Category: Munchies Mind


Mexican Stuffed Peppers with QuinoaThis is my first try at making stuffed peppers, and if I do say so myself… I nailed it!!

I think I’ve only had them one time before today, and my impression was of a bunch of ground beef and rice stuffed into a pepper. I don’t remember much flavor, but I do remember I didn’t care to have them again.

The Pretty One’s friend made stuffed peppers for dinner one evening and he told me how good they were. I was surprised, and started thinking there must be more to them than beef and rice. When I found a couple of recipes this summer, I bookmarked them so I could try them when TPO went back to school.Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa

After looking at a few recipes, I chose a vegetarian quinoa and black bean stuffed pepper recipe for the base. We like a little heat in our food so I added a jalapeno and pepper jack cheese, and we eat meat so I added ground turkey.  Basically, I made a filling that I thought was tasty, filled the peppers, and voila! Delish Mexican Stuffed Peppers that are high in protein. I’d say they’re low fat, but that would just be wishful thinking because I used a lot of cheese. I love cheese!

If you want to cut the fat, use 2% cheese or a smaller quantity of cheese – or even eliminate it altogether. Skip the meat, add extra peppers, whatever sounds good to you. This is a very forgiving recipe, and doesn’t require you to make it exactly like I did. With some experimenting, you’ll find the perfect combination for your taste!

I made these up and put them in the frig for a couple of hours before I baked them. The only adjustment needed if you want to do that is to bake them longer since you’ll be starting with cold food in a chilled dish.

These stuffed peppers have rewritten what I thought I knew about the dish, and I know I’ll make them again!

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Stuff you need:

6 bell peppers [any color, but multi-colors are more fun!], sliced in half stem-to-tip, seeds removed
1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 pound ground turkey or beef
1 packet taco seasoning for 1# meat
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles (do not drain)
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
1 – 2 jalapeno peppers, minced [optional]
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup picante sauce – whatever heat level you prefer
6 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, grated or diced into small cubes
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated, divided
15 ounce can red enchilada sauce

Now what?

Add quinoa to a small saucepan with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 5 minutes, cover, turn off heat and let steam 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

In the meantime, microwave pepper halves 2-3 minutes to soften slightly. Set aside. (Prepared this way, the peppers should come out crisp-tender. If you want them crisper, you can omit this step.)

In a skillet, brown ground turkey and diced onion. Add taco seasoning and cook as directed.

Add quinoa, black beans, tomato, green chiles and their juices, jalapeno, cilantro, 1/4 tsp pepper and picante sauce to the meat/onions in the skillet. Stir in pepper jack cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.

Pour enchilada sauce into a 9×13″ baking dish. [Depending on the size of your peppers, you may need an additional 8×8″ baking dish. If so, divide your enchilada sauce accordingly.]

Divide filling among peppers and set stuffed peppers into the enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheddar cheese.

Cover the pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and cook about 5 minutes longer. Serve peppers drizzled with enchilada sauce.

Note: If you want to make this vegetarian, use 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water. Cook the onion with the quinoa. Omit the meat. Follow the rest of the steps.

I said I wouldn’t be one of those people who cooked for their dogs. And then we brought Riley home.

4 ingredient peanut butter Dog TreatsHe had a cough and choked on his hard food, so on Day 2 I found myself cooking up some brown rice, egg whites and cheese. I thought that would hold him over until I could get some softer dog food.

Well, I didn’t stop there. New dogs require training, and training requires treats. Treats are expensive, so when I saw this post for DIY Dog Treats that uses only 4 ingredients, I thought I should try them. I had everything in-house and I already had the oven on!

These are super-simple to make, and so cute too! I would have used a bone-shaped cookie cutter but I don’t have one so I used the heart. The Pretty One has been making fun of me since he saw them! As he says, just a day after I said I wouldn’t cook for a dog, I baked him treats. And not only did I bake him treats, but I cut them into little heart shapes! He’s taken great delight in showing them to his sister and his friends. I’m glad I’m here to amuse him. What are mothers for, right?

I got about 4 dozen treats from the batch using a 2″ cookie cutter. I’ve read some comments on other blogs that some dogs don’t do well with wheat. Riley hasn’t had any trouble with them, but if your dog is sensitive to any of the ingredients, the simple solution is to not make them. 🙂

Oh, and you should freeze whatever you don’t expect to use within a week. I checked the batch yesterday (2-3 weeks after I made them) and they’re growing fuzz.

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Stuff you need:

2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)

1 cup milk

Now what?

Preheat oven to 375′F.

In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In another bowl, mix peanut butter and milk, then add to dry ingredients and mix well. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead.

Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Bake for 18-20 minutes on a greased baking sheet until lightly brown. Cool on a rack, then store in an airtight container.

Make sure you keep an eye on them, because they tend to burn easily.

Freeze whatever you won’t use within the week.

Today is Thanksgiving, and my mama is in town to celebrate with us!

Pumpkin Pecan Crumble Pie

“Light and fluffy. The perfect pie!”

Thanksgiving is full of traditions, except in my house. We’re not big turkey people, so I usually make something else. I guess you could say that’s our tradition. One year we had baby back ribs, another fried chicken.

Today was no exception – I made stuffed pork chops with an apple/onion/celery stuffing, mom’s sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, mashed potatoes & gravy (maybe the BEST food ever!!), corn, rolls, and of course, pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Pecan Crumble PieI’ve said it before – I’m not so whoopie on pumpkin stuff, but it’s “traditional” so I was set on making a pumpkin pie. However, somehow I got the idea of a nut streusel-type topping for it. I must have been looking at recipes with streusel or something. Well, it turned out to be a good addition to the pie – just enough crunch and a little extra flavor for a pie that’s typically simple.

With the extra step of the topping it takes a bit more effort to make this pie, but according to my mama, it’s “so light and fluffy! It’s the perfect pie.” I’ll take her word for it; she really likes pumpkin pie! I tasted it but didn’t love it, mostly because it wasn’t a chocolate pie.  🙂 I expect my daughter will love it – she’s the family pumpkin queen. If you like pumpkin, I bet you’ll love it too!

Pumpkin Pecan Crumble Pie

Adapted from Food Network.com

Stuff you need:

1 unbaked pie crust [Use your favorite recipe or buy one. Follow directions on package to prepare, but do not pre-bake crust.]

Filling:

2 eggs, beaten
1 (16-ounce) can pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk [I used light. I don’t think fat-free would be good in this but I could be wrong.]

Pecan Crumble Topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Now what?

Filling:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Beat eggs until frothy [probably about 5 minutes]. Add all remaining ingredients in order given [one at a time], beating only until well blended.
Pour filling into crust.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. [The original recipe said to bake for 35 minutes and then add the topping, but my topping sank. Try it out with just a few pieces and see what happens. If most of it stays on top, you’re good.]

Topping:

Combine topping ingredients.
Remove pie from oven and sprinkle topping over filling. [Or gently pull the oven rack out enough to put on the topping and then gently push the rack back in. No need to remove the pie.]
Return pie to oven and bake 15-25 minutes more or until center is set.
If crust is getting too brown, cover with foil (with the center cut out) or pie crust shield.
Ovens vary, so you’ll have to keep an eye on the pie to see when it’s done. Mine took 60-70 minutes total.

Peanut Butter CarmelitasI love Oatmeal Carmelitas. The combination of caramel, chocolate, and oatmeal in a bar is irresistible to me!

It had been quite a while since I made a batch, and while looking for a peanut butter and chocolate dessert to make for my friend Amie’s birthday, I ran across the recipe. The thought of these made my mouth water, and I started trying to figure out how to work peanut butter into the recipe. After a little thought, I had it – peanut butter caramel! After all, the peanut butter caramel in the Knock You REALLY Naked Brownies was fantastic, so it should be delish in Carmelitas too, right?

I adapted a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Pillsbury: Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook, published in 1996. Just about everything I’ve tried from this cookbook is a winner. The hard work was already done by the Bake-Off contestant, but I think I took a really good recipe and made it even better!

Peanut Butter Carmelitas

Stuff you need:

Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats

1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups margarine or butter, softened [2 1/2 sticks]

Filling

1 (12.5 oz.) jar (1 cup) caramel ice cream topping

1/2 cup peanut butter

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Now what?

Heat oven to 350F. Grease 13 x 9inch pan and set aside.

In large bowl, mix all ingredients at low speed until crumbly.

