Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: January 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup

Today has turned out to be more productive than, laundry, errands, and finally some cooking for the week.

I don't know about other working parents out there, but I tend to block off a few hours on Sunday to get meals ready/assembled for the upcoming weeknights. It makes my life a WHOLE lot easier when I get home and two hungry boys are waiting for me.

For example here is our menu for the next couple days:
  • Pizza Burgers - assembled last night and stuck in the fridge for tonight's dinner (will also take for lunches for a couple days).

  • Cheesy Potato & Ham Soup - made a 1/2 batch today to eat on for the next two nights.

  • Leftover Ham #1- since not all the ham went into the soup, I plan on doing baked ham in oven one night (already assembled in the fridge with a little mustard slathered on), along with a baked potato and a veggie.

  • Leftover Ham #2 - the rest of the ham will most likely go into an egg casserole or quiche, as I have one pie crust leftover in the freezer from my pie baking on Saturday.
See? Pretty simple to take a few hours on Sunday to get at least 3 days worth of meals organized.

Trust me, when I'm done (especially now, being preggo), I usually plop myself on the couch for at least 30 minutes to rest the weary feet!

Now on to SOUP!

As most know, I'm a lover of all things soup. Cheesy, creamy, brothy, veggie, meaty, spicy, I love them all. This recipe came from my good friend Lori, and it has never failed me. In fact, it is the only potato soup I've ever made.

I'm too scared to venture out and try another one.

Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup (this can also be cut in 1/2, as I did today)
1 lb. bacon, fried crisp
24 oz. frozen chunk hash browns
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped carrot
4 c. water
14 oz. evaporated milk
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 c. chopped ham
1 lb. diced Velveeta (or any good melty cheese of your choice)
Pepper, to taste

Place carrots, celery, onion and a little bit of water in large stockpot on medium high for 15 minutes or until tender. Add in bacon, hash browns, bouillon, and water, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add in ham, evaporated milk, cheese and pepper. Heat very slowly on LOW heat to melt cheese. Be careful not to take off low, as the milk could curdle if too hot.

It's ready to eat once the cheese is melted, or be like me, let it cool, stick it in the fridge and have it for another night!

You've got to try this one, it is so good!

Friday, January 28, 2011


A big CONGRATS to....

#15 - Mary said...
Cooking Light is my favorite!


#19 - Melissa said...
I really am liking the Food Network & Cooking Light mags.

Both are the proud new owners of a healthy stack of foodie magazines and recipe cards. Please email me at with your mailing address and I'll send these out right away!

Now, you just have to promise me, you'll take the time to sit down, relax, and enjoy this reading!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Food Magazine & Recipe GIVEAWAY

Who likes to read food magazines? Cookbooks? Celebrity food gossip?

I do, and I'm hoping you do too.

Call this my final 10-week nesting cleaning giveaway, call it what you want, I won't judge. Needless to say, I'm up to my ears in cooking magazines and recipe cards and I need to pass some of them on.

To my readers!

I will be picking two random winners to receive a nice healthy stack of cooking literature. These magazines range from Cuisine at Home, Food Network, Food & Wine, Taste of Home, the list is endless...

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment telling me your favorite cooking magazine. For extra entries become a follower of my blog, follow Sweet & Savory on Facebook, or post this giveaway on your blog.

That's 4 chances people!

I'll pick two random winners Friday evening. Good luck!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Caramel Oatmeal Brownies

This weekend was spent with some friends hanging out, clean, cooking, baking, laundry.

So basically, the usual.

On Sunday, I wanted to try a new baked treat, so I pulled out a great cookbook, Pillsbury Bake-Offs Cookie & Bars. All the recipes are award-wining, so really everything has to be good right?

These bars did not disappoint.

In fact the husband said, "I'm not sure if any of these will make it to work tomorrow". As that was my original intention, to take most of the pan to work. Thankfully, he only inhaled two, and I was able to take the rest to work!

Caramel Oatmeal Brownies
1/3 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. oats
1/2 c. butter, melted

2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate (I used chocolate chips)
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 c. flour
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 c. flour, brown sugar and oats until well blended. Stir in melted 1/3 c. butter until mixture is crumbly. Press firmly in an 8x8 greased baking dish.

In a 1 1/2 quart saucepan, melt chocolate and 1/2 c. butter over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Beat in sugar and vanilla with wire whisk, then beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in 2/3 c. flour, baking powder and salt. Spread over partially baked crust.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until center is set. Allow to cool completely, about 1 hour and cut into bars.

Now...who is up for a GIVEAWAY? I've got one coming later this week, stay tuned!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Belly Update & Cake!

I know it's been a few weeks (maybe months) since I gave you an updated belly shot. I'm sure no one is losing sleep out there waiting to see this, but I do feel obligated to keep showing them, as I keep growing!

This is me at 29 weeks. (Sorry the picture is so small...)

Excuse me while I panic. Holy crap, that means only 11 weeks till this little girl arrives.

This post will be short, as suddenly I feel like I have a TON to do.

But, first I wanted to show you this adorable cake my co-worker made at her cake decorating class last night. Not only does it look beautiful, but it tastes great as well. White cake, with white frosting, with a layer of lemon curd in between.

All homemade. Can't beat that.

You know me, I'm all about homemade cakes - birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, etc. For some reason they just taste better!

She begged me to take some leftovers home with me today and I'm still trying to figure out why I refused.

Now I want a piece.
We are out of town tomorrow, but I'll be back Sunday, doing some cooking!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cinnamon Sourdough French Toast

I think the key to good french toast, is a good quality bread.

In this case - sourdough.

Now you can certainly make your own, or you can take the easy route like I did. Hit up the bakery, browse their discounted bread racks (day old bread is great), choose a loaf for a $1 and be on your way.

I picked a sourdough loaf this time because I like its tanginess (is that a word?), and so we could also make sandwiches with it over the weekend. Both turned out great.

And did you know you can freeze french toast too? Just make up a batch, let it cool and freeze in individual servings for later in the week. Genius.

cinnamon sourdough french toast (

Cinnamon Sourdough French Toast

loaf of good quality sourdough bread (your choice)
1 egg
1 cup milk or cream
1 T. cinnamon (I like a lot!)

In a bowl, whisk egg, milk and cinnamon together. Dip bread into egg mixture and place on hot buttered griddle, flipping after a few minutes or until it is golden brown.

Serve with butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar, fresh fruit, jam, etc.

Speaking of maple syrup...since I don't live in Maine or anywhere where maple syrup is made in abundance, does anyone have a favorite brand of pure maple syrup they'd recommend? Obviously, one that I could find in Iowa at major grocery chains? If so, let me know!

Enjoy this breakfast (or dinner!) treat!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chocolate Chip Honey Almond Shortbread Cups

I will fully admit it. This recipe was supposed to be a "muffin", but after misreading the recipe and adding way more flour than the muffins called for, I just re-invented it.

Frankly, I liked how they turned out. More on these in a bit.

This weekend has been spent at home - just me and the little man puttering around the house, as the husband has been helping a good friend drywall his basement. I suppose when he gets back later today he'll be wanting a home cooked meal, not sure if I have the energy.

We've been cleaning, cooking and doing a lot of this:

Sitting in mom's kitchen island, like its some kind of thrown. Really all you need in life is a good seat and your sippy cup right?

I've also been brainstorming the many things that NEED to get done before the little girl arrives. We need to switch their bedrooms, purchase a toddler bed, clean, organize, pitch, and maybe purchase some things in pink.

Yep, pretty sure everything we have is brown, blue and green. Sure which the garage sales were in full force in January!

Enough about my nesting...back to these shortbread cups. After eating one (maybe two) yesterday I thought these would be the perfect baked good for wedding or baby shower, or even a brunch.

Or if you're like me, a Saturday afternoon with nothing else to do.

Chocolate Chip Honey Almond Shortbread Cups
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. honey
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
1/3 c. chopped almonds
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour

In a large bowl or stand-up mixer, combine sugar, honey, eggs, vanilla, butter and almonds. Fold in flour until just combined (batter will be thick - unless you'd like the muffin version and then just add 1/2 c. flour).

Spray 12 paper lined muffin cups. Fill batter in cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Great eaten plain or with a little butter. Little man approved!
Ever screw up a recipe, but it turns okay anyway?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Step-by-Step Layered Taco Dip

Just scream at me if you are sick of me chatting about Mexican food and posting about it.

Sorry, it just tastes so good.

This dip was a college favorite back in the day, probably because it doesn't require an oven, nor any skills for that matter.

Dig in!

Step 1: Refried Beans

Step 2: Sour cream

Step 3: Salsa

Step 4: Shredded lettuce

Step 5: Cheddar cheese

Step 6: Eat until the tortilla chips are gone or you need to unbutton your pants. Which ever comes first.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Light & Tasty Biscuits

I'm pooped. Being 28 weeks pregnant, working full-time and running after a 16 month old, sure does me in everyday!

You would be so sad to be a fly on our wall at night during the week, because as soon as the little man gets to bed around 7:30, we are not far behind. In fact, I'm having a hard time even typing this, but I do it for my readers.

That's right...dedication.

So, last night I threw together an egg casserole for dinner tonight. Breakfast for dinner as we like to call it. And of course you can't just have egg casserole for dinner, a carb has to be inserted as well. Right?

I've been making these quick and easy biscuits for a long time. Don't be afraid of them, as it does require a rolling me, they take 10 minutes to come together.

Of course, top them with butter and homemade jam, and you'll be spent.

I was.

Light & Tasty Biscuits
2 c. flour (I've done both white or whole wheat)
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 c. sugar or honey
1/3 c. shortening
1/4 c. milk

In a mixing bowl combine first 4 ingredients. Use a fork or pastry blender to cut in shortening, until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add milk and lightly combine until dough pulls away from the bowl.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly for 30 seconds. With rolling pin, roll to 3/4 inch thickness, cut with biscuit or cookie cutter and place on a greased pan. Brush the tops of the biscuits with egg wash, melted butter or milk.

Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

I'm thinking the leftovers will be nice tomorrow morning in an egg, ham and cheese breakfast sammie!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

4 Great Cookbooks

If you're a dork like me, I enjoy reading cookbooks. Especially ones with pictures and stories behind the recipe.

Obviously, my family knows this, and that is why I received four different cookbooks over the holidays. All great, all good recipes, all good reading material.

Check 'em out!

The one I've been wanting for a REALLY long time is The Pioneer Woman's Cookbook. If you don't follow her food blog you should. She is a city lover, who somehow ended up living on a ranch in Oklahoma, but has made the best of it, and now wouldn't trade it for the world.

You can purchase this cookbook on my blog via Amazon, right under the "My Favorites" section. I would not recommend, if I didn't think you'd love it. She tells a story with each recipe and adds tons of humor.

The Hershey's cookbook was from my boss (I've only been there 4 months and she already knows what I like...), and the Taste of Home Freezer Meals and America's Most Wanted Recipes both came from my in-laws. I have yet to get through all of them, but it won't take me long!

What is your favorite cookbook?

I have MANY (like 30+), so I can't pick a favorite, it's like choosing your favorite child.

I love them all!

P.S. - For those of you interested in making my Stuffed Mushroom recipe from last week, I do need to inform you I goofed saying you'd need only 1 carton of mushrooms. My mom informed me, it is 3 cartons of mushrooms...whoops. She's only looking out for your best interests.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Budget Friendly Pasta Bake

I could probably eat pasta everyday, but I don't. I could also probably eat chocolate everyday.

Which I almost do.

What could you eat everyday and not get sick of?

Of course everything I would list is not healthy, so I'm not even going to mention them. Except for pasta.

This dish came together quickly the other night, even after getting home late with a hungry husband and little man waiting in the wings. Lets just say they approved.

I call this dish budget friendly, well, because it is. The most expensive item was the ground beef and that can even be omitted if you like, but of course the husband doesn't really like any meal without "meat", so I threw it in.

And this makes a TON. I filled two casserole dishes full and froze one to eat next week. Do you see my new Rachael Ray casserole dishes? I totally recommend them!

Budget Friendly Pasta Bake
1 lb. pasta
1 lb. ground beef or turkey, cooked and drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small jar spaghetti sauce (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 c. mushrooms
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1 T. oregano
mozzarella cheese
salt/pepper to taste

In salted boiling water, cook pasta until al dente. Meanwhile in skillet cook ground beef until done and drain. Drain pasta and add all other ingredients into pasta pot. Stir to combine. Add a little of the pasta water if too thick.

Divide into two casserole dishes, top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400 degrees, just until cheese is melted and bubbly.

And serve, of course, with the Italian vegetable side dish of choice.

Garlic Bread.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms

Did everyone enjoy my Recipe Round-Up? If you missed it, check it out here. I gathered some of my fave recipes from the last year and linked them all up for you. Enjoy!

The husband stayed home with the little man today who has been running a fever. Boo. Pretty sure it is a case of major teething (i.e. two large molars coming in). All in all he is in good spirits and just keeps trucking along. Gotta love him.

Tomorrow it will be my turn, if the fever is still here. Lets cross our fingers it magically disappears overnight!

Okay, so who likes mushrooms?

I've found they are usually a love or hate food. I happen to love them, so when my mom brought these along for Christmas I knew I just had to share. So very easy to assemble, and trust me, they will be gobbled up quickly.

If you are with a crowd that likes the 'shrooms, that is.

Stuffed Mushrooms
1 carton button mushrooms, stems removed
1 3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. mayo
1/2 small onion, minced
10 strips bacon, cooked and diced
1/2 t. garlic salt

Wipe mushrooms off with a damp cloth and remove stems. Place on a greased baking sheet, hole side up. Combine all ingredients and spoon into mushroom caps.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and drain on paper towels before serving.

If you are a mushroom lover you've got to try these. They can also be assembled and frozen to pop into the oven at a later date.

If things go as planned this week I have a simple and easy pasta bake to show you, along with all my Christmas loot. Yep, you guessed it - many cooking related items!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Recipe Round-Up 2010

It is officially 2011. Very hard to believe!

Since I have been at this food blog business for just over a year now (another shocker), I figured it was time to round-up some of my favorite recipes from the past year. Ones that got the most hits, comments, requests, etc.

And ones that I just plain adore.

It still floors me when a friend (close or far) mentions a recipe I posted from way back and how it has become their family favorite. Really?

And I still find it hard to believe that I have readers! Let alone people who have me tagged on their "favorites" list and log-on everyday to see what is new in my kitchen. To those of you out there...THANKS.

From the bottom of my bowl to yours.

Here are some of my favorites from the past year, and hopefully they become yours as well.