Monday, November 24, 2008

Zucchini Pancakes

Auch du meine gute! Thanksgiving is just a few days away now! This year has flown by sooooo quickly! Well unless you were waiting for the movie "Twilight" to come out (guilty)! Yep I was among the masses who saw Twilight this past weekend! We had a group of women going (ALL of my sisters, SIL, Mutti, and friends) and had a blast! (three gals are missing from the picture!)
It is always quite the adventure when we get together . . . especially for movies! I sat between my two youngest sisters and we were laughing our heads off! I am sorry but some of the lines were so cheesy . . . (if you saw it you know its true!) My mom kept saying "that's not how it is in the book" and "how could they leave that part out?" She was miffed that they didn't have the meadow scene exactly how it was in the book . . . sorry Mutti!
Anywho my house smelled so wonderful yesterday! I was loving life! I made lemon poppy seed bread, cranberry, orange, pecan bread (my new favorite thing!), and gingerbread. My hubby was going hometeaching so I sent him off with plates laden with deliciousness! Speaking of delicious! I cannot begin to say how much I love Ina Gartens zucchini pancakes! I have made them twice in the past few weeks they are so good . . . given I ate most of them over that time period (my hubby doesn't share my love for zucchini so much) If you have never made zucchini pancakes . . . do! D-lish!
Zucchini Pancakes
Recipe by: Ina Garten

2 medium Zucchini, shredded
2 Tbsp Red Onion, grated
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
6-8 Tbsp Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
unsalted butter and vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
Grate the zucchini into a bowl and using the large grating side of a box grater. Immediately stir in the onion and eggs. Stir in 6 tablespoons of the flour, the baking powder, salt, and pepper. (if the batter gets too thin from the liquid in the zucchini, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour.)
Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and melt 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon oil together in the pan. When the butter is hot but not smoking, lower the heat to medium-low and drop heaping soup spoons of batter into the pan. Cook the pancakes for about 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place the pancakes on a sheet pan and keep warm in the oven. Wipe out the pan with a dry paper towel, add more butter and oil to the pan, and continue to fry the pancakes until all the batter is used. The pancakes can stay warm in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cranberry Pear Chutney

I have always wanted to make homemade chutney . . . so at long last I did! (Just in time for Thanksgiving too . . . it will be wonderful on our Thanksgiving table!) Man almighty does my house smell good! With every ingredient I added a new incredible scent burst from the pot creating a spicy potpourri that I wish that I could bottle and let loose in my house everyday! Cranberries, pears, onions, fresh ginger, lime, orange, cinnamon, and allspice! Love it! Cranberries and citrus go so well together and I love the brightness that the lime and orange add! I am definitely going to make more chutney in the future! I am a little ancy today and am ready to take off when my hubby gets off of work and head south for a weekend to be with my gals! We have a group going to "Twilight" (yes, roll your eyes if you must!) tonight and are doing a girls night out! I need it! I am ready to be done with school this semester and move on! A little chill time is just what the doctor ordered!
Cranberry Pear Chutney
Recipe by: Emily

2 cups Cranberries, fresh or frozen
4 large Pears, not quite ripe, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup Golden Raisins
1 large Vidalia Onion, chopped
2/3 cup Orange juice
1/2 cup pure Maple syrup
1/4 cup regular Molasses
1 1/2 Tbsp freshly grated Ginger
Finely grated zest and juice from 2 limes
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar

1. Sweat the onions for a few minutes over medium heat, add the brown sugar and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add the pears and cranberries and cook for about 3 minutes or until cranberries start to pop and soften. Add the orange juice, lime zest and juice, molasses, syrup, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then lower heat to medium low and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15-20 miuntes and then refrigerate. It will thicken as it cools! Serve with turkey, pork, chicken, or on sandwiches or add to a chicken spinach salad. Serving at room temperature is best! Enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2008


