Looking for something to feed the kids? Need a great dessert to take to a gathering?
In the mood for a delicious soup, salad or whatever? Look no further.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Brie and Cherry Pastry Cups

 

Brie Cups

I made these for company on Christmas Eve. They were a hit, but It was just my mom and my sister, so they probably wouldn’t tell me if they tasted awful. My mom did take the recipe and all of my leftover ingredients to make them for her company, so I think she liked them.

I thought they were quite tasty, and took minimal effort – perfect for busy holiday times. This recipe is from my friend Betty at this site.

INGREDIENTS:

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from 17.3-ounce package), thawed

1/3 to 1/2 cup red cherry preserves (see substitution note)

4 ounces Brie cheese, cut into 1/2x1/2-inch pieces (36 pieces)

1/4 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (I didn’t add these)

 

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oven to 375°. Spray 36 miniature muffin cups with cooking spray. Cut pastry into 36 (1 1/2-inch) squares. Slightly press each square into muffin cup; press center with finger.

Bake 10 minutes. They will be all puffed up, so press the center with handle of a wooden spoon (I used the handle of my whisk – it was the perfect shape). Bake 6 to 8 minutes longer or until golden brown. Immediately press again in center. Fill each with about 1/2 teaspoon preserves. Top with cheese piece, pecans and chives.

Bake 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

Substitution

If you like spicy foods, try substituting red or green jalapeño jelly for the cherry preserves. It's a delicious touch of sweet and spice!

(I used green jalapeño jelly – not too spicy, just a little bit of heat like an after burn. We liked these more than the cherry ones.)

Also, since there was extra jalapeño jelly I poured some on top of a brick of cream cheese and we spread this on crackers – good stuff!

Do-Ahead

Go ahead and assemble the cups and bake up to 4 hours in advance, omitting the final bake time for melting the cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. Right before serving, heat at 375° just until warm and cheese is melted.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Spinach Artichoke Salad

Heather requested this recipe so I don't have a picture. I don't know why I have not made this salad in such a long time. As I was typing the directions my mouth was watering just thinking about how good this salad is. This salad really does taste better if you make it the day before, so if you can plan ahead your taste buds will thank you.


1 small pkg. cheese filled tortellini
1/4 -1/2 lb. fresh baby spinach
1 (15 oz.) can baby artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
1 roasted red pepper, drained and chopped
1/2 small red onion
1 clove garlic, cracked from skin
1 lemon, zested
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaved, chopped or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Black pepper
Handful of sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, coarsely chopped

Boil tortellini according to package direction. Remember to salt the water. Cool tortellini on cookie sheet in a single layer. Coarsely chop baby spinach. Combine with artichoke pieces, roasted red pepper and red onion. Chop garlic, then add salt to it and mash it into a paste with the flat of your knife. Transfer garlic paste to a small bowl and add lemon zest, lemon juice and vinegar to it. Whisk in oil, thyme and pepper. Add pasta and sun-dried tomatoes to the salad. Dress salad and gently toss.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Choco Bake

Heather Turner sent me a message and asked me if I would give her the recipe for this cake. I figured I would post it here just in case it sounds good to anyone else. This cake is similar to a Texas sheet cake but better because it has a layer of marshmallow cream in between the cake and the frosting. The frosting is thinner than a Texas sheet cake frosting. If you prefer the thicker frosting I am sure you could substitute your favorite chocolate frosting.


1 stick of butter
1/2 c. oil
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 C. water
Boil together. Pour boiling mixture over the following ingredients:

Combine:
2 C. flour
2 C. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients together. Pour batter into a greased and floured jelly roll pan. Bake at 375 for 25 min. Let cool for 5 min. Spread 1 small jar of marshmallow cream over the top. (To help the marshmallow cream spread easier, put it in the microwave for about 1 min. to help soften.) Let the marshmallow cream set up on the cake.

Frosting
1/2 C. butter
2 Tbsp. cocoa
6 Tbsp. milk
2 1/2 - 3 C. powdered sugar

Beat until smooth in a saucepan over medium heat. Frost cake

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lion House Gingerbread

Gingerbread is one of my favorite holiday desserts. I'm not talking about the cookies, but the actual gingerbread itself. It is dense and full of flavor. I love it so much we served it at our wedding, because, yes, we were crazy enough to get married in December. So to celebrate our anniversary here is the recipe.

Lion House Gingerbread

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 eggs-well beaten
1 cups molasses
1/2 t. salt
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/2 t. powdered cloves
1 cups hot water

Cream butter and sugar well, about 3-4 minutes in an electric mixer. Add eggs and molasses. Beat well. Sift dry ingredients together in a separate and add to creamed mixture. Add hot water and beat until smooth. Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 pan. Bake 30-35 minutes minutes at 350. You can serve it with fresh whipped cream, sliced bananas, powdered sugar, or just plain.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Coconut Macaroons

 

Coconut Macaroon


This recipe comes from Alton Brown.

Click HERE to see him make them. I found this video to be helpful.

I made these for neighbor gifts last year. It’s a good thing I gave them away, or else I would have eaten every one of them myself. I didn’t top mine with chocolate – they were quite tasty with out it. These cookies do not taste like the macaroons you get from the store – they are so much better!

P.S. I converted some of Alton’s measurements to cups so that they are easier to measure. 


Ingredients:

2 (7 to 8-ounce) packages sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 C sweetened condensed milk
Pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites at room temperature 
2/3 granulated sugar

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 ounce vegetable shortening
2 ounces finely chopped dry-roasted macadamia nuts

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325

Combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk, salt and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. Alton used his hands, but I found a wooden spoon to be sufficient.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip the whites until medium peaks form, 6 to 7 minutes.

Gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. Scoop tablespoon-sized mounds onto a parchment-lined half sheet pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately transfer the parchment with the macaroons to a cooling rack. Cool completely before topping.

Combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a small bowl and microwave until melted.

Dip the cooled cookies in the chocolate mixture, sprinkle with the chopped macadamia nuts and place on parchment paper to set, about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New Categories/Labels

Some new categories have been added to the right - I have tried to add labels to most of the existing recipes, but if you feel that your recipe should have an additional label, just edit your post and add the label at the bottom.

Caramel Popcorn


This recipe is so easy, and I always have the ingredients on hand. I can have this stuff made in about 15 minutes. We can't stay out of it and it's usually gone in one sitting. I like it because it makes a big batch and I can divy it up and give some away to the neighbors for Christmas.