Press half of crumb mixture, about 3 cups, in bottom of greased pan. Reserve remaining crumb mixture for topping.

Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, microwave peanut butter for about 20 seconds. Remove from microwave and slowly stir in caramel and 3 T flour.

Add 1/2 cup peanuts to remaining crumb mixture and mix well.

Remove partially baked crust from oven; sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Drizzle evenly with caramel mixture. [There’s enough caramel mixture to pour over the crust and cover most of it.]

Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.

Bake at 350F for an additional 22 – 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool completely then refrigerate 1 – 2 hours until filling is set.

Cut into bars.

Fresh Apple Cake

Fresh Apple CakeHow about a quick and easy apple cake? The most time-consuming part about this is chopping up the apples. If you’re lazy like me, don’t bother to peel them. Just wash them well, and start chopping!

I used Granny Smith apples because that’s what I had in the house. Use your favorite kind, or a mixture of sweet with tart. I didn’t chop the apples too much because I like to have pieces in my cake. However, if you don’t like biting into apple chunks, dice them finer.Fresh Apple Cake!

The batter will be very thick. That’s fine – just make sure you’ve got the dry ingredients mixed evenly with the wet ingredients before smooshing the batter into the pan.

Make a 9 x 13 pan or split the batter into two 9×9 cake pans and keep one for yourself, and share the other with friends.

Fresh Apple Cake

Adapted from Midwest Living

Stuff you need:
3 cups flour [I used 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 all-purpose flour.]
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sale
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 medium Granny Smith apples, washed and chopped [Peel if that’s your preference – or you’re not as lazy as I am.]
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Powdered sugar for dusting

Now what?

Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan or 2 9×9-inch baking pans; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; make a well in center of dry mixture and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, oil and vanilla; stir in apples and nuts.

Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened (batter will be stiff). Smoosh batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 1 hour. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. If you like, dust with powdered sugar or top each serving with sweetened whipped cream and an apple slice.

New Format, New Dog!

I’m trying a new format. With all the recipes on one page, it’s difficult to search for a specific one. Even I’ve had trouble finding recipes on that page, and I wrote them!

From now on, I’m going to put the recipes in the post with the stories about them. By request from my sis the Kitchen Kween, I will make sure the recipes are in blocks and not chopped up with pictures so it’ll be easier to select the text and print just that, if you’re into printing things. Hopefully it’ll be easier to find what you’re looking for!Riley!

Besides a new format, I have a new dog! We brought Riley home from Wayside Waifs yesterday. He’s a spaniel mix and a real sweetie. I think he likes to cook – he “helped’ me in the kitchen this afternoon. So far he isn’t interested in doing the dishes, though.

Riley’s got a little cold and coughs when he eats dry food, so I mixed up a brown rice/egg white/cheese concoction for him. Yes, I’ve become one of those people I said I’d never be – those who cook for their pets, instead of giving them dry dog food. I’ve become my mother, and The Pretty One is laughing at me. But hey – I got the pooch to eat, so I’m happy. Wish me luck in transitioning him back to dry food, though.  😉

Thanks for reading my blog and trying my recipes. I’m always interested in your suggestions and feedback, so don’t be shy!

Yesterday the temperature was in the 70s. This afternoon? 31 very damp, chilly degrees. I know it’s November, but I was really enjoying the warm sunshine!

Steak Soup

Steak Soup – Kansas City Style!

Since the temperature isn’t working in my favor, it seemed like a good day to make a pot of soup. Plaza III The Steakhouse in Kansas City is known for their Steak Soup. When the natives talk about steak soup, it’s this one. This copycat recipe from my friend Jennifer’s family cookbook is delicious and perfect for a chilly day! The recipe makes about a gallon of soup, so if you don’t have a big family or a party of people to feed, freeze some or share with friends!

The soup is surprisingly simple and uses few ingredients. The original recipe calls for Accent but I don’t use it because it contains – or is – MSG, which makes me wheeze. Instead, I substituted some salt and burger seasoning to add richness.

It’s easy to see why this is a Kansas City favorite!

Plaza III Steak Soup

This recipe makes about a gallon of soup so make sure you are using a BIG stock pot! If you don’t want that much, the recipe should halve easily.

