Lasagna Soup

Here's another soup recipe I received in a Family Fun weekly cooking email. It looked like it made a lot, so I made the recipe with 1 lb. of hot sausage and cut the rest of the recipe down to 2/3 as well. It made enough for us to have dinner and then leftovers for Jim to have for lunch.

Lasagna Soup is an interesting recipe, unlike most other soup recipes I have made. Jim really liked it. The boys and I weren't blown away by it, but it was ok. It was something different, which is what I was looking for. We're all getting bored with being cooped up in the house for winter. The boys and I will be glad when spring is here! Thanks for stopping by!


Cider-Roasted Pork Loin

Back in October 2004 we had dinner with some friends of ours. They had recently moved away, and we had gone to visit them. They made dinner for us, and Cider-Roasted Pork Loin is what they made for the main course. Matt and Kathy are probably the ones who first introduced me to Cooking Light magazine.

This is a delicious recipe to try. I have made it frequently for our family ever since. I make it more often with boneless pork chops instead of a full pork loin roast. When I do that, I reduce the amount of salt to 2 T. and use 2 c. of apple cider and 1 c. of water. I have started buying apple cider on sale in the fall and then freezing it in pint freezer boxes to be used all year long just for this recipe.

Also, I rarely make the cider reduction sauce/glaze. Jim's not big on the sweet sauce over his pork, and I think the pork is flavored just as well without it. Thanks for stopping by!


Umbrella Cookies

Posting about the Rabbit Cookies last week reminded me of when we made the snack last year during "U" week at preschool. I couldn't come up with anything except for umbrellas! Coincidentally, that was the theme of the week. They had patio umbrellas set up in the room and children's umbrellas hanging upside-down from the ceiling for a paper toss game. So our Umbrella Cookies were a hit! Preschool is so much fun--for Mommy too! Thanks for stopping by!


Rabbit Cookies

It's time for another installment of fun baking on the Cookin' with Melissa blog.

My son was snack leader one day this week at preschool. It was "R" week, and he thought we should make Rabbit Cookies. I was skeptical that we could come up with such a thing. I did some research and found an answer online. As usual, the creative people at Family Fun created a way to make Easter Bunny Cupcakes. We only do cupcakes at preschool on birthdays, so I adjusted the recipe to make them into Rabbit Cookies. He loved them, and we had a great time chatting while we made them. Thanks for stopping by!



Here's another recipe I was inspired to try because of a a TV sitcom. (See the post about Mulligatawney here.) There's an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" where Deborah tries a recipe for braciole. It turns out to be delicious, upsetting the whole family balance. So one day when I saw Giada De Laurentiis make her version of Braciole on "Everyday Italian" on the Food Network, I had to try it. It's been a family favorite ever since.

Here are some simplifications I make to this recipe:
  • Instead of Pecorino Romano cheese, I use grated parmesan.
  • Instead of provolone, I use mozzarella.
  • I use round steaks from freezer beef from my parents' beef farm instead of flank steak. I'm not sure how they differ.
  • Finally, I use a jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce instead of making my own, as suggested in the recipe.

I don't know much about wine. I have been using Oliver Winery white wine for a few years now whenever I have a recipe that calls for white wine. I really like it. It's a winery in Bloomington, IN and can be found in most Indiana grocery stores. Thanks for stopping by!


30 Day Gourmet

My dear friend, Olivia, told me about this cookbook, The 30 Day Gourmet Freezer Cooking Manual, a few years ago. It's a cookbook that promotes the idea of cooking in mass quantities and then freezing the food in smaller, family-size quantities. You can then pull out a meal, thaw it, and have it ready for dinner in a very short amount of time. I purchased one of these cookbooks, and I've tried a number of recipes from it. Some recipes I've tried from this book are ham loaf, stuffed shells/manicotti, granola, and brocolli cheese soup to name a few.

I like these type of cookbooks, and I posted about another one here. Thanks for stopping by!


