September 30, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

First up I want to thank everyone that commented and e-mailed get well wishes to me yesterday! I'm feeling some better today. The fever is gone and the haziness, but I'm still a little tired. I'm definitely on the mend!

Now let's talk some dinner for this evening. It's class night for Jamison so I plan on making some sort of baby portabella mushroom soup. I have just enough chicken broth to make Alexis a single serving batch of chicken noodle soup so I'll make that for her while I'm in soup mode.

What are you having?

Oh and if you are the praying sort, my father is scheduled to go in to surgery any minute for his hip. (He may already be there as I type this.) He fell four weeks ago and they just figured out his hip was broken yesterday! They plan on placing two pins in his hip and he should heal quickly. If prayer is not your thing then some positive thoughts would be appreciated too.

Thanks everyone! Have a fabulous afternoon!

Update: 3:53 PM: Just got off the phone with my mom. My dad is out of surgery. They ended up having to do 3 pins instead of 2. He's slowly waking up...The meds are always hard on him. He's talking a bit and seems to be doing well. The first thing he asked for was food! Thanks for all the e-mails! You guys rock! :o)

Posted by Dianne at 12:43 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up

Another slow cooker recipe...I know, I know, you're all shocked! In fact in honor of the fact I seem to love my slow cooker lately I've added an entirely new category dedicated to just that! Now all of those fabulous slow cooker ideas will be in one place. I don't know about you, but I likes me some organization! ;o)

This dish was inspired by an advertisement I saw in Taste of Home for a slow cooker Mexican lasagna type deal. The picture looked so yummy that my mind went into overdrive and the very next night I set out to create my own version of Mexican stacked heaven! So sit back and relax and let's talk a little spicy slow cooker goodness!

What You'll Need:
Corn tortillas
1 - 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 small red onion, chopped
1 - 15 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed (Note: You can use red beans if you prefer or a mix of the two.)
1 - 16 ounce jar of taco sauce (Note: Whatever heat level you want will be fine. I used hot.)
Chili powder
Onion powder
Sea salt
Textured Vegetable Protein
Frozen corn
Cheddar, shredded (Note: You can use Monterrey Jack instead of or mixed with the cheddar.)
Sour cream for topping (optional)

Spray the inside of your slow cooker with non-stick spray and layer in corn tortillas to cover to bottom. (Note: In my slow cooker the first few layers take 2 tortillas and then as it expands as the cooker goes up you need 3 or 4.)

Once the bottom is covered with tortillas cover them with a layer of diced tomatoes:

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up: Diced Tomatoes

Then add some chopped onion:

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up: Red Onion

Next add a layer of beans:

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up: Beans

After the beans add some taco sauce:

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up: Taco Sauce

Now you want to add a generous sprinkling of seasonings and a tiny bit of salt:

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up: Seasoning

Now sprinkle on some textured vegetable protein:

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up: Textured Vegetable Protein

Next add some corn kernels:

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up: Corn

Sprinkle on some shredded cheese:

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up: Cheese

Then top with more tortillas:

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up: Stack It Again

And repeat to process until you run out of tomatoes.

For the top of the stack up you want to top the corn tortillas with taco sauce:

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up: Taco Sauce

And then cover generously with cheese:

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up: Ready to Cook

Set your slow cooker to high and cook for 2-3 hours or on low for 3-4 and you'll have this:

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up: Cooked

Turn off the slow cooker and let sit for 15-20 minutes and then serve!

Slow Cooker Mexican Stack Up

Notes: If you wanted you could add shredded chicken, ground beef or even shrimp instead of the textured vegetable protein. You could also top this with avocado and/or additional taco sauce.

Posted by Dianne at 8:52 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

September 29, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

I'm a little under the weather today. Alexis waking up multiple times a night with nightmares, paired with my fall allergies and a slight fever, is making me generally blah. We're doing ultra simple comfort food tonight in the form of slow cooker lasagna! I'll throw it in at 3 and dinner will be ready around 6.

What are you having?

Now if you'll excuse me, Jamison is with Alexis at the dentist so I took a shower and now am going to go rest for a bit before they return.

Posted by Dianne at 12:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

This is going to be another quick and easy post and recipe. My finger is finally feeling well enough to type without wincing, but I've got a ton of things to catch up on! Tomorrow things should get back to normal! So pull out your slow cookers and get ready for some fabulous Cheesy Potato Soup!

What You'll Need:
1 large potato, cubed
1 small red onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper
1 quart of broth (Note: I like to use chicken broth for potato soup, but what ever type of broth you prefer will work.)
1 cup of half and half
2 cups of Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes (Note: This is the perfect way to use up left over mashed potatoes! You can use plain potatoes too, but the cheesy version give the soup the cheesy aspect.)
Cheddar, shredded for topping (optional)
Bacon, chopped for topping (optional)
Scallions, chopped for topping (optional)

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup: The Veggies

Place chopped veggies in the bowl of your slow cooker and toss to mix. Add a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper, broth and half and half and stir to mix. Next stir in mashed potatoes and stir to mix.

Set slow cooker on high and cook for 4-5 hours until soup has thickened slightly and potatoes are tender. Serve immediately with toppings or plain.

Notes: If you wanted to add in mushrooms and/or corn you could. Leeks would also be fabulous.

Posted by Dianne at 7:46 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge September 2008: Lavash Crackers and Vegan Caramelized Onion Blue Cheese Dip

Daring Bakers Challenge September 2008: Lavash Crackers with Vegan Caramelized Blue Cheese Dip

It's that time of the month again...The Daring Bakers reveal! This month's challenge was Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (pp 178 - 180) and was chosen by Sheltie Girl of Gluten A Go Go and Shel of Musings from the Fishbowl.

When I saw this month's Daring Bakers challenge I was excited! I've always wanted to make crackers, but just never got around to it before now! Somehow though I lost track of the month of September and found myself waking up yesterday morning thinking "You know...I really need to make my Daring Bakers challenge! It's got to be due soon!" only to log into the message board and see it was due on Saturday!

Me and time...Not such great friends lately! I need a couple extra days in the week that no one else knows about it seems!

Anyway, so I whipped up the cracker dough yesterday afternoon, which I must say was a breeze, and after we ate dinner, I rolled them out, cut them, spritzed them with water, sprinkled them with sea salt and put them in the oven. A little while later voilà crackers! Alexis even loved them!

Daring Bakers Challenge September 2008: Ingredients for Vegan Caramelized Blue Cheese Dip

The other part of the challenge was to come up with a vegan/gluten free dip to pair with the crackers. I wanted to do something creamy so I set off to My Organic Market to see what I could find. I knew I wanted to get some vegan cream cheese and sour cream, and I knew I wanted to use caramelized onion as an element for the dip too. I saw the Soy Bleu I decided it would be perfect! The mix turned out great, and while at first I thought it was a bit bland, after it sat in the fridge and the flavors had a chance to meld it was fabulous!

We also had the choice to do the crackers gluten free, but I knew this wasn't something Jamison would be interested in, so I decided to just make the standard cracker. I think it would be fun to top them with sesame seeds or something a bit more exotic, but since Alexis was interested I just stuck to sea salt. Next time I might experiment a bit...And I will make these again!

So there you have it...This month's Daring Bakers challenge! Stop by the Daring Bakers blog roll and see what everyone else came up with and I can't wait to see what next month's challenge brings!

Daring Bakers Challenge September 2008: Vegan Caramelized Blue Cheese Dip

What You'll Need For The Vegan Caramelized Onion Blue Cheese Dip:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of chopped red onion
8 ounces of vegan cream cheese, softened
6 ounces of Tofutti sour cream
3 ounces of Soy Bleu
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a skillet over medium heat sauté onions in olive oil until slightly caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Daring Bakers Challenge September 2008: Vegan Caramelized Blue Cheese Dip Caramelized Onions

In the bowl of a mixer beat together vegan cream cheese and tofutti until smooth. Stir in Soy Bleu and cooled caramelized onions until completely incorporated. Add a pinch of sea salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and stir to mix.

Serve immediately or chill before use.

Notes: The Soy Bleu really smelled like cow's milk bleu much to my surprise. Taste wise it wasn't quite on tap with blue cheese, but it was close. I've had rice cheeses that tasted similar to their counterparts in the past, but this is the first soy cheese that has passed the taste test even remotely.

