed.

  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened 
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 pkg.  (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
  • 1 jar (7.5 oz.) marinated artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
  • 1/2 cup  Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (plus more for topping)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup  Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Mix everything in a bowl. 
  • Spread into a oven safe baking dish.
  • Sprinkle extra mozzarella on top.
  • Bake in 350 degree oven until cheese is melted and dip is heated through.  Mine took about 10-15 minutes.

Next Time- I like the changes I made in the preparation.  I think it was much nicer to have everything mixed together, and I liked the extra mozzarella melted on top. 

Homemade Onion & Herb Dip

I was very excited to make this chip dip.  I love chip dip, and being able to make it myself would be spectacular.  Unfortunately, this dip turned into a big fat FAIL!  I'm not sure if the cause was the Miracle Whip I used instead of Mayo, or if there was something else wrong.  But it just didn't have good flavor.  I even tried fixing it, and nothing improved it.  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise (used Miracle Whip)
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced parsley  (used 2 tsp dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (used black)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • In a saute pan over medium heat add oil, heat and add onions and salt. 
  • Cook the onions until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and set aside to cool. 
  • Mix the rest of the ingredients, and then add the cooled onions. 
  • Refrigerate and stir again before serving.
Next Time- Not sure how to make this taste good.  I think I'd rather just start from scratch with a whole new recipe.  

Homemade Baby Food

So it seems to be all the rage on the online forum I frequent to make your own baby food.  I didn't give it a whole lot of thought, and it certainly wasn't a priority for me to make my own baby food.  At Baby Rebel's 4 month appointment, his pediatrician said that we could start solids with him.  Pick a cereal, and then start with orange vegetables.  From there it was our choice.  Just be sure to wait 3 days before starting a new food to make sure he doesn't have a food allergy.

We tried the cereal, and he did OK the first time.  Waited about a week, and tried again and he did better.  Then I just let it lapse.  Feeding him cereal is a lot messier and more time consuming than just giving him a bottle.  Lately he has seemed much more interested in our food, so I decided to try cereal again.  He did much better.  He opened his mouth for the spoon, kept leaning forward to get to the spoon, and spit out a lot less.  Now, I really feel like he's ready to start solids.  

Honestly, we chose carrots because we already had some in the house from Thanksgiving, and I doubt we'll eat them ourselves.  They may not be the first choice, per Wholesome Baby, but it's what we went with.  

I followed the website, and set about making my first baby food.  

Peeled, and cut up the carrots into chunks.  Steamed them, and then pureed.  I'm not sure how long they took to cook, just waited till they were fork tender.  The site says not to use the cooking water in the puree, so I used fresh tap water.  

After wards, I set aside some to put in the fridge for Baby Rebel.  The rest I froze in an ice cube tray.  

Baby Rebel was already in bed by the time his food was ready, so he'll have to try carrots tomorrow.  I'll share more as I expand my horizons in the world of making baby food.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fiesta Chicken & Black Bean Enchiladas

Source- Adapted from

If you click the link you'll see the recipe called for hamburger, not chicken.  I intended to make it with hamburger, but I took chicken out of the freezer and thought chicken enchiladas sounded good so I switched things up.  

I also have never used the prepared cheese product before.  It seems way too processed for my taste, but I gave in and decided I'd try it for one recipe.  It's not like I was gonna eat the cheese plain.  It would be melted in the recipe just like any other cheese that I have used before.  

  • 1lb chicken breast
  • 1/2 lb.  (8 oz.) VELVEETA Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, divided
  • 1-1/4 cups Thick 'N Chunky Salsa, divided
  • 1 cup  rinsed canned black beans (used a full 16 oz can)
  • 12 flour tortillas (6 inch) (used 10, it's what came in my package)
  • 1/2 cup  Sour Cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (omitted since I dislike cilantro)
  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Spray 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Add oil to large skillet, cook chicken until no longer pink in center.  
  • Remove from pan and shred chicken with 2 forks.
  • Return chicken to pan and stir in half of the VELVEETA and 1/2 cup salsa; cook 5 min. or until VELVEETA is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently. 
  • Stir in beans.
  • Spoon 1/4 cup meat mixture down center of each tortilla; roll up. Place, seam-sides down, in 13x9-inch baking dish.
  • Bake enchiladas, uncovered, 10 min. 
  • Top with remaining VELVEETA and salsa. 
  • Bake 20 min. or until enchiladas are heated through and VELVEETA is melted. 
  • Top with sour cream and cilantro.

Next Time-The enchiladas themselves were really good.  I think they actually were better with the chicken than they would have been with hamburger.  

I wasn't a fan of the Velveeta melted on the top.  It reminded me of American cheese when you melt it on toast.  Ever have cheese toast?  The cheese mixed in with the chicken was fine.  So I'd say next time I'd just top the enchiladas with the salsa, and maybe mix a little more cheese in to the meat mixture.  

Herb Crusted Pork Roast

This recipe starts out pretty similar to the Herb Roasted Pork Loin I made a few weeks ago.  The only real difference is the bread crumb crust you put over the herbs.  I also used dried herbs this time around rather than fresh.  This changed the amounts used, so I've noted them in bold. 

