Thursday, November 08, 2007

Super Simple Turkey Recipe

This recipe is sure to wow all your friends. I anticipate lots of compliments when I serve it this Thanksgiving. When I found this recipe, I thought it was perfect for people like me, who just are not sure how to tell when poultry is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out. Give this a try.


12-15 pound turkey
1 1/2 cups melted butter
4 cups stuffing mix (Pepperidge Farm is good.)
1 cup uncooked popcorn ( ORVILLE REDENBACHER 'S LOW FAT)
Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush turkey well with
melted butter, salt, and pepper. Fill cavity with
stuffing and popcorn. Place in baking pan with the
neck end toward the back of the oven.

Listen for the popping sounds. When the turkey's
ass blows the oven door open and the turkey flies
across the room, it's done.

This recipe serves as many as don't mind ignoring the 5-second rule.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Blog Looked So Lonely, I Just Had to Post a New Recipe

Okay, so it's starting to get chilly here (it's "freezing" right now at a mere 63-degrees. LOL!) Anyhoo, the turn to brisk weather with lots of wind lead me to make some homemade bean soup a couple of weekends ago. It wasn't truly "homemade" as I cheated some, but it was still yummy.

Jenn's Bean Soup Cheater Recipe

1 lb. pre-package mixed bean soup beans
1 lb. package of diced ham
1 can or jar of diced tomatoes
spices to taste

Take the beans and sort them in a bowl, removing any stones or debris that may have been left after processing. Rinse beans. Add to a larged, lidded pot with 7-8 cups of cold water. Cover. Let soak 6-8 hours.

Uncover beans. Add your favorite spices. I added several "shakes" of prefab cajun spices, as well as some garlic powder and dehydrated minced onions - I'm not sure how much, I just kept adding until it smelled and looked right to me. Add tomatoes and ham. Place pan on stove over high heat. Heat til water boils. Turn heat down to medium-high and cover with lid. Simmer until beans are at the consistency you desire. Stir occassionally.

I usually ad a little reduced sodium soy sauce and squirt catsup in the soup when I serve it. It helps cool it down and makes it yummy. Rachel added cheese to hers. Jamie noticed that he likes Goldfish crackers in his. Whatever you do to it, it sure makes a warm spot in your belly on a chilly day!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Curried Lentils

I have been fiddling with curried lentils for a while now. Lentils and rice is an ideal dish for so many reasons: it's cheap (really cheap), it's healthy, it's meatless, and it makes great leftovers. Unfortunately, I haven't found a recipe anywhere that imparts a satisfactory flavor. If food doesn't taste good, it's not worth eating, I say. Instead of giving up on curried lentils, though, I kept messing around until I hit on something really good, and now that I've made this dish successfully more than once, I figure it's worth sharing with the world at large, for those who care. In fact, I made this a few weeks ago for a friend who came over for dinner, and she asked for the recipe; I took that as a good sign.

I've learned a few things about curries from reading Indian cookbooks and old-fashioned experience, and I've learned a few things:

1. Don't overdo the spices, either by using too many different ones, or too much of one kind. They will overwhelm the palette. OMG, did I just use the word "palette"? Yes, yes I did.

2. Don't be afraid of oil. Vegetable oils aren't high in saturated fat, and some, like olive oil, have stuff in there that's good for you. Low-fat diets will get you nowhere anyway.

3. Do not add tomatoes or salt to any dish containing lentils or beans until the very end. There's some kind of enzyme that will prevent the lentils/beans from cooking all the way through and they will be crunchy. I had to learn this the hard way...several times.

4. Toppings and curry mix well. I've listed several in the recipe below.

(I don't know if this is authentic to any particular culture...I just think it's good.)

1 large onion, chopped
4 T. vegetable oil or ghee
2 tsp. chopped garlic
3/4 tsp. each cumin, coriander and cayenne (You can use more cayenne if you like it really hot)
1/2 tsp. turmeric
2 cups dry green lentils, washed and picked over
2 tsp. broth concentrate (I like Better Than Bullion Vegetable broth) or 2 bullion cubes of your choosing (I would use veggie or beef)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground cardamom seed
1 cup chopped potato

1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan, and sauté the onion until soft, 5-7 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and spices and toast them, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.
3. Add the lentils plus 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and let simmer until the lentils are just a little bit crunchy. Check them every 5-10 minutes and add water if necessary. (I always add the water gradually because I never know quite how much water is needed, and I hate watery lentils.)
4. When the lentils are not quite done, add the chopped potato, plus more water if necessary.
5. When the potatoes are cooked through, add the broth concentrate or bullion cubes, plus salt to taste. Sprinkle with the ground cardamom (you can leave this out if you don't like it peppery.)

