Thursday, December 6, 2012

Iced Coffee

One thing that we are hooked on in this house is iced coffee!  We have spent many a dollar on the popular ones that come pre-made and then enough was enough.  I came up with a recipe that in OUR opinion is as good as if not WAY better that the store bought.  Oh, and did I mention it was easy?  Like a no-brainer easy????

Mix up the flavors for whatever variety YOU like.  In this house?  We are partial to Caramel Truffle.

Iced Coffee
  • 12 c brewed coffee, your choice of flavor and regular or decaf 
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk, regular, low fat or no fat
Pour the can of sweetened condensed milk into your serving pitcher.  Pour the warm/hot coffee into pitcher next and stir.  No, seriously, that's it!  Depending on how sweet you like your iced coffee you may need to use more or less of the sweetened condensed milk.  

And, oh, the variety and add ins.....

Use a peppermint flavored coffee and shaved dark chocolate on top for the Holidays!  Or, how about a chocolate flavored coffee with crushed peppermint on top?  The choices are endless.....ENJOY!

I LOVE comments! Let me know what you think......

Lemon Blackberry Bread Pudding

I almost always have a half eaten loaf of some artisan bread that I made.  We always WANT the bread but with a family of only 3 we never quite get through the whole loaf.  One thing that I do with the leftover bread is make homemade italian bread crumbs.  Easy peasy and really, who doesn't always need bread crumbs for something?  

The other day I was stocked up on breadcrumbs and couldn't quite figure out what to so with the bread.  Oh, hello!  Lightbulb (and duh) moment......Bread Pudding!  While none of us are HUGE fans of Bread Pudding I still thought that I might be able to make something appealing to us.  After a quick inventory I new I had blackberries that were on sale for only 2/$5 at the store and some pretty lemons were staring at me from the counter.  Oh, it was on!  

Here is the Finley take on a Bread Pudding that I hope you will give a try - it was super easy and it was so scrumptious!  I actually described it to my mother as "It was 'oh my god did I make that?' good"! 

First up - take that day or two old bread and cut it up into approximately 1 inch cubes.  You don't want them too big that it's hard to soak up the custard and you don't want them too small that they fall apart.  It's science people!

After your bread is ready mix up the custard portion of the recipe and toss in your blacberries.  You might want to hold a few blackberries out so you can use them on top of the finished Bread Pudding for presentation.  (So Pretty!)  Pour the custard over your bread cubes and fold until all pieces are covered.

You need to let your mixture sit for at least 30 minutes so it has the time to soak up as much custard as it can.  Be sure to give it a stir ever 10 minutes to let it all evenly soak in.

Once your 30 minutes are up pour your bread pudding into a 2 quart casserole dish.  If the dish is a little shallow your bread pudding will most likely rise up and start to spill over the sides.  I used a casserole dish that was 2 inches deep.

Bake this delicious goodness for approximately 40 minutes.  While your bread pudding is baking get your Lemon Glaze ready - it is SO easy and SO, SO sinful!

This recipe truly is easy and absolutely delicious!  I hope that you give this one a try and if you do......let me know how it turns out!  I love comments!!!!!

Lemon Blackberry Bread Pudding
  • Day old Italian Bread cut into 1 inch cubes (many other breads can be used - it's just what I had on hand) - I used about 3/4 of an Italian Round
  • 2 5.3oz blueberry greek yogurt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 4.4oz containers of fresh blackberries 
  • Zest of one lemon (2 lemons total for bread pudding and glaze)
  • Dash or two of nutmeg
  • Dash or two of cinnamon
  • Lemon Glaze (Recipe follows)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk eggs until well blended.  Add in the blueberry greek yogurt, heavy cream and sugar and mix well.  Stir in the fresh blackberries reserving a few presentation.  Add in the cubed bread and mix well.  Let stand for 30 minutes or until most of the custard is absorbed.  Don't forget to stir every 10 minutes!

Pour custard into baking dish and bake for approximately 40 minutes.  You want the top to just start to brown slightly.  The center of the custard will be springy.

Serve with a few fresh blackberries on top, Lemon Glaze and if so inclined a dollop of whipped cream!  ;)  I am always inclined!!!  LOL

Lemon Glaze
  • 1 c confectioners sugar
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon
Mix all ingredients together with a whisk.  You may need to adjust amounts depending on the amount of juice you get from your lemon.

Well, friends, that's it!  I hope you and yours love this one as much as we did!

