Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Tater tots and cream of mushroom soup for dinner? So odd, yet surprisingly so good. Growing up I was convinced that only my mom could have come up with a random recipe like this. That and tuna casserole.

So odd, that surely we were the only family that ate this. And then I married a Minnesotan.   I came to the realization that this is what everyone in the midwest eats everyday. Hot dishes as they're called over there. Casseroles to us on the west coast. This is comfort food at it's best.

Tater Tot Casserole
Makes 8 servings

4 pounds frozen tater tots
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cans cream of mushroom soup

Preheat oven to 375 degress. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, place a layer of tater tots down. On top of this layer add ground beef and onions, season with salt and pepper.

Spread layer of condensed cream of mushroom soup on top. Add final layer of tater tots on top.

Bake for 60 minutes, or until meat is cooked through.

Note: This dish holds up well throughout the week, making it great for leftovers.

Monday, May 24, 2010


I've been dying to get my hands on this recipe ever since I tasted one of these tasty treats in Minnesota.  My mother-in-law's good friend, Lucy, is known for this signature sandwich.  And thanks to Siri, one of my sister-in-law's good friends, who got her hands on the recipe, I now have the recipe!  Thanks Siri, you made my day when you posted this recipe!

Your guests will love these sammies.  You'll love these sammies.  You'll love them until you figure out just how much butter is in each individual sammie.  Don't do the math.  You'll never enjoy one of these the same way if you do...

Lucy's Ham & Cheese Sliders
Makes 12 sandwiches

1 stick of butter
1 T mustard
1 T worcestershire sauce
2 T brown sugar
1 T poppy seeds
12 dinner rolls
12 slices black forest ham
6 slices Swiss cheese

Assemble sandwiches and place in a baking dish. Use 1/2 slice of Swiss per sandwich. 

Bring butter, mustard, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and poppy seeds to a boil in a saucepan.
Pour sauce over the sandwiches. Marinate sandwiches for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes covered,  then 10 minutes uncovered.

Note:  Hawaiian sweet rolls are tasty, but if you're making this in bulk and want to save money, Costco's dinner rolls are the way to go.


Round 2 of the birthday cake dress rehearsal.  This one was made to celebrate the half birthday party for all the babies from our birthing class.  Seven 6-7 month old babies all in a room, along with their first-time parents.  Chaos.  But tons of fun! 

Lessons learned from this attempt:
1.  Hire a bakery to bake and frost the cakes.  It's so much more fun to decorate it than bake it. 
2.  Cakes are heavy.  Be sure to use wood dowels and cardboard in between layers. 

Yeah, it may look like I got a little lazy and didn't use the dowels.  That's why this cake is sinking under its own weight on one side.  Not that I didn't try, those things are hard to cut with a knife.  After one attempt and one injured finger, I decided it wasn't worth it.  Next time I think I'll make Mike cut the dowels with his table saw. 


Here's another recipe from the back of a pasta package. Thank goodness. If it weren't for these recipes, Mike would only ever be eating pasta paired with canned spaghetti sauce.

Veggie Sauce with Chicken Mozzarella Ravioli
Makes 4 servings

17 oz (1 package) chicken mozzarella ravioli
1/2 zucchini, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 eggplant, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Parmesan cheese
Prepare pasta as directed. While pasta cooks, prepare sauce.

Saute onions and garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil and set aside. 

Cook yellow pepper, zucchini, and eggplant in 1/4 cup olive oil until tender.  Add can of tomatoes (use about 1/2 of the tomato liquid in the can), salt, onions and garlic.  Let simmer for a few minutes.   

Add cooked ravioli.

Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled over top. 

Note:  Pairs well with pinot gris.  This is a great meal to get rid of any veggies laying around in the fridge.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


This salsa was originally prepared with mahi mahi fish tacos, Mexican coleslaw, and an avocado salad.  It took Mike over an hour to clean all the dishes from this dinner.  Seeing as how Mike doesn't like doing dishes all night and I don't like fish,  odds are I won't ever cook this meal again.  But I will definitely make this delicious salsa again.

Mango Pineapple Salsa
Makes 1 medium bowl full

1 mango, chopped
1/2 cup pineapple, chopped
4 medium tomatoes, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/4 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 T olive oil
1 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, combine the mango, pineapple, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, and garlic. Stir in the salt, lime juice, red onion, and olive oil. To blend the flavors, refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The hardest thing about this dessert is trying to figure out how to cut a mango.  It probably would've helped had I figured out how to pick a ripe mango.  Had it been ripe, I imagine it would've been a lot easier to cut and I wouldn't of been worried about whether or not I was up to date on my disability insurance, as I precariously wielded the Wusthoff.  Next time I make this dessert, I'm going for the softest mango in the grocery store.   