Okay sometimes in life we find ourselves drawn to things on TV that later lead us to scratch our heads and think . . . okay I just spent how much time watching that movie/show . . .? I can't even believe that this happened last night! I was reading Twilight for the who knows what teenth time . . . and I suddenly found myself watching a movie with Vanilla Ice in it . . . and I watched almost all of it! I have to confess I was caught up in it because I saw it on TV in Austria while I was going to school there (years ago) and was excited because . . . I saw it in Austria! Sadly there are a few movies that I feel obligated to watch when bored and flipping threw the channels for no other reason than I saw it while in Austria, traveling in Germany (remember watching Anaconda April!), or with friends or my sisters when I was a kid/teen! Oh memories . . . Good times!
My family is always interested in making more memories together and now days we find ourselves getting together whenever possible and chowing down! One of the things that I am always asked to make is Panzanella . . . bread salad! It is a serious delight but my family always requests that I add a head of lettuce to it so that it is a bit lighter to eat. It has lots of yummy veggies and get this, hunks of olive oil toasted French bread with freshly shaved Parmesan! What is not to love! You can add or subtract anything that you want too! Panzanella (Bread Salad)
Recipe by: Emily

1 Loaf French Bread, cubed in large bite size pieces (I like using soft and dense bread)
1 Cucumber seeded, stripe peeled and sliced
2-3 Avocados chopped (They add a wonderful creaminess to the salad)2-3 Tomatoes chopped or a pint of grape or cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup Fresh basil (optional)
1/4 cupped Thinly sliced red onion (optional)
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, I shave it and mix half in and then shave the other half on top. You can also use shredded.
1 can Artichoke hearts (optional)

Dressing #1: Sweet Garlic Dijon
2 tsp. Garlic (minced)
1 heaping tsp. Dijon Mustard
1-2 tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt (kosher or Sea is best)
1/2 tsp. Freshly cracked pepper
1/2-3/4 cup Olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together slowly whisking the olive oil into the other ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning.

Dressing #2 Roasted Tomato
1 pint Grape Tomatoes
1/4 Cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2-3/4 cup E.V. Olive Oil
1-2 tsp Garlic, minced
1-2 tsp sugar
Freshly cracked Pepper

Sprinkle tomatoes with olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper and roast on a baking sheet in the oven until they pop and begin to caramelize. 375 for 25-30 minutes. Mash tomatoes in a bowl with a fork or toss in the blender for a smooth dressing, add balsamic, sugar, salt, garlic, and pepper to taste and slowly drizzled in olive oil while mixing. (With the roasted tomato dressing I usually leave out the fresh tomatoes in the salad and just utilize the flavor from the dressing.)

With the Dressing I actually just taste it and add more of whatever until it tastes right to me.

Toast the bread chunks in olive oil in batches in a pan until golden brown. (Be sure to sprinkle with a pinch of salt while toasting.) Lay out toasted bread cubes on a sheet pan to keep crisp while toasting bread in batches. Add cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, artichokes, 1/2 the cheese, and onion into a large bowl, pour dressing on top and mix well. Sprinkle toasted bread cubes on top and fold all together right before serving making sure all the bread is well coated. Shave or sprinkle remaining cheese on top. You can also cute up a head of romaine lettuce and mix it in as well if you like!

Other yummy add-ins: thinly sliced zucchini or crookneck, olives, sliced peppers, crisp bacon, toasted pine nuts, pepperoni, peppercini’s, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, arugula, spinach, Etc.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Brownies with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

"I don't understand why so many "so called" chocolate lovers complain about the calories in chocolate, when all true chocoholics know that it is a vegetable. It comes from the cocoa bean, beans are veggies, 'nuff said." -Author Unknown
Darn it all . . . we had some serious chocolate cravings going on in our home . . . (and then I got the stomach flu . . . and they went away fast!) I made some brownies with a killer chocolate cream cheese frosting! Since it is cream cheese it is best to refrigerate it though!
This frosting is easy and you can really taste the cream cheese in it! It also sets up really well and would be especially good as a cake filling!
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe by: Emily

