Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Roasted Tomato Soup: Guest post

A great spin on the family favorite of tomato soup and grilled cheese. Great for summer with all those tomatoes!
If you are feeling adventurous, you could use this soup as a base and add tortellini, pepperoni, sausage, or peppers to creat a mirade of other options.

Roasted Tomato Soup
8-10 tomatoes on the vine
6 minced cloves garlic
1/4 c. olive oil
1 t. salt
Toss together and roast at 450 for approx 40 minutes.
Remove skins from tomatoes
Saute in 2 T. olive oil
1/2 to whole white onion - chopped fine
Place in pot with:
Roasted tomatoes
2 c. water
2 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. red pepper flakes

Bring to boil and then reduce heat and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes.
Blend until smooth in blender before serving.
Can Garnish with:
Grated Parmesan
Our family rated this 5 spoons. I added pesto directly to the soup for everyone and we loved it. We had a dinner party with it, and wished there was more! I served with Italian Pesto Sandwiches.
Italian Pesto Sandwiches
Sliced Italian bread or a sturdy french bread
Brush outsides with butter (no substitutes!) (I add minced garlic to the butter first just for extra deliciousness!)
Spread prepared pesto on one side of bread
Place shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top of pesto

Bake sandwiches on crinkled tinfoil on a baking sheet for 30-40 min at 300 degrees, flipping once. Or can toast on griddle.


Also 5 spoons! I wish there were 6 spoons! :)
This combination is one of our favorites and monthly menu regulars!
Callie Robbins

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Black Bean and Mango Tostadas

This was a fast and fabulous recipe from the May issue of All You - Every last bit of tostada and mango salsa was gone!

This was a great example of a method - once you know how to bake the tostada's in the oven - you can make these with any protein, cheese and topping - the possibilities are seriously endless!


1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp salt
4 8-inch flour tortillas
6oz grated Monterey Jack - I used pepper jack cheese
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1/4 small red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp lime juice


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine beans, olive oil, scallions, chili powder and 1/2 tsp salt in a bowl.

2. Mist a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place tortillas on sheet and spoon bean mixture on top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.

3. While tostadas are baking combine mango, onion, lime juice and 1/4 tsp salt in a bowl. Remove tostadas from oven, spoon mango mixture on top and serve immediately.


I was really surprised at how crispy this tortilla got! We were still able to fold them over and eat them - but they had a great crunch!

This was an absolute 5 spoon! Not only did we all love this recipe - I am going to work this recipe into my rotation of meals - I think it would be great with ground beef and chicken too!


Ending It With Something Sweet: Ice Cream Tunnel Cake

Did you ever see a recipe in a magazine and think - that looks good enough - I could almost eat the picture?

That's what happened to me - this recipe looked that good!

But I royally messed it up by:

A. Not following the directions very carefully - I kept thinking - I know what I am doing!

B. Using a meatloaf pan instead of just foil. I spread the ice cream out way past the edge of the cake.

C. Trying to throw this together too quickly - we were headed out the door to go see Toy Story 3 and I wanted it to be ready for an after supper treat.

Learn from me People - Take your time, follow directions and maybe you will have a masterpiece on your hands!

It really does taste as good as it looked in the magazine!

Ice Cream Tunnel Cake
Parenting Magazine July 2010



1 lb strawberries, sliced
2 Tbsp sugar, divided
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 15oz prepared angel food cake
2 cups strawberry ice cream, softened


Toss the strawberries and blueberries each with 1 Tbsp sugar.

Using a serrated knife, slice off the top inch of the cake and carefully set it aside. Leaving a 1 inch wall on either side, cut a "trench" in the bottom part of the cake. Stop at least 2 inches from the bottom.

Layer strawberries, ice cream and blueberries in the trench, taking care to stay level with the top of the walls at the end. (You'll have some fruit left over.) Place the cake "lid" back on and freeze two hours or overnight.