Daring Bakers Challenge September 2008: Lavash Crackers Baked

What You'll Need For The Lavash Crackers:
1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

Daring Bakers Challenge September 2008: Lavash Crackers Dough

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

Daring Bakers Challenge September 2008: Lavash Crackers Rolled Out

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

Daring Bakers Challenge September 2008: Lavash Crackers Ready To Bake


4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Posted by Dianne at 12:01 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

September 26, 2008

You Want Pies With That?


Like pie? Want to join a new group that is forming that will be making a pie each month?

So how did this group come about? Ever seen the movie Waitress? Susan was watching that movie the other night and the idea came to her. She posted on her blog and asked if anyone would be interested and I immediately commented back to her. I mean come on...Pie? What's not to like?? She got enough of a response that she decided to put a group together and she asked me, along with several other fabulous bloggers, if we'd like to help her out and thus the group was born!

The first month's theme is to base a pie off of your favorite movie! I've got a ton of ideas running through my head right now, how about you? The post date for the first pie is October 8th, so if you like to find out more and get involved be sure and pop over to the You Want Pies With That? site and find out how you can join in on the fun!

Who says you can't make your dessert and eat it too? ;oP

Posted by Dianne at 3:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

Tonight I had planned on doing a turkey breast in the crock pot, but it turns out it was too big to fit! I'm going to have to bake it in the oven instead. We'll have some sort of potatoes, some spinach and probably some cucumbers.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 1:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Loaded Barbeque Baked Potatoes

Loaded Barbeque Baked Potatoes

We're going to wind out the week with another quick, easy post. Hopefully my thumb will be more on the mend by Monday! It's doing much better, but still very sore!

This recipe is a great way to use up pulled pork or chicken! You've got all the elements of a fabulous barbeque dinner all rolled into one! What's not to like?

What You'll Need Per Person:
1 russet potato, baked
Sea salt
1/3-1/2 cup of pulled pork or chicken, warmed
1/4 cup of barbeque sauce, heated
1 ounce of cheddar or Colby cheese, shredded
1 scallion, chopped
Sour cream (optional)

Slice open baked potato and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Top with pulled pork or chicken, barbeque sauce, cheese, scallion and some sour cream. Serve immediately.

Loaded Barbeque Baked Potatoes

Notes: Pair this with a salad and you've got the perfect meal! If you want to make it vegetarian you could use mushrooms in place of the meat.

Posted by Dianne at 8:47 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 25, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

I was flipping through Taste of Home last night and saw an advertisement that gave me an idea and since Jamison is in class tonight I decided to try it out. It was a picture of a Mexican Enchilada/Taco type of lasagna in the slow cooker and it made my imagination go into overdrive! I put something similar together before we ate lunch and it's on low cooking away downstairs. It might not be quite to Lex's cup of tea so she may end up having red beans, corn and tomatoes instead.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 1:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Baked Buttermilk Chicken

Baked Buttermilk Chicken

Another easy one today...The thumb is still throbbing! It's more of a hunt and peck deal than typing right now!

Katherine requested Fried Chicken for her birthday dinner so I put the chicken in to marinate the night before. When Nelson got sick and they couldn't come I decided to see how it would bake up instead and it turned out great! The chicken was tender and the spices made it just perfect! If you are looking for a little different way to make chicken then this is the perfect method for you!

What You'll Need:
Chicken with the bone in
1 quart of buttermilk (Note: You need enough to cover the chicken completely. If you are making more then you might need more milk, if you're making less then you might not need the whole quart.)
Seasoning of your choice (Note: I used Old Bay Seasoning.)

Place chicken in a container an cover with buttermilk. Place in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Remove chicken from buttermilk and sprinkle generously on all sides with seasoning of your choice. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about an hour or so until chicken is done through and browned on the outside. (Note: If you're worried about it you can check the internal temperature of the chicken, but if it sticks tender with a fork it's most likely done.)

Once chicken is done remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Baked Buttermilk Chicken

Simple, easy and delicious!

Notes: The buttermilk makes the chicken super tender. Thyme and/or rosemary with sea salt and black pepper would be good on this too. Cajun or Creole seasoning also would be fabulous!

Posted by Dianne at 7:28 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 24, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

I've got some steak strips marinating in the fridge so we'll have steak tips, plain for Jamison and Alexis, and with mushrooms and onions for me, over rice. I'm also going to do some sort of spinach side dish for Lex and I, but I don't know what as of yet.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 1:13 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Today we're going to do a quick and easy post. Yesterday morning when I was slicing gluten free bread for Jamison's sandwich for lunch I sliced into my finger. I'll spare you the details, but needless to say typing is not that much fun right now! So this is going to be short and sweet. Let's get to it shall we?

What You'll Need:
1 frozen banana
1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter
1 cup of milk (Note: You can use cow's milk, almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, etc.)

Cut frozen banana into chunks. Dump everything into the jar of your blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Makes one large breakfast sized serving or two snack sized portions.

Notes: You could do this with any frozen fruit or any nut butter.

Posted by Dianne at 9:09 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 23, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

We had some left over mashed potatoes from last night's dinner and since Jamison is in class this evening I decided to make some potato soup. It's in the slow cooker now. I've never made potato soup in the slow cooker so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 1:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Apple Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Apple Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

It's apple season! The other day at the orchard I picked up some fresh Galas and besides being delicious all on their own (apples are one of Lex and my favorite snacks!) I knew I wanted to bake something with them too. I thought about making a basic apple cake, but decided I wanted to kick it up a notch so why not add some chocolate chips? The result was fabulous! And the most important thing is that it's extremely easy to make...What's not to like about that? Whether you'd like this for breakfast or dessert, if you like chocolate and apples this is the one for you!

What You'll Need:
2 cups of apples, chopped (Note: I used Gala, but whatever kind you like will work.)
1 cup of organic cane sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup of safflower oil
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 of an 11.5 ounce package of chocolate chips (Note: I used 60% Bittersweet, but you can use milk, semi or even go crazy and use white chocolate chips...It's all up to you!)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Apple Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake: Apples

Chop apples. Toss with 1/2 cup of sugar and set aside.

In a large bowl stir together flour, sea salt, baking powder and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Add eggs, safflower oil, vanilla and buttermilk and stir until batter forms. Add apples and stir to mix. Next stir in chocolate chips and mix until incorporated.

Pour mixture into a round pie plate that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 35-35 minutes until golden brown and done through. Remove from oven, let cool and serve.

Apple Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Notes: If you wanted to take this over the top you could drizzle it with a little caramel sauce and/or top it with whipped cream.

Posted by Dianne at 8:56 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 22, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

Tonight is up in the air. If the builder doesn't come to fix the things he is supposed to then we are going to have Baked Buttermilk chicken, mashed potatoes and salad. If he does come then I'm not sure what we're going to have. Perhaps Jamison will pick up dinner...Not sure yet!

What are you having?

Update: 4:36 PM: Buttermilk chicken it is! The builder called and he's coming tomorrow around 11. I just put the chicken into the oven. I'm making enough to freeze for later.

Posted by Dianne at 1:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Lemon Custard Bars with Blueberry Sauce

Lemon Custard Bars with Blueberry Sauce

The weekend didn't turn out quite as we had hoped, but still it was busy! I'll say it again...Two days just isn't enough for everything that needs to be done on the weekend!

Yesterday we ran some errands, I got my hair cut (finally!) and Jamison even treated Alexis and I to lunch out. Then we came home and I finished up lesson planning and getting everything ready for this week's lessons. That alone, usually takes up 5 or 6 hours, even with pre-planning!

On Saturday we went to the Fall Festival that I mentioned on Friday, but in all honesty it was a bit of a let down. Saturday evening my sister, her husband and the boys didn't make it over after all. Nelson got sick (get well soon buddy!) and needless to say that put a damper on things. I had already made dessert though.

My sister requested "something lemony" for dessert, but not cheesecake, which is amusing given when she said lemony, cheesecake never even entered my mind, and that in of itself is weird given I'm the Cheesecake Queen, but for some reason I've never really fancied Lemon Cheesecake. I know...I know...How is that even possible?!??! But there you go!

I had been wanting to play around with lemon bars for a while, so this is what I came up with! It's creamy, tangy, yet sweet! I hadn't originally planned on adding blueberry sauce to the top, but blueberry/lemon...What's not to like about that?? All together it was simply just the right mix of flavors!

So happy birthday Sister Pooh and many more! And maybe if Nelson feels a little better later in the week I'll share your birthday "cake" with you! ;oP

What You'll Need for the Crust:
1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed
1/3 cup of organic cane sugar
1 stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until incorporated. Press into a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 10-15 minutes until crust is slightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

Leave oven on and proceed to custard.