8 oz Cream Cheese, softened (I use Neufchatel)
1 cup Chocolate chips or Semi-Sweet Chips
2 Tbsp Butter, softened
1- 1 1/2 cups Powder Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla

1.Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave. (Be careful not to burn them!!!)
2. Beat together the cream cheese and softened butter. Add the melted chocolate to the cream cheese mixture and mix making sure to beat the cream cheese lumps well.
3. Add 1/2 cup of powder sugar at a time to the cream cheese/chocolate mixture until you reach the desired consistency. Frost cooled brownies.

(If you like a more chocolaty taste add more chocolate . . .)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cheese Stuffed Meatballs and Quick, Easy and Delicious Marinara Sauce

Okay winter is officially moving in! Today on my way to school I couldn't even see the city it had such a thick blanket of fog laying over it! When I got out of my afternoon class the mountains were finally peeking through, blanketed in a fresh coating of snow! While beautiful, it reminds me of how wet and cold I will get again this winter digging my SUV out each day for the next few months! And of all of the out of state students who aren't used to driving in snow and skid all over the roads by the university making driving even more fun! (Sigh . . . . good times)Believe it or not this Italian meal was inspired by German fare!!! Yes these meatballs are something that I ate in Germany all of the time! In Deutschland they are called Frikadellan or Hack Fleisch Kloese and are eaten without sauce. I was fidgeting around in the kitchen and put an Italian spin on them and they turned out really good!

I was seriously wanting to make some straight up German fare but was kind of in a hurry . . . so Italian took over! Plus I absolutely love making marinara sauce . . . I don't know why but it is one of my favorite things to make and is so easy to make from anything in the cupboard! This is a family favorite because it is super easy and delish! (It turns out even better if you listen to Sinatra while making it! . . . oh how my hubby loves walking in the door and hearing oldies! Lucky Guy!)
Cheese Stuffed Meatballs
Recipe by: Emily

1 lb Ground Beef
1/4 cup Bread Crumbs
3 tbsp grated Onion
1 Egg
1 tsp dried Chives
1/2 tsp dry Basil
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 string cheeses cut in 16 chunks, or your favorite cheese cubed.

1.Combine ground beef, 1 egg, bread crumbs, grated onion, chives, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together.
2. Use a cookie scoop to make even sized meatballs. To stuff the meatballs flatten each meatball a a thick patty in your hand and then place a piece of cheese in the center. Cover the cheese with the meat completely forming a meatball. Place meatballs on a baking sheet and cook in a 350 degree preheated oven for 15 -20 minutes. They bake faster than regular meatballs because of the cheese filling. (The cheese may come out a bit during baking.) These are good alone but I love to serve them with spaghetti and marinara sauce! Enjoy!

Quick, Easy and Delicious Marinara Sauce
Recipe by: Emily

2 14.5 oz cans Italian Stewed Tomatoes
1/2 cup Chopped Onion
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1 tsp dried Basil
2 Garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1 tsp Sugar
Red Pepper Flakes

1. Saute the chopped onion in the olive oil in a medium sauce until translucent (8-10 minutes). Slightly puree the two cans of Italian Stewed Tomatoes with the minced garlic until chunky. Add all of the tomatoes to the onions. Add the basil, oregano, sugar, tomato paste, salt, pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes to taste. Simmer over medium heat for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Serve with pasta! Enjoy!

(This sauce freezes very well!)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chili Corn Chip Casserole

Well my chili is now officially gone! But it served us so well this week! My final chili recipe is one that is super easy and so delicious! I guess our fall chili days are officially over . . . it has been snowing a bit today, signaling the onslaught of winter and the lovely cold to come!

