Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monkey Munch

I'm guessing this recipe is on any Chex box but I never bothered to look since I've had this little gem tucked away in my recipe notebook. I'm posting this as a subtle hint that maybe my husband will whip up a batch for the chicklets this week!

Monkey Munch

9 cups Chex cereal (any variety)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups powdered sugar

Put chex in a large bowl and put aside. Place chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter into a quart-sized microwavable bowl. Stir the ingredients together. Microwave the mixture uncovered for a minute on “high.” Stir the mix again and continue to zap in thirty second intervals until it mixes smoothly. Add the vanilla and stir. Pour over the cereal while stirring. Put combination into a 2-gallon, Ziploc freezer bag. Add powdered sugar, seal the bag and shake until distributed. Spread Monkey Munch out on wax paper to cool and dry.

Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for storage.

Old School Sauce

I'm Italian so sauce means only one thing - red sauce. This sauce is great for a Sunday when it can simmer all afternoon while you're being aggravated by the Browns.

Old School Sauce

3 large cans (28 oz.) Hunts tomato sauce
1 large can (28 oz.) Hunts tomato puree
1 small can Hunts tomato paste
1 lb. western or country pork ribs
4-5 cloves mined garlic
1 large diced onion
2-3 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
Olive oil – as needed



In large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven add a few tsp. of olive oil and on med/high heat sear ribs until browned but not cooked inside. Take ribs out of pan and set aside. Sauté onions and garlic - add a bit more oil if needed. When onions are translucent, add rest of ingredients and add ribs back into the pan. Turn heat down to a simmer and 4-5 hours. Stir occasionally and add water if the sauce becomes too thick. When ready to serve, remove rib bones and shred the meat in the sauce. Serve over pasta and enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sausage & Tomato Bake

A former colleague and I used to swap foodie facts - latest restaurant openings, food blogs and don't even get me started on Top Chef which could inspire 20 minute discussions on the cheftestants! This Jamie Olivier recipe comes from my foodie friend who loves the famous chef and Jamie's t.v. show where he cooks in a potting shed or something like it. Do I need someone to show me how to prepare rack of lamb next to the fertilizer and compost? No thanks. However, this dish is darn good and best of all - you can make it in your kitchen! Serve with either with a good-quality loaf of bread warmed through in a low oven for 10 minutes (great for mopping up the sauce!) or with mashed potato, rice or polenta, a green salad and a nice glass of wine!

Sausage & Tomato Bake

4¼ pounds ripe cherry tomatoes, mixed colors if you can find them
2 sprigs each fresh thyme, rosemary, bay (I've never have fresh bay so just use dried)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
12 good-quality Italian pork sausages
Extra-virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea or Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use roasting pan, large enough to take the tomatoes in 1 snug-fitting layer. Put in all your tomatoes, the herb sprigs, oregano, garlic and sausages. Drizzle well with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss together, then make sure the sausages are on top and cook for half an hour. After this time, give it a shake and turn the sausages over. Put back into the oven for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how golden you like your sausages. You may need to cook longer if using thick sausages.

Once cooked, you’ll have an intensely flavored sauce. If it’s a little too thin, lift out the sausages and place the pan on the stove to cook it down to the consistency you like. I've also used a immersion blender to make it less chunky. Then put the sausages back in and enjoy with some wonderful bread.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pumpkin Cake

It's that time of year - pumpkin festivals, apples, cool nights and beautiful foliage. I've been making this old standby for years. Moist, delicious and perfect after racking leaves with a cup of hot coffee!

Pumpkin Cake


1 package yellow cake mix
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
¾ cup canned pumpkin - not pie filling!
1 4 oz. package french vanilla pudding mix
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup water
3 eggs - slightly beaten
powdered sugar



Preheat oven to 350°. Sift all dry ingredients together and then add oil, water and eggs to dry mixture. Pour in greased bundt pan and bake for 45 - 50 minutes. When tested comes out clean, cool on rack for 5 minutes. Invert on serving plate and when completely cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar to coat. Enjoy and ignore the yard work that needs to be done!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Birthday Swiss Steak?

It is only fitting that I post this recipe on my birthday. It's the meal I've requested on many of my birthdays. I know...it's a weird meal to crave but it's comforting and homey and I just love it on a crisp fall day. I love it even more when it can be made ahead in a crockpot. Now that I'm officially old - I can bust out my crockpot with pride!

Swiss Steak with Baby Onions

3 (1.1 oz.) pkgs. Hunter's sauce (or dry onion soup mix if you cannot find Hunter's sauce)
1 (11.5 oz.) can of V8 vegetable juice
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen baby onions - do not defrost
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. fresh white mushrooms - sliced
3 lbs. beef round steak - sliced thin (sometimes called flip steaks)

In a medium bowl, mix together dry sauce, juice, tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce until blended. Set aside. In a 3 - 4-quart slow cooker, place 1/3 each of the onions, celery and mushrooms. Top with half the meat and a third of the sauce the repeat layers - topping with sauce.

Cover and cook on low at least 9 to 10 hours or until meat is tender. Serve over mashed potatoes and wish someone you love happy birthday!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Banana Good Smoothies

These smoothies have become a staple at our house - for breakfast, for treats or anytime in between. We tend to freeze most of our bananas in the event anyone gets a hankering for this rich and creamy drink.

Banana Good Smoothies

1 peeled banana, cut into 4, from the freezer
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
4 teaspoons malted chocolate drink powder (recommended: Ovaltine)
1 teaspoon strong coffee or 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (I skip this for kids and substitute 1 Tbls. peanut butter)

Put all ingredients into a blender and whiz to mix. Pour into a tall glass and drink before dashing out of the door.