Monday, August 30, 2010

Spaghetti Carbonara

I am so happy it is a new week!  Last week, we all shared cooties...started with the youngest, and everyday moved up a person, until we were all laying around moaning and coughing.  Ahhh, but through the power of NyQuil and lots of napping, we are all better :) 
Moving on to the recipe today.  Carbonara had always been this elusive thing that I never wanted to try.  I didn't even know what it was until Dan, the college cafeteria guy, held up a gloppy spoonful and said it was bacon and egg sauce.  UGH!  In pasta?!?!  (((shiver)))
After many years of avoiding it, I finally tried it.  It was NOTHING like I was expecting.  First off, the recipe I made, was a drier version.  No drippy, gloppy sauce.  I LOVE dry pasta!  Growing up, my Mom would make a buttered breadcrumb version with left-over spaghetti noodles.  This Carbonara reminded me of that a bit.  The egg just worked as a binder to keep the Parmesan Cheese adhered to the noodles.  In no way does it taste like the scrambled eggs and bacon I feared.  While this recipe uses regular bacon, I may experiment with thick peppered bacon next time or go full on for the Pancetta.  To add another "yipee", this is super easy to put together.
All of us loved this meal...even the sweet blue-eyed boy, which is saying A LOT! 

1 box Barilla Plus Spaghetti - 14.5 ounces
3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
6-8 slices of bacon, diced
1/4 cup diced shallot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 eggs, beaten
3 TBSP heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated (not shredded) Parmesan Cheese
Reserved Pasta Water (if needed)
3 TBSP freshly chopped Italian Parsley
Pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente.  When done, drain excess water, reserving 1 cup hot pasta water.  Toss pasta with 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil.  Set aside.
While pasta is cooking, cook bacon in a large skillet until just about crisp.  Remove bacon, drain bacon grease, reserving 1-2 TBSP of it.  In skillet, combine reserved bacon grease with 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil.  Add shallots and cook until transparent.  Add minced garlic and allow to cook, but not burn, for an additional minute.  Add white wine to deglaze pan, scraping up any bits from bottom of pan.  Cook until wine has mostly evaporated, about 1-2 minutes. 
Meanwhile, combine beaten eggs, cream, and Parmesan cheese in a bowl. 
Return bacon to skillet, add pasta and heat through.  Remove from heat.  Pour egg/cheese mixture over top of pasta.  Quickly and continually toss with tongs until no longer runny.  If pasta is too dry, add some reserved pasta water to loosen.  Add pepper to taste, and toss parsley before serving.  Serve with additional Parmesan Cheese for sprinkling.

recipe adapted from Mommy's Kitchen

This recipe has been linked up at:
Nikki's Nifty Knacks
Simply Sweet Home
Tidy Mom
This Chick Cooks
Eat at Home

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ultimate Carrot Cake

We have started our crazed birthday celebration month.  It all starts with my Hubby's birthday, then a week later, Kiddo D, then 8 days later, Kiddo A, ending with mine 4 days after that.  We get about a 6 1/2 week break before Kiddo B has her birthday on Halloween, then BLAM, it is the holidays!  OK, just started to stress myself out a bit.  We had Kiddo D's birthday celebration early before he went back to his Mom's for the school year, and he requested Carrot Cake.  I share with you the most AMAZING Ultimate Carrot Cake!
Go forth and make this! Seriously, WOW!

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cups grated carrots (grated on large side of grater...otherwise you get mush)
  • 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained and squeezed so you get as much juice out as you can
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3-3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, depending how sweet you like you frosting
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup toasted, chopped pecans.  To take it over the top, use SPICED PECANS (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13" pan with non-stick spray.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, white sugar, brown sugar, and  3 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in carrots and pineapple. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
To Make Frosting:
In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake and top with toasted pecans.

*****Spiced Pecans*****
This makes more than you need, but once you try them, you won't care!  These FABULOUS gems go in every Christmas goodie basket I make!
Beat one egg white and 1 TBSP vanilla together until frothy.  Stir in one pound of pecan halves into the mixture.  Stir to coat.
In another bowl, mix 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice.  Pour sugar mixture into moistened pecans.  Thoroughly mix so that pecans are well coated with sugar and spice combination.
Spread on large cookie sheet and bake at 275 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. 
I apologize in advance for introducing this Pecan Crack into you life.

