Saturday, December 5, 2009

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach artichoke dip is one of my very favorite foods. Whenever we go out to eat, I'm always tempted by this appetizer. I hardly ever order it, however, because I hate paying 6-8 bucks for two little scoops of dip! Hardly enough to whet anyone's appetite, if you ask me! I had a perfect excuse to make these tonight, however. We were having two friends over for dinner (spaghetti and meatballs), and this dip seemed a perfect addition to our meal.

Now, I've tried quite a few recipes for spinach artichoke dip over the years. I think I'm officially done looking. This one is my favorite!

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese (I used all Parmaggiano Reggiano here with great success)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a small baking dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, garlic, basil, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in the preheated oven 25 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.
I think the real star in this recipe was the basil. I've never seen it in a similar dip, but it made the whole thing pesto-ish. Totally fabulous! Filing this one away under "Make Often."

(PS--Sorry there's no picture! I was too hungry to wait! Blame it on the pregnancy...)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chicken Makhani--aka Delcious Food

Thus far, my pursuit of Indian cookery has been somewhat limited. I make a chicken curry that is one of our all-time favorites, naan, and even some chickpea curries. Tonight, I branched out a little more! Still in the chicken realm, since lamb is expensive and virtually non-existent in this area, but still. Progress is progress. And in this case, progress is absolutely delicious!

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1/4 white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon curry madras
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup half-and-half (or heavy cream if you want to go nuts)
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 teaspoon curry madras
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Saute shallot and onion until soft and translucent. Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in half-and-half and yogurt. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat, and season with 1 teaspoon garam masala and cayenne. Stir in a few spoonfuls of sauce, and simmer until liquid has reduced, and chicken is no longer pink. Stir cooked chicken into sauce.
  3. Blend the sauce with the cashews. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.
To be perfectly honest, I didn't follow the recipe too faithfully. I realized when I was posting this that I forgot the lemon juice (that would have been good!) and never added water to the chicken...Hmmm. I think we had too many dishes going at once! Without Allen being the naan man, it could have been a disaster of an evening. We had this chicken with basmati, naan, and saag paneer. The saag was good, but I'm going to try a few more recipes to see if I can find one I like better.

PS--I stole this picture. We just BARELY had time to get our food scooped into bowls before House started at 7! No time for photography!! But it looked like that, I promise! Such a gorgeous color!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spinach Puffs

Is it terribly pathetic when a recipe idea comes from a movie? Well, one of my favorite cartoons is The Emperor's New Groove. I was thinking about Kronk's spinach puffs the other day, and said to myself..."Mmmm. Spinach puffs. That sounds good!" So off I went in search of a recipe. Most were essentially for spanikopita--more spinach pie than spinach puff. I did come across this recipe, though:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter (no substitutes)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a saucepan, bring the milk, butter and salt to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Add flour all at once and stir until a smooth ball forms.
  3. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth and shiny.
  5. Stir in spinach and cheese.
  6. Line baking sheets with foil and grease the foil.
  7. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls 1-1/2 in. apart onto prepared baking sheets.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees F for 23-28 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Serve warm. Refrigerate any leftovers.
These were tasty little treats! Best served hot, however. We found them to be much less impressive once they'd cooled down.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Garlic Soup

This was probably the best soup I've ever made. Amazingly, it was also one of the easiest and quickest! You know what that means--it's sure to become a staple in the Shull household. We do love our garlic around here!

After looking at several recipes, I decided to go with Julia Child's recipe. So simple!

16 cloves (about 1 head) of garlic
2 quarts water
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp sage
2 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
3 egg yolks
3 tbs olive oil
grated parmesean cheese

1. Bring a cup of water to a boil (I did this step in the microwave in a little pyrex liquid measuring cup). Add unpeeled garlic cloves and boil for 1 minute. Drain, run under cold water, and peel.

2. In a 3-quart pot, add water, garlic, and seasonings (thyme, salt, sage, cloves, bay leaf, and pepper). Boil slowly for 30 minutes. Taste, correct seasonings.

3. In a bowl, beat 3 egg yolks. Slowly whisk in olive oil.

4. Very slowly, add a ladle of soup to the eggs, stirring constantly.

5. Strain out the garlic, pressing to release juices.

6. Add the egg/soup mixture back to the pot. Serve with grated cheese!

This was our appetizer before buffalo chicken sandwiches, but I didn't take a picture of those. They were tasty too, though!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cauliflower and Potato Curry

If I learned one thing from tonight's experiment, it's that I should ALWAYS trust my instincts. I found this recipe for potato cauliflower curry and was interested. You know I love a good curry! However, the site didn't give a listed recipe, so it was only as I was reading down through the post that I noticed something odd--no garlic, onions, or ginger. I thought this was supposed to be curry? Allen voted to try it like it was written the first time, and it turned out pretty much like I thought it would. Not bad, but would have been better with garlic, onions, and ginger! I'll go ahead and post the ingredients so I have a place to start when we try this again.

