Sunday, March 25, 2012

Homemade Ravioli

What shall we do to celebrate the beginning of Spring Break?

I decided to visit one of my favorite sisters and having a cooking adventure. What could be more adventurous that homemade pasta?

I'll spare you the recipe details, but if you are interested in making it yourself, you can find step-by-steps at (and all over the internet).

Homemade pasta is a beautiful thing; although a bit labor-intensive, it all hands-on and somewhat mindless, a combination that you don't find much in my line of work, and one that makes for perfect kitchen therapy. Because there are a myriad of steps that don't involve hot things or sharp things, this could be a great one to get the kids involved in.

Here are some snap-shots of the action:

After rolling out the dough (made of flour, eggs, salt, water and a little oil), we stuffed them with four cheeses and garlic before cutting them out with a small cookie cutter (no ravioli press required).

The precious raviolis were allowed to "dry" before being tossed into wet boiling water (weird concept), like drying off before you jump in the swimming pool? Probably a little more chemistry involved than that!

Taking a warm bath: Served with meat sauce, garlic bread sticks (going to get the recipe and share it with you soon...better than olive garden!) and a side salad.

Olive Garden Soup

Since moving to Hueytown, God has impressed upon our hearts the importance of Biblical community in your community. We are blessed with an incredible group of friends that we meet with on Sunday evenings to study the Word and encourage one another, but it was difficult to really encourage one another outside of this time due to our distance from them.

As God was showing us this revelation, He was also gathering together a group of people for a weekly meal who would become our Hueytown small groupies--a youth minister, hair dresser, nurse, pharmaceutical tech, band director...quite an assortment of people, all desiring Biblical community.

We now meet each Thursday and before we open the Word for in-depth study and reflection, we fellowship and bless one another over a yummy meal. Sometimes it can be difficult to cook for 8 we you are accustomed to cooking for 2, but recipes like this make it easy and even fun!

So, invite some people over, but don't just eat--open the Word together as well!

What you need:
*This does make 12-14 servings, so cut the recipe if you are not cooking for a crowd or make the whole thing and freeze the excess
Taken from here
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 4 stalks celery chopped
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (16 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (16 ounce) can white kidney beans, drained (I used pinto because I didn't have any white kidney and it turned out just delish)
  • 3 (10 ounce) cans or one box beef stock
  • 3 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 5 teaspoons parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (optional)
  • 1 (20 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 8 ounces pasta
What to do: (I recommend completing the first two steps the night before you plan to enjoy and storing in the fridge. Place it in the crock pot before heading to work, and it will be ready when you return!)
1. Brown beef.
2. Add to LARGE crock pot along with all other ingredients EXCEPT noodles.
3. Cook on high 4-5 hours or low 7-8 hours
4. During last 30 minutes on high or 1 hour on low, add pasta and allow to cook.
5. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve alongside soft garlic knots and finish with a bite of the Bread of Life :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Soft Garlic Knots

Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6


The kitchen is my "happy place," the first place I want to be after a stressful day at work. While many would love to be outside enjoying this weather, I'd rather open the window and let it come in and join me in the kitchen.

Recently, during a session of kitchen therapy, I thought about this verse from Matthew as I watched just two teaspoons of yeast go to work on a bowl full of flour. How powerful is this leaven that can move through a batch of garlic knots, doubling its size in only an hour. So how does this relate to the leaven of the Pharisees? In Matthew 16, Jesus was referring to the teaching of the Pharisees and, perhaps, alluding to the way that bad doctrine can spread.

While we don't have Pharisees and Saducees tempting us with bad doctrine today, there are all sorts of false doctrines attempting to creep into our churches and our lives. How do we battle these?

Well, here is another kitchen revelation. I recently discovered that salt kills the action of yeast. What did Jesus call us to be? Salt and light! So, let's fight the yeast of false doctrine by grounding ourselves in the Word of God and bringing salt to a world searching for truth.

Consider these things as you watch yeast work in your own batch of soft garlic knots!

Recipe adapted from
What you need:
For the dough:
  • 3 cups bread flour (I have made with ap flour and had good results)
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. yeast
  • 1¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. lukewarm water
For the glaze:
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
  • ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
What to do:

Add 2 tsp yeast to 1 cup please 2 tbsp warm water. Allow this to sit and become foamy while you gather the other ingredients.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the dry ingredients.

Add the olive oil, milk and yeasty water. Mix until ingredients have formed a dough. Add more flour if dough is not pulling away from the sides and add more water if there is lots of loose flour still in the bottom of the bowl.

Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 10-inch long rope (think about rolling playdough into a snake) and tie into a knot. Take the end lying underneath the knot and bring it over the top, tucking it into the center.