I LOVE comments! Let me know what you think......

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Liebster Award!

Awww, how cool!  I was awarded the Liebster Award by Mommy Needs A Break!  Seems like a very creative Meme so I'm in.  

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:

  • Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
  • Answer the 11 questions the person giving the award has set for you.
  • Create 11 questions for the people you will be giving the award to.
  • Choose 11 people to award and send them a link to your post.  Go to their page and tell them.
  • No tag backs.

11 Things About Me:

1.  I have the most amazing kid on the planet!  I was told that having children was going to be difficult if not near impossible for me.  My husband and I decided we wanted to try anyhow and, lo and behold, just 4 months after that decision we were pregnant!  That was almost 13 years ago and we have never been happier!  Yep, that's him in MY bed with his "stupid" dog.  ;)
2.  I LOVE to cook!  ;)  If you already read my blog then you know that.  I didn't grow up with breakfast, lunch or dinner made - had to fend for myself.  Once I started experimenting in cooking in my early 20s I was unstoppable!

3.  I am married to a chef.  WOW - the competition in this house is fever high!  We have fun though and it never gets too out of hand.

4.  I was adopted when I was a baby.  I found my birthparents in my early 30s and you would NEVER know that we have ever been apart.  I love them so, so much and don't know now what I would do without them!

5.  I am a DOG LOVER!  We have a HUGE Golden Retriever, Tug, that weighs in at about 120lbs.  He is NOT fat but really, really tall.  We also have the "stupid" dog in the pic above, Brodie.  He is our shelter dog and he is a complete nutcase!  But, we love him dearly!

6.  I have lived in several countries and traveled the world extensively, Oman, Germany, Seychelles, Japan, China, Phillipines, Thailand, India, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, England, France, Austria, Switzerland, Pakistan, Iran, Mexico, Canada, Bahamas, Aruba and Egypt.  I may have left a few out.

7.  I have a funeral playlist!  It is a list to be played at my funeral  -seriously, I do and my husband and son know what it is.  

  • INXS - The Stairs
  • Phil Collins - Take Me Home
  • U2 - Bad
  • Train - Drops of Jupiter
And there are a few others.  ;)

8.  I have an extreme fascination with Earthquakes and Volcanoes.  One of my remaining bucket list items is to walk the rim of an active volcano.  

9.  I have a "genius" IQ although you would never know it from some of my decisions!  ;)  I went to Penn State at only 16 for Aerospace Engineering and then decided that freedom and drinking was more important.  What a bad choice that was and if I DID have a regret in my life it was that I didn't take it more seriously.  Then again, if I had would I have my incredible husband and son????

10.  I LOST a year of my life doped up on Lithium, Depakote, Seroquel and Tramadol due to a whacked out psychiatrist that "thought" I was crazy.  Guess what?  I was NEVER crazy!  Instead, I have POF (Premature Ovarian Failure) - all the symptoms were there and it took me finding my infertility specialist from years ago to help me through it.  It sucks but you get through it.  

11.  I started writing a book about 15 years ago and it STILL isn't finished!  I go back to it from time to time and I swear that I will COMPLETE it one day.

Here are the 11 questions that Mommy Needs A Break asked me:

1. What is your biggest phobia?  I can't describe it!  I guess it's a fear of not being in control.  For example, I would FREAK out if I were on top of a mountain and found a fossil knowing that where I was standing was once under the ocean.  Anyone have a name for the phobia?

2. If you were on death row, what would you choose for your last meal?  A Steambucket!  Oysters, Crab Legs, Shrimp, Red Potatoes and Corn on the Cob

3. Who is the sexiest superhero?  THOR!!!
4. Is there anything a loved one could do that you could never forgive? What would it be?  No questions - adultery.

5. What is the last item you purchased?  A lipstick that absolutely sucked!  It wasn't the right "red".

6. What is your favorite topic/genre to read about?  Murder Mysteries!

7. What is the one item you could not live without?  Moisturizer/Lotion

8. Are you a morning person?  Didn't use to be but I am NOW!  Can't seem to get past 5:30am!

9. What do you consider to be your main fault?  I don't have patience!  I try and try though!

10. What is one thing you like most about yourself?  My sense of humor.  I think I am funny as hell!  ;)

11. What is one thing most people would NOT know about you?  I have a pierced eyebrow. I don't always wear it but when I do the guys know "mom is in crazy mode today!"  