Ingredients:

4 quarts popped popcorn (1/2 C Kernels)
1/2 C butter
1 C brown sugar
15 lg. marshmallows - or 2 C mini

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter. Add sugar and marshmallows and stir over medium/hight heat until mixture comes to a boil. Pour over popcorn and mix until the popcorn is evenly coated.

We eat it right out of the bowl, but you could spread it out on a cookies sheet so that it will cool and can be put into some type of a container to give away.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sugar Cookies


This is a great sugar cookie recipe that I got from my sister-in-law, Dolly. Jessica, tell Taylor I'm sorry it took me so long to get this posted :)

Sugar Cookies:

Cream:
1 c. butter or shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar

Add:
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. sour cream

Add:
4 c. flour (more if needed)
1 1/2 tsp b. soda
1 tsp salt

If your dough is really sticky/tacky, then you may need to add a little more flour... just don't add too much. Chill dough for at least an hour. Roll dough out to about 1/4 inch (or a little thicker) on a floured surface (helps to make sure you rolling pin stays floured as well). Bake at 350 for 7-9 minutes - DO NOT OVER BAKE! They will taste like any other dry sugar cookie, if you do. Error on the side of under cooked - they shouldn't really have any brown on them.

It's just as important to use a good frosting recipe as it is to use a good cookie recipe - so that you end up with a great sugar cookie. Here's the one I use, in case you don't have one:

Frosting:
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c shortening (or use all butter if you don't care for shortening)
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbl milk
5 - 6 c powdered sugar (I'm not exactly sure how much I use - I just add a little at a time until it's at the consistency that I like)
A few dashes of salt

Beat butter and shortening together. Add powdered sugar about a half cup at a time until it's smooth and stiff. Add milk, vanilla, and salt, and mix well. Add a bit more p. sugar to get it back to the right consistency, if needed.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Apple Dip


I got this recipe a few years ago from my sister-in-law, Kelly. It is soooo yummy.

Apple Dip:

8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 pkg toffee bits

Whip together cream cheese and sugars until smooth. Add vanilla, then toffee chips. If you want crunchy bits, then add just before serving. If you want them more dissolved, then let them sit overnight.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Brined Turkey


Today we are getting ready to dunk the turkey. For the last 5 years, we have brined our turkey for Thanksgiving. I have never had a better turkey. Moist and flavorful. Some have asked us if it's too salty, but we have not noticed a huge difference. The only drawback is that you can't make homemade gravy from the drippings. So save the gibblets for gravy. This recipe is a mixture of several that Steve has perfected over the years.


Brine:

1 C Salt
1 C Brown Sugar
2 Oranges, quartered
2 Lemons, quartered
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary

You will also need some type of large container.
We use a 5 gallon bucket lined with a garbage bag.
To make the brining solution, dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of cold water (we do this right in the bucket). Squeeze the juice from the oranges and lemons into the water, and then throw the rinds in too. Then add the thyme, and rosemary. If you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar for every gallon of water. Let the turkey sit in this brine for about 24 hrs. in the fridge or some other cold place. We leave ours in the garage - don't let it freeze though!

We Stuff the turkey with:

1 orange slice
1 yellow onion, cut into big chunks
1 stalk celery, cut into large pieces
1 carrot, cut into large pieces
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 bunch sage
3 sprigs parsley

We Season the turkey this way:

1/4 of an orange
Room temperature butter
Salt and pepper

Rub the orange all over the turkey.
Rub butter all over the turkey - even under the skin too.
Season w/ salt and pepper as desired.

This is how we Cook the turkey:

You will need about 2-3 cups of chicken stock.

Cook at 325 degrees. Cook the turkey upside down (breasts down) for the first hour. Flip it over after that. Baste the turkey ever 45 min or so w/ a 1/2 Cup of chicken stock. As the turkey gets brown, tent it w/ aluminum foil. It took our 12lb. turkey about 3 hrs to cook.

We have cooked this in a bag before, and that works great too - it takes less time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Not your Campbell's Green Bean Casserole

I've always really liked green bean casserole--even the Campbell's version, and it is a staple at Thanksgiving dinners for us. This, however, is a fresher take on it--better flavor, less mushy. It is an Alton Brown recipe from Food Network. He fries his own onions, but I still use the French's. I guess I'm not ready to give up all my processed foods. But if you are feeling ambitious the instructions are here.

Green Bean Casserole
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen green beans cooked until barely tender in salted water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (He calls for 12 oz, but it's easier to just throw in an 8 oz package of already sliced 'shrooms .)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1-1/3 cup french fried onions
Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook until mushrooms start to release their liquid, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and nutmeg and cook for a minute or two more. Sprinkle the mixture with flour, stir until mushrooms are coated, and cook for one minute. Add broth and simmer for a minute more. Reduce heat to medium low and add half and half. Cook until mixture thickens, about 6-8 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Pour mixture into a casserole dish. Top with remaining onions. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pineapple Pie

I took this pie to Drew's Thanksgiving play at school today. Several people asked me for the recipe so I think that qualifies it for here. I'll have to remember to take a picture when I make it again on Thursday. With such a cute first grader/acorn squash to take pictures of there was no time for food photography.

This pie is super easy and is great to add variety to the usual Thanksgiving pie selection.

Need: 2 unbaked pie shells, top and bottom
1-20 oz can crushed pineapple with juice
3 level Tablespoons tapioca
7/8 cups sugar (are you serious? use a scant cup)
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
sprinkle of salt

Mix the above together and let stand while you make the crust. Put in a pie shell and pat the top with butter. (Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever done this. I don't read instructions very well.)

Cover with top shell. Vent top crust with a fork or cut a pretty design in it. Seal edges with milk or water. Brush top crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

Chicken Corn Chowder


It's soup night again at my house, so I decided to post this since we all loved it, and nobody else is posting anything.

I made this a couple of weeks ago when we had company for dinner. It was a huge hit, with Mark's brother having helping after helping. I was glad I doubled the recipe for guests. This soup received the hard to earn title of "Family Favorite" which means all six of us enjoyed it. I also really like how colorful it is with the celery, corn, and red pepper. PLUS...its really easy.

I'm not ashamed to say this came straight from My Kitchen Cafe, including the picture. Thanks Melanie! My notes are in italics.

