Last night, we dined on good ol' spaghetti. I almost skipped over even mentioning this, but then I realized I'd actually made the sauce before and frozen it. It's my mom's recipe, and it's by far my favorite meat sauce. Here's the recipe:

1 pound ground beef (I use the leanest I can find)
1 onion, chopped
1 jar Prego Mushroom sauce
2 cans Del Monte stewed tomatoes

Brown ground beef with onion. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add Prego and stewed tomatoes. Simmer at least 30 minutes, but the longer you cook it the better it tastes. Can also be cooked in a Crock Pot on low 6-8 hours. Can be used for spaghetti and also in lasagna. Yum!

Catching up

I've been remiss in posting... I blame Rebecca. :) Since my last post I've made M&M cookies, English Muffin Pizzas, Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad, and Open-faced Turkey Patty Melts (Cooking Light).

The cookies were a recipe I found on, and they turned out pretty well. Some of them didn't cook long enough, and then I almost burned the next batch trying to compensate, but we still ate them all. :)

English Muffin Pizzas are super easy. Just split the muffins in half and put some pizza sauce on them. Top with mozzerella cheese (actually the pre-shredded Italian blend is better) and whatever toppings you like. Our favorites are pepperoni, extra cheese, and Canadian bacon and pineapple. We know what we like and don't experiment much because of that, but as with any type of pizza, any number of toppings would work just fine.

The salad turned out quite well! I'd tried it once before without marinating the chicken, and it was pretty bland. This time I marinated it for a couple hours in pineapple juice, orange juice, lemon and lime juices, and a dash of cardamom and dill. Then I grilled it. The salad was just baby spinach with dried fruit (craisins, blueberries, raspberries, and cherries) mixed in. I had planned to make a citrus vinegarette, but I got lazy and just used a bottled Raspberry Walnut vinegarette instead.

Tonight's dinner was the patty melts. I'd made this once before, and they came out good but very dry, so I decided to try them again. The recipe calls for ricotta, so I added a bit extra, as well as a bit of cottage cheese since I had some. They always take way longer to cook than I expect, so they got a bit black on one side, but they tasted fine. Top them with sliced Swiss cheese, and serve on a slice of Rye with spicy brown or Dijon mustard, then top with cooked sliced onions. Yum! I served them with roasted potatoes since I still had some from last time, and a fresh veggie platter. I was stuffed!

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This is actually one of my own recipes. Having originally grown up in South Carolina, I really miss that good ol' Southern BBQ. This is my attempt at replicating it, although it's not quite the same. It's different, but still delicious, and super easy!

Here's what you do:

1. Get out your Crock Pot, and dust it off. :)
2. Dump in about a cup of BBQ sauce- any kind will do, although my personal favorite is Jack Daniels Honey Smokehouse.
3. Add about half a cup of regular old mustard.
4. Toss in some Worchestershire sauce.... maybe 2 tablespoons or so.
5. Add about 1/4 cup Apple Cider vinegar.
6. Squirt in a tablespoon or 2 of honey.
7. Add 1/2 cup ketchup.
8. Sprinkle in a tablespoon or 2 of brown sugar.
9. Mix well with a whisk.
10. Add 1 or 2 pork tenderloins. (can be frozen or thawed)

It's best if you get this all going in the morning so it can cook slowly all day, especially if the pork is frozen. If you're able, turn the pork every couple of hours so that it gets evenly coated in the sauce. Then, about an hour or so before you want to eat, go after that pork with a couple of forks and shred it up. It should fall apart as you poke it. Mix the shredded pork up in the sauce and let it cook for another hour or so. Serve on toasted hamburger buns, and top with any toppings you like- pickles, hot sauce, whatever strikes your fancy.


Sausage and Pepper Calzones

This is yet another Cooking Light recipe.... noticing a pattern? This is the stuffing... turkey sausage, green and red bell peppers, and onions, all sauteed until cooked and tender.

After it cools a bit, you add tomato sauce, cottage cheese, and mozzerella. This time, I killed any "light"-ness by adding ricotta as well. At least I used part-skim and low-fat, right? You also toss in some oregano, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes for a touch of heat.

While making the filling, the dough was in the oven on a super low setting rising. I made a double batch so I could freeze some of them for after the baby comes. Can't start preparing too soon, right?

You divide each batch of dough into equal portions. The recipe says 8, but that makes the tiniest calzones you've ever seen in your life. I got 5 out of each batch this time. Roll them into circles, put a cup or so of the filling in the middle. Fold it over and pinch the edges together. Ta-da! Ready to bake!

Here they are, all ready to go in the oven. Well, 3 of the 10 anyway...

Here's one all done! I added garlic, dried oregano, parsley, and basil to the leftover tomato sauce to make a marinara to go with them. I was pleasantly surprised at how it turned out!

View from the inside..... didn't fill them as full as I could have, but they were still darn good. I choose to go to civilized route and eat them with a fork and a knife. My husband, however, just picks them up and eats them by hand. Pick your method, they both work! :)

Sirloin with Tarragon Garlic Sour Cream

That's what we feasted on tonight. Another Cooking Light recipe, and it's one I've made several times before. I served it with fruit salad and roasted new potatoes (tossed in olive oil, kosher salt, tarragon, parsley, and rosemary). Baby Rebecca is a huge fan of fruit salad, so we have it often. :)
For dessert we were lazy and took our son, Scott, to YoYo's for frozen yogurt. Good times were had by all!
Something more involved is on the books for tomorrow!

Chicken Francois

Tonight I tried out a new recipe. Most of what I cook comes from a Cooking Light cookbook, and tonight was no different! I give you Chicken Francois. It's chicken breasts (or tenderloins in my case) pounded flat, dredged in flour, and then dipped in a egg/parmesan/parsley/lemon juice mixture. I had to change the ingredients up a bit due to what I had on hand, but it still turned out great!

You cook the chicken for a few minutes on each side, then keep them warm once they're done. Then you melt some butter, mix in some white wine (which I didn't have), and toss in some more lemon juice to make the sauce. Yummy!

I served it with rice and snow peas, since that was what I had on hand. Not necessarily French, but it sure tasted good!

For dessert, I listened to Rebecca and made a family favorite.... Cookie Brittle! They're chocolate chip bar cookies, but the secret ingredient is the Almond extract. I could seriously eat an entire pan, and my husband could eat at least 2! Talk about comfort food.....

Getting started...

At the risk of being completley unoriginal, here comes another cooking blog! I'm just a home cook, not professionally trained, and not particularly creative outside of the kitchen, but over the past few years I've discovered a real love for cooking and trying new things. I'm about 7 months pregnant right now, and have come to realize that the baby (Rebecca- hence the name since she's currently a bun in the oven) really likes for me to cook a lot, try new things, and especially bake. After posting my menus and some recipes on Facebook, getting requests for pictures, and generally good feedback, I decided to subject the entire world to it as well. Lucky you!

I cannot promise to post daily, but I plan to post every day that I cook- which is, in fact, most days. I'll post recipes as I can, and will always give credit to any recipes that are not my own. I'll be sure to add pictures as well.

So there you have it, you'll hear from me again soon!