Lemon Custard Bars with Blueberry Sauce: Sliced

What You'll Need for the Custard:
2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of fresh lemon juice
The zest of 2 lemons
8 egg yolks

Mix all ingredients in the bowl of a mixer until slightly thick. Pour over baked crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes until custard is set. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Once cooled refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.

To serve top with powdered sugar and/or blueberry sauce. (See below).

Lemon Custard Bars with Blueberry Sauce: A Bite

What You Need for the Blueberry Sauce:
2 pints of blueberries (Note: I used some I had frozen earlier in the year when they were in season, but fresh berries will work perfectly too.)
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
The zest of 1 lemon
The juice of 1 lemon

Dump ingredients into a medium sized sauce pan. Cook over meidum heat until blueberries start to pop and sauce forms. Remove from heat and cool completely. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Notes: If lemon is not your thing you could do this with orange or lime juice.

Posted by Dianne at 7:09 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 19, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

Tonight we're having slow cooker pulled pork. Jamison has been wanting to have tater (I hate that "word"!) tots so I'm going to make some for him. Alexis and I will also have some cucumbers.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 3:51 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Chickenless Dill and Wild Rice Soup

Chickenless Dill and Wild Rice Soup: A Bite

Man...What a week! I keep thinking I'll get a second or two to slow down, but so far, not so much! This weekend is shaping up to be a busy one too. Tomorrow morning we're going to a fall festival at one of the local libraries. There will be plenty of games and activities for Alexis and she is beside herself with glee because there will be face painting! Can you imagine? Face painting! And she says it just like that...Face painting!! with exclamation points and gusto! ;o)

Tomorrow afternoon my sister, her husband and the boys are coming over to celebrate my sister's birthday a few days early, because I'm a big believer in celebrating birthdays! Birthdays should be happy times and not mourned. It irritates the life out of me when people mourn the day instead of celebrating their life! Life is a fabulous adventure and should be celebrated as such! So I will make my sister a magnificent meal and dessert of her choosing and we will celebrate the day! (If you take the link above you'll see last year's meal!) Plus we haven't had a chance to get together for the past few weeks so it's past time for baby cuddles too! ;oP

On Sunday Jamison has some homework to do and a midterm to work on and I have to do some lesson planning and things of that nature. It's going to be another whirlwind, but that's ok I guess. I can sleep later I suppose! ;oP

So we're going to round out the week with yet another slow cooker recipe. I've been utilizing it a lot this week and since I've made it through my back log of recipes, you're getting a pretty good indication of what I'm cooking in somewhat real time. I'm hoping to get a back log back up and running soon, but we'll see how things go.

This soup utilizes vegetable broth instead of using chicken, and takes the elements of a chicken and wild rice soup, without adding meat. It's hearty, healthy and meat free! Oh and did I mention easy? What's not to like?

What You'll Need:
1 quart of vegetable broth (Note: I used No Chicken Broth.)
2 carrots, cut into thin rounds
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 cup of frozen green beans (Note: You can use the ones that come out of the bag, but these were some I had frozen earlier in the summer.)
1 cup of frozen lima beans (Note: Again a big favorite for Lex.)
1 cup of frozen peas
1 cup of frozen corn
1/2 cup of wild rice
1 tablespoon of dried dill
A generous pinch of sea salt (Note: If the broth you use is really salty omit this.)
Freshly ground black pepper

This truly is the ultimate dump and go soup. Dump everything into your slow cooker, give it a stir, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Chickenless Dill and Wild Rice Soup

Notes: Again you can add in any vegetable that you like. The wild rice helps thicken the soup slightly. It's very hearty, but also healthy and that's always a plus! If you aren't a fan of dill you could add in other herbs that were more to your liking.

Posted by Dianne at 7:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 18, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

Jamison is in class this evening and Alexis has requested Chicken Noodle Soup. After her bout with insomnia last night, which of course kept all of us for most of the night, I feel nothing like cooking today! Fortunately I had some Chicken Noodle Soup in the freezer so she gets her wish and I don't have to cook. Win, win, I'm telling you! ;oP

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 2:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Lasagna

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Lasagna

As we progress on Jamison's gluten free journey we often come back to pre-Celiac favorites such as pasta. We finally found some spaghetti noodles that are very good in terms of gluten free products, but at first I wasn't able to find any gluten free lasagna noodles in stores locally. Finally however My Organic Market started carrying a rice lasagna noodle from DeBoles that really is comparable to a version made with wheat! With this discovery lasagna was back on the menu!

Jamison and Alexis LOVE pasta. Seriously, they could eat it at every meal! While I like pasta too, I would tend to be this way more with Mexican food than Italian, but that is neither here nor there. This past weekend Alexis and Jamison both had asked for lasagna and I had fully intended to make it for them, but we had a crazy/busy weekend (which I might add hasn't seemed to stop!) so it just never happened.

On Saturday the day slowly got away from us as we did things that needed to be done and ran errands. Soon it was time for dinner and there wasn't time to put together lasagna so I bumped it to Sunday. On Sunday I ended up spending the majority of the day lesson planning and getting things ready for this week's classes. Dinner time rolled around and again no time for lasagna. On Monday I was determined we were actually going to have lasagna for dinner even if I had to get creative!

For a while now I've wanted to try to make lasagna in the slow cooker, but I just had never gotten around to actually trying it out. When Alexis and I ventured back down stairs from the school room for lunch on Monday I decided this would be the perfect time to test out my theory!

What I ended up making was gluten and dairy free, but given it was for Jamison it did have ground beef, but you could just as easily make it a vegetable version as well. The lasagna turned out perfectly! If you haven't tried this method I highly recommend giving it a whirl...I think you'd be impressed!

What You'll Need:
Gluten Free Lasagna noodles (Note: You can use any type of lasagna noodle that you want if gluten is not an issue for you. If I were making this for Alexis and I alone I would use whole wheat.)
A large jar of spaghetti sauce (Note: Again this is up to you. Jamison is extremely picky as I've mentioned before so I use Ragu Traditional Organic sauce, but any type of sauce will work. I like some of the other organic sauces that are heavy on garlic and/or mushrooms.)
Rice mozzarella, shredded (Note: I used a block of this type of cheese. Again had I been making this for Alexis and I would have used regular mozzarella, some Parmesan and perhaps some goat cheese. What you use is up to you.)
1 pound beef, cooked and crumbled (optional)

Spray the bowl of your slow cooker with non-stick spray or brush it with olive oil. I didn't do this, but next time I will. It wasn't a huge issue, but there was some sticking.

Next you use your basic layering process that you would use for regular lasagna. I didn't get a picture of the layering of the noodles, but just put a layer of noodles in the bottom of your slow cooker. Don't worry if they aren't whole or anything, just make sure the bottom is covered and if you have to break them up that's ok too!

Next add a layer of ground beef:

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Lasagna: Second Layer

(Note: You could also use ground turkey or if you wanted a completely meat free option you could add in textured vegetable or soy protein. You could also add onions, mushrooms and peppers if you liked.)

Next add a layer of sauce:

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Lasagna: Third Layer

If you wanted to get really creative you could make your own sauce using tomato sauce, some garlic, oregano, basil, etc.

Next top with a little cheese:

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Lasagna: Fourth Layer

Now keep repeating that process until you run out of sauce.

Next completely cover the top generously with cheese:

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Lasagna: Ready to Cook

Now place the lid on and cook for 3-4 hours on low and voilà you have lasagna for dinner!

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Lasagna

Dinner is served!

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Lasagna

Notes: I was really surprised how fast this cooked on low so watch it and make sure it doesn't go too far!

Posted by Dianne at 7:09 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

September 17, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

Tonight Alexis has requested homemade pizza so that's what we're going to have.

Jamison will get his standard gluten free crust, sauce, rice cheese, pepperoni and ground beef. Lex will have hers with mozzarella, Parmesan and black olives on a white whole wheat crust. I'm in the mood for something a little more traditional in the pizza department this evening so I'll most likely have black/green olives, red onion, bell pepper, tomatoes and pepperoni also on a white whole wheat crust.

I'll also make a salad for Miss G and me too.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 1:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Easy Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup

Easy Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup: A Bite

Alexis and I love soup. In fact I'm thrilled that she loves it as much as she does. Jamison's not a fan (shocker...I know!) so for years I had soup here or there, but for the most part it was something I had when we had guests who could share, but now I have someone who is up for sharing soup whenever I want to make it or whenever she wants it as well! Plus soup is the ultimate freeze for later food too and left overs are better the longer they sit!