*Plan Ahead: This recipe calls for cooked chicken.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped, seeds and membrane removed (I was afraid of the jalapeno, but with the seeds and membrane removed it added no heat, just a really great flavor)
1/4 cup thinly sliced or cooked chopped ham
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14-oz.) cans chicken broth
3 tablespoons flour
3 ears of fresh corn kernels or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I grilled the chicken because I like the flavor)
4 oz. softened cream cheese (To avoid lumps, soften in microwave until almost melted)
1 cup milk (I used plain soy milk to cut down on the dairy for Sarah)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I recommend sharp or extra sharp)

Place olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute celery, bell pepper, onion and jalapeno until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ham; cook for another 3 minutes. Whisk the broth with the flour in a liquid measuring cup or bowl and then stir into the soup. Stir in the corn and chicken. Bring to a low boil and reduce heat. Whisk together the cream cheese and milk in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk the cream cheese/milk mixture into the soup along with the salt, pepper and cheddar cheese. Simmer on low until ready to serve.

Recipe Source: My Kitchen Cafe

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fresh Cranberry Sauce


Here is my contribution for Thanksgiving. I always thought I didn't like cranberry sauce. I usually don't care for something that retains the shape of the can it came from. Then one year at Mark's mom's Thanksgiving Dinner, his step-mom brought this (don't even try to figure that out). It is so different from stuff you slice from the can. Now I really like Cranberry Sauce, and best of all...its easy! This is the only picture I could find.

2 juicy oranges (Buy a couple extra, they need to be JUICY)
1 bag cranberries
1/3 cup sugar (This is just to start with. You may need to add more according to taste since cranberries are really tart. No matter how much you add it won't be as much as the stuff you buy.)

Process the oranges and cranberries in a food processor (or a blender) until desired consistency. I like mine a little chunky. Then add the sugar until you get the desired sweetness.

You can also play with this and add spices like cinnamon or cloves. You can also add a little orange juice, or whatever you want.

This will also keep in the fridge for a long time.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Raised Potato Doughnuts

This recipe is from Sam Dyreng. They are fantastic. I don't usually like doughnuts, but I could not get enough of these. I have scaled it down. The original recipe makes 100, but 50 were plenty for us, the neighbors, and the Saturday morning flag football group (rave reviews all around), and so I have scaled it down to 50, and of course, added my notes because I like to share my opinions on things. Be sure and eat them fresh (like within the first hour). They are not the same the next day.

Raised Potato Doughnuts
1-1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shortening (I used half butter half shortening because that's all I could scrape out of my 4 year old can of Crisco. Next time I'll try all butter.)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed potatoes (Sam actually made mashed potatoes with real potatoes and milk and stuff. I used potato pearls. Both were good.)
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
3 eggs beaten
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6-7 cups flour (I needed a little more to get a workable dough.)
Combine milk, shortening, salt, sugar, mashed potatoes, and heat to lukewarm. (Instead of heating it all together I just warmed my milk in the microwave, made sure my potatoes were still warm and threw it all in the mixer. Saved myself a pot.)

Add beaten eggs and yeast that has been dissolved in the warm water.

Add half of the flour and beat until well blended and smooth. Add lemon juice, zest, and nutmeg.

Add remaining flour to make a soft but firm dough (firm enough to roll at least). Knead until smooth.

Let raise until doubled in bulk. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into doughnuts. Let raise again until doubled (30-40 minutes). (I just realized I totally skipped the second raising. They turned out great anyway.)

Deep fry in fat at 375 degrees until golden on each side. Drain on paper towels then dip in prepared glaze.

Glaze

2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla (you can also substitute maple flavoring)
3 to 5 tablespoons of milk

With a mixer mix sugar and butter. Add vanilla and milk to desired consistency.

Apple Cherry Tart

We seem to be lacking in recipe postings lately, especially since it's coming up on Thanksgiving. So here is a call out for all of your Holiday Favorites.

We are very basic in our Thanksgiving meal. Pretty much the same thing every year. The only place that I get to experiment is with the dessert. I'm not a huge fan of making pies. I think they take a lot of work. In my opinion, you can have a great crisp or cobbler - it takes less time, and usually turns out better. My Mom would completely disagree with this statement, because she is a huge fan of Pie Crust. This recipe works for both of us.

Because this is a Pampered Chef recipe, it is made on a 13" stone, but I'm pretty sure you could make this on a cookie sheet just fine. I will try and make it soon so I can add a photo.

Crumb Topping:
2/3 c flour
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C butter, softened
1/2 C pecans, chopped

Tart:
1 Pie Crust*
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling, divided
2 lg. Granny Smith apples - pealed, cored and sliced thin

Preheat oven to 400.
Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. This can be done with a pastry blender or possibly a fork. You are looking for a nice crumbled mixture. Then mix in the pecans. Set aside.
(I've done this step using completely melted butter, so that I don't have to use a pastry blender, and it turned out a little different, but still great.)

Roll pie crust into a 13" circle and place on greased stone/sheet. Layer apples evenly over crust to within 1 inch of the edge of the crust. Spread at least 1/2 C of the pie filling over the apples. (I always use more.) Sprinkle crumb topping over cherries. Fold outer edge of pastry over the very edges of the filling to form a rim. Bake 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

I like this best served warm, with ice cream. You can top the ice cream with the left over cherries.

* I have always made this with a store bought pie dough - you have to roll it out a little to get it to make 13". I am sure that it is so much better with a homemade dough.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Bars


Lately the "phantom" has been leaving treats in our neighborhood. One night he left some pumpkin bars. Since people really liked them, he left me the recipe, which he got from a friend (Neisha), who got it from allrecipes.com.

Pumpkin Bars
4 eggs
1 cup oil
1 2/3 c. sugar
1-15 oz. can pumpkin puree
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. salt

Frosting
1-3 oz. pkg. cream cheese-softened
1/2 c. butter-softened
1 t. vanilla
2 c. sifted powdered sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowlmix the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin with mixer until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir into the pumpkin mixture until thoroughly combined. Spread batter evenly into an ungreased 10x15 jelly roll pan. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream together cream cheese and butter. Stir in vanilla. Add powdered sugar a little at a time, beating until smooth. Spread evenly on top of the cooled bars. Cut into squares. You can garnish the top any way you like, or if you are a purist, like me, just leave them plain.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

White Bean Chicken Chili

I found this recipe on allrecipes. When it comes to soups and stews, I have found that they are really just a guideline. Throw in what you like. If it's not good - don't do that next time. Maybe it's just the time of year, but when I'm making soup, sometimes I feel like a witch as I throw ingredients into my bubbling cauldron.

