Sunday, August 31, 2008

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This post goes out to all of my readers who are new to the kitchen.  Sometimes, you just need an easy, no fuss something to serve to your man (or eat yourself!).  So I submit to you...

The humble grilled cheese. Not a food that I consume (being allergic to milk) but, none-the-less, one of my husband's favorites. If you are fortunate enough to be able to eat them... they are a wonderful comfort food. And they are SO easy to make!

Take two slices of bread...

and spread them with butter.

Get the butter all the way up by the crust, so it won't burn.

Slice some cheese.  My husband actually likes Velveeta best for these sandwiches, but Tillamook is also good.

Place the bread, butter side down on a non-stick skillet.  (No need to spray it, by the way -- that is what the butter is for.)

Now place the cheese on the bread so that it covers the whole area.

Set the second piece of bread on top of the cheese, you guessed it, butter side up.

Let it sizzle for a bit, on medium heat - and then flip it over.

The second side will brown much faster, so check it often if you need to.

Ta da!


Saturday, August 30, 2008


This beautiful bloom brought to you by the Borage in my garden that has generously self-sown from last year.

Stay tuned for more pictures of other wonderful garden "volunteers."

Friday, August 29, 2008

7% Vegetarian

I have always proudly declared myself to be a carnivore.  On our first date, I suggested Bryan take me to a BBQ place.  I figured, if the date was a flop - at least I would get to eat good meat!

So (with all this emphasis on tasty animal flesh) it should really not come as much of a surprise that I have not tried a huge number of veggies.  In fact, according to the Vegetarian's Hundred posted recently by Breadchick, I am only 7% vegetarian.  *wink*

Go check out the list of vegetarian "must tries" and see how many of them you've had.


  • P.S.  If you are missing seeing bento pictures like the one above, head on over to Not Exactly Bento and vote on her recent bento contest.  There are 60 entries to sink your teeth into!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Garlic Basil Chicken

Here is a great recipe that my friend Jen shared with me (I think it originated in a Betty Crocker Slow Cooker recipe book).  Sorry there are no pictures of this dish.  I was completely overwrought at the time due to the bean incident.


  • 8 large chicken thighs and drumsticks (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium bulb garlic, separated into cloves and peeled (about 15 cloves)
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, basil and olive oil, undrained
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • Basil pesto, if desired
1.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.  Cook chicken in oil until brown on all sides; drain.

2.  Place chicken and garlic in slow cooker.  Pour tomatoes and broth over chicken.

3.  Cover and cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours, or until chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.

4.  Remove chicken from slow cooker; keep warm.  Skim fat from surface of juices in slow cooker.  Stir in beans; cover and cook on low about 15 minutes until heated through.  Serve chicken with beans and pesto.  

Makes about 4 servings.

This recipe is really tasty!  I make the meal [that is, brown the meat and assemble the ingredients... see comments below] the evening before, put the crock pot in the fridge, and then all I have to do on the day of is pull the crock pot out of the fridge and turn it on.  EASY!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Word About Beans

This is the first time I ever used dried beans in a recipe. I put them to soak, and was so proud of myself, I took a picture for the blog.

After all, using dried beans is more cost efficient and healthier for you (because of the lower sodium content - or so I'm told).

However, there is something I was about to learn about beans.  The ones that come in the can are pre-cooked!  Ack!  Who knew?  So when I substituted my frugal home-soaked beans in the recipe, throwing them in for the last 15 minutes... that was not nearly enough time for them to cook!  (Experienced cooks everywhere are having a good laugh at my expense, I'm sure.)

Serving dinner for six that night, I served up the chicken and confessed, "I'm a little concerned about the beans." lol

I ended up grabbing some canned beans from a cupboard, rinsing them quickly, putting them in a bowl with the slow cooker juices, and zapping them in the microwave for 5 minutes, while my guests talked politely amongst themselves (all the while sitting at the table with empty plates!)

But now I know.  After all, I've only been plaguing the kitchen for about three years now (Bryan and I celebrated our three year wedding anniversary last month) so I haven't had nearly enough time to make all the mistakes yet.  ;0)

In any case, stay tuned for the delicious Garlic Basil Chicken slow cooker recipe.  Using uncooked beans is purely optional.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Corn Dogs, Anyone?

With the county fair in our rear-view mirror, I was feeling the need to fry up some comfort food and drown my sorrows at having missed it. (Okay, not really - I'm just stretching for a segue. None-the-less...)

And what better deep-fried goodness than the humble corn dog? Being in possession of a deep-fryer, I thought it would be great fun to make corn dogs with homemade batter. I selected a recipe, on trusty all-recipes, read the reviews for tips & tricks, then grabbed my camera to chronicle what was sure to be a stunning success.