And I am passing on the Liebster Award to........

  1. Sorry Kid, You Mom Doesn't Play Well With Others
  2. Let Them Eat Cake
  3. Names Have Been Changed To Protect The Innocent
  4. Revamp Spunky Rena
  5. Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom
  6. Organized Chaos
  7. Funny PostPartum Lady
  8. Life On Peanut Layne
  9. uncorked......just breathe
  10. What I Had REALLY Meant To Say Was......
  11. Figuring It Out As We Grow
And here are my questions to YOU!
  1. What is you most prized possession and why?
  2. Where is one place that you have never visited that you want to go and why?
  3. What is your dream job?
  4. If you could have a super power what would it be?
  5. Do you believe in ghosts?  If so, has anything ever happened to you to make you believe?
  6. What is your favorite childhood memory?
  7. Finish this sentence;  I AM __________
  8. What is your favorite Holiday?
  9. Do you have a FB page?  If so, let us know here so we can come follow you!
  10. Do you have a bucket list and if so, what's on it?
  11. If you could choose ONE person to speak to that you have never spoken to before who would it be and what would you say or ask?

I LOVE comments! Let me know what you think......

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Dump Cake - Oh WOW!

I have never really been a pumpkin person until the last year or two.  Now?  Oh, give me pumpkin pie, pumpkin butter, pumpkin spice lattes (duh!) and just about any other pumpkin creation and I'll devour it!

We spent the last weekend at my MIL's house and she had mentioned a pumpkin cake that she wanted to try.  She found a recipe and made me a copy.  While that recipe DID sound good I just knew that I could change it up and make it my own.  Make it my own I did!!!!

This "cake" took NO time to throw together although it did have to bake for quite a while.  It is a little more work than your typical "dump" cake but by no means does that mean labor intensive.  You actually have to stir in this recipe......  ;)  get over it.....

The stores really start ramping up on their Libby's 100% Pumpkin displays early in September and I always pick up a few cans then.  I use it in Pumpkin Magic Bars (recipe at a later date), milkshakes, pies, of course, and my punk kid uses quite a bit of it for his homemade dog treats.  Yes, that is another story all together.  ANYHOOOOO, I love having it on hand in the fall.

This recipe calls for the 100% Pumpkin - please do not mistake that for pie filling.  I promise, your results will not be good.  Here is the really hard part of the recipe.......stirring together the pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugars and spices......tough, huh?

Once you get all of those ingredients mixed well pour into a prepared 9x13 pan.  Next up comes the dry ingredients.  The cake mix and pecans.

Top your entire cake with 1 cup of melted butter.  Um, I am not known for my skinny bitches recipes so just'll be okay, you can diet another time.  It's the Holidays for god's sake.....

Ready for the official Finley recipe?  Seriously, you will LOVE this and I can just imagine that it will make an appearance on MANY Holiday buffets.....

Pumpkin Spice Dump Cake

  • 15oz 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 12oz evaporated milk
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 spice cake mix
  • 1 c chopped pecans
  • 1 c butter, melted
  • Whipped topping
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugars, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  Mix well!  Like really well!  Pour mixture into your prepared 9x13 pan.

Sprinkle your dry spice cake mix on top of the pumpkin filling.  Pat down the cake mix so it is in an even layer but be careful - the filling mix will not be a solid consistency.  Sprinkle chopped pecans over the top of the cake mix and then spoon the melted butter as evenly as possible over all.

Place your pan in the oven and cook for 60 - 90 mins.  Yes, I know that seems like a long time so here is how I handled it.  I baked for about 50 mins uncovered and then at the 50 min mark I placed a piece of foil over the cake so the top didn't burn.  My cake had to go to 75 mins total.

Once it's out of the oven you need to let it cool so it sets up some more.  Once cooled, cut into squares and serve with a HUGE dollop of Whipped Cream. Or small dollop, you decide.  

OMG - thank me later!!
(I think I just made Weight Watchers millions with this recipe!)

I LOVE comments! Let me know what you think......

Steakhouse Marinade - Why Go Store Bought?

So, I had pork chops to cook the other night and I found myself stuck in that "how do I make them" rut.  It was WAY too cold and rainy to grill them outside so I was left with the oven.  They just aren't the same that way but what's a girl to do?

I had made a quick run to the store and was thinking about a marinade.  Then, I read the labels.  Yuck!  I am not a HUGE snob when it comes to additives but I DO like to know what is going in or on my food.  I read quite a few of the bottle labels and decided to forgo the added sodium and unreadable ingredients to make my own.

