Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Cheap, Fast, Good, Italian. Free "unlimited" Breadsticks. Need I say more? I have to give this restaurant a shout-out. My friend Kim and I went to Fazolis for lunch yesterday and it was awesome! Now, you must know that I am a frequent flyer at Fazolis (as well as my husband - it's his favorite place), even when it is not so good. But yesterday .... the food was hot and we were in there and out and back to work in less than an hour. And, we had leftovers!

Kim ordered the baked ziti with meatballs (the meatballs were on the side -- weird) and I ordered the baked spaghetti with meat sauce. Yumm-O! Plus, the breadsticks were hot and not "sopping" with garlic butter. The only downside to the breadstick thing is that they do not walk the dining room asking you if you want more breadsticks anymore. They are still free and unlimited, but you must go to the counter and ask for them yourself. Bummer. Oh well, two was plenty for me.

Not only does Fazoli's have amazing pasta, they also have a rather large menu. From pasta to salad to pizza and sandwiches, and even Italian ices. Everything is great. And.. the entrees range from $3-$6! Talk about a deal! Fazoli's also offers catering, so if you have an upcoming event I would definitely recommend them. Plus, they also have a kids' night where kids can eat for 99 cents, color, and make crafts. How awesome is that??
So, the next time you are in the mood for Italian, but don't want to dress up or pay a lot of dough, swing by your neighborhood Fazoli's for some delicious, inexpensive, and very filling pasta! (oh, and by the way, take me with you!!) :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

For the Sweet Tooth...

I am continuing with recipes from my wonderful friends. Today's recipe is a yummy candy/dessert that is so easy and semi-good for you! :) Enjoy!

Recipe for Today: Date Balls
Shout-out: My friend and fellow church member, Jenny Bennett

Date Balls

1 stick of salted butter
1 package of chopped dates
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups of crispy rice cereal
3/4 cup chopped pecans
Powdered sugar

Combine butter, dates, and sugar into saucepan and wait until melted...keep on medium/high for around 2 minutes (be very careful how long you cook so it doesn't start to harden). Stir in crispy rice cereal and pecans and let cool. Roll into balls and dip in powdered sugar. (Be careful - the mixture will be hot!) Allow to cool before eating. Makes about 15-30 balls, depending on how big you make them.

**Jenny made these for my "Baking Party" last year at Christmas. They were delicious! I ended up making them for my family as gifts.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Taking it "South of the Border" today!!

I think you all will LoVe my friend Benita's recipe for this yummy stew! This would be perfect for fall/winter, but it is also one of those easy "fix-it-and-forget-it" meals that you can make any time of the year. Enjoy!

Recipe for Today: Crock Pot Chicken Taco Stew
Shout-out: My friend, Benita Chagala

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Stew

1 onion, chopped
1 16-oz can black beans
1 16-oz can kidney beans
1 16-oz can corn (drained)
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
1 1.25-oz packet taco seasoning
1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Mix everything together in a crock pot except chicken. Lay chicken on top and cover. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. (When chicken gets tender and can be shredded easily it is finished). 30 minutes before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to crock pot and stir in. This is good eaten with cheese, sour cream, or tortilla chips.

P.S. If you make some of this, you better share!! :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another yummy recipe from a friend

This one sounds yummy-licious! Enjoy!! :)

Recipe for Today: Wheat Crust Garlic Chicken Pizza
Shout-out: My friend, Julie Halitzka


Bread Machine Whole Wheat Crust
1 1/3 c. water
1/4 c. olive oil
3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. yeast

Place all ingredients in bread machine, liquids or dry first, according to manufacturer’s instructions. Program for the dough cycle, and press start. When machine beeps at the end of cycle, stop and unplug. Remove dough and place on a lightly floured surface, divide into two equal portions. Roll out, and cover with a cool damp towel for about 30 minutes to allow crust to rise. Preheat oven to 450°.

Pizza Sauce
16 oz. Spaghetti Sauce
1 c. diced tomatoes
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. minced garlic (or equivalent garlic powder)

Add all ingredients to sauce. (Measurements for spices are approximate, season to taste.) Simmer on low heat and cover until you are ready to add the sauce to the pizza.

Garlic Chicken
1 lb. Chicken Breast
garlic powder

Cook chicken, season with garlic powder and pepper. Cut into small pieces.

Assemble Pizza
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
16 oz. mozzarella cheese
Pizza Sauce
Garlic Chicken
Bread Machine Whole Wheat Crust

Place crust in oven for 3-5 minutes to precook, before removing to assemble pizzas. Add sauce and chicken to crust, top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cook pizzas at 450° for 15-20 minutes.

Doesn't this sound wonderful?! Can't wait to try it! Keep those recipes coming!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Menu #3 will be here soon, but until then...

I would like to post some recipes from my dear friends. I will give a "shout-out" to one or more of my friends each day by posting some of their recipes right here on my blog. So....if you have a recipe you would like me to post, send me an email or leave a comment and I would love to post it for you! Can't wait to see all of the new recipes! :)

Recipe for Today: White Bean Dip (hummus wanna-be)
Shout-out: My friend, Kim Davidson (whom I also work with at SBTS)

White Bean Dip (hummus wanna-be)
19 oz white beans, drained and rinsed
1 T tahini
1 T olive oil
2 green onions (only the white and light green parts)
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 large lemon - juiced - should be at least 3 tablespoons
Garlic (optional)

Mix in a food processor and eat with pita or veggies. Notice there is definitely not as much tahini or olive oil which makes this recipe healthier and it still has tons of protein. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for more "guest recipes" coming your way over the next few days!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Menu #2 (although not from the Amish Cookbook today)

Okay, I said I was on this Amish cookbook kick, but I am veering slightly off-track today (and maybe tomorrow, depending). I have a few recipes up my sleeve that you are sure to enjoy, and they are sooooo simple! Let me know what you think.

Menu #2: Chicken Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Fruit Cobbler

Chicken Casserole

4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup chicken broth (or more, if desired)
2 boxes chicken flavored stuffing (prepare according to directions)
1 sleeve crackers (TownHouse or Ritz type, not saltines)
2 T. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare chicken stuffing according to directions, set aside. Mix together soup, chicken, and broth. Fold in stuffing mix. (You can add more broth at this point if it appears too dry). Spread in a 9x13 greased baking/casserole dish. Crush crackers until only crumbs, mix with melted butter. Sprinkle mixture on top of casserole. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown.

Mashed Potatoes

5 or 6 medium size potatoes (russets are the best)
2 T. cold unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup *milk or evaporated milk (the evaporated milk makes them creamier)
1 tsp. mayonnaise or sour cream

Wash, peel, and slice potatoes into half-inch slices (this makes the potatoes cook faster). Put them in a pot and cover with water (I usually put a teaspoon of salt in the water so it will cook into the potatoes). Bring potatoes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer potatoes for about 20 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove from heat, drain well. Add mayonnaise or sour cream (or both!), 1 tablespoon butter, and half of the milk. Start mashing (or do what I do and use a hand mixer!). Add more milk until you have the consistency you want. Taste the potatoes and salt them to your taste. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to finish them off. (If you have leftover mashed potatoes, check out my recipe for Potato Cakes below!)

*You can use chicken broth instead of the milk for more flavor and less fat.

Green Beans

1 *can green beans of your choice (I like Stokely's)
2 pieces bacon, cooked and chopped (or 1 T. RealBacon bits)
1 T. butter, cold
1 drizzle EVOO
Salt & Pepper to taste

Open can and pour contents into saucepan. Drizzle with EVOO. Crumble bacon pieces over green beans and top with butter. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes (or however long you want). Salt and pepper to taste.

*You can use fresh green beans, but this is supposed to be easy!!

Fruit Cobbler

1 large can *fruit in own juice, 1 lg. bag frozen fruit, OR 1 can pie filling
1 cup self-rising flour (must be self-rising)
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 T. cold unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 9x13 glass or metal baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour fruit into dish and set aside. In mixing bowl combine flour, sugar and milk. Blend well so as not to have too many lumps (a few are okay, and not worth the trouble). Pour mixture over fruit in baking dish. Cut up butter and sprinkle little pats all over mixture. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (or in the south, we like to serve it with more butter!)

Here are the fruits I like to use when making this cobbler:
*Cherry pie filling (can)
*Mixed berries (frozen)
*Peaches (can or frozen)

I also found a great Weight Watchers recipe for cobbler. Check it out!! (The only thing I do different is use Fresca instead of the others because it has more flavor, and I mix half of it with the cake mix to form a dough to crumble over the fruit. Then I pour the remaining soda on top.)

I hope you will enjoy this easy menu. Let me know your thoughts! :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another Salute to the Amish Cookbook -- Menu #1

Since I am on this "Amish Cookbook kick", I thought I would do a series of recipes from this cookbook over the next few days (and maybe some of my own recipes). I will try to do a "meal plan" each day for you. Easy recipes using simple ingredients. What more could you ask for? Enjoy!!

Meal #1: Cheese Garlic Biscuits, Lasagna, and Strawberry Poke Cake (from Betty Crocker website)

Cheese Garlic Biscuits (like the ones at Red Lobster)

2 cups Bisquick or Jiffy baking mix
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
parsley flakes
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix together baking mix, milk, cheese, anda small amount of parsley flakes until soft dough forms; beat vigorously for 30 seconds. Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Mix butter and garlic powder; brush over warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheet. Serve warm. Makes 10-12 biscuits.

Lasagna (I haven't tried this recipe yet)

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. bulk sausage
1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 cups cottage cheese
1 c. parmesan cheese, divided
12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
9-12 lasagna noodles, cooked

Brown meat, drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce. Mix cottage cheese and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese together. Spread some meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan (or casserole dish), then alternate layers of noodles, meat sauce, cheese mixture, and mozzarella. Top with remaining parmesan cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Strawberry Poke Cake (this is very light and refreshing!)

1 white cake mix (Water, vegetable oil and egg whites called for on box)
1 box small box strawberry-flavored gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed
Fresh strawberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make cake as directed on box for 13x9-inch pan. Let cool completely.

Pierce cooled cake all over with fork. In small bowl, stir gelatin and boiling water until smooth; stir in cold water. Pour over cake. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Frost with whipped topping; garnish* with strawberries. Store covered in refrigerator.

*If you want to make your cake extra special (or impress that special someone), you can fan the strawberries to make it look more elegant.

Monday, July 14, 2008

When life gives you leftover mashed potatoes....

...make potato cakes!! That's right "potato" cakes. If you don't know what these are, or have never had them, boy are you missing out! A potato cake is typically made from leftover mashed potatoes, flour or biscuit mix (such as Bisquick or Jiffy), milk and eggs. You can add in extras like cheese, chives, onions, bacon, or any other "potato topping" you choose, but they are best plain in my opinion.

I got this recipe from a wonderful Amish cookbook called "Our Yoder Heirloom Recipe Collection" that my mom bought me for Christmas in 2003. I love the recipes in this cookbook! They are very simple, down-home recipes that are also unique (i.e. Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Snowman Soup, Poor Man's Steak, etc.). If you are interested in purchasing this cookbook, this site is the only place I have found it, but it is rather inexpensive. If you do purchase it, please leave me a comment and let me know how you like the recipes!

Now, without further ado, here is the recipe for the potato cakes from this wonderful cookbook:

Potato Cakes

3 c. leftover mashed potatoes
2 eggs, well-beaten
1 1/2 T. Bisquick or pancake mix
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together. Add milk to desired consistency. Drop with large tablespoon onto hot, well-greased skillet. Flatten cakes slightly with spatula. Brown well on both sides. *Serve with gravy or pancake syrup. Enjoy!

*This is what the cookbook says, but just plain ole' ketchup works best for me!! :)

"Food for Thought"

Okay, this has nothing to do with food, but I did find it in a cookbook...an Amish cookbook, actually. It pretty much sums up the Bible. Let me know what you think! :)

The Bible In 50 Words

God made, Adam bit, Noah arked, Abraham split,
Joseph ruled, Jacob fooled, bush talked, Moses balked;
Pharaoh plagued, people walked. Sea divided, tablets guided,
Promise landed. Saul freaked, David peeked, prophets warned,
Jesus born. God walked, love talked, anger crucified, hope died.
Love rose, Spirit flamed, Word spread, God remained.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rocky Road Bark ...

...is the easiest to make, most delicious candy in the world!! Well, not in the world. I can think of plenty of other homemade candies that I would probably choose over this one (peanut butter roll is one of them). But it is the easiest to make, as is any type of bark candy. All you need is a bowl, a wooden spoon, and your ingredients. Check it out:

Rocky Road Bark

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Hershey's)
1 bag milk chocolate chips (also Hershey's)
1/2 can salted peanuts or roasted peanuts
1/2 bag miniature marshmallows

Yep, that's it!!

Now, pour each bag of chocolate chips into a glass mixing bowl. Toss them a little so that you have a "mixture" of chocolate flavors throughout. You can either melt the chips in the microwave or over a pan of water on the stove (double-boiler method). Once the chips are completely melted and the chocolate is smooth (it will have a glossy sheen to it), fold in the peanuts and marshmallows making sure that each piece is coated well.

Turn onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and spread out. The mixture should encompass the entire pan. Pop in the fridge until set. When it is set (or if you just can't wait any longer!) take it out of the fridge and break into pieces.

This recipe makes a lot of candy, and I'm warning you, it is super rich!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Helpful Kitchen Hints

Being a "good cook" or "good baker" doesn't just come naturally. There are many trial-and-error recipes, mishaps, wrong measurements, wrong ingredients (i.e. baking powder vs. baking soda), and many a burnt crust or cookie that come with this title. That is what makes us good - we learn from our mistakes.

Over the years, I have discovered some hints that may help you in the kitchen - they certainly helped me! Feel free to comment, I would love to hear your kitchen hints!

These first two are known as the Golden Rules in the kitchen:

*Always wear an apron -- especially if you are a "working girl" who comes home and goes straight to the oven - you definitely don't want spaghetti sauce on your new white sweater.

*Tie your hair back -- if you have long hair. The last thing you want is for your dinner guest to bite into one of your "secret ingredient" cookies and discover ...well, you get the picture.

And here is a modge podge of other hints...

*Clean up as you go -- trust me, you will thank yourself for this later.
*A drinking glass can easily be used to cut homemade biscuits or roll out dough.
*Ground beef is easy to break up if you use a potato masher.
*Lemons and limes will give you more juice if you microwave them for a few seconds first.
*Garbage disposal smelling bad? Grind up some orange or citrus peels, or other fruit. Your disposal will smell fruity-fresh (not to mention the blades will be sharper!).
*An iron skillet is not only good for frying foods and baking cornbread, it also serves as a great meat tenderizer!
*Boring Brownies? Add some peanut butter chips or chocolate chips to the batter for some extra pizzazz.
*An ice cream scoop makes the perfect-size cookie (or even hamburger) every time.
*Substitute diet soda (cola or other dark soda) for the oil in boxed brownie mixes. The brownies are lighter in texture and less fattening!
*Use a muffin tin to bake individual meat loaves. It is the perfect portion size and the loaves cook much faster.
*Add a pat of butter to the water before adding pasta. The pasta will not stick together and will have a slight buttery taste to it.
*For an elegant effect when serving punch, make a frozen fruit ring. Arrange fruit slices (or grapes/strawberries) in a bundt pan, then fill with liquid of choice. Freeze until firm. Immerse in warm water to loosen ring. Beautiful!!

Stay tuned for more hints in the near future!! :)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

As American as ...Berry Pie!

"Sarah's Berrylicious Pie" to be exact. My sweet friend Sarah Morrison brought a special homemade berry pie in to the office to share with us last week (I told you she was sweet!). This pie was very sweet, tart, and rich at the same time. And the crust? Very buttery and flaky! It was one of those "tastes so good it will make your tongue slap your brains out" desserts. It was so good I just had to have a cup of coffee with it. But don't trust my word for it, it received several raves and reviews from others (I shared the second piece I had put in the fridge with the facilities crew that came to shampoo the faculty lounge carpet).

Anyway, I confess I had never made a berry pie before, but this one was too easy to be true! Sarah emailed me the recipe and I couldn't resist. I made the pie the next day to take to church for a committee meeting. Well, let me tell you, that pie was the hit! (I actually made some brownies as a backup in case the pie didn't turn out -- I think only two brownies were eaten. ) There were even a couple of pieces left over, so I gave them to Gene (one of the committee members) who was very grateful.

Well, I know you are getting anxious, so without further ado here is the recipe (courtesy of Sarah):

Berrylicious Pie

1 qt. berries (she used strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries**)
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. butter
Pastry for 9 inch 2 crust pie*

Wash and drain berries. Mix sugar, flour and salt together, sifting several times. Pour the sugar mixture over the well drained berries and mix. Line pie pan with pastry. Brush bottom and sides with butter. Add sugared berries, and top with remaining butter. Roll remaining pastry and cut in 1/2 inch wide strips. Weave a lattice top on a flat lid, pinching the ends of the strips over the edge of the lid. Moisten edge of bottom crust lightly with cold water. Turn lattice top directly over berries, loosen ends of strips, and press strips to edge of bottom crust. By weaving the lattice top on a flat lid, you'll find it much easier to weave a neat pastry topping.
Bake 15 minutes in hot oven (425 degrees F.). Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and bake 35 to 40 minutes longer. Enjoy!

*Sarah used a solid top crust (not a lattice top), so that is what I used. Just make a few slits in the top so the steam can escape.
**I used frozen raspberries (grocery was out of fresh ones), so I just increased the flour to 1/3 cup to soak up the excess liquid.

I hope you enjoy this pie as much as I did! Thanks Sarah!! :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Speaking of hot dogs...

I'd just like to give a "shout-out" to Skyline Chili. Jason and I stopped by for a late lunch on Saturday (remember we had that lovely breakfast at Lynn's) to enjoy some of Skyline's famous coneys. A typical "coney" from Skyline has their famous chili, chopped onions, mustard, and a heaping mound of cheddar cheese on top. I ordered two of these (although I took one of them home) and a drink. Jason ordered two plain ones with just cheese, fries (they give you a platter!) and a drink. Total bill was less than $10. Plus they give you a free appetizer -- a bowl of those little oyster crackers (nothing "oyster" about them...they are just plain little hexagon-shaped crackers). Stacy was our waitress- she was great! If you've never had Skyline, you're missing out!! I LOVE CONEYS!!