Archive for the ‘What’s Cooking’ category

Milestone Food Network – Recipes and Project Management

December 17th, 2012

“It’s the most wonder-ful time of the year!” so says the famous Christmas song sung by Andy Williams.  I happen to agree.

I’m sure by now you all have seen our Holiday postcard for 2012.  In tribute to some of our favorite chefs and the season, we are cooking up some good things here at Milestone and we thought we’d share a recipe or two with you.

Happy Holidays from all of us!

Happy Holidays from all of us!

First up is an alternative to eggnog that is a holiday tradition in my house – Brandy Milk Punch.  I believe this originated somewhere in New Orleans, but the recipe here is one I received years ago from my aunt, Pam Klawitter:

Brandy Milk Punch


  • 1 ¾ – 2 cups brandy
  • 1 ½ pints half & half
  • 1 ½ pints heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 8 tsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ pints vanilla ice cream


  1. Mix together brandy, half & half, cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar.
  2. Cover and chill for 3-4 hours or more.
  3. Whisk mixture thoroughly and add vanilla ice cream.
  4. Return to refrigerator for 1-2 or more hours.  Sometimes I serve it right away.
  5. Stir/whisk thoroughly before serving.

Yield:  Approximately 2-3 quarts.  Recipe can be halved or doubled.

Need a little snack to go with that Christmas cheer in a glass?  How about some homemade Peanut Brittle?!  This recipe comes from the mother of one of my elementary school classmates, Ms. Sharon Francis.  Wherever you & Meredith are now Ms. Francis, thank you!

MPM Carrot Crew

Microwave Peanut Brittle


  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup light Karo syrup
  • 1 cup raw peanuts, unsalted
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. baking soda


  1. In a large microwavable bowl, mix together sugar, Karo, and peanuts.
  2. Microwave on high for 4 ½ minutes.  Remove and stir.
  3. Microwave on high for 4 ½ minutes.  Remove and stir.  Add in salt and butter.
  4. Microwave on high for 2 ½ minutes.
  5. Remove and stir in baking soda.  Stir until light and foamy.
  6. Pour mixture onto greased cookie sheet.
  7. Allow to cool, then break apart.

NOTE:  This recipe should not be doubled.  You must make it twice, which I do as it disappears very quickly.

Yield: 8-16 ounces.

As I never could figure out how to cook a turkey and have found that others will do it for you and quite well, I give you the recipes for three of my favorite holiday side dishes:

Green Bean Casserole – everyone has a recipe for this, but I love the one my Mom, Mary Klawitter, makes with a bit of soy sauce.

Green Bean Casserole


  • 1 1/3 can French’s onions
  • 2 cans green beans
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • dash pepper


  1. Mix together all ingredients, reserving a small amount of the onions.
  2. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes.
  3. Top with the reserved onions and bake for 5 minutes longer.

Yield:  Serves 4-6 as a side.

Potato Casserole – mashed potatoes are awesome, but if you want something a little different, these are great too – from the kitchen of my Mom’s friend, Elizabeth Bales.

MPM Carrot Crew

Potato Casserole


  • 1 bag refrigerated, shredded hash browns
  • 1 ½ stick oleo
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • ½ cup green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1-2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3-4 cups Special K cereal, crushed
  • salt and white pepper to taste


  1. Melt oleo and pour over potatoes.
  2. Add sour cream, green onion, and seasonings.  Mix well.
  3. Add soup and cheese.  Combine well.
  4. Spread mixture in 9 inch casserole dish (individual ramekins also work).
  5. Melt ½ stick oleo and add to Special K.  Spread on top of potato mixture.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  (Check and cook longer if needed.)

Yield: 4-6 side servings.

Last, but certainly not least, Yummy Macaroni & Cheese (like Luby’s makes only better IMHO).  Can’t remember where I first found this recipe, but I’ve tweaked it a bit over the years and it always gets rave reviews.

MPM helping the Houston Food Bank

Luby’s-like Macaroni & Cheese


  • 8 oz. dry elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbsp. nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 ¼ cup boiling water
  • 3 cups American cheese, grated (I buy a block and grate it myself.  It can usually

be found near the Velveeta.)