This chili is wonderful. I usually make it for gatherings, because it's not the type of soup my family will eat. So I'd rather enjoy it with my friends instead of fighting with the kids about eating it. It's also not that spicy and that's how I like it. If you want more heat, add some.
Below is how I made it last time, for our playgroup.


INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons oil
1/4 C dried onions
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 pound chicken
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (18.75 ounce) can tomatillos, drained and chopped
2 (1 4 .5 once) cans diced tomatoes
2 (4 ounce) can of whole green chilis, diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cans cannellini/white kidney beans, rinsed
1 can kernel corn with liquid
1 can sweet corn with liquidcd
salt and pepper to taste


IDEAS FOR GARNISH:
limes, cilantro, cheese, avocados, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil, and sauté the chicken with the onions and garlic, until nice and browned. This may need to be done in batches (see note). Add the broth to the chicken and then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 15 minutes. More simmering = better flavor in my book. Make sure that you bring the soup back down to a simmer after it boils, or else your chicken will become tough if it sits in a rolling boil for too long.


Lots of Notes (Sorry, it's a control issue)!

I usually cut up raw chicken into bite size pieces and then cook them. You could easily just throw in whole pieces, but then you should take them out after they are cooked and cut them up. To get a nice browning, your pan should be quite hot and not overfilled with chicken or else it will just steam - which isn't bad - the most important thing is that the chicken is cooked through.

If you have already cooked chicken, just throw it in with the broth after you heat up the onions and the garlic in the oil. You can add more or less chicken depending on how much you have. My friend Heather posted this on her blog and wondered if she might just make it chickenless one day.

I use dried onions, because I have a giant can of them, but feel free to use a fresh onion if you want to. Same with the garlic - mine comes from a jar in the fridge - but if you have fresh cloves, use them.

What are Tomatillos? Well, you can get them fresh also, but I get mine from a can in the Spanish isle at Smiths (not sure if Days even carries them). They seem like green tomatoes to me, and are quite interesting in my opinion, they kind of explode when you chop them up.

I'm sure you could use a variety of different types of tomatoes - fresh, stewed, bottled, diced - I wouldn't recommend paste or sauce, but who knows it might be the best soup you've ever had. Same with beans, there are many varieties - but if you don't use white ones, then you have to change the title.

And finally, corn: really, use what ya got, fresh, frozen, canned, I throw in the juice, but you don't have to - it's all good. I mean isn't that what making soup is all about - using up what's in your pantry/freezer. This is a great food storage recipe - hey, if you're up for it, you can even use canned chicken!


P.S. I just went to look in the fridge to see what kind of "garlic from a jar" I have, and I can only find the lid. Now I'm really worried about where I might find the bottle. Wonder who was watching Henry?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Souper" Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

Yes, I am posting again. Some of my favorite recipes are from the contributors of this blog, so I decided if you are too shy to post them, I will.

Monday is soup night at our house. The other day Mark requested homemade chicken noodle soup. I have never made homemade chicken noodle soup, but Mark insists I have, and remembers it being good. I'm sure someone must have brought us some in the last couple of years. Evidently Mark loved it, so I was feeling some pressure. Then I remembered this recipe I got from Sara last Christmas. It must have been the "easy" in the title that stuck in my brain.

Not only is this soup easy, it turned out delicious. Everyone in my family, from Mark right down to Gracie, ate it up. I also love the crock pot option. Thanks Sara!



3 qts. water
10-12 chicken bouillon cubes (or 1/3 cup chicken soup base)
1/4 t. pepper
1 t. basil
2-3 chicken breasts (uncooked)
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 onion
3-4 large handfuls of Country Pasta noodles

In a large pot, or crock pot*, add water, bouillon. seasonings, chicken and vegetables. Bring to a boil, then simmer until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked. Remove chicken and shred. Return to a boil. Add noodles. Cook until noodles are tender. Put shredded chicken back in and enjoy.

*In a crock pot, follow the above directions, but start in the morning. Allow to cook all day. Remove chicken to shred and add noodles. Replace chicken and cook for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until noodles are tender.

Tips from Sara: If the chicken is frozen, it doesn't need to be thawed.

Also, if your kids won't eat onions, leave the onion whole for cooking and remove it before serving.

Here on the Wasatch Back you can find Country Pasta on the bottom shelf on the noodle aisle at Day's.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Light wheat rolls


I know I have given out this recipe to some of you, but I have done some tweeking. Basically I reduced the honey and water just a bit because it seemed like I was always adding more flour at the end so the dough would get to the right consistency. I have several roll recipes that I rotate through, but this is the only recipe that uses wheat flour. Since I like to justify eating things that are not good for you. I figure since these have half wheat flour you should be able to eat 2 maybe 3 more than your average roll with all white flour. If any of you have wheat but no wheat grinder, you may come over to my house anytime and use my wheat grinder anytime. Actually, even if you don't have any wheat you may still come over and I will grind some wheat for you to take home.

2 pkgs. active dry yeast or 4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. olive oil
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 3/4 c. white flour

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 min. Combine honey, salt, olive oil and egg into yeast mixture. Add the whole wheat flour. Mix well. Stir in white flour 1/2 c. at a time, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (Sometimes I have to add as much as another 1/2 c. flour.) Continue to knead in mixer for another 4-5 min. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Punch down dough, cover and let rise until it doubles again, about 30 minutes. Punch down dough, and divide into 24 golf ball size balls. Place dough onto a greased jelly roll pan or large cookie sheet. Let rise uncovered in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan and brush with melted butter.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Italian Sausage Spaghetti


I LOVE using my crock pot. Its great for those crazy days when its just easier to make dinner in the morning (which, come to think of it, is just about every day). Spaghetti is always a hit at our house, and this sauce is a favorite of all members of our family. It makes a lot of sauce, so I've also used it when we invite people to dinner. Last, but not least, it freezes well, so I often make a double batch and freeze some for later.

1 pkg. (5-6 sausages) Italian sausage links cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 c. diced onions- or a handful of dehydrated onion
3 T. sugar
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. salt
2 garlic cloves-minced
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1-15 oz. can tomato sauce
1-12 oz can tomato paste
1-15 oz. can Italian tomatoes-diced, stewed, whatever
1 lb. spaghetti noodles

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker, except the noodles. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. Serve over cooked noodles.

