Monday, September 30, 2013


Ahhh spaghetti!  We love this dish so much especially since making a homemade sauce is much easier than most people think!  And making extra to freeze for an easy meal?  Even better!  (Although, the hubby will just make more pasta and stash it away for the next day's meal(s)--hey what can I do?)

{Spaghetti with Parmesan cheese!}

{Sauteing the meat, oil, onions and garlic together}

{Adding the remaining ingredients to the meat}

{Simmer 30-45 minutes (the longer the better!)}

{Spaghetti before the cheesing}

One year ago:  Peanut Butter Cookies


Serves 4

1 pound lean ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2-15 oz cans diced tomatoes
1-8 oz can tomato sauce
1-6 oz can tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon steak seasoning
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pasta, cooked
Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Place ground beef, olive oil, onions and garlic in a pan; saute until cooked through.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 30-45 minutes (the longer the better!).
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve over pasta and with Parmesan cheese.
I love comfort foods like this.  It always brings back memories of cooking with my mom; I started assisting around age 12 (when I was tall enough to look over pots and pans on the stove).  By age 16, I was making dinner several times a week, and now I continue to make meals.  It's a labor of love that I happily bear, unless I'm too tired or don't feel like it.  Then it's a sandwich and leftovers.  Hey--no one's perfect!

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Food for Thought

Start where you are; use what you have; do what you can.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bacon Ranch Potato Salad

The hubby would eat potatoes all the time if I would let him.  Seriously--fried, baked, steamed, roasted, mashed--any way you can make them, he'll eat them.  He's never turned down any potatoes that I have made, and this bacon ranch potato salad is no exception.  In fact, he'd only had "plain" potato salad before he met me.  I have created a monster.....

{The only picture I got--mainly because the hubby ate. it. ALL!!!!! I wish I was kidding.....}

{Cutting potatoes}

{I cooled my potatoes overnight in the fridge}

{Mixing homade ranch dressing (that's the secret to it's awesomeness!)}

{Adding the dressing to the potato mixture}

Bacon Ranch Potato Salad

Serves 8

3 pounds yukon or red potatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces
1/2 large red onion, finely diced
5 oz bacon bits
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped (can substitute 1 green onion, finely chopped)
1 teaspoon salt
  1. Boil potatoes until just done.
  2. Drain and cool potatoes to room temperature or overnight in the fridge.
  3. Add red onions and bacon to potatoes and stir to combine.
  4. Whisk remaining ingredients together in a separate bowl until well combined.
  5. Pour dressing over the potato mixture and gently fold until mixed well.
  6. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
  7. Chill for at least 4 hours, if not overnight for best flavors.
How do you make your potato salad?  Is it a plain potato salad or do you do something fancy like this salad?

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sauerkraut Soup

My hubby and I were getting bored with just eating sauerkraut and brats.  So when I stumbled across this sauerkraut soup recipe, it sounded just odd enough to be good.  It was more than good--it was delicious!

{It's the only picture that I took.....  We were so hungry!}

{Ingredients for this odd yet delicious soup}

{Getting everything prepped}

{Just dump in a crockpot and forget about it!}

Sauerkraut Soup

Makes 8 servings

2 medium potatoes (yukon gold or red), cubed into bite-sized pieces
1 pound kielbasa, cut into rounds
28 oz sauerkraut
4 cups chicken and/or beef broth
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pints fresh mushrooms, quartered
1/4 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup celery diced
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons dried dill
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 oz bacon bits
  1. Mix everything in a crockpot.
  2. Cook on low for 6-7 hours.
  3. Turn crockpot to high for 1 hour to finish the potatoes.
  4. Serve.
This soup was very hearty and much appreciated since these nights are starting to get cold!  YAY!!!!!!!!!!  FALL IS HERE!!!!!!!!!  I'm already planning on making a bunch of pumpkin-based foods in the next two weeks because it's that time of year!  What are your traditional fall foods?

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

About the Town: Coba Cocina

**I know that I said that I don't go out to eat often, but this year has been an exception.  I have eaten at so many fantastic places (and been back more than once!) that I felt I needed to share with my fellow Lexingtonians!  So any time I go out to eat, and the food/service is great, I'll review it on here.  I am not paid for this, and all opinions are my own!**

I'm not too into Mexican food.  My mom never really made it, and I never really had it (you know--besides the Americanized taco).  I was introduced to Mexican food by a Mexican, and I fell in LOVE!!!  So when this new Mexican restaurant opened, called Coba Cocina, and with the lure of jellyfish, my family decided to give it a try.

{The entrance}

{The crowning glory--a beautiful jellyfish tank!} 

I have been three times in the last few months, and each time the food and service has been fabulous!  I do recommend you go at 'off' times (2-5 PM) because the room with the jellyfish is very open and gets loud especially with screaming children.

{The free chips with salsa and bean dip (I would come just for this!)}

{Mango lemonade (left) and strawberry lemonade (right)--the mango was our favorite}

{Enchilada platter--halfway through eating I remembered to take pictures... sorry!}

{Fajita Picante--again we were halfway through eating}

{Guacamole and Pico de Gallo}

{Excellent queso!}

The pictures are from my most recent visit, but I've had the Shrimp Ceviche Tropical, tried the Grilled Fish Tacos, tried the Fajitas, had the Tampico Platter, and margaritas (plus what's in the photos).  Excellent!  Delicious!  And the prices?  Even better!  The most expensive dishes runs from $19-$25 while most stay around $10-$15, and you get a TON of food!  The hubby, who is also not big on Mexican food, LOVES this place--guys, he picked it over pizza so his love is serious!

Have you been to this restaurant?  What did you think?

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Butter Bean Salad

As the weather cools, my tastes get gradually heartier and heartier.  This bean salad is a perfect transition to the fall--it's filling and still easy for those days when the weather decides it wants to be hot (like in the 80s).  Plus, it uses up the last of the fresh produce from the garden.

{Butter Bean Salad}

{Chopping and mixing all the vegetables and beans for the salad}

{Mixing dressing}

{Mix the dressing and the bean salad together}

{Yummy addition to a grilled steak and flavored corn}

One year ago:  Berry Ricotta Ice Cream

Butter Bean Salad
from Taste of Home

Makes 8 servings

1 can lima beans, drained and rinsed
1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed
2 large peppers (your color choice), diced
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  1. In a large bowl, combine beans, peppers, onions and garlic until combined.
  2. In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients until combined.
  3. Add dressing to bean mixture and stir to coat.
  4. For best flavor, refrigerate overnight but can be served immediately.
What kind of foods do you use to transition from summer to fall?  Have you already had some pumpkin-something?  I've been holding off, but I think next week might be time for making some pumpkin frozen yogurt!

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Food for Thought

{Gourds at the Farmer's Market}

Even though we change, and we're all finding our own place in the world, we all know that when the tears fall or the smile spreads across our face, we'll come to each other because no matter where this crazy world takes us, nothing will ever change so much to the point where we're still not friends.


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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chocolate Mousse

My office had three birthdays this month (that's 3 of 4 people in the office--the odd man out is in February), and they are pretty evenly spaced out.  So to save our waistlines, I made black bean brownies for the first birthday.  For my birthday, I made this chocolate mousse made with yogurt instead of straight cream.  For the last birthday, I'll be making lemon bars which will be full-fledged goodness!

{Chocolate Mousse} 

Let me tell you--I tried this mousse just as I got done mixing it, and I wasn't too sure how it would turn out.  I let it cool overnight, and the next morning I tried it again--pure and absolute deliciousness!  When I brought it to the office, the ladies remarked that it had the texture of a Yoplait Whip.  Considering I did no whipping--I'll take it!

{Dark chocolate and yogurt}

{Heat cream to melt the chocolate}

{Whisk yogurt until smooth}

{Add chocolate}

{Melted chocolate}

{Add chocolate mix to yogurt}

{Fold until incorporated and then refrigerate}

Chocolate Mousse
from The Shiksa in the Kitchen

Makes about 1 quart

9 oz chopped dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
17.6 oz Fage Greek yogurt
  1. Break chocolate into even pieces.
  2. In a saucepan, whisk together the cream, sugar, and salt. Heat the milk over medium heat (not high!), whisking frequently, till hot but not boiling.  
  3. Add the chocolate to the cream and let it sit for 1 minute in the heated milk without touching. Gently stir with a spatula till the chocolate melts into the milk. Remove from heat and continue stirring slowly till the cream and chocolate mixture is smooth and no longer grainy.
  4. Drain off any excess liquid from Greek yogurt and use a whisk to whip the yogurt till smooth.
  5. Stir the chocolate mixture again, then pour it into the yogurt, using a spatula to scrape up any remaining chocolate.
  6. Use spatula to fold the chocolate into the yogurt till fully incorporated, light and creamy. This will take 2-3 minutes. Continue folding till all the white has been removed from the yogurt.
  7. Divide the mixture between 6 ramekins, dessert bowls or mugs. Smooth and swirl the top of each serving with a spoon.  The mousse can also be left in a big container and scooped out.
  8. Chill for at least 2 hours, up to overnight. Serve cold.
Mousse is different than pudding which is a custard.  Mousse is basically flavored whipped cream, when made traditionally.  Using yogurt lightens the calorie intake considerably plus yogurt is good for you.  I've made and had real mousse before, and this is definitely on par with the flavor and texture!

Have you ever had real mousse?

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Marble Cake with Ganache

We are celebrating my birthday week with some desserts, which I haven't made in quite a while so I was due.  What better way to celebrate my birthday than with my favorite cake?  I was also adventurous and made Chocolate Mousse for the office (featured tomorrow!)!

{Marble cake with ganache}

{Cake flour--find it in the bakery isle typically on the very top or bottom shelf}

{Sifted dry ingredients}

{Cake batter mixed up}

{Separate cake batters into almost half (less for the chocolate)}

 {Mix cocoa into hot water and then add to the bowl with less batter--mix thoroughly}

{Two separate batters}

 {Checkerboard the batters}

 {Marble cake with a knife}

{Baked cake}

{Ganache is a chocolate icing made from dark chocolate and heavy cream}

{Heat cream slowly and add chocolate}

{Stir until melted}

{Cool and pour over cake--I spread it a bit so it coated the cake evenly}

Marble Cake

Makes 1 loaf cake

1 1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup dry instant vanilla pudding mix (about one small 3.4 oz package)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup milk, room temperature
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup very hot water
  1. Preheat oven to 350. 
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the cake flour, vanilla pudding mix (in dry powdered form), baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a larger mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whip together the butter, sugar, eggs and almond extract for a few minutes till the mixture turns light yellow.
  4. Beat in half of the milk and half of the sifted flour mixture, then beat in the remaining milk and flour mixture. Whip until the batter is smooth and creamy.
  5. Rinse and dry the medium mixing bowl that you used for the sifted flour.  Pour a little less than half of the cake batter into the medium mixing bowl that you rinsed out. 
  6. Whisk the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth; add the cocoa mixture to the bowl with less than half of batter.  Stir until fully combined and smooth. This is your chocolate marbling batter.  Reserve the rest of the batter—this is your light cake marbling batter. 
  7. Generously grease your loaf pan using butter or cooking spray. Pour the light and dark cake batters into your loaf pan and marble them. If you don't know how, check out this post with printable instructions on How to Marble a Cake 
  8. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  9. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes.
  10. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely on the rack.
  11. Serve or ice with ganache (see below).


Makes about 1 1/2 cups or enough to ice one loaf cake

6 oz dark chocolate
4.5 oz heavy cream
  1. Heat cream--DO NOT BOIL.
  2. Add chocolate to cream once it is hot.
  3. Stir until chocolate is melted.
  4. Take off the burner and allow to cool about 15 minutes.
  5. Pour over cake.
What is your favorite dessert that you indulge with at your birthday?

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