Thursday, August 20, 2009

Apple Muffins

I've been trying to be better about actually cooking breakfast instead of having a bowl of cereal every morning. So I've been experimenting with different recipes. This one I found at and it came from Ellie Krieger (she's the one that does the dieting/healthful cooking shows). You can find the original recipe here, but as always, I made a couple of changes to the recipe and that is what I have posted. These were really moist and weren't like most "diet" muffins I've had. They weren't uber sweet, which I look for in a breakfast muffin (although, I must say that I am a sucker for chocolate chocolate chip muffins! :) ). They reminded me of a pumpkin muffin actually, not in taste but the smell was that of fall baking. And, they were really filling! My husband and I each ate 4, and were stuffed. Kiddos like them, too! My 1-year old son ate a whole one all by himself. I will be making these again.

Apple Muffins
adapted from the recipe by Ellie Krieger

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1-3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Golden Delicious Apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4" pieces (you could use any good baking apple; I used a Fuji apple since that is what I had)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined. Gently stir in the apple chunks.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the pecan mixture. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold. Cool completely on the rack.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Ok, so this isn't really an actual recipe. It's more of an idea with some guidelines. This meal is one of our favorites because it's really low key, but it is delicious and can be dressed up as much or as little as you'd like.

For the meat, all you do is take the following:

1 pork roast (it can be whatever cut of meat you'd like, even tougher cuts of meat work well)
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (I like Kraft's spicy honey and you probably won't use the whole bottle, but you want to have enough for the meat)

Put it in the crockpot and cook on low until the pork is cooked. You can also cook the pork by itself until it is done and then add the sauce and let it sit on low for an hour. If you'd like you could also add some salt and pepper to the pork, but since you are adding sauce, I don't think you need it.

Then serve it on your favorite buns or rolls. I like to serve mine on jumbo rolls that I make from the Debbie's roll recipe I've posted before (I make 5-6 jumbo rolls per batch of dough). Then if you want to dress up your sandwich a little bit, add toppings. Here are a few I've either used before or that I think would taste good with the pork:

Cheese (I've only used cheddar before, but I'm curious if Swiss would taste good?)
Sliced green pepper
crisp lettuce leaves
tomato slices
red onion slices

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

White Bread

This recipe uses a different method for activating the yeast, and makes it so much easier. The bread is ultra soft with a nice thin crispy crust.
4 c. flour
2 T. yeast
1/3 c. sugar
1 T. salt
3 c. hot tap water (as hot as the tap will get it get; it should be too hot for you to keep your finger under)
1/4 c. oil

1. Mix flour, yeast, sugar, and salt together with fork.
2. Add the hot water and oil to the dry ingredients. Mix with a fork until thoroughly blended.
3. Add more flour (about a cup at a time) just until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It will still be quite sticky, so flour up your hands.

4. Turn the flour out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough, adding flour (this time by handfuls) until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. The key is kneading the dough as little as possible, to keep it from becoming too tough.
5. Add about 1 teaspoon of oil to a clean bowl, and make sure it spreads over the bottom of the bowl. Tuck the dough into a ball and set in the bowl. Allow dough to rise to double in size.
6. Cut in half and form each half into loaves. Set in greased pans and let rise until loaves reach the tops of the pans.
7. Bake in 375-400 degree oven for 1/2-hour.
8. While cooling, grease tops of bread with butter.


Meatloaf is one of those things that can be either expensive or inexpensive. The key to a cheaper meatloaf is obviously using ground beef that you purchased at a low price through either sales or bulk purchasing. As with all meats, don't be afraid to buy more than the amount of meat you will use if you find a good sale- you can always freeze your meat for later uses. I originally got a meatloaf recipe from my mom, but since I didn't have all of the ingredients her recipe called for, I played with it and came up with this version. It will fit in a single loaf pan, but will fill it up to the top. If you have a smaller family you could cut the recipe in 1/2 and just make a smaller meatloaf, or make a full batch and make 2 smaller meatloaves.


2 lbs. ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. milk
1 c. Italian bread crumbs (or you could substitute plain crumbs, just double the Italian seasoning)
1/2 c. diced onion (I used 2 Tbl. dehydrated chopped onion)
1/2 c. ketchup
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
brown sugar and ketchup for glaze

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients until evenly distributed. Fill loaf pans with meat mixture (you do not need to grease the pans). Bake in oven for 1 hour with pan on a cookie sheet. Then remove pan from oven and drain juices. Mix equal parts ketchup and brown sugar for glaze, and then spread on top of loaf. Bake for another 20 minutes. Let rest a couple of minutes before cutting.