Note: You can also use turkey sausage, which I prefer, but I can't always find it here. I've had success with several different brands of sausage. The only time it didn't turn out was when I used Western Family brand. It was gross.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tortellini Soup

Soup season is here, and this is one of my favorite soups. It's hearty, and the tortellini makes it a favorite with all the noodle fans at my house. I got the recipe from Liz. I hope you like it.


1/2 lb to 1 lb. Italian sausage
1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1 c. water
2 cans beef broth
3 sliced carrots
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1 c. sliced zucchini
4 Tbsp parsley
1/2 c. apple juice
1 chopped green pepper
8 oz. package cheese tortellini (I double this)

Brown sausage with chopped onion and garlic. Drain fat. Add everything but the tortellini. Simmer 30 minutes. Add tortellini 5-10 minutes before serving.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pumpkin Bliss Cupcakes

Fall is here Hallelujah! If you only do one thing to celebrate make these.I am serious, if these cupcakes were a religion I would be tempted to convert.



3 Cups Flour
1 T plus 1 t pumpkin pie spice ( I just make my own with spices I already have and google the recipe)
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
3 Cups Sugar ( I know seriously..it makes alot of cupcakes...does that make the sugar content okay?)
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with liners or spray with baking spray. Sift together Flour, spice, soda, and salt. In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin and eggs. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the oil and orange juice until smooth. Add flour mixture and fold together until incorporated-do not over mix. Bake 20-25 minutes and frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 T Vanilla(I you can find it with vanilla bean specks it makes these soooo pretty)
5 Cups Confectioners Sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add vanilla and beat. Add sugar one cup at a time and continue to beat an additional five minutes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Whole Wheat Bread









I have tried 4,975 different whole wheat bread recipes. Liz told me that she heard this one was good so I gave it a go. It is by far the very best and easiest bread recipe. Start to finish one hour. Try it you will not be disappointed.




Whole Wheat Bread

makes 2 loaves



3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

1/3 Cup gluten flour or Vital Wheat Gluten

1 1/4 T. instant yeast(or quick rising)

2 1/2 C very warm tap water

1 T salt

1/3 Cup Oil (I used Olive Oil)

1/3 C honey or 1/2 C Sugar ( I used honey)

1 1/4 T Bottled Lemon Juice

2-2 1/2 C Whole Wheat Flour


Mix together the first three ingredients in mixer with a dough hook. Add water all at once and mix for 1 minute; cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Add salt, oil, honey or sugar and lemon juice and beat for 1 minute. Add last flour, 1 cup at a time, beating between each cup. Beat for 6-10 minutes until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This makes a very soft dough.


Preheat oven for 1 minute to lukewarm and turn off. Turned dough onto oiled counter top; divide, shape into loaves, place in oiled bread pans. Let rise in warm oven for 10-15 minutes until dough reaches the top of pan. Do not remove bread from oven;turn oven to 350 degrees F and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on racks.



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fresh peach pie

The highlight of peach season for me: fresh peach pie. As far back as I can remember there was always the debate in my home over fresh v. cooked peach pie. My vote is fresh, so here is the recipe.


Fresh Peach Pie:

2 c. boiling water
1/2 c. cold water
1 3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. cornstarch (or Ultragel works great)
1/8 tsp. salt
1 pkg (3 oz) orange or peach jello (I like orange better)
1/4 c. lemon juice
4 c. ripe, peeled, and sliced peaches

Bring 2 c. water to a boil in saucepan. Make a paste with the cold water, sugar, starch, and salt. Pour into the pan of boiling water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture becomes thick-about 5 minutes. Add jello and cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Cool a bit, then stir in peaches. Pour into baked pie shells and put in fridge to set up. Makes 2 pies. Whipped cream (the real kind) is great on top.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Simple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting




Simple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

adapted from My Kitchen Cafe

We had this cake yesterday, and it was delicious. I don't have a food processor, so I just used a fine grater for the carrots. If you like bigger carrot chunks, use the courser grater. The frosting is super smooth and creamy. I didn't use the nuts on top because I am not a nut fan, but I used MKC's picture because we had already devoured half the cake before I thought to take one.

Cake Ingredients:
2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp table salt
1 lb. medium carrots (6 to 7 carrots), peeled
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil , safflower oil, or canola oil

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 by 9-inch baking pan or two 9-inch round pans. This step is key as I found out the hard way.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside. In a food processor shred carrots, you should have about 3 cups shredded carrots. Use a large shredding disk for bigger carrot chunks or a fine shredding disk for smaller carrots pieces. Transfer carrots to bowl and set aside.

Beat granulated and brown sugars and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds. Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil). Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer. Turn off mixer and stir in carrots and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time (I didn't rotate my 9-inch pans). Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours (Mine didn't take quite that long).

Frosting: (She recommended doubling this for two 9-inch layers, but I had way too much frosting left over, and I love frosting. Next time I'll try doing a 1 1/2 recipe)
8 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool
5 Tbsp unsalted butter softened, but still cool
1 Tbsp sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. confectioners' sugar (4 1/2 ounces)

When cake is cool, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla at medium high speed in mixer with whisk attachment (or in large bowl using hand held mixer) until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute. Frost and eat!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chicken with mushrooms and zucchini

Last one. I'm not exactly sure which blog site I got this off of, but I'm pretty sure it was either The Sisters' Cafe or My Kitchen Cafe. We liked this one a lot and the only adjustment I made was increasing the amount of sauce. I have posted the recipe with the changes.


Chicken with mushrooms and zucchini:

1 lb chicken, cut into 1" chunks
cornstarch for dusting
1 Tbl vegetable oil
1 Tbl sesame oil
4 Tbl soy sauce
2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground ginger
2 Tbl oyster sauce (the original recipe doesn't call for this)
1 package of fresh button mushrooms
3-4 small zucchinis, cut into 1" chunks

Lightly dust chicken with cornstarch. Heat oils in large skillet or wok and fry chicken until golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Add zucchini and mushrooms to pan and stir fry for a few minutes. Add soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and oyster sauce, and stir fry until veggies are fully cooked. Add the chicken back to pan and stir to coat with sauce. Serve over hot rice. I also through some cashews on top.

Chocolate zucchini bread

Yet, another zucchini bread recipe. This recipe is adapted from one I found on allrecipes.com

Chocolate zucchini bread:
Mix:
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar

Add:
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. sour cream (I use light sour cream) or plain yogurt
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce

Sift in:
2 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Add:
2-2 1/2 c. grated zucchini
3/4 c semi sweet choc chips

Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 325-350 for 50-60 min (or until toothpick comes out clean. Don't over bake). Let cool before removing from pan.