Just before serving, spoon the remaining fruit over the top of the cake or serve it with each slice.


This is most certainly a 5 spoon dessert - even if it looks like Miss Maddy made it.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Split Pea & Ham Soup

I made a commitment to clean out the kitchen freezer of left overs this week. Seriously. I was having to open and grab what I needed fast for fear of something sliding out and falling on my toes! The first challenge was a big ol' meaty ham bone left over from a Sunday ham dinner.

Split Pea & Ham Soup

1.) To a large dutch oven add:
  • 1 (thawed) meaty ham bone
  • 2 large carrots shredded
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced or 1 teaspoon garlic from a jar
  • 1 lb. of split peas
  • 6 cups of water

2.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to a simmer.

3.) Cover and simmer for an hour or until peas are soft, stirring occasionally.

4.) Remove ham bone, cut the meat from the bone and dice it. Return the meat back to the soup.

We chose to serve the pea soup with toasted Chiabatta rolls and tall glass of milk. It was a satisfying dinner for 6 - 8 people.

Note: Split pea soup will thicken upon sitting or during refrigeration. To thin, heat slowly and stir in small amounts of water, chicken stock, light cream or milk until desired consistency is reached.

This definately falls in to the 4 spoon rating - Yummy and Useful!

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Taking It Easy

For the weekend we thought we would take it easy...just post a quote, picture or short food article.

Thanks so much for joining us in our kitchens!

Vegetables are a must on a diet.

I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread,
and pumpkin pie.

~Jim Davis


Friday, June 25, 2010

Guest Post: Spaghetti Dinner

Because I knew that this week would be a crazy one for me (especially after last week's meltdown), I strong-armed sweetly asked my 12 year old nephew to do a post for me.  He lives cleeeear across the country in the beautiful state of Oregon, and during his summer break, he's in charge of Monday night dinners. Isn't that such a great idea?*  So today's post is one of his favorite dinners to make his family on his night to cook.  Hope you all enjoy it!  (I probably need to get busy shipping him some cake pops or something...)

* He was worried that if other kids in his town got wind of how he's being so helpful to his mom (and me!), that he'd become very unpopular. I assured him that all the brownie points he'll earn from you moms out there will more than compensate for any disgruntled 6th graders who may not be excited about this :)

Quinn's Spaghetti Dinner

Start with easy ingredients:
    1 qt of Spaghetti Sauce (I chose the Fire Roasted Tomato and Garlic by Classico)
    1 pkg of spaghetti noodles (only use about ½ of the package)
    1 ½ lb of Venison burger (no fat in ours)
    1 bag of green salad
    1 tube of Pillsbury French Bread Loaf

Step 1:
    Fill pasta pan with 2/3 water and bring to boil

Step 2:
    Put burger in frying pan and brown

Step 3:
    Put French bread loaf on cooking sheet and follow instructions on the package.

Step 4:
    Once burger is browned you can add sauce (no need to drain because there isn’t any fat).

    Heat burger and sauce on medium until a low boil starts (just a few bubbles start in the sauce) and then put on low heat until you are ready to serve dinner.

Step 5 :
    Add noodles (I usually break them in half before adding them) to the boiling water.

    Stir just a bit and let them come to a boil again. Let them boil for about 3 to 5 minutes and then drain.

Step 6:
    Slice French bread and butter

Step 7:
    Dish the food onto a plate and eat!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I know a lot of people pack away their crock pot when warmer weather strikes but mine stays out all year round.  I can throw something in before I leave for the beach and when I get back, dinner is ready!

This recipe is a hit with all 5 of my family members.  Well, a big hit with 3 of us, the other 2 will eat it.  Hubs puts his request in for this pretty frequently. 


1 pork shoulder roast, approx 2 1/2 pounds
1 (14oz) bottle BBQ sauce
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 medium onion, chopped
buns or rolls

Place pork in crock pot.  Cover and cook on low 10-12 hours or high 5-6 hours. 

Remove pork roast from crock pot and discard cooking liquid.  Shred pork with 2 forks.

pulled pork

Return to pot and add BBQ sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, and onion.  Cover and cook on low 2 hours or high 1 hour.  Serve on rolls.

pulled pork

Note: This recipe needs a smaller crock pot. If you are using a 5, 6 or 7 quart cooker, double all ingredients and increase BBQ sauce to 21 oz.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Zesty Chicken Tortilla Bake

This week we found ourselves short on grocery money because of an emergency root canal, so we decided to cook from the pantry, when I saw I had all the ingredients for this and the pic looked really good,
I decided to try it! :)

Zesty Chicken Tortilla Bake
(this recipe was pulled from Kraft foods food & Family magazine the holiday 09 edition)


1/2 C Miracle Whip Dressing
1/2 C Flour
3 C Milk
8oz shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 1/2 lb. Boneless Skinless chicken Breasts, cooked and cut into bite sized pieces (used two breasts)
1/2 C chunky salsa (used a bit more after taste testing)
1/2 C chopped fresh parsley (I used half that amount in dried parsley)
16 Flour tortillas (we used 13)


Preheat oven to 375

mix dressing, flour in medium saucepan with whisk until well blended. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring CONSTANTLY;

I am a messy cook!

Cook and stir until thickened. All 1 Cup of cheese; cook until melted, stirring constantly. Reserve 1 Cup sauce.



Stir in Chicken, salsa and parsley into remaining sauce; spoon 1/3 C sauce mix down the center of each tortilla. Roll up. Place seams side down, in each 13x9 pan (2) baking dishes sprayed with cooking spray; top with reserved sauce and remaining cheese.

Bake 25min or until heated through.

Ok, so after getting the salsa etc mixed in, I tasted it and wanted more salsa so we added 1/4 C more, I also wanted a spicier... flavor so I tossed in some taco seasoning to try to make it more spicy. Also the recipe only made 13 for us not 16 and I used one 9x13 dish and one much smaller.

Hubs rated it a 3, I rated it a 2.

Sorry folks, I really wanted it to be good, it sounded good, but it just didn't come through, we had so many left overs we invited the neighbors over to taste test with us, they also thought it was a 3.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer time really is Salad time.

Along with burgers and hotdogs cooked out on the grill - Summer time is just the perfect time to take it easy and throw together a salad for supper.

This recipe comes from a preview booklet that I got in the mail for
Southern Living's Homestyle glad that I open every bit of junk mail! I might have missed out of a couple of really Yummy recipe cards!

I really tried to stick to the recipe listed out below...but I had to make a few adjustments to fit my family and budget:

I used Jiffy Cornbread mix - I am not a big fan of buttermilk cornbread.

I left out the red onions (since I was using green onions already - my kids really fight me about raw onions - and I thought one battle would be enough!)

I used green bell peppers - they were 50 cents a piece vs. $1.78 for yellow.

I was unable to find Parmesan-peppercorn dressing (anyone ever heard of this? It's sounds really good) so I used Parmesan Ranch from Hidden Valley.

I also didn't make this 8 hours in advance - I like that option though - a couple times a year I am responsible for bringing something to family dinners and this would work out beautifully as I would be able to make it up the night before!

Stacked Cornbread and Turkey Salad



1 6oz package of buttermilk cornbread mix
1 12oz bottle of Parmesan-peppercorn dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk

1 9oz package of romaine lettuce, shredded
2 1/2 cups chopped smoked turkey
2 large yellow bell peppers, chopped
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 cup diced celery (about 3 celery ribs)
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
10 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
2 green onions, sliced

1. Prepare cornbread according to package directions; cool and crumble. Set aside.

2. Stir together dressing, mayonnaise, and buttermilk until well blended.

3. Layer half each of crumbled cornbread, shredded lettuce and next 7 ingredients in a large glass bowl; spoon half of dressing mixture evenly over top. Repeat layers ending with dressing mixture. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Sprinkle with green onions just before serving.


We really liked this salad! I would like to rate it a 5 spoon - but even with 6 people eating it - there was so much left over that we had enough left over to have it for lunch the next day with the addition of hard boiled eggs.

4 spoons with a nod at 5!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Pasta Fagioli

Pasta Fagioli
  • Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Spinach (from the garden!) equivalent of 2 bags (6 ounces each) baby spinach
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme ( from the garden!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Box Whole Wheat Penne Pasta
1.) Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and saute for a few seconds. Add the spinach one bag at a time and cook for 4 – 5 minutes, or until wilted.
2.) Add the tomatoes, beans, olives, thyme, salt, and pepper and simmer for 8 – 10 minutes.
3.) Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander and transfer to a bowl. Serve sauce over the pasta.

Doesn't this dish just scream of flavor & vitamins? "Bud" loved the olives. It was the highlight of the dish for him. Everyone else ate their dinner, however, I noticed that they left the olives in their bowls. So I think I will try this recipe again but either leave out olives completely or substitute with black olives. Sorry Bud! Majority rules. :) Our family gave this a 3 - 4 spoon rating.

If you would like to see how I was able to make this dinner for 4 for under $5.00 you can check out my post over at Money Saving Maine-iac.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Taking It Easy

For the weekend we thought we would take it easy...just post a quote, picture or short food article.

Thanks so much for joining us in our kitchens!


Cucumber Punch

2 medium cucumbers
3 cups water
1 can 12 oz frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 liters diet ginger ale, chilled
4 1/2 cups citrus soda, chilled

With a zester or fork, score cucumbers lengthwise; cut width wise into thin slices. in a large pitcher, combine water and lemonade concentrate, add cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving, transfer cucumber to a punch bowl; stir in ginger ale and citrus soda.

The whole family thought that this was a delicious and refreshing drink! We just kept saying - it's so weird that it tastes so good!


What's your favorite summer drink?


Friday, June 18, 2010

Ghost Town.

Ever have one of those weeks that just chews you up and spits you out?  Yes?  So, you feel my pain. 

At this moment, I've had less than two hours of sleep, am about to leave for the airport, utterly flopped the treats I was supposed to bring to a friend's wedding (Flopped.), and have no fun recipes for you to share.  Lots of sadness in that sentence right there :(

I actually did make a recipe, with pretty photos and all that.  But the recipe was gross.  Like, the worst I've done for you yet.  And last night, while I was flopping the wedding treats (I'm still in denial that I'm going to show up empty handed), I ran out of time to post the remnants of a recipe for you.  Sigh.

Sigh some more.

I hope you all have a much better weekend than my previous 36 hours.  I really, truly do.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tortellini Stir Fry

Would you like to know what makes this recipe Ta-Daa?  It is easy!  I seek out easy recipes.  If there are 8 million steps or a bunch of ingredients I wouldn't know where to find in the grocery store then I pass over it.  This one had my name written all over it.

Hubs and my oldest child rated it a 5 and kept going back for more
I rated it a 4
The other 2...well, it was food that was touching each other AND had sauce on it.  How dare I? 

Photobucket from Life in the BAT Cave.  Pop on over for a visit!

1 (9oz) package of tortellini
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 (16 oz) package of frozen stir-fry vegetables
1/3 cup stir fry sauce (I used a sesame-garlic sauce)
2 Tbs. water
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
2 Tbs. chopped unsalted cashews or peanuts (I did not use)

Prepare tortellini according to package directions.
tortellini stir fry
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add vegetables and cook 7-8 minutes until crisp tender.
tortellini stir fry

Stir in cooked tortellini, stir-fry sauce, water and red pepper; cook 1-2 minutes or until mixture is heated through.
tortellini stir fry

Sprinkle with nuts just before serving. 

Serves 4 (unless you have kids like 2 of mine!)
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