Sarah's Scribbles

The Year of Months

The Most Difficult Month

July is going to be a very busy month for me (two conferences and a weekend of visitors), so I started thinking about next month's Year of Months theme a little early... as in, before 11:55pm the last day of the month.

I decided yesterday, against my better judgment, what next month will be. It's going to be difficult, possibly tortuous. One of the worst things I would voluntarily do to myself. You might not think it's that bad, but it is to me.

Anyone who has ever slept in the same house as me or worked with me will tell you how much of a Not-Morning Person I am. I'm an anti-morning person. Even after spending a year and a half at AB, where I had to be on-site no later than 7:00 AM every day, I hated it. Like, a burning, stormy, furious kind of hate. I want you to fully understand what this means to me.

I gained some weight during Recipe Month, despite my original intentions to find healthy recipes. When I'm faced with the choice between some boiled broccoli and chicken dish and an Egyptian pastry pudding thing, my self-control crumbles. I wanted to do some kind of month that would help me lose weight.

But Lose Weight Month isn't specific enough, nor is it new to me. The point of the Year of Months is to challenge myself, broaden my horizons. So I had to do something I normally wouldn't do. This idea flashed across my brain and, though it terrifies me, my inner drill sergeant is yelling at me to not take the easy way out. And now I have to tell you (can you tell I'm stalling?) so that you won't let me chicken out. Ok, here goes. *deep breath* July 2010 will be:


Work Out Before Work Month!

I know many of you are probably thinking this isn't a big deal, but it's huge for me. Think of one thing that you really hate doing (mine is waking up early). Like cleaning the toilet with a toothbrush or cutting your mother-in-laws toenails. Think of something else that you don't really like doing (mine is working out). Maybe it's mowing the lawn or doing the dishes? Combine them and picture doing it every workday for the next month. Now you know how I feel.

I know this isn't one of the original YOM ideas, but I think it's better than some of them and definitely more challenging. The good (or maybe bad, depending?) news is I will have more leeway to do actual blog posts instead of just posting recipes. I feel bad if I post more than once a day (as I'm doing right now - sorry!).

Now, as always, the rules:
  • I will work out every weekday before work for at least 30 minutes.
  • If I'm working two shifts that day, I'm exempt. I'll take a walk at lunch or something to make up for it. I need my sleep on those days.
  • There is no way in Tartarus that I am waking up early on a weekend to work out - not even for the YOM - so weekends are exempt.
  • I'm putting no restrictions on the type or intensity of the workout. I plan to start with vigorous walks with my dog and increase the intensity as time goes on.
  • This isn't mandatory, but I will make an attempt to eat more healthily. Less desserts. More vegetables, fruits and whole grains. I will try.

Mac'n Cheese & Road Trip Wednesday

I'm combining two posts today, so skip to the bottom if you don't care about a very cheesy mac'n cheese recipe.

With Recipe Month winding down, I asked my sister what she wanted me to make. "Homemade Macaroni and Cheese WITHOUT Velveeta Cheese," came her almost instant reply. My mind immediately turned to Paula Deen. If she can't make a good heart-stopping Mac'n Cheese, I don't know who can.

Silly me, I didn't really notice how many eggs were in the recipe before I started making it - and I was too scared to change the recipe because bad things happen to me in the kitchen. It wouldn't really be a problem, except my sister doesn't like eggs. Let's skip right over how weird that is and talk about what I have renamed as the "Mac'n'cheese Casserole," because there are way too many eggs for it to be traditional Mac'n Cheese.

It was yummy, super rich (duh, it's from Paul Deen y'all), and JM had two servings before we even realized he had put one in a bowl. It's also very easy to make and you have plenty of leftover cheese (which never goes to waste in my house). Grating the cheese takes a little bit of time, but - call me a weirdo, I don't care - I really enjoy grating cheese. Don't ask me why, but I love it. I look forward to it.

2 cup dried elbow macaroni (4 cups cooked)
1/3 cup grated Cheddar
1/3 cup grated Swiss
1/3 cup grated Jack
1/3 cup grated Colby
1/3 cup grated Muenster
1/3 cup grated Gouda
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces
6   eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk
Nonstick spray

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2) In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Season water with salt and cook macaroni until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain pasta and place in a large bowl. While pasta is still hot, add all cheeses.

3) In a separate medium bowl, using a whisk, combine the sour cream, butter, eggs, salt, pepper and milk and add to the macaroni mixture.

4) Spray casserole dish with nonstick spray and pour macaroni mixture into the dish. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown. Top with additional cheese, if desired.

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The lovely ladies at YA Highway do this thing called Road-Trip Wednesday where many people write a blog post based on one question or topic and they're all linky-linked together. This is the first time I'm participating!

This week's question: What's the best book you read in June?

I've read four books this month, which according to my Goodreads, is about average for me - except for March, when I read a freakish amount of books. Between A Great and Terrible Beauty, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Incarceron, and Specials it's hard to choose, but I'm going to have to go with...

 Incarceron (Incarceron, Book 1)
It's got a darkly imaginative world that I could so easily see and feel while reading it. I know the sequel is coming out later this year so I expected the half-ending like so many in YA series these days. It's not a perfect book, and I do have my issues with it, but it was an entertaining and engaging read.

Pie of Destruction

Yesterday I decided to make a pie. I have no idea where the recipe came from (perhaps a mischievous fairy slipped it in?) but it's called Tricia's Fantastic Fudge Pie.

Well, Tricia, I'm sorry that I ruined your fantastic pie. I should also apologize to my sister, my dogs and my lungs. Because when I destroy a pie, I don't mess around. To be honest, I'm surprised I made it through most of recipe month without this kind of thing happening several times. I really shouldn't even be allowed alone with a stove/oven.

Here's what happened: I made the pie as instructed. At the allotted time, I removed it from the oven. I then noticed it still looked kinda liquid-y and decided to return it to the oven. Half way down, the store-bought pie plate (which is really closer to a wet paper towel than metal in terms of structural properties) folded in on itself. Some of the HOT pie filling splashed on me, so I dropped the pie into the oven.