*since originally posting this recipe, I have found a way to cut out 1/2 of the butter and some of the sugar without sacrificing flavor. I think it may even be better than before (crazy). I have changed the recipe to the newer, healthier version.

Pumpkin zucchini bread

Here are a few more zucchini recipes for that plethora of zukes... oh wait, Luke keeps picking all of mine before they are longer than 4 inches, so I don't have a mountain of zucchini like I should. First one, you guessed it: zucchini bread. I like pumpkin bread and I like zucchini bread, so I decided to make a two in one.


Pumpkin zucchini bread:
Cream:
3/4 c. oil or butter, softened
1 3/4 c sugar

Add:
1/2 c. milk
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 c pumpkin puree
2 c grated zucchini

Sift in:
3 c flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
11/2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
few dashes cloves

Add 3/4 c semi sweet choc. chips (optional). Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 325-350 for 45-60 min (take out as soon as that toothpick comes out clean... don't over bake). Let cool before removing from pan. For muffins: fill greased or lined tins almost to the top and cook at 350 for 16-20 min. for reg. muffins or 12-16 min. for mini muffins.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

California Grilled Veggie Sandwiches

It looks like Liz has beat me to it, but if your counter is covered with the same vegetables mine is right now, you can never have enough zucchini recipes.

I made these last week and told Dave, "Call me crazy, but I really love these sandwiches." To which he replied, "I really love these sandwiches too." I turned up my hearing aid and asked for a repeat, but he really did use the word "love" in connection with vegetable sandwiches. I think that's a fair endorsement.

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red bell peppers
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 small yellow squash
  • loaf of foccaccia bread, or other artisan bread, sliced however you prefer for sandwiches
  • sliced or shredded Swiss or Provolone cheese
Combine mayonnaise, garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate while other ingredients are prepared.

Preheat grill to high heat.

Slice zucchini and squash lengthwise, a little thinner than a quarter inch. Slice bell peppers and onions the same thickness as the squash. Toss in a bowl with olive oil. Arrange on hot grill with zucchini and pepper near the middle and onions and squash around. Grill for about 3 minutes each side, or until they start to blacken. Remove from grill.

To assemble sandwiches. Spread each side of bread with mayonnaise. Layer vegetables as desired, top with cheese, and 2nd slice of bread. You may want to use toothpicks to hold it together. Place assemble sandwich on grill over low heat and cook until cheese is melted.

Recipe from allrecipes.com

May I also recommend, for your zucchini eating pleasure:

Pineapple Zucchini Bread, Prudence Pennywise's version that is a bit healthier and less cake-like, so when you eat it for breakfast you don't have to feel guilty, and

Pasta with Squash and Garlic, just a simple, fast way to cook up some zukes on a busy night.

Zucchini couscous


In honor of the plentiful vegetable we know and love, I am posting not one but two recipes to help you use up some of your zucchini. Actually, I happen to really like the taste of zucchini so I like to use it in dishes that do not combine it with chocolate chips. Don't get me wrong, I love the sweet breads from zucchini but I also like the more "vegetable" type recipes too. I came up with this recipe after watching a similar dish on the Food Network. I did a little tweaking and came up with this. I think other vegetables could be used in place of the zucchini too. Think, chopped broccoli, peas, or squash maybe?

1 1/2 c. chopped zucchini
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 c. plain couscous
1 c. chicken broth

In a skillet heat olive oil on med. high heat. Add green onions, garlic and zucchini. Saute until zucchini becomes softened and garlic and onions are cooked. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Next, stir in couscous and cover with a lid. Remove pan from heat. Let sit for five minutes or until all of the chicken broth is absorbed. Fluff couscous with a fork and serve.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chocolate chip zuchinni muffins


These muffins are a great change from the usual zucchini bread. They have just enough sweetness to make them kid friendly. Last time I made them I baked up a bunch in my mini muffin tin so they were the perfect size for little hands. Emily even suggested that I could make for her to take in her cold lunch. I found this recipe last year on this blog. Last time I checked she had 19 zucchini recipes so this website might be a good spot to check if you have a crazy amount of zucchini to get rid of.

1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder (I upped it to 1 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup finely shredded zucchini
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¾ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional, I didn't do the nuts)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin tin cups with paper liners. Spray the paper liners with nonstick spray. (This is key, or the muffin will stick to the liner)In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar to blend them smoothly. Whisk in the oil and vanilla until blended. Use a large spoon to stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Stir in the zucchini, then stir in chocolate chips and walnuts (if using) until evenly distributed. Pour about 1/3 cup of the batter into each paper liner. Bake until the tops are light brown and a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, about 23 minutes. If the toothpick penetrates a chocolate chip, test another spot.Cool muffins in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Using pot holders to protect your hands, invert the muffin pan onto a wire rack and tap the bottom to release the muffins. Turn the muffins right side up to cool for about 15 minutes and serve warm, or let cool completely, about 45 minutes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blackened Corn Salsa

I got this recipe from Prudence Pennywise. Has anyone tried it yet? If you haven't, you really need to! I made chicken enchilada's last night for dinner. My kids are REALLY picky and like them pretty plain. Rocky and I like actual flavor in our food, so I thought I would give this a try. I put it in our enchilada's and it really added flavor! Rocky ate a little bit with tortilla chips and really liked it. Check out her website for a picture. I didn't get a picture of it, sorry!


Blackened Corn Salsa



1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups corn fresh or thawed, if frozen
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
juice of one lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro


Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add corn and onion and cook, stirring from time to time, until corn and onion are blackened in places. Combine with other ingredients in a medium bowl and serve.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Add a little Spice to your chicken

Grilled Southwestern Chicken

4-(5-6 oz) boneless chicken breasts
1/3 cup canola oil
3 Tb cider vinegar
1 Tb chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Flatten chicken to even thickness and set aside. In a small bowl, combine all other ingredients an mix well. Place chicken and marinade in resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate 1-2 hours. Remove chicken and discard marinade. It is VERY important to grill this on low heat. The marinade will scorch otherwise. That is also why it is important to flatten the chicken.

Serve with salad greens and ranch dressing. YUMMY!

