Wednesday, March 31, 2010



Another task as a BzzAgent! BABIES is a new movie, set to premiere (appropriately) over Mother's Day Weekend. It traces the lives of four newborns around the world -- San Francisco, Namibia, Tokyo, and Mongolia -- through their first year of experiencing life.

BzzAgent must know me well. This review was right up my alley...

I mean, really. Can you resist this picture of Ponijao from Namibia?

"Ponijao lives in Namibia with her family, including her parents and eight older brothers and sisters. Ponijao’s family is part of the Himba tribe, and lives in a small village with other families, following traditions including speaking their own (Himba) language. The men in the Himba tribe are generally off looking after the cattle and searching for grass, so Ponijao is most often with her mother and other female relatives; she plays, eats, and is bathed through the traditional method of mixing concrete red ochre with oil. Ponijao’s favorite things to do are dance and play with other children in the tribe."

Get a load of Mari, from Tokyo:

Bayar from Mongolia:

And Hattie, from San Fran:

Want more? Here's the trailer:

And in case you're looking for an "expert's" opinion:

BABIES premieres May 7th.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

From-the-Pantry Mexican Dip

From-the-Pantry Mexican Dip

This dip is made with ingredients that are typically staples around my house. It was quick to throw together, easy to serve, and went over well with guests.

1 block cream cheese, softened
1 small can corn, drained
1 small can diced green chiles, drained
1 c. salsa
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c. diced green onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread cream cheese in the bottom of a pie plate.

Top with corn, green chiles, salsa, cheese, and green onions, in that order.

Cover with foil and bake for approximately 30 minutes, removing foil for last 10.

Serve with tortilla chips. And margaritas. :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Big Bad Chocolate Muffins

Big Bad Chocolate Muffins

Makes about 28 muffins.

A rich way to start your morning, a satisfying addition to your afternoon coffee, or a post-dinner dessert. However you choose to eat it, you'll enjoy it.
Source: Cupcakes! From the Cake Mix Doctor

28 muffin/cupcake liners
1 pkg. (18.25 oz.) chocolate cake mix
1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix
1 container (6 oz.) low-fat vanilla yogurt
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips (1 "regular" size bag)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line muffin tin with liners.
Place cake mix and pudding mix in a large bowl; mix together and make a well in the center. Place the yogurt, water, oil, and eggs in a small mixing bowl and stir with a fork to break up the egg yolks. Pour the yogurt mixture into the well of the muffin mix. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a wooden spoon to just combine, about 30 strokes. Fold in the chocolate chips and stir another 10 strokes until just combined.

Spoon batter into each prepared muffin cup, filling it about three quarters of the way full. Bake for about 20 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, March 26, 2010

DiGiorno Pizza Party!

DiGiorno Pizza & Breadsticks Champions House Party

I'm a member of, a website that allows you to apply to host parties that are sponsored by leading brands. Each party has a theme, and your assignment is to share the wealth with friends and family by hosting a House Party. This was the first mission I was sent on: DiGiorno Pizza and Breadsticks!

I received my "party pack" in the mail about a week before my party. Inside were coupons for free pizzas and party supplies, such as DiGiorno beads, table tents, coasters, and the snazzy finger basketball hoops you see above.

The day of our party, I picked up the pizzas: Pepperoni, Cheese, Supreme, and Sausage, Bacon, & Pepperoni. The spotlight selection pizzas, the boxes containing both pizza and breadsticks, were the Pepperoni and Supreme. These boxes contained (8) breadsticks in addition to a full-size pizza; the breadsticks cook alongside the pizza in the oven, and the marinara dipping sauce is easily heated in the microwave.

A delicious pepperoni pizza:

Supreme with seasoned breadsticks:

As another option for our guests, I put together a BLT Salad bar:

And for dessert, my strawberry version of Pizza Hut's dessert pizza:

And some festive cut-out cookies:

I tried to get creative with my sprinkles. That's supposed to be a basketball; can you tell?

Overall, the party was a success! I think all of our guests had a great time, and we all loved the pizzas! We ran into a small snafu with the smoke alarm while the pizzas were in the oven. I think the ones on the lower rack were a little too close to the heat source! Surprisingly enough, for all the smoke that escaped from the oven, the pizzas themselves (the two that were on the bottom) were only slightly crispy on the bottom.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

BLT Salad Bar

BLT Salad Bar

Serves 6-8.