If you've been a visitor of Dianne's Dishes for a while, you know that I also LOVE my slow cooker! It's a fabulous cooking tool for basic food year round and it's especially wonderful when it comes to soup! You throw your ingredients in, turn the knob and you've got hearty, healthy soup ready to go just in time for dinner! How great is that?

What You'll Need:
1 onion, chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 quart of broth (Note: You can use chicken, vegetable or beef broth...Whatever you have on hand works!)
1 - 28 ounce can of tomato puree or sauce
1 - 16 ounce package of frozen vegetables (Note: The mix I use has corn, carrots, green beans and peas.)
1/2 of a 1 pound package of lima beans (Note: Alexis adores lima beans and has since she started eating finger foods. In all honesty I'm not a big fan, but I can tolerate them in soup. If you don't like limas then add in some extra peas or even some edamame.)
1 cup of barley
A pinch of sea salt (Note: If your broth is heavily salted then skip this.)
Freshly ground black pepper

Easy Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup: Ready to Cook

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker, give it a stir, and cook for 5-6 hours on low. Or if you want it faster you can cook it on high for 3-4 hours.

How easy is that? Just dump and walk away and when you're ready for dinner you've got a fabulous bowl of soup!

Easy Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup

Notes: You can use any vegetables that you like. Leeks would be a good addition, as would mushrooms.

Posted by Dianne at 12:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Back Later


Hey everyone, check back this afternoon for today's recipe and What's For Dinner! It's been a crazy, busy week and I didn't have a chance to put up the entry yet.

I hope you all are having a fantabulous day!

Posted by Dianne at 9:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 16, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

A few weeks ago I grabbed a box of No Chicken Broth and thought I'd make some "Chickenless" Soup! So tonight while Jamison is in class Alexis and I are having "Chickenless" Dill and Wild Rice Soup. It's in the slow cooker now as I type this, broth, veggies, herbs and wild rice! Should be fabulous!

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 12:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Watermelon Salad

Watermelon Salad

I love watermelon. Alexis does too. In fact when I was pregnant with Alexis I craved these things: Watermelon, cucumbers, chicken salad, beans and baked Cheetos. Alexis currently eats all of the things on that list except for chicken salad, and in all honesty I don't think that it is that she doesn't like chicken salad, she just has never shown any interest in trying it, but let's get back to watermelon.

Watermelon is one of those things that nine times out of ten you will find in our fridge. Now don't get me wrong, I love watermelon too, but there also is only so many times you can eat something without getting bored with what you are eating. Watermelon has of late fallen into that category with me.

For years I've seen watermelon salads and nine times out of ten they are paired with Feta. It's been on my list of things I've wanted to try for a long time, but I get side tracked easily, who doesn't? One night last week when Jamison was in class, Alexis wanted watermelon as part of dinner so I decided it was high time to try my hand at some watermelon salad and I must say I was highly pleased with how it turned out!

What You'll Need Per Person:
1 1/2 cups of watermelon, chopped
1/2 an avocado, cut into chunks
1 small cucumber, sliced (Note: I'm talking pickle cucumber size here. You want about 1 cup of cucumbers.)
1 ounce of feta, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
Coarse sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Flat leaf parsley, chopped

In a bowl toss together watermelon, avocado and cucumber. Sprinkle with feta, some freshly ground black pepper and coarse sea salt. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and then top with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

How easy is that? But trust me no one will know! ;oP

Watermelon Salad: A Bite

Notes: You could use chopped mint in place of parsley if you wanted, but I was out.

Posted by Dianne at 7:06 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 15, 2008

It's a Girl...And a Girl!


When I found out that Kristen over at Dine and Dish had organized an adopt a food blogger event I couldn't wait to sign up! I missed the last round by a few days, but this time I signed up first thing and now it's time for me to introduce my two new blog "children"!

With out further ado I introduce you to...

Peckerwood Gravy Company


3 B's .... Baseball, Baking, & Books!

Kristen suggested we offer a few tips so I've compiled a few for both of you gals below. Also please feel free to e-mail me at diannesdishes at gmail dot com if you have any questions or are curious about anything!

I'm assuming since you both have jumped into the food blogging world that you are passionate about food, and that's good! Writing a blog about something you are passionate about is the first step. It also makes keeping up with what you are doing that much easier. If you're blogging about something you aren't all that into, then you will get bored with what you are doing and quick! Your blog should be a joy, not a chore! And don't be afraid to step away from a while if you need a break.

In my mind one of the most important aspects of a food blog is pictures, and not just pictures alone, good pictures. Granted every picture you take may not be fabulous, but you need to put a lot of thought into what you are shooting and how it looks, but don't worry this doesn't have to take a lot of time. Once you get used to it it will become second nature and you can take a fabulous photo in mere seconds! (And in fact the pictures on both of your sites look great, so you can skip down to the next thing if you're already a camera aficionado.) They say that people eat with their eyes and I think that is true to an extent (food has to actually taste good too) but something that doesn't look that appetizing isn't going to make someone want to try it! A good camera is essential and picking up a few photography tips is a must as well!

When I first started Dianne's Dishes in January of 2007 I used a Canon D20 SLR. Unfortunately in June of this year she decided to give up the ghost and went to the big camera heaven in the sky and I have to admit I was devastated, utterly and completely just flattened. I think it was safe to say I was way too attached to my camera, but when you use one as much as I do, they sort of become part of you. All of that to say that I highly recommend a digital SLR if you can swing one, but if not don't sweat that either (see below).

After my Canon died I started playing around with my old Sony Mavica CD400 and cursing it often! While it would take some fabulous pictures here and there, it just didn't have the range that I wanted. So as I wait for the camera fairy to come bless me with a brand new camera I've been using my Canon PowerShot SD750 Digitial Elph exclusively.

The key to good food pictures, whether you're using a SLR or a point and shoot, is good light and no flash! If you can take the food outside into natural light, that's fabulous! If it's rainy and dreary, turn on the lights and turn off the flash! If the pictures look a little blurry with no flash then get a tripod. (I got one at Target for $20 a couple of years ago and it attaches to every camera I have including my video camera!) Also think about how you are staging your food...What's around it? What's behind it? How it looks is key. Currently, when using my point and shoot, I turn the flash off, put it on the macro setting and also set it up for foliage...I don't know why but the foliage setting works fabulously for food pictures! (I'm still anxiously awaiting the camera fairy however!)

Another good thing to do is to get involved in the Food Blog Community if you haven't already. This can help bring in traffic to your site, all while you have a little fun! Keep in mind not everyone that stops by might stay, but you can pick up some new readers this way. Throw a contest, check out Daring Bakers, or Weekend Herb Blogging, or Operation Baking GALS (which I noticed one of you already participates in), or something along those lines. Also don't be afraid to go comment on food blogs that you like...And be sure to tell them why you like what you're commenting on too!

Also don't sweat the Internet Trolls as I like to call them. These are the people who stumble around the web and make hateful comments. Unfortunately no matter what type of blog you have they stumble upon you from time to time. The first instinct is to call them out and/or argue with them, but that's exactly what they want, in fact they thrive on the conflict, so just delete their comments and move on. I often wonder what kind of sad life these people lead getting their jollies by attacking people verbally on the web, but there isn't much you can do about them, other than ignore them and move on.

I'm rambling a bit, but there are some basics. Please feel free to e-mail me if there is something you're curious about and I'll be stopping by both of your blogs to see how things are going for you!

For my regular readers, I'll be adding both blogs to my blog roll later today, but for now take the links above and stop over at their blogs and say hello! I think you'll be glad that you did!

Posted by Dianne at 12:42 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

For a while now I've been wanting to try to make lasagna in the slow cooker, but I end up making it the traditional way and then forget to try it out. So when Alexis and Jamison requested lasagna this weekend, and we subsequently got busy and didn't get around to making it because we ran out of time, it made me remember that I wanted to see if my theory would work. I just put the lasagna into the slow cooker on low (it's a gluten/dairy free version, yet with meat...this is Jamison we're talking about after all ;oP) so we'll see how it turns out! It seems to be working perfectly though!

I also put a loaf of gluten free French bread into the bread machine and I can hear it kneading downstairs as I type this. Alexis and I will also have some sort of salad.

What are you having?

Be sure and check back soon to meet my adopted blog children and give them a big hello! I'm getting ready to write up their introduction now so check back in an hour or so.

Posted by Dianne at 12:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

This Afternoon...

Wow...What a weekend! I don't think I got a chance to actually sit still and breathe the entire two days! Does anyone else think that weekends are just entirely too short and there are just too many things that have to be done in those two days?

Check back this afternoon when I introduce my two new adopted blog "children" and trust me you'll love their blogs! Also come back to see What's For Dinner! We'll catch back up with a recipe tomorrow! I just didn't have time this weekend to get any of the recipes written up!

Now if you'll excuse me it's time for lessons! Have a great day everyone! :o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 12, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

Fall is coming! I can just feel it! We're having a lovely, cloudy, windy, cool, very fall like day! Yeah! I'm so happy for Fall! ;oP

I'm also happy today because of these:

Concord Grapes

It's Concord Grape season! I stopped by the orchard on the way to the library, because the gentleman who owns the place had told me last Friday they would most likely be in this week and they were! I wait all year long for this and I am beside myself with glee! Lex loves them too!

Now let's talk some dinner, since that's what you thought this entry was supposed to be about to begin with! ;oP

Tonight Jamison is cooking, or in other words he's picking up take out! ;oP He's having steak hibachi, Alexis is having edamame and rice and I'm having egg drop soup and something as yet to be decided. I can't find my menu for the place, so I may have to call Jamison and make him read me the parts I might be interested in! ;oP

What are you having?

Update: 1:26 PM: I decided to have Kung Poa Shrimp!

Posted by Dianne at 12:27 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Try It You'll Like It: Michele's Granola

Michele's Granola

A few weeks ago when I was at My Organic Market I stumbled upon Michele's Granola and fell in love! I got the Pumpkin Spice variety (pictured above) because I'm all about pumpkin anything, but she also makes Cherry Chocolate Macadamia and an Original version. Michele is based out of Baltimore and carries the product to market in a van that is powered by waste vegetable oil, donates part of her proceeds to help women in developing countries and her website is carbon neutral through wind power...How cool is that?

I was very pleased with the Pumpkin Spice variety! It was fabulous! The product is a bit pricey, but it's definitely worth it for the occasional treat or as a gift to take along for a hostess or friend. The ingredients are wonderful and the taste is fabulous! So if you live in Maryland, Virginia or DC see if you can't find a place that sells her granola near you and if you don't she ships too!

So what are you waiting for?? Try it...You'll like it!

Posted by Dianne at 7:22 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 11, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

Boy what a day! It's hard to believe that it's just after one in the afternoon!

Alexis and I spent the morning cleaning, doing lessons, waiting for someone to come take a look at the window in the basement that decided to let water in during Tropical Storm Hanna, and also look at the master bathroom shower, which has decided to send water to the middle floor last night when Alexis was taking a shower upstairs.

How's that for fun??

Plus we still have our science lesson to do after her nap. Busy, busy, busy!

I must admit I'm also sort of melancholy today on this the 7th anniversary of 9/11. Seven years...How is that even possible? The horrors of that day are still so etched in my mind. I remember, as many of you probably do as well, exactly where I was. I remember family and friends calling frantically to make sure we were ok, since one of the passengers on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon shared my maiden name and as pre Miss G I was often known to take the metro into DC to the Smithsonian or the Library of Congress on a whim. In fact Jamison's dad and I were in DC at the Smithsonian a few days before the attack.

I remember watching the news coverage in horror as they showed the planes crashing into the buildings over and over. I remember Jamison coming home from work early and sitting with me as we watched in shock as the story unfolded before us. I remember finding out that a lady we attended church with had just found out that her best friend was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. So many memories, all still right there, right on the surface. It doesn't seem possible that seven years have passed!

The past few days I've debated how to explain 9/11 to Alexis. Did I make a lesson out of what happened? Would she understand? Did she need to know at the young age of 5? I finally decided that while she could grasp what had happened, and in her infinitely altruistic way feel for the people who died, and the families who lost loved ones in ways that amaze me every time I see her do just that, I wanted, for just a bit longer, to keep her innocent.

I don't want her to have to worry about what might happen and what did happen and what a horrible that day was. It's been hard enough having to teach her about strangers, and having to make her realize that bad things sometimes happen, and sometimes people even die, in fact we all die at some point, and while we hurt and grieve life inevitably goes on.

I ultimately decided that a tragedy on the scale of 9/11 is not quite on her level yet. Soon enough she will know, and being the truly feeling child that she is, she will hurt for all of those who were directly affected by the tragedy, but for now I want to keep her innocent for as long as I can and keep whatever hurt I can away from her. She is only five after all, though sometimes through her actions and words you forget that fact.

Digressing...Digressing! Oh my have I gotten off of the subject! Let's get back to dinner now shall we and move away from my melancholic thoughts?

My sister invited us over to dinner at her house this evening since Jamison is in class and I'm dealing with repair type issues, but since I have no clue when they may show up (Don't you just love that?? Not!) we had to take a rain check. Alexis and I usually do ultra simple and meat free the nights that Jamison is in class so I think tonight we are going to have grilled cheese sandwiches, which I must say Alexis always refuses to try, but we'll try again because she likes bread and cheese, and there is no reason why she wouldn't like them together. We'll also have some fresh carrots and cucumbers.

What are you having?

Update: 1:59 PM: I forgot that we're out of bread. So no grilled cheese sandwiches here! Back to the drawing board!

Update: 5:52 PM: Alexis ended up having macaroni and cheese (her only really pre-made food that she will willingly eat!) and watermelon. I ended up making a delicious watermelon salad! Look for that recipe next week! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 1:16 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Parmesan Chicken with Mushrooms

Parmesan Chicken with Mushrooms

Chicken is a very easy ingredient to make a thousand different ways and you always have something different, yet you don't have to go to a lot of effort to make something completely delicious. By playing around with a few spices, perhaps some cheese and a veggie or two you can make something spectacular in no time and that's just perfect for a week night dinner or even when company comes...Who says you have to spend all day in the kitchen to wow them? ;oP

What You'll Need Per Person:
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
A seasoning blend (Note: I use an organic/no salt mix that I get at Costco called "Kirkland Signature Organic No Salt Seasoning" that has 21 different things in it like dried onion, bell peppers, garlic, etc. But any seasoning blend that you like will work.)
A pinch of sea salt (Note: If the seasoning blend you use has salt then omit this.)
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of Parmesan, grated
Sliced mushrooms

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and place chicken breasts in the dish. Sprinkle the breast generously to coat with seasoning blend and then add a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan and then place mushrooms slices on the top of each breast.

Place chicken in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until breasts are done through. Serve immediately.

How simple is that?

Notes: You could add onion and bell peppers strips to the chicken too if you liked, or even use a mix of different types of mushrooms.

Posted by Dianne at 9:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 10, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

We are having such a lovely fall like day today! It's currently 73 degrees outside...73! I just love this weather! In fact I'm looking forward to much cooler weather! I'm a winter kind of girl! But I digress...

Where was I? Oh yes...Dinner!

So tonight Alexis and I are having an easy vegetable soup which is in the crock pot as I type this little missive and is already smelling fabulously and Jamison is having Old Bay Steak strips with roasted potatoes.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 12:30 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Milk Chocolate Cake with Caramel Icing

Milk Chocolate Cake with Caramel Icing

On Labor Day some friends of our came over for dinner and I made a Milk Chocolate Cake with Caramel Icing for dessert. Growing up this icing was paired with a chocolate cake on my father's birthday, only then we called it German Chocolate. I'm not quite sure why it was called that, given German Chocolate cakes normally have coconut added into the mix and the icing is a bit different, but it was something we did every year and my mom still does for my dad now most years.

When I moved out into the world I started making this cake more often than just once a year. No matter who I've served it to, it's normally a hit. I've adapted it slightly as time has passed and I no longer use a cake mix, but make a cake from scratch now too. This definitely is a crowd pleaser. It's sweet, rich and oh so sinful, but sometimes you just need a little sin on a plate!

What You'll Need for the Cake:
1 - 11.5 ounce bag of milk chocolate chips
1 stick of butter
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 cup of organic cane sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 3/4 cup of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a glass bowl in the microwave melt chocolate and butter together until smooth. (Note: My microwave has a chocolate melting setting. If yours does not, you can use a double boiler or you can melt the chocolate on medium power in your microwave at 30 second intervals until melted and smooth.) Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large glass bowl stir together flour, sea salt, baking powder and sugar until well mixed. (Note: If you want to go to the trouble of sifting this you can, but I have a strict don't sift unless you just have to rule and for a cake you really don't have to! ;oP) Once the dry mixture is mixed add eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and melted chocolate and stir until completely incorporated.