Stuff you need:

1 pound ground chuck / ground beef [The Pretty One likes thicker soup so I used 1 1/2 pounds.]

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup margarine (1 stick)

1 cup flour

8 cups water [Original recipe said 1/2 gallon but I had to look up how many cups that was!]

2 Tablespoons beef base / beef concentrate [This is the stuff in the jars in the soup aisle, probably on the top shelf. Restaurants use this – that’s why their soups are so good!]

1 package frozen mixed veggies (about 1 pound)

1 can (2 pounds) tomatoes, UNdrained [I used 2 14-oz cans petite diced tomatoes.]

1 Tablespoon pepper

1 Tablespoon Accent OR 1 teaspoon salt + 1 Tablespoon Weber Grill Creations Gourmet Burger Seasoning OR other beef seasoning

Now what?

Put the ground beef, chopped onion, celery and carrots in large stock pot and cook until beef is browned.

Drain off fat and transfer beef and veggie mixture to bowl. Set aside.

Melt margarine in stock pot then stir in flour to make a paste. Cook for 2 minutes.

Add cold water. Cook until thickened, stirring to keep it smooth, about 5 minutes. [Mine didn’t get thick, more like a cloudy water.]

Add in the beef concentrate and stir to mix.

Add in the meat & veggie mix, frozen veggies, tomatoes and seasonings. [I didn’t drain the tomatoes. If you think the soup is too watery, simmer with the lid for another 30-45 minutes.]

Simmer for 45 minutes or until veggies are tender.

Cutie Patootie #3

Cora’s 1st birthday!

Two of my grandkids just had birthdays. Yea! Cutie Patootie #3 turned 1 and the little Chunky Monkey turned 2 within a few days of each other. My daughter planned a creative double-party for the kids, with one side being decorated for Cora and the other for Corbin. She asked for a pink cheesecake for Cora’s table, and I had the perfect strawberry cheesecake recipe for it! Click for recipe.

Only part of this got eaten at the party, which wasn’t a problem, because it kept nicely in the refrigerator for the second party a couple of days later.  Cutie Patootie #1, who is 6 and was very busy at the party, slowed down long enough to taste it for me and declared it “OK.” Her mother, who has eaten my cheesecakes for years, said it was delicious. Pink Cheesecake, Strawberry Cheesecake

I liked it but it was a bit more subtly flavored than I’d like. Then again, I had a piece less than 24 hours after it was baked, so the flavor might have intensified a bit with time. If you want a really intense strawberry flavor, top it with more strawberries or spread a high-quality strawberry jam on the top of the cheesecake before you serve it.

I got this recipe from Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook, a collection of 50 recipes from the owners of Junior’s restaurant in New York. I love cheesecake, so when this cookbook came out, I added it to my collection. I had never used cornstarch in a cheesecake until I made this recipe. I think it helps balance all the liquid from the whipping cream and the berries in the recipe; at least I assume that’s the purpose of it. It also may be the reason this cheesecake sliced up so beautifully. None of my other cheesecake recipes have ever sliced so cleanly!

If you need a dessert for a pink-themed party, this is it! If you just want a good cheesecake with the strawberries built-in, this is also it! Eat up!

The first place I had Cuban food was a restaurant called Havana in West Palm Beach, FL. The second place I had Cuban food was Havana in WPB – about three days after the first time.

Boliche & Brown Rice

You can see the roasted garlic in the lower corner of the piece on the left, and the delish ham stuffed in the middle of the piece on the right. Yum!

The Pretty One and I were in Florida visiting relatives and the beach. When we arrived I told my cousin I wanted to try some Cuban food in Miami. I’m not sure where I got the idea I needed to try it, but it was probably from one of those food shows I watch way too often. As luck would have it, my cousin said they lived within blocks of an excellent Cuban restaurant, and plans were made!

I enjoyed the food; The Pretty One enjoyed the view. The young lady who seated us was gorgeous! So when asked where we wanted to eat on our last night in town, I chose Havana and The Pretty One agreed.

Several years later I still remember the ropa vieja, the rice & beans, and the plantains. Contrary to what many people think, Cuban food is not spicy. It’s flavorful, but it doesn’t carry a lot of heat. Cuban food is good, down-home comfort food. Simple ingredients, simply prepared. For the most part, Cuban recipes use ingredients you can find at your local grocery store, although some items you might need to hunt down at a specialty store or online.