As a kid growing up I remember scanning thru what I thought was the coolest book ever "Today's Tips For Easy Living" by Dian Thomas. I guess she used to be the genius crafty lady on the Today show. Anyways I loved that book and last fall I found a copy at Deseret Book! It was the holy grail of all finds! I would have bought everyone I know one . . . but their was only one . . . so now I am relishing it! The ideas within are brilliant as are the recipes! I made the Chili Chip casserole for dinner the other night and my hubby LOVED it!!! (All I can say is fritos . . . in a casserole . . . with chili . . . and cheese = yummy!!!)
Chili Chip Casserole
1 lb hamburger
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 (16 oz) can chili con carne
3 cups fritos
1 jalapeno chopped (optional)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Brown hamburger in skillet over medium heat. Drain off drippings. Add tomato sauce and chili con carne. Stir in 1 cup of fritos. Heat until warmed thru. Add jalapeno and cheese on top for added zip. Top with remaining fritos and bake in oven for about 10-15 minutes until bubbly or hot. Serve with sour cream and freshly diced onion. Serves 4 to 6 people.

(I just use leftover chili to make this! It is really good!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More Chili . . . . Cincinnati Style with Dark Chili Chocolate!

Yesterday was just gorgeous . . . and I say that about a pretty gray, cold and windy day because the clouds were cascading over the mountains and just rolling down into the valley and up again! It reminded me of scenes of the mountains in the movie "Return to Snowy River."
When I was in first or second grade my bf and I would watch it whenever we had a sleepover and then talk about how dreamy Jim Craig was at school! Oh . . . remember the great music in that movie . . my sisters and I love to play it on the piano! Or how he jumped on his horse and took off after those mangy horse thieves and returned to the woman he loves on the mountain to live happily ever after! Oooooo!
Okay talking about movies . . . I caught part of Anna Karenina tonight on the tube, the old black and white one with Vivian Leigh . . . very dramatic ending! I love old movies! One of my fav's is the 1941 b&w "Jane Eyre" with Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine! I never tire of watching it! I can hear him calling out . . . Jane, Jane and her doe eyes always looking around. Okay moving on . . . This has just become chili week in our home! Another favorite chili recipe was shared with me by friends from Cincinnati. I really like it . . . you serve chili over spaghetti noodles topped with onions, cheese, sour cream etc. I added a little perk on top with shaved chili chocolate. It was oh soooo good! I have had chili with chocolate in it before but it wasn't my favorite, but the chili dark chocolate shavings on top were awesome! Talk about venture out! My hubby wasn't too keen on trying it but liked it in the end!
Cincinnati Chili

Spaghetti Noodles, cooked
Sour Cream
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Chopped Onion
Chocolate shavings

Pile spaghetti in a bowl and ladle chili over it. Top with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped onion, and shaved dark chili chocolate. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Navajo Tacos made with Em's Ultra Yummy Super Easy Award Winning Chili

Okay I have seen a lot of Chili being made lately . . . it is of course a great fall food and so nice to sit down to when the weather is becoming crisp and the smell of snow is floating in the air! I love Chili! In fact I have an award winning Chili recipe! (I promise that it is good!) However . . . I think that one of the very BEST ways to eat chili is in Navajo Tacos!!!
Okay if you have never had a Navajo Taco you are missing out on one of my very favorite things to eat! In fact while making them I thought of 5 reasons that they make my tummy grumble more than any other food! (Well, maybe . . .)
1-Scones! (Fried dough!) can I just say d-lish! 2-Leftover chili . . . put to good use! 3-Happy Husbands! (Its like writing I love you across your forehead!) 4-Clean out the fridge, you can load them up with salsa, lettuce, tom's, sour cream, cheese, onions, etc. . . if you are like me sometimes you have little leftovers or containers filled with all sorts of stuff . . . chances are you can pile it onto your taco! 5-They are d-lish! Yum-yum-yummer! We love them so much we even make them when we going camping!
Alrighty so I made a big pot of chili today (I love to freeze it too!) and we are putting it to good use on our Navajo Tacos! I can't wait to chow down! Just waiting for hubby to get home from meetings! I have included my chili recipe and have yet to find my Aunt's fry bread recipe! I will post it when I find it!
Navajo Tacos
Ladle chili over a piece of fry bread on a plate. Top the chili with lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, diced onion tomatoes etc. Enjoy!

