Monday, September 29, 2008

Stuffed Green Peppers

Out of the blue, my eldest daughter asked me to make stuffed green peppers last week. We have probably had these a handful of times for dinner, but she had a craving so I obliged. For some reason, I have this yuck factor associated with stuffed green peppers. I remember them tasting too spicy when my mother fixed them when I was little, so I made these with a bit of reluctance. I was very surprised when they were not only delicious, but I found myself eating the stuffing and the pepper. It came out mild tasting with a bit of sweet to it. The only thing I would change next time is to make more of the stuffing.

Stuffed Green Peppers

4 green peppers, washed
1 pound lean ground beef or pork
1 small onion (about 1/3 cup) chopped
1 7 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup long grain rice
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dried basil or oregano, crushed
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar or blended cheese

Cut tops off peppers and remove stem ends, seeds and membranes. Immerse peppers into boiling water for 3 minutes. Invert onto paper towels to drain.

In a large skillet, saute meat and onion until meat is cooked through and onion is tender. Drain fat. Stir in undrained tomatoes, water, uncooked rice, Worcestershire sauce, and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to boil then reduce. Simmer 15 to 18 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese.

Fill peppers with meat mixture. Place peppers into a 2-quart baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Spoon any remaining meat mixture around peppers. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and let sit until melted. Serve.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book

“We don't need a melting pot in this country, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables - the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers - to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences."
-Jane Elliot

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Block Game

Who thinks these things up? I find most internet games are equally addicting and frustrating. This one is a favorite of mine. I only get to practice once in a while and I've never made it to the magical 18 seconds. I've only reached 11 seconds . Let me know how you do. Have fun!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sweet & Tangy BBQ Pizza

Here is something that is a lot of fun to make and eat! I've posted a recipe for pizza before, but I don't think you can have too many recipes for pizza. This one is a combination of another pizza I make and a new recipe I tried. Quick and fast for a weeknight meal!

Sweet & Tangy BBQ Pizza

1 can refrigerated pizza crust
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons Asiago cheese spread (if desired)
2 Tablespoons jarred chopped garlic
1/2 cup your favorite BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
2 cooked boneless chicken breasts, sliced thin
1 tomato, sliced thin
1 cup thinly shredded mozzarella and cheddar mixed

On a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, spread pizza dough out to fit pan. Pour olive oil on crust and spread with a spoon. Sprinkle garlic all over crust. Dot Asiago cheese in small chunks over crust. Bake at 400 degrees in a preheated oven for about 8 to 10 minutes. Take crust out of oven and add barbecue sauce, spreading over crust to the edges. Add chicken and tomatoes and top with shredded cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and pizza is hot. Cut and serve.

“My idea of feng shui is to have them arrange the pepperoni in a circle on my pizza.”


Monday, September 22, 2008

Funny Face

I couldn't resist. Today is dreary here and the week looks long. I just needed a little laugh and the poor dog fell victim. My daughter pulled this stunt off yesterday and begged me to post the picture. Hope you got a laugh too!

“I always give 100% at work:"
13% Monday
22% Tuesday
26% Wednesday
35% Thursday
4% Friday”

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy 5th Birthday, Little Guy!

Another Year

I’m wishing you another year
Of laughter, joy and fun,
Surprises, love and happiness,
And when your birthday’s done,
I hope you feel deep in your heart,
As your birthdays come and go,
How very much you mean to me,
More than you can know.
-Joanna Fuchs
I love ya, little man!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Visit To The Carnegie Science Center

On Sunday, we decided that we all needed a break from the routine. So we skipped church (insert guilt here) and went to the Carnegie Science Center on the North Side of Pittsburgh. It's a very fun, on hands science facility that is full of learning and adventure. We all had a blast! The picture above is the first activity, located in the lobby as you walk in. Water is always the best way to get everyone in the mood for fun. Works for us every time! The kids love trying to balance the balls on the water.

Outside in the back of the Science Center is a full sized real life submarine, the USS Reguin. A tour is included as part of admission to the Center. My husband really loves going in. He says it's very, very tight in there. No thanks!

This tube is part of the first floor activities. All of the displays are related to the basic elements like water, sound, etc. You can stand on one end of this echo tube and hear a small tap made on the other side.

This is an actual NASA robot. Really cool to realize it was part of the space program.

This is the train display. It's actually pretty famous around Pittsburgh (as in "I'll meet you by the train at the Science Center"). It's so amazing to see in person. Everything moves and is in such detail including workers digging in a quarry, a child swinging in a tree swing, and people enjoying an amusement park. A train runs around and throughout the display and the lights change the display from day to night then back to day. As you can see, it's hard to capture a good picture of it.

These are two of several tanks on the second floor. The computer is a program all about the reef. There is also an activity area where kids can use grasping mechanical arms to try to grab treasure and a display where they can touch live horseshoe crabs. Cool!

This is the top of the building with the cone shape that is saying "here we are"! It makes the Science Center easy to find if you are a Pittsburger and if you are not, asking "what's that thing?" gives you a chance to find out!

The weather area is really unique. You can give a local weather report and see yourself on T.V. You learn a lot about temperatures, weather conditions and you get to see how a tornado works. This display forms a cloud that you can touch.

In case you want to know more, here's the web site-
They explain it all so much better than I just did :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tomato Pie

Last week, I found myself staring at a huge bunch of tomatoes on my kitchen window seal and not a clue what to do with them. I mean, how many salads can you make? And these tomatoes were the kind you could eat like an apple, with just a little salt and pepper. Not to be wasted! After searching my recipes, I found one for Tomato Pie. I've never made a tomato pie. I thought it might turn out mushy or something. But the tomatoes held up and the topping was out of this world! It reminded me of a tomato pizza. I would definitely make this again.

Tomato Pie

1 refrigerated pizza dough
4 to 5 tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup basil leaves, washed and chopped
1/3 cup thinly sliced onions
2 cups grated mozzarella and Cheddar cheese, combined
1 cup mayo

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a glass pie pan with cooking spray. Flatten pizza dough out on a floured surface. Fold over once, doubling the dough. Place in pie plate and work dough until sides are even around the plate. Bake for at least 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Layer tomato slices in a colander over paper towels. Salt evenly. Let sit for at least 10 minutes then pat dry. This draws out the extra juice so the pie is not soggy.

Layer tomato slices, basil and onion in the pie shell. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix cheeses and mayo together. Spread on top of tomatoes. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."
-Lewis Grizzard

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Eleventh Of September

We mourn their loss this day this year
Those now with God, no danger near
So many loved ones left do stand
Confronting loss throughout our land
My heart goes out to those who do
No one can fathom what they view
I firmly pray for peace of mind
Dear God please help each one to find
And to our soldiers now at war
God guide above, at sea, on shore
They are the best, I have no doubt
Our country’s pride, complete, devout
The finest force you’ll ever see
All freedom grown through liberty
One final thought comes clear to me
For what must live in infamy
Absolutely - We’ll Remember
The Eleventh - Of September
©2002 Roger J. Robicheau

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Voting Quiz

I normally try to stay away from posting on things like elections (people get too hot headed about it!), but this quiz was interesting to take, so I wanted to share. Most people, I would guess, have made up their minds or are at least close to deciding on which candidate they like, but breaking down the issues the way the quiz does lets you see what is important to you and how it affects who you vote for.

I won't say who I ended up with, but if you want to share, go for it!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Muffins, Muffins!

Oh, yum! Muffins. Blueberry muffins in this case. A fellow blogger, Dozen Flours (see my favorites list), made these muffins recently and I just could not resist trying the recipe. She made them with blackberries, but the original recipe called for blueberries and since I had a craving for blueberries, I went with it. These muffins taste just like cake to me. The batter was so good I almost just ate that instead of baking it! The only thing I would change is adding less blueberries. Two cups is too much, even for me :)

Blueberry Muffins

1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups blueberries, cleaned and dried
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 stick butter, unsalted, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temp.
1 large egg yolk, room temp.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using either cooking spray or paper liners, prepare two standard size muffin pans (do not use large or small muffin pans).

Sift cake flour with baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together two times. Set aside. Add a little flour to the blueberries and toss.

Mix sour cream and milk together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter on medium speed in large bowl for 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat an additional 3 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Add egg and egg yolk and beat another 2 minutes until airy and light.

Sift flour mixture again, then add 1/3 to butter mixture. Add 1/3 of the milk mixture and combine together gently. Continue to add mixes together until completed, being careful to not over mix. Carefully add 1 cup of the blueberries.

Scoop batter into muffin pan, filling muffins about 3/4 of the way full. Any unused muffin cups can be filled half way with water. Use the remaining 1/2 cup of blueberries to top off muffins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until top springs back when touched. Cool on wire rack.

Yields about 36 muffins.

"Well, I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.”

-Oscar Wilde

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Peach Cobbler

Peaches, peaches, everywhere peaches. As you can guess, the peach tree was ready for picking this week. I have never seen so many peaches in my life! I must have peeled and sliced a couple hundred peaches in the past week. I froze about 4 large freezer bags full of sliced peaches, then made two large batches of peach cobbler (one lasagna sized for hubby to take to work), 1 peach pie and canned 14 regular sized jars of peach preserves for family and friends. I still have about 40 peaches on the tree and two whole paper bags of almost ripe peaches on my kitchen counter. All this from one dwarf peach tree!

Of all the things I made with the peaches, my favorite has to be the cobbler. I have to credit Paula Deen for the recipe. Everyone at the hubby's work loved it, even the big, big boss who is not easily impressed! It's such a simple recipe but it tastes like you slaved all day making it. I'd make another batch, but I don't think I could peel and slice one more peach....

Peach Cobbler

1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup self rising flour
3/4 cup milk
2 cups clean, peeled and cored peaches (or blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, apples, or pears)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put butter in an 8 x 8 deep baking dish and place in oven to melt. Mix 1 cup sugar and flour. Add milk slowly to prevent lumping. Pour over melted butter. Do not stir.

In a large saucepan, add peaches, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup water. Bring to boil then simmer about 10 minutes. Spoon fruit onto batter in baking dish and gently pour syrup over fruit. Do not stir. Batter will rise to the top during baking.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Note: You can subsitute one 28 ounce can of sliced peaches in syrup, undrained for the fresh fruit.

"Chocolate's okay, but I prefer a really intense fruit taste. You know when a peach is absolutely perfect... it's sublime. I'd like to capture that and then use it in a dessert."
-Kathy Mattea

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

So Easy Pesto

I have to admit, I've never made pesto before. I was always a little hesitant to try something so fancy sounding. Plus, I've got kids. Who in the world has kids that would like something like pesto? But I had three basil plants growing in the garden and no idea what to do with them. I found an easy, fast recipe for pesto that would use most of the basil I had. I dug out my food processor and went for it. It turned out great! I loved how the flavors of basil, walnuts, and garlic came together. The only thing I though it needed was some grated Romano/Parmesan cheese. Perfecto!

So Easy Pesto

1/4 cup walnuts (you could also use almonds)
3 gloves garlic
1 1/2 cups basil leaves, cleaned
1/2 cup olive oil
1 dash ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Romano/Parmesan cheese, to taste

Toast walnuts on medium to high heat until lightly toasted. In a food processor, combine first three ingredients until finely chopped. Add olive oil slowly, scraping sides as needed. Add spices and pulse once or twice. Add to hot, cooked pasta and toss. Top with grated cheese.

“Pounding fragrant things -- particularly garlic, basil, parsley -- is a tremendous antidote to depression. But it applies also to juniper berries, coriander seeds and the grilled fruits of the chilli pepper. Pounding these things produces an alteration in one's being -- from sighing with fatigue to inhaling with pleasure. The cheering effects of herbs and alliums cannot be too often reiterated.”
-Patience Gray, cookery author