  • 2-3 lb pork loin roast (just over 4lbs)
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (doubled)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (doubled)
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus an additional 2 teaspoons
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup packed fresh parsley or basil leaves (2 1/2 Tbsp dried basil)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves  (1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (1/4 tsp dried)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. 
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack in the middle, set aside. 
  • In a large bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, minced shallot, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, pinch of salt and pinch of pepper. 
  • Using a fork, toss the mixture until the breadcrumbs are evenly coated with oil. 
  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine the parsley (or basil), thyme, rosemary, garlic, remaining Parmesan cheese, garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt and pinch of pepper.   (just mixed in a bowl since my dried herbs didn't need to be processed)
  • Process until smooth, about 10-12 1-second pulses.  
  • Rub the outside of the roast with this herb paste and coat with the breadcrumb mixture. 
  • Place the roast in the prepared wire rack and baking sheet.  
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 50-75 minutes or until the thickest part of the roast registers 145 degrees on an instant read thermometer. 
  • Allow the roast to rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. 
Next Time- The turned out super moist, and with great flavor.  I wouldn't change anything.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu

For about the 4th year in a row H and I are hosting his family for Thanksgiving.  This year it will be his parents, his brother and his brand new sister-in-law, plus the 3 of us.  Sister-in-law, Jen, has said that she'll help me with the cooking.  I told her we'd cook and let the guys take care of the baby!  

Anyways, we've worked out our menu, and even bought all the groceries.  The turkey is thawing the fridge, and I just have to bide my time to start the prep work for my stuffing.  

The Menu 
Roasted Turkey
Homemade Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Gravy made from drippings
Cream-Style Corn
Brown N Serve Rolls
Pumpkin Pie- the frozen kind
Oatmeal-Cranberry-Sour Cream Bars
Appetizers- homemade chip dip and warm artichoke-spinach dip

I'm hopeful that I'll remember to take pictures to show off.  If MIL thinks it is weird I'll let her know it is for the blog.   

Friday, November 12, 2010

What to say?

I want to give an update, but don't know what to call it. 

I've been in school for four weeks, and it's going well so far.  The math aspect has just been review so far.  Dealing with fractions and decimals isn't fun, but easy enough and review from my high school math days.  The pharmacy aspect hasn't been that hard.  But next week we start to get into medical and pharmacy terminology and it looks to have a lot to remember.  But I'm looking forward to digging in.  I've taken 2 quizzes, 1 in each class and I got 100% on each.  Go me!!

Now for the stuff you really want to hear about, the little man!  :)  He's growing like a weed.  He doesn't really have a lot of baby fat rolls, so he's just a very solid little boy.  

He's been reaching for his feet the last couple weeks, so he'll have them in his mouth once he figures out how to actually grab them.  That'll be adorable!  He loves to stand up, and can hold himself up if you stand him up next to the coffee table or in his crib.  Of course he can't stand there forever.  

Speaking of his crib, he started sleeping in it this past Monday.  He's doing really well in there, and has actually slept for 12 hours the past 3 nights.  We'll see if he continues that trend.  Pretty crazy that he's not waking up for a night feeding at all.  Of course I prep the bottles just in case.  

We're also planning Thanksgiving.  H and I will be hosting it again this year for his parents and his brother/sister-in-law.  Jenn, my sister-in-law, will be helping me cook while the guys take care of Baby Rebel.  I think that is a fair trade!  

Four Cheese Baked Penne

I decided to make this recipe since it looked really easy, plus it didn't have any meat.  I have enjoyed the meatless recipes I've made and it decreases the expense of groceries.

  • 1 pound whole-wheat penne
  • 1 1/2 cups small-curd low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (8-ounce) can low-sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (3/4 ounces)
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Combine the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella and parsley in a bowl and stir with a fork to incorporate and set aside. 
  • Cook pasta until tender but still firm, a minute or 2 less than the package directs. Drain.
  • Heat the oil in the same pot over medium heat. 
  • Add the onion and cook stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. 
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, rosemary, chili flakes, salt and pepper. 
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until sauce thickens slightly. 
  • Return pasta to pot with sauce and turn off heat. 
  • Add cottage cheese mixture.
  • Spray a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray then transfer pasta mixture to pan. 
  • Top with remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella and the parmesan.
  • Bake until heated through and cheese is melted, 30 minutes. 
Next Time- This recipe had great flavor and made awesome leftovers.  Nothing needs to be changed. 

Herb Roasted Pork Loin


Found this recipe awhile ago, and when pork loin was on sale I decided to go ahead and make it.  The rub gives awesome flavor to the pork.  I definitely wasn't a fan of the Parsley Shallot Sauce, but that could be partly due to not following the measurements exactly.  H liked it, so it wasn't a complete waste.

Sorry, no picture I forgot to take one.  :(

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (2 1/2-pound) center cut boneless pork loin, trimmed of all visible fat
  • 1/2 cup Parsley Shallot Sauce, recipe follows
 Parsley Shallot Sauce:
  • 1 1/2 cups lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped shallot
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Mash the garlic and salt together with a fork until it forms a coarse paste.
  • Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the oil, fresh herbs and freshly ground pepper. 
  • Rub the garlic-herb paste all over the pork. 
  • Transfer the pork to a roasting pan and roast for 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. 
  • Transfer the roast to a carving board and let rest for 15 minutes. 
  • Carve the pork into slices and serve with the sauce.
 Next Time-As stated the sauce wasn't that great, but the pork was fine.  I'd say that nothing needs to be changed.