Shrimp and Broccoli Fried Rice with Toasted Almonds

Every now and again, I'll make a dish with shrimp for dinner. Seafood can be expensive, but Meijer had 2-lb. bags of precooked, deveined frozen shrimp for $8. That's a pretty good deal, so we bought some. I also used these shrimp for the shrimp and grits recipes I posted about previously. Recipes for shrimp often call for raw shrimp, so I adjust the recipe to account for the fact that the shrimp are precooked. I just cook them enough to get heated through, because shrimp get tough if they are overcooked.

In the current Cooking Light magazine, there is a collection of recipes that are lighter, healthier versions of popular restaurant foods. I decided to try this recipe for Shrimp and Broccoli Fried Rice with Toasted Almonds. I thought it turned out pretty well, and we liked it. I may try it again, but use chicken instead of shrimp for a cheaper version. Thanks for stopping by!


Candy Carrot Coins

A few weeks ago, I tried a recipe for Maple Glazed Baby Carrots from the Kraft Foods website. They were good, but before adding them to my box of favorite recipes, I wanted to try a few others. Also from the Kraft Foods website is this recipe for Candy Carrot Coins. I made them one evening last week, and I liked this recipe better than the first one. Thanks for stopping by!


Creamy Chicken, Bacon & Tomato Pasta

One evening last week, our plans changed and instead of having dinner out, we were going to be eating at home. I had nothing planned, but had printed out this recipe to try sometime soon. I had already bought all the ingredients to make this at some point, although none are really anything out of the ordinary.

This Creamy Chicken, Bacon & Tomato Pasta recipe from Kraft Foods is so easy, and very good! We all really liked it, even the boys! The only adjustments I made to the recipe were that I added a little more bacon, used regular cream cheese, and I used some mini bowtie pasta (non whole-wheat) that I found at the grocery store. The little ones were easier for my boys to eat. This is a great quick recipe that turns out really well! Enjoy! Thanks for stopping by!



Do you remember the Seinfeld episode with the Soup Nazi? Various soups are mentioned in that episode, and one was called Mulligatawny. I have never known what that soup was or what was in it. Just recently, it was on a recipe list in a Family Fun cooking email, so I took a look at the recipe. It's basically a chicken and vegetable soup with a touch of curry. Jim and I love curry, so I had to try it. It is FABULOUS!!

If you read this blog very often, you know that I don't usually follow recipes exactly. I wanted to make this soup so that it would be hot and ready to eat for lunch when we got home from church. I made it up the night before and put it in a crock pot. I basically followed the recipe until the part where you add the chicken broth and tomatoes and let it simmer for an hour. At that point, I put the sauteed vegetable, chicken and curry mixture into the crock pot with the chicken broth and diced tomatoes. I let it cook on low overnight and then turned it off before we left for church. When we got home, we made up some rice, turned the crock pot on high just to heat it up, and Voila! Lunch was served!

I love making dishes that call for a lot of chopped vegetables. I like stand at my cutting board and chop a pile of veggies with my Santoku knife. I've taken some notes from watching the Food Network personalities, and I have to say, I've gotten fairly proficient at it for someone untrained in the culinary arts--not to mention I'm always looking for ways to get more vegetables into our family's diet. You may think this soup sounds a little strange just from its name or because it has curry in it, but don't be afraid to try something new. The curry isn't overpowering at all, and I think you'll be surprised at how good it is! Thanks for stopping by!


Breakfast Bake

I like to make nice, hot breakfasts for us on Saturday mornings when we're all home together. A few months ago, I first tried this Breakfast Bake recipe from Kraft Foods, and it was a keeper! The boys eat it, which is proof positive that it's good, because my oldest is a very picky eater. I've made it a few times since then, and it's been great every time. It's very easy, so I hope you try it the next time you'd like breakfast together with your family. Thanks for stopping by!