Sorry - no pictures this post.  :(  AND, no real measurements!  I think that you'll be able to come up with something very similar though to mine and you will LOVE it!  It was oh so good!!!

Steakhouse Marinade
  • 6 oz can tomato paste (this is the ONLY ingredient that I know the measurement for)
  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar (might have been a little more - you be the judge)
  • 1/4 c water 
  • 1/4 c olive oil 
  • 3 tbs worchestershire sauce (+/-)
  • 1 tbs molasses
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (to taste)
  • 1 tbs course cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
Whisk it all together.  You may need to use either more vinegar or more water to get a marinade "consistency".  I marinated the pork chops for about an hour and oh my god, they were SO good!

I LOVE comments! Let me know what you think......

Monday, October 22, 2012

SNACK TIME! Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

I can't wait to carve our pumpkins this year JUST for the seeds!  I love roasting them and using them for everything like on top of salads, mixed into my Autumn Snack Mix, incorporated into Asian Chicken Salad and the list goes on.  We haven't carved pumpkins yet (slackers) but I DID have seeds from my pie pumpkins that I used in my Pumpkin Butter over the weekend.  Remember, I told you to SAVE those seeds!
After about 30 minutes of "cleaning" the seeds by hand (I am sure there is an easier way but honestly?  I just love "playing" in the gooey mess!) I laid them out on parchment paper to dry over night.  After drying you want to mix up the goodness that is going to coat these babies.....
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.  Spread the seeds out as best you can in one layer.
Roast seeds in the oven for approximately one hour but BE SURE to stir about every 10 - 15 minutes to prevent them from burning!

These are to die for!  Remember, though, we like it SPICY in this house so you may want to alter your spices if you aren't as crazy as the Funley's!

Spice Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • 2 c pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tsp Spice Kick Mix (or your own special blend, I won't be offended)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Place butter, worchestershire sauce and spices in a microwaveable bowl and microwave until butter is melted.  Stir to mix well, add in pumpkins seeds and coat evenly.  Spread coated pumpkin seeds on baking sheet and roast for one hour.  Be sure to stir about every 10-15 minutes to prevent burning.  

You want to get a nice golden brown on your pumpkin seeds.  OMG - these are yummy and I have to STOP eating them as I type this so I can be sure the Funley guys will have some, too!


I LOVE comments! Let me know what you think......

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkin Butter - Yep, It's Fall!

Nothing says Fall like pumpkin!  PERIOD!  The smell of it, the taste of it and just a few random ones on your dining room table for decoration are a sign of the cool, crisp Fall weather and the start of the crazy months that lie ahead. 

I would like to think that I have pretty much perfected my Apple Butter recipe so I have moved on to Pumpkin Butter.  Wasn't quite sure what to expect.  I perused MANY recipes on-line as well as in a few of my cookbooks and again, just picked what I thought we would like in it to create my own recipe.  Oh my goodness, it is amazingly delicious and I am so excited to give jars of this scrumptious Pumpkin Butter to my friends.

I saw a bunch of recipes that called for canned pumpkin.  While I don't have a problem with canned pumpkin I was really going for the real thing.  I ended up with 2 Pie Pumpkins that weighed about 2.5lb each for a total of approximately 5lbs.  I assume you could use a "regular" pumpkin but mine is made specifically with Pie Pumpkins.  Let me tell you, these little suckers were HARD to cut.  The first one wasn't "that" bad but the second?  It is a miracle I have all of my fingers left.  

You need to remove the stems, seeds and "guts" from each of the pumpkins.  SAVE the seeds.  I'll have a great Hot and Spicy Pumpkin Seed recipe in the next few days.

Once you have the pumpkins all cleaned out you need to quarter them and throw them in the crockpot - yep, skins and all.  I added both water and "natural" apple juice to my crockpot to cook them over low heat for about 4 hours.

Once the pumpkin is cooked you can scoop out the pulp and  mash it.  Throw out the liquid that remains in the crock pot.

Lastly, all the "good stuff" goes in and you just let it cook on Low for hours.  Trust me, your house will smell amazing!

Pumpkin Butter

  • 5lb pumpkin (or two smaller that combined weigh 5 lbs)
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c apple juice + 1/2 c apple juice
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
Rinse and pat dry your pumpkin(s).  Quarter and remove stem, seeds and "guts".  Place pumpkin in your crockpot and pour in water and 1 c apple juice.  Cook on low for approximately 4 hours.

After pumpkin is cooked remove from crockpot, scoop out the pulp and place in a large bowl.  Mash all of your pumpkin.  Pour out any remaining liquicd in your crockpot.

Put pumpkin mash back into your crockpot and add 1/2 c of apple juice and the last 5 ingredients.  Mix well.  Cook on low for another 4 hours stirring frequently to prevent from burning.  Your crockpot temperature may vary from mine so cook until the butter has reached a "spreading" consistency.

I hope you give this one a try and enjoy it as much as we do.  We have spread it on toast, croissants and I can't wait to stir some into my oatmeal tomorrow morning!  I have said it a zillion times before - I LOVE FALL!!!!  Do you have any favorite Fall recipes that you simply MUST make each year?

**  This Pumpkin Butter makes the perfect little gift for your friends.  As prepared above this Pumpkin Butter will last approximately a week in the refrigerator.  You can certainly use a "heat canning" method to get a longer shelf life.  

I LOVE comments! Let me know what you think......

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bacon Scallion & Garlic Spread

I absolutely LOVE this time of the year.  Autumn is the beginning of the busy, busy Holiday season.  Halloween rolls into Thanksgiving and then slides right into Christmas and New Year's.  We are always having friends stop by and if they are real friends they know they don't have to call first.  Just show up!  

I always have some kind of go to appetizer on standby for those friendly pop-ins and one of our favorites is this Bacon Scallion and Garlic Spread.  The recipe makes enough for me to have two 4 ounce ceramic tart dishes at any given time just waiting for the friends to show up.  I always have one or two handy so I can grab one as a hostess gift to TAKE to a friend's home as well.

This is a super easy spread to put together in no time, it travels well and everyone loves it. I hope it becomes a favorite in your house as well.  Grab some artisan crackers and a bottle of red and you have the perfect little snack for everyone.

Every weekend I cook a pound of bacon and have it ready for the week.  We use it crumbled on top of salads, in this spread, sandwiches, soups and the occasional "I think I want some bacon" moments.  Come on, admit it, you have them, too!

Bacon, Scallion and Garlic Spread

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1/4 - 1/2 c scallions, chopped
  • 6 - 8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
Mix the cream cheese and sour cream together until well blended.  Add in chopped scallions, chopped bacon and minced garlic and mix well.  Spoon spread into your serving dish, cover and refrigerate.  I am able to fill 2 4oz tart dishes which I prefer instead of one bigger dish.  The spread should be refrigerated for at least 4 hours for the flavors to come together.  It is best when refrigerated overnight.

Alter the bacon,scallions and garlic to your taste.  


I'd love to know, do you have a go to dip, spread or appetizer for when guests pop in?


I LOVE comments! Let me know what you think......

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Adventures in Oatmeal - How About an Almond Joy for Breakfast!

I don't know what the deal is but I have been obsessed with oatmeal the last few months.  I have experimented with it in SO many ways for breakfast and have developed some really delicious recipes.  A few of my favorites are my Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal, Natures Trail Oatmeal and THIS one!  Almond Joy Oatmeal.  I will share a bunch of the "recipes" with you but today I just had the Almond Joy Oatmeal so, of course, took pics and thought I would share.

Almond Joy Oatmeal

  • 1/3 c quick cooking oatmeal
  • boiling water
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (at most!)
  • dash or two of cinnamon
  • 1 tbs of semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbs of sweetened coconut
  • handful of almonds
Place your oatmeal, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and pour in boiling water.  Everyone likes their oatmeal a different consistency.  With that said, it's up to YOU how much water you put into it.  Stir in the coconut.

Once your oatmeal has finished firming up sprinkle your chocolate chips and almonds on top.  The chocolate chips will melt into your oatmeal and oh my goodness!  What a delicious twist on oatmeal.

Do you have any add-ins that you just love in your oatmeal?  

I LOVE comments! Let me know what you think......

Rustic Puglia Pasta Bake

Oh my goodness, this is a fabulous dish that is perfect for a family style dinner as well as a phenomenal offering for guests with a Caesar salad, old town rustic bread and a bottle of house red.

Why Puglia?  There is an area in Italy, Puglia, where some of the most incredible tomatoes are grown and in late summer you can walk the streets and find strings and racks of only the perfect tomatoes drying in the Italian sun.  Why Rustic?  This dish is meant to be enjoyed with family and friends around a table with good conversation, a comfortable atmosphere and a great bottle of red.  It's our kind of comfort food - nothing pretentious or fancy but superior in taste and definitely comforting.

I absolutely LOVE creating recipes but what I love even more is seeing (and hearing) the guys in the house absolutely fall in love with the dish.  Punk kid refuses to eat mushrooms - um, I didn't tell him they were in there and he never said a word - he ate them!  I chose the sun-dried tomatoes that were NOT marinated in oil.  Different people have different preferences but for this dish in particular I wanted to add my own seasoning and I didn't want the additional oil.  You can certainly experiment with oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes but just remember, you may have different results than I did. 

This pasta bake has a rich and creamy cheese sauce so you want to choose your pasta wisely.  I have found that the best pasta for cheese dishes is ridged pasta.  For this recipe I chose Ridged Ziti but you can certainly use what you like or easily find in your market.

First things first, right?  Grab your pasta pot and get that pasta cooking.  Please, SALT your water!  So many people neglect putting salt in their pasta water and it really does make a difference.  Cook your pasta according to package directions.

Season your chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides.  Again, it's the little seasonings here and there that really make a difference in a dish.  Heat GOOD olive oil in a large sauce pan then cook your chicken breasts for appx 3 -4 minutes on each side.  The thickness of your chicken breast will determine how long you need to cook on each side.  After you remove the chicken from your pan add your fresh mushrooms and saute.

After the chicken breasts have "rested" slice thinly.  Now is the time you want to get your roux started.

Once your roux has thickened add the sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms and remove from heat.  Add your cheese and stir until melted and well combined.  Add your chicken and pasta to your sauce and then pour into your casserole dish.  Bake for 20 - 30 mins until nice and brown on top.

Rustic Puglia Pasta Bake

  • 8oz pasta such as ridged ziti, ridged penne, ridged jumbo elbows
  • 2 fresh chicken breasts
  • 6oz fresh musrooms such as cremini or baby portabellos, sliced
  • 4 oz package sundried tomatoes, rough chopped
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tbs AP flour
  • 3 c milk
  • 2 c shredded italian blend cheese
  • 1 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp course ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray your casserole dish with non-stick spray.

Cook your pasta according to package directions.  SALT your water!

While pasta is cooking, heat appx 2 tbls of GOOD olive oil in a large saucepan.  Season your chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper and then cook in heated sauce pan approximately 3-4 mins on each side.  Once cooked, remove from pan and let rest on a cutting board.  Add your sliced mushrooms to your sauce pan and saute for appx 4 mins.  You may need to add a tad more olive oil to your pan for the mushrooms.  Once your mushrooms have a deep, rich color remove from heat.  

Once your chicken breasts have rested slice thinly and set aside. 

In a separate heavy duty pot melt your 3 tbls of butter.  Add flour and continuosly whisk for about 2 - 3 mins.  Add your minced garlic and slowly pour in your milk continuing to whisk.  Allow your roux to simmer (NOT boil) for appx 4-5 mins CONTINUALLY whisking until the sauce has thickened.

Add the sundried tomatoes and mushrooms to your sauce and mix well.  Remove your sauce from heat and add in the italian cheese blend and stir until cheese has melted.  Add your chicken and pasta to your sauce and mix well.  Pour into prepared casserole dish and bake in preheated oven for approximately 20 - 30 mins until brown and bubbly.

I hope you give this recipe a try!  We are positive that you will love it and want to share with friends and family.

I LOVE comments! Let me know what you think......

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Crappy Tomatoes Call For Shortcuts! House Salsa

I LOVE homemade salsa!  It is always best in the summer time with fresh, ripe, juicy tomatoes from the garden.  I don't know about the rest of you but my summer crop of tomatoes was the absolute WORST ever!  It didn't matter what I tried I just couldn't get them to grow and if the did they rotted on the vine before they were even close to being picked.  :(

I have been dying to experiment with some salsas that didn't use fresh tomatoes (I know, sacrilege) and I think I have finally come up with a fantastic one by mixing some canned tomatoes with some top notch fresh ingredients.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

The recipe really couldn't be easier as everything is just thrown into a food processor.  Fresh garlic, fresh cilantro, fresh jalapenos, fresh lime juice, fresh onions and a few more little things added in.
We like our salsa HOT in this house so adjust the jalapenos accordingly. By now, I think most everyone knows that the "heat" of a jalapeno comes from the seeds.  We chose NOT to remove the seeds.  If you are not as bold and daring remove the seeds from your jalapenos.  Oh, and WEAR gloves when you do it - trust me, that jalapeno "acid" can reek havoc on your hands and anything you may touch for HOURS afterwards!  We also wanted a salsa that was "restaurant" consistency and not a chunky kind.  You may want to change yours up a bit to suit your taste.  Hey, it's your homemade salsa so do what you want!  I won't show up at your house to taste it and critique!  Unless you are inviting me to dinner. ;)

House Salsa  

  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 10 oz can RoTel tomatoes with lime and cliantro
  • 1/2 large onion cut up into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
  • 2 jalapenos, stems removed and cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • One healthy handful of fresh cilantro
  • Juice of one lime
Here comes the really hard part - pay attention!  Um, put it all in the food processor and blend away!

And for my next trick.......  ;)

I LOVE comments! Let me know what you think......

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cold and Drizzling So It Feels Like England - English Muffins!

It's cold (which I freaking LOVE) and it's drizzling outside (which I also freaking LOVE) so I got to work planning out my menu for the next two weeks.  I wanted a piece of toast but guess what?  The Finley's are out of bread!  Punk kid ended up eating about half a loaf of bread last night (toasted) with my now famous (at least in this house) Apple Butter!

Now, I realize that baking fresh bread won't get me close to satisfying my craving right now but I just had to break out the bread machine.  Then I saw all the flour I had on hand and REALLY went to town.

First up?  Homemade English Muffins!  Oh, Yeah!  I have a super simple recipe that turns out the most delicious English Muffins.

First, ya need a bread machine.  At least for my recipe you do.  This bread machine was a freebie about 14 years ago.   Maybe even a little older.  One of the people that Mr. Funley works with was giving it away.  Really?  Like for free?  Yes, FOR FREE.  We LOVE, love, love it and it still works beautifully!

There may be variations from bread machine to bread machine as to the order in which you put your ingredients in so check your manufacturer's instructions.  For mine, it's always liquids first, then dry ingredients, then butter (if there is any in the recipe) and last in goes the yeast.  Anyhoo, once you get all that stuff in the machine set your machine for the DOUGH cycle.  Mine takes about an hour and 30 mins.
When the dough is done you want to turn it out onto a cutting board dusted with cornmeal.  The cool part?  There is no kneading or rolling!  Just pat your dough out into a rectangle that is about an inch thick.  The dough will be slightly wet and you want it that way.  Sprinkle some cornmeal on the top side of the dough as well.  

Next, cut out about 10 rounds.  Place your rounds on a baking sheet and let them rise for about 20 minutes. 
While your rounds are rising heat a stove top griddle pan to 350 degrees.  You can also use a cast iron skillet (which I did) heated first on med high heat.  Place your rounds on the pan (or griddle) for about 6 - 8 minutes.  Flip the english muffins and cook another 6 - 8 minutes or until you reach desired brown on each side.  

English Muffins

  • 1 c milk
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 c AP flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry yeast 
  • Cornmeal for dusting
Place the ingredients into your bread machine according to manufacturer's directions.  Choose the dough cycle, grab some coffee and just wait......

Once the dough cycle is done, turn your dough out onto a cutting board that has been dusted with cornmeal.  Don't freak out - the dough will be slightly wet and you want that.

Pat your dough out until it is an even 1" thickness. Sprinkle the top side of the dough with cornmeal.  Using biscuit cutters (or a glass) cut out about 10 rounds.  Place the rounds on a baking sheet, COVER with plastic wrap and let rise for about 20 minutes.

While your rounds are rising preheat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat or an electric griddle pan to 350 degrees.  Cook your english muffins for approximately 6 - 8 minutes on each side or until you reach YOUR desired browness.  (Yes, that is a word!)

Wow, are these babies good or what and E A S Y!!!!!  Enjoy!  

I LOVE comments! Let me know what you think......

Monday, October 8, 2012

The World Is Not Your Personal Trash Can! Clean Your Shit Up!

It really just chaps my ass when I see people litter.  It doesn't matter if it is out of a car window, on a street sidewalk or even in there own yard.  Now, I understand that "their" yard is "their" yard but come on people, really?

We have some neighbors that are, well, pigs.  I have never been in their home but my son has and says that it is absolutely dreadful.  I don't know the family dynamics in the home nor do I want to.  There is a boy there that is the same age as my son and they hang out together.  Here, not there.  When he is here he is polite, respectful, and "clean".  There are two other children in the home, one younger and one older, and I know who the culprit is.  The young girl is left to her own devices for much of the time and it is not odd to see her roaming the neighborhood.  I see her "throwing" stuff and thinks nothing of it to leave it and walk away.

On trash day?  OMG - how a family can generate that much trash is beyond me.  Their full size trash can AND recycle bin is overflowing EVERY week.  The past week they had trash laying all around the trash can, not in it and not in trash bags, and there it stayed for over a week.  N A S T Y!

I walked out this afternoon and was greeted with this.  I didn't go over to investigate what it was but I can see that it is a child's play table, there is a insulated cooler out there and what appears to be orange peels (like a TON of orange peels) strewn all over the street.  Like, in the MIDDLE of the street - You have to swerve to miss any of it.  And, no, it wasn't an animal that got into the trash and did it.  It's also funny to me that these people generate SO much trash yet their trash can is still at the curb - um, trash was picked up on Friday and today is Monday.    

There is more "stuff" hidden behind the trash can.  There is a HOA here and "normally" I am not a huge fan of them.  In this case though, if it means that someone is going to tell these people to clean their shit up then I think I will be making a phone call.  This is disgusting and just has to stop.

Why is it that some people feel the world is their trash can and just do what they want?  I understand that when it's YOUR property you feel as though you can do what you want.  However, when it comes to public space please be respectful and clean your shit up!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

No, Dipshit, The Biscuit Fairy Came!

If you are on Pinterest then you have most certainly seen the latest viral pin for biscuits made with ONLY 4 ingredients.  I think just about everyone has repinned it.  I have been on a mission to do as many pins as I can whether they be food, drink, crafts, whatever - so, when I saw this one over and over and over I just had to try it.

I woke up before everyone else, got the coffee going and started getting these buttery babies ready.  Honestly?  I think it took the oven longer to preheat than it did to actually mix them up and get them ready for the oven.

First up was the 2 cups of Bisquick.  There is the "official" recipe at the end of the post.  Before that I am going to subject you to my pictures - you're here, right?  Suck it up!

Melt butter and pour into baking dish.  Cut the sour cream into the baking mix and then stir in 7Up.  Dust your counter with additional baking mix and pat your dough out into a shape that resembles the bottom of your pan.  Um,  last time I checked 9x9 is pretty much a square so you get the idea.  

After you get the dough patted out into a square cut the dough.  For us, it was 9 biscuits.  Place the biscuits into your pan with the melted butter on the bottom and pop those beauties in the oven!  While the biscuits are baking grab another cup of coffee and get your jams and jellies out.  
 For real, this is how they turned out!  I totally scoffed at the recipe when I saw it but I have to admit that they turned out beautifully!
 About this time Mr. Funly comes rolling into the kitchen and asks, "Did you make those?"  No dipshit, the biscuit fairy came in!  He has tried for YEARS to make the perfect biscuit.  He has tried NUMEROUS recipes and they all come close but they just aren't "his" perfect biscuit.  He tried these and thought they were really good.  I ALMOST didn't have the heart to tell them how easy they were.
So, this pin was definitely a win!  Here is the recipe the way I made them.  It does "slightly" vary from the original floating around.  Enjoy!!!

Sour Cream 7Up Biscuits

  • 2 c baking mix like Bisquick (and some extra)
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1/2 c 7Up
  • 1/4 c melted butter (and some extra)
Preheat oven to 450.

Melt 1/4 c butter and pour into the bottom of a 9x9 pan. 

Cut the sour cream into the baking mix and then mix in the 7Up.  Dough will be slightly sticky.  Dust your cutting board or counter with a little of the extra baking mix and place your dough on it.  Pat your dough into the shape of the size of your pan.  Be sure you pat it out evenly so the biscuits all cook evenly.

Once you have your dough patted out cut it into squares.  For our 9x9 that turned out to be 9 squares.  Place the biscuits into the melted butter in your pan.

The original recipe says to bake for 12-15 mins.  For me, that just didn't work.  I DID bake for 12 minutes and then I brushed the tops with about 2 tablespoons of extra butter and back into the oven they went.  Total bake time for me was 22 minutes.

Seriously, these are THAT easy and they are THAT good!!!!!