Sunday, November 14, 2010

The First of the Gourmet Club Recipes

Yesterday I decided to tackle a new project...The Gourmet Club files.

What are The Gourmet Club files you ask? Is it totally top secret? Did you join some secret society? Well, yes the files are sort of a secret, but not totally, as I would not be sharing them on a blog. Did I join a secret society? Yes, but that was 10 years ago when I joined my sorority:) Here is the true story. When my Grandma and Grandpa Calderwood were living in Monmouth, Illinois, they joined a gourmet cooking club. About once a month, the club would get together and cook a meal according to a theme. Everyone was assigned a task such as beverages, desserts, main course, side dishes, appetizers, etc. My grandparents saved every menu from every dinner. Each menu has countless stories and the files are a big deal in our family. I was fortunate enough to have the files passed down to me. One of the most popular dinners my grandparents attended was the Viennese Dinner and the Doboschtorte.
This recipe is not for the faint of heart or for those who are concerned with their weight. There is 1 1/2 lbs. of butter in this recipe; however, the work that goes into making this masterpiece burns at least a quarter of the calories one would consume after enjoying this cake. I now understand why people love their Kitchen Aide mixers, as I do not own one and spent over 25 minutes beating and creaming the frosting and filling for the cake. My grandfather always said it was worth it and he is right. Just look at this beauty!
To accompany the dessert, I made Wiener Schnitzel and a salad. Who knew Wiener Schnitzel is not really a sausage or hot dog? It is actually a cut of veal that is breaded and pan fried similar to its American cousin Chicken Fried Steak. The flavors are brightened; however, by marinating the cutlets in lemon juice. Overall the meal was a great success. My grandfather told me before he passed to take the recipes and enjoy them. I am certainly looking forward to future gourmet meals.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

ISU Homecoming

Last week, Justin and I decided to head back to Ames for Iowa State's homecoming weekend. It seemed appropriate since the Cyclones were playing KU. So, feeling the need to recharge our batteries a little, I took the whole day off and Justin took a half day on Friday. This let us leave by 1:30, which lent itself to very light traffic and daylight driving. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing good friends, family, the crisp fall weather, and of course the victory over the Jayhawks. It was a very good weekend:)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cleaning out the Cobwebs

My recent time has been spent cleaning and reorganizing my house. I realized that since the end of summer, I had not done the best job with housekeeping. On my three day weekend, I reorganized three closets, swept, swiffered, mopped, and double swiffered my floors, and did a deep cleansing of all other rooms and things that needed a good face lift. Needless to say, there were many surprises. One being the toy hammer under our coffee table from three weeks ago when we had our good friends and their kids stay over for a weekend. I also found that while our a.c./heater was off, the air ducts had collected piles of something in the air vents. While, I've been intending to pay for an good air duct cleaning, my stingy ways have gotten the best of me and have decided to let this one go until spring. This could change though, if the more retentive side gets a hold of me. Amongst all this cleaning, I also decided to check my blog. Oh, how things change in two months. Some, have totally changed or been evolving into something new, some of remained the same, and others have totally stopped their blogs. The yin and yang got me thinking about how I'd like to keep my blog going. I hope to keep this blog as a means to stay in contact with those who I do not see on a regular basis. Secondly, I hope to keep this blog going as a means to document life. Justin and I enjoy family, friends, small adventures, and the cuisine and recipes I create. This is a wide array and I hope others enjoy it too. Above all, this little blog has been a sweet hobby, which I hope you enjoy too. There may be breaks, but I will hang in there! Hopefully, there will only be more joy to come:)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

So...It's Been a While

Lately every time I think about sitting down and actually writing a post, I've been distracted. What has been happening? Let's back up to August. School started, we had my grandfather's funeral, and then had a break. Then came September. We had the typical revolving door of visitors, getting preparations under way for my sister's shower and bachelorette party, a trip to Weston to visit the Red Barn Farm, and then October snuck up on us. The first weekend of October marked the first of two birthdays (my dad's on the 3rd, my sister Erin's on the 10th) and the couples wedding shower for the bride and groom to be. Then we celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary on the 6th, with a celebratory dinner at Lidia's later that weekend. On the 15th, I headed back to Iowa sans Justin for the bachelorette party. This weekend, I finally got a break from traveling and celebrating; however, MUST FINISH CLEANING! Yes, it has been the major project this weekend. So, I apologize for the two month sabbatical, but not worry. I am back:)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Little Engine That Could

I love sleep. I especially love sleep when I'm feeling down in the dumps. For some odd reason, this time of year makes me feel this way. Number one, the stinkin' heat is killin' me smalls. At first I thought, "Well, it's not snow." Then, it turned into the heat where you can't do anything without getting heat stroke. Second, it's the start of another school year. While others are exhilarated with the energy from the start of a new school year, I find it extremely anxiety provoking. In special education, there is a ton of work at the beginning and you never know who is going to show up on the door step. It is better when you can get yourself and students into a routine ASAP; however, your schedule is completely dependent on the regular education teachers' schedules and everyone else that makes a school run. Thirdly, my grandfather passed away two weeks ago. His quality of life had really slipped and it is for the best. We are all worried more about my mom. The funeral is next weekend, since everyone has to travel long distance to Tennessee. I think the closure will be good, as this has been an incredibly long and sad journey for everyone. Along with some good sleep, I've been privately crying (I hate crying in front of people), thinking a lot, and searching for the positive. Hopefully, today I can make it out for a long walk since the weather finally cooled down.

On the upside, I like this picture of Justin and I. We took the picture last weekend while visiting my dad. I like the picture of my awesome golf swing too. It is my little engine story.

The trip was well needed and I will post more pictures of the Orpheum soon. My dad lives on a golf course, so we played a fun game of golf. Although I really am not a good golfer, I enjoy the game. Justin had found an awesome pink ball for me. On the last hole, I kept telling myself I could really swing and actually make it up the hill. Kind of like the little engine that could. Well, my swing was awesome, but I lost the ball amongst a bunch of crab apple trees. My ball blended in with the fallen crab apples perfectly, but I kept saying to everyone, "We can find this ball. I can do it!" Just when we all about gave up, Justin held up the ball and said, "You're right I found it!" Long story, but we found the ball and I made bogey! So, I had to complain a little at first. What I am learning though is to keep telling myself "I can do it," just like the little engine that could.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Floors Done- Check

Here are the pictures of the before and after shots of the basement floors. Before...

and after!
Now we just need the electrical, drywall, texturizing, painting, lighting, shelving, and the list goes on and on. Oh the joys of being a happy homeowner! Really we have no room to complain though. We are truly blessed to have each other and our lovely home:)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Smell Freedom

The past three days, I've had contractors in my house. Justin started finishing a portion of the basement in April. We are trying to do a majority of it ourselves; however, have decided some things need to be left to the professionals. The flooring is one of them. We have several cracks in the concrete, which left tiling out of the question. We also had a little bit of moisture accumulate after the many inches of snow and heavy rain this spring. This left carpet out of our choices. Justin would be fine with leaving the concrete and throwing down area rugs. Although this is Justin's future man cave, I also do not want it looking like a room in a fraternity house. So, we looked into staining the concrete with a polished top coat. While I am really looking forward to the end results (which should be today), I am also looking forward to having my freedom back. Don't worry, pictures of the before and after are soon to come:)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Daisy Doggy Dash

While on my morning run today our neighborhood dog, Daisy, chose to join me. She has attempted to spree from her yard on several other attempts, but today made the mad dash which made me feel responsible for trying to get her back home.

With no leash, as I do not own a dog, I had to use commands. She ignored "Sit girl," but, clearly understood, "Daisy, get over here!" Daisy chased every squirrel, succumbed to much dog sniffing, and took a cool dip in the creek.

She continued to remain mostly by my side and was a very loyal pacer.

Needless to say, when we finally returned to the neighborhood, we were both tired and went back to our respected homes.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Deck Warming Party

This weekend, our dear friends the Kenyons, invited us up to Creston, IA for their deck warming party. The party was a total blast complete with great food, live music courtesy of Matt & Emily, a bountiful selection of wine, and a blind whiskey sampling. I also made sangria, which I had never made before. It was a total hit! Unfortunately, non of my pictures turned out so there is no documentation of the event. This could have been due to the sangria:) Since the sangria was sort of my frienemy for providing loads of fun, but ruining my pictures at the same time, I thought I'd post the recipe.

Raspberry-Peach Sangria
2 thinly sliced peaches
1 quart raspberries
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 C. peach schnapps
1 bottle white wine (we used chardonnay, but any other white wine would be fine)

Mix ingredients in a large pitcher. Chill for several hours and serve with ice. As the night progressed, we added more wine and schnapps to the mix to stretch the recipe. It will be a hit for sure!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Making the Best of It

Last week, I finally returned from my trip to Tennessee. This trip was totally unexpected. The weekend of the 4th of July, my grandfather went into the hospital. He is experiencing congestive heart failure and has now finally moved into a nursing home. So, it has been difficult for me to post much of anything because I am still kind of recovering and coping with slowly losing my last grandparent. To make things easier for my mom, who has been driving down almost every other week or every third week to take care of my grandfather while attendant care is unavailable, my sister, Erin, and I went to help my mom with all the duties that go with an aging parent. For the first time, I understood on of the many intricate parts and complexities of the life cycle.

To make the best of the situation, we stopped at a restaurant called Lamberts. Lamberts, if any of you know about the history, is the home of the throwed rolls. Filled with massive plates of Southern cuisine, you have your bread tossed through the air. If you are not a good catcher, it could end up on the floor or worse pounding your neighbor in the face. Once we arrived in Union City, Tennessee, Erin baked a lime tart per my grandfather's request. We delivered the tart with a pampering party. I also had the joy of taking what we call the Stinkin' Lincoln out for a cruise. While the trip was very difficult, I made sure everyone made the best out of the situation.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Good Food, Great Times

This year we made our third annual homage to the Great Lenexa Barbeque Battle. It was the 29th year for the battle and honestly, I must say the Burnt Butter team has not once disappointed us. We sincerely thank Dan and Julie Hurley for letting us take part and enjoy something Kansas City is known for. I love that we have started a little bit of a tradition. First, we park by Lenexa City Hall, then we ride a bus over to the park where the festivities take place.

Are these some handsome meat pics as promised or what? And how about the picture of myself with the politician? Really, I am more of a moderate voter myself; however, I told this guy, Tom Tiahrt, I had a food blog and he wanted to be included. Hey, who doesn't love BBQ? Anyway, back to the food. This year's menu was complete with chicken, pulled pork, and a new miscellaneous item....the bacon explosion. Mr. Hurley made this entree using a layer of weaved bacon, a layer of sausage, a layer of BBQ sauce and rub, another layer of weaved bacon, and more BBQ sauce and rub. He then rolled the meat into a nice loaf of goodness and smoked it. Have you had your coronary yet folks? It was delicious!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Blogging Bliss

I am so excited for this weekend! We have the whole weekend jammed and packed with awesome events. My Dad was just teasing me the other day about becoming a "woman of leisure" and I will be honest, I am taking FULL advantage of my leisurely summer. So, what does a "woman of leisure" do? Besides working on deep cleaning projects and loving my blog again, I have been working on my health and fitness. I love it! I don't know why it is so tough to maintain a workout routine during the school year. But seeing the beautiful trees, trails, and yes, getting up close and personal with the wildlife is pure bliss. I took this picture on Monday. Can you believe how close this mother deer let me get? I couldn't. Yesterday, I also got my hair colored. It reminds me of spending time with my Grandma Duree. She used to get her hair done every week! This wild hairdo cracked me up and I had to make a face similar to one my grandmother might have made if I would have taken her picture in the salon. Very dorky I know:) So, besides relaxing and catching up with life, Justin and I will be attending the Lenexa BBQ Battle tonight. Get excited for some handsome meat pics! Tomorrow we are planning on going to the Downtown Art's Festival in the Power & Light District. Look forward to some great blogging!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bruschetta Topping

I made up this recipe a couple of weeks ago while entertaining for family and friends. I was in a little bit of a bind because I had spent most of the day cleaning the house for the guests. Luckily, I had some tomatoes on hand and got the idea for bruschetta. I used the tomato topping on some grilled baguettes. We loved the topping so much, we decided to try it with pasta. Turns out, we loved the pasta hot as well as cold because there were no left-overs! Justin and I both kept sneaking out to the fridge throughout the night and snacking on the pasta. Here's the recipe:

4-6 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, cut into ribbons
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1 clove finely minced garlic
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C. crumbled goat cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

This recipe is literally a chop, drop, and stir recipe. Use it as a topping, or in a pasta dish as pictured. It is delicious!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Egg Recipe

I love breakfast! It is not only the most important meal of the day, but also something I rarely skip. I am not a cereal eater in the morning. I have discovered that I need more substance! A lot of people are always asking how I make my lovely egg creations. It is really simple actually. I usually saute something for the week, then add the veggies to the bottom of a microwave safe bowl sprayed with cooking spray. Sometimes I add a little shredded 2% cheddar cheese, sometimes I don't. Then I poor Egg Beaters over the cheese and veggie mixture and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. The egg substitute will fluff up almost like a souffle! It is sort of cool if you're into cooking. It will all come out like a nice little omelet. This week, I've been adding my omelet-like creation to Flat Out flat bread and rolling up into a wrap. This week's saute mixture was simply made with the following:

1 box frozen spinach, thawed & drained
1/2 finely diced red onion
2 finely diced Roma tomatoes
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Saute onion for 2-3 minutes on medium heat in a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray.
2. Add the tomatoes and spinach and saute for 2-3 minutes longer. Then enjoy!

You can add this simple mixture as I have or also create an egg casserole to enjoy all week. It takes a little preparation, but is well worth the healthy breakfast that will fuel your entire day!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Too Cute

This may seem like a very lame post, but I have been wanting to get pictures of these little guys for weeks. Whenever Justin and I make a trip to Super Target or Home Depot, we drive past this adorable miniature pony farm. Sometimes the ponies are close to the road for superb viewing. Other times they are on the far end of the pasture. About a month ago, we noticed that there were some new additions to the pony farm. These little guys are adorable when they are fully grown; however, they look like live stuffed animals when they are babies. It makes me think of the many times I asked for a pony for Christmas. Last night, I just happened to talk Justin in to making a trip so I could finally get a picture. He said it was okay as long as I actually blogged about it. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoy driving past this novel little farm!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Green Stuff

There is this salad dressing I have totally fallen in love with since moving to Kansas City. At many of our professional development trainings for school we often get food catered in from Old Shawnee Town Pizza. This place is literally up the street from our house; however, Justin and I try not to frequent our visits to this particular pizzeria too often as the food is LOADED with calories. I must say, though, I heart their salad dressing. No one really knows what it is. It is green and could really turn off someone who is afraid of green. The competing chain has a similar dressing which is known as "the pink stuff." Needless to say, I crave this dressing and had to find a healthier alternative or the Bear and myself would be indulging too much. Finally, I have found our alternative from this month's Cooking Light magazine. The recipe is from Riki Senn. I have chosen to dress my salad in mixed baby greens, radishes, corn, tomatoes, and chicken. I also exchanged the white wine vinegar in the dressing recipe for rice wine vinegar. Justin, my husband, can smell and detect vinegar from a mile away. I find he is much less apt to complain when I use rice wine vinegar. It is less acidic. Here goes! You should really try it!

Avocado-Herb Dressing
1/2 C. light mayo
1/4 C. chopped green onions
1/4 C. light sour cream
1 Tblsp. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 Tblsp. chopped fresh chives
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 peeled avocado
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tblsp. water
1 Tblsp. white wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process or blend until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Yields 1 1/4 cups (serving size 1 tablespoon). Calories 19, Fat 1.4 g., Fiber .3 g., Cholesterol 2 mg.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Do you ever crave a good, fudgey, homemade brownie? I did today and just happened to have all the ingredients on hand. This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light, circa October, 2006. Good news is, you don't have to feel guilty for indulging a little! I adapted the Irish Cream and only added 4 tablespoons versus the full 1/4 cup the original recipe calls for. Justin claims the brownies are too "boozy" for his taste when I use the full amount. If you decide to use the full 1/4 cup, omit the water. I also suggest using the carmel flavored Bailey's. It adds a great dimension!

Brownies with Irish Cream

1 C. all-purpose flour
½ C. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1/3 C. semisweet chocolate chips
¼ C. butter
1 C. sugar
½ C. egg substitute
4 Tbsp. Irish cream ( I used the carmel flavored)
4 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and whisk.

In a microwave safe dish, microwave chocolate chips and butter on high for 1 ½ minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Next, add sugar, Irish cream, and water and stir. Microwave on high for 30 seconds more and stir until ingredients are combined. This will help smooth the sugar. Add the egg substitute and melted chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Finally, add the remaining cup of chocolate chips and vanilla extract and stir until combined. Spread batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350-degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Cool completely before cutting and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pony Express Days

Easter weekend, we went to St. Joseph, Missouri and met up with Justin's dad, Doug. I think this had to of been some of the cheepest, most fun trip we have made in a long time. We originally set our expectations pretty low. Last summer, we went to Old Shawnee Days and expected reinactments with period clothing and cowboy shootouts. No such luck. Pony Express Days; however, totally delivered! They had people dressed like the Old West, Civil War reinactments, cowboy shootouts, and plenty of museums and history to explore. Not to mention, it was the 150th anniversary of the real first ride of the Pony Express! We enjoyed a parade complete with a Buffalo Bill Cody look-alike contest, toured the original Pony Express stables, and toured the Patee House which is an old hotel turned museum. All really cool stuff. Justin and I totally understand why it is one of the 1,000 places in America you have to see. We hope you enjoy the pictures and get to see it all for yourself someday.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Questions Answered

Since recently posting some of the many recipes I cook, I've encountered some good questions. Question number one, Did you take your own photos? Yes, I took my own photos with some help. It is really the food I cooked. The zucchini picture is my own, the pork and rice picture was plated by my sister, Erin, and my mother, Julie. My pictures probably will look more simplistic/rustic. I have always had a knack for cooking food, but only recently have been interested in plating. It is amazing how much better food can taste when plated properly. It is a goal to which I aspire. Question two, Are these really your recipes? Yes and no. I originally started using recipes as a foundation. For example, I LOVE good food, but did not like how my waistline started looking. So, I read and started reading about cooking "lighter" foods. They tasted okay, but needed some amp. Thus, I learned from trial and error how to marry the two. Thus came about the recipes I share. A lot of my inspiration comes from Cooking Light accompanied by Food Network, Anthony Bourdain, and other chefs I truly admire. You have to really learn to feel your food and understand some of the science. Get in the kitchen, experiment, and share. There are more recipes to come. I cook almost every night of the week; however, only started to realize that this whole plating and blogging thing takes a little bit of time and thought. I think it is my new hobby. So, be patient folks. As the school year winds down, I promise there will be more to come. Otherwise, look forward to more Nickel news. We went to Pony Express Days in St. Joseph, Missouri. Pictures will come as I figure out my new camera. Yup, we upgraded and Sara and Justin are finally figuring out the 21st Century with new cell phones to boot. Much to look forward to my friends!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Taste of Summer

I have been so excited to share this recipe! I usually make it during the summer months; however, could not resist when we were experiencing the lovely spring weather. Here is the Mango-Coconut Rice served with Jerk Pork Tenderloin.

Mango-Coconut Rice Salad

1 ¼ cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 can light coconut milk
1 cup water
2 cups diced and peeled mango (about 2 mangoes)
1 ½ cup diced red bell pepper
¾ cup shredded carrot
½ cup sliced green onions
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (I like the flat leaf variety)
2 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground red pepper
¼ tsp. curry powder

Bring water and coconut milk to a boil in a large saucepan; add rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Next, remove the saucepan from the heat and let the rice stand with the cover on for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, fluff the rice with a fork. Finally, add the mango and the rest of the 10 ingredients. You can serve the rice immediately or chilled. I like to serve the rice chilled in the summer time.

Jerked Pork Tenderloin

2 ½ pounds lean pork tenderloin, use two 1 ¼ pound pieces if it is packaged in two
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
¼ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper or ground red pepper

Preheat grill to medium heat. To create the rub, combine the cinnamon, allspice, thyme, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a small dish. Then, rub the spice mixture onto the pork loin. Grill the pork until the pork reaches 160-degrees Fahrenheit or for about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Let the meat stand for 5 minutes then slice and serve.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Life in Slow Mow

No, life has not totally come to a pause. It is actually coming at me in life's normal pace. I've just given up most of my caffeine. I realized that I have been totally addicted to caffine since high school. Do you remember the first time you watched Friends? I do. Watching the cool characters converse on an over-sized couch with their over-sized coffee drinks only made me want to live in their world. So, I started drinking coffee. A little coffee soon turned into half a pot when I started high school and had to juggle morning marching band, choir, classes, cross country, student government, school musicals, school plays, directing school plays, speech contests, cross country meets, speech contests, and the list goes on and on and on. In college, caffine helped me get through mono, classes, my debu T.V. shows on the local college network, sorority life, and making it to class after celebrations from the night before. As an adult, it just help me wake up to hyperactive children I had to teach everyday after nights of studying for graduate classes or after attending graduate classes the night before. Coffee has always been my partner. In hopes of trying to conceive this summer; however, I realized I needed to give up the juice. While I have not totally given up the juice, I have cut WAY BACK. Yes, I am down to only four cups. Yes, four cups only in the morning. No soda or anything throughout the rest of the day. It really hasn't been that hard. First, I noticed I was sleeping a hell of alot better. Next, I realized a reduction in the sweaty armpit action I used to experience. Finally, I have been WAY MORE CHILL! Yes, as life throws me action I calmly can contemplate and throw thoughtful action right back. It is so cool. So, if you experience any of the above three, maybe you should cut back too. I don't know. It is only a suggestion after my realization.

In other news, more recipes to come. I have photographs of Jerked Pork Loin with a Tropical Mango-Coconut Rice to share. I just have been too chill to actually compile the recipe after the photos. So, just wait in anticipation. This is one you will want to cook over the summer!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini

Well friends, here goes my first blog-posted recipe. Many of you know that I believe every good diet consists of getting five or more servings of fruits and veggies everyday. The stuffed zucchini was an easy recipe to get in more veggies and add some nice color to your plate. The recipe can be adapted by using ground turkey instead of the lean ground beef. I used the 93%. The meal paired nicely with a side of linguine with marinara sauce. I also hope to try this recipe with eggplant. For today, here is what you will need:

1-2 spray(s) cooking spray
2 medium sized zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
1 tsp. olive oil
6 oz. lean ground beef
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove minced garlic
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
4 Tbsp. seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 C. Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
4 Tbsp. mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a large baking pan with cooking spray.

Scoop out the seeds from the zucchini. You can save some of the flesh if you want to add extra bulk to your meat mixture. Arrange the zucchini halves, cut side up on the pan coated with cooking spray.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add, 1 tsp. olive oil and heat slightly. Next, add the ground beef, chopped carrot, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are softened and the beef is browned. Then, add the tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning. Cook for five more minutes. Then, remove the skillet from the heat. Cool for five minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, add meat and vegetable mixture, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and beaten egg. Mix well.

Fill each zucchini half with meat mixture. I used a spoon to mound the meat up a little. Finally, bake for 30 minutes or until the zucchini is tender crisp. Garnish with the mozzarella cheese.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sweet Betty

Maybe it's all the thoughts about grandparents who have passed away. Maybe it's fond memories of Golden Girls re-runs. I used to watch the re-runs while staying with my Grandma and Grandpa Duree when I was growing up. Either way I cannot help but express my excitement that Betty White will be hosting Saturday Night Live. This is a picture of the dear Betty at 88 years young. How can you not love that? The other picture is me with my sisters Erin and Amy. It was the last time we got to see my Grandma Duree back in 2006. I don't want to make this a depressing post; however, she passed away the next day. Had I known she was going to pass soon after we left, I would have stayed with her all night. Like all of my family, she was a great woman. She grew up in a Mennonite home in the early 1900's. Then, later broke free from the community to graduate from high school two years early. She went to school in a one room school house and graduated when she was sixteen! She then fended for herself and went to school to become a paralegal. While employed in Ottumwa, Iowa she met my Grandpa Duree. They married while he was training in the Air Force to go and fight in Germany during World War II. Everything is beautifully documented on their love before marriage, life after marriage during his training, life during the war, and life when my grandfather returned from the war in a scrapbook. The scrapbook is one of the few pieces she was able to give me before she passed. I truly cherish this piece of history. Funny how this all can be sparked from media regarding Betty White. Regardless, I am excited and will surely be tuning in to see Betty.