This recipe has been linked up to:
Simply Sweet Home Friday Favorites
Mommy's Kitchen Sunday Potluck

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Menu Plan 8/20 - 8/26

Last week FLEW by!  All of a sudden it was Friday and I had to make a new menu plan and still had 2 meals that weren't made last week, so there are a couple "roll-overs".  We are moving in 60-ish days, so I am planning a massive pantry and freezer inventory so I can get as much used up as possible before then.  When we moved a year ago and I threw away embarrassing amounts of food and still was able to stock up my Mom's pantry.  I am not sure what happened to my "buy only what you will use" resolution.  Oh well, should make for some creative meals for the next couple of months!
So, here are them meals on our menu this week:

~Grilled Steak, Shrimp Cocktail, Baked Potato, and Salad.  Lemon filled Lemon Cupcakes for dessert.  Happy Birthday to my amazing, wonderful Hubby!
~Burrada Supreme, home baked Lime Tortilla Chips with Salsa and Guacamole
~Grilled Salmon with Cucumber Dill Relish, Rice Pilaf, and Garlic Almond Green Beans
~Sesame Chicken, Jasmine Rice, Potstickers
~Beef Mac, Salad
~Chicken Fajita Thin Crust Pizza....Cheese Pizza for the kiddos
~Chicken Sandwiches, Potato Wedges, Salad, Grapes

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

GIANT Cookie

School is ready to start again (((sigh)))
Seems like just yesterday, we were having our end-of-year celebration.  For that celebration, I went a wee overboard and made a GIANT cookie.  I topped this bad boy with scoops of vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and caramel sauce, whipped cream, and of course cherries.  (Note to self, take a picture of the final product BEFORE setting it on a table with kiddos clutching their spoons and a crazed look in their eye...)  This was SO fun to all share the platter-o-yum together.  However, I think next time I do it, I will make 2 medium cookies and freeze one right away, because we ended up throwing quite a bit out once the ice cream got all melty.
Surprise your kiddos and bake this bad boy up for a back-to-school celebration.  You can slice it like a pizza or top it with ice cream...either way, they will LOVE it!

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick), melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, cream together the sugars and butter. Add the egg and mix. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Line a large (11X17-inch) baking pan with foil and press the cookie into a circle. Press cookie into a 9-inch circle, about 1/4 to 3/8-inch thick. When it bakes, it spreads to about 11 inches, which fits perfectly onto a 12-inch round cardboard circle you can find at most craft stores.  I used my 10" spring form pan to bake in and that seemed to work great for me.
If desired, top the cookie with M&M’s or any other garnishes.
Bake for 13-16 minutes until the cookie is lightly golden brown. Let the cookie cool completely on the baking pan.

Recipe Source:  Tasty Kitchen member Melanie

Monday, August 16, 2010

Super Simple Sliders

I have had the most exhausting, shopping, and more shopping.  Not the fun kind of shopping that you can leisurely do with an iced coffee in between stores.  It was doing the big grocery shopping WITH school supplies, WITH curriculum shopping, and finally (and most exhausting) WITH school clothes shopping.  Ok, maybe it is silly that we do school clothes shopping since we homeschool, but we did.  You just seem to have a better day when you get ready for the day and wear cute clothes.  Ok, so maybe it is more of a goal of mine that I am dragging the kids along for the ride.  I know many mom's can shout out the "amen!" on that is one of the hardest transitions to make.  Going from having your hair and makeup done by 7:30am to barely being able to squeeze in a shower let alone do anything aside from a pony tail and transition from jammies to sweats.  This has absolutely nothing to do with the recipe I am sharing today...just something that my now-"babies-sucked-my-brain-cells" mind fixates on.   I am not sure there is any kind of bridge I can make at this point that would take us from shopping, exhaustion, and jammies to these Super Simple Sliders.  Other than the fact, they are SIMPLE!  Total bonus, they taste awesome!  The original recipe from Mommy's Kitchen has them titled as "White Castle Sliders" but since I have never had a White Castle burger, I couldn't tell you how similar they are.  Aside from being yummy, the kiddos love them because they are miniature and I love them because they are EASY!  No forming or flipping here!

  • Scant (not full) 1/4 cup dried minced onion
  • 2 pounds ground beef.  It is recommended that you use 80/20.  I used 85/15 and they didn't shrink up to completely fit the sheet of dinner rolls, but I was ok with that.
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt.  I used Lawry's, but how I longed for my long-lost Johnnies......
  • 6 slices of your cheese of choice
  • 12 count package of dinner rolls.  I used the King's Hawaiian Dinner Rolls just like I did in these yummy nibbles
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
In a 9x13 baking pan, sprinkle the dried minced onions evenly over bottom.  Gently and evenly, press the ground beef into a large rectangle on top of the dried minced onion, patting the top to make level and smooth.  Sprinkle the seasoned salt on top of the meat and bake for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, remove from oven and pat top of meat with paper towels to remove the excess grease.  Place cheese slices on top and return to oven for another minute or so, until the cheese is melted.  At this point, I made a little bed of brown paper bag and paper towels on a cutting board and removed the meat, keeping it in one piece, with a GIANT BBQ spatula.  I allowed the excess grease to soak up on it's special little resting place while I sliced the package of rolls in half horizontally.  Then, using the GIANT BBQ spatula again, I placed the meat on the bottom of the rolls, and topped with the top half of rolls.  Cut into individual little servings and viola....sliders!!
The possibilities are endless here....I am already thinking of doing a Mushroom Swiss version, maybe even add in some bacon.  Create and enjoy!

This recipe has been linked up to:
Simply Sweet Home:  Friday Favorites

Friday, August 13, 2010

Menu Plan 8/13 - 8/19

Happy Friday!
Anyone have any big plans this weekend?  We are doing some back-to-school shopping and organizing the house.  I am hoping to sneak away and go see Eat, Pray, Love.  It was such an AMAZING book....I savored it like good chocolate.  If you haven't read it, I HIGHLY, recommend it!
Ok, onto our menu plan.  Here are the meals that will be on our table this week:
  • Hot Hoagies, New-Dorf Salad  (I am slightly addicted to this stuff, can't you tell?!)
  • Asian Chicken Salad, Butter Dipped Biscuits
  • White Castle Sliders, Potato Wedges
  • Burrada Supreme, Homemade Baked Lime Tortilla Chips with Guacamole and Salsa
  • Sesame Chicken, Steamed Jasmine Rice, Potstickers
  • Spaghetti Carbonara, Caesar Salad, Garlic Bread

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New-Dorf Salad

A couple weeks ago, I did my weekly shopping.  As I am sure I have told you before, I do my menu planning on Thursday night or Friday morning.  I then pack all 3 kiddos into the Mom's Limo, aka mini van, and head out to Costco, Trader Joe's, and then Super Target.  Well this particular Friday, like most days so far this summer, it was about a zillion degrees....with heat index, a zillion and fifty.  Luckily (or not) it takes about 20 minutes to go to Costco, which is enough time for the oven of a car to get nice and cooled down.  The time it took me to help the kiddos out of the car, walk to the front door, rummage through my wallet to find my Costco card, get Kiddo A into a cart, we were literally dripping and disgusting.  UGH! 
As we were working the sample tables, hoping and praying for ice cream or popsicles, this version of a Waldof Salad was being sampled.  Now, let me just say, I have never had a classic Waldorf Salad.  I am allergic to walnuts, and pretty much the thought of putting a mayonnaise-y type dressing over fruit makes me want to hurl.  So, I turned my nose up and kept the vomit at bay.  Now, as a side note, we have seen this particular sample guy at work...he could sell ice in a snowstorm.  At Easter, this same guy was hawking Red Velvet Cake shouting at the top of his lungs that it was "Jesus birthday cake".  So, when he started shouting it was "fresh apples, grapes, celery, yogurt, almonds, and cranberries", it peaked my interest.  I double checked with him there were no walnuts in it, and took a bite.  Holy refreshing salad Batman!  It was FABULOUS!!!  I immediately picked up a container and continued to do my shopping.  While waiting in the massive line, I started to read the ingredients on the label and it literally said:  "Apples, Red Grapes, Celery, Dried Cranberries, Sliced Almonds, Vanilla Yogurt".  Then I caught a glimpse of the $10 price tag.  I promptly put it back and added a few items to my list, came home and made this.  Kiddos raved about it, the Hubby and I could not stop eating it.  Do yourself a favor and try this.  It is simple, refreshing, and spectacular!

  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 apples, diced with skin on.  I used Golden Delicious, but use what you like.
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • 1 cup sliced toasted almonds.  I recommend using the Almond Accents brand.
  • 1 cup Vanilla flavored yogurt.
In a medium bowl, add diced celery, apples, grapes, and Craisins.  Stir in the Vanilla Yogurt, coating everything.  Add almonds and stir to coat some more.  Serve immediately.

This recipe is linked up at:
Simply Sweet Home - Friday Favorites
Tidy Mom - I'm Lovin' It
Mommy's Kitchen - Sunday Potluck
This Chick Cooks
Eat at Home

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chicken Leg Two-fer

Happy Monday morning my friends!  Since I didn't get a chance to say that last week...basking in the warm (note I didn't say HOT) mountains last week and all, and because I think you all are pretty groovy, you get a two-fer today!  Two recipes using the same main ingredient...chicken legs! 

The first I bring you is Hot and Sweet Chicken Legs, which are insanely scrumptious.  Though they are a tad messy munching, but you will be too busy ohhing, ahhing, and mmmming to care.

And the second is Easy Peasy Chicken Legs...and they are just that, Easy Peasy!  Plus, they get nice and crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.  YUM! 

The kiddos and adults enjoyed both of these IMMENSELY!  I served the Hot and Sweet Chicken Legs with Basmati Rice to soak up the amazing sauce and Creamy Dill Cucumber Salad.  The Easy Peasy Chicken Legs starred with French Fries and BEST Corn on the Cob EVER in supporting roles. 
Hold on tight, cause here we goooo!!!  (Can you tell Little Einsteins is on in the background, lol!)

Hot and Sweet Chicken Legs
  • 1 cup Apricot Preserves
  • ½ cups Ketchup
  • ¼ cups Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp Sriracha Sauce.  The original recipe called for 2 tsp hot sauce.  I used the Sriracha because it lends more flavor than just heat, and only used 1 tsp because I kinda like the sweet sound of my kiddos voices...and if their tounge was damaged, I just don't think it would sound the same. 
  • 3 pounds Drumsticks (about 12)
Preheat oven to 350F. In a small saucepan, combine preserves, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic and Sriracha (or hot) sauce. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until preserves are melted.
Arrange drumsticks in a single layer on a 13 x 9″ baking pan. Pour sauce over drumsticks, turning to coat. Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes or until chicken is done, spooning sauce over drumsticks while baking.


Easy Peasy Chicken Legs
  • 14 whole Chicken Legs (Large Package)
  • Olive Oil (enough To Cover Legs Generously)
  • While the original recipe calls for Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Powder to taste, I use Montreal Steak Seasoning.  That stuff is magic in a jar...loaded with such flavors as:  salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper, and some other top secret "stuff"....SCRUMPTIOUS!
Preheat oven to 400F. Place chicken legs in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, enough to cover them all, generously. Sprinkle with seasoning of choice. Toss the legs around to make sure they all get coated with the oil and the seasoning. Place on a large baking sheet and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours, turning them to ensure crispiness on all sides. (Mine were done in about an hour.) 

You can also bake the chicken legs on a cooking rack fits inside of your baking sheet.

A great big THANK YOU to these lovely ladies for bringing these recipes into our lives:
Hot and Sweet Chicken Legs - Tasty Kitchen Member Teri L.
Easy Peasy Chicken Legs - Mommy's Kitchen

These recipes are linked up:
Simply Sweet Home - Friday Favorites
Mommy's Kitchen - Sunday Potluck

Friday, August 6, 2010

Menu Plan - 8/6 - 8/12

I'mmm baackk!!! 
I have been MIA while we took a small vacation.  It was absolutely lovely.  SOOO nice to get out of this ridiculous heat and get up to the mountains.  I am sure you all know that even when you get back from vacation, you are still on a mental vacation of sorts.  That's where I am at...mental vacation!  So, we are having quite a few repeats on this weeks menu plan.  Here is what is being served this week at our home....what about you?

~Salmon with Cucumber Dill Salsa, Shrimp Cocktail, Rice Pilaf, Garlic Almond Green Beans, Carrot Cake (an early birthday dinner for kiddo D )
~BBQ Country Ribs, Homestyle Potatoes, Waldorf Salad
~Parmesan Crusted Dijon Chicken, Cheddar Broccoli Rice, Steamed Normandy Mix
~Ranch House Crockpot Pork Chops, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Corn
~Spaghetti a la Philly, Caesar Salad, Homemade Breadsticks
~Sweet and Sour Chicken, Steamed Rice, Potstickers

Have a fabulous weekend my friends!