Tag Archives: cooking

From My Mom’s Kitchen – Ham and Tomato Pie

1 Mar

When my husband and I were dating, my mom grilled him turkey burgers with chopped bacon inside. His comment, “You put meat inside of meat? Double meat?” Needless to say he was gobsmacked and I’m pleased he married me and not my mother.

He is a huge fan of her cooking and this is one of his all time favorites. You all will love her Ham and Tomato Pie, or as my husband simply dubbed it, meat pie.

Ham and Tomato Pie

1 8oz pkg diced ham
1/2 cup sliced green onions

1 9″ frozen unbaked deep dish pie shell
1 T Dijon mustard
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)
2 medium plum tomatoes sliced
1 large egg
1/2 cup of half and half cream
1 T chopped fresh basil
1/8 tsp pepper

In a pan, sauté ham and onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Brush the pie shell with Dijon mustard and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the cheese.  Spoon the ham mixture evenly over cheese, then top with a layer of the sliced tomatoes.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg and cream until well blended. Pour over the ham and tomatoes.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and basil.

Bake on the lowest rack for 20 minutes at 425°. Cool for 20 minutes before cutting

This pie is truly tasty and is lovely served with a fresh green salad.

Mom’s Kitchen – Chicken Manicotti with Red Pepper Sauce

25 Feb

When our youngest daughter was born my mom stocked our freezer with food. We love everything she cooks, but our favorite was chicken manicotti with roasted red pepper sauce. This recipe is tasty, visually appealing, company worthy, and freezes and reheats well.  Just a warning, if you make this hoping for leftovers, I think you will be disappointed. We ate every last bite.

Chicken Manicotti with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

[Note: I do not know where she found this dish. If you know the author of the recipe, let me know and I will give proper credit.]

1 8oz. pkg manicotti shells
4 cups cooked chopped chicken
2 8oz containers chives-and-onion cream cheese
1 10 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
3/4 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp pepper

Red Pepper Sauce

2 7oz jars roasted red peppers drained

1 16oz jar creamy alfredo sauce

3 oz shredded parmesan cheese


Cook pasta according to directions, drain, and lay on waxed paper to prevent sticking.

In a large bowl, stir chicken and next six ingredients. Mix well.

Cut pasta shells lengthwise, open and stuff 1/2 cup chicken mixture into each shell.  Press cut sides together and place cut side down in 9×13 baking dish.

For red pepper sauce, add sauce ingredients in a blender and pour over pasta in the pan. 

Bake at 350° covered for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through.

My Worst Cook Moments

21 Feb

I’m a pretty good cook. I’m an indifferent and slightly lazy housekeeper, I am absolutely terrible at ironing, but I can cook. Watching the Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America, I’m remembering some of my worst dishes.

  • In grade school I ruined a batch of sugar cookies by mistaking liquid smoke for vanilla.
  • In junior high I set off smoke alarms by baking a pizza on a plastic pan. Oops.
  • Only a year after college I invited a bunch of girlfriends over and grilled turkey burgers. They clearly were not cooked properly because a couple of girls got sick, including me. What did I do? I ate the leftovers, even though they made me sick, because I was on a tight budget.
  • Three of my friends and I cooked a lovely Thanksgiving dinner in DC in 2001. Everett and I were pretty confident we could cook a turkey. We did that poor bird so wrong. We left the neck in and despite numerous calls to each of our moms about proper tenting and basting techniques, the meat was underdone on one side. We screwed it up royally. Still, that was one of my absolutely favorite Thanksgivings ever. Good friends can always overcome a failed turkey, and the side dishes were delicious.
  • Also in DC, I cooked a meal for my friends, Tanya and Steve, and a guy I was dating at the time. Tanya dropped off a pork loin for me with detailed instructions on cooking it properly and keeping it moist. I overcooked the pork loin and it was dry and chewy, but I made a fabulous almond tart that is now my go-to recipe for dessert worthy of company. I remember the tart fondly, the guy not so much.
  • My husband and I were married only a few months when I tried a new recipe for slow cooker turkey sloppy joes. The recipe called for red wine and we were out. I habitually tweak recipes so I decided red wine vinegar was a decent substitute. I was terribly wrong. The house reeked when I got home from work, fumes were coming off the slow cooker, and the dinner was a failure.  My sweet husband ate some anyway and deemed it not so bad. What a guy.


Clearly I remember every time I mess up in the kitchen, but I learn a lot and I have not made the same mistake twice.  Maybe that is one of the reasons why I love cooking. Creativity and risk taking in the kitchen can pay off big, or you can screw up royally. Either way, you’ll find out the result when the timer dings.

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry from @momsatwork

17 Feb

I had no idea Twitter would be a goldmine for recipes. I found this slow cooker chicken curry recipe yesterday from @momsatwork and now it is bubbling away on my counter as I work. It took me about 15 minutes to prepare because it involved chopping vegetables and I took a work call while opening the can of coconut milk. Interestingly, I opened the can and interrupted my client to inquire, “Is coconut milk supposed to be solid?” She reassured me that it can be solid or runny and that the milk would still be good. Then, she asked for the recipe because she is also a working mom and needs new ideas.  I love it when work and life intersect.

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry from Anika Palm,  Moms at Work Blog

- 2 1/2 – 3 T curry powder

- 1/2 tsp coriander

- 1 bay leaf

- 1/2 tsp allspice

- 1/2 tsp black pepper

- 1/2 tsp cumin

- 2 T tomato paste

- 1 T minced ginger

- 1 can coconut milk

- 1 tsp salt

- 1/2 – 1 tsp cayenne (optional, I omited because my kids do not like spicey food)

- 1 small onion, chopped

- 1-2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed

- 1 carrot or parsnip, chopped

- 6-8 chicken thighs, remove skin and bones (I used chicken breasts)

Add the curry through the cayenne to the slow cooker. Add chicken, toss to cover with sauce and top with vegetables. Cook on low for 7 hours.

I plan to serve it as she suggests with rice and peas.

Update: This was delicious, fragrant and filling. This was a hit. Try it!

I am in Love with my Valentine Cupcakes

10 Feb Pink Valentine Brownie Heart Cupcake

We are going to a MOMS club Valentine party tomorrow and I originally replied to bring cheese and crackers. Oh, who was I kidding!? I have the cupcake fever, and the only cure is more cupcakes. I will still bring the cheese and crackers, but I’m also bringing the cupcakes. I found a picture of a Martha Stewart cupcake that looked beautiful and simple. I’m a good cook, but my presentation skills need some help. I just get too impatient to get all the details right. This “plop a heart brownie” on top of a frosted cupcake is right in my sweet spot.

Here is the Martha recipe I tried to emulate. These were super easy to make and I love how they look. Voila!

White Frosted Strawberry Cupcakes

Pink Frosted Strawberry Cupcakes

White Valentine Brownie Heart Cupcake

Pink Valentine Brownie Heart Cupcake

Pink and White Valentine Cupcakes – Brownie Heart

Beef Diablo for Dinner

10 Feb

To save money I have started shopping the sales advertised in grocery store circulars. Tonight’s dinner is courtesy of a buy one get one sale on roasts. One went in the freezer for later and I stared at the other one wondering what to do with the big hunk o’ meat.  I called my mom a la “phone an amazing cook.”

Me: So, I have this big roast. I’m thinking of putting it in the slow cooker. What should I do with it?

Mom: What do you have? [This means, what sort of spices, condiments, extras do you have in your pantry.]

Me: Well, I have soy sauce, catsup, Worcestershire sauce, canned pineapple, garlic, canned peaches, salsa, v8, peppers, onions. Should I continue?

Mom: OK. This is what you do. Put the chopped peppers and onion on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the roast. Rub a mixture of the catsup, v8, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, a dash of cayenne pepper for spice, salt and pepper to taste. Close the lid and cook for 6 hours on high. When you slice it, cut against the grain.

Then we talked about my daughters, their shoe sizes, and our schedule for the rest of the week. I won’t bore you with the rest of the conversation.

She’s amazing. I adore her. The roast is bubbling away. I plan on serving it with baked potatoes, some sort of veggie and rolls.

Flashback – Recreating the Proposal Dinner – Diamond Steak

9 Feb

In 2006, my boyfriend managed to reverse my hatred of Valentine’s Day by proposing. Suddenly, all my single Valentine’s days of suckitude were erased by a very sweet, nervous proposal and a diamond ring.

Flash forward five years and we are married with two beautiful, spunky daughters. I want to make Valentine’s Day 2011 special by recreating the meal I made for us that night.

We had been dating for a year, or as Mr. Engineer sweetly and accurately put it in his proposal, “13 months.” I was not expecting a proposal at all that night. In two days we were going to fly to San Diego for a three-day romp in the sun, and honestly I was thinking San Diego would be a lot of fun with a beach proposal. As my gift to him I planned a special meal I dubbed “fancy basics.” My man is a meat and potatoes guy, so I wanted to make a meal that would appeal to his love affair with steak.

The Bling Menu

Orange Black Pepper-Glazed Filets Mignons

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes with Asiago Cheese

Gingered Carrots

Crusty Bread

Crème Brûlée


I told a coworker about my dinner plans and he prophetically said, “Well, if that doesn’t get a proposal, I don’t know what would!”  The meal was delicious, but what I remember most about the evening is sitting on the couch drinking wine before dinner and talking about what we would name our children. (And, this was before the proposal people! I really didn’t see this one coming.) Kate and Jack. (Everyone has one boy and one girl, right?)

He proposed during dessert. I put him in charge of torching the sugar on the crème brûlée. It took him forever! Every single sugar molecule was properly fired. As we were breaking the sugar with our spoons he stood up and held a box. A box that appeared too large to contain a ring. Honestly, I was prepared to say, “A key chain! Aw, thank you honey, I always wanted a key chain.” And then it happened, “Will you marry me?”  I was floored. I said yes and the rest is our wonderful history.

In honor of the five year anniversary of the proposal, here is the recipe for the filets mignons that warmed my heart and turned my ring finger all shiny and bright.

Orange Black Pepper-Glazed Filets Mignons from one of my favorite cookbooks, Always Superb:Recipes for Every Occasion, a Minnesota Junior League cookbook.


2 T olive oil (divided)

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 T grated gingerroot

1/4 cup dark rum

1 cup orange juice

1/3 cup dark molasses

1 T coarsely crushed peppercorns

4 (6 to 8 ounce) filets mignons

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat 1 T olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until tender. Add garlic and gingerroot; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the rum and cook until almost all of the liquid is evaporated. Add orange juice, molasses and peppercorns. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until reduced to desired consistency. (Note: the sauce should not be too runny.)  Let stand until room temperature.

Brush the filets with 1 T olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill over hot coals for five minutes each side. Spoon the glaze over the filets and cook for one more minute. Serve immediately with any remaining glaze on the size.


Enjoy! And, please tell me if this steak brings you romance or proposals. Three cheers for “diamond steak!”


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