Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ham and Green Bean Casserole

I have officially made it through my first week at Wells Fargo. I spent that first week in training, so my brain was on overload by the end of the week. It's a lot of new information to learn in a short amount of time. I am enjoying being in Des Moines though. Luke is still in Waterloo. He plans on working at GMAC through the end of May. I am still trying to find a place for us to live, so hopefully I'll find something soon. Luke is also still looking for a job around Des Moines too. He keeps applying so we hopeful he'll find something soon.

When Luke and I got back from Chicago at the beginning of the month, I decided we still needed to have an Easter dinner. The Monday following Easter, I made a ham steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole and focaccia bread. I knew I definitely needed to do something with the leftover ham and I of course wanted to try something new. I found this recipe online and decided to give it a go. It was delicious and I definitely look forward to making it again. I didn't have any cream of celery in the pantry so I used cream of mushroom instead. This is a great way to use leftover ham. ENJOY!


3 tablespoons butter
3 cups cubed bread
1 onion, minced
3 cups cooked ham, cut into one inch cubes
1 (10 ounce) can cream of celery soup, undiluted
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups instant rice
1 1/2 cups water
1 (15 ounce) can green beans, drained
6 slices American cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Oil a 13"x 9" baking dish with spray cooking oil.
Place the bread cubes in a small bowl. Melt the butter in a large skillet, and pour half over the bread cubes. Toss cubes and set the bowl aside.
Add the onion to the remaining butter in the skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped ham. Stir in the cream of celery soup and the milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring. Remove from heat.
Put the rice and water into the baking dish. Top with the drained green beans. Then spoon the ham mixture on top of the green beans. Cover with the slices of American cheese, then sprinkle over all with the bread cubes.
Bake uncovered until cheese melts and edges bubble, about 45 minutes.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Banana Spice Bread

The best way to use overly ripe bananas is to make banana bread. Last week I had some bananas sitting on the table that had gotten too ripe for me to eat, so I decided to make some banana bread. I have not found a favorite banana bread recipe, so I'm always trying new ones. This recipe is a different take on banana bread and I must say it was delicious. The cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg really add another dimension to what would normally be just plain banana bread.


1/2 cup hazelnuts or walnuts (optional)
3 medium bananas
3/4 cup sugar
7 Tbsp butter, melted
1 large egg
2 Tbsp half-and-half
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch loaf pan. Finely grind the hazelnuts in a food processor. Set aside
2. Place the bananas in a large bowl. Mash the bananas. Stir in the sugar, melted butter, ground hazelnuts, egg, half-and-half and vanilla.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a small bowl. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just blended.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of oven until the bread springs back lightly when touched in the center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I have been trying out some new recipes, so I will gradually be getting those added to my blog. I can enroll to compete in the Iowa State Fair again starting May 1. I definitely need to be thinking about what I want to enter. I am definitely open to suggestions. :)


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Herb and Garlic Focaccia Bread

I love focaccia bread. My favorite recipe of focaccia bread won first place at the Iowa State Fair in 2010. This is a different recipe and it is so delicious with all of the different herbs you can put in it. This is a recipe I found in a new cookbook. I have only tried 2 recipes out of it so far and they have both turned out fabulous. I accidentally left it in the oven a couple minutes too long, so it got a bit crispier than I would have liked, but it was still delicious.


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil, divided
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
2 tsp mixed garlic


1. Combine the flour, 1 Tbsp basil, the yeast, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add 1/2 cups warm water (105 degrees-115 degrees F) and the oil. Stir until a soft dough forms, adding more water, 1 Tbsp at a time, if needed.
2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, 2-3 minutes. Form the dough into a 9-inch wide circle. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a pizza pan or large rimmed baking sheet. Place the dough on the prepared pan.
4. Combine the butter, the remaining basil and the garlic in a small bowl. Mix well. Make 4 score lines in the dough and spread with the butter mixture. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

I didn't have fresh herbs, so I used dried herbs and they work just as well. You will get more flavor using fresh, but dried herbs are much easier to store.

Tomorrow is my last day at GMAC. It will be a bittersweet moment. I am looking forward to the new adventure that awaits me at Wells Fargo in Des Moines, but I am really going to miss my co-workers and everyone I have become such good friends with over the past couple of years. Luke and I are still looking for a place to live but we do have some feelers out, and it will be easier to go look at places when I'm down there on a more regular basis. My parents are definitely looking forward to having me cook for them. I'm excited to have some new guinea pigs. :)


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Dip

I got this recipe from one of my co-workers. She brought it to a potluck and it was a huge hit. It is definitely best served with apples. I am not a big fan of graham crackers so I wouldn't eat those anyways. I also didn't wait for it to turn into an actual cheese ball. I just mixed everything together and left it as is in the bowl. It was really ease to do and super delicious. I made for a party I went to recently and it was a loved by everyone.

1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese at room temp
1 c powdered sugar
3/4 c creamy peanut butter
3 T brown sugar
3/4 c chocolate chips
3/4 c peanut butter chips
Graham crackers, apple slices

1. Beat cream cheese, sugars, peanut butter in large bowl until blended.
2. Spoon into large plastic wrap, bring in all 4 corners & twist tightly forming into a ball.
3. Freeze 1 hour 30 min or until firm enough to keep shape. Place peanut butter & chocolate chips in flat dish, remove plastic wrap from ball & roll in chips until completly covered. Pressing in if needed.
4. Cover & freeze 2 hours until almost firm. If overnigh let thaw @ room temp for 20-30 minutes.

Now, on to some non-food related business. I got a new job with Wells Fargo in Des Moines. I start my new job on 4/16. So this means that Luke and I will be moving to Des Moines by the end of May at the latest. Luke is still looking for a job, but we are confident he will find one soon. Right now, our biggest concern is trying to find a place to live. Luke will continue to work at GMAC in Waterloo until he finds another job or our lease is up. During the week, I get to spend some quality time with Mom and Dad! :) We are very excited, a little nervous and kind of stressed for all of the new changes taking place. We are looking forward to being closer to family and friends to be able to spend more time with them. More to come as we finalize our plans. This weekend we're off to Chicago with some friends for a mini vacation. It should be a lot of fun and we have lots of fun things planned. ENJOY!