Now is the fun part...What shape cake do you want to make? You can make a 13 X 9 inch sheet cake, you can make a round cake, you can make a square cake or you can even make cupcakes! I chose to make a square cake and used 2 - 8 inch square pans.

Spray your pan(s) generously with non-stick spray and pour the batter evenly into your pan(s). If you are using two pans then make sure the batter is spread evenly between the two pans...If you are making cupcakes fill each hole no more than 2/3 of the way full. Place your pan(s) into the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until cake sticks done and remove from oven. (Note: Cupcakes would take rougly 20-30 minutes.)

Let cakes cool in the pan(s) for roughly 10 minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to continue cooling. Cool completely and then ice or frost.

Notes: You can use any kind of chocolate that you like. I had milk chocolate on hand, but semi or dark will work fine too.

What You'll Need for the Caramel Icing:
2 1/2 sticks of butter
1 1/2 cups of natural brown sugar
1 cup of half and half or heavy cream
4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted (Note: If your powdered sugar isn't lumpy then you can skip this step...As I mentioned above I'm about the not sifting unless you just have to! ;oP)
1 tablespoon of vanilla (optional)

Note: This mixture has to be cooled before you make the icing so you can make it well before you bake the cake or while you're baking the cake. But it must be completely cooled before the icing is made.)

In a medium sized pot melt butter and sugar with half and half or heavy cream until completely melted. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla if desired. Set aside and let cool completely to room temperature.

Once mixture is cooled, add to the bowl of a mixer or using a hand mixer, add powdered sugar and beat until thick and spreadable. Use icing to ice the cooled Milk Chocolate Cake.

Notes: Given the base of this icing is butter on a hot day it can not want to cooperate. Store in the fridge if you have the room to keep it from running. If you can't get it to set up then add more powdered sugar 1/4 of a cup at a time until it gets thick.

Posted by Dianne at 7:09 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

September 9, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

Jamison has class so tonight it's just me and Miss G! We're going to have Vegetable Soup with Quinoa and Barley.

What are you having?

Update: 9/10/2008: 12:28 PM: I meant to update this last night, but had a bazillion other things going on and forgot. We weren't really in a soup mood when dinner time rolled around last night so Alexis had some left over chicken and some cucumbers and I had a cucumber salad.

Posted by Dianne at 1:01 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack



Hey everyone!

I just wanted to give you a heads up...If you've posted comments in the past 24 hours and it has gone to moderation I apologize. I've had to tweak my spam filters due to the increased volume of spam and their "creativeness". (Note: I say "creativeness" with a huge dose of sarcasm and loathing because really these vultures are simply boils on the butt of humanity and they aren't really creative, they are just annoying, but that's a rant for another time!!) I can't tell you here exactly what I tweaked in case the vultures are reading, but unfortunately the filters may continue to grab some legitimate comments. I fished out the ones I could find and think I got all of them...Please forgive me if I accidentally deleted a comment...I get thousands of spam comments a day.

So here's the plan...I'll go through the things that got shunted to moderation on a more regular basis, instead of every few days. Unfortunately I do not get an e-mail saying when something is shunted to moderation so I may not see it immediately. If you are a legitimate commenter if you would please when you get a message that says your comment was sent to moderation drop me a note at diannesdishes at gmail dot com and I'll take care of it and make sure it gets posted. I hate that a few idiots have to make things so difficult, but what can you do?

I hope you're all having a fabulous day!

Posted by Dianne at 11:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Veggie Joes

Veggie Joes

So you want a Sloppy Joe, but you're not really in the mood for meat...Now what? Why not make some Veggie Joes instead!

A few years ago when I was experimenting with being a pescatarian, I found out that mushrooms are the perfect substitute for meat! You can use button mushrooms or a combo of different kinds of mushrooms and make some really fabulous dishes that are meat free, but trust me...You'll never miss the meat!

How about a Mushroom and Onion Soup that tastes a lot like French Onion! Or how about making some mushroom broth that can be used in place of beef broth? You can even make Mushroom Stroganoff instead of beef! Mushrooms are very versatile in case you didn't know! ;oP

But for today let's focus on Veggie Joes...Let's get started shall we?

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small package of mushrooms, sliced (Note: You can use button mushrooms, which I used here, or baby portobellos, or a mix of both. The baby portobello mushrooms have a beefy taste when cooked and are just perfect for this dish. I usually use a combo of the two, but I was out of baby portobellos this go round.)
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of organic ketchup (Note: Why organic? Because organic ketchups do not have high fructose corn syrup in them. I use Heinz Organic Ketchup because that is the brand Alexis prefers.)
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of natural brown sugar

Veggie Joes

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and sauté onion and bell pepper in a little extra virgin olive oil until slightly caramelized. Add mushrooms, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper and cook until just tender. Stir in ketchup, vinegar and brown sugar and stir to mix. Cook for 5 minutes on low to let flavors meld.

To serve place mixture on a whole grain bun and eat just like you would a regular Sloppy Joe!

Veggie Joes

How easy is that?

Notes: If mushrooms aren't your thing then you can use textured vegetable or soy protein instead. You can also use this method using ground beef or turkey for a more traditional Sloppy Joe.

Posted by Dianne at 7:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 8, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

I put some chicken in the crock pot with Cajun seasonings. I'm not sure what I'm going to put with it yet, but I know the main course will be chicken! I'll keep thinking about sides as the afternoon goes on.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 1:23 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Mini Double Cheese Quiches

Mini Double Cheese Quiche

I like single serve dishes. For me, for some reason, it makes it easier to eat only what I am supposed to and not keep eating and eating. When I am faced with a big something I tend to eat more of it than I should...Why is that? What better way to control portion size than to make single servings! This is perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch or even dinner. By making the quiches in small single serve pans it's easy to know where to begin and where to end. Pair the quiche with a salad and you've got the perfect meal!

What You'll Need per Mini Pan:
1/4 of a prepared pie crust (Note: I used a store bought crust for this, but any type of crust will work. You just want enough to fill the bottom of your mini tart pan.)
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon of dried dill
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of swiss, shredded
2 tablespoons of fontina, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Fill mini-tart pans with pie crust. Set aside.

In a glass bowl beat eggs. Add dill, sea salt and freshly ground pepper and stir to incorporate. Stir in cheeses and fill each pan with egg mixture until full. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Mini Double Cheese Quiche: Baked

You can make as many, or as few of these as you like. I ended up making two mini quiches...One for then and one for later.

Mini Double Cheese Quiche: A Bite

Note: Quiche is the ultimate play around with food. Add in more cheese, or different cheeses. Play around with herbs that you like. You could even throw in some mushrooms and onions. Or how about some spinach and leeks? The possibilities are endless!

Posted by Dianne at 7:10 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 7, 2008

Thanks to Esther and Hannah!


Esther and Hannah of the Del Sisters Kitchen have chosen me for the Brillante Weblog Award! Thanks guys! That was very sweet of you...And for those of you out there reading be sure to check out Esther and Hannah's blog if you haven't already!

I've been pretty bad about awards lately. I get them, am so appreciative and then I get side tracked with life and haven't gotten back to them and they've fallen through the cracks. I apologize profusely if something fell through the cracks! I'm determined to do better so I'm going to do this one now. It's time to turn the falling through the cracks ship around! ;oP

So here's how it works:

1. When you receive a diamond, make a post about it on your blog.
2. Name the blogger who gave you the diamond.
3. Award the diamonds to seven other bloggers.
4. Link to the bloggers you award.
5. Go tell them that you've given them a diamond award.

Pretty easy so here it goes...(And some of you may have already gotten this award, so I apologize! Just know that you are special twice! ;oP Also I didn't see anything that this had to be only to food blogs so I decided to share the love to some of my non-food loving daily reads as well!)

1. A Fridge Full of Food
2. Allie's Answers
3. Blatherskite
4. London Southern Belle
5. Lucious
6. My Mind's Eye
7. The Prettiest Denny's Waitress

So there is my list. Give them a visit if you're not familiar with them already...You'll be glad that you did!