I started looking for recipes before I even got back to KC, and couldn’t wait to make some Cuban food in my own kitchen! The first recipe I tried was this Boliche. Click for recipe. I couldn’t resist trying this roast that’s stuffed with ham, studded with garlic, browned, and then cooked in a wine mixture.Boliche I used a pork roast, but in reading the recipe for the 17th time, I realize I could also have used a beef roast.

This turned out to be a really easy recipe, despite the steps of stuffing and studding the roast. Don’t let those steps intimidate you. It’s not hard, and the pay-off is huge! The garlic roasts as you brown the meat, then infuses the broth with a wonderful, mellow garlic flavor. The roast cooks on the stove for close to 3 hours, and the smell will have you watching the clock waiting for it to be ready!

Being cooked in a liquid keeps the roast juicy, even when you reheat the leftovers. I shared the roast with a friend, and we ate it with brown rice. The traditional beans and plantains would be great accompaniments, and if I cook this for a big family meal, I’ll be sure to include those.

Oh, and I should mention the leftovers make a great “soup” if you pile some rice, chunks of roast and broth in a bowl.

I’m certainly glad I ventured out to try a new cuisine, and have got another Cuban recipe in mind to try soon. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

I was invited to dinner at my daughter’s a couple of weeks ago. After we finished the chicken enchiladas she’d made, my son-in-law looked over and asked, “What did you bring for dessert?”

“Nothing,” was my reply. “Tish told me not to bring anything.” “What?!? Why’d you do that?” he asked his wife. It seems Alex had been hoping for the pumpkin cake I’d made last fall for him, and was disappointed when it didn’t appear. I promised to bring one the next time I saw him, which turned out to be last weekend for their kids’ birthday parties, and he was appeased. Pumpkin Spice Pudding for Alex's Cake

This cake is an adaptation of the Hornet’s Nest Cake from The Cake Mix Doctor. It’s crazy-easy and comes out perfect every time! Basically, you make pudding, fold in a cake mix, then top it with pecans and chips before baking.  The original recipe calls for vanilla pudding, butterscotch chips and pecans. The chips sink slightly into the cake to create holes, which mimics the appearance of a hornet’s nest. No frosting is needed, and would probably be just too much sweetness anyway. (Yes, there is such a thing as too much sweet!)

I saw some Jell-O Pumpkin Spice instant pudding mix in the store last fall and thought I could do something with it. I’ll admit I don’t get excited about all the pumpkin stuff on the market in the fall. It’s just not one of my favorite flavors, nor is it in the top 25 probably. But my daughter and her husband love pumpkin stuff and I thought I’d play with the pudding mix somehow.

This Hornet’s Nest Cake came to mind, because I think you could change it up to use whatever flavor pudding, cake mix, and type of nuts you like and come out with something that is both easy and impressive. So I went with pumpkin spice pudding, a yellow cake mix, a combo of butterscotch and white chocolate chips, and pecans. I thought it was good, but Tish and Alex liked it even more and requested it a couple times after that. Click for recipe.

Son-In-Law Cake (Pumpkin, Butterscotch & Pecans)The cake is moist, and the top layer is both sweet and crunchy, as the chips and nuts stay near the top of the cake and the nuts brown a bit. I haven’t checked the stores to see if the pudding is out yet, since it’s seasonal, but I’d guess it’ll be there soon if it’s not already. I was lucky and had stocked up at the end of last year’s holiday season so I still had 1 box stashed away.

If you can’t find pumpkin spice pudding, try butterscotch or maybe a butter pecan, if there is one, and add some pumpkin pie spice to the pudding mixture. Alternatively, use vanilla pudding and a spice cake mix, and add pumpkin pie spice to either the cake mix or pudding. I’d start with about a tablespoon of the pumpkin pie spice, smell and taste your mixture, and add more spice if you think you want it.

I delivered the cake to Alex last weekend and he declared it, “All mine!” Since we didn’t cut it while I was there, I can only show you a picture of the un-cut results. But trust me on this one – it’s a really delish cake that takes maybe 5 minutes to throw together.

Give it a try and let me know if you make any variations to Alex’s version!