Take the end lying over the knot and tuck it underneath and into the center. Transfer shaped rolls to a baking stone, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes, until puffy.

To make the glaze, mix the minced garlic with the melted butter and Italian seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the glaze onto the shaped rolls. Bake until set and lightly browned, about 15-18 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Muffins

How do you say "I care a lot about you" to a group of teenagers? Well, there is the obvious answer, that you could just say it :-) and perhaps I will try that soon. For me however, the way that I often say "I care" is through something that I have mixed together, baked up, and handed out with love.

That is just what I did on Monday as my AP students came to school bright and early and took their mock exam. They were greeted by pans of peanut butter chocolate chip muffins as well as these more savory sausage, egg, and cheese muffins.

I am not sure I they got my message across, but the muffins were all gone by the time the 185 minute test was over.

Would you like to say "I love you" to someone special? Perhaps you should bake them something warm and yummy!

What you need
  • ½ pound ground pork sausage, cooked & drained
  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (sharp cheddar recommended)
  • 2 large. eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

What to do

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease the muffin cups of a standard muffin pan generously.
  • Cook sausage and drain.
  • When cooled, put in a large bowl and add Bisquick, sour cream and cheddar cheese.
  • In a small bowl, beat eggs and add milk.
  • Pour into sausage mix and mix completely; don’t over stir.
  • Salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Pour evenly into muffin cups and bake for 30 – 40 minutes until cooked thoroughly.
  • Take out of muffin cups immediately. Let cool and then refrigerate what you don’t eat immediately.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Muffins

Have you ever heard of anything with both chocolate and peanut butter in it that was not good? Those were my immediate thoughts when I read this recipe on The combination always reminds me of Adam's wedding cake by the great Jenny Scott. It was so moist, chocolately and delish.

I was searching for something to make for my AP students on Monday morning. They are taking their mock exam and I wanted something to award their efforts so far and motivate them to work hard on the test. I believe these will do just the trick! I also selected a sausage, egg and cheese muffin which I will post later in the week.

I opted for the mini muffins because I think they are more fun but you could definitely produce these in a larger size.

What you need:
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips

What to do:

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray the muffin pan of your choice (12 regular muffins or 24 mini muffins)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, peanut butter, eggs and milk until smooth. Add in the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin tins, filling each to the top.

Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sweet Potato Chili and Cornbread

There are few things better than knowing dinner is waiting for you at home and all you have to do is dip it out of the crockpot! My favorite crockpot recipes are those that can sit unattended for 8 hours or longer. This sweet potato chili fit perfectly into that category.

I mixed up some simple jalapeno cheddar cornbread to go along with it for a hearty and delicious cool weather meal. However, it was not very cool on Wednesday. Spring has arrived early here in the heart of dixie, or maybe it never left :-) Anywho, this was a delicious meal no matter the weather. Perhaps you can enjoy the oddity of sweet potatoes in your chili sometime soon.

Sweet Potato Chili (from

  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (I did not have so I used a larger container of tomatoes and added a little tomato sauce and tomato paste)
  • 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1” pieces
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 ounce can kidney beans
  • 15 ounce can black beans
  • 1 lb ground beef (This is optional. If you are going to use it, I would brown the meat beforehand. I think chicken would also make a lovely pairing)

Directions (I love how short these are)

Combine all ingredients in the base of your slow cooker and stir to mix well. Cook on low for 10 hours.

Jalapeno and Cheddar Cornbread (from

  • oil or butter, for greasing your pan
  • 3/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (I used a mexican blend)*
  • 1/4 cup diced jalapenos (fresh or pickled)*

Turn on your oven to 400 to preheat.

Grease in the inside of a cast iron pan (or cake pan), place in the oven to preheat as well.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

In another bowl, combine melted butter, egg and buttermilk.

Pour milk mixture into the flour mixture, along with cheese and jalapenos. Stir until just combined. Its A-OK if there are still a few lumps in the batter.

Remove pan from over, carefully. Pour batter into the pan, return to oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Enjoy alongside chili or your favorite soup.

**Jalapenos and cheddar can be easily omitted for a simple cornbread.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Stuffed Cube Steak Roll-Ups

I accidentally got cube steaks out of the freezer instead of ground beef this weekend, leaving me with thawed meat that I had no plan for. How many things can you really make with cube steak?

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Fried Steak is pretty amazing but also somewhat overdone at our house. Additionally, it MUST be accompanied by mashed potatoes and I was not in the mood. So, I went to the most trusted source (pinterest) and found a recipe entitled: Grilled Cube Steak Roll-Up.

It is not quiet grilling weather, so I made a few changes. Here are the results, followed by the slightly revised recipe.

