Looking forward to the New Year..

Well, some things have been on hiatus around here lately and sadly one of them has been my adventures in cooking.  It seems that no matter how hard I fight it, pregnancy has had a serious impact on my productivity and exploration in the area of food stuffs.  So instead of pulling out a tried and true recipe from my arsenal to share with you all today, I thought I would share some of my hopes and goals instead.  (Just because I haven't been able to produce much doesn't mean I haven't been longing after it!)  Let's see where the New Year takes us, and just how many of these I can accomplish with the first 4-5 months spent in pregnancy and the remaining 7-8 months with a new little one in our lives.  *fingers crossed*


  • Bottom line - I need to learn more make ahead recipes with minimal cost.  I don't have any specific ideas yet, but I am searching...

Main Dishes

  • My goal is to get back on track with make ahead meals.  This may be put on hold until my pregnancy based food aversions calm down, but I really miss having slow cooker dump recipes and individual serving recipes on hand for busy days.  It really helps us to eat healthier and cheaper when we have it available.
  • This is currently my favorite website for this purpose, I have many things I have yet to explore on it: http://onceamonthmom.com/



  • I'd like to venture further into the world of veggies and try out some new recipes for Summer Squash, Winter Squash, and to seek out some earlier season veggies for home canning options.  I will be happily scouting out canning books and sites for the latter and longing for Summer.
  • I'd also like to try some new recipes for veggies I traditionally avoid, such as cauliflower: http://bigflavors.blogspot.com/2011/01/cavolfiore-impanato-fried-cauliflower.html




Homemade with Help Calzone Rolls

or fake it 'till you make Italian food at home.

Ok, so these days between having a million things to do for the holidays and a general state of exhaustion my homemade meals have dissipated.  What has recently replaced them are largely significant contributions from my eternally patient husband along with semi-homemade meals.  It isn't quite the satisfaction that I get from making dinner for my wonderful husband and myself, but when I am able to at least pull something together I feel a pretty reasonable sense of accomplishment.  This week, relief came in the form of pre-made pizza dough.  

Ready made dough is a wonderful thing.  It provides the ease necessary to approach dinner when you feel that it is quite possible that you will collapse halfway through the process, and the rewarding experience of your own additions to the homemade fillings and/or toppings depending on how you use it.  The recipe below is a good base for a calzone type roll.  You can add other ingredients to the filling if you like (i.e. vegetables, cooked meats, etc) but I do not find it necessary since I like mine pretty straightforward.  The inclusion of the egg in the cheese mixture helps bind it together, you can use an egg substitute instead if you prefer, and it makes reheating an easier and less messy process.  This recipe is really a breeze, less than 30 min from start to finish.  Check it out:

pre-made pizza dough (from the store, your local pizzeria, or made from scratch if you have more energy than I do right now)
8-10 oz reduced fat ricotta
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup parmesan cheese 
Italian spice blend & garlic powder
Melted butter (about 2 tbsp) if desired
Marinara or pizza sauce for dipping

1. Mix together all of the cheeses and the egg until well blended.

2.  Roll out the pizza dough into a large rectangle and slice into thirds.  In the center lengthwise of each third, create a line of one third of the filling.  Then fold over lengthwise so that the long sides meet and seal the edges all around with a fork.  Roll over so that the long seam side is down.  Poke a couple holes in the top with a fork to let steam escape and line up on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. 

3. Seasoned the top with Italian spice blend and garlic powder. 

4. Bake at 400 for 15 min.  Drizzle melted butter over top after baking if desired and serve with marinara sauce for dipping.


Bacon Makes it Better Pasta Salad

or a simple and salty salad for all to love.

Let's face it, bacon kind of makes everything better.  My husband, apparently born somehow with the pasta-salad-aversion-gene, was willing to give this recipe a shot due to the inclusion of the illustrious bacon and the mixed olives (though he remained a bit skeptical of the green ones at first).  We first brought this with us when we went to the beach with friends a couple Summers ago and it was a big hit all around.  The saltiness of the bacon and olives balances well with the sugar so it is not overwhelming.  A little kick from the cider vinegar and mustard give it a bit of flair, more or less depending on the type of mustard you choose to use.  It is a nice balance of flavors without being to intrusive for those that are cautious of pasta salads in general, a reasonable compromise in the world of food, and that makes it a nice addition to a pot luck style event.  I personally could toss in some whole cherry tomatoes, to lean more towards a BLT pasta salad, but my husband is not a tomato fan so they don't make it in very often.  You could even set up some addition prepped veggies in bowls alongside it so that guests can dress it up as they like.  It is, in general, a good base to draw from to create your own flavors with additions of different vegetables, diced hard boiled eggs, and the like.  Check it out:

Pasta - 8 oz (spirals or shells)
Bacon - 1/2 lb
Mayonnaise, reduced fat or olive oil - 1/2 cup
Sour Cream, reduced fat - 1/4 cup
Yellow Mustard - 1 tbsp
Sugar - 1/8 cup
Cider Vinegar - 1/8 cup
Green Olives - 1/4 cup
Black Olives - 1/4 cup
Nature’s Seasoning Blend or House Spices
Salt & Pepper - to taste
1. Cook bacon over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

3. Whisk the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Add the bacon, olives and pasta, folding in carefully until the salad is evenly covered with the dressing.

4. Store in refrigerator or cooler until served.