This is a large recipe. It keeps well for leftovers for a couple days, and is usually better on day two, so if you think ahead enough (and I rarely do), you can make it several hours ahead of time or the night before and just heat it up when you're ready to eat.

Serve with rice of your choosing (I like steamed basmati, myself) and any or all of the following toppings:

Dry roasted peanuts
Chopped fresh tomato (if this isn't available and you really like tomato, add a can of diced tomatoes to the lentils when they're done cooking along with the broth and salt)
Plain yogurt
Shredded coconut
Chopped banana
Boiled eggs, chopped

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Summer Salads

Summer in Madison is hard to beat, not the least because of the great farmers' markets. The one on the Capitol Square is the largest of its kind in the world, and there are several other smaller markets throughout the metro area. Produce abounds: vegetables, berries, plants, flowers, and later in the season, squash, apples,'s easy to buy more than you can eat. So just in time for the 4th of July, I'm sharing some of my favorite summer salad recipes. I usually don't measure ingredients, so amounts aren't too precise, but it's all to taste anyway. These are all very simple, and most delicious when made with vegetables fresh from the garden or farmers' market.

Potato Salad

Approx. 2 lbs yellow, red or purple potatoes (or a combination), chopped.
2-3 eggs boiled for exactly 11 minutes.
1-2 T. chopped parsley (more if you really like parsley)
2 tsp. yellow mustard
1/3-1/2 cup mayonaise (you can sub part yogurt if you wish)
1/2 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Tomato-Cuke Salad
This one hardly needs instructions! Chop or slice equal amounts fresh cucumber and tomato and mix with a little sugar, a little salt, a little pepper, and a splash of cider vinegar.

German-style green beans

This is the vegetarian version. I think the original German recipe calls for bacon.
Cut 1 lb. fresh green beans into 2" lengths and boil briefly, just until crisp-tender, in salted water.
Sauté 2 T. chopped red onion in 2 T. olive oil until soft.
Add the beans, along with 1 T. cider vinegar, and some salt and pepper to taste.
Stir just until the beans are coated, then remove from heat.
Serve warm or room temperature.

Easy, no?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Because I couldn't let May go by without a post

I thought I would put on here my recipe for microwave-steamed squash, zuccini, tomatoes and onions.

Put sliced veggies of the above (or any other) variety in microwave-safe bowl.

Put a little water in the bottom.

Add a splash of olive oil and whatever spices you want.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Nuke on high for about 2 minutes, check for doneness, then keep nuking until the veggies are steamed to your liking.

Eat and enjoy.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Chili a la Bambi

I've made this twice now, and the kids have raved and raved about how much they love it, how it's different from my usual chili, etc. Well, folks, the secret ingredient is Bambi. Obviously, I didn't tell them that. One of the partners at work is a big hunter, and had some venison that would go to waste if he didn't get rid of it soon, so he brought it to work. So, I got some free meat (cool!)

I've eaten venison some while growing up, and my mom always told me to mix it half-and-half with hamburger meat so it doesn't taste stringy or tough. So that's what I did here.

Chili a la Bambi

1 lb ground extra lean hamburger
1 lb ground Bambi - I mean venison
2 cans dark red kidney beans
2 cans generic diced tomatoes with sweet onion
Diced onions (to taste)
Buttload of ground chili powder (to taste)
Buttload of ground cumin (to taste)
garlic powder (to taste)
dash salt
dash pepper

Brown the meat together in a large skillet. Add onion and brown some more. Add canned stuff. Mix well. Keep adding spices and tasting it every so often until it tastes the way you want it to. If you need to stretch it to feed a bunch of people, you can make some white rice on the side and mix when serving. However, if you do this, be aware that you'll need to add a buttload more spices as the rice will make it more bland. Serve. And if you have kids, don't tell them Bambi's in it. Mine still doesn't know.

Friday, March 30, 2007

KISS cooking (or, 'Fun with Pie Crusts')

I'm a practioner of sorts of the KISS theory (keep it simple, stupid). Sometimes, I like doing the artsy stuff in the kitchen. Most times, however, I am short on time, patience, energy, and money. Thus, keeping things simple can keep me sane.

I got this idea from a lady at work. It isn't terribly orginal, but it is simple, cheap, and you can customize it a gazillion different ways.