A tasty salad with some of my all-time favorite toppings. I like this for entertaining, because it offers guests the options and flexibility of a "salad bar," but the BLT theme allows you to get by with just a few classic toppings.

(2) bags prepared salad, such as American lettuce mix
tomato (I chopped up 3 vine-ripened tomatoes)
shredded cheddar (about 1 cup)
bacon (I cooked & crumbled about 6 strips)
croutons (about 1-2 cups)
Ranch dressing

Serve toppings in individual bowls, and allow guests to create their own salad!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cut-Out Cookies #3

Cut-Out Cookies #3

Makes about 2-4 dozen, depending on size of cookie.

Finally! A cut-out cookie that is basically fool-proof. It's easy to make to the dough, requires only a few hours of chilling time, rolls and cuts easily, and doesn't spread while baking. I will use this recipe when I want a cookie to hold its shape perfectly. It tastes fantastic too, although, taste-wise, I don't think anything will beat the extra-buttery goodness of Meme's Butter Cookies.
Source: Annie's Eats, who received it from a family friend.

1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1-½ t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
2 ½ c. sifted flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream butter. Add powdered sugar.
Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm.
Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters.
Place on (greased <--I have nonstick cookie sheets and didn't do this; they came out fine) cookie sheets.
Bake for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown.
Frost and decorate when cool.

A Note From The Little Lady: Look for more pictures of these cookies on Friday's post!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Strawberry Dessert Pizza

Strawberry Dessert Pizza

Serves 8-10.

This is my take on Pizza Hut's dessert pizza, and I found it to be very enjoyable... and addictive. The sugary topping made it slightly difficult to cut into slices. I found that kitchen shears worked well. Or, run a knife around the edge, transfer to a cutting board, and use a sharp pizza wheel.

1 container refrigerated pizza dough (or bread dough)
1 jar strawberry preserves
1/2 c. oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour (I used whole wheat)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Coat a pizza pan with non-stick spray.
Spread dough evenly on pizza pan.
Bake for 3-4 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix oats, brown sugar, and flour to create a streusel.
Remove pan from oven and top with strawberry preserves, followed by streusel topping.
Return to oven and bake 13-15 minutes.
Cool; cut into slices; enjoy.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Warm Barbecued Chicken Salad

Warm Barbecued Chicken Salad

Serves 2.

This is a great, versatile salad that could be easily adapted to complement a different dressing. We loved the chicken, and the barbecue vinaigrette was great too -- something different, unlike any dressing I had tried before.
Source: Cooking for the Weekend: Food for the Best of Times

1/4 c. all-purpose flour (or whole wheat flour)
2/3 t. salt
1/3 t. dried thyme, crumbled
1/3 t. dried mustard
1/3 t. sweet paprika
1/3 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1/3 c. corn oil
4 c. mixed salad greens
Barbecue Vinaigrette (recipe below)

In a wide, deep plate, mix together the flour, salt, thyme, mustard, paprika, and pepper. Coat the chicken with the flour and shake off the excess.

In a large skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook 5 minutes, Turn and cook 3 minutes, until done. Drain on paper towels.

Divide the greens among two plates. Top the greens with hot or warm chicken. Drizzle the chicken and greens generously with the vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Barbecue Vinaigrette

1/8 c. tomato-based barbecue sauce
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 t. red wine vinegar
1 t. Dijon-style mustard
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c. olive oil

In a medium bowl, whisk together the barbecue sauce, egg yolk, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the oil; the dressing will thicken. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

A Note From The Little Lady: I added shredded cheddar cheese and toasted Ramen noodles for some extra flavor. I would've also added sliced red onion, but I didn't have any on hand.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Meatza Pizza Ball Subs

Meatza Pizza Balls

Makes 24 meatballs.