Also, if anyone out there has any great ideas for healthy, filling on the go breakfasts, it would be appreciated. Happy cooking!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A couple of quick dinners

Okay, Danielle, I've got a couple of quick dinners that come to my mind, but I'm almost embarrassed to post them because they aren't very exciting/creative. But, they both take less than 30 minutes, without being spaghetti, so here you go:

1. Taco plate/taco salad... whatever you want to call it:
1/2 - 1 pound hamburger (whatever your preference)
1 can drained kidney beans
1 can semi-drained pork and beans (I know, sounds lame, but I think it works. If you don't stock your cupboards with pork and beans though, it's not a vital ingredient)
1-2 can tomato sauce (I use 1, if you like it more tomato-y, you may want more)
taco seasoning to your liking (I usually use about 1/2 a packet)

Brown burger, salt and pepper it, add all other ingredients and simmer a bit. We usually eat ours like this: layer of tortilla chips, meat, cheese, lettuce, ranch, etc... whatever you like on a taco salad.

2. Chicken and black bean quesadillas:
1-2 chicken breasts, cut up
1/2 - 1 can of drained/rinsed black beans
1 can green chillies
taco seasoning to your liking

Cook chicken completely in a little oil with salt and pepper, add the rest of the ingredients and heat through. Make quesadillas: tortilla, cheese, chicken, cheese, tortilla. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, salsa... whatever you like. I also like to use this for a taco salad for yet another change.

Quick Dinner Quest

Okay ladies, I am on a quest. I'm looking for new ideas for quick, on-hand dinners for those nights when its 5:00 and I haven't started dinner (or just plain don't want to). You know those nights when you don't want to order out, but don't want to resort to Ramen noodles or cold cereal. I'm not the only one who has those nights, am I?

I'm not coming empty handed. Here are a couple things I do:

I try to have frozen ravioli/tortellini on hand that I can cook, pour a bottle of sauce over and serve with a quick salad-I'll admit, sometimes the salad doesn't happen.

I also like to freeze chicken in a ziplock with marinade. I just freeze it in amounts that make one dinner for our family. (Be sure to label it) Then I can thaw it, grill/cook it, and serve it up with frozen veggies and one of those quickie rice dishes in a box.

I tried this Lemon and Garlic Grilled Chicken marinade last night. I found it on My Kitchen Cafe. Its totally easy and super yummy. It even passed the Hannah-test, which is MAJOR.

See, I'm not looking for gourmet. In fact, quite the opposite, the easier the better. Don't be shy. What may seem totally mundane and basic to you is probably something I haven't even thought of. Come on...who doesn't need some quickie-dinner ideas?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Strawberry Cupcakes


I am so addicted to these right now I am going to have a strawberry cupcake caboose pretty soon. They taste like summer! I got the recipe from this site and I have loved everything I have made from her. This is a must try. This is also a fun recipe for kids to help with.



Wild Strawberry Cupcakes
Makes 24 plus-the recipe said 36 but I got about 28
16 oz Strawberries Destemmed
4 eggs
1 3/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter
1 t. Vanilla
1 1/2 t. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Cups Flour
Place first four ingredients in blender. Blend until fully pureed.Pour into large bowl and mix with remaining ingredients. Spoon into cupcake wrappers. Bake at 325 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until tops spring back when touched. Allow to cool. Frost with recipe below.
Sweet and Pure Strawberry Buttercream
3/4 Cup fresh Strawberries destemmed
1/2 Cup Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
2 lb Powdered Sugar
Over a large bowl crush the strawberries in your hands(I just used a fork in the bowl). Allow juice and pulp to fall into bowl. Add remaining ingredients and beat well with an electric mixer. Frost cooled cupcakes. Allow to set at room temperature. I have found you have plenty leftover after frosting cupcakes to eat with a spoon-or your fingers!


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chicken Pasta Salad

Chicken Pasta Salad

I love Chicken Salad sandwiches – so I really enjoyed this pasta salad with the same flavors. My mom made this for a family gathering and I couldn’t stay out of it. Of course when I tried to make it for a party, it didn’t quite taste as good - but that is because I didn’t have all of the ingredients and so I substituted.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups bow tie (farfalle) pasta

1 (16 ounce) bottle bottled coleslaw dressing

1 cup mayonnaise

4 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 1/2 cups seedless green grapes, halved

1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes, halved

2 cups thinly sliced celery

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 cups cashew halves

Salt and Pepper to taste


DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain, and set aside. (Not an Al Dente fan - I usually cook mine for about 12 min )

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together coleslaw dressing and mayonnaise.

  3. In a large bowl, combine pasta, chicken, grapes, celery and green onions. Stir in dressing, add salt and pepper if desired and mix well. Place the salad in the refrigerator to marinate for 2 hours, or overnight. Mix in cashews just before serving.
    Serve cold.

I don’t love onions – but these are pretty mild so I didn’t mind them. When I re-made the salad I didn’t add them and I think they needed to be there. Also I didn’t have enough mayo and so I added more coleslaw dressing and this made the salad a little too sweet. The other substitution I made was to use almonds instead of cashews – while almonds are tasty, they will never be as good as cashews.

Monday, July 27, 2009

4-H Brownies

Its funny you should ask for a brownie recipe. I'm getting all my recipes in one place, and I just typed this one up today. I got this when we were doing 4-H at our house. This is our "go to" brownie recipe. They are not fancy, but really yummy, and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. I'll post a picture next time we make them.

1 stick plus 2 Tbsp. butter softened, not melted
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add vanilla and eggs, mixing well. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter batter. Mix it well using an electric mixer. Spread batter in a greased pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool for at least 1 hour before serving. If you can last that long you have better will power than we do!

I like these better when you cream the butter and sugar really well, about 4 minutes. If I'm taking them somewhere I sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top.

Brownies

Do any of you ladies have a great brownie recipe?? I usually make them from a mix, but would like to try a homemade version. Thank you!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sweet and Sour Chicken

So, I got a recipe from my brother-in-law, Mark, for some sweet and sour meatballs (which were pretty tasty). I tweeked the sauce a bit and made it with chicken instead of meatballs and I think it turned out pretty good. Of course, you can choose to use whatever type of meat you like best.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sauce:
1 cup pineapple juice (the pineapple to be used later)
2 Tbl soy sauce
1/4 c vinegar
4 Tbl ketchup
1/4 - 1/3 c sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
1/3 c water
1 minced garlic clove
2 Tbl cornstarch

Mix ingredients together and cook over medium heat until sauce thickens. Saute one coarsly chopped red pepper and add to sauce. Add one can (or a bit less than a full can) of pineapple chunks or tidbits (without the juice). Reduce heat and simmer while preparing the chicken.

