Creamy Tomato Zucchini Sauce

I love creamy pasta sauce, and this one is a cinch.
3 TBS. butter
2-3 TBS. flour
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
pinch pepper
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup half and half or cream (use milk if you want less fat, just add more flour to thicken)
1/2 can petite diced tomatoes
1 c. zucchini, grated into large shreds
1/2 c. shredded parmesan, divided

Melt butter in frying pan on med-high. Add flour, garlic salt, pepper and minced garlic, stir well into butter to create a roux (thick paste). Slowly add cream and continue to stir until incorporated, reduce heat if thickening too much. Add 1/2 can of petite diced tomatoes, zucchini shreds and 1/3 c. parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Pour over hot pasta. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serve with crusty french bread and roasted chicken. mmmmmmmm.

Homemade Gnocchi

My cousin Brooke gave me this recipe, courtesy of Mario Batali on the Food Network. I modified it quite a bit to suit my liking and it was delicious, especially with Creamy Tomato Zucchini sauce which I will post next. If you've never tried gnocchi, but like pasta, you should try these, they are a delicacy, and pretty easy to make.
3 pounds russet potatoes (about 12 medium) at least 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, extra large
1-2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil

Boil the whole potatoes until they are soft (about 45 minutes). While still warm, peel and mash well (don't leave any lumps).
Set 6 quarts of water to boil in a large spaghetti pot. Set up ice bath with 6 cups ice and 6 cups water near boiling water.

Make well in center of potatoes and sprinkle all over with flour, adding more flour as necessary until dough is still wet but heavy and thick. Place egg and salt in center of well and using a fork, stir into flour and potatoes, just like making normal pasta. Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Knead gently another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch.

Roll baseball-sized ball of dough into 3/4-inch diameter dowels and cut dowels into 1-inch long pieces (I used a pizza cutter to do this part). Flick pieces off of fork or concave side of cheese grater until dowel is finished. Drop these pieces into boiling water and cook until they float (about 1 minute). Meanwhile, continue with remaining dough, forming dowels, cutting into 1-inch pieces and flicking off of fork. As gnocchi float to top of boiling water, remove them to ice bath. Continue until all have been cooled off. Let sit several minutes in bath and drain from ice and water. Toss with 1/4 cup canola oil and store covered in refrigerator up to 48 hours until ready to serve. I like to warm mine up and serve them with Creamy Tomato Zucchini Sauce.

This made a ton! You could easily cut the recipe in half if you are feeding 4 or less.

I'm Officially a Daring Baker

I joined an online baking group called the Daring Bakers. They give you one challenge per month, and this month was Julia Child's french bread - click here for the link to the step by step instructions. It took forever to make, but it turned out authentic, smelled amazing, and was fun to try. Since I spent literally all day in the kitchen, I decided to make some homemade gnocchi (Italian pasta-like potato dumplings), a roasted chicken and creamy tomato zucchini sauce. I posted a pic of the finished bread, as well as of my dinner, since it was quite delicious. I'll post my gnocchi and sauce recipes next.


Beef & Broccoli

This was deliciously flavored, fast and easy! Tastes just like chinese takeout...but fresh (and no msg of course!)

3 tablespoons cornstarch , divided
1/2 cup water , plus 2 tablespoons water , divided
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 lb boneless round steak or charcoal charcoal chuck steaks , cut into thin 3-inch strips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil , divided
4 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 small onion , cut into wedges
2 stalks celery, chopped into chunks
4 carrots, sliced
1/3 cup soy sauce
2.5 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
hot cooked rice

In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water and garlic powder until smooth.
Add beef and toss.
In a large skillet or wok over medium high heat, stir-fry beef in 1 tablespoon oil until beef reaches desired doneness; remove and keep warm.
Stir-fry broccoli, carrots, celery and onion in remaining oil for 4-5 minutes.
Return beef to pan.
Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and remaining cornstarch and water until smooth; add to the pan.
Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
Serve over rice.


Feed the Hungry!

Since I spend a lot of time feeding myself, I thought it wouldn't hurt to try to help feed others.

Feed the Hungry...It just takes brains, not bucks.


For Mindy: The Cheater Way to Use Corn Tortillas

For all my recipes (mostly enchiladas) that call for corn tortillas, this is my secret. I NEVER actually roll them up! I always have trouble with them crumbling to pieces before I can get the filling in them (unless I soak them in oil first). This is what I do to use less grease. I wish I had pictures. I will take one next time I do it. This might be common knowledge, but it was a revelation to me once I figured it out!

However many tortillas your recipe calls for, take that many. Slice them in half so you have a bunch of semi-circle shaped tortillas. Like so:

Now, I take the flat edge of the tortilla and place it against the edge of your 9x13 pan, or whatever you use. It usually takes me about 8-9 half tortillas to cover the bottom. Then, I place the filling in between, and cover the top with the remaining half of the half tortillas, cover with enchilada sauce and cheese, and Voila! You just cut it up like lasagna and serve it!

Questions? :)


Banana Cream Pie - Easy as Pie

1 & 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup crushed ice (really crushed)
1/2 (3.5 ounce) package instant banana pudding mix (or to lessen the banana flavor, add french vanilla)
1/2 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
3 bananas, sliced
1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked
1 cup heavy cream, whipped at the end with some powdered sugar for topping.

Using an electric mixer, whip heavy cream on low speed until it starts to thicken. Add crushed ice and continue to whip another 4 minutes. Increase speed and add vanilla and banana pudding mixes, whipping until pudding mixes are blended fully with the cream and the mixture thickens. Increase speed to high and beat until mixture is stiff.
Line the bottom and half way up the sides of pie crust with banana slices. Cover bananas with half of the banana cream mixture and top completely with banana slices. Top with the remaining banana cream mixture.
In a small bowl, whip 1 cup cream until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving (or overnight).

*Tip - if you don't want your bananas to turn brown, put them in a bowl with a splash of lemon juice and stir them around. It will add a little tartness, but saves the color.*


Surprisingly, lots of people have ordered one of the cookbooks we're working on publishing, even some people who I don't know personally! Here's your last chance. This is the last week we're taking orders/money, so if you want one, leave me a comment with your email and I can send you information.


Oreo Cheesecake Kisses

I got this idea from Bakerella, if you haven't checked out her baking blog, do it. Do it now. She is awesome. Anyway, I used her idea, and came up with a fun Valentine's treat, that I personalized with my own messages! So fun. And how can you not love something made with Oreos and cheesecake?

The recipe is simple:
1 box Oreos (I used imitation ones, and they tasted the EXACT same) - take 7 out and eat them for good luck (and so it's not too dry)
1 8 oz. package cream cheese (I used light and it was fine), softened
1 pkg. White or Chocolate Bark

Crush the cookies in a food processor or blender until fine. Mix with cream cheese in bowl until well mixed and cookie dough like. Roll into 1" balls. Chill so they are cold enough not to fall apart in chocolate coating. Shape like kisses if desired. Dip into chocolate coating. Let cool. I put a few of mine on some remaining crushed oreos for a fun bottom, and sprinkled some on top. Cover with aluminum foil. Add a message if you want! Enjoy. You can freeze these and they're good too.


Publishing a Recipe Book

Hello faithful recipe readers. Just wanted to let you know I'm working with my church on "whipping up" (ha ha, get it?) a published recipe book. It's going to have over 300 recipes and will be full of fabulous recipes in all categories, including some favorites of yours truly. If you want one...let me know. We're placing orders over the next couple weeks. The cost will be $9 buckaroos. Plus shipping if you don't live in Louisville, KY. Shoot me an email to heidisrecipes@hotmail.com if you're interested. I can't order any more once we place our order so just wanted to give a shout out now!

How's that for shameless self promotion?


Food Tag

I've been tagged by a fellow foodie - Deborah at Taste and Tell. This one is only 5 facts, and since I'm going to relate it to food, I'll have no problem coming up with them!
Rules: 1. Link to your tagger and post these rules. 2. Share 5 facts about yourself 3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them). 4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

My Facts:

1) I never measure ingredients exactly.

2) I'm a major texture person. Even if I like the flavor of some things, I can't eat them if I don't like the texture (i.e. sushi, grilled peppers and onions, cake)

3) I love to cook/bake and find it therapeutic to be up to my elbows in flour, dough, etc.

4) I have a fetish with cookbooks.

5) I dream of opening a restaurant.

I'm tagging Dani at Domestication in Progress, Krista at Delisssshious Dishes, Anne at Anne's Simple Recipes, Tisha at Tisha's Tips, and Becky C. at ???(no food blog yet, but I'm tagging her because I know she reads this and I think she should start a food blog).

The Saint of All Carrot Cakes

Really, I modified this recipe to be low-fat, and then I added the cream cheese frosting and that idea was shot. However, I think if I were Catholic, I would be sainted for this carrot cake. If I were British I would be knighted. You get the idea. Anyway, this recipe is for a 9x13, but I halved the recipe and made an 8x8, so I didn't have so many leftovers, which I knew I would (and did) eat for breakfast.

4 eggs
2/3 c. oil
2/3 applesauce
1 c. crushed pineapple, well drained
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. You can use Pam spray, but make sure you get it really good before flouring it. Very important step so it comes out of the pan when you're ready to frost it.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, sugars, pineapple and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in walnuts. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Once it is cool, frost it on top and sides, then cover with remaining nuts.
To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.


Success with a Pork Chop! Hallelujah!

This is so easy, and I have never had such success with succulent, fall apart pork chops.

4 pork chops (I bought the 1" thick, boneless ones from Costco - they are great, and lean)
1 cup crushed pineapple (not drained)
1 cup BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray's brand, also available at Costco)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic salt

Place pork chops in a greased crock pot. Sprinkle with pepper and garlic salt. In separate bowl, mix pineapple and BBQ sauce. Pour sauce over pork chops and set at low for 6 hours (do not over cook). These were delicious and fell apart! No knives necessary, and the sauce was great. I'll definitely make these again. I served it with the sweet potato fries recipe below.

The Cure to Sweet Potato-itis

I usually hate sweet potatoes, but my awesome cook sister-in-law, Bryndy, has an awesome solution to sweetpotatoitis.

1 large sweet potato - cut into thin strips
Place strips in bowl, add 1/8 c. olive oil.
1/2 tsp. season salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
sprinkle or two of all purpose, salt free seasoning
Mix well. Place strips on large greased cookie sheet.
Chop 1/4 of an onion into long strips and place on top of sweet potatoes.

Bake at 475F for 30-40 minutes, or until crispy. Turn once or twice during baking.

Snickerdoodle Muffins

As if my muffin-top wasn't bad enough already, I had to find this recipe. Worth every bite.

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

¾ tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

¾ tsp cream of tartar

¾ tsp nutmeg

1 and ¼ cup sour cream

2 and ¼ cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar and 2 TBSP cinnamon mixed together for rolling

1.Cream the butter and sugar until soft about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix until each is incorporated.

2.In a separate, mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and cream of tartar.

3.Add the flour mixture and the sour cream alternately to the egg-butter mixture in the additions. Start with the flour and end with the flour. Scrape the bowl occasionally.

4. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out muffin batter one at a time and drop into a shallow bowl filled with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the muffin around in the mixture until it is covered completely in cinnamon sugar.. Place muffin in to muffin tin.. Depending on the size of your tins and how big you like your muffins, you should get about 24 mini muffins plus 6 regular muffins. Bake them for approx. 20-22 minutes in a 350F oven or until they are golden brown.