Another success! We'll definitely be making this again.
Slightly adapted from: Classic Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 lb. pepperoni, chopped
1 egg
1/2 c. Italian bread crumbs
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. garlic powder
salt, to taste
nonstick cooking spray or olive oil
1 (14-oz.) can prepared pizza sauce or tomato sauce
6 hoagie rolls
1-1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine beef, pepperoni, egg, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, garlic powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix well.
Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray or lightly coat with olive oil.

Divide meat mixture into 4 sections. Each section will make 6 meatballs; 24 total.
Roll each meatball between your hands and place it on the baking sheet. Try to keep all meatballs consistent in size, about 1" in diameter.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until meatballs are evenly browned and cooked through.

While meatballs are in the oven, warm pizza sauce or tomato sauce on stovetop.

When meatballs have finished cooking, place 4 meatballs in each hoagie roll. Top with sauce and mozzarella cheese.
Or, if you'd prefer, dress hoagie rolls with sauce and cheese, melt in oven, and then add meatballs:

A Note From The Little Lady: Rachael Ray's serving suggestion is not as meatball subs, but as meatballs with dipping sauce. If choosing this option, serve sauce in a bowl, and surround with meatballs. Serve with toothpicks.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Egg & Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

Egg & Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

Serves 1.

I love a good breakfast sandwich. I'm not always wild about the traditional breakfast feast of these things separate, but put them together as a sandwich and I'm one happy girl.

1 sandwich bun
1/4-1/2 c. Egg substitute (or 1-2 eggs)
1 green onion, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 slice American cheese
1 sausage patty

Scramble eggs over medium heat, adding in minced green onion and seasoning with salt and pepper. Heat sausage patty until cooked through. Make sandwich by layering egg, cheese, and sausage patty.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Patty Melt

Patty Melt

Serves 2.

One two-syllable word: Yum-my.

1/2-2/3 lb. ground beef
Worchestershire sauce, to taste
Steak seasoning, to taste
2 slices American cheese
2 slices thick, hearty bread
1/4 onion, thinly sliced
1 T. olive oil
tomato slices, if desired

Saute onions over medium heat with olive oil.
Combine ground beef, Worchestershire sauce, and steak seasoning in a bowl. Form into two hamburger patties. Grill over medium heat until reaching desired doneness, flipping halfway through. Melt slices of cheese over patties before removing from grill.
Transfer patties to bread, and top with tomato and onions.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Deen Brothers' BBQ Chicken

The Deen Brothers' BBQ Chicken

Serves 2-4, depending on how much chicken you use.

This is a sweet BBQ sauce. You taste a hint of the orange juice, even though there are only 2 tablespoons in the whole batch! It still tastes like barbeque, though, and that makes it good in our house. This would be great on a hot summer day -- lighter in taste than your average BBQ sauce, but still grill-able and enjoyable as ever.
Slightly Adapted From: The Deen Bros. Cookbook: Recipes From The Road

1 c. ketchup
2 T. orange juice
1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 t. Worchestershire sauce
1 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/4 t. cumin (or 1 t. liquid smoke)
3-4 chicken breasts (about 1-2 lbs.), or a 3-1/2 lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, or prepare a grill.

Combine all ingredients except for chicken breasts to create barbeque sauce. Reserve 1/3 cup of the sauce for basting. Add the chicken to the remaining sauce in the bowl, turning to coat.

***If you have time, marinate chicken in sauce overnight or for a few hours. If you need to cook it right away, that's okay too. (The original recipe actually says nothing about marinating, but I like letting the flavor soak in when I can.)

Arrange chicken in a roasting pan or on the grill. Cook for 45-60 minutes, or until cooked through, basting with the reserved 1/3 cup sauce after 20 minutes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Good-For-You Banana Muffins

Good-For-You Banana Muffins

Makes 24 muffins.

Another new option for The Mr.'s breakfast routine. This is a moist muffin (thanks bananas!) and fairly healthy (thanks whole wheat flour and oat bran!). It's even got your glass of O.J. already mixed in. I eliminated the suggested 1/2 c. vegetable oil in hopes of making it even better for you. And guess what? It worked! The original recipe also included 1 T. cinnamon, 1/2 t. nutmeg, and 1/4 t. allspice -- feel free to add those to the dry ingredients if you are looking for a muffin with a warm, spicy taste.
Adapted From:

1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. oat bran
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
2 eggs
1 c. orange juice
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 very ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tins with 24 liners.