Mexican Chicken Casserole

I was in a mood for Tex Mex food, so I tried this easy Mexican Chicken Casserole from Kraft Foods. If you've never been to their website, you should try it. You can sign up for a free magazine they publish about four times each year with lots of easy and quick recipes in it. You can also sign up for emails with recipe and meal ideas in them.

As usual, I made a few adjustments to the recipe.

  1. We're not fond of green bell peppers. Although they're more expensive, we prefer yellow, orange, or red bell peppers. They have a milder flavor. So I used an orange bell pepper instead of a green one.

  2. I rarely use name brand products, so any time you see the name brand of an item used, I probably didn't use it. In fact, I used some homemade salsa that I canned a few summers ago.

  3. I used regular cream cheese too, because that's what I already had open in my fridge.

  4. Who has good fresh tomatoes this time of year? I used a can of petite diced tomatoes instead.

  5. Finally, I didn't use whole wheat tortillas, and I used more of them. I used three in each layer, and I cut two of the three in each layer in half. I arranged them in the square baking dish by putting the four flat cut sides against the four sides of the pan with the one whole one on top in the middle.
I guess I didn't follow the recipe very much at all, did I? I wasn't sure if we would like it or not, but we did! It was very good, and it hit the spot for my Tex Mex craving! We added some fat free sour cream on the side too. Thanks for stopping by!


Butternut Squash Souffle

This is an excellent Butternut Squash Souffle recipe I think I first tried about two years ago. It's made with butternut squash, but it tastes like pumpkin pie! I have also made this recipe by substituting sweet potatoes for the butternut squash, and it's just as good that way as well.

Also, I have made a double recipe of this and then froze half of it till I wanted to make it again. Or, if one recipe is too much, then freeze half till next time you have a craving for it. I just got some out of my freezer and made the other day. it was yummy! Thanks for stopping by!


Easy Pleasing Meatloaf

Yesterday I mentioned that I have a recipe box full of my "staples", recipes I make over and over again, because they're the best I've found for that particular dish. Here's a recipe I use to make meatloaf. I used to use a different one from the Better Homes & Gardens big binder cookbook, but after I tried this one, I never made the old one again.

This recipe for Easy Pleasing Meatloaf only has five simple ingredients. You can't beat that for simplicity, and it's pretty cheap too! Let me tell you how I tweak the recipe. When we got our first microwave when I was a kid, my mom tried a recipe for meatloaf where you cooked it in the microwave. This is how my mom has made meatloaf ever since.

Once you have the meatloaf mixture all ready, instead of putting it in a loaf pan to bake in the oven, you form the meatloaf mixture into a big donut in a microwave-safe baking dish. I use a Pyrex pie plate. Depending on the power of your microwave, you'll have to adjust your cook times. I cover the meatloaf with waxed paper and cook it on full power for 5-6 minutes. Then I put another Pyrex pie plate on top of the meatloaf and flip the whole thing over. I drizzle barbecue sauce or ketchup over the top (which was the bottom in the first cooking cycle), replace the waxed paper and cook for another 5-6 minutes on full power.

I didn't used to flip it half way through like this, but Mom showed me this trick when she was staying with us after I had one of the boys. So now I've done this ever since too. It keeps the top side from getting over-cooked and dry.

One more thing on this recipe. It calls for 2 lbs. of ground beef. The whole recipe is too much for our little family of four right now, so when I make this, I put half in a zipper freezer bag and put it in the freezer till the next time I want to make meatloaf. Then I just pull it out of the freezer, thaw it, and cook it in the microwave. It's great for an evening when you need a quick meal. I hope you'll try this one, because it's super easy! Thanks for stopping by!


Fresh Thyme Popovers

I have never made popovers before, so I don't know what they're supposed to be like. I don't have popover pans, so I used muffin pans for a substitute like the Fresh Thyme Popovers recipe states. I baked them 5 min. less just as it said, but I don't think they baked long enough. They seemed too doughy or dense when we ate them, and they dropped pretty badly when I took them out of the oven. They weren't hard to make at all, but I don't do well with finicky recipes! You must have to do something special to keep them from falling once you take them out of the oven. If any of you out there can clue me in, please do so!

The flavor of these was ok, but honestly, I probably won't make them again. When I try new recipes, I always ask Jim, "Is this a 'make again' recipe?" I either never make the recipe again, or I print/copy it and put it into my recipe box to become one of my staples to use over and over again. My recipe box has gotten pretty full over the past few years, and I need to clean it out and organize it. Thanks for stopping by!


Colonial Corn Pudding v. Baked Corn Casserole

After making the Hominy Spoonbread previously (scroll down for yesterday's post), I didn't know about trying another corn casserole recipe. However, this Colonial Corn Pudding recipe seemed closer to the simple corn casserole recipe I already make sometimes, so I thought I'd take the risk and try it. I'm not a big fan of white pepper, and I didn't like that nuance of flavor in it. Otherwise, this dish wasn't too bad.

I still really like my simple corn casserole recipe better though, so I will probably stick with that old faithful recipe. My cousin, Shelly, made it for a family get-together a few years ago, and that's where I got it originally. I've seen other variations, some including cheese, but I have always liked this one the best. Thanks for stopping by!

Baked Corn Casserole

1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can sweet creamed corn
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter, melted
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 small box of Jiffy corn muffin mix

Mix all ingredients together and pour into an ungreased 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 350F for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown on top and cake-like.


Whiskey Marinated Tenderloins and Hominy Spoonbread

There was an article in the December Cooking Light magazine with rustic Wild West recipes. "A hearty menu by a roaring fire is a welcome offering for a snowy Wyoming Christmas" was the sub-title to the article. I decided to try two of the recipes, Whiskey Marinated Tenderloins and Hominy Spoonbread.

The Hominy Spoonbread was a real disappointment. I thought it would have a much different texture than it did. It had a texture much like a soft scrambled egg. None of us liked it. I usually have something good to say about most everything I try to make, but I don't for this. I would much prefer my recipe for good old corn casserole with Jiffy corn muffin mix in it.

I really enjoyed the Whiskey Marinated Tenderloins. I did use some tenderloin steaks I had in the freezer, although they weren't cut exactly like the recipe calls for. No, I don't have whiskey on hand at my house, but I had Jim stop at the liquor store next to our dentist's office when he was there last week to pick up a mini bottle of it. That's all I needed for the marinade. Jim stood outside in freezing temperatures to grill the steaks on our propane grill on the back patio. I thought they were really good with a terrific flavor. Our boys both wolfed them down too, and getting them to eat red meat is like pulling teeth! Jim was the only one who didn't like them, but he's really picky about his steak. Thanks for stopping by!


Coconut-Curry Chicken Soup

Jim and I love to try ethnic foods. We particularly love Indian food. Jim was introduced to it in college. He then took me to an Indian restaurant to try it myself, and we both have loved it ever since. We've also been to Thai, Ethiopian, Peruvian, Morrocan, Afghani, Greek, Chinese, and Mexican restaurants. I also had a Thai roommate in college at one point, and she loved to cook. She had all sorts of strange bottles and spices in our kitchen!

I have tried to cook a few ethnic dishes on my own here at home, and some of them have turned out really well. When I saw this Coconut-Curry Chicken Soup recipe in the Cooking Light magazine, I thought I would try it.

Now, I have a lot of unique spices and things in my pantry, but there were a few ingredients in this that I didn't have on hand. We were able to find the curry paste, fish sauce and rice noodles on our last trip to the city to do some shopping.

The noodles weren't exactly what is shown in this picture. The noodles we had were more like spaghetti noodles, but almost clear in color. They had a funny texture, and the noodles were the one thing about the soup I didn't like. Otherwise it had a great flavor, and Jim really liked it. He said it tasted just like the food at the Thai restaurant we used to go to before we had kids. Thanks for stopping by!

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