Tag Archives: Recipes

70’s Casserole | Recipe

27 Mar

If you are looking for a way to use leftover rice, I have the answer for you. Occasionally George and I will treat ourselves to a lazy mid-week dinner of Chinese food. We almost always have rice remaining, and I’m not about to waste it. That’s when I make what I call “Weird 70s Casserole.”


It is named mostly because of the condensed soup that I use. All of my very health-conscious coworkers love the smell of the final product, and I enjoy the taste. Don’t let the name scare you off!


This time I had cream of celery, but you can use whatever creamed condensed soup you want. You’ll also need some broccoli and/or cauliflower.

To make the casserole, combine in a ceramic, covered dish:

  • the condensed cream soup
  • about half of a can of milk
  • your pre-cooked rice (about a cup would be ideal. variation is fine)
  • 2+ cups of broccoli and/or cauliflower (I used a whole bag of frozen broccoli, because that’s what I had on hand)
  • a third of a cup of shredded cheese

Cook, covered, in the oven at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes.


Since this is a recipe designed to use what you have on hand, it is very flexible. I love it as an easy meal that uses up leftovers and can be brought in for lunch.


Treat Yourself: Paninis

4 Feb

I love to go out to eat, but obviously it is not the most budget-conscious choice. Sometimes treating myself to a fancy meal meal at home can be just as good as eating out, and still cost less money.

panini ingredients fancy at home

This weekend George and I tried making Paninis on his new George Foreman Grill, which he received as a Christmas present. I was sent to the grocery store to pick up ingredients and decided upon: fresh baked multigrain bread, a tomato, an avocado, a ball of mozzarella cheese, and sliced cheddar cheese. I figured those ingredients were different enough from my usual grilled cheese ventures of loaf bread and sliced cheese.

cooking paninis on george foreman grill

The George Foreman is really simple to use, and works great for Paninis. Since it cooks on both sides at once, you don’t have to manage the trickiness of flipping your sandwich without loosing all the insides (maybe that just a challenge for me!).

Cooked Panini at home

So there you have it! Even though we had some ingredients left over, the cost of the supplies were:

Bread: $4.29
Avocado: $.99
Tomato: $1.73
Mozzarella: $3.99
Sliced Cheddar cheese: $2.75

Since those ingredients total $13.75 and made 4 sandwiches, it was about $3.50 per sandwich.  That’s certainly an expensive at-home meal, but it was a nice treat for the weekend inside of going out!

10 Minute Snack: Puppy Chow

25 Jan

Ever since buying an excessive amount of Chex cereal because of a sale, I’ve been looking forward to making Puppy Chow (also called Muddy Buddies, if you prefer). It’s a very sweet snack, and simple to throw together.

puppy chow

I modeled my snack after this recipe, but made some alterations. To make Puppy Chow you need butter, chocolate chips, peanut butter, a crispy rice cereal, and powdered sugar. In addition to the ingredients listed, I also added a little Nutella to the chocolate mix, and some shredded coconut to the dusting.

Since you’re making this snack from scratch, you can shrink down the recipe so you don’t have loads of this around to tempt you.

From beginning to end, it took me less than 10 minutes to make. Just be sure to let it cool a little before digging in! I loved the extra flavor from the shredded coconut.

Champagne cocktails

31 Dec


Astoria Prosecco holding bottle

In advance of New Years Eve, I decided to try three different variations on sparkling cocktails. I absolutely love sparkling wine of any kind, and it’s always fun to try new drinks. For this experiment, I actually used prosecco, specifically Astoria Prosecco. Below are three different drinks with commentary from myself, and my boyfriend George.

Pineapple and rum prosecco cocktail

Pineapple and rum
This is a cocktail that I made up myself. I originally was just going to do a pineapple mimosa, but decided to add rum. The drink includes: 1 jigger rum, 1 jigger pineapple juice, and the remainder sparkling wine.

Lauren: This drink is fairly alcoholic. Maybe it is the type of rum I used, but even after adding more pineapple, it is still very strong. I feel like this drink losses much of the “fun” of a sparkling beverage

George: My initial reaction to this drink was “Wow, rum!” It was definitely strong, so after having our first sips we diluted the rest with more pineapple juice. Even after that, the rum was the dominant taste in the drink. I may try this again with less rum and/or using clear rum.

black velvet champagne cocktail

Black Velvet
This drink combines both beer and champagne. We used ½ a glass of Guinness and then filled the rest of the glass with prosecco.

Lauren: I feel like this makes Guinness better, but it is still a bit yucky (I’m not a fan of stout beers). I’m not sure about the flavor. This isn’t something I would request.

George: I’ve had canned and bottled Guinness before and feel that they fall flat when compared to Guinness on draught. This drink had a nice sweetness from the prosecco, but I’m too distracted by the bad bottled Guinness taste to enjoy it. I’d love to try this made at a bar that has Guinness on tap.

Poinsettia drink

For this drink we did ½ a jigger of triple sec, 1 jigger of cranberry and then filled the rest of the glass with prosecco.

Lauren: This was the best drink so far. I felt like you could taste both the orange and the cranberry, but neither flavor was overpowering. This is a nice sipping drink, and I would certainly serve it at a party. I think the presentation would be really nice with a cranberry or other fruit floating in the glass.

George: I agree with Lauren, I think this one was the best that we tried. The sweet and distinct taste of cranberries went well with the triple sec and the prosecco. I would use a tad less cranberry juice next time, as I felt it obscured the other tastes a bit. Overall, still very drinkable.


Final Thoughts
The Poinsettia was the favorite champagne cocktail we tried. Based upon this sampling, we wouldn’t add a significant amount of strong alcohol to our prosecco. Just a splash of juice or other mixer is enough to enhance basic sparkling wine.

Happy New Year!

Vegetarian Chili

30 Dec

It snowed all day yesterday. I spent much of my time watching TV (I’m bad, I know!), but I also squeezed in a couple projects. To warm myself up, I made vegetarian chili.

Ingredients for veggie chili

What I love best about making chili is that you can use a wide variety of ingredients, depending on what you have on hand. For this particular chili, I included: half an onion, a couple garlic cloves, 2 stalks of celery, a little bit of carrot, a bell pepper, kidney beans, black beans, diced tomato, and tomato sauce. When I have it available, I also like to use fake meat crumbles (ground beef substitute) and corn.

Adding in Spices Chili

For this meal I also added some spices, including loads of chili powder.

vegetarian chili

I like to scoop my chili with tortilla chips after adding cheese on top.

This was a really delicious and simple meal. I even have leftovers for today!

Squash seeds

21 Dec

I recently cooked some butternut squash for dinner. I keep things very simple: cutting the squash in half, scooping out the “guts,” brushing the halves with olive oil, and cooking the squash upside down.

butternut squash insides

In addition to making the squash, I also decided to try roasted butternut squash seeds. I love freshly cooked pumpkin seeds, so I figured it was worth a shot.

I cleaned the seeds off with warm water, trying to get rid of as much of the stringy “guts” as I could. Usually I use a colander to help. I put the seeds in a dish with olive oil and salt and cooked it at 375 degrees. Every 5-10 minutes I shook the pan to stir up the seeds. I believe it took approximately 20 minutes for the seeds to cook so they were crunchy but not burnt.

roasted butternut squash seeds

Please note that I ate some seeds before snapping this picture. The squash yielded a little more seeds than are pictured.

I thought they were very good! The squash seeds weren’t as delicious as pumpkin seeds, but it was certainly worth the tiny amount of effort to have my food go a little further.

Snowflake Roll Cookies

14 Dec

For a recent holiday gathering at my house, I needed to make some kind of Christmas cookie. I decided on rolled sugar cookies in the shape of snowflakes because they have such a nice presentation.

Snowflake rolled sugar cookies

I followed “The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies” from AllRecipes, but cut it in half.

  •  3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight). I like to chill the dough in separate balls. That way I only take out a portion at a time, and it’s easier to work with. 
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. I made all of mine as snowflakes. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. I use parchment paper to make the whole process easier.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.


After your cookies are cool, it’s time to frost them. I mix my own frosting with just milk and confectionary sugar. Watch out, you only need a little milk (an ounce or two) to coat all the cookies.

For the blue base coat, I used regular food coloring and made the frosting concoction a little runny, the consistency of regular yogurt. I dipped each cookie in the frosting and shook off the excess, placing it back on the parchment to harden up.

Easy way to frost cup with plastic baggie

After the base coat dried a little, I mixed frosting that was a little thicker, close to the consistency of canned frosting. I have a trick for loading frosting into a pipe-able bag. I just use standard sandwich bags, but I place them inside of a glass, folding over the edge. This makes it easier to scoop frosting in without the inside of the bag sticking together. I snipped a small corner, and added the detailing on the cookies. I left the frosting to dry overnight before stacking them.

Snowflake cookies on a plate

Each cookie had a completely different pattern that I made up as I went along.

I love the way these cookies look (and taste!). What is your go-to holiday cookie?

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