spiced carrot muffins

from Martha Stewart...I mean her staff.

I made these last night. They aren't too sweet. I think if I added more spices than recommended it would help. However, they make a great breakfast muffin. Not too sweet, but they are moist! I topped mine with turbinado sugar before putting them in the oven. It always makes things look yummier. And I had vanilla yogurt instead of plain.

Makes 12

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups shredded (about 5 medium) carrots

Line twelve cups (each 2 1/2 inches wide) of a standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, pumpkin-pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, butter, and eggs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and add yogurt mixture. Stir until just combined (Alton Brown taught me to stir no longer than 10 seconds...then walk away!) . Fold in carrots.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. (If desired, muffins can be baked immediately in a 375 degrees oven for about 20 minutes.) Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes, then cover tin with plastic wrap, and freeze until ready to bake, up to 3 months.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake muffins (still frozen) until a toothpick inserted in center of one comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Keep a batch of unbaked muffins in the freezer, and you'll always have breakfast or an afternoon snack ready for the oven; there's no need to thaw. The batter goes in the paper-lined muffin tin, then into the freezer. Once frozen, the individual cups can be transferred to plastic storage bags. Be sure to bake the batter in a muffin tin, though, to give the muffins shape.


tomato garlic pasta

I love pasta. I love cooked tomatoes. I love garlic.
1/2 a bag of your favorite pasta
1-2 cups of your favorite tomatoes, chopped-- or you can used a can of diced tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup of jarred spaghetti sauce (optional...I like it because I love sauce, definitely not needed if using canned tomatoes)
1/4 cup chopped parsley (or multiple dashes of dried parsley)
Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional, but highly recommended)
Olive Oil
Cook your pasta according to package directions. Drain and let pasta sit in colander. Using the same pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat and add garlic, tomatoes and parsley. Cook until tomato skins are wrinkly, 3-5 minutes. Return pasta to the pot and add spaghetti sauce. Stir until heated through. Serve with cheese on top.


the egg sandwich

Easy. It's a fried egg, cheese on toast with mayo and Tony's. Yummy.


pork chops with sweet tomato sauce

I altered this recipe quite a bit. It called for Golden Raisins...I wasn't going to buy them. I made a few other changes and this is what I ended up with. It was pretty good. The only thing I would change is I would make the onions smaller. I always get impatient while chopping because they hurt my eyes.

Serves 4

4 pork chops
1 can whole tomatoes in juice
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar (white or cider)
4 tsp brown sugar
a few dashes of parsley (opt)
S & P
3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Heat 1 Tbsp Olive Oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until golden and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add can of tomatoes with juice, vinegar, water, parsley and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce; simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another skillet, heat remaining Olive Oil over med-high heat. Season both sides of pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Add pork chops to frying pan and cook until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve sauce over pork chops.


We had oatmeal for dinner the other night and it was yummy. It's all about what you add to it.

Just cook it as the directions on the packaging say and add whatever you like. I added Sweetened Sour Cream (just mix sour cream and brown sugar to your liking) and Strawberry Freezer Jam to mine...with some additional brown sugar, of course. Here are a few mix-in suggestions I found:

  • Sour Cream (sweetened or regular)
  • Jam
  • Fruit
  • Brown Sugar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Nuts
  • Dried Fruit


baked ham and cheese sandwiches

They were delish. Really good. Honestly, the "spread" that the recipe calls for didn't provide any flavor on the sandwich...but it's not too great by itself (the spread, that is). I wonder if they suggested it because it has a more mild flavor than mayo, or so the sandwich wasn't too dry...Anyway, you can make it if you like. I think I will use mayo next time. Actually, I just realized I didn't add the S & P...that could explain some.

Makes 4 sandwiches

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Coarse salt and ground pepper

8 slices white sandwich bread
3/4 pound cooked ham, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded melting white cheese (I used cheddar and it was good)
Dijon mustard, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Add flour; cook, whisking constantly, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes (do not let color).

Add milk and nutmeg to saucepan. Whisking constantly, bring to a simmer; continue cooking until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a shallow dish; cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the sauce. Refrigerate at least 10 minutes.

Place 4 slices of bread on a baking sheet. Spread each slice with sauce, dividing evenly; layer with ham, and sprinkle each with 1/4 cup cheese. Top with remaining bread; sprinkle with remaining cup cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and golden, about 15 minutes. Serve hot, with mustard on the side, if desired.

tony oven fries

Tyler loved them. So did I.

3 large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Tony's or your favorite season salt or chili powder
Coarse salt and ground pepper (only use salt if you chose chili powder)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Halve 3 large russet potatoes lengthwise; cut each half lengthwise into thirds.

In a large bowl, whisk olive oil with chili powder; season generously with coarse salt and ground pepper. Add potatoes; toss to coat.

Transfer potatoes to a baking sheet, cut sides down. Bake, turning potatoes halfway through, until they are tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes.


mustard crusted pork chops

Obviously this is not my photography skills you are looking at. You can thank Martha Stewart...or someone she hired...for this photo.

Yummy. Easy. Cheap. I used to make this one a lot. I forgot about it for a while and now it's back up on the charts again.

4 boneless pork chops
Mustard (any kind you like)
Bread Crumbs (or make your own using 2 slices of white bread, salt and pepper in a food processor)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Season pork loin chops on both sides with salt and pepper; place on a baking sheet. Spread top of each chop with mustard; sprinkle with breadcrumbs, patting in gently. Bake until crust is golden and chops are cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes.


the awaited paycheck

Hey everyone. Sorry I haven't got anything new up here in a little bit. It was a strange week and my menu didn't quite happen as planned.

This week we are waiting for the paycheck that will be rolling in on Friday. Therefore, the menu will mostly consist of things we already have in the kitchen (bread...eggs...etc). I am not ashamed. After all, this blog was built on the idea of what you can make for dinner when you have no Benjamin's...baby.


italian chicken

We can thank my family for this gem. I make it a lot. I swear it tastes better than my picture looks ;)

Chicken (as much or as little as you want, any kind)
Wishbone Italian Dressing (at least 1/3 bottle)
Lee & Perins Worcestershire Sauce
Dried Thyme

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut chicken into good size chunks (I do this because it cooks faster, but not necessary). Place in glass baking dish. Pour in Italian Dressing until dressing is at least 1/2 way up the side of the chicken, and make sure you get some on top. Add 20-30 dashes or Worcestershire sauce, you want it to be a dark golden brown when done. Place a small pat of butter on each chicken piece. Add salt, pepper and thyme leaves, generously. Bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

***By the way, I am a food snob when it comes to Italian Dressing and Worcestershire Sauce. I can't do generic.


cherry chocolate cake

Yesterday was my husband's birthday and a cake was absolutely necessary in my opinion. I decided on my Aunt Wendie's Cherry Chocolate cake. However, Tyler prefers raspberries to cherries. I had never tried raspberry with this recipe, but I figured it wouldn't change it much.

Here is the recipe, for a single layer cake (which is yummier. I promise):


  • 3/4 can cherry pie filling
  • 1 box chocolate cake
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil

Beat together until well mixed. Fill pan with batter and bake according to box.


  • Remaining cherry pie filling
  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • 1 cube Butter
  • 4 Tbsp Cocoa
  • 1 tsp Almond Extract

Mix all ingredients well. Pour over cake.

For Layer Cake:

Same ingredients for batter. Beat until well mixed. Divide between two circular or square pans. Bake according to box.


Use remaining pie filling and spread in between cake layers.

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • 5-6 Tbsp Cocoa
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 cube Butter

Beat and frost cake.

For some reason, my cake came out a little dryer than usual. Not sure what to blame this on, but I have made the recipe before and never had that problem. Oh, and it's a perfect Valentine's Cake. Yum.


chili, dang good chili

This will be the easiest chili you will ever make...that doesn't come from a can. Not to mention, it has won some chili cook-off's.
Serves 4
1 lb Ground Beef
1/2 Onion, coarsly chopped
1-2 cans Ranch Style Beans
1 jar of your favorite Salsa
That's it, really.
Brown ground beef and onion, salt and pepper generously. Drain off the grease. Add beans and salsa. Cook until warm.
You can add the ground meat and onion, after browning, to a crock put and then add the rest to keep it warm, if you choose.
I think the recipe was orignally larger than that. I made it smaller for Tyler and I.


he's a nerd, but i can't get enough

Alton Brown's flair in the kitchen developed early with guidance from his mother and grandmother, a budding culinary talent he skillfully used later "as a way to get dates" in college. Switching gears as an adult, Alton spent a decade working as a cinematographer and video director, but realized he spent all his time between shoots watching cooking shows which he found to be dull and uninformative. Convinced that he could do better, Alton left the film business and moved to Vermont to train at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vt. Soon after, Alton tapped all of his training to create Good Eats, a smart and entertaining food show that blends wit with wisdom, history with pop culture and science with common cooking sense. Alton not only writes and produces the shows but also stars in each offbeat episode.
Honestly, one of my favorite shows. Watch it on Food Network. If you can get over the cheesiness, you're guaranteed to improve your skills. Don't worry, he knows he's ridiculous. That helps.
My favorite thing about his shows? Last night he did a show on butter. Just about butter and why it's better for you than margerine, how it's made, what it can do, etc. He's thorough and informative...I think I'm a nerd guys.


chicken with grape tomatoes and mushrooms

Top 3 Hated Foods as a Child:
1. Olives
2. Tomatoes
3. Mushrooms

Top 3 Hated Foods as an Adult:
1. Olives
2. Black Olives
3. Green Olives

I have come around to tomatoes and mushrooms. So much, in fact, they have become among my favorites. Sorry, Olives, but I just don't see that happening for you. Maybe when I am 90 and my taste buds go and I love Chinese Buffets and Golden Corrall.

Also, the only reason I bought mushrooms and tomatoes was because they were a steal! I am normally too cheap/poor.

Anywho--this recipe was inspired by another, but is my own. Ehem.

Serves 2...but you can easily control this by increasing the amount of chicken/ingredients

2 Chicken Breasts (I cut them in smaller pieces so they will cook faster)
Olive Oil
1/2-1 Pint Grape Tomatoes, halved
1/2 Pint of Mushrooms, sliced (slice them upside down...it's easier, in case you are dumb like me and common sense decided not to inform you of that)
1/2 an onion, chopped (I used a few green onions because they were about to kill over in my fridge)
4 dashes of dried Thyme
1 tsp Lemon or Lime juice

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil over medium-low heat. Add chicken and season well with salt and pepper. Cook chicken, only turning once for about 30-35 minutes or until cooked through.
OR, cook the chicken for 10 minutes then get tired of waiting because you are
eating all the tomatoes that are supposed to go in your sauce, put the chicken
in a glass baking dish, cover with foil, throw in a 350 degree oven for about
20-40 minutes while you are making your sauce. That's what I did.
Using the same skillet, raise the heat to medium. Add onions (unless you are using green onions, then you can add everything all at once). Cook until tender. Add tomatoes, mushrooms and thyme until tomatoes release their juices and get pruny-lookin'. At that point, remove from heat and add about 1/2 -1 Tbsp Olive oil and 1 tsp lime or lemon juice. You are done. Serve over chicken and marvel at what you just cooked.

Aw, yeah.

Green Onions for Onions
1 can Diced Tomatoes for Grape Tomatoes
Garlic for Mushrooms (or add garlic anyway)