Pizza Pie

2 frozen pie crusts (see? no pan to wash! :) ), baked
1 jar pizza sauce
1/2 corsely chopped green pepper
1/2 cup corsely chopped onion
1 package Brown and Serve links, sliced
1 bag sliced Hormel pepperoni
1 can or 1 cup fresh mushrooms
2 packages shredded cheese (I used both sharp cheddar and a pizza cheese mix)

Put the pepper and onion in the microwave for 3 minutes. This softens the veggies enough so they aren't too crunchy because you're not baking it long enough to really soften the veggies.

Arrange half the meat in one crust, and half in the other, followed by half the veggies in one, etc.. Add about 1/3 of a jar of pizza sauce on top of meat and veggies to each pie. Top with enough cheese to completely cover the other ingredients. Bake at 400 until the cheese is bubbly and begins to brown. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

I like this idea. It would be SO easy to make spinach alfredo pizza this way, or shrimp pizza or...well, you get the idea!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Beans, Rice and Sausage

Suze's recipe for beans and rice a couple posts ago reminded me of my own thrown-together recipe involving beans and rice. I was desperate for something quick to fix for dinner a while back. We had some Polska Kielbasa that I wanted to make, but I didn't want to have to do a lot of work with other stuff (veggies, etc.) to make a relatively balanced, filling meal. So here's what I came up with:

Jenn's Psuedo-Cajun Beans, Rice and Sausage
1 pkg. Polska Kielbasa (we use the lean variety)
2 C cooked rice
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Chili powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper to taste (I made mine relatively mild)

Cut up sausage into bite-sized chunks. Pour olive oil into large skillet, warm oil over med-high heat. Add sausage. After sausage is starting to brown on the edges, and juices are flowing, add rice, add can of beans, and add the worcestershire sauce, if wanted. Stir well and often to keep rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. You can add a splash of V8 or tomato juice if you need more liquid to keep it from sticking. Add spices to taste.

Jamie and Destiny both loved it, and I quite enjoyed it myself. We ate it with spinach on the side and applesauce for dessert.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Madtown Mama's Homemade Mac 'n Cheese

I'm all about the recipes lately, huh?

1/2 lb of your favorite pasta, like fusilli or elbow macaroni
1 onion, chopped
1 buttload of garlic, chopped
2-3 T. oil or butter
2 T. flour
1 t. concentrated broth or 1 bullion cube (I use vegetarian, but chicken's probably OK)
2 c. milk
1 t. or more chili powder
1 can Mexican-style chopped tomatoes
1 c. shredded cheese, like Jack, colby, cheddar, or a combination
a couple handfuls bread crumbs (not necessary)

1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. It's better if it's slightly under-done rather than over-done.

2. Sauté the onions in the oil or butter for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté for another minute.

3. Add the flour to the onion mixture and stir, then add the milk, broth or bullion cube, and chili powder, plus a little salt, and let it come to a boil.

4. Grease a 2L casserole dish (9x13). Mix the noodles with the tomatoes and cheese, then pour the milk sauce over all of it and stir a little. Spread bread crumbs over top and bake at 350 until it looks done, maybe half an hour.

5. Serve with broccoli or green salad to counter-act the guilt you may feel (though you should not!) over all the milk and cheese and butter .....mmmm butter..... in the pasta dish.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Beans'n Rice

I posted this on my own blog a little while ago, and thought I'd share it here.

3 T. canola or olive oil
1 med. onion, chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
as much garlic as you can handle, chopped (I like 3 or 4 cloves myself)
2 cups raw butternut or other winter squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2" cubes
2 cans or 3.5 cups cooked black beans
1 can or 2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 t. salt
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. coriander
1 t. dried oregano (fresh is better if it's summer time)
1 T. brown sugar
generous dose of hot chili powder - I use up to 2 T. but that's too much for some folks
water, as needed
cooked basmati or brown rice, to serve
shredded cheese, to serve...Jack, White Cheddar, Cotija are all good options

1. Sauté the onions and peppers in the oil for several minutes, until they're soft.
2. Add the garlic and spices and cook for about a minute; don't let the garlic burn.
3. Add the chopped squash and about 1/2 c. of water, just enough to let it simmer without scorching the bottom.
4. When the squash is about half-cooked, add the beans, tomatoes, salt and oregano and sugar and let the whole thing simmer for 15 minutes or so.
5. Serve over rice with shredded cheese. Be sure to compliment the cook.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Here's a bad banana joke I made last night. Daniel didn't get it, then it fell on the floor when I tried to explain it.

I was eating a banana, and he walked in and said, "Did you eat all my bananas?"

(teasing--we had two bunches!)

me: "Yep, every single one. All the married ones were taken."

ba dum dump

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Here is a random and pointless post about coconut. Enjoy.