  • ¼ tsp. salt


  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Drain & set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 350°.
  3. In a large bowl, mix dry milk, flour, and butter.  Gradually add boiling

water, beating constantly.

  1. Add 1 ½ cups cheese and continue beating until smooth and creamy.
  2. Stir in cooked macaroni, 1 cup of the remaining cheese, and salt.
  3. Transfer to lightly greased 9×9 or 13×9 baking dish.  Cover tightly with foil.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes.
  5. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  6. Return to oven and bake until cheese melts.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Moving on to desserts…the best part of the meal for many of us.  For those who don’t know me, I confess that I am a very poor speller (thank God for spell check among MANY other things) and I can never remember whether dessert is with one “s” or two.  I even misspelled it on the dinner menus for the rehearsal dinner for our wedding.  After that a friend gave me a trick to this one – you don’t want as much desert as you do dessert, so more “s’s” please!

This simple but delicious Apple Crumb Pie is from the mother of my best friend growing up, Ms. Judy Rader.

MPM helping the Houston Food Bank

Apple Crumb Pie


  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 4 large Granny Smith, Wine Sap, or Delicious apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup sugar divided
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter/oleo


  1. Mix ½ cup of the sugar and cinnamon together.
  2. Place apples in prepared pie crust.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
  3. Sift remaining ½ cup sugar with the flour.
  4. Cut in butter/oleo with a fork or pastry cutter.
  5. Sprinkle crumble mixture over apples.
  6. Cover crust edges.
  7. Bake at 400° for 40-50 minutes.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Christmas just isn’t complete without cookies.  My mother-in-law, Eve LaTulipe, makes these cookies for me every year.  There is only one problem with these little babies, they are addictive!  OMG!

Cake Mix Cookies


  • 1 box cake mix – any kind (I use devil’s food)
  • ¼ cup peanut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla flavoring, not extract (or preferred flavoring to match cake mix)
  • ¾ to 1 cup powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 325º.
  2. With an electric mixer, combine the cake mix, peanut oil, eggs and flavoring

together.  Beat together until well mixed.

  1. Refrigerate 2 hours.
  2. After dough has chilled, gather dough by teaspoonfuls and roll into small

balls (about 1 inch in diameter).  Put un-used dough back in the refrigerator.

  1. Roll cookie balls in the powdered sugar.
  2. Place balls on ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake 8-10 minutes, cookies will flatten out after they are baked.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies.

Finally, if you have a few guests and need a morning after breakfast, here is the casserole for you.  The recipe comes from our family friend, Lynda Burgess, who used to make it when we visited them in Colorado.  They’re back in Texas now, but this dish is a winner in both cold & hot climates.

Breakfast Casserole


  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1+ cup American or cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 cups frozen hash browns (do not cook)
  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage, cooked, drained, & crumbled
  • bread crumbs


  1. Combine soup, milk, eggs, & cheese.
  2. Add hash browns and sausage.
  3. Pour into a 7×10 or 8×8 inch greased baking pan.
  4. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and additional cheese.
  5. Bake at 350º for 40-45 minutes or until set.  (NOTE: Can be made the night

before and refrigerated – if so, you may need to cook 5-10 minutes longer.)

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Everyone here at Milestone wishes you Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night ;-)


What’s Cooking – Week 5

February 11th, 2010

The cold, rainy weather outside reminds of snow days I enjoyed as a kid; lot’s of television, fun in the snow, chicken noodle soup (Lipton with some extra star pasta thrown in) and hot chocolate. Honestly, it looks like it could be snowing outside right now.

Of course, thinking of food reminds me that it is time to check in again and share this week’s meal plan.

First, the highlight from last week: Turkey Meatballs with Pesto Cappellini was FANTASTIC. I cheated a little and didn’t make the fresh fava bean and mint pesto that Martha did, but I used some store-made basil pesto from the grocery store and it worked just fine. The meatballs took a while to prepare, but since we made this on a Sunday we were not pressed for time. I used a mixture of 4% lean ground turkey breast and 12% lean ground turkey, and the meatballs stayed moist and tasty. We will definitely be making these again.

Sadly, we didn’t cook very much last week there were fewer leftovers, but we managed to find things in the fridge and put together some lunches.

This week’s meal plan:
Sunday: Super Bowl Party!!!
Monday: Ginger Mustard Chicken (Olive’s Table) with Shredded Carrot Salad (Oranges & Olives)
Tuesday: YOYO (Alumni Reception)
Wednesday: Gnocchi w/ Sausage and Garlicky Spinach (New Joy of Cooking)
Thursday: Whole Wheat Pasta Shells w/ String Beans and Cannellini (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Dinners at Home) and Tomato Mozzarella Stacks
Friday: Homemade Pepperoni Pizza and Salad
Saturday: Dine out!

Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, we’ll forgo the babysitter and dinner at a restaurant, and plan to have dinner together as a family. I’m scouring my cookbooks for a lovely meal that will please everyone!

What’s Cooking – Week 4

February 5th, 2010

Last week’s meal plan had some hits and misses…

The high point of the week was definitely the meatloaf. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it on Sunday night (and for several lunches later in the week). My son thought it had too many onions, but he can be quite picky…

The Maple Mustard Salmon and Gingered Snap Peas were sort of a miss. Every time I smell salmon cooking in my oven I remember that it really isn’t my favorite fish. Oh well. The snap peas, while quite fresh and tasty, had “too much crunch” for one of my tablemates. I suspect this dish would have been more popular had it been mixed with some brown rice. Next time!

The fried rice was really tasty, and I felt like I was serving a healthier option of a not-so-healthy dish. However, I felt a TEENSY bit guilty telling my son that the tiny cubes of tofu were “chicken.” The important thing was that he ate it! Next time, I’ll add some shredded chicken to make this a substantial entrée.

This week’s meal plan is a little light on home cooking, due to some scheduling conflicts:
Sunday: Turkey Meatballs with Pesto Capellini (Martha Stewart)
Monday: YOYO (I have a reception from 5:30-6:30pm)
Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan (short-cut dinner) with Garlicky Spinach
Wednesday: YOYO (Science fair night at the school!)
Thursday: Take-out Sushi
Friday: Homemade Pepperoni Pizza and Salad
Saturday: Dine out!

The best thing about Friday’s meal (you’ll see pizza repeated here weekly) is that anyone can make it. My son, while he needs some help with rolling out the dough and some supervision with the oven, could practically make this himself. His favorite part – eating the pepperoni as it makes its way onto the dough.

Until next week, happy meal planning!

What’s Cooking – Week 3

January 29th, 2010

Last week’s menu plan yielded some great results. The dishes were easy to make and generally well received by my husband and son. The Chicken Piccata and Quinoa with Kale made for several tasty leftover lunches, as did the Chicken and Beef Stir-fry. We even experimented a little with the pizza, using some pesto and goat cheese on one half with pepperoni on the other. Yum!
This week I am planning on serving an old favorite (Meatloaf) and trying something completely new (Egg Fried Rice)! Quinoa makes another appearance, but in a different recipe. FYI, quinoa is a major source of protein containing all of the essential amino acids, including a hefty amount of lysine. Quinoa is commonly referred to as a grain, but it is actually the seed of a leafy green vegetable (similar to spinach and Swiss Chard). Use this nugget of trivia to impress someone at your next office happy hour or dinner party!
Over the weekend I picked up a copy of Martha Stewart’s Dinner at Home: 52 Quick Meals to Cook for Family and Friends. I’ve been pouring over the pictures and recipes and can’t wait to try some. I even have a quick dessert picked out for Valentine’s Day! In case last week’s post left you wondering which cookbooks I was using, I’ve included some references for this week’s meals.
Sunday – Meatloaf (The All New Joy of Cooking), Dirty Broccoli (Quick & Fresh with Ellie Krieger) and Herbed Quinoa (Giada DiLaurentis)
Monday – Maple Mustard Salmon with Gingered Snap Peas (Peace Meals)
Tuesday – YOYO
Wednesday – Jungle Curry (this is another short cut meal)
Thursday – Egg Fried Rice with Edamame and Tofu (Quick & Fresh with Ellie Krieger)
Friday – Homemade Pizza with Spinach, Arugula and Herb Salad
By the way, I finished watching all of the Chef Academy episodes that aired on Bravo recently. I’m not a big fan of reality television but the whole family found it addicting. It was inspirational as well as instructional – I am ready to try making the risotto that we watched the students prepare. Perhaps this dish will make an appearance in a future meal plan!
Until next week, bon appétit!

