Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I love dill. I love the flavor and the smell. There's something about it that evokes a feeling of freshness and comfort for me.
On Sunday I went to the Ohio State Fair with my friend Kate B. She and I are both former 4-H'ers (of the cooking and sewing variety... not farming or livestock) so I figured she would be able to appreciate it. While we were wandering the exhibition hall someone offered us a sample of cucumber dill dip. The booth was selling mixes to make dips and cakes as well as things like liniment and cough syrup. The dip we tasted was delicious, but I didn't want to shell out $9 for the jar. Instead I came home and searched online for a cucumber dill dip recipe I could make at home. I made it tonight for bible study, but forgot to take a picture until afterwards... hence the shortage of carrots and the Wheat Thin crumbs. I think the dip was a hit. It had a light, delicious flavor and went well with both the veggies and the crackers/pretzels.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped onion (I used 1 tablespoon of dried minced onion instead)
1 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups finely chopped seeded peeled cucumber
assorted vegetables and/or crackers
Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. Just before serving, stir in cucumber.
I think one of the reasons I like dill so much is that I've always loved my mom's veggie dip recipe. It has more of a kick than the cucumber-dill dip recipe above, and it's ADDICTIVE (perhaps because of the MSG??). Here's that recipe:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces sour cream
1 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons Lawry's seasoned salt
2 teaspoons dill weed
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Accent flavor enhancer (MSG)
5 drops Tabasco
Mix all ingredients well in a food processor. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavors to blend.

Monday, August 11, 2008

new car

This post has nothing to do with cooking or food, but I just had to share the exciting news that I got a new car! It's a 2008 Passat Wagon in "blue graphite" with a black interior. This is the first car I have ever picked out by myself. I actually have never had a car payment before because I have always driven a hand-me-down, and for that I am extremely grateful. But the thing about a hand-me-down is that you take what you get. It's weird (and great!) to actually figure out what you want in a car and then find the one that suits you best. In this instance I decided that what I wanted was something big enough to actually tote more than two passengers PLUS our dogs, but something that would still get decent gas mileage and be easy to drive (i.e., not an SUV). I researched about five different models, test drove three, and settled on the VW pretty easily. We are driving it to North Carolina for our vacation, so hopefully it will serve us well!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Breakfast for Dinner!

As you may have guessed from reading, a lot of the recipes I make are collected from various places, whether that be clipped from the newspaper, printed from the web, or copied from a library cookbook. I keep everything organized by putting the recipes in plastic page protector sleeves and keeping them in a 3-ring binder. The recipes are in some sort of order in the binder (I think it goes breakfast/breads, pasta, chicken/pork, appetizers/soups, veggies, Mexican, Chinese, beef, and desserts) but the sections aren't separated by tabs or anything. Often when I am looking for a recipe, I just flip through from the beginning to make sure I don't miss anything.

So one night when I was doing that while sitting next to Jason on the couch, he said, "Wait, what was that? Go back a page." A recipe for Sausage Stuffed Biscuit with Gravy had caught his eye. I said, "But that's a breakfast dish!" He reminded me that it's okay to have breakfast for dinner, and he's right; my mom makes a mean breakfast-for-dinner.

This recipe, from a Sandra Lee cookbook, was easy and DELICIOUS. Jason loved it, so much so that he told his parents about the dish a few days later! I'm glad the recipe he picked out was a hit. Hopefully this will get him more involved with meal planning in the future.

1 package (6-pack) brown-and-serve sausage patties
2-1/4 cups baking mix (Bisquick)
3/4 cup milk, plus more for brushing
6 tablespoons cheddar cheese, shredded
1 package (2.64-ounce) country gravy mix (McCormick)
1 teaspoon garlic powder (I would actually omit this... I think it makes the gravy too strong)
2 cups water

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray large 6-muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. In a medium skillet, brown sausage patties on both sides. Remove from skillet and reserve drippings. In a medium bowl, stir together baking mix and milk to a soft dough consistency. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. With clean hands, flatten into disks. Line the bottom of each muffin cup with one dough disk.

3. Place a sausage patty on top of each disk and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese. Top with another dough disk and press the edges together to seal. Repeat to make 6 stuffed biscuits. Brush tops of biscuits with milk and bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

4. Meanwhile, over medium heat, add gravy mix and garlic powder to skillet with reserved drippings. Slowly whisk in water. Continue to stir until gravy thickens.

5. Remove biscuits from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm gravy over stuffed biscuits.

Parmesan Chicken and Rice

I know it doesn't look like much in the photo, but this dish (towards the back of the plate) was really delicious. It's a recipe I had been saving from Cooking Light for about four years and for some reason just now got around to making it. I started doing Weight Watchers online about three weeks ago in an attempt to lose a little weight before our upcoming beach vacation, so I really appreciate 'light' recipes nowadays. I will definitely make this again. (The other thing you see on the plate is some Parmesan-crusted baked zucchini... it didn't have as great of a flavor as I had hoped so I don't think I'll be making it again.)

I also want to mention that Jason did a lot of work on this dish while I prepared the zucchini. He's getting better and better in the kitchen. Now if only he could say the same about my learning to drive a manual transmission!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup uncooked instant rice
1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, and mushrooms; saute 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add chicken; saute 4 minutes or until the chicken is lightly browned. Add wine, salt, and pepper; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in rice and broth. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in cheese and parsley.