In one bowl, mix together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, oat bran, baking soda, and baking powder. Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients; add eggs, orange juice, and both sugars. Within the well, mix wet ingredients together. Then, incorporate into dry ingredients, but don't overmix. Fold in mashed banana.

Fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way full; bake for 15 minutes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

Serves 3.

Buffalo Chicken Anything seems to be the rage lately. And this didn't disappoint. I always know The Mr. is content when I hear little "mmm"s throughout the meal. I mean, really: buffalo chicken and mac 'n cheese... how could it be bad??
Adapted From:

1/4 lb. small elbow macaroni
2 T. butter
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/8 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole milk (2% or 1% also works)
1 oz. cream cheese
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 boneless, skinless, chicken breast (cooked and chopped in small pieces)
salt and black pepper
1/4 c. hot sauce, such as Frank's Red Hot Original

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook macaroni in large pot of boiling, salted water until just tender but firm to bite. Drain and place in large bowl.

Meanwhile, melt butter in medium pot over medium heat. Add chopped onions and garlic, stirring often until onions are soft, but not brown.
Add flour, stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
Reduce heat and simmer sauce for about 2 minutes.
Add cream cheese, both cheeses, onions, and salt and pepper.
Whisk until cheeses melt and sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; add chicken and stir to coat.

Place in a baking dish and top with additional shredded cheese, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes (50-60 if made-ahead and refrigerated).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Big 2-6.

So today I turn 26 years old, and show my face for the first time. That's me up there, celebrating my 24th birthday.
And because it's my birthday, I've decided that it's a good enough excuse to not worry about posting a recipe today. Today, I'm boycotting the kitchen and eating out. Because, although I love to cook, there's something not too thrilling about cooking your own birthday dinner, or baking your own birthday cake. Instead, I'm celebrating at a restaurant with The Mr. and ordering myself a tasty dinner and a sinful birthday dessert.

AND I'm going to ask you all for gifts.
Yep, uh-huh.

I know there are ways out there to track the activity my blog sees. And if I was tech-savvy enough to look into those methods, I might have an idea of who all visits, where they visit from, and if there's really anyone out there reaping some benefits from what I post. But, to be honest, I don't know much about the interwebs. All I really know is how to take a crappy picture of something I make and slap it up here with the recipe... probably often with typos (my apologies).

So..onto my birthday request...
If you follow my blog, consider becoming a "Follower." I'm curious just how many people see the hideous photos I post. The Mr. keeps saying, "We need to get you some photography lessons."
I think what I really need is a good camera!

In the end, though I strive for impressive photos, what I'm most concerned about is offering something that tastes good and is fairly easy to make, no matter what it looks like.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

German Meatballs with Spaetzle, Pierogies, & Onions

German Meatballs with Spaetzle, Pierogies, & Onions

Serves 4-6.

If you read yesterday's post, you saw that it was The Mr.'s birthday. We went out to eat on his birthday night, but because I like to spoil him at home too, I made one of his favorite meals the day before his birthday. The Mr's grandma gets all credit (except for the German meatballs -- those are my addition). Grandma taught me how to make spaetzle, and the family gave me one of their straight-from-Germany spaetzle makers. I was so tickled to receive it.
Now I need a lesson on her homemade pierogies, which are amazing!

German Meatballs:
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. fine dry bread crumbs
1 T. snipped fresh parsley
1/2 t. salt
dash ground black pepper
1 lb. ground beef

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Shape into twenty-four 1-1/2" meatballs.
***Some of the meatballs can be frozen at this point, if desired.
Place on a baking sheet that has been coated with non-stick spray. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.

3 c. all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 c. water
1 t. salt

Mix together spaetzle ingredients. Let rest for 20 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill spaetzle maker with batter and press batter into boiling water. Stir so they don't stick and remove from water as soon as they rise to the top. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and let fully drain in a colander. Repeat with spaetzle press until batter is gone.

I used store-bought potato cheddar; Grandma still needs to teach her techniques on this part

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can water
1 pkg. brown gravy mix
1 c. water

Mix together and heat in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer.

1 onion, thinly sliced
3 T. butter

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat; add onions and cook until tender, stirring occasionally.

Some action shots to make you drool:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Cake

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Cake

Serves 4-6.

Happy 26th Birthday to The Mr.! When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday dessert, he requested an ice cream cake. When I asked him what flavors, he responded, "Oreo." The thought of going out and buying an ice cream cake disappoints me, because I like to think that a homemade version contains more birthday love. And the nice thing about The Mr. is that he isn't too picky when it comes to sweets. We could celebrate his birthday without said ice cream cake, and he'd probably be fine with it. But me? I wouldn't be. A birthday is NOT a birthday unless a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday" is sung with lit candles poking out of a birthday dessert. Last year, I made him this, but I wanted to try something new this year. Here's my creation:

Marble Cake:
1/4 c. softened butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. milk
1 egg
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cocoa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8" round cake pan. Combine butter and sugar, beat well. Add in milk, egg, and vanilla; beat on medium for 2 minutes. Reserve 3/4 c. batter and stir in cocoa. Pour remaining batter into pan; swirl in spoonfulls of cocoa batter with a knife. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool. Because I wanted a smaller, more proportional cake, I cut an approximate 5" circle from the middle of the cake:

Oreo Fudge Center:
4 Oreo cookies
1/4 c. chocolate fudge

In a food processor, process Oreos until fine crumbs. Remove from food processor and mix in chocolate fudge. Spread on top of cake layer.

Ice cream Layer:
2 c. cookies 'n cream ice cream

Spread on top of chocolate fudge layer:

Whipped topping
Sprinkles, if desired

Frost and decorate:

Monday, March 8, 2010

Creamy Caesar Chicken Panini

Creamy Caesar Chicken Panini

Makes 2 sandwiches.

A perfect sandwich for a lazy weeknight dinner, weekend lunch, or even a late-night nibble. We only have regular sandwich bread on hand, but I think this would be best with a thick, Texas toast. YUM.

4 slices bread
2 slices cheese, your choice - we used American
4 slices bacon
2 T. Caesar dressing
1 c. cooked, chopped chicken
Butter, for bread

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon to desired doneness.
Prepare sandwiches by slathering each with 1 T. Caesar dressing, and then topping with 1/2 c. chicken, 2 slices bacon, and 1 slice cheese. Top with other slice of bread.

Butter outsides of bread slices, transfer to skillet, and cook until bread is golden brown and sandwich is heated through, flipping once.

Be prepared to make 2 more. :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

New York, New York

New York, New York

Makes 1 drink.

Blame it on The Mr. (or that bestie of mine, Lindsey!) -- I have really come to enjoy whiskey drinks.

2-1/2 oz. bourbon
1/2 oz. grenadine
juice from 1/2 lemon
garnish: maraschino cherry or lemon spiral

Fill shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add the bourbon and grenadine to the shaker.
Squeeze the juice from the lemon into the shaker and shake vigorously for 5-10 seconds.
Strain the contents of the shaker into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish, if desired.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Philadelphia Cheesesteaks

Philadelphia Cheesesteaks

Serves 2.

A success. The Mr. got anxious with anticipation when he saw me preparing these in the kitchen, raved throughout dinner, and then got excited when he realized that there were so many possible variations. "Buffalo chicken subs, chicken teriyaki subs, meatball subs..." Yes, my dear, we have the ability to make just about anything we want. :)
I love when a simple, easy-to-prepare meal receives a great response. Makes for a happy cook and a happy home.

2 hoagie rolls
2 slices white cheese, such as Provolone or Gouda
1 T. olive oil
leftover Flank Steak Teriyaki or 3/4 lb.
1/4 green pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 white onion, thinly sliced
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t. steak seasoning

Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
Chop/shred leftover steak into small pieces; slice onion and green pepper into thin slices.

Transfer steak, onion, and pepper to the skillet. Season with Worchestershire and steak seasoning. Heat through until onion and peppers are tender.

Prepare hoagie buns by splitting and topping with cheese. Heat under broiler until cheese is just melted. Top buns with mayo and steak mixture. Serve and enjoy.

(The Mr. gets a big one AND an extra little one since his belly is hungrier than mine.)