It doesn't look as bad in the picture as it did in real life. That's probably because you can't really see the half of the pie sizzling on the coil. And also because you probably didn't know that the top is supposed to be chocolate, not broken pie shell.

So what did I do then? (after taking the picture, of course. I'm always thinking of my blog readers) I turned the oven off, picked up what remained in the pie plate and scooped some into a bowl - and started calling it "warm pudding" instead of "pie." It was kinda liquid-y, but I don't know if that was because it was scrambled, was supposed to be that way, or just needed to cook more. It tasted good, though - very rich.

Once the oven cooled off (and K came home and discovered my disaster) I cleaned up what I could. HOWEVER, there was a lot of charred hard stuff sticking to the coils so I decided to "self clean" the oven. Our BRAND NEW oven.

Even with doors open and fans running the whole time, I think I have chemical burns on my throat.

Oh, and in case you want to try to make this warm puddi... I mean pie, here's the recipe:

1 9 inch pie shell
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

2) In a medium bowl combine eggs, melted butter, and sugar. Stir in vanilla. Set aside.

3) In a separate bowl, mix together flour and cocoa powder. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into shell

4) Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. Serve hot.

5) Don't drop it.

Weekend Recipes

On Thursday, my friend John-Michael came over and I made Turkey Cakes with Spicy Roasted Tomato Salsa. They were different and I liked them. I don't have a food processor, so I just use my blender for everything - with mixed results. (The salsa was more like puree and it refused to shred all the turkey).

Also, if you don't like the flavor of cilantro (I DO!), you might want to cut that down because it was prominent.


For the spicy roasted tomato salsa:
3 large plum tomatoes (about 12 ounces total), cored
1 hot red or green chile (like serrano), ribs and seeds included, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper 
 
For the turkey cakes:
1/2 pound diced cooked turkey (1/2-inch dice)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives or finely diced scallion
1 fresh red or green chile (like a serrano or jalapeno), seeded and finely diced
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Grated zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons leftover turkey gravy (or heavy cream)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, separated
1/4 cup fine cornmeal
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Set them cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook until the skins split and the tomatoes soften, about 10 minutes. Let them cool slightly before removing their skins. Put the skinned tomatoes in the food processor with the remaining ingredients. Process until well blended. Adjust the seasonings and serve alongside the patties. 
 
2. Put the diced turkey in a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and add the cilantro, chives or scallion, chile, breadcrumbs, lime zest, lime juice, and gravy or cream; mix until well combined. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the egg yolk. 
 
3. With wet hands, mold the mixture into eight patties 1/2 inch thick; they should only just hold together. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
 
4. Put a baking sheet in the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the cornmeal in a shallow bowl. Whisk the egg white with 1 tablespoon cold water. Dip the patties into the egg white and then coat with the cornmeal. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat; add the olive oil, and when it's hot, add the patties. Cook on each side until golden, about 2 minutes per side (work in batches if necessary). Transfer the patties to the heated baking sheet in the oven. Bake until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve with the roasted tomato salsa. 
 
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We had a movie day at work on Firday so I made this Sweet and Nutty Popcorn. I didn't really like it. My coworkers said they like it but they didn't eat much of it so.... It was a little difficult to mix before everything was coated because I have a large pot that's not quite large enough.

1-1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cups popped popcorn
2 cups bite-size wheat square cereal
1 cup salted cashews
1 cup golden raisins

Directions
1. Combine sugar, water, butter, and cinnamon in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Bring to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to cook for 4 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Remove syrup from heat. 
 
2. Add the popcorn, cereal, cashews, and raisins to the syrup; stir quickly to coat all ingredients evenly. Spread coated popcorn mixture in a single layer on 1 or 2 large baking sheets lined with waxed paper or parchment paper. Cool completely. Break up any large pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Makes 12 cups. 
 
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On Saturday I made these Easy Beef Enchiladas, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I somehow skipped over the "taco seasoning mix" ingredient when I was making my shopping list so I just threw in some cumin, garlic powder and onion powder instead. I did not include the rice, because I don't like rice in my enchiladas/burritos/etc. They were, as the recipe's name implies, easy. They were also yummies.

What I would change: The onions didn't have time to cook so I would cook them along with the beef. Y'all know I don't really like onions, but I think even people who do would have a problem with practically raw onions in their enchiladas.

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. (about 1 ounce) taco seasoning mix or burrito seasoning mix
1 can (about 16 ounces) refried beans
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup cooked regular long-grain white rice (optional)
12 flour tortillas (10-inch), warmed
1 1/2 cups prepared enchilada sauce
Shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the beef in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until well browned, stirring often to separate meat. Pour off any fat. Stir the seasoning mix, beans, soup, onion and rice, if desired, in the skillet. 
 
2. Divide the beef mixture among the tortillas. Roll up the tortillas and place seam-side down into a 3-quart shallow baking dish. Pour the enchilada sauce over the filled tortillas and sprinkle with the cheese. 
 
3. Bake for 20 minutes or until the enchiladas are hot and bubbling. 
 
--
Since Sunday was Do Nothing But Read Day, I wanted to make something I could grab and eat when hunger struck without interrupting my reading too much, so I made these Mini Meat Turnovers. They were good, BUT...

It may just be my complete lack of skill, but these were hard to make. I had so much trouble cutting the biscuits in half and making a turnover without putting 18 holes in it, that I gave up after only four and made double-sized ones using a whole biscuit. That worked a lot better, but many of them still un-sealed themselves in the oven. And it takes sooooooo long to roll out each individual biscuit. Yes, I'm whiny and spoiled. At least I know it.
 
This recipe makes a lot, so make sure you have people to share these with!

1-1/4 pound lean ground beef
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 teaspooons chili powder
2 teaspoonos dried oregano, crushed
1 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro
2 10- to 12-ounce packages (20 total) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
Milk
Salsa (optional)

Directions
1. For filling, in a large skillet cook ground beef until brown; drain off fat. Stir in tomato sauce, chili powder, oregano, and garlic powder. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro. 
 
2. Grease a large baking sheet; set aside. Separate biscuits; cut each biscuit in half horizontally. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of biscuit dough into a 4-inch circle. Place about 1 tablespoon filling onto half of each circle. Fold opposite side of circle up and over filling. Brush edges with a little milk; seal edges with a fork.
 
3. Place filled turnovers 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet; brush with milk. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from baking sheet. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm. If desired, serve with salsa for dipping. Makes 40 turnovers.
 
Make-Ahead Tip
Cool turnovers completely on wire racks. Place in an airtight freezer container; freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, transfer frozen turnovers to an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until heated through.

Quick Post to End All Quick Posts

Just wanted to let my blog readers know that I started a tumblr here. I'm going to use it differently than my blog, so don't worry about the blog changing. I'm just going to try it out for a while and I'd appreciate if you tried it along with me!

<3

Egyptian yummies!!

Yesterday's recipe was so good that it deserves its own blog post. I've had this Om Ali (it's an Egyptian dessert) recipe sitting around in my pile for a while. I have no idea where it came from as it's typed in 12 pt TNR on a plain sheet of paper.

It took a little longer than I expected, but it was absolutely and completely delish. It's kinda like a nutty (lots of nuts!) bread pudding - but better because it uses pastry instead of bread. I couldn't find hazelnuts (apparently they're seasonal?) so I replaced those with almonds.

All I have left to say is: NOM NOM NOM!

1 (17.5 oz) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1 c chopped pecans
1 c chopped hazelnuts
1 c raisins
1 c flaked coconut
1 1/4 c white sugar, divided
4 c milk
1/2 c heavy cream

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish

2) Place the pastry sheets in the baking dish and place the dish in the oven. Watch it closely. When the top layer turns crunchy and golden, remove it from the oven. Continue until all the sheets are cooked.

3) Preheat the oven broiler.

4) In a (BIG) bowl, combine walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, raisins, coconut, and 1/4 c sugar. Break cooked pastry into pieces and stir into nut mixture. Spread mixture evenly in 9x13 inch dish.

5) Bring milk and 1/2 c sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Pour over nut mixture

6) Beat the heavy cream with the remaining 1/2 c sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread evenly over nut mixture in dish.

7) Place dessert under oven broiler until top is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Serve hot


Random thought: You could use these puff pastry sheets for the chicken pot pie from a few days ago

Up next: Turkey Cakes with Roasted Tomato Salsa

Probably More Recipes Than You Care to See

My sister and I went to visit our parents this weekend for Father's Day. I made lots of recipes.

For dinner Saturday, we were just looking for something quick and easy, so I used another recipe from Laura W: Baked Ziti. She got the recipe from allrecipes.com and said her sister makes it often.

It was OK, but my dad complained about the lack of meat (no surprise there though). I think I might have messed up the quantities or something (I did use macaroni instead of ziti), because it probably could have used more cheese and sauce. Overall, it's easy and you can mess with it as much as you want to. Also, you might have all the ingredients for it in your pantry right now.

Oh, and I don't have the picture for this one because, apparently, when I asked my sister to take a picture of it, she thought I meant with ... like .... a camera or something. (I take all these pictures with my phone). So I'm too lazy to look for the camera cord ... but I think y'all can just imagine what this looks like, can't you?

1 (26 oz.) Jar Prego Traditional Italian Sauce
1 1/2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
5 Cups Hot Cooked Tube-shaped Pasta (Ziti)
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

1.  Mix pasta sauce, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and ziti. Spoon into 2-quart shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.

2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until hot.

--

For dessert the same night, I made these chocolate banana wontons - mainly because my mom had all the ingredients and I love chocolate and banana together! They were delish and we ate all of them! We weren't huge fans of the dipping sauce, however. We thought it might be good to, instead of sprinkling the powdered sugar, make a simple icing (milk and powdered sugar).

This was the first time I ever fried anything and it went pretty well. At my mom's suggestion, I did it in a skillet instead of the deep fryer.

Short version: YUMMY. Oh, and mangoes are slimy. Do not like.

1 ripe mango, seeded, peeled and cut up
1/4 cup pineapple juice
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
24 wonton wrappers (about 3-1/2x3-1/2-inch squares)
1 medium banana, peeled and cut into 24 slices
4 oz. milk chocolate bar, broken into 24 equal pieces
Cooking oil for deep-fat frying
Powdered sugar

Directions
1) For the mango sauce, combine mango, pineapple juice, lime juice, and granulated sugar in a blender or food processor. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Spoon into a serving bowl, cover, and chill until serving time or up to 24 hours.

2) For each wonton, lay a wonton wrapper on a work surface with a point toward you. Lay a banana slice and a chocolate piece on the lower half of the wonton wrapper. Brush edges of wonton wrapper with water. Fold the top point down to meet the bottom, forming a triangle. Gently press the edges together to seal. Set aside; cover with plastic wrap while filling remaining wonton wrappers. Repeat with remaining wonton wrappers, banana slices, and chocolate pieces. (At this point, filled wontons can be covered with plastic wrap and chilled up to 24 hours before frying.)

3) Heat 3 inches of cooking oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 365 degrees F. Fry wontons, 4 to 6 at a time, in hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally to brown evenly. Use a slotted spoon to remove wontons from oil to paper towels to drain. Cool about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve within 1 hour with mango sauce for dipping. Makes 24 wontons.

--

For breakfast on Sunday, I made a blueberry streusel coffee cake, which turned out OK. Here are my tips to help make yours turn out better than mine did:

  • Make sure you reserve enough batter to cover the top. 
  • In fact, make a little extra batter.
  • I'd advise using most of the "topping" in the middle layer and just sprinkling it on the top. On top, it becomes a hard crunch layer that's just not as satisfying as when it's mixed up with the hot and juicy blueberries.
Other than that, it was good.


1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped nuts
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed

Directions
1. In a small bowl, stir together sour cream and baking soda. Set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, beat granulated sugar and butter with electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well mixed. Add the flour and baking powder; beat until well mixed. Pour the foamy sour cream mixture into batter; mix well.

3. For topping, in another bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Set aside.

4. Spread half of the batter into a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Sprinkle blueberries over batter. Sprinkle with half of the topping. Carefully spread remaining batter over all; sprinkle remaining topping over. 5. Bake in a 325 degree F oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 16 servings

--

For Father's Day dinner I made Puff Pastry Shells with Brie and Lobster (Crab) Cream. These were actually really easy to make despite it being all fancy. I never knew there was such a thing as frozen puff pastry shells. Now that I do... it's going to be dangerous for my waist line. I can think of all sorts of things to put in these little wonders!

They were pretty good except the crab that we got was a little fishy - so that was distracting.

2 10-ounce packages frozen pastry shells (12 total)
2 tablespoons butter (no substitutes)
1 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1-1/4 cups half-and-half or light cream
1/2 cup dry white wine or champagne
6 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed, cut up
8 ounces fresh or frozen lobster or crabmeat, cut into chunks (about 1-1/2 cups)
Green peppercorns in brine, drained; capers, drained; halved dried figs; or chopped smoked almonds (optional)

1. Thaw and bake pastry shells according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in flour and ground red pepper. Stir in half-and-half or light cream and wine or champagne. (Mixture may appear curdled, but will become smooth as it cooks.) Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir 1 minute more. Add Brie, stirring until melted. Add lobster or crabmeat; heat through.

3. Spoon into baked pastry shells. Garnish with peppercorns, capers, figs, or almonds as desired. Makes 12 appetizer servings.

--

OK, so I cheated a little for Monday. Not much, but a little. About a week ago, I decided I was going to make my sister and I these crab salad sandwiches. We've eaten these all our lives. So I start making it and suddenly realize that I've never actually made it. I've watched my mom and my sister make them countless times, but I've never done it. I didn't count that for the recipe that day, but I made it again Monday and I'm counting it. Because working from 8 AM until 11 PM two days in a row should give me some leeway here.

I don't have a picture of this one either because I was about to pass out and couldn't be bothered to press the two buttons on my phone. I'm also not really good at judging amounts so .... sorry if this isn't as precise as you would like:

First, put imitation crab in a bowl. Use about as much as you think would be good for a sandwich (I don't know, 1/2 cup? 1/3 cup? probably less). Mix in a big sprinkle of shredded swiss cheese and a squirt or two (I use the squeezable kind) of Miracle Whip. Spread across bread. Enjoy!

Haha, this is why I don't write recipe books. I guess you could use mayonnaise instead of Miracle Whip, but then you wouldn't have that zip!

Like I said, it's one of my favorites from growing up and it's a fresh alternative to ham and cheese/PB&J (which I LOVE also).

--

I had to work 8AM til 11PM again on Tuesday so I gave K three recipes yesterday morning. I told her to pick one and get the ingredients on the way home. She picked the Easy Chicken Pot Pie. I made it late last night, scarfed it down before bed and ate it for lunch too.

While this might not be quite as good as the traditional (aka time-consuming) version, you really can't beat taking five minutes to throw things in a pan and having a full meal 30 minutes later. The ease of it simply can't be beat.

I think this might be even better - and still just as easy - if you used a Pillsbury dough of some kind. Like crescent rolls (I love pot pies with a flaky crust!)

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
1 pkg. (about 9 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables , thawed
1 can (12.5 ounces) Swanson® Premium White Chunk Chicken Breast in Water , drained
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose baking mix

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Stir the soup, vegetables and chicken in a 9-inch pie plate.

3. Stir the milk, egg and baking mix in a small bowl. Spread the batter over the chicken mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

4. Cost per recipe: $8.09 Cost per recipe serving: $2.02


Cookies and Amish Breakfast Casserole

I was going to make bruschetta yesterday for my writer's group, but that got canceled. I sent my sister a text:

Me: Should I make bruschetta or cookies tonight?
K: Cooookkkiiieessss!

Yesterday's Peanut Butter M&Ms Cookie recipe was sent to me by Twitter friend and blog reader Laura W. This is what she said about the recipe:

I haven't actually had a chance to try these yet, but I hope to someday. This recipe was found on another blogger's site, who actually found it from another blogger. (Link to Recipe on Annie's Eats: http://annieseats.blogspot.com/2007/08/peanut-butter-m-cookies.html)

Well, Laura, now you know you have to try it because they were delicious. No kidding. My sister got one and went in to the living room to eat it. I walked in just as she finished and she said, "I want another one!" in the most desperate kind of voice. It was hilarious. Also, my coworkers gobbled them up today.

This recipe makes a fairly large batch of cookies, so you may want to share them (or not!) :-)

1 Cup Butter, Softened
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Cup Reduced-Fat Creamy Peanut Butter
2 Tablespoons Milk
2 Eggs
2 2/3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 lb. Milk Chocolate M&M's

1. Combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter and milk in a large bowl. Beat until well blended. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add gradually on low speed. Gently stir in the M&Ms.

2. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Shape the dough into 1 ¼” balls and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, checking frequently to avoid over-baking. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack and cooling completely.

--

Today, I made another breakfast for my coworkers. I was going to make a pumpkin casserole, but apparently Publix no longer carries pumpkin puree year round. So I had this other recipe in my purse and decided to go with that.

My coworkers loved the Amish Breakfast Casserole so much they ate the leftovers for lunch. I normally don't like to put potatoes in breakfast things (I like them on the side, though), but this worked well together. Plus it gives you some lasting fullness. EDIT: I forgot to say this: The recipe said you could substitute sausage for bacon, so I did!

It was good but I just want to say something about the supposed "total time:" 50 minutes, my butt. I'd say give yourself about 90 minutes to make this without being rushed. You can do other stuff during the 35 minute baking time though. Oh, and it's A LOT so make sure you have a big mixing bowl.


1 pound sliced bacon, diced
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
6 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups small curd cottage cheese
1 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese

1) In a large skillet, cook bacon and onion until bacon is crisp; drain. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; stir in bacon mixture. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish.

2) Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until set and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting

Lots of Recipes!

Life has been CRAZY lately so, even though I've been making a new recipe every day, I haven't had the chance to post them. So here goes.

As I mentioned last time, I made a Caribbean Jerk Chicken. This recipe was sent to me by my Twitter friend and blog reader Meg. It's pretty tasty. Too spicy for my sister, but really, what isn't? I liked it. We had some frozen peas and corn so I threw those in there instead of broccoli. We've been eating on it this week (as you can probably tell by the picture in Tupperware on my desk.) Here's the recipe, as Meg sent it to me.

In a regular-sized crock pot, add (in this order):
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • A Lawry's or store brand (I use the Kroger store brand--it is even better.) bottle of Caribbean Jerk marinade
  • A bottle's worth of hot water (Shake around to get excess marinade from the bottle sides.)
  • A can of pineapple chunks, juice and all (Again, I go for the off brand here, as Dole comes across as a little too sweet in this recipe.)
  • Optional: if you want a veggie in this dish, I'd suggest broccoli florets (Raw will cook better than those from a freezer bag, so if you want to use the freezer bag ones, wait to add them.) but even though I love veggies, I prefer this dish without them.
Close lid and cook for about 4 hrs on high, or 6-8 hrs on low, flipping chicken breasts to other side about halfway through.
 
Then, when chicken is completely cooked, (It is usually falling apart by now. If you like firmer chicken that stays in an intact piece, you can experiment with shorter cooking times.) switch to high if you've been cooking on low, or leave on high if you've been cooking on high, and add:
 
  • Your broccoli florets if you are using the ones from the freezer.
  • A cup of rice. (We like long grain white rice for this dish.) ...just about any sort will work, as long as it isn't minute rice.
Use a spoon to push the broccoli and rice below the surface of the liquid, so you don't have some bits that are completely cooked and some that are still raw.
 
Cook for about 30-60 min on high, checking periodically to see if the rice is done. (You may need to stir a time or two.)
 
Makes 4 generous servings. (We usually eat this by itself, as a one-pot meal.)
 
Freezes VERY well, and reheats in the microwave... sometimes with even better results.
 
Warning: can have a little kick to it. 
 
--
On Tuesday I was very busy. No, I mean it. This is what the first part of the week was like for me:
- I worked Monday 830am - 5pm
- Made these brownbag burritos.
- Slept for four-ish hours
- Worked at Gaylord from 11pm to 7 am
- Made the vanilla shake, below
- Worked at Rotech 830am -5pm Tuesday
- Worked at Gaylord from 6pm to 11pm Tuesday
- Passed the heck out.
- (I won't continue to work like this. I'm working to pay for an awesome Writer's Conference)
 
I needed two quick recipes for Monday and Tuesday and this one fit the bill. These burritos (they're vegitarian btw!) are VERY quick and easy and yummy. It says it's 8 servings, but if you want to make a meal out of them you're going to have to make bigger ones - so I made four larger burritos. I also added sour cream.

1 15 oz can black beans
1 cup salsa
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tbs chili powder
8 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
 
1) Rinse beans in cold water, drain well. 
2) Combine beans, salsa, cumin and chili powder in large pan. Cook over medium-high heat for about ten minutes, mashing beans slightly with back of wooden spoon. Stir occasionally, adding a little water if mixture looks too dry. 
3) Spoon bean mixture into tortillas. Top with cheese (and sour cream!). Fold each tortilla into an envelope shape, ensuring both ends are tucked in. Eat warm or wrap in plastic to take for lunch. 
 
 
--
As you can see from my timeline above, I had so little time on Tuesday that I went for the easiest recipe I could find: A vanilla shake. I know what you're going to say, but if you work for 24 hours straight, you can have a milkshake for breakfast too. I think it's a law or something.

I don't think I really have to tell you that this was good because you can probably see that from the ingredient list. If you're not such a big fan of vanilla taste, you might want to cut down on the vanilla extract though. Also, I don't have a picture for this one. You know what a milkshake looks like. And if you don't, you have bigger problems.

1 cup vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) In a blender, combine ingredients. Blend until smooth. Pour into glass and serve.

See- I told you it was easy!

--

On Wednesday I made yet another recipe from Pillsbury's Fast and Healthy Cookbook my coworker Jen shared with me: Weeknight Pork and Vegetable Stew. 

This was another incredibly easy recipe. In fact, I was finishing up The Forest of Hands and Teeth (don't read it if you don't like zombies) so I was only half paying attention and it still turned out good. It's a nice, light healthy dinner - more like what I should be making every day.

Total: 30 mins
 4 servings (1 ¼ c each)

1 teaspoon canola oil
¾ lb pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup frozen small whole onions
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
½ teaspoon chopped garlic in water
1 lb frozen broccoli, carrots and cauliflower
1 jar pork gravy

1) In 3-qt pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pork; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until pork is browned.

2) Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and pork is no longer pink in center

230 calories, 7g fat, 16g carbs


Up next: I was going to make bruschetta for my writer's group, but that got canceled, so I don't know yet.

Weekend Recipes

This was a crazy-busy awesome weekend. Our roommate who hasn't really moved in yet, Chelsea, had a birthday party at her old place on Friday so K and I had 3 house-guests. On Saturday, we hung out by the pool, went to dinner at Imperium in Celebration, then hung out in Downtown Disney. It was great.

Yesterday, I began work on an exciting new project - so stay tuned to find out more. It's unlike anything I've ever done before and it looks like it's going to be pretty awesome. Here's a hint.

Now, on to the recipes. I won't be post Sunday's just yet because I haven't eaten it yet. It was supposed to be dinner Sunday night, but we went to Bento instead - so I figured it would make a good lunch this week.

On Friday I made "Crispy Crab Tarts" for Chelsea's party. They were VERY simple and pretty darn yummy. The recipe originally was called Crispy Shrimp Tarts but it said you could make it with crab - which I prefer. Though the book said it took 25 minutes, I think it was maybe 15 minutes... unless your oven just takes a long time to heat up.

24 frozen mini fillo shells (from two 2.1oz packages)
½ c cream cheese spread
24 frozen cooked deveined peeled medium shrimp/pieces of cooked crabmeat
¼ c duck sauce/Chinese plum sauce

1) heat oven to 350F. Place fillo shells on ungreased large cookie sheet

2) stir cream cheese to soften. Spoon 1 teaspoon cream cheese into each shell. Top each with 1 shrimp.

3) Bake about 2 minutes or until cream cheese is soft. Remove from cookie sheet: place on serving platter. Top each with ½ teaspoon duck sauce and grated lime peel, if desired

Makes 24.
40 calories. 2.5 g fat. 3g carbs.

This recipe is also from the Pillsbury Fast and Healthy Cookbook, shared by my coworker Jen.

--

On Saturday I made blueberry muffins for my house guests. This was the highest-rated blueberry muffin recipe on www.allrecipes.com.

They were very tasty, but didn't quite turn out like I expected. For whatever reason, the crumb topping and blueberries fell to the bottom during cooking. Jessica came up with the perfect solution though: Turn them upside down and eat them with a fork. We started calling them "Upside-Down Blueberry Streussel." If you make these and can figure out why my topping fell to the bottom, let me know.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. 

2) Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. 

3) Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. 

4) Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. 

5) Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture. 

6) To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking. 

7) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Pizza Quiche and Cookie Dough Cupcakes!

Apparently, as I was typing that last post, my lovely sister was sending me pictures. We have a psychic link. Or maybe it was the text I sent her.

I know you probably can't believe your luck (where's that sarcasm font when you need it), but today you are not only getting two blog posts from me - but two recipes from yesterday!

I was in the kitchen ALL NIGHT last night, so I hope y'all appreciate this. For dinner, I made a pizza quiche. It was kinda blah, eh, OK and all other mediocre descriptors. It doesn't taste good without the pizza sauce on top, either. And it's a lot of work. I probably won't ever make this again.

Here's a tip though: If you are using a spring-form pan (like I did) that may not be water tight (like mine isn't), make sure you form the dough high enough on the sides so that none of the filling spills out and drips from the bottom of your pan into your brand-new oven, making your whole house smell like burnt eggs for who-knows-how-long. You know, hypothetically.

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

3 beaten eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup chopped pepperoni or Canadian-style bacon
1 2-1/2-ounce jar sliced mushrooms, drained or 1/4 cup sliced pitted ripe olives
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1 8-ounce can pizza sauce

1. In a large mixing bowl combine 1 1/4 cups flour and salt. Cut in shortening until pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, over mixture, tossing with a fork after each addition until all is moistened. Form dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, flatten dough with hands. Roll dough from center to edges, forming a circle about 12 inches in diameter.

2. Ease pastry into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or a 10-inch quiche dish. Press pastry into fluted sides of tart pan or quiche dish and trim edges. Line the unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of foil. Bake in a 450 degree F oven for 8 minutes. Remove the foil. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes more or until pastry is set and dry. Remove pastry from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degree F.

3. In a medium mixing bowl toss together mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, and 1 tablespoon flour. Sprinkle cheese mixture over bottom of hot pastry shell. In a large mixing bowl stir together eggs, milk, pepperoni, mushrooms or olives, and oregano. Carefully pour egg mixture into pastry shell.

4. Bake in a 325 degree F oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, heat the pizza sauce in small saucepan over medium heat. Serve quiche with pizza sauce. Makes 6 servings

--

Today is our good friend and future roommate's birthday party and Kayelee volunteered to make the cake. Well, she... um... failed. Kinda. So she texted me yesterday and asked if I could make some cupcakes, expecting me to grab a box mix from Publix and whip them up in a few minutes. It being Recipe Month and all, it didn't feel right. So I found this recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes on allrecipes.com and decided to try it out. It takes a little extra work, but I think it's worth it.

Of course, I tried one last night. They are yummy! In fact, I wish I had one right now, but I know we have to save them for the party. Oh, and K decorated them so you can give her the credit/blame for that. It was my idea to decorate them with mini cookies though - a little hint as to what lays ahead for the party guests.

If you make these, it is VERY important that you allow the cookie dough to freeze thoroughly. Otherwise it will cook along with the cake and be very dry. For a shortcut, you can use pre-made cookie dough and freeze it. Also, I made the cake recipe as per the directions on the box. Oh and, following some suggestions from the comments at All Recipes, I used a chocolate cake mix to make it prettier.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup canola oil
3 eggs

1) Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and sea salt; set aside. Beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Add 1 egg and the vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips; mixing just enough to evenly combine. Form the dough into tablespoon-sized balls; place onto a baking sheet, and freeze until solid, about 2 hours.

2) Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

3) Beat 3 eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer to break up. Add the cake mix, water, and canola oil; continue beating for 2 minutes on medium speed. Spoon into the prepared cupcake liners, filling each 2/3 full. Place a frozen cookie dough ball on the top center of each cupcake.

4) Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the cake portion of the cupcake (not the cookie dough ball) comes clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

100th Blog Post

Look, Dear Readers, it's a milestone! This is my 100th blog post since I started this blog. Ok, well there are some technicalities - like blog posts that I've deleted, so it's probably closer to 110 posts. But that's not important.

Y'all read my last post about the Psoriasis Walk, right? Oh, what am I saying? Of course you did. Since then, one of my awesome coworkers, Jen (the same one I've been getting the recipes from), has signed her entire family up to be on my team! And we've already raised almost $300 - 30% of our team goal. We're currently the top team in fundraising for the Tampa walk (ok, I know it doesn't happen until November, but it's something).

Hopefully, some of my other coworkers and friends will join (hint, hint, winky face) - because it's going to be awesome. I'm planning on making a day out of it and doing some kind of something. Like a picnic in the park or a winery tour or SOMETHING fun. So please join my team and walk with me to cure psoriasis (or if you live in some random place like Missouri or California or, you know, NOT Florida, you can just donate).

I have two recipes from yesterday to post, but I'm waiting on my sister to send me the pictures (my phone was dead)... so if you know her, feel free to bug her for me. ;-)

Crunchy Trail Mix Bars

Yesterday was another busy day for me (Yay for my return to the Celebration Writers Group after over a month hiatus!) so I made another quick and easy recipe. You can make this over the weekend and snack on it all week.

I've been snacking on it today while at work and it's pretty tasty. It's very sweet and satisfying. It's also one of those recipes that you could really play with and add all kinds of tasty things. I, as a hiker, am a big fan of GORP, so I didn't get too fancy with it.

Oh, and where it says "toss to coat" .... don't try that. Doesn't work and it'll just make a mess. Fold it gently like you would with rice krispie treats.

This is another recipe from Pillsbury’s Fast and Healthy Cookbook, shared by my coworker Jen.

4 c Cheerios cereal
3 c trail mix (seeds, nuts and dried fruit)
¼ c butter or margarine
1 c packed brown sugar
2 tbs all-purpose flour
½ c light corn syrup

1) Grease 13x9 inch pan with shortening, or spray with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix cereal and trail mix; set aside

2) In 2-qt pan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, flour and corn syrup. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.

3) Pour mixture evenly over cereal mixture; toss to coat. Press mixture in pan. Cool 10 minutes. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 6 rows

130 calories, 5g fat, 18g carbs. Makes 36 bars


Next Up: A Pizza Quiche. And maybe a bonus recipe if I get really motivated.

Two Days of Quick Recipes

The first half of this week is very busy for me (even without the 4 AM Fire Alarm I had the pleasure of enjoying last night), so these recipes are going to be quick and easy!

Yesterday, I had about 35 minutes at home before having to leave again (thanks to my lovely sister walking my pup for me), so I made Quick Black Beans & Rice from Pillsbury's Fast and Healthy Cookbook that my coworker Jen shared with me.

And it was quick. I had just enough time to chop the jalapeno (the only real work invovled in this recipe), throw it in the pot, get ready while it was cooking, and scarf down a quick bowl before running out the door. It was also pretty tasty too. I'm beginning to realize I don't much care for the texture of instant rice, but you can't beat the convenience of it on a busy night.

Also, I couldn't find "mexican-style" stewed tomatoes so I just got regular stewed tomatoes and threw in some onion powder, garlic powder and cumin.


Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 20 mins
5 servings (1 c each)

¾ c water
1 14.5 oz can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 15.5 oz can black beans, drained
1 c uncooked instant brown rice
1 c frozen whole kernel corn
1 medium jalapeno chile, seeded, finely chopped. (1 tbs)

1) in 8-in skillet, mix all ingredients. Heat to boiling.

2) Reduce heat; cover and simmer 12-14 minutes or until almost all liquid is absorbed.

240 calories, 1.5g fat, 46g carbs

--

Today, I have even less free time so I opted for a morning smoothie. I generally don't like homemade smoothies because I hate the berry skins/seeds that always end up in them. However, this one had no berries or anything like that. In fact, it's more like a milkshake with some protein.

However, it wasn't enough to keep me satiated for any amount of time - actually, it wasn't enough to satiate me in the first place. BUT, it was YUMMY. If you like peanut butter, you'll love this. So here's the recipe for the Peanut Butter Smoothie from recipe.com. Sorry there's no picture - like I said, no time.

1 cup vanilla or chocolate ice cream
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons peanut butter

1. In a blender container, blend together ice cream, milk, and peanut butter. Makes 1 or 2 servings.
 
 
Oh and I call BS on the "2 servings." It's more like 1/2 a serving.
 
 
Up for tomorrow: Crunchy Trail Mix Bars (another busy day!!)

More Free Books for You to Win (and share with me)

I promise to post yesterday and today's recipe soon, but first I wanted to share with y'all yet ANOTHER giveaway by YAHighway.

So check it out and if you win... Well, I wouldn't mind you sharing ;-)

Spots and All

Ok, Dear Readers. I've signed up for another fundraising event. But wait! Give me three more sentences before you stop reading, please.

I'm not saying that causes like the LLS and ACS aren't important to me ('cause they are!), but this is a cause that is as close to my heart as you can get - literally. I have suffered from Psoriasis for the past seven years and it's only getting worse. There is no cure and the treatments not only don't work for me - but have possible fatal side effects.

There, my three sentences are up. If you can move on without reading the rest of this post... well, quite honestly: you have no heart. Or maybe just a grinch-sized one.

Reader's Digest version: I'll be participating in the National Psoriasis Foundation's Walk to Cure Psoriasis on November 6th. Click here to go to my personal page.

I know I've spoken to many of you in-person about Psoriasis, but I don't think I've ever blogged about it. Psoriasis is an immune disorder wherein your immune system randomly attacks your skin cells, manifesting in red scaly lesions. If severe, it can be disabling. Even when mild, it can seriously alter your quality of life. Psoriatic arthritis, which is closely associated with psoriasis, is crippling. For more information, please watch this two-minute video: (BTW: if you're eating, you may not want to press play just yet)



How can you help? You can donate here or - even better - if you live within driving distance of Tampa, please join my team here.
Below is the same text displayed on my fundraising page:

My Story

Psoriasis isn't contagious, awareness is.

I was diagnosed with Psoriasis when I was in college. Since then, I've been living in constant FEAR.