Thanks again Esther and Hannah! :o)

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Tomato Week 2008: Oven Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil with Rosemary


For years now I've wanted to try oven drying tomatoes, but I just never got around to actually trying to dry them. When you've got grape tomatoes coming out of your ears though drying is just perfect! Of course you could can them too, but why not try something a little different.

So let's round out Tomato Week 2008 with a recipe for drying that is extremely simple, yet gives you an amazing flavor and can be kept for months! This one takes a little time, but the majority of the time you can walk away and ignore the process entirely. What's not to like about that?


P.S. Thanks for all the comments and e-mails about Tomato Week! For those of you who e-mailed please feel free to comment too...We have a fabulous little community here so jump right in!...And Welcome to Dianne's Dishes!

What You'll Need:
Grape or cherry tomatoes (Note: Use as many or as few as you like. I covered my baking sheet with tomatoes, but was careful to make sure they were not touching.)
Olive oil
Fresh rosemary, chopped

Preheat oven to 150 F.

Place tomatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper. For the most part ensure that they are not touching.

Place tomatoes in to the preheated oven and bake until they dry out and start to shrivel. This can take anywhere from 4-8 hours depending on the moisture content of your tomatoes, relative humidity and your oven. Check them every hour or so. When they start to shrivel slightly keep a close eye on them by checking them every 20-30 minutes. They are done when they are slightly rubbery and basically look like large red raisins. When they have dried remove the tomatoes from the oven and let them cool.


Once tomatoes are cool, place them in a canning jar. Cover the tomatoes entirely with olive oil. Add 2-3 tablespoons of freshly chopped rosemary, place the lid on the jar and shake to mix. Store in a cool, dark place and use as you would sun dried tomatoes.


Notes: You can use this process with fresh tomatoes, or even tomatoes that you have frozen. I've tried it both ways and if they are frozen you just put them right on the pan and dry them the exact same way as fresh tomatoes. You also can use the dried tomatoes without storing them in oil, though they will not last as long. Other herbs could be used such as thyme or basil. Some roasted garlic bits would be a nice addition as well. You could also store these in the fridge, but be forewarned that olive oil solidifies when it gets cooler, so don't be surprised if your olive oil hardens a bit. You can "melt" it by bringing the jar out to room temperature before using.

Posted by Dianne at 10:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 6, 2008

Tomato Week 2008: Tomato and Goat Cheese Omelet

Tomato Goat Cheese Omelet

It's the weekend and what better way to celebrate a few days off than to have a fabulous Tomato and Goat Cheese Omelet? This omelet is quick, simple and delicious! It's just perfect for a weekend breakfast or brunch or for any time that you have a little time to pamper yourself!


What You'll Need Per Person:
1 1/2-2 cups of tomatoes, chopped
1 spring of rosemary, stripped
Non-stick spray
2 eggs
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper (Note: I don't always add pepper to my omelets and this time I did not, but it is a good addition.)
2 tablespoons of goat cheese

Preheat skillet until hot, but not screeching hot. You want to cook the eggs, not immediately scorch them. Don't go higher than medium heat.

Tomato Goat Cheese Omelet: Tomatoes Ready to Cook

While your skillet is heating cut tomatoes and place them in a microwave safe glass bowl. (Note: I used golf ball sized tomatoes and cut them into quarters.)

Tomato Goat Cheese Omelet: Tomatoes with Rosemary

Cook tomatoes for 1-2 minutes on high, until soft. Remove from microwave and sprinkle the tomatoes with rosemary leaves that have been stripped from the stem. Set aside.

Crack eggs into a bowl and add a pinch of sea salt. If you choose to use pepper add that at this time too. Beat the eggs until well mixed.

Tomato Goat Cheese Omelet: Ready to Fill

Spray the heated skillet generously with non-stick spray and pour the egg mixture into the hot skillet and swirl around to coat the bottom of the pan. Using a spatula pull back the edges of the egg as it cooks and let the raw egg mixture on top drain to the open spot you've exposed with you spatula. Repeat this process until the top of the egg is no longer eggy.

Once the omelet is relatively dry on top add the tomato mixture to half of the egg circle:

Tomato Goat Cheese Omelet: Tomatoes

Then top the tomatoes with the goat cheese:

Tomato Goat Cheese Omelet: Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Once the cheese is added use your spatula and gently fold over half of the egg circle to cover the tomato/cheese mixture:

Tomato Goat Cheese Omelet: Folded

Gently slide the omelet from the pan and on to your plate. (Note: Omelet disasters happen. If it doesn't come out perfectly don't sweat it...It still tastes good in the end! ;oP)

Pair with some whole grain toast and enjoy!

Tomato Goat Cheese Omelet: Up Close

Notes: You can stuff an omelet with just about anything you can imagine! Let your imagination be your guide and have fun with your stuffing!

Posted by Dianne at 7:11 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 5, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

Tonight we're having pan grilled Old Bay steaks. Alexis and I will have some roasted asparagus, Jamison will have a "baked" potato and we all will have some sweet corn.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 2:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Tomato Week 2008: Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed Tomatoes

For a while stuffed tomatoes have been calling to me. I don't know why and it's not something I've had a lot in my life, but they've been in the back of my mind calling "Hey Dianne...Make us!" I've made a stuffed tomato before, but that version just wasn't quite what I had in mind for this go round, even though goat cheese...Well what's not to like?

When I first envisioned this dish I had thought I would use wild rice in the mix, but as luck would have it when I went to cook the wild rice I discovered mid batch that my steamer had gone to the big steamer heaven in the sky. (What is up with my appliances/kitchen tools lately?? First my food processor, then my manual can opener, then my steamer. And my mixer keeps going in out too. What's up with that?) So I took that as a sign and opted to use a version of lentils instead and let me tell you the substitution was fantastic!

Stuffed Tomatoes are extremely easy to make and they taste fabulous as well, so what are you waiting for?


On a totally unrelated note it looks as though we may have a visit from Topical Storm Hanna over the weekend. The last tropical system that hit Maryland that had a major impact was Isabel in 2003. Alexis was four months old and we lost power for seven days! Seven very long, very icky, very primitive days! Lex looked at us after a day or so like "Really? This is getting old!" Let's hope and pray that this time around things aren't as bad shall we?

Oh and we have two more tomato recipes coming up this weekend! So don't forget to check in. Hopefully the storm won't affect posting! ;o)

Now...On to the recipe!

What You'll Need:
1 cup of cooked black beluga lentils (Note: They are called this because they look like beluga caviar.)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of red onion, chopped
2 large button mushrooms, chopped
1 cup of baby spinach leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces pancetta, chopped
1/2 cup Pecornio Romano or Parmesan cheese, shredded, plus some for sprinkling

In a large skillet sauté onion and mushroom in a little extra virgin olive oil until onion is slightly caramelized. Add spinach and garlic and cook until spinach is just wilted. Add a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and the pancetta and cook until pancetta is slightly browned. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

While the veggie/pancetta mixture is cooling cut the tops off of your tomatoes:

Stuffed Tomatoes: Tomatoes Ready to Hollow

Next scoop out the flesh and seeds of the tomato and set aside:

Stuffed Tomatoes: Tomatoes Ready to Stuff

(Note: There is not need to waste the stuff you scooped out. I like to put it in the freezer and use it when I make chili or tomato soup.)

Once the tomatoes are hollowed out mix cooked lentils into the veggie/pancetta mixture along with the grated cheese and stir to mix. Stuff each tomato generously and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with some shredded cheese and drizzle with a little olive oil:

Stuffed Tomatoes: Ready to Bake

Bake tomatoes for 25-30 minutes until the tomato is tender, but not mushy. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Stuffed Tomatoes: Baked

With large tomatoes this easily makes a main course. Pair it with some steamed vegetables and/or a salad and you've got the perfect meal!

Note: This mixture will fill 4 large softball sized tomatoes, but you could also use smaller golf ball sized tomatoes and make it an appetizer instead of a main course. If you wanted to make it vegetarian you could leave out the pancetta.

Posted by Dianne at 7:10 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 4, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

Tonight is class night for Jamison. I have a conference call this afternoon so Alexis and I are having a quick, easy, healthy dinner...Chick pea salad!

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 1:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tomato Week 2008: Fresh Tomato Pasta Topper

Fresh Tomato Pasta Topper

Making a Fresh Tomato Pasta Topper is a breeze and so much better than most sauces out of the bottle! (And trust me I'm beyond bored with sauce as I've mentioned before! ;oP) You can mix and match ingredients/herbs and it can be different every time, or you can follow a basic recipe and have a fabulous, delicious, dependable meal in no time! Pair the topper with some whole grain pasta (in this case I used gluten free corn pasta) and you've got a healthy, satisfying meal in no time!


