Monthly Archives: April 2013

No oven, no problem

Our oven was broken for a long while, at least 6 months for a few reasons but mostly because we were lazy and also didn’t know how much is was going to cost to fix it. But we finally got it fixed and it was pretty exciting to have it back. You may be saying to yourself, How do you survive that long without an oven? Well, let me tell you how.

1. The Waffle Maker. Yes the waffle maker. Quickly I discovered that you can make a lot of things with a waffle makers. Muffins, cornbread, cookies, brownies, biscuits. Basically any bread type thing with a thick mix will work. I had a harder time with cookies, but muffin waffles are a new morning staple around my house and will remind so even after the oven is fixed.

2. The Toaster Oven. This is sort of a no brainer since oven is in the name. But there are many things that can be cooked in a toaster oven as many college kids can tell you. It’s not an exact substitute for a full size oven because it is small and not everything is safe in a toaster oven. But if you want some cookies or biscuits, it’s a good thing to have around.

3. The Griddler. Specifically the Cuisinart Griddler/Panini Maker. Ben got one for Christmas and it is pretty awesome. Now I can make delicious sandwiches on it. I also made pancakes the other night and it is super easy to use and to clean up. BT is a little more creative with its use but I stick with the basics.

4. The Slow Cooker. I got a new Crock-Pot for Christmas and it has been great so far! Ben puts the meals together for me before he leaves for work so when I get home the kids and I have a meal all ready to go. I just have to fix some veggies. We’ve had some hits and misses so far with our crock-pot meals but Pinterest, as always, is a great place to find new things to try. As long as it doesn’t have cream cheese. So far that hasn’t really worked out.

5. The Stovetop. This is actually something that we couldn’t live without. The microwave is a great thing to have around but a large portion of food is cooked on the stove and if that had been the thing that broke we probably would have it fixed sooner. Maybe we could get away without having one, but probably not.


Cola Braised BBQ Pork


I love BBQ pork.  But on a week night who has the time to tend to a pit for hours on end.  This recipe will get you close to that BBQ flavor you crave with a lot less of the work and time.  The secret, as they say, is in the sauce.  I make my own cola BBQ sauce that just makes this recipe that much better.  For the pork in this recipe I use country style pork ribs cut from a Boston Butt pork roast.  These really are not country style ribs but that is the way markets have chosen to label them.


 3lbs Country Style Butt Pork Ribs

Dry Rub

Liquid Smoke

1/2 cola of choice


Lay pork onto sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil.   Season liberally with dry rub and sprinkle with liquid smoke.  Bring both ends of aluminum foil to top and roll down.  Then roll in the sides to seal package and store in refrigerator over night.   The next day add 1/2 cup of cola by unrolling one of the ends and pouring in then reseal and rock package back and forth to evenly distribute cola.  Place in 250 degree oven for 3 hours.  Remove package from oven and carefully unroll one end and drain liquid from package.  Place entire pack onto cookie sheet and open fully.  Coat with BBQ sauce and place under broiler.  Add additional coats of sauce every few minutes till desired coverage is achieved.  Remove to cutting board and either pull or chop pork.

Cola BBQ Sauce


1 tbl butter

1/4 cup minced onion

1 garlic clove minced

3/4 cup cola

3/4 cup ketchup

2 tbl lemon juice

2 tbl Worcestershire

2 tbl Steak Sauce

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp liquid smoke

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper


Sweat onion and garlic in butter until onion is clear.  Add cola and bring to a slow boil.  Add all other ingredients and simmer until consistency will coat the back of a spoon about 10 minutes.  Sauce can be refrigerated for up to a week.

I served it up on a hamburger bun with a little more sauce and sliced apples but coleslaw tastes great too. Add some baked beans and pasta salad and you have a BBQ meal with a lot less work.


Italian Sausage Pasta Pie

Italian Sausage Pasta Pie

One of my favorite Pinterest recipes comes from A Muse in My Kitchen’s Spaghetti Pie. It’s something I’ve made several times and our 6 year old son loves it. Anything that gets him to eat is good in my book. That version is a meatless one and I’ve been wanting to try adding sausage to it. I bought ground Italian sausage and mixed it with the spaghetti sauce and used radiatore pasta instead of spaghetti so it would be easy for our 1 year old daughter to pick up.

1 lb. of ground meat (I used Italian Sausage)
4 1/2 cups of pasta
2 tbsp. butter
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, well beaten
12 oz. cottage cheese
4 cups of spaghetti sauce
½ cup mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 10-inch pie pan. Brown ground meat until done. Cook and drain pasta according according to directions. Stir butter into hot pasta. Add Parmesan cheese and eggs.  Form pasta into a crust in the pie pan. Spread cottage cheese over pasta crust. Mixed 3 cups of spaghetti sauce with ground meat and top cottage cheese with meat mixture. Add another cup of spahetti sauce on top of meat mixture. Bake, uncovered for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top and bake for 5 more minutes.

Surprisingly enough both kids ate quite a bit of it. So it was a big hit. I served it with a salad and some green beans. I also think that pepperoni would also be a good meat to add.


Opened Italian Sausage Pie

Pepperoni Panini

Pepperoni Panini

After Ben made the Italian Stromboli, we had leftover pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. So Sunday night I decided to make it easy on myself and make a couple of pepperoni panini. This is a very simple thing to do especially with the Griddler. If you don’t have one or a panini press than cooking it like a grilled cheese on the stove would work too. This is basically a grilled cheese with meat in the center.

Ingredients (makes two)

4 slices of bread

4 slices of mozzarella cheese


a few tsp of olive oil for brushing (or butter)


Brush two slices of bread with olive oil and put on the griddler oiled side down. You can use butter but I like olive oil. Layer cheese and pepperoni starting with one slice cheese, then the pepperoni than the cheese. Brush the other slices of bread and put down. Grill or toast until the cheese is melted.

Serve with a salad or the side of your choice. It would also be good with a marinara dipping sauce.

Pepperoni Panini on the Griddler

Our picky 6 year boy likes this sandwich which is a victory for me. And it is a good sandwich to make on game days or lazy days.


Crab Stuffed Tomato topped with Egg and Hollandaise


Working in a grocery store is both a blessing and a curse.  On one hand I am always able to pick up what I need before leaving for home.  On the other I can spend a whole shift thinking about what will be for dinner when I get home.  The latter was the predicament I found myself in yesterday night.  The store aisles brought forth many different possibilities.  Somehow I decided on a tomato stuffed with crab meat, topped with an egg, and drizzled with a Hollandaise sauce.  The major short cut I took was making the sauce from a packet.  It was almost midnight and I didn’t have the energy to make it from scratch.  This recipe is enough to make two large tomatoes and would make an excellent brunch item.


Two Large Tomatoes

1/4 cup onion

1 tbs garlic

6oz crab meat

1 slice bacon cut into strips

1 tbs butter

1 tbs olive oil

about 1/4 cup bread crumbs

2 eggs

1 Packet Hollandaise Sauce (follow directions on packet)


Cut tops of tomatoes and scrape out seeds with a spoon reserving meat inside of tomato.  Cook strips of bacon in nonstick skillet until crispy remove with slotted spoon.  Add the butter and olive oil to the skillet and cook onion until clear about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook about a minute more until garlic in fragrant.  Then add reserved tomato, crab meat, and bacon to skillet cook a few more minutes until warm.  Last add breadcrumbs just enough to soak up all the liquid in the skillet and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Fill tomatoes about 3/4 full of crab mixture packing mixture into tomatoes.  Be sure not to over fill tomatoes. One of mine was too full and the egg did not survive the trip into the oven.  Crack egg into the top of each tomato and bake in 450 degree oven until the egg whites have set and tomatoes split about 15-20 minutes.

Drizzle with Hollandaise sauce.

This recipe would be equally delicious using eggplants or mushrooms.

With egg yolk broken.

With egg yolk broken.


Traditional Italian Stromboli

Sliced Stromboli with Sauce

Sliced Stromboli with Sauce

A Stromboli is a delicious Italian stuffed bread similar to a calzone but in a loaf shape.  Basically being an inside out pizza with the sauce on the outside means the sky is the limit for customization here.  I have gone ahead and made a more traditional Stromboli with Italian meats and cheese but pretty much anything you can imagine can be stuffed into one of these.

As I post recipes you will soon discover I am not much for exact measurements.  I feel they limit creativity and keep the cook from tasting as you go which is the only way to tell if something is seasoned enough for your liking.  I will try to guesstimate my measurements as best I can if I feel they are needed.

For this Stromboli I started out by making Alton Brown’s pizza dough (as shown in the beginning of this recipe) but any pizza or Italian bread recipe can be used or, to make it ever simpler, store bought dough would work just fine.


Pizza Dough (Home Made or Store Bought)




Mozzarella Cheese (sliced)

Red Onion (Sliced)

Bell Pepper (Sliced)

Sliced Black Olives

Egg mixed with a little water (for egg wash)

Sesame Seeds


Roll out dough until it is a thin, even thickness (it will make two).  Then begin to layer the meats, veggies, and cheese onto the dough.  Roll the dough up into a loaf shape.  Place loaves onto a baking sheet or peel then brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Cut three slits on top of loaves and place into a 450 degree oven until golden brown about 20 minutes.

Ready to be rolled

Ready to be rolled

Done Baking

Done Baking


True story

When Ben and I first moved into together long ago, he didn’t know how to cook. Not really anyway and so he asked for advice from me which I happily gave. One day I made spaghetti and he said the fatal words of “My mom’s is better” to which I replied that if he didn’t like it he could cook for himself. And so he learned and far surpassed anything I have ever made. It turns out that Ben has a natural talent for putting together delicious meals.

I , on the other hand, not so much. Recently I’ve had to learn to cook for myself and our two children while Ben is working and try to provide healthy meals for the three of us. Pinterest has been a great help. I like to making quick and easy meals. I love to use the crockpot. I’m trying to steer away from frozen meals and make homemade (or semi-homemade) dinners. It also turns out that I have a talent for baking.

One day Ben said he’d like to start a food blog where he can write about the meals and recipes he makes up, more of the finer food we eat and I can write about the quick meals that I make. It sounded like fun and so here we are, talking about his bites, her bites, and bites for the wee ones.


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