Chicken:
3 chicken breasts, cubed
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c milk
2 c flour
salt and pepper

Beat eggs and milk together and dip chicken in it, then in flour until well coated (try to strain most of the egg off before putting it into the flour so it doesn't get too gloppy). Cook chicken in a little oil, and season with salt and pepper, until completely cooked and brown. At this point you could add the sauce into the chicken, but I prefer to keep it separate until dishing up, so that the chicken doesn't get soggy. Serve over rice.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tutu's Orange Sherbet


This is the recipe my grandma, Tutu, made every year in June for my grandpa's birthday. Each June I start craving it. This sherbet is so good, that I would call it darn near perfect. It makes my mouth water just to type it! I am including two versions: one for a regular 5-6 quart ice cream freezer; the other for a counter-top mini freezer that I just bought and love.

Regular Version
3 cups sugar
2 quarts whole milk
3 lemons, juiced
6 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (approx. 15 medium oranges)
Orange food coloring

Combine the lemon and orange juices. Dissolve the sugar in the juices. Chill for 1 hour. Pour the juice into the milk (the other way around will cause the milk to curdle). Add food coloring. Freeze according to your freezer's directions. Invite some friends over or you WILL eat all of it.

Mini-version-makes about 1 quart
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
3/4 of a lemon; juiced
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (4-5 medium oranges)

Follow above directions and then follow your freezer's directions. With the mini-version, don't invite friends over, or you won't get enough, or kick your family out and then invite the friends.

Do not even think about using store bought orange juice. Blech!


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Big Al's K.C. Bar-B-Q Sauce

I have been looking for a good BBQ sauce recipe for a while now. Mostly I wanted to find a sauce that didn't have high fructose corn syrup as the #1 ingredient. I hit the jackpot with this one. I found it on allrecipes.com. It has 367 five-star reviews and no reviews less than 5 stars. Lets just say I don't think I will be buying bbq sauce again. I fed it to Mark's family of non-meat eaters, and they loved it. It even got Hannah to eat chicken-that's big.

2 c. ketchup
2 c. tomato sauce
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. unsulphured molasses
4 tsp. hickory flavored liquid smoke
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. coarsely ground pepper

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, mix together all the wet ingredients and then add the seasonings. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes-longer for thicker sauce.

Brush onto any kind of meat during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

The ingredient list is long, but I had a lot of the stuff on hand. You can find liquid smoke near the bbq sauces at the grocery store. I was a little skeptical about the liquid smoke, but I decided to try the recipe "as is" the first time, before I tried tinkering with it. I am glad I did, because I really like the flavor: tangy, but not too tangy; not too sweet; just a hint of smoky flavor. I like my sauce thicker, so I let it simmer about 40 minutes. The recipe made about a quart and a half of sauce, so I have just kept it in a container in my fridge. I'm not sure how to label it so I'm putting it under main dish. Maybe we can add a sauces category later.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Applesauce Muffins


My kids love these muffins. I really like them too because they are a little more filling and not to sweet. Overall the muffins are a pretty healthy breakfast option too. I think you could get creative and add craisins, raisins, nuts, etc. to the recipe. To save time in the morning, I will prep the dry ingredients the night before and then finish the rest right before I am ready to bake them.

Combine and mix well:
2 c. flour (I like to use 1 c. wheat and 1 c. white flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Add:
1 stick of melted butter
3/4 c. sugar

Blend well, then add
2 eggs
1 c. applesauce

Blend mixture well. It will be similar to the consistency of oatmeal. Fill baking cups and bake at 350 for 19 minutes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

I made this for my Mother's Day gift to myself and ate the whole thing and did not share. The next time I made it I did the same thing. It wasn't until the fourth time I made it that Dave got a bite. It is that addictive. Warning: do not make this on the same day you make Jessica's Almond Bars. I know from experience that just because a person has eaten half a sheet cake, doesn't mean she'll lay off the dip.

Recipe adapted from Picky Palate

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 Cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/4 Cup mayonnaise
4 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 Cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
About 1 cup (0r half a can) artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped (I prefer to not use the marinated ones here)
3/4 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add a handful of spinach, adding more spinach as it wilts and makes more room. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add garlic. Cook, stirring for one more minute. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Add spinach mixture and stir until combines. Spread into lightly greased casserole dish and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Serve warm with tortilla chips or on sourdough bread.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Waffles

So, I don't know about you, but my waffle iron sees very little use. But, I had a request from my boys for some waffles the other morning (I'm not sure where they even learned the word), so I dug out the iron, dusted it off and made some waffles. I found a good recipe at allrecipes.com and tweeked it just a little (because it wasn't unhealthy enough). I have to say, they were some of the best waffles I've ever had (that's not saying much, because I rarely have waffles). I topped them with some freezer strawberry jam and whipped cream.


Waffles:

2 c. flour (I used 1/2 wheat. There, now they are healthy)
3/4 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
4 Tbl sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c milk
1/3 c melted butter
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat waffle iron. Mix together dry ingredients and set aside. In separate bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in milk, butter and vanilla. Pour into flour mixture and mix well.

Ladle onto hot waffle iron and cook until golden and crisp. Makes about 5 or 6 waffles.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

7 Layer Dip


This is by far the best 7 layer dip I have ever tried. It will definitely be a hit whenever you make it. It's like Jessica said about her almond sheet cake, every time I take this to a party or barbecue someone asks for the recipe.

2 cans Frito Lay dip
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
2 avocados
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 can chopped olives
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded (so the dip does not get to wet) and chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1 c. shredded cheese

In a small bowl combine sour cream, mayonnaise and taco seasoning. In another small bowl combine avocados, garlic salt and lemon juice to make guacamole. (Or you can make up the guacamole however you like.) Layer in a 9x13 pan in this order:

Bean dip
Sour cream mixture
Guacamole
green onions
tomatoes
olives
cheese

Chicken Fajitas

This is one of our default meals. We usually have the ingredients on hand, and everyone loves it. If fact it's one of Dave's favorite meals. I often stock up on bell peppers when they are on sale and then slice and freeze them. Admittedly, they aren't quite as crisp frozen, but still tasty, and it beats paying $1.50 a piece in the winter time.

Recipe adapted from Cancun Cafe

2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp season salt
3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 sliced onion
2 bell peppers, assorted colors, cut into strips

1 dozen flour tortillas


Marinate chicken in bowl with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic approximately 20 minutes. