Monday, December 30, 2013

Menu Plan: Week of December 30

This past week I

  • took my mom out for sushi and her first trip to Trader Joe's.  
  • over-ate too many times.  We had several holiday celebrations, a few family meals, and some meals out with friends, including a classic Wisconsin fish fry with 18 people!  I need to figure out what is a comfortable amount of food and not go over it.  
  • had an awesome massage at The Wellness Room.   It's a tiny little place, not really so much a spa as only a couple rooms in a charming renovated building.  Both Husband Jeff and I agree that we love the massage techniques of Sarah Tierman, the owner and massage therapist. 
  • didn't have enough time to myself to get done the things I wanted to do, but that's to be expected since there were only about three days that I truly was by myself.

This week 

Things should be pretty uneventful.  I'm going back to work on Thursday.  Hopefully everything hasn't fallen apart without me!  
  • Monday - I'm splurging and trying out one of my food goals I had for 2013, make a tenderloin.  Along with that I'm serving lettuce salad, Trader Joe's vegetable melange, corn casserole, and pumpkin bars.
  • Tuesday - it's New Year's Eve and daycare is closed.  For lunch Sonny D and I are having pasta with red sauce since we opened the jar of marinara sauce for parmigiana meatloaf on Sunday night.  For dinner we're going out with friends to Dobhan (Nepalese-Indian-Mediterranean fusion). 
  • Wednesday - New Year's Day and I'm going to help a friend out during the day.  For dinner I'm determined to use up the eye of round steaks I bought for cheap.  I'm going to make a braised dish, which will hopefully result in tender meat.  I'll serve them with sauteed green beans
  • Thursday - I'm finally going back to work today.  Not looking forward to it, it's been great taking time off.  For dinner I'm making a slow cooker dish of Indian chicken with spinach, served with naan bread from Trader Joe's.
  • Friday - I'm going out for my friend Jill's birthday dinner, we're going to Imperial Garden for Chinese food.  I put hot dogs, mac & cheese, and clementines on the menu for Sonny D and Husband Jeff. 
  • Saturday - My only plans are Zumba class at 8 a.m.  For dinner I figured we'd have polenta pizza rounds, Husband Jeff and I liked those.  I'll find a random bag of frozen veggies to serve along with it.
  • Sunday -I've got some bacon and butternut squash in the freezer calling my name, so I'm going to try out a recipe for bacon & butternut squash pasta.  The recipe called for Gruyere cheese, but it was $10 for a small block at the grocery store and my frugal nature came out.  I stood in front of the cheese section for a long time trying to determine a cheaper replacement and finally ended up with Swiss.  I hope it works out! 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Menu Plan: Week of December 23

This past week, I...

  • went out for delicious tapas with a girlfriend and we chatted for three hours!
  • had a tongue taco at Taqueria El Jalapeño. 
  • went to dance fitness class two times. 
  • took Sonny D out to a kid karaoke event, then to lunch, home for a nap together, and made chocolate popcorn.  We had a great time! 
  • Fixed five of the seven items in my to-mend pile. The last two are a little more complicated, one needs new elastic in the waistband and the other might need to be handled by a professional. 
  • Tried TCBY chocolate almond frozen yogurt made with almond milk. Quite good!

This week

I have PTO I need to use up before the end of the year, so I'm taking the rest of the year off.  But we've got so many things going on that I'm probably not going to feel like I really had much vacation time.  Starting on Christmas Eve, we've got holiday celebrations for three days in a row.  And there will probably be some unplanned events with friends who are in town for the holidays.   