Fry Bread Dough
This time I just thawed out Rhodes bread dough and cut it up and fried it . . . I couldn't find my Aunt's recipe but I will get it and post it soon.

Stretch out about 1/2 cup of dough into a disc and fry it in oil until both sides are browned.

Em's Ultra Yummy Super Easy Award Winning ChiliRecipe by: Emily
2 lbs Extra lean ground beef or turkey, or 1 lb of each
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 medium Zucchini, shredded
2 28 oz cans Diced Tomatoes
1 28 oz can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 can Tomato Paste,
2 tsp Onion powder
Cayenne Pepper
Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 14.5 oz can Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz can Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
1 package chili seasoning mix, hot or regular

In a skillet brown the ground meat, season with salt, pepper, onion powder, and a pinch or two of cayenne pepper. Add the chopped onion and green pepper and cook until veggies begin to soften.

Put browned meat mixture into a large crock pot, add zucchini. Stir in the canned tomatoes. Add the chili powder, tomato paste, brown sugar, beans, and seasoning packet. Let chili cook in the crock pot for at least 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and add more chili powder, salt, pepper or cayenne if desired.

You can also cook the chili on the stove if you like over a low heat for 4 hours rather than in a crock pot.

I like to cook the meat mixture the night before, toss everything in my crock pot on the low setting and not fret over it.
Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped onions, peanut butter (how the hubby likes it) shaved dark chocolate etc.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Apple Crisp Cups with Caramel Sauce

Mmmm, I love Fall . . . don't care for winter much but love fall! This week is supposed to get really cold, I so look forward to it . . . it seems like the sky and air and world are totally gray for a good 3 or 4 months while we are hit with mountains of snow!
In preparation of such lovely events to come I made a comfort food that I remember making all the time for my family as a teen . . . Apple Crisp. However after digging through my cupboards and eyeing my beautiful Honey Crisp apples that were supposed to be coated in caramel and candy on Halloween I came up with a goody that curls my toes it is so good!
These little Apple Crisp Cups turned out pretty cute and very tasty! My hubby and I are all about watching a movie tonight, curling up in a blanket and indulging in a little dessert . . . of Apple Crisp Cups! I drizzled a little caramel on them and wa-hoo did that knock the ball of the park! I highly recommend drizzling anything and everything with caramel! (We did happily share them with our next door neighbors . . . they may not have lasted through the night if we had kept them! Augh!)
Apple Crisp Cups
Recipe by: Emily

5 cups thinly sliced, peeled Apples, I used Honey Crisp and Granny Smith
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
3 Tsp Butter
1 tsp Cinnamon
8 sheets Philo Dough (You could also use puff pastry dough)
Melted Butter

1. Melt 2 tsp of butter in a large skillet, add brown sugar, cinnamon, and apples. Cook the apples until tender and the brown sugar has thickened into caramel. Set apples aside.
2. Layer 5 sheets of Philo dough with melted butter. Cut the stack of buttered dough into 8 equal sections and place cut dough into a muffin tin creating cups. (cut, stack and butter the remaining sheets until all 12 cups of a muffin tin are full). Back the philo cups for 5 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven.
3. After the cups have baked for 5 minutes,fill each cup equally with the cooked apples slices and then sprinkle 1 heaping tsp of the crisp topping on top of each cup. Continue baking in the oven for another 5 minutes or until bubbly and browned. Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve with Ice Cream or whipped cream if desired. Enjoy!

Crisp Topping
2 1/2 Tbsp Flour
6 Tbsp Quick Oats
5 Tbsp Brown Sugar
3 1/2 Tbsp melted Butter

Mix dry ingredients together first then add the butter and mix well.