What You'll Need For Two People:
1 cup of cooked whole grain pasta
Extra virgin olive oil
3-4 asparagus spears, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2-3 button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of chopped tomato (Note: I used tomatoes that were roughly the size of golf balls and quartered them.)
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
Shredded Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Fresh Tomato Pasta Topper: Cooking

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

While pasta is cooking in a large skillet sauté asparagus, shallot, mushroom and garlic in a little extra virgin olive oil until asparagus and mushrooms are tender and the shallots are slightly caramelized. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and herbs and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until tomatoes are just soft. Remove from heat and serve over whole grain pasta. Top with a little shredded cheese and serve immediately.

Notes: Any vegetable you like is great in this. Squash and zucchini make great additions, as do leeks. A mix of mushrooms is also good. You can also add in rosemary or basil or a mix of any herbs that suit your taste.

Posted by Dianne at 7:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 3, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

Tonight Alexis and I are having Parmesan Chicken with Mushrooms and roasted asparagus. Jamison is having chicken made with an herb blend and a baked potato.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 3:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tomato Week 2008: Salsa!

Salsa: A Bowl Full of Stuff to Make Salsa

A few weeks ago my sister braved my overgrown garden (Long story...But needless to say some unforeseen things popped up, the garden went wild and we haven't been able to get ahead of its wildness! Plus my sister saw a little slithery being wrapped around one of the plants and let's just say I'm not a snake person so that has kind of made me not want to tame it all the more, but rather clean it up after the cold weather comes back and the snakes go away to their little snakey lairs! I did venture down to pick some green tomatoes though a few days later...But back to the rest of the story! ;oP) and picked a huge bowl full of peppers and tomatoes. Of course we ate some as is, but after a while you've still got tomatoes coming out of your ears and you want something a little different. So that's when it's time to pull out the stops and make some salsa!

Salsa can be made many ways. I actually made this version and canned it using a water bath. My mom got me a pressure canner as an early birthday so I plan on using that next time, but for this batch the water bath worked just fine. I'm not going to go really in depth into the canning process. There are informative websites out there such as this one or if you want something in print in your hand I highly recommend Canning & Preserving for Dummies! But for now let's get started shall we?


What You'll Need:
Red and green tomatoes, chopped (Note: I like to put both red and green tomatoes in my salsa. You can just use red tomatoes if you like or you can use some tomatillos too.)
Peppers, deseeded and chopped (Note: You can use any type of peppers you like here as well. I used sweet banana peppers, pimentos and some sweet chile peppers, but you can use jalapeños and other hot peppers if you like.)
1 large red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 tablespoons of chili powder
2 tablespoons of paprika
2 teaspoons of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 cup of apple cider vinegar

Salsa: Chopped Tomatoes

In a very large pot (I like at least a 13 quart pot) fill the pot with tomatoes until it is about half full. (Note: I do not peel or seed my tomatoes when I'm making salsa or canning. Why waste all that fiber? Plus peeling a tomato is a pain in the you know what so why make it hard on yourself? Chop and go my friends, chop and go!)

Next add in your chopped onion and peppers an stir to mix:

Salsa: Ready for Spices

Don't worry about exact measurements for this. You don't need them! You want roughly 3/4ths of a pot of vegetables, but if it's not exactly that much or a bit more, no big deal! This is very forgiving...You can't go wrong!

Next add your spices and vinegar and stir well to coat:

Salsa: With Spices

Next bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes or until veggies are soft:

Salsa: Cooked

Remove from heat and can immediately.


This gave me two quarts and a small jar, plus a little to put in the fridge.

If you do not want to go through the canning process you can keep this in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Notes: This really is a make it as you like kind of recipe. If you like it hot, go for the hot peppers or add more hot spices. If you like it mild, then go with sweet peppers and leave out the cayenne. It's all a matter of personal taste.

Posted by Dianne at 7:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 2, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What's For Dinner Graphic

Jamison has class this evening and I'm not sure what Alexis and I are going to have. When she gets up from her nap I'll see if she has any ideas. Right now I'm drawing a complete blank!

What are you having?

Update: 5:27 PM: We had an early dinner. We had some left over roast beef from this weekend so I made a roast beef sandwich and had some apple. Alexis wanted cherries, apple and mozzarella. Simple, quick and tasty...Not bad at all! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 1:23 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Tomato Week 2008: Corn Cake and Tomato Sandwiches

Corn Cakes and Tomatoes

One of my sister and my favorite ways to eat tomatoes is to make Corn Cake and Tomato sandwiches! I remember having tomatoes and corn cakes as children, but I don't remember making sandwiches with them, though we do now! The corn cake is the perfect base for the sandwich and compliments the juicy, ripe tomato so well! This is a quick, easy and delicious way to utilize all those luscious ripe tomatoes!


What You'll Need for the Corn Cakes:
2 cups of corn meal
1 cup of white whole wheat flour (Note: Unbleached white flour works fine too.)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk (Note: You may need more or less. You want the consistency of pancake batter.)
Non-stick spray or oil for the pan

Corn Cakes: Browning

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.

While the skillet is heating in a large bowl stir together corn meal, flour, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt until well mixed. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate.

Corn Cakes

Spray pan with non-stick spray or brush with oil. Spoon batter into the hot pan as you would pancakes and brown on each side, flipping once. Once done through remove from heat and place on a plate for serving.

Corn Cakes and Tomatoes

What You'll Need to Make the Sandwiches:
Corn Cakes (See above)
Tomatoes, sliced
Sea salt
Light mayonnaise

Spread a corn cake with a light layer of mayo, add a tomato, sprinkle with a little sea salt and top with another corn cake. Eat whole or slice.

How easy is that?

Notes: You could add cucumbers and bell pepper strips to the sandwich too if you liked. Or even a slice of cheese, but they really are fabulous just with the tomato!

Posted by Dianne at 7:31 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 1, 2008

What's For Dinner?: Labor Day Edition!

What's For Dinner Graphic

This afternoon some friends of ours we haven't seen for a long time are coming over and bringing their son. We plan on relaxing, chatting and letting the kids play. We decided to make a couple of pizzas for dinner: A gluten free meat pizza and a regular veggie pizza. I've got everything shredded/chopped/ready to go in the fridge so when the time comes I'll put the pizzas together. We'll also have a tossed salad and homeade blue cheese or ranch dressing to choose from.

I had planned to make Dorie's Ice Cream Torte yesterday, but I ran out of time. I'm baking a basic chocolate cake (cooling now) and plan to frost it with Caramel Frosting. I made Jamison a gluten free chocolate cake and will frost it the same way.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 12:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Tomato Week 2008: Farmer's Market Salad


Allie from Allie's Answers has asked me to do a guest blog spot on her blog while she is on vacation, so let's start out Tomato Week with a little Salad and share it with Allie's readers as well shall we?

Farmer's Market Salad

Summer is such a wonderful time to create in the kitchen with all the fresh fruits and vegetables at your disposal. It is so easy to eat fresh and locally when there is such an abundance of choices at your finger tips! If you haven't already take a stroll through your local farmer's market...It's amazing what you will find and the many things that you can do with what you find. Even if you find an ingredient that you've never heard of the person selling the item will often have ideas of what to do with it, even if you may not! Sometimes though it's best to just let the freshness of the ingredients be your guide, because there is just nothing like a fresh fruit or vegetable. The tastes are just incomparable to anything you'll find the rest of the year! Plus in the summer who wants to heat up your house? Sometimes simple is best and if it's delicious and can be made quickly to boot you just can't go wrong!

What You'll Need:
1 large tomato, cut into thin wedges
1 large cucumber, cut in half and sliced
1-2 ounces of fresh pearl mozzarella (Note: I found a great locally made version...See what you can find in your area!)
Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 springs of fresh rosemary, stripped from the stem
A pinch of coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Slice tomatoes and place on a plate. Top with cucumbers and some fresh pearl mozzarella. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and then sprinkle with rosemary, coarse sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 dinner sized portion or two generous sized side salads.

Farmer's Market Salad

Notes: How easy is that? Not to mention quick and you didn't have to heat up your house either. It's a win, win situation all around and though simple this recipe will definitely impress!

Cross posted at Allie's Answers.

Posted by Dianne at 7:31 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack