The Yummy Side of Life…

Hot Cocoa Cake in a Mug
September 6, 2009, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Dessert

Cake in a mug! This is one of my favorite desserts for which I usually have everything on hand. But somehow I don’t have any cocoa in the house right now (did I throw it out in the move? I can’t remember!). I headed to Google to see if I could find any other recipe than my usual, and I found this particular recipe. It makes a VERY dense bread-like cake. I used a Creme Brulee hot cocoa mix. Two packets of this mix came out nearly to 9 tablespoons, so that is something I can remember for future hot cocoa cakes!


Hot Cocoa Chocolate Cake (in a Mug) – adapted from


  • 9 tablespoons (2 packets) Land O’ Lakes Creme Brulee Hot Cocoa Mix
  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Mix dry ingredients together in large mug.
  2. Add wet ingredients and stir with spoon. Fold ingredients from bottom, making sure to incorporate ALL dry ingredients.
  3. Microwave for 3 minutes (more or less depending on wattage).
  4. Enjoy straight from mug, or turn out into bowl and garnish with a topping of your choice!
Cooking in the Microwave

Cooking in the Microwave


Crazy Noodles Casserole
September 6, 2009, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Beef, Dinner, Pasta | Tags: , , ,

I’m pretty new at this whole “making up recipes” thing, so this casserole wasn’t perfect, but it was extremely comforting! But then again, when isn’t a recipe with pasta, tomatoes, beef, and cheese comforting? I did find that if you let it sit for a few minutes after bringing it out of the oven, the taste of the Italian seasoning “quiets down”  a little, and everything tastes a little more blended.



  • 1 box Rotini pasta
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon McCormick’s Italian Seasoning
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided into 1 cup portions


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Brown beef in large sauté pan on medium heat. Drain and add back to pan.
  2. Boil pasta according to directions on box. While pasta is boiling, add tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, and s&p to beef and warm through on medium heat.
  3. Drain pasta and place in large mixing bowl. If any juice is left in meat mixture, drain, and add to pasta. Add 1 cup mozzarella, and fold all ingredients together.
  4. Place mixture into 9×13 glass pan and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese on top. Warm in preheated oven until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

Menu Plan Monday
September 6, 2009, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Weekly Menu

Well folks, it’s that time again! After being extremely tired in the evenings last week, I have one meal that is being crossed over to this week (I really can’t believe how much we ended up eating out last week!). Also, we registered for baby yesterday. Both of us were so tuckered out that we ended up just making grilled cheese.

Hopefully this week, I can save some energy for cooking. P will be out of town on Friday and Saturday, so I’m on my own those nights, which means leftovers and (my fave) egg and cheese sandwiches!

Ooohh. I just realized that we are eating a lot of beef this week…  Better variety cometh next week!


Sunday: Crazy Noodles, Sautéed Zucchini

Monday: Garden Salad (Baby Lettuces, Cucumber, Tomato, Carrot, Croutons), Wheat Rolls

Tuesday: Burgers, Side Salad

Wednesday: Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole, Corn

Thursday: Soft Tacos, Chips & Salsa

Friday: Chicken and Rice Leftovers, Green Beans

Saturday: Egg & Cheese Sandwich (if I don’t go out with a friend)


Find more menus for this week at I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Asian Lettuce Wraps
September 2, 2009, 7:37 pm
Filed under: Appetizers, Dinner, Pork, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , ,

I love love love Asian food! A while back, I saw this lettuce wrap recipe from Apples and Oranges and starred it in my GoogleReader, but I never got around to making it. I was looking for something that I could make with ground pork this week, and when I saw this sitting there–all but forgotten–I decided it was time to give it a try. The only changes I made were that I used ground pork and ground ginger, only because I forgot to get fresh ginger at the store. I also added some shredded carrot to the top for color and crunch.

I actually had some chicken fried rice in the freezer, but this made SO much, that we just ate the lettuce wraps by themselves and still had some meat mixture leftover. I ended up sticking the leftovers in the freezer for a quick and easy meal one night in the future.