  • Monday - I've got the day off.  I'm going to exercise in the morning and then hoping to take my mom on her first Trader Joe's shopping trip if the weather isn't too bad. I also would like to take her out for lunch, I'm angling for sushi, but I'll have to see what she's feeling.  For dinner I have no idea what we'll do. Maybe something from Trader Joe's or canned soup plus toasted English muffin bread.  A friend's sisters are in town, so we're supposed to get together with them to hang out in the evening. 
  • Tuesday (Christmas Eve) - I'm planning that Sonny D and I are going to dip pretzels in chocolate to take to our holiday celebrations.  Christmas celebration #1 is today with Husband Jeff's extended family, it includes an dinner of heavy appetizers
  • Wednesday (Christmas Day) - Christmas with my parents.  We're getting together earlier in the day rather than dinner time.  I think I'm supposed to make tomato soup to share with the group, guess I should probably check on that to ensure I've got the ingredients.  For dinner we'll have slow cooker Indian chicken with rice.
  • Thursday - Another day off for me.  I'll exercise in the morning or while Sonny D is taking a nap.  We're going to Husband Jeff's parents in the afternoon to celebrate Christmas with his immediate family.
  • Friday - Another day off, I scheduled myself a massage and one for Husband Jeff.  The awesome thing is that the massages were scored in a Black Friday deal, half price!  And it's a place we know and really like.  Yay!  I figured we'd want a quiet meal after three days straight of holiday festivities, so we're probably going to have hot dogs or pita bread pizzas.  
  • Saturday - Zumba class for me in the morning with no other plans for the day.  Probably leftovers for dinner unless we go out with any friends who are in town for the holidays.
  • Sunday - another day with no plans.  I've got three dishes picked out but still haven't decided which to make. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Things I Love Right Now

This is totally not food-related talk, just things I love right now.

My Clarisonic Mia face brush.  Husband Jeff got this for me for my birthday and it's great!  My face is so soft and smooth.  Haven't noticed that it helps with breakouts since I don't get a whole lot these days, but it probably does help.

Cetaphil SPF 30 oil control moisturizer.  It doesn't leave me shiny like my previous Eucerin SPF 30 lotion.

The new circle design on the Target up & up tissues.  I even gushed about this to the checkout lady. Yep, silly, but it's the little things.  The old design was fine, something like a branch with circles for leaves, but the circles are much cuter. 

The song "Royals" by Lorde.  This song is running through my head all the time, so I finally sprung for a copy of it on iTunes.  I'm notoriously cheap, so it's surprising when I actually spend money on a tune.

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rolling Up Hmong Egg Rolls

Mom & I hard at work making egg rolls. 
That's me in the pink in the back, Mom's hands are in the front.
My family doesn't follow a totally traditional Thanksgiving.  This year we had turkey breast, mashed potatoes & gravy, corn casserole, ribs, and egg rolls.  The egg rolls were my idea, I chose Hmong-style eggrolls since I think that's the type Sonny D likes at the farmers' market on the north side of Madison.  

We decided to experiment, my mom wanted to see how they would turn out if we baked some in the oven and deep-fried others.       


Mel's Kitchen Cafe Mary’s very authentic egg rolls
Miss M Yang Hmong egg rolls how to make Hmong egg rolls
Melanie's Minnesota Morsels Hmong egg rolls

I mainly followed the Mel's Kitchen Cafe recipe but cut the amounts in half. 


Makes about 35 egg rolls
  • 1 lb ground turkey or pork (I used turkey)
  • 3 oz bean thread noodles (I used 5 oz and didn't realize it was too much, seemed fine) 
  •  10 oz package shredded cabbage/ slaw mix 
  • 2 eggs 
  •  2 egg whites (save egg yolks for sealing wraps) 
  •  10 oz shredded carrot 
  • 1/2 onion minced 
  • 50 TYJ (SpringHome) brand spring roll wrappers (6" square, frozen) 
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  •  4 tablespoons oyster sauce  
  • 2 tablespoons mushroom soy sauce 
  • 1/2 tablespoons fresh black pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce 
  •  1/2 tsp garlic powder  


Cook the meat over medium heat and break it up as you go.

Prepare the mung bean noodles as indicated on the package.  I let mine soak in hot water for 20 minutes rather than attempting to boil them.  We had a lot of  time, so waiting for them wasn't an issue. When they're done soaking, cut the noodles several times with kitchen shears. 

Closeup of the filling
Pull out your spring roll wrappers, they don't need to really defrost, but after you open the package keep them covered with a damp kitchen towel as you work so they don't dry out.  

In a very LARGE container (your biggest mixing bowl or something larger, like a cake container) mix the meat, noodles, veggies, eggs, and sauces.  Blend thoroughly. 

Mom displaying her finished egg roll.

To Wrap

Take the two extra egg yolks and put them in a small container (in the photo above you can see our custard cup above with the pastry brush on the rim) and add about a tablespoon or two of water to thin it out.  This is going to be your glue to keep the egg rolls shut while they bake or fry. 

Place a few tablespoons of the filling (I found three tablespoons to be the best amount) in a diagonal line across one of the corners.  Fold that corner up and over the filling and pull the filling tight with the wrapper.  The spring roll wrappers I bought are tougher than the wonton style typically found in the produce section of the grocery store, so you don't have to be as delicate as you might expect. Then brush on the thinned out egg yolk on the top of your "envelope" of the unfolded corners of the wrapper.   Then fold the two opposing sides over each other and roll tightly to close the top.   For a visual, check out Miss M Yang's egg roll wrapping instructions

Us in progress.  Check out that large container of filling!

If you want to bake: 

When you get about halfway done wrapping up the egg rolls, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Definitely opt to bake your egg rolls if you have a lot that aren't sealed up tight because any openings will end up burning the filling while in the hot oil of a fryer.

If you want to deep-fry or pan-fry:

Start up your deep-fryer as you start to wrap the egg rolls.  If you're going to pan-fry, you're working with less oil, so start that when you're closer to done wrapping all of the egg rolls. 

Finished egg rolls waiting to be fried. 
To bake, place the egg rolls on an oiled rack or cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, flip them all over and bake 10 more minutes.  I was planning to brush or spray some oil on them to enhance browning, but I was in such a hurry that I forgot. 

Or deep fry until golden.  I timed ours to be 4 minutes for two egg rolls in a small fryer.  
My mom's hands making excellent egg rolls.

Frying it up.

The finished baked egg rolls, should have oiled the rack because some ripped as we removed them.

Close up of a fried egg roll.


I'm quite glad we tried Hmong style, the filling ingredients are really easy to get at a regular grocery store (other than the wrappers).  Plus in general they're easier to make than the ones we've made in the past since you only need to pre-cook the meat and noodles, none of the veggies.

Sonny D ate only about 3 total out of the close to 15 leftover egg rolls we brought home.  Lately he hasn't eaten much food, though, so I don't take it personally. 

Husband Jeff and I totally loved them.  Jeff particularly liked the Mae Ploy sweet chili dipping sauce I bought at the Viet Hoa market where I found the spring roll wrappers.   We reheated leftover egg rolls in the toaster oven, but I don't think they cooked long enough to re-crisp.  I don't know what the secret is for that, maybe a hotter oven.  But they were still great.  

I wish I had thought ahead to bring some of my equipment over to Mom's house, mainly a baking rack and baking sheet since she didn't have anything similar and we had to makeshift something together.   But in the end we did a great job with what we had and they turned out tasty!  

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Odds & Ends

Taking Time To Re-inventory My Freezers

I inventoried and reorganized both of our freezers (refrigerator one and the deep freeze in the basement) the other day, which was great because I knew I had been throwing things in without writing them down.  I knew the inventory sheet didn't match what was in there, so I had to take stock before my next grocery trip so I had a better idea of what to buy.  Check out my original post about doing a freezer inventory and to download a copy of my freezer inventory printable.

It took me about an hour to inventory both freezers. Husband Jeff and Sonny D entertained themselves by playing Hide & Seek nearby in the basement. Toddlers Preschoolers (I think at 3 they're called preschoolers?) aren't the best at Hide & Seek.  He knew enough to hide, but as soon as Jeff went to look for him, he would pop out and announce himself.  Adorable! 

Ok, back to my freezers.  The bad thing was I found two medium-size Pyrex containers with unknown contents.  One definitely smells like a Mexican dish and looks like some sort of casserole, the other looks like it contains a casserole of meat along with red bell peppers.  I'm totally stumped on what both are!  Hopefully we'll be brave enough to defrost them and try them out some day.

So um, the moral of the story is always label everything you throw in the freezer!  It might seem obvious at the time what it is, but later when you try to determine what that frozen lump is by smelling, you probably won't figure it out.  Save yourself the time and frustration by labeling it, unless you like a good mystery....

Knife Skills Class

The January 14 knife skills class at Wisconsin Cutlery and Kitchen Supply is now full and another class was added for Tuesday, January 21. I highly recommend it! At this class I learned I shouldn't hold the knife with my finger down the spine of the blade, but should be pinching the sides of the blade for stability.

COST:      $30 per person, which includes supplies
WHEN:    Tuesday, January 21, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
WHERE: Wisconsin Cutlery & Kitchen Supply, 3236 B University Avenue, Madison (across from Whole Foods)
RSVP:    Call (608) 204-0560 to reserve your spot

Classes are limited to 16 people and always fill up quickly, so call soon!

If you can't make it to the knife skills class, I recommend stopping by any time to have your knives sharpened.  Bill does a great job and he's quick, he can sharpen while you shop.  They've also got quite a few other kitchen supplies tucked into that tiny store, so you'll definitely find some tempting things to spend your money on.  And while you're at that little strip mall, stop by Penzey's for spices and Vom Fass for oils and vinegars, two of my favorite stores in Madison! 

Yay!  I'm Not A Grinch

Two wonderful smells in our house right now. 
  1. My Meyer lemon tree is in bloom and the thick, fragrant scent of the blossoms is great! Maybe this year the little fruit buds will stay on long enough to actually grow into fruit.  We've had the tree several years and only one year has produced a fruit large enough to use.  A few years back it gave us a single lemon that we squeezed on some fish.
  2. We bought our Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving and this weekend Husband Jeff finally brought it inside and the fresh pine aroma is so nice.  I wouldn't call myself a Grinch, but I'm not normally a sentimental holiday person, so this is the first time I've ever really noticed our Christmas tree to smell good and enjoy it.  

Local Soda

I chipped in some money towards the Kickstarter campaign for Wisco Pop to set up a bottling operation. Right now their soda is only available on tap or in a mini keg.

I haven't drank soda in years because I avoid caffeine and I don't like the empty calories, but I tasted their soda one day and really liked it.  I appreciate that they make with real ingredients and it's local.  Typically the brew of choice is beer, which I don't like, so it's nice to be able to find another local beverage that I would drink.

Their website is acting up, but I was able to load a list of the places around Madison where it's available. 
  • Bloom
  • Brasserie V
  • Brocach on Monroe
  • Crossroads Coffeehouse (Cross Plains)
  • El Dorado Grill
  • Grampa's Pizzeria
  • Heritage Tavern
  • Humble Pie
  • L'Etoile
  • Madison Sourdough
  • Pig in a Fur Coat
  • Pizza Brutta
  • Salvatore's Tomato Pies (Sun Prairie)
  • Spring Green General Store (Spring Green)
  • The Old Fashioned
  • The Wise@HotelRED
  • Willy Street Co-op Juice Bars (East & West)
  • UW Slow Food Cafe
I would definitely make an exception on my soda ban if I can find it out at a restaurant.  The couple places I would be likely to go next are Pizza Brutta or Salvatore's Tomato Pies. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Menu Plan: Week of December 16

Weekend in Review

On Saturday we went downtown to look at the big Christmas tree in the state capitol.  Afterwards we hopped on a free trolley (Sonny D loves buses, this was close enough) and rode it for a few blocks down State Street to hit Paul's Pel'meni to have Russian dumplings for lunch.  Definitely go!  It's on Gorham St right near AJ Bombers, right before you hit State Street.  Go in the door for the Art Supply store and Pelmeni is to the right.  There are only two main items available -- dumplings filled with meat or dumplings with a potato filling.  And it only comes in two sizes, half order (great lunch size for one person) or a full order (if you're a couple sharing or a really hungry person!).  I recommend getting them with everything on them, it's so good!

On Sunday we did some cooking, Sonny D and I baked up some English muffin bread (amazing when toasted!) because he loves using the mixer by himself.  And then right before dinner we made almond yogurt souffles using the whisk.  He has been talking about the whisk attachment for the immersion blender for months so I figure he would be tickled by using it.  Recipe coming for that.

Weekly Menu

  • Monday - After doing my freezer inventory, I found six containers of chili.  Oy!  Well, at least I think they're all chili, there weren't labels on any of them so I was guessing!  So we're having chili with salads for us and avocado and grapes for Sonny D.  Husband Jeff loves having chili, so this will make him happy.
  • Tuesday -  I'm heading to the drop-in Zumba class so we need a quick dinner that won't fill me up too much so I get sick with all the dancing around.  I'm going with pancakes, scrambled eggs, and fruit.
  • Wednesday - This is Free Shipping Day! This is the last day of regular shipping before Christmas.  Somehow other deals and discounts don't get me to spend too much, but I love free shipping!  I've got my eye on some hair products to buy today.  For dinner my friend Natalie and I are getting together downtown for tapas at The Icon on State Street.  While I'm gone I figure Husband Jeff and Sonny D are going to have a frozen pizza with avocado and grapes.  If I haven't mentioned it, the favorite frozen pizza in our house is Jack's Rising Crust pepperoni.  So good!  The crust reminds me of soft pretzels.    
  • Thursday - I'm going to make a black bean & butternut enchilada skillet dish.  
  • Friday - Throwing another slow cooker prep day meal in the crock pot, this time it's beef stew served with dinner rolls
  • Saturday - This will be a busy day.  In the morning I want to go to Zumba class at 8. Then we're off to the Kids in the Rotunda performance at the Overture Center with another family.  We had a tradition last year of going to a performance and then going out for lunch afterwards, so we're continuing that again this year.  Then in the evening Husband Jeff and I are going out for dinner and then heading to a roller rink that is having an adult skate night!  They play '70s, '80s, and '90s music.  Can't wait!
  • Sunday - We're going to have burgers on the grill (yep, even when the temperature is 7 degrees Fahrenheit we still grill outside!) along with roasted sweet potato with onion and feta.  It's like a deconstructed version of the sweet potato gratin I made recently

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Menu Plan: Week of December 9

Week in Review

  • This past week we ended up going out for at least one meal per day.  One day Husband Jeff went out for both lunch AND dinner.  We went to
    Two stand-out dishes were the baked tilapia with homemade tartar sauce at La Brioche and the Mediterranean eggplant at Bunky's.  So good!
  • Survived my son wearing underwear most of the week.  Actually this wasn't too bad, but it was our first real potty-training time and Husband Jeff and I were clueless. We had a pow-wow about it one night, wondering what we should do and how to handle certain situations. Sonny D goes on the potty all the time at daycare, but he's a bit more belligerent about it at home.  "No potty!" he declares or "I already went!" (yes, but it was five hours ago!). 
  • Sang lots of fun Rock Band songs at a friend's birthday party, including Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe". Even the guys were singing along to both!
  • Lived through two hours of solid whining-crying courtesy of Sonny D on Sunday afternoon. It was horrible!  
  • Opened a new face lotion, Yes To Carrots repairing night cream. It's not bad, by not great either. Scent is important for me in products, this one only smells ok.  It doesn't go on that great, the texture feels a little waxy. Doesn't seem to do anything for wrinkles or discoloration.  The only good thing about it is it's the moisturizing is fine. Not great, but just enough for me. 
  • Finally bought butter-flavored extract.  I've been looking for it to try this brown sugar & molasses baked oatmeal but I couldn't find it at my regular grocery store or Target.  I finally ordered a bottle of Watkins brand on eBay.   I was also intrigued by their peanut butter extract, so I bought a bottle of that, too.  Can't wait to try them in things, any suggestions?  I was thinking for Sonny D's cupcakes that I'd make them peanut butter flavored.   
  • My best friend called over the weekend and asked if I want to go to Jamaica next month.  Of course!  
  • Painted fingernails with Sonny D.  I don't have too many colors since i don't paint my nails too often.  He picked plum and I painted my own silver.
  • Took Husband Jeff to Target.  Normally he doesn't like going there with me since I take forever, but I asked nicely and had a small shopping list so we weren't there all night. 

Lately I've been...

  • Thinking about redecorating the dining room. Currently the walls are two shades of brown and the curtains are aqua/turquoise. I've been picking up interesting paint samples but I'm decoratingly-challenged so I have no idea where to start. I wouldn't mind a larger rug, but the ones I've found online are either smaller than our current one or way too big for the space. We're also talking about changing the setup of the room since it's so narrow.  We would move the table against the wall and adding a banquette/bench for seating along that side.  Husband Jeff offered to make the banquette, which would be cool since we could customize it to put storage inside and it would fit perfectly. 
  • Trying to come up with creative cold-weather outfits.  The high temperature for Wednesday is predicted to be 11!  For work I typically wear footless tights under my dress pants and blazers over tops and sweaters. 
  • Wanting to go out to eat at new restaurats -- That BBQ Joint (BBQ), Pelmemi (Russian dumplings), Bassett Street Brunch Club, Layla's Persian Food, Kusaka (Japanese in Mineral Point), etc.   And there are some not so new places that I just want to go back to, like the Brat und Beau near our house. And many old favorites!  
  • Waking up too early. Wake up around 4 a.m. to pee and can't go back to sleep. This morning I just started to turn my brain off and get comfy enough to drift off to sleep and my sunrise simulator started coming on (5:15).  I upload that's better than actually getting  to sleep and being rudely woken up only a few minutes later. 
  • Having high hopes of things I want to cook/bake/make right now - pretzels dipped in chocolate for holiday spirit, a small batch of cupcakes for Sonny D, English muffin bread, homemade marshmallows (more holiday spirit), mom's cashew brittle, cream cheese + pumpkin bars, biscotti, grape-nuts banana bread, and many more, but none of those things have actually happened.
  • Thankful for my handy husband.  I mentioned the toilet downstairs was making noise, he fixed it right away.  He's also great at building fires in the fireplace. 


This week is another quiet one. For the menu I'm repeating things that I've listed in previous weeks (some several times!) but still never ended up making.

My department at work has about 50 people so we celebrate the holidays with two-plus weeks of treats. I signed up to bring treats this Thursday and I'm bringing breakfast items, a southwestern style egg bake (green chiles, cheese, spices, maybe black beans, etc.) and baked banana oatmeal.  I'll make the oatmeal the night before and prep the other one at the same time so I can throw it in the oven to bake in the morning. 
  • Monday - one of our slow cooker prep day meals of Char Siu (Asian) pork with rice and roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash. 
  • Tuesday - I figure there will be leftover pork from Monday since it's a big hunk of meat.
  • Wednesday - Haven't decided -- either pancakes and scrambled eggs or pasta with red sauce and garlic bread. 
  • Thursday - Another day where I'm not sure what I'll make.  I'm going to defrost some ground turkey, but I'm not sure if we should have parmigiana meatloaf or Asian meatballs.  
  • Friday - maybe we'll finally have the frozen leftover chicken masala with eggplant Punjab and palak paneer.
  • Saturday & Sunday - The weekend is totally unknown, we're talking about getting together with friends, but they haven't contacted us back to say yes. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Crustless Pumpkin Pie, Again

This crustless pumpkin pie was one of the first recipes I posted when I started my blog.  You can read about my adventures making a version modified for food allergies from this past January.  I still totally love it and can't believe I waited this long into fall before making it.  I made this for Thanksgiving mainly because I had two partial containers of Cool Whip in the freezer that I felt needed to be dealt with since both freezers are sooooo full.  Unfortunately we only used one container for this, so I need to make another batch.  Darn!  :)  

This time I jazzed up the flavor of the crumbly topping by adding ground ginger cookies and leaving out the mild oats and the extra sugar.


Alida's Kitchen crustless pumpkin pie 

If you want to make this gluten-free, substitute gluten-free cookies for the ginger cookies and wheat germ and use all flax seed meal in the filling instead of flour.  You could try making it dairy-free by substituting oil for butter in the topping and use coconut milk instead of the evaporated milk.  


I cut this into 16 pieces

  • 6 trader Joe's Ginger thin cookies, ground (or graham crackers would work too)
  • 2T chopped almonds, slightly ground (threw them in with the cookies in the chopper cup of my immersion blender and chopped them a bit)
  • 1 T wheat germ (I used the 'honey crunch' flavor. This is totally optional, you could skip it and use more cookies and almonds)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1T butter, melted (I throw the butter in with the rest of the topping ingredients and melt it the microwave)
Ingredients lineup

  • 15 oz can pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
  • 12 oz evaporated fat-free/skim milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal (or another 1/4 cup flour)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I substituted Penzey's baking spice)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste since I've got a little jar and I don't know what else to do with it.  Use it as an exact replacement for vanilla extract.)


Mix the topping ingredients and set aside.
crumbly topping

Spray an 8x8 glass baking dish, preferably one with a rubber lid so you can easily save the leftovers in the fridge.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Pudding-y filling ingredients blended together.

Mix the filling ingredients.  Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the topping on.
raw, ready to go in the oven

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until no longer jiggly in the center.
fresh out of the oven
I cut mine into 16 pieces.  Serve with a hearty dollop of whipped topping.  


Yes, it's still great!

The only thing I would change is to maybe add a little more sugar in the filling since it seemed like it could be touch sweeter and possibly a 1/4 teaspoon of salt to bring out the pumpkin flavor.   But otherwise it confirmed that I'm still in love with this crustless pumpkin pie. 

Last year Sonny D totally loved this pumpkin pie but this year he says he wants a piece but then doesn't eat it.  Ugg, toddlers. Then I'm *forced* to finish his serving... after eating two of my own servings.  :)  Husband Jeff had some too, but I ate most of it. 

Oh, and I found that I totally prefer Cool Whip on my pumpkin pie rather than spray whipped cream in a can.  We ran out of Cool Whip on the last couple of slices so we grabbed the spray whipped cream and found it thin and not sweet enough. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Beef Tips and Noodles

Let's be right upfront, this is probably the least "clean" recipe I make.  I know it's not healthy since it contains three cans of condensed soup, but I love it so much exactly the way it is that I don't want to change it to try to figure out my own homemade version of "cream of" soups.  Since I make it less than one a year, I figure it's totally fine.

I make this recipe in my medium slow cooker because I'm way too impatient to bake it in the oven for an hour.  After work I want to walk in the door, throw on some water for the pasta, and eat dinner in about 15 minutes.   


All Recipes beef tips and noodles 

The original recipe calls for only one can of soup along with a packet of dry French onion soup mix, but the reviews say that it needs more liquid, so I increased it to 2 cans of condensed "cream of" soups and one can of french onion soup. 

To appease my family, I dial back on the mushroom-ness of this dish by leaving the sliced mushrooms really large so they can be picked out. 

Instead of buying sirloin tips (not sure I've even seen it available), I buy a 1-pound sirloin steak and cut it into bite-sized pieces.  You end up with the same thing in the end.

This can be gluten-free if you serve it on gluten-free noodles or mashed potatoes.

Ingredients lineup


  • 1 pound sirloin tips or 1 pound sirloin steak cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 can condensed French onion soup
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can condensed cream of celery
  • 16 oz package of sliced mushrooms


Mix all of the ingredients in the slow cooker.  Don't add water, there will be enough moisture from the steak and mushrooms.   Cook on low for 8 hours. 

Raw ingredients

Cooked final dish on egg noodles.
I serve this on egg noodles since that's the only way I've ever had it.


Absolute comfort. [albeit mega-salty comfort!]

I totally love this dish even though it's completely unhealthy for you. Well, it could be way worse, it doesn't contain a stick of butter or things fried in lard. But for my usual diet, this is way out there. 

Husband Jeff picked out all of the mushrooms from his serving and put them in my bowl, which is fine by me since I would prefer to use twice as many mushrooms in the recipe and this way I get them.  He would really like it if I didn't use mushrooms at all, but whatever.  I'm the cook and that's how I want to make it.  He likes it otherwise though, I'm guessing it reminds him of the simple and comforting dishes his mom used to make. 

I think we tried to feed Sonny D some of the meat, but I don't think he even tried it.  Too bad for him, but fabulous for us since that means there are more leftovers.

The leftovers freezes nicely (without the noodles), but this time we proceeded to eat the leftovers for lunches. I swear I haven't been increasing the quantity of food I make, but lately it seems like all of our dinners have a ton of leftovers.  I love it since I go home for lunch and leftovers are a great way to have a quick lunch. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Menu Plan: Week of December 2

It's a nice quiet week after I had five days off for Thanksgiving. I'm not looking forward to going back to work after all this time off. I like not doing much and shopping a bit. :)

For Thanksgiving we went to Fugu restaurant, it was so good! As far as I understand, it's quite authentic Chinese.  They were one of the few restaurants open on Thanksgiving and I'm glad they were because we loved it.  Husband Jeff had the Singapore noodle, we shared the spicy string bean, I had the fish filet with scallion, and Sonny D had two egg rolls and rice and helped eat a lot of my fish.  We had a ton of food, enough left over for a decent lunch the next day.  I can't wait to go back! 

Sonny D requested cupcakes after seeing one in a book, so I'm aiming to make them this week.  I've been looking up recipes that make only six cupcakes so we don't have to figure out what to do with the rest of a big batch.

This is a week of dinners that I mentioned previously but never actually happened. 
  • Monday - I've had the recipe for black pepper-caramel shrimp picked out forever, so I think I'm finally going to make it.  Guess I should check the recipe to ensure I've still got all the ingredients!   We'll also have egg rolls left over from Saturday's Thanksgiving at my mom's and some steamed beets for Husband Jeff.
  • Tuesday - I'm really fond of breakfast for dinner, and I want sweet potato or banana pancakes, eggs, and roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Wednesday - I've got PiYo class at 6:45 (if I don't skip it like I did last week!). This is the second-to-last class for the semester, so I should probably go.  Dinner will be salads and homemade pepperoni pizza because I found a box of instant crust in the pantry, no idea where it came from.  I might make my side untouchable by adding mushrooms since Husband Jeff doesn't like them, it ensures I get to eat my half of the pizza rather than him stealing it. 
  • Thursday - Fajitas/kids' night at the NauTiGal, last time it didn't happen because Sonny D was ill the day we had planned to go.  And today is the day we can pick up our family photos from JC Penney's, I hope the look as good in real life as they did on the computer screen that day. Family and friends will see how they turned out when they get our New Year's card. 
  • Friday -Dinner will be almond-Parmesan crusted fish and one of the bags of corn I froze over the summer, can't wait for that! After dinner we're going out for our friend Natalie's birthday.
  • Saturday - We're going to brunch at the Green Owl Cafe with friends using a Groupon deal. I like their lunches and dinners, so I'm excited to try their breakfast items. We'll have tofu parmesan for dinner. 
  • Sunday - I'm planning that we'll have one of our slow cooker prep day dishes of Char Siu pork with veggies and rice or maybe I'll be even lazier with a can of soup and sandwiches

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!