Upside-Down Mango Tartlets
Makes 6 servings

2 mangoes
1/8 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T dark rum
3 T butter
1 pinch salt
vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut pastry into 6 3-inch circles to fit jumbo muffin pan.

Combine brown sugar, dark rum, and salt in small saucepan, bringing to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 1 minute, then add butter and macadamia nuts. Stir until butter's completely melted.

Divide sugar-nut mixture into the muffin pan cups. Place on layer of mangoes into muffin pan cups. Top each cup with puff pastry, tucking it around fruit and pushing out large air bubbles.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until pastry's golden brown. Let cool 15 minutes. Run butter knife around edges to loosen . Place rimmed baking sheet or pan over the muffin pan. Invert to release tartlets. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Note: Use other fruit and nuts like peaches, strawberries, raspberries, pears and walnuts. Mini tartlets can be made using cupcake pans.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Comfort food that can go from city chic to outdoor rugged? But how you ask? 3 recipes in one, that's how. This dessert can be cooked just like the way you remember Mom doing it, or you can dress it up to impress dinner guests. How?  Martini glass.  Anything looks fancy in a martini glass. Or, dress it down for the great outdoors. This is a favorite for car camping or a day out on the beach crabbing, when smores just won't do.

Fruit Crisp
Makes 10 servings

1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg
5 T butter, softened

5 peaches or tart apples (Fuji, Gala, Braeburn, Granny Smith)
1 banana, sliced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

vanilla ice cream
mint sprigs
caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut apples/peaches into halves and hollow out. Place in ungreased pan.

Mix flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg together. Cut butter into small pieces and add to dry mix. Mix until there is no powder remaining and the the mixture is moist and crumbly. Add walnuts, cranberries, and bananas.

Overfill fruit halves with mix. Make sure to pack it in and condense. Bake for 40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and fruit is tender.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and garnish with caramel drizzle and mint.

Camping Fruit Crisp: Wrap each fruit half in tin foil. Cook on coals of fire, rotating occasionally. Cook for about 30-40 minutes, or until fruit tender. Open and add 1 marshmallow to topping. Close foil back up to melt marshmallow for a few minutes and then serve in foil. Always cook a few more than needed because inevitably, some will burn to a crisp in a hot spot.

Traditional Fruit Crisp:  Cut fruit up and place mix over it, using an 8 x 8 pan. This will usually cook in about 30 minutes.

Note: Pre-made crisp mix exists! If you're feeling lazy, you can find it at the store in either the baking section or produce area near the apples and caramel dip.  Just add butter and fruit.  It tastes just as good as the real stuff! 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I came across this recipe on the back of the ravioli package and it's amazing.  Butter sauce?  Well of course it's going to be amazing.  What could be better than that?  Adding bacon to it of course.  That was my contribution to the recipe.  Now it's perfect. 

Brown Sugar Butter Sauce with Butternut Squash Ravioli
Makes 4 servings

17 oz (1 package) butternut squash ravioli
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 T butter, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 T fresh sage, chopped or 3/4 tsp dried sage
2 T cream
1/4 cup bacon

Prepare pasta as directed.  While pasta cooks, prepare sauce. 

Slice bacon into small strips, cook, and set aside.  Using a large, wide saucepan or skillet, toast walnuts on medium heat until just fragrant and beginning to color.

Reduce heat to low, add butter and stir. 

Add brown sugar, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, sage, and bacon.  Stir until completely melted.

Whisk in cream.

Add cooked ravioli.

Note:  This dish pairs well with plain asparagus.  You can make it a little healthier by substituting milk for cream.  But with all the butter and bacon in it, why bother?

Monday, May 3, 2010


In preparation for Alison's birthday, I thought it'd be fun to try a birthday cake.  Fun?  Maybe for some, but not this girl.  Although I did learn a few things:

1.  Look for cake mix with pudding in it.  That's what makes it moist and seem like it's homemade.  Thanks for the tip Courtney!
2.  Icing a cake is harder than it looks.
3.  Pre-made fondant can be bought at craft stores.  Craft stores?  Kind of weird that they sell edible stuff. 
4.  With all the money spent on pre-made fondant and accoutrements, I could've bought a whole lot of professionally made birthday cakes and avoided the hassle of doing dishes. 
5.  Thanks to the internet, I was able to pull off a halfway decent looking cake.  It only took two attempts. 

Attempt #1: 
Attempt #2:

Beauty, eh?  Although I should've rolled the fondant much thinner.  Fondant has a playdough-like texture and with it being so thick, it brought back memories of pre-school as I tried to eat through it.  Now the big question is, will Alison be getting a homemade cake, or a bakery cake on her first birthday?