***This recipe should freeze well, just freeze the meatloaf mixture before baking it or freeze it after cooking 1/2 of the time, and then defrost for 24 hours before cooking. I would also leave the glaze off of the loaf before freezing it and add it later when you cook it and serve it otherwise it will make a sticky mess on your freezing containers.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Salata de Beouff: Romanian Potato Salad

First of all, sorry for the picture. I know it isn't the greatest, but this dish is really hard to get a good picture of. :)

My husband served his mission in Romania and this was one of his favorite dishes to eat while he was there. I was fortunate enough to meet one of his friends that lives in Romania, and luckily for my husband, I was able to pick up a few Romanian recipes. I've made this potato type salad several times, and I'm yet to find someone who doesn't like it. It's a very rustic recipe, so there aren't any real measurements so you can make it suit your family's tastes. One disclaimer though- I've adapted the original recipe to fit my every day lifestyle. If you are interested in the full blown-out version, you can find the recipe on my other blog here. I've been told that the best way to serve this is with a great bread to scoop the salad up with. (I make a very simple pan bread to serve with it. Then we tear off chunks of bread and then scoop some of the salad onto the bread and eat it.) We can eat this version's yield for 2-3 meals between just me and my husband, so it does make a lot. However, like I mentioned earlier, this recipe is very forgiving and also very easy to reduce.

Salata de Beouff: Romanian Potato Salad

5-6 potatoes (I've used both reds and russets with good results- I prefer the russets though)
1 can (or about 2 cups) of sweet peas*** (I've used both canned and frozen/thawed)
1 whole dill pickle (I usually just use 2 dill pickle spears)
2-3 carrots***
2-3 chicken breasts
1 small jar mayonnaise
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Peel potatoes and carrots. In a large pot, boil potatoes, carrots and chicken until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are fork tender (Note: don't overcook the potatoes or else dicing them will be impossible). Remove from the water and allow to cool. Dice the potatoes, carrots, chicken, and pickles into small, uniform pieces. Combine diced ingredients with peas and mayonnaise until desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill and serve with paine (a crusty bread).

Broccoli with Pasta

This is a great, quick and easy, but cheap meal. Plus it makes plenty of leftovers for my small family to eat for lunch later in the week.

Broccoli and Pasta
Adapted from the Food Network's Giada De Laurentiis's Farfalle with Broccoli

1 pound pasta
2 heads broccoli, trimmed to florets (or use frozen broccoli)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, chopped (I used my garlic press, or use 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
a couple of squeezes of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (the canned stuff works great!)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally. A couple of minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli florets to the pasta and stir. Drain pasta and broccoli when finished cooking, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, pasta, salt and pepper and toss. Add the reserved pasta water to make a light sauce. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

*** You can also add any type of cooked, chopped meat into this dish as well, although I'd probably keep my recommendations to chicken and tuna (or another type of fish)***

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bean Soup

The original recipe calls for navy beans, but I used great northern beans and it came out great. This makes a lot, so I did about half and that was plenty for my two-person household! (We like a lot of flavor, so although I did half the beans and about 2/3 the ham, I kept all the veggies and spices, etc. the same.)

1 lb. dry beans
6 c. water
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, don't drain
1 medium to large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 lb. chopped ham (there was a sale on pork, so that's what I used)
1 cube chicken bouillon
2 T. Worcestershire sauce (I used a little more)
1 t. dried parsley
2 t. garlic powder (again, I used a little more)
salt and pepper
3 cups water

1. Combine beans, water, tomatoes, onion, celery, garlic, ham, bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, and parsley in a stock pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for two hours.

2. Add additional water. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for additional two hour.

Note: Keep an eye on the soup as it simmers. You may need to add a little water every once in a while, and even at the end, if it the broth looks a little low when you're ready to serve, don't hesitate to put in a couple of cups.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is one of my favorite make-your-own-Chinese recipes that I found on My Kitchen Cafe. It can seem like a lot of work, but I promise, it is well worth it! It does make about 2x the amount my husband and I can eat for one meal, but we always enjoy the leftovers. I have had problems with the oil starting to burn the pieces of the breading that get left behind in the pan. However, last night I tried switching the oil out half way through cooking all of the chicken and it worked a lot better! You could probably also skip frying the chicken in the cornstarch and egg altogether if you'd like and just baste chicken with the sweet and sour sauce (if you do this, leave a comment telling me how it worked out. I've thought about doing it several times but I always end up following the recipe because it's so good!). So if you are like me and crave Chinese food on a regular basis and don't want to spend the money on it (or if you are really like me and you aren't satisfied with the Chinese restaurants located in your town) give this recipe a try and you won't be sorry!

Sweet and Sour Chicken
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

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 (below) together and pour over chicken.

¾ cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
½ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

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.
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