I just made some fancy stuff with coconut. We buy shredded coconut in a resealable bag in the refrigerated section of the Indian grocery. A bag lasts us a long time. Today, I used the coconut three ways. (We're having Tom over for supper. He's a guy from church, formerly of "tom and kate.") Daniel's making Chicken Curry (imagine that), and we're also having couscous and carrot cake. Hey, all start with C. Just noticed that. Anyway, so here's the fun with coconut: I made the spice paste for his curry. It called for cumin seeds (my favorite), coriander seeds, cinnamon stick* , cardamom seeds, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, dried red chillies, and coconut. So I measured them all out and roasted them in a bit of oil, and it was so beautiful and smelled so awesome that I thought "If I had a camera phone or a digital camera, I'd post pictures of this. I'm gonna blog about it anyway." Then I transferred it to a plate and put 1/2 at a time into the coffee grinder. It was just so awesome and fragrant, that I had to tell you about that. I don't know if the recipe's worth posting or not, but I'll let you know tonight (or sometime.)

So we got a cake mix carrot cake, and I spiced it up by chopping up some peanuts and grating a carrot and substituting pineapple juice for the water and adding an extra egg. My dad had told me a long time ago to always add an extra egg to cake mixes and to use pineapple juice instead of water, but this was the first time I'd done the pineapple juice, I think. Anyway, there was a little recipe on the bottom that called for the additional egg and the pineapple juice, and some coconut, chopped nuts, and raisins. But I used carrot instead of raisins, cause we don't have raisins. I'm excited about that cake.

And the third use was a snack for Daniel. I love Daniel so much, and we're getting along better and better as we get to know each other, but I just have to tell ya, the guy's a picky eater. It's hard to find quick and simple snack options for him that are also cheap, and today the coconut did the trick.

* Lots of times Indian recipes will tell me to grind a cinnamon stick, but I've tried it in the coffee grinder and the food processor, and it was very defiant and strong-willed in both. I gave in and started using powder, which is so not the same. Today, though, I found a way to beat that cinnamon stick. I stuck it in a zip lock bag and took it outside and beat it with a hammer. Worked fine in the coffee grinder after that.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Christopher's Spice Cake

I promised this for Jenn some time ago after mentioning it on my blog; finally, I've gotten my lazy butt up to bring the cookbook to the computer and post the recipe. This is the cake I've made for CJ's past two birthdays, and may make again for Tom for his birthday this weekend. This recipe is from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from 2000--Mom gave it to me as a Christmas gift that year. It's my go-to book for ideas; I frequently tweak the recipes to our tastes, but I get the basic structures here. I'll also post the recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting, which is what I use for this cake. I make a basic 13x9 cake and leave it in the pan.

Spice Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 c butter, softened
1/4 c shortening
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/4 c buttermilk*

Grease a 13x9 baking pan and set aside. Preheat oven for 350 degrees.
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and shortening on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla, beat until well combined (should have a light, creamy, but somewhat crumbly texture). Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each. Add dry mixture and buttermilk alternately to beaten mixture, and beat at low speed after each addition just till combined. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes till done (or wooden toothpick comes out clean). Cool and frost; makes 12 servings.

*If you don't have buttermilk, pour 1 1/4 T of lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup, then enough regular milk (preferably whole, but 2% will work) to make 1 1/4 cups of liquid and stir. Let it sit for 5 minutes to sour, then use. General rule of thumb is 1T of lemon juice or vinegar for each 1c of buttermilk needed. I usually take this approach since I rarely remember to buy buttermilk, and never use a whole quart of it before it expires.

Cream Cheese Frosting*
6 oz. cream cheese, softened.
1/2 c butter
2 t vanilla
2-4 3/4 c powdered sugar, sifted

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of powdered sugar, beating well. Once mixture is combined, gradually beat in another 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups of powdered sugar to reach desired spreading consistency. Makes enough for top and sides of two 8 or 9 inch layers.

*Personal note--I rarely use more than 2 1/2 c of powdered sugar total for this recipe, and have plenty to frost the top of a 13x9 cake. Using less sugar makes the frosting more tangy, which we personally like. Another personal note--the cream cheese and butter MUST be softened if you're using a hand mixer, or else it will just cling to the beaters and getting any powdered sugar into will be a challenge. If you're lucky enough to have a stand mixer with some power, you can throw in the butter and cream cheese straight from the fridge and you're good to go.

And for those who may have a problem with butter, you can substitute margarine in the same amounts. There is no substitute for the shortening. Personally, I prefer butter over margarine in general and especially in baking--I can never get a consistent result with margarine in cakes and frostings tend to break and run at room temperature.