FEAR of developing Psoriatic Arthritis and not being able to enjoy many activities I love. Of living in constant pain.

FEAR of getting kicked out of pools and water parks due to a GENETIC disease.

FEAR of developing one of the many conditions associated with psoriasis like: heart attacks and strokes.

FEAR of social isolation, rude comments and disgusted stares.

The National Psoriasis Foundation has helped me face these fears. In addition to funding genius research that may one day lead to a cure for, not only Psoriasis, but many other diseases of the immune system; they are committed to educating both the public and patients about the condition. They are also instrumental in helping the medical and medical insurance industries understand the disease. (My first dermatologist mis-diagnosed me… THEY don’t even completely understand Psoriasis.)

Thanks to the NPF’s support, I now wear shorts without fear, using any rude comment, stare or question as an opportunity to educate someone about the disease. And I no longer worry about what friends and potential boyfriends think - there is no room in my life for someone who can’t accept me, spots and all.

Here’s another video where America’s Next Top Model CariDee English talks about her experience with psoriasis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZWVfnXcFAU&feature=related

CariDee was lucky. She found a treatment that lets her manage her disease. Many don’t.

There is no CURE for Psoriasis. There are treatments, but not a single one works for everyone. Treatment is a guessing game - and it’s a dangerous one. With side effects like skin cancer and fatal brain infections, the treatments are often worse than the disease itself.

This is where you come in. The National Psoriasis Foundation depends on donors like you and volunteers like me to fund research and advocacy programs. Please consider making a donation to help the OVER 7 MILLION Americans affected by this disease by clicking on the "Support Sarah!" button to the right.

Also, if you live within driving distance of the Tampa area, I'd be honored if you'd join my team "Sarahtopia" for the Walk to Cure Psoriasis.

Weekend Recipes

I didn't really have time to post this weekend's recipes, so you're going to get them in one big clump here. BTW, my cell phone's camera has a lot of trouble focusing and I'm too lazy to drag out my real one (I have to actually plug a cord into the computer to get pictures off of it! Too difficult...), so I'm sorry if the pictures are blurry. They look fine on my cell phone screen. :-)

Kayelee bought some broccoli last week with no real plan for it and challenged me to use it. I found this recipe for Sweet & Sour Chicken with Brown Rice and decided to try it.

Verdict: It was ok. Kinda blah. We didn't save the leftovers. If you're trying to loose weight, you may want to try this one: Not only is it low in calories, you won't want to over-indulge.

2 cups instant brown rice
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons finely grated or minced ginger
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
6 cups bite-size pieces of vegetables, such as snow peas, broccoli and bell peppers
1 5-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained

1. Prepare rice according to the package directions.

2. Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch and apricot preserves in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink on the outside and just starting to brown in spots, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.

4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 20 to 30 seconds. Add broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add vegetables, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in water chestnuts and the chicken. Whisk the reserved sauce and add to the pan. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is heated through, about 1 minute. Serve with the rice.

--

On Saturday morning, I made a sausage breakfast pizza. I don't eat mushrooms. Ever. So obviously, I left them out of this one. Also, I forgot to save tomatoes for this so I only had about 1/2 a cup. I also used an 8x11 dish so it was thicker than intended. If I were to do it again, I would make sure I used the bigger pan. It's harder for the eggs to cook without burning the rest of it when it's so thick. It was still good.

Kayelee said, "It needs gravy." I would say it doesn't need gravy, but it would definitely be good with it.

1 (13.8 ounce) package refrigerated pizza crust dough
1 pound Bob Evans® Original Recipe Sausage Roll
8 ounces pre-sliced mushrooms
1 cup diced tomato
2 cups shredded pizza blend cheese
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Unroll dough and press into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish, covering bottom of pan and 2 inches up sides of dish. Crumble and cook sausage and mushrooms in medium skillet until browned. Drain well on paper towels.

Spread sausage, mushrooms and tomatoes over crust. Top with shredded cheese. In small bowl, whisk eggs until well combined. Pour over pizza. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until eggs are set and crust is brown.

 
--
 
I still had broccoli to get rid of, so I made Corn & Broccoli Calzones on Sunday. After the first bite I said, "I don't like it." But I kept eating and I realized it was pretty good. I missed the part of the instructions where it said to use your favorite marinara for dipping - because I thought, "This would be better with some sauce."
 
Still good though. And portable.
 
I couldn't find regular pizza dough so I used the canned Pilsbury kind - 2 cans. Here's a little tip: It doesn't like being reshaped so this is what I came up with: Take the roll of dough out of the can and cut into four pieces, kinda like sushi. Unroll one piece and cut the length in half. Place the two halves side by side and press together to make a rectangular shape. This way it looks more like a homemade Hot Pocket than a calzone, but it works.
 
This recipe makes a lot (at least it's a lot for two people) so you may want to halve it unless you have a whole family to cook for. I ended up making 8 calzones because of the dough difference. Also, I forgot to buy scallions so I just sprinkled some dried chives from my spice rack into the mixture. And if you're thinking about using dried basil instead of fresh, I ask you to reconsider. Have you smelled fresh basil lately? It's divine.
 
1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels, (about 3 ears; see Tip)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour, for dusting
20 ounces prepared whole-wheat pizza dough, (see Tip), thawed if frozen
2 teaspoons canola oil

1. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 475 degrees F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.

2. Combine broccoli, corn, mozzarella, ricotta, scallions, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

3. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Place a generous 3/4 cup filling on one half of each circle, leaving a 1-inch border of dough. Brush the border with water and fold the top half over the filling. Fold the edges over and crimp with a fork to seal. Make several small slits in the top to vent steam; brush each calzone with oil. Transfer the calzones to the prepared baking sheets.

4. Bake the calzones, switching the pans halfway through, until browned on top, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Healthy Heart Variation: To reduce saturated fat even further, use nonfat ricotta in place of the reduced-fat ricotta. 334 calories, 2 g saturated fat.