I was surprised to find that I had, on hand, everything I needed to make corn dogs from scratch.  

Corn dogs wouldn't be corn dogs without cornmeal.

I mixed in flour, salt & pepper, sugar and baking powder.

Then added an egg and some soy milk.

And stirred up a nice batter.

At this point, I had read some different ideas in the reviews as to how to make the batter stick on to the dogs best.  I decided to try just dipping them in (as the original recipe calls for) as well as rolling some in flour first as some Allrecipe members had suggested.

So I inserted the bamboo skewer like this...

and dipped the turkey frank in the cup of batter.

Other of the dogs got rolled in flour first, like so:

And dipped:

Without further ado, I placed the first two dogs in the basket of my deep fryer and gave them a dip.  

While they were frying, I assembled a small army of additional raw corn dogs.

Including my favorite, a half-sized dog:

This may be a good time to mention that I had no guests coming over to help me eat these, and my husband is not a fan of corn dogs either.  But what else was I to do with so much batter!?

Meanwhile, back in the fryer...

Ah... sweet success!  I just can't wait to pick those up, dab them off, and consume them whole.  (Well - maybe not the stick.)

Uh... wait a minute.


"But they were tasty, right?"

Sadly, no.  They were not.  Even this cute little guy left something to be desired.

So this all leads me to my question: 

Does anyone out there know how to make good corn dogs at home??

Monday, August 25, 2008

Deep Fried Goodness

One thing I have been doing a lot of this summer is using my deep fryer to create delicious sides and snacks. Ok... so this isn't the most healthy way to spend the summer - but it sure is tasty once in a while to fry up some 'taters!

Bryan has a thing for Yukon Gold french fries (like the ones you can get at Burgerville) so that is mostly what we've been doing.

Once, I even made chips, just for fun:

And the Jo Jo is classic, too:

Stay tuned for something else I tried in my deep fryer this summer...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mountain of 'Naners

Well, I'm at it again. Baking, that is. You see, it has just been far to hot in our little home to even think about turning on the oven. But then last week, it cooled off and I jumped back in there with determination.

But first, I have a confession to make. I can not seem to come home from the grocery store with the correct amount of bananas. Ever.

So when a cool day came, I emptied my freezer (guests had begun to comment on the number of 'naners in there) and this is what I faced:

So I broke out my favorite banana muffin recipe and got to work. (You may remember that I blogged about it before. If you haven't tried it yet, check out the recipe.)

It's been a while since I've blogged a good step-by-step, so here come lots of pictures:

I gathered my ingredients...

got mixing...

added a bit of vanilla soy milk...

and, of course, a healthy dose of mashed 'naners!

Next I stirred in the dry ingredients...

and the batter was ready to go!

I filled my new mini muffin tray (thx, Mom!) with the batter and impatiently waited for my oven to pre-heat.

Here's my new mini muffin tray just waiting to go into the oven.

Meanwhile, I thawed the bananas some and bagged them up to re-freeze in 1 cup portions.

And here are my darling mini muffins!

Aren't they just the cutest?


Happy Baking!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back to Bento

Here is the lunch I took today to rehearsal for Arsenic and Old Lace.


  • Ham sandwich on whole wheat bread (with cucumbers, of course!)
  • more cucumbers mixed with grape tomatoes, with lemon juice and pepper
  • grapes
These are the new containers I got at Freddy's for lunches this coming school year. The container I used above is actually for my husband. It really holds a lot of food. The other is a salad container and comes with a little sauce cup for dressing. And both hold their own utensils. Cute, right?

Happy Bento!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hello again, blog-o-sphere!

Is anyone still checking here? If so, thanks! To you, the faithful (optimistic) few, I write this, my first blog entry in well over 2 months. (Yikes!)

Where have I been, you wonder. And rightly so.

Well, let's see... first my husband "popped" his Achilles tendon while playing soccer. So that kinda changed our plans for the summer. While he was having surgery, my parents were in Africa for three weeks, and I was at their house taking care of my brother (who has microcephaly). So, very little baking or bento making happening.

Then I got the gardening bug and "played in the dirt" for about two weeks. The yard debris bin didn't know what hit it!

Then I started noticing that the inside of my house could use some attention. I found Fly Lady and have been flitting around throwing out clutter and cleaning up grime ever since.

Who has time for the computer!?

But, in anticipation of the coming school year -- I thought I better get back on the blogging bandwagon. And I actually bought a couple of bento containers last week. (More on that later.)

Hope your summer has been as productive and fulfilling as mine has been. And, thanks for reading!