Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bad Blogger...

Hi, my name is Emily and I'm a really bad blogger. Seriously, I meant to post at least once a week and it's been three! I have been cooking but I've also been busy, and maybe a little lazy. I was going to post about some cinnamon bread I made that was a huge flop. It fell as soon as I took it out of the bread pan and it was not very good. I was embarrassed about my major fail and didn't want to share it with you. But I am anyway. I am trying to find a better cinnamon bread recipe and as soon as I do I will pass it along.

Last night I tried a new recipe from the Taste of Home Slow Cooker cookbook my mom got for me. I love my slow cooker but it feels like I cook the same things repeatedly. I made Pork Burritos and they were very good. Tonight we used the leftover pork for pulled pork sandwiches.

Pork Burritos (adapted from Taste of Home Slow Cooker Recipes)

1 boneless pork butt (3 to 4 lbs)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with chilies, undrained (I used a southwest style tomato with jalapeno, green chilies, and lime)
1/4 cup chili powder
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. honey
1 jalapeno, seeded
1 tsp. salt

Cut pork roast in half and place in slow cooker
Combine remaining ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Pour mixture over pork. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until meat is tender.
Shred pork with two forks. Place shredded pork on large tortilla. Top with sour cream and avocado, if desired.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Macaroni and Tomatoes

Each family has their own comfort food. This is definately mine. As a kid, when mom was out for the evening and dad was cooking, this was a staple in the Dunnagan household. It’s super simple, super cheap, and super good. Toss a bag of macaroni in the pot. After draining and rinsing the mac add 1-2 cans of diced tomatoes. Done.

As I have gotten older and developed a taste for spicy things I've added 2 cans of rotel instead of tomatoes. I also add some cracked pepper and top it off with some shredded cheese. If you are a milk drinker like dad and myself, pour yourself a tall glass of goodness and take a seat.

1 bag of mac- $1.15ish
2 cans of tomatoes- $2.50ish.
Who can beat a meal to feed 2-4 under 4 dollars?

Apple Muffins and Surprises

Later today we (myself included) can read a guest post by my baby brother (he's 26, married and has a kid of his own, so I guess I can't really call him a baby) Zach.

I have no idea what he is posting about. All I know is that he made something, took pictures and asked if he could post on my blog. So I'll be as surprised as you are!

But before we do I wanted to share these apple muffins I made last week. I don't have a picture. I made them late one night so my son could take them to school for snack the next day and then the ones left were eaten in about 2 minutes. They were good! I'm always looking for muffin recipes since that is what I signed up to bring for school snacks for my boy. So about once a month I take them. I don't want to do the same things each time and I'd rather make them from scratch so that I know what goes into them and we can avoid any potential allergens. The recipe I finally settled on was from Taste of Home December/January 1995, p. 54. I've adapted the recipe because I didn't have everything it called for, and we were very happy with the results. Plus I got rave reviews from D's pre-K class!

Apple Muffins

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup applesauce
1 large apple, diced
1/8 cup canola oil
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well. Stir in applesauce and oil. Combine dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture. Fold in apples.

Fill muffin paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Makes about 2 dozen muffins.

*You can also make this into bread. Fill bread pans 3/4 full and bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. (I did make a couple of small bread loaves with this. It took about 35-40 minutes to bake for the small loaves.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings

Actually around here we call it "Chicken and Ducklings." The first time I made these the boys had asked what I was making and I told them "Chicken and Dumplings" but they heard "ducklings." So that is what they call them.

It's cold here. Really cold. We had a blizzard and about 11 inches of snow so we've been inside and I've been making all sorts of warm, comfort foods and drinking hot chocolate. I thought last night would be a good night for Chicken and Dumplings.

Chicken and Dumplings are a pretty controversial meal. (Well, actually just the dumplings). Flat, noodle- dumplings or large biscuit-like dumplings. I'm not sure which is the best (I've only had the flat ones). In fact, I had never had them until I met my man. His great grandmother made them. I had only been to her house a couple of times before she passed away and both times she had chicken and dumplings on the stove. If she knew someone was coming then she had it cooking. She passed away last year and the family handed out the recipe at her funeral. So it has become a winter staple in our house. The boys actually eat it and my man loves it, so this is a good thing!

Here is the recipe, adapted from my man's great grandmother.

Chicken and Dumplings

Whole Chicken (about 3 lbs)
1 large egg
1/8 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk

Boil the chicken in a large pot for one hour. Take the chicken out and keep the broth simmering on the stove. Pick the chicken from the bone.
Beat egg, water and salt. Mix in 1 cup of flour. Knead dough and roll out on flour covered board until thin. Cut into strips, tear apart and put in broth. Add butter, evaporated milk, chicken and salt and pepper. Let simmer until dumplings are cooked through (they should float to the top of the broth once they are cooked). Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


We love mexican food in our house. Even the boys love it. My middle boy would eat chips and salsa for every meal and be happy (he has actually asked if he could do that, we said no). About 6 months ago my husband decided he was going to make tortillas. So he watched a few youtube videos and found a recipe and started making them. Making tortillas is something we can all do together. The boys love rolling the dough into balls (and sneaking a fresh tortilla).

Homemade Tortillas

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3.5 oz. shortening or 7 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup warm water

Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening (or stir in oil). Stir in warm water slowly. Once the ingredients are coming together take it out and place it on a lightly floured board and knead the dough until smooth (about 5 minutes). Cover the dough and let rest in warm place for 15 minutes. After the rest, roll the dough into small balls. (I use a food scale to make sure they are all the same size. I measure out 1.5 ounces per ball and can make approximately 20 small tortillas). Keep the balls covered.

Heat a skillet or griddle on medium heat.

Place a ball on floured surface and press with palm of hand to flatten.

Roll out with a rolling pin.

Turn a quarter of a turn and roll again. This will help achieve the round shape. (Don't worry, they still taste good even if they look funny!)

Once the dough is very thin place it on your hot skillet.

When it starts bubbling, flip the tortilla over and press it down with a spatula and cook for a minute until the second side is starting to brown.

Place in tortilla warmer or on a plate covered with towel to keep them fresh. If you are not using these right away, you can wrap the tortillas in foil and place them in the refrigerator. When you are ready to use them, you can heat up a few at a time in the microwave or heat them in a warm oven until warm.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cooking with Food Allergies

About three and a half years ago we found out that our oldest son was severely allergic to tree nuts. Then a few months later we found out he was also allergic to beans (legumes). A year after his first initial diagnosis we discovered he was also allergic to eggs. It was hard dealing with his allergies at first. Constantly having to check labels and making sure that everyone he was around knew he had these allergies. But cooking with food allergies is also difficult. A lot of foods are processed with tree nuts or "may contain nuts." In the last year it has become much easier. He is old enough to know what he can and cannot have and also able to tell others or ask what is in something. We've learned that he can have eggs cooked in something (which makes cooking so much easier), and that we can have beans and cornbread and he gets a special meal that night. I thought we were really on the upside of this allergy battle until yesterday. Since my baby turned one I thought "this would be a great time to give him a peanut butter sandwich." After about 5 small bites he starting breaking out in hives and coughing and then his eyes, lips and tongue started swelling. I quickly gave him benadryl and we went to the closest urgent care. After a couple of hours of observation, a steroid shot and puking all over mommy, he was much better. But now we have a peanut allergy too. A "life threatening, keep your epi-pen handy" peanut allergy. Since this one is new to us, I started looking at what we have in our cabinets. I knew a lot of things were processed with peanuts but didn't realize how much until now. When I called the pediatrician today they named things to watch for with peanut allergies, "pizza, pizza sauce, bbq sauce, cookies, crackers, and everything that is cooked in peanut oil, etc..." I am just glad I enjoy cooking and baking. I can control what goes in my food and how safe food is for my children.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pizza Pockets

Maybe we could call these 'Mini Pepperoni Calzones' instead. That's really what they are. But my boys wanted to call them 'Pizza Pockets' so that is what I'll call them. These were very simply and tasty. I haven't had a frozen one yet, but I imagine they will be good too.

I used one recipe of my pizza crust (and did half whole wheat flour, half bread flour). After letting the dough rest I rolled it out and cut it with a large round biscuit cutter (about 4"). Then rolled each circle out a little more (to about 5-6 inches in diameter). On each circle I put a teaspoon of pizza sauce, pepperoni and shredded cheese. Then fold the circle in half and pinch the edges to seal. Place each of the pizza pockets on baking sheets and bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes. You could put a variety of pizza toppings in your pizza pocket. One recipe made about 2 dozen pizza pockets.