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (or 2 bags frozen cauliflower)
6 medium potatoes, cubed
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
1 small can tomato paste

The method is pretty straightforward.

1. Boil the potatoes about 5 minutes (they will finish cooking in the pan later).
2. Heat a skillet with olive oil. Brown the spices in the oil for a few minutes.
3. Stir in tomato paste.
4. Add cauliflower to skillet, stirring well to make sure all the pieces are coated with the spices.
5. Add 1.5-2 cups water (to cover cauliflower). Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.
6. Simmer until cauliflower is done, adding potatoes towards the end of cooking to heat them up.

Serve over basmati or jasmine rice.

We will definitely be trying this again, with modifications. For one thing, I'll be adding some cayenne, lemon juice, and probably more of all the spices. And of course, GARLIC, GINGER, and ONIONS.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cranberry Apple Casserole

I first tasted this dish last year, when my boss made it and brought some to work. It's fair to say I've been thinking of it since then, but fresh cranberries are sadly not available year-round. But low and behold, I got two big bags Friday at Sam's!

3 c peeled, chopped apples
2 c fresh cranberries
2 T. flour
1 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c flour
1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c melted butter

*Note: The sugar can be reduced by half without any problem. It really allows the tartness of the cranberries to shine!

1. Combine apples and cranberries. Toss with 2T flour to coat fruit.
2. Add sugar and stir.
3. In a separate bowl, combine oats, cinnamon, 1/2 c flour, brown sugar, and butter.
4. Place fruit in a 2 qt casserole dish. Spoon oatmeal over fruit.

Bake uncovered @ 350 for 45 minutes.

All I can say is--I'm glad I have 6 lbs of cranberries! Allen said he wants this regularly, until he gets sick of it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Penne with Broccoli and Chickpeas

Man, we had some yummy pasta tonight! And it was quick, cheap, and healthy to boot! What could be better?

6 oz whole wheat penne (or whatever noodle you like)
1.5 cups broccoli
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups chickpeas (or 1 can, drained)
2 cloves garlic
3/4 tsp crushed red peppers

1. Boiled the pasta, adding the broccoli halfway through cooking.

2. In a separate pan, cook garlic in a little olive oil. Add crushed red peppers, chickpeas, and tomatoes.

3. Drained pasta and broccoli. Mixed with tomatoes and chickpeas.

At this point, the pasta was good. But it wasn't GREAT. It just needed a little something extra. So, I got a little half and half, some butter, and some Parmigiano Reggiano and made a little alfredo-type sauce (not much! half a cup, max) to mix in. Wow! That really did the trick. This one's a keeper!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Special Request--Pumpkin Bread (or muffins)

I was so excited to get my first request for a post! Yesterday my teacher asked me if I had a good recipe for pumpkin bread, and it just so happens that I do! This is only slightly modified from the recipe I got from a dear friend (thanks, Erin!). That's one of the beautiful things about this recipe. It's so versatile!

1 large can of pumpkin (I always use Libby's)
1.5 cups whole wheat flour (you can use all whole wheat for a more nutritious, but slightly less fluffy muffin)
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup canola oil (or applesauce if you're trying to lighten it up a bit)
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
(you can add raisins or nuts if you like...we prefer it plain)

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Mix pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla in a smaller bowl.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients, stirring well.
5. Scoop into muffin tins (or loaf pans, bundt pan, etc.)
6. Bake for about 20-25 minutes (for loaf or bundt, cooking time will be longer. Start with about 30-35 minutes and check every 5 min for doneness).

Makes about 2 dozen muffins, 1 bundt, or 2 loaves.

These muffins are awesome. I look forward to them every fall!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vegetarian Taco Soup

Sometimes I drift so far afield of the inspiration recipe that I'm not sure I can even claim to have followed it! Tonight was one of those times! I found a recipe for Taco Soup (originally by Paula Deen) and decided to jazz it up a bit. We really have been digging Lentils Tacos lately. Don't knock it till you've tried it! The texture of the lentils is surprisingly similar to ground beef, and the flavor is out of this world! So I thought, why not apply the same substitution to taco soup? Here's what we did...

Since I hate buying canned beans, I used dried. I have no idea on the measurements, but I'll try to estimate.

2 cups dried pinto beans
1 cup dried light red kidney beans
2 cups black beans (these were already cooked and in the freezer)
2 cups lentils
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans green chiles
1/2 cup green olives, sliced
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
2 envelopes taco seasoning
4 tablespoons ranch dressing seasoning mix
2 tsp beef base

All this cooked in the crockpot on high for about 6 hours. Viola!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Continuing on with the fall theme, this morning I made apple muffins. But not just any old apple muffins! Whole wheat! With cinnamon! Filling and tasty. I got the original recipe from the back of the bag of flour, of all places!

1 cup flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups diced apples
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs

Combined all the dry ingredients and tossed with the diced apples. Then combined the wet ingredients and added to the dry, stirring until just moistened. Then, into the muffin tins and baked for 25-30 min at 350.

We will definitely be enjoying these more often! They were hearty, delicious, and made the kitchen smell great!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pumpkin Soup

On our cruise this summer, I had the most amazing pumpkin soup! Since Fall is in the air, I decided it was high time to try recreating the soup at home! I found lots and lots of recipes, but ended up swerving off into my own tangent.

6 cups chicken stock
1 29 oz can of pumpkin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp curry powder
5 whole peppercorns

Cooked the onions and garlic for 10 minutes, until soft. Then combined everything in a slow cooker and cooked on high for 3-4 hours. I had to adjust the seasonings and lot, and by then end, there's no telling how much of everything I put in! I know i added more of ALL the spices and a splash of vinegar.

The soup was so yummy and creamy. I will definitely be honing this recipe throughout the season!

Caramel Apple Sticky Buns

I decided to make these sticky buns for a dinner party, and as always happens when you're trying out a new recipe for other people, it didn't go as expected. Still, this recipe has potential. By that I mean, after making this recipe, I decided I would do it entirely differently. Here's a link to the original recipe. The dough was so incredibly soft that the first pan (it makes two) ended up being sticky bun loaf instead of individual buns! For the next pan, I froze the dough for an hour and added a lot more flour! That made the dough workable. The rolls were nice and soft, but I like a bit more substance to my rolls. These had the ooie-gooieness of a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut. I prefer the more substantial Dunkin Donuts, personally.

The sticky buns were good, but with a few changes, I think the next batch could be stellar. I'll:
Use my regular cinnamon roll dough
Make Cracker Barrel-style fried apples and add caramel sauce for the topping.

Of course, my waistline demands that I wait a while before trying my new ideas. But don't worry. I'll let you know of my certain success!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Oeufs en meurette (Poached Eggs in Red Wine Sauce)

Quick. Vegetarian. French. How often do those words describe one recipe? Another adjective that we could add to this list is "amazing." Cause that's exactly what it was. All I have to say is--wow.

I had no idea I could produce something so scrumptious in my humble kitchen! If you couldn't tell, we went to see Julie & Julia this weekend, which of course prompted me to run, not walk, to the library to check out Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I've been flipping through it and came across one that I just had to make for dinner tonight...eggs in red wine sauce. Doesn't sound all that amazing, I know, but my tastebuds were delighted!

And it was quick and easy to boot! The original recipe was for 8 servings, and since we are but 2 people, I cut that in half.

For the sauce:
1 cup beef broth
1 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme (I think I forgot to put this in...oh well!)
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of cayenne
pinch of pepper

Heat this mixture to a boil and reduce by half. Make a roux with 1 1/2 tb butter and 2 tb flour. Beat into broth mixture off the heat. Boil for 30 seconds. Just before serving, stir in 1 to 2 tb of butter.

For the canapes:
Half a stick or so of butter, clarified

Heat bread in butter until lightly browned on both sides.

For the eggs:
I cheated and didn't do poached eggs. Instead, I used 6-minute boiled eggs (which Julia assured me would substitute perfectly well). We each had 2 eggs, but I wished for more!

It may not look like the prettiest dish from my not-so-great picture, but let declare emphatically that it was DELISH. I think I may try it again with white wine and see how it does! Especially now that I now that you can bake eggs in muffin tins in the oven instead of poaching them! Could it get any easier?? I doubt it. And for that matter, it was a downright frugal dinner!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Easy Chickpeasy Pasta

Had a fabulous Labor Day weekend, complete with baby shower for my dear friend Julia. Dad even took me, Allen, and Mom for a quick ride in the plane! When we got back into town last night, we had a sandwich over at Allen's parents, which meant that there were no leftovers in the fridge for lunch today. Rather than caving in to my first impulse (to eat one of those microwave ramen noodle boats that I so love and adore), I made a nice, quick pasta!

4 chicken broth
2 cups cooked chickpeas, not drained
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Brought the mixture to a boil, added

box of penne pasta (okay, about 3/4 a box!)

Cooked 12 minutes, or until the liquid was mostly absorbed, then stirred in a good 1/2 cup or so of ricotta cheese.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tandoori Chicken Skewers

Vacation is over, so it's time to start cooking again! We had a fantastic cruise, but boy--I missed being in the kitchen! And all the great dishes we tried have me jonesing for some new recipes. Tonight--tandoori chicken skewers!

I found this recipe a while back, and then lost it in a pile on the kitchen desk. I found it while going through some of the mess and trying to get rid of some clutter.

Tomato-Cucumber Sauce:
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup each diced cucumber, tomato, and radishes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove chopped garlic (cause seriously, every recipe needs garlic!)

Basting Sauce:
1/4 cup each plain yogurt and buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon each ground cumin, chili powder, and salt
Tandoori Chicken:
4 thin-sliced chicken breast cutlets, cut into 3 lengthwise strips

Heated the broiler. Threaded chicken on metal skewers. Brushed with Basting Sauce and broiled on top rack for about 3 minutes. Turned, baste again, and broil about 3 minutes longer. Served with Tomato-Cucumber Sauce and couscous.

Mmm, mmm good! This recipe was quick to put together, and would be great on the grill. So glad to be back in the kitchen!!

Website was being too slow, so maybe I'll post the pic later. Wasn't all that impressive of a picture, but it was yummy.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Braised Beef with Tortellini and Garlic Breadsticks

Can I just say again that I LOVE my bread machine? It supplies us with wonderful baked goods and does the leg work (hand work?) for most of my shaped-dough recipes. Today we had some FABULOUS breadsticks:

1 1/8 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh basil
2 cups bread flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Add to bread machine in order listed. Select dough cycle (it's just that easy!).

I put my dough in the fridge overnight last night, and then shaped and baked the breadsticks for lunch. Took about 20 minutes at 350 Allen said they were the best I've ever made--huzzah!

And what did these bread sticks accompany? Only one of the tastiest meals to ever come out of my crock pot. Not kidding! This recipe was supposed to be an approximation of one of our favorite Olive Garden dishes, Braised Beef with Tortelloni (no, that's not a misspelling). The result was amazing, and a fair representation of the original, although not spot-on.

1 lb beef shortribs
1 onion, diced
1 cup red wine
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup water

Combined everything in the crock pot and cooked on low 8-10 hours. Boiled some tortellini and served the meat over the pasta. My taste buds thanked me over and over for this one!

Note: Next time I'll make a pan gravy with the drippings to get a closer version of the sauce that OG serves with theirs. Might add a bigger can of tomatoes.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bread Pudding

I must confess, I never had bread pudding until December. That's right, a life without bread pudding. Sad, I know. I actually tried it at Golden Corral. We were visiting hubby's grandparents down in Florida, and they took us there for dinner one night. I thought it was yummy--sort of like a gooey cinnamon roll.

Last night I had a bummer of a night. Spent all day working, then all night doing homework in preparation for spending all day today (Saturday) in class. And to top it all off, I accidentally deleted one of my homework assignments. Perfect! I ended up recovering the file, thanks to't say enough good things about this free online storage site! Anyway, I was feeling low and decided to bake myself a treat as a study break.

2 old hoagie rolls (original recipe said 6 slices of bread, but this is how much it took to fill the pan I was using)
2 tbls butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tore rolls into chunks and arranged in 9x9 baking dish. (Forgot to spray first, which meant it stuck. Oops.) Drizzled bread with melted butter. Combined eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Poured mixture over bread, pressing the bread down into the pan lightly. Baked at 350 for about 45 min, until the bread sprang back lightly when touched.

This was a perfect pick-me-up! It also turned out to be great reheated for breakfast this morning.

Notes for next time: More cinnamon, and use brown sugar to make it taste more like a cinnamon roll.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Crock pot Chicken Chow Mein

So once again, silly me forgot to take a picture. That's ok. Crock pot meals aren't that gorgeous anyway. But let me just tell you, it was mmm mmm good! Definitely satisfied my craving.

2 chicken breasts (it was one of those I've-got-chicken-in-the-freezer-and-need-to-use-it-up days)
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cups water

Put chicken in crock with onion, celery, and water. Cooked on high for 4 hours. Then, more ingredients!

2 cups frozen veggies, Asian blend
1 cup broccoli (cause I REALLY like broccoli)

Added to crock with the following sauce:

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbls molasses
(Mix well)

Stirred the veggies in with the sauce and cooked on low for another hour. Served with whole wheat spaghetti noodles, cooked and fried in a pan with olive oil (just so the noodles got a little crispy).

We will definitely be repeating this yummy and quick dinner! I'm super excited that there was enough left over to have either lunch or dinner tomorrow. Yay!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Moorish-Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew

I heard this recipe a while back on NPR when they were having a "cheap eats" kind of series. It sounded incredible, but I just never got around to making it till today. This recipe would be a lot more involved if you didn't already have chickpeas cooked and ready to go in the freezer (like I almost always do). Wouldn't really sub canned--they're just not as good.

4 cups chickpeas
6 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
1/4 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices white bread, with the crusts removed
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (originally called for 2 tbls paprika, but didn't have any)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 pound spinach, washed and cleaned
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Brought the chickpeas to a boil while heating a pan with olive oil.

Browned garlic cloves for 3 min, set aside. Browned bread in the oil. Used a pestle to mash them up into a paste.

Added spinach, seasonings, and bread crumb mixture to boiling chickpeas. Cooked 5 min. Done! I think I started cooking at 11:30 or so, and we were eating before noon. Now that's what I call a quick meal!

Result: Wow! Spicy! That cayenne has quite a kick. Glad I didn't use 2 tbls of the stuff! But it was really tasty. Definitely would do again for a quick, cheap meal.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Overnight Oatmeal

It's not that I haven't been cooking lately...I really have! In fact, I've tried a number of awesome new recipes! Tonight's dinner, for example, was an AMAZING lentils taco recipe. You'd have to try them to believe how good they are! It is definitely going to be part of the Shull standard Mexican fare. I've also made a fabulous roasted garlic and white bean soup (twice--it was a big hit with the hub), tortilla soup, and tortellini soup. All very tasty. I just haven't been taking pics and have been too busy (ok fine, not busy, just not motivated) to post.

But tonight I decided to make another batch of overnight oatmeal, since it was such a hit last week. This recipe made enough for 3 breakfasts! Not wanting to forget which recipe I used (since I looked at several), I decided I'd better post about this one so that I don't have to scour the internet next time I want to make this dish.

2 cups oats
6 cups water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla (a generous tsp!)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cherry berry blend dried fruit (or whatever you like, rasins, etc.)
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low 8-10 hours (or from whenever you go to bed till whenever you wake up).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Buttermilk Alfredo

Remember that buttermilk that revolutionized my pesto? Well, today was the "best by" date. I am a stickler when it comes to expiration dates, and I also hate throwing things out. Result--kitchen experiments! Today's was a great success!

1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 cloves garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
3 cups buttermilk
3 tbs cornstarch
pinch italian seasoning
salt & pepper
1 cup parmesean cheese

Like many of my fave recipes are, this was really quick and easy! I mixed the buttermilk, cornstarch, and italian seasoning and simmered it.

Meanwhile, minced garlic and the spinach went into a separate pan. (A third pot was boiling water for noodles--I hate getting so many pots dirty, but that's life). After a few minutes, added the tomatoes (drained) to the spinach.

The buttermilk was bubbling away, so I added the cheese. Stir, stir, stir!

Then I dumped the buttermilk mixture in with the spinach and tomatoes. Gorgeous! Love those colors! By this time, the noodles were done. Mixed those in as well. Done! From start to finish, this took about half an hour, maybe less. Perfect for a Wednesday night meal!

Allen and I both really loved the creaminess of the pasta. And since the buttermilk was low-fat, none of the guilt of eating alfredo! We will definitely be having this again, although next time, I think some garbanzo beans would be a fantastic addition.

The leftover sauce is going to become a white pizza in a few days. Yay leftovers!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mexican Pizza

I made a HUGE pot of black beans yesterday. By huge, I mean, it completely filled my 6-quart crock pot! Most of the beans were portioned into bags and frozen for later, but I kept some out for this week. Then I went searching for something to make with said beans.

I've never had a Mexican pizza, but they sound cute! There seem to be two basic types--those made on regular dough and those made on tortillas. Since we've had pizza and calzones recently, I thought we'd try them out with tortillas.

Since I had both corn and flour tortillas on hand, I made one of each to see which we like better! (It was a tie--the corn tasted more "authentic" but the flour were good too!)

So here's the recipe:

Put 1 tortilla in a pie pan (or baking sheet)
Spread with half a can (each pizza) of refried beans
Top with another tortilla and bake for 10 minutes at 350.

Then, add seasoned black beans to the tortillas. Cover with a third tortilla and bake for 5 min.

Top with salsa and cheese, bake till cheese is melty (about 5 min).

Easy, cheap, and fairly nutritious! My triple-layer pizza was a result of not reading the directions carefully, haha. But since I was pretty much improvising anyway, I figured it was ok! And it turned out just fine. Now we have a new Mexican dish to add to our rotation!

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I had planned to make homemade pizza Thursday night. I was so proud of myself for making the dough the night before and letting it proof in the fridge all day. Will and Allison were coming to stay with us (for Tim's wedding), and pizza's a pretty easy meal. Then we found out that more friends were coming! Todd and Rachel, friends from out of town, and James. We were super-happy to have them, but had to redo the menu. We ended up getting pizzas from Sam's and making some hot wings. And I did make a good pan of brownies! (Decreased the sugar by 1/2 cup and added white choc chips, no nuts!!)

So then I had this leftover pizza dough just hanging out in the fridge. Today it fulfilled its doughy mission and became calzones.

I used Pizza Dough III, which is the stickiest dough I've come across! The dough tasted fine, but it wasn't good enough to repeat. Used the same pizza sauce (Exquisite Pizza Sauce) as for the Stuffed Crust Pizza. Love that sauce! I cooked it on the stove for a bit since it was being served as a dipping sauce and not going to bake in the oven.

I filled one calzone with turkey pepperoni and fontina/havarti cheese (leftover from fondue last night), which was far superior to the sausage and cheese one.

These were great after a long day in class. We took the pooch for a walk afterward to burn off some of those calories! Met a nice lady and her bichon, Romeo. So cute!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Buttermilk Pesto

The oregano in my garden is getting out of control. Seriously--taking over the world. Or at least, the little part of the world that is just outside my house. But who wants to waste perfectly good oregano? Not me, certainly! I've heard of people using oregano instead of basil for pesto. Sounds good! I wasn't willing to totally forgo the basil, so I went with 1/2 and 1/2 on the herbs.

Then the most miraculous thing happened. This was my first time using the blender on pesto. I used to make it in the now deceased food processor, which gave up the ghost trying to make a particularly thick cream cheese frosting for a friend's red velvet birthday cake. So I thought I'd check out some forums on Chowhound about making pesto in a blender. I came across this tip: "BTW, I use buttermilk in place of most of the oil. Adds a creaminess and cuts the calories." WOW! I was floored. Absolutely had to try this myself!

1 cup fresh basil
1 cup fresh oregano
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cloves minced garlic
drizzle of olive oil

Complete success! Finally, guilt-free pesto! Paired with whole wheat pasta, this is a great meal!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chicken Curry

Allen had another tooth pulled today, poor dear! So I'm making one of his favorite dishes, chicken curry. Like most things I make, I do a lot of experimenting with curry! Here's today's mix:

1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic
1 generous tbsp ginger paste (we use it instead of fresh ginger--tons better than the powdered stuff, but no need to fuss with fresh!)
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp reshampati chili powder
2 bay leaves
4 whole cloves
5 oz tomato paste
2 cups garbanzo beans
2 chicken breasts
1/2 can coconut milk
1 cup yogurt

Curry is simple and delicious! I cooked the onions till translucent, added the garlic and ginger. After a few minutes I stirred in the coconut milk, yogurt, and all the rest. Then, just let it simmer for about 25 minutes! For an added kick at the end, stir in some lemon or lime juice and a bit of cayenne. Served with jasmine rice (which I find I prefer to basmati) cooked with cumin seeds.

My house will smell like curry all week. No picture today, but boy, was it good!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

House Special Udon

Allen's brother Will is getting married tomorrow! He's staying with us till the wedding. He'd been talking about getting Chinese for lunch, but Allen and I were both tired of eating out (had Olive Garden yesterday after picking up the tuxes in Jackson). I still wanted some kind of Asian, so I started looking for a marinade.

Ginger-Soy-Lime Marinated Shrimp (and Scallops, and Chicken)

The inspiration for this came from Bobby Flay, modified to suit our needs and what we had on hand.

4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c soy sauce
1/2 c lime juice
2 tbls sugar
1/2 c peanut oil
1 tsp red chili paste

I had some frozen shrimp and scallops to use up, but Allen doesn't like seafood. For him, I marinated a chicken breast. Marinated for 30 minutes and grilled. Served with udon noodles and veggies cooked in more of the marinade. 100% yum! I couldn't decide whether I liked the shrimp or the scallops better. Both were outstanding!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Barbecue Stuffed Baked Poatatoes

It's Memorial Day Weekend, and that means sales on meat! I got a 6 pound Boston Butt from Big Star for $1.28 per pound! Not bad! Loaded it into the crock this morning and added the remains of the nearly flat Dr. Pepper bottle (about 12 oz) and let it cook on low all day.

For the sauce, I whipped up a vinegar based sauce (our fave).

1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon reshampati chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
pinch garlic powder

The results--amazing! The pork was so nice and tender from cooking all day. And, of course, I loved having tons of leftovers! Allen separated them into quart bags for later. I can see all kinds of tasty things coming from this pork. If my freezer wasn't so full of wedding stuff, I'd go buy another roast to keep on hand! It sure was tasty!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Experimenting with Sausage Bread

When we were out in Texas in April for Grandmother and Grannyma's funerals, some sweet lady made us the most delicious bread! It was sausage, egg, and cheese, rolled up in a sourdough crust. Since Allen was having a wisdom tooth pulled today, he requested a hearty breakfast. I thought the sausage bread would be just the trick!

I didn't have any sourdough starter on hand, so I went with one of my favorite breads, potato bread, for the crust. Made 2 lbs of dough in the bread machine. While the dough was working, I browned one pound of sausage and mixed the sausage with 4 beaten eggs. Then I rolled out the dough and spread it with the sausage/egg mixture and topped with about a cup and a half of shredded Colby Jack. Then it went in the fridge to rise overnight.

This morning I got out the dough and let it rest while the oven heated to 350. Baked for 25 minutes or so, although I ended up putting it back into the oven (the middle was doughy in some places).

Notes for next time: 3 eggs would be plenty. Use 2 to mix with the sausage and one to baste the crust. Less cheese, and maybe cheddar would be better. Make the loaves smaller so that they'll cook more quickly.

All in all, it wasn't perfect. But it was a great starting point! I can't wait to make it again and work out the kinks!

Update: This bread was great reheated for breakfast the next day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls on a Rainy Morning

We woke today to a drizzly gray sky, but that didn't dampen our spirits! We had cinnamon rolls! I made the dough last night and let them rise in the fridge (only substitution was 2 cups of the flour with oats and adding 3 tbsp of milk to the frosting). Made for a super-simple morning. All I had to do was preheat the oven and let the cinnamony smell waft through the house!

Took some of nice warm rolls to Val for breakfast. Since she's moving back to Huntsville soon, I have to bake for her while I've still got her around. I'll miss you, dear!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stuffing Ourselves with Stuffed Crust Pizza

Homemade pizza is a definite fave in our house. I don't know why it's never occurred to me to make my favorite--stuffed crust--till now. My pizza is the victim of endless variation and has never been the same twice. For tonight, I went with a focaccia dough. My handy-dandy bread machine helped tremendously with the dough...ok, fine. The bread machine did all the work. And to think, when we got married, all the ladies told me I'd never use the bread machine! Little did they know...

Ok, back to the dough.

1 c water
1/3 c olive oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 c bread flour
1 tsp Italian seaoning
1 1/2 tsp yeast

And since I can't seem to stop myself from adding things, I added a sprinkle of crushed red peppers.

For the sauce, I used Exquisite Pizza Sauce from allrecipes. Yum! The only changes I made were to leave out the anchovy paste and onion powder (none on hand). I think I also decreased the honey, since I don't like super-sweet stuff usually.

Rolled the crust out and used string cheese for the stuffed part. Topped with a blend of mozzarella and Parmesan. It was the perfect celebration for Allen being all through with class! We've been celebrating a lot lately...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pigging out on Pork Egg rolls

All I can say is--mmm! Tonight's egg rolls were a great success (not to mention a great use of leftovers)! Earlier this week, I made pork with veggies in the crock pot. Needless to say, the two of us were unable to eat the entire pork loin in one sitting. So I bought some shredded cabbage and some egg roll wrappers and made my first attempt at homemade eggrolls. Outstanding!

First I sauteed some garlic in oil, added the cabbage and cooked for a few minutes. Added a bit of soy sauce, cooked a few minutes more. The kitchen was starting to smell really good at this point! Then I stirred in some of the pork mixture and heated just until everything was nice and hot. After that, I set the filling aside to cool so I wouldn't burn my poor little fingers trying to wrap the silly things.

In the meantime, I made some fried rice (and also baked some frozen mini quiches for the Graduation Fellowship at church). Mono-tasking has its advantages, but multi-tasking is necessary in the kitchen!

I used my deep fryer, which gets precious little use in this house, and heated the oil to 325 degrees. The egg rolls only took about 2 minutes to fry to the lovely golden brown you see above. We also made a tasty little dipping sauce using 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp white vinegar, and 1/2 tsp chili paste. Just hot enough!

Even though we each had 4 egg rolls (hey, I told you we pigged out!), there was still tons of the pork leftover. I stuck it in the freezer since we're going out of town Friday. There will be more pork egg rolls in our future!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Tonight was my last final! It took about 15 minutes--we were out the door by 5:30. After prodding and poking the pantry, I fixed on pasta for tonight's meal. I was really craving something creamy, and we had a block of feta just crying out to be used. So I made alfredo with feta instead of Parmesan!

Half a stick (or so) of butter, melted
1 cup half and half

Couldn't be simpler! I added some chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the mix and blended with my stick blender. For the record, a stick blender is an essential kitchen tool! My brother-in-law, Will, got it for me a few years ago for Christmas.

Anyhoo, Allen really loved this pasta! I felt like it needed a little something. Garlic? A mix of cheese? Dunno. But something. Served with fresh brussels sprouts, our very favorite veggie.

Pork with Veggies

T-minus 12 days till graduation! I believe this is what is officially referred to as "the home stretch." Once again I find myself so thankful for my crock-pot! It makes so many tasty dishes. Today's specialty was Pork with Chinese Vegetables.

This morning I sliced up the pork tenderloin that had been marinading all night and browned it in a skillet. Then everything went into the crock! Now that's what I call simple.

pork tenderloin, sliced thin and browned
1 chopped onion
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp ginger paste
4 cloves garlic, whole
1 tsp msg (optional)

Cooked on low 8-10 hours. Added 1 lb of Chinese veggies an hour before serving.

Yeah, that's what was supposed to happen. In reality, I ended up taking Wilson, the pooch, to town to be groomed (still don't like the idea of trimming doggie nails!) and overcooked the vegetables. They disintegrated! I didn't realize veggies would do that, but there you are. I cooked some more broccoli when I was boiling the noodles, so it turned out more or less fine. Good flavor! Think I'm going to use some of the filling to make egg rolls tomorrow.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies, Oh My!

Since my hubby's been working so hard (and since he's got a long week of grading ahead of him), I figured he needed some brain food for snacking. Otherwise, he'll just chow down on tortilla chips. My friend Brittany made these fabulous oatmeal fruit cookies the last time we were at her house, so I tried to find a similar recipe. Bingo! I used 1 cup of triple berry blend (dried cranberries, cherries, and blueberries) instead of the dates, and left out the coconut (both hubby and I despise the stuff) and the walnuts (because crunchy things do not belong anywhere near my cookies). Did use the called-for 1 cup of raisins. I'm realizing that I really don't follow recipes very often, even though I sure thought I did. It seems I substitute whatever I have on hand for the necessaries and leave out the undesirables.

I made two sheets of cookies, and there was still a hefty amount of dough to be dealt with. This would be a great recipe for a bake sale, I'm thinking. So I pressed the remaining dough into a 9x13 pan to see how this recipe did in bar form. We haven't tasted them yet, being too preoccupied with eating the cookies, but I'll let you know which we preferred.

Update: We definitely preferred the cookies to the bars! I also made the cookies once more with a 7-fruit blend with great success!

While the cookies were in the oven, I looked for a marinade for the pork tenderloin that's been defrosting. I wanted to find something Asian-inspired, and this is what I came up with. Asian Ginger Grill Marinade. I was too lazy to pull out the chopping board to mince garlic, so I used garlic salt as a quick fill-in. Added some crushed red peppers, used 1/2 rice vinegar and 1/2 white wine for the acid, decreased honey to 1 tablespoon (cause, c'mon, 2 tablespoons is a lot of honey!), and viola! Pork is happily hanging out in the fridge till morning, when he'll be browned and dumped into the crock pot.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What's a Saturday Morning without Pancakes?

I woke up today with the incredible feeling of not having my thesis hanging over my head. True, it's not finished yet. But it is safely in the hands of my readers, and I can't do anything else with it without their comments. And so, I'm looking forward to a well-earned day of leisure! We slept in and decided to have a late breakfast so that I wouldn't be too full for the Victorian Tea Party at 2:30.

Allen's favorite breakfast is pancakes. We've tried several recipes but haven't yet found one that we consider our "go to" recipe. The Joy of Cooking has given us several good ones. We liked the 4-grain pancakes, buttermilk pancakes, and "regular" pancakes. Today I'm trying a twist on the buttermilk recipe. I can't remember where I learned that you can substitute plain yogurt for buttermilk, but it's one of my favorite cooking tips. We almost always have plain yogurt on hand--sometimes homemade!--but rarely is there buttermilk in my fridge.

Today I used a mix of white and brown sugars, substituted 1/2 of the flour for oats, and replaced 1 cup of the milk with yogurt. Although it's best if you let the batter sit overnight, I hadn't thought ahead of time. We did let the batter rest for about an hour while we enjoyed our lattes on the front porch.

Folks, I think we have a winner! The pancakes were great! Moist, fluffy, delish! And a little healthier than regular pancakes, thanks to the whole oats...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Pasta with Ravioli and Bacon

Found this recipe in the latest issue of Real Simple and couldn't wait to try it! Pasta meals are great for Wednesday nights (or any weeknight, really!) because they're quick, tasty, and filling.

I decided to add some sun-dried tomatoes, even though I usually try to follow the recipe the first time I make something. I was REALLY glad I added the tomatoes--would've been kinda bland without them. Next time, I think I might make some sort of quick cream sauce to mix in.

The verdict: this recipe has potential, but it definitely needs tweaking to be considered anything more than average.

The dinner rolls, however, turned out great! At the last minute, I found out that Allen's brother and his fiancé were in town, so we invited them over for dinner. While Allen's used to my lack of side dishes (we have one-dish meals more often than I care to say), I felt like our guests deserved at least a piece of bread to go with their ravioli! So I headed over to my trusty, which is my second favorite cooking resource (The Joy of Cooking being my all-time fave), and looked for a recipe for quick dinner rolls. As usual, allrecipes did not disappoint!

I liked the look of these double quick dinner rolls. I modified the recipe ever so slightly by substituting garlic powder for the onion powder and replacing 1/2 cup of flour with oats to give them a bit more substance. Yum! Will definitely remember these rolls the next time I need a quick yeast bread!

First up--enchiladas!

I decided it would be kind of cool to keep a journal of what I cook, and these days the easiest way to get me to write anything is to put it online. Sometimes there will be a recipe, sometimes not. So here we go!

Last night I made some pretty tasty enchiladas, using the enchilada sauce that I had left over from taking tamales to potluck on Sunday. I usually make enchiladas with flour tortillas (since I always have them around), but last night I used corn. Very nice! They still fell apart, just like flour. I didn't have any beef or pork handy, so I filled them with rice (cooked with cumin seed and garlic powder, then flavored with lime juice and cilantro) and pintos. One thing I didn't like, those poor little corn tortillas are so much smaller than I'm used to! I could barely fit anything in them and still get them rolled up! Next time, I'll make sure to mix the filling with enchilada sauce, because the corn tortillas have much more of a flavor than the flour, so the filling ended up tasting kind of bland. However, topped off with some of Allen's Tapatio hot sauce, it was pretty good!