Menu Plan Monday
August 30, 2009, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Dinner, Weekly Menu


Sunday: Breakfast for Dinner (never got around to it last week!)

Monday: Grilled Cheese

Tuesday: Thai Lettuce Wraps, Chicken Fried Rice

Wednesday: Crazy Noodles, Sautéed Zucchini

Thursday: Chicken Breast with Roasted Garlic & Red Bell Pepper Seasoning (McCormick’s), Green Beans

Friday: Crazy Noodle Leftovers, Corn

Saturday: Baked Potato with all the trimmings, Steamed Veggies

Farmers’ Market Finds
August 30, 2009, 11:41 am
Filed under: Vegetables

I finally got out to the farmers’ market yesterday. With almost every kind of produce in season this time of year, I wanted to take advantage of it, but my budget only allows so much… Here’s a couple photos of my small, yet (hopefully) tasty bounty!


I got some unsprayed lettuce (better wash it so I don’t ingest any *friends*!), zucchini, white corn, and flowers. I also got a pint of blackberries and two challah rolls, but I ate the challah rolls for a snack yesterday before I took a photo. Whoops! I got all of this for $20.00.

Hopefully next Saturday morning, I’ll get back out there and find some other treasures! I leave you with a photo of my beautiful flowers I picked up for $5 (with vase!)…


Potato-Tomato Tart/Hash
August 25, 2009, 8:38 pm
Filed under: Dinner | Tags: , , ,

Oh, how I am still learning in the kitchen!! I figured this tart from The Way the Cookie Crumbles would be no problem, and boy, I was either just wrong or way off my game tonight…

And therefore, I have no photos tonight. The only thing I did differently from her recipe was to add some crumbled Sweet Italian Sausage on top with the mozzarella. I think I had the heat on too high with my Le Creuset skillet (hey, I’m still getting used to this new glass-top range!!) and the potatoes on the very bottom were burnt to a crisp.

We managed to save dinner by flipping the whole thing over onto a plate, picking off the burnt potatoes, and just mixing everything up into a bowl. Therefore, it ended up being a potato-tomato hash…

Definitely not the best thing I’ve made, but definitely not the worst! In fact, I think I’ll be trying my hand at this one again soon 🙂

Meal Planning Monday
August 24, 2009, 6:28 pm
Filed under: Weekly Menu


I’m joining Meal Planning Monday over at “I’m an Organizing Junkie”!! So here’s the deal, I’m kinda late on this one but I’m going to post anyway. I’ll try to post my meals on Sunday so that YOU can see what we’re having for dinner this week.

Sunday: Summer Sausage & Muenster on Hawaiian Rolls, Grapes

Monday: Frito Pie

Tuesday: Potato Tomato Tart

Wednesday: Turkey Sloppy Joes, Fresh Broccoli

Thursday: Chicken Garlic Creamy Pasta (using canned chicken and Knorr’s Creamy Garlic Shells), Salad

Friday: Out to Eat

Saturday: Biscuits, Bacon, Scrambled Eggs

Bonnie’s Chicken Tenders
August 16, 2009, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Chicken, Dinner | Tags: , ,

I guess I get to call this my first recipe. There are the basics: dredging, dipping in egg, then coating with breadcrumbs… But the spices. Oh, the spices! They added just a little kick to the tenders, but the spices were not overwhelming.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • All-purpose flour
  • Paprika (sweet or hot? you decide!)
  • Poultry seasoning
  • 2 eggs
  • One spoonful dijon mustard
  • Japanese panko
  • Toasted breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons Olive oil (more as needed)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Several dishes to dip chicken in (I used a loaf pan, a large bowl, and a casserole dish… it’s what I have!)

In your first dish, cover the bottom with the all-purpose flour. Sprinkle paprika & poultry seasoning over the top of the flour and mix together. In your second dish, whisk eggs and dijon mustard together. In the last dish, cover bottom with panko and breadcrumbs tossed together.

L to R: Chicken, Flour, Eggs, Panko

L to R: Chicken, Flour, Eggs, Panko

Coat all tenderloins with flour mixture, egg mixture and panko mixture (in that order, please!), and place on plate until ready to fry.

Dredging the Chicken

Dredging the Chicken

Dipping Chicken in Mustardy Eggs

Dipping Chicken in Mustardy Eggs

Coating in Panko

Coating in Panko

Heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Depending on how big your pan is, place 3-4 tenders in pan (no crowding!). Cook for 2.5-3 minutes on each side until center is no longer pink and juices run clear (you can also use a meat thermometer). Use more olive oil for each batch if needed until all tenders are cooked.


Place tenders on paper towels to drain. Immediately salt and pepper each side of the tenders (S&P has a tendency to stick better when things are fresh out of oil). Enjoy!!



I’m not quite sure I’ll be buying premade chicken tenders or nuggets ever again. These were so easy to make, and I knew exactly what the ingredients were (hello, pink ice cream chicken! EW!). P and I thoroughly enjoyed these and I’m certain they’ll be on the menu again soon 🙂

Classic Tomato and Basil Sauce
August 9, 2009, 6:06 pm
Filed under: Dinner, Vegetables | Tags: , , ,
Oooo... Pretty! Wonder what's in there!

Oooo... Pretty! Wonder what's in there!

Mmmm… I’ve been looking for a relatively easy tomato sauce to use when P makes spaghetti. We have, up until now, been using whatever jarred sauce strikes our fancy. But we always make meatsauce, so I was looking for a recipe that would be good with some ground beef mixed in. At work, I forgot that we had some Le Creuset pamphlets with recipes on them. And of course, they have one for Classic Tomato and Basil Sauce. It’s to be made in their 3.5 quart round oven, but quite honestly after making it, I’m not sure how it even fits in the 3.5 quart. I used my 5.5 quart and the sauce filled more than half of the pot.

I inherited quite a bit of Le Creuset’s original Flame pots and pans from my grandma. According to my mom, that is what my grandpa gave her for special occasions instead of jewelry. Well–thank you, Grandpa 🙂 I’ll have you know it’s being put to good use on occasion, and I will say this tomato sauce was a perfect occasion to break out the inherited dutch oven.

Bubbling away...

Bubbling away...

Classic Tomato and Basil Sauce from Le Creuset (my revisions in red)

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped finely (I used three)
  • 1 carrot, grated coarsely (I only have a fine grater)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed (I used three)
  • 2 pounds canned plum tomatoes, chopped with their juices (I just used two large cans and ended up spilling some… It probably evened out to 2 pounds)
  • A large handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A pat of butter, to finish
  1. Heat the oil in the Round Oven over a medium heat on the stovetop. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and cook very gently for 4 to 5 minutes without letting the ingredients brown. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute longer (forgot to do this, so I just added it in when I added the tomatoes).
  2. Add the tomatoes, roughly torn basil leaves, and plenty of seasoning. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Uncover the pan, increase the heat, and boil gently for 5 to 10 minutes to thicken.
  4. Use the sauce as it is in the “chunky” consistency, or purée in a food processor (I puréed half of it and then added it back to the other chunkier half). Whichever texture you choose, stire the butter into the sauce just before serving: it rounds off the flavors and makes the sauce smoother.


I did not add the butter yet. I’m planning using half of this tomorrow night (it’s my late night and therefore, P’s turn to start dinner) and freezing the other half for future use. I’ll just add the butter when reheating the sauce. I think it’ll be fine. We taste tested the sauce earlier and I must say–the freshness is sooo goood and would beat a jarred sauce any day. Yeah, I’m converted 🙂

Okay, I might just be showing off my beautiful countertops :-p

Okay, I might just be showing off my beautiful countertops :-p