What’s Cooking this Week – Chez Mims!

January 20th, 2010

As a working mother whose husband’s culinary skills are limited to boiling water, I am faced with the challenge of providing nutritious meals for my family without adding stress to our already busy lives. What is the secret to providing healthy, tasty food each night when we don’t even get home until 6pm? You guessed it – planning!!!

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to provide better food for my family. For us, this means cutting back on meals at restaurants, using fresher ingredients, and serving meals that include most of the four food groups. At least I think there are four, and I am pretty sure that one of them is not pizza. My seven-year old is not convinced.

So, here I am at week two of my resolution (the first week we were out of the country and didn’t go to the grocery store for a while – so it didn’t count) and I am going to share with you what I am doing to achieve my New Year’s goal.

On Saturday morning, I wake up and start perusing my cookbook collection. As an aside, I LOVE cookbooks – reading them, looking at them, collecting them. Until very recently, however, I rarely used them for the express purpose of cooking. In any case, I keep them in the kitchen so they are within arm’s reach should I feel inspired…

Using my cookbooks as a starting point, I start to build a menu of dishes that are easy to assemble and won’t take too long. For the dishes that take the longest to prepare, I schedule these for Sunday, when I have a few extra hours to spend in the kitchen. I also keep a calendar of our family’s activities in the kitchen, so it is easy to see when we have plans or commitments and won’t be cooking, in which case I tell everyone YOYO (you’re on your own). Usually there are some leftovers in the fridge.

This past Saturday I decided on the following meal plan:
Sunday: Chicken Piccata with Quinoa & Kale
Monday: Chicken and Beef Stir-fry (a meal in itself)
Tuesday: YOYO (I have a meeting from 6-8pm)
Wednesday: Gnocchi w/ Italian Sausage and Spinach Pesto Salad
Thursday: Take-out Sushi
Friday: Homemade Pepperoni Pizza and Salad
Saturday: Dine out!

The next thing I do is use one of my favorite iPhone apps, Grocery IQ, to put together a grocery list. I add all of the items that I will need for the dinners I am going to make, and also the staples that we usually consume over the course of a week (apples, bananas, yogurt, milk, etc.). For me, it is critical to make sure that all of the ingredients for the recipes are on hand; if I forget one and someone has to run to the store, dinner is quickly derailed and I end up abandoning the project.

Sunday morning is our shopping day – we head out early before the grocery store gets too crowded and make our way through the aisles, list in hand. Now, part of what allows us to have dinner on the table in NO LONGER than ½ an hour are what I call “shortcuts.” You might pay a premium for shortcuts, but in our case it is important that we also be able to eat dinner before 7pm (we need the rest of the evening for homework, showers, and getting ready for the next day). For example, the shortcuts for Monday’s dinner (Chicken and Beef Stir-fry) include ready-made rice (already cooked and pre-portioned), marinated chicken and beef, pre-cut vegetables, and freshly made stir-fry sauce. When we are ready to cook, we heat up the wok, add the meats, add the vegetables, and add the sauce. This takes about 10-12 minutes total. While all of the activity is happening in the wok, the rice goes in the microwave to reheat. Dinner is served in 15 minutes!

The other weekday meals use the same strategy – for the Gnocchi w/ Italian Sausage I’ve found a wonderful fresh tomato sauce. For the Spinach Pesto Salad, I use prepared pesto. For the Pepperoni Pizza, we find that Pillsbury Pizza Dough (in a tube) works great. Admittedly the dough is not fresh, but I’ve heard that some restaurants will sell you their pizza dough to use at home.

The day we spend the most time in the kitchen is Sunday; it’s good to use those extra hours to prepare something that takes a little longer to make, or to make something where you know you’ll have lots of leftovers. Most of our dinners provide us with leftovers that we can take for lunches during the week, so we are outing even less at lunchtime.

Thankfully, my resolution has not been met with resistance at home. Everyone is willing to pitch in and help cook and clean up, and though there is less delivery pizza on the menu, we are on our way to a healthy New Year!