What you need
4-5 pieces cube steaks (cut into smaller pieces if some of the cube steaks are large)
marinade (recipe below)
2 oz cream cheese, softened
4-5 pieces bacon (raw)
Basil or other green herbs

1/2 cup cooking oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon pepper
3 tablespoons Chicago Seasoning (Penzey’s) or other steak seasoning
3 tablespoons bbq sauce of your choice

What to do
For the Marinade
Puree ingredients in food processor. Pour over meat in a glass dish or gallon zipper bag and place in the refrigerator 2-24 hours.

For the Roll Ups

Preheat oven to 375 F or grill to high heat (see cooking options below).
Remove the steaks from the marinade and place on paper towel to drain some of the marinade off. You may also want to pat it dry a bit. I did not complete this step and some of the steaks were a little too flavorful from the leftover marinade.

Spread a thin layer of cream cheese over one side of each steak and sprinkle with your herbs.
Beginning with the short end, roll up the steaks.
Spirally wrap a piece of bacon around steak and secure with one or two toothpicks.

From here, there are a couple of approaches to finish preparing the steaks:
-Sear on the grill, then turn the grill to low and continue to cooking for about 30 minutes.
-Sear on the stove top and then move to the oven at 375 for thirty minutes.
-Do not sear and just cook in oven at 375 for 30 minutes or more. (This is what I did by placing the roll-ups on a cooling rack on a baking sheet and baking until the thickest one was browned throughout).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mexican Mac and Cheese

Adam texted me yesterday and said he was feeling "either mexican or pasta for dinner." Why not have both?
I was uncertain about this recipe at first but upon first taste it went from "humm" to "yumm!"

To prepare the chicken breasts:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Place chicken on pan with aluminum foil
  3. Season chicken on both sides with either packaged taco seasoning or a mixture of salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, chili powder, garlic and onion powder
  4. Wrap foil around chicken to create a "packet"
  5. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until done
Alternately, you could use pre-cooked or left-over chicken or even ground beef.

The rest of the recipe (adapted from

What you need:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

2 cups dry noodles (I used wacky-mac spirals but small pasta will do)

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped

1/2 cup red pepper, chopped

1/2 cup corn (I used frozen and did not thaw)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

2 cups milk

1 cup grated mexican cheese

1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

crushed tortilla chips

salt and pepper

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare pasta water, bring to a boil, and cook noodles. When the noodles are done, drain and add to the chicken/vegetable medley that you will prepare next.

While noodles are cooking, heat a skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add onions and peppers and saute until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and corn and cook for another minute. Add shredded chicken and seasoning. Turn heat down to low.

Heat a small saucepan on medium heat and add butter. Once butter is sizzling, add flour and whisk to create a roux. Cook flour mixture for about 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously. Add milk and turn heat down medium-low. Add cheeses and stir, allowing cheese to melt and and sauce to thicken. Once sauce is thick, add it to the chicken and pasta and mix to combine.

Spray 8.5 x 11 pan with PAM and add mac and cheese. Top with crumbled tortilla chips.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Blueberry Banana Bread.

I will start out with an apology for not writing in so long. I could provide a million excuses and even try to catch you up on life since November, but I am certain that the few people reading could just text and ask me if they wanted to know :-)

I was motivated to write after Adam mentioned our lack of posts and asked the question, "How are going to be a famous food blogger if you never blog?"

Well, I doubt that, even if I blog daily, I'll ever be able to quit my day job on account of it, but I should share the recipes that we have been enjoying in our kitchen lately.

Here's one for starters:
Blueberry Banana Quick Bread (revised from
  • all purpose flour : 2 cups
  • Sugar : 1/2 cup
  • Honey : 1/2 cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Baking powder : 1/4 tsp
  • Baking soda : 1 tsp
  • Eggs : 2 large
  • Cooking oil : 2/3 cup
  • Ripe bananas (mashed) : 2
  • Orange juice : squeezed from one orange
  • Grated rind of orange ; from one large orange
  • Blueberries (or other fruit such as dried cranberries) : 1/2 cup
  • Chopped walnuts : 1/4 cup
  • Pecan for topping

What to do:
  1. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add sugar, honey, mashed bananas, chopped walnuts, blueberries and orange rind.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the beaten eggs, orange juice and oil until well combined.
  4. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and mix by hand until well combined.
  5. Pour the mixture into two small or one large prepared loaf pans (I covered the bottom with parchment paper and it came out easily but I don't think this step is necessary).
  6. Sprinkle the pecans on top of the bread.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for about 45 hour , until firm to touch or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (The larger the loaf, the longer it will take to cook, up to one hour and ten minutes).
  8. Turn out the loaf and cool on a wire rack.
  9. You can freeze one loaf and the other can be kept on the counter for a few days or in the fridge for a longer life. This is great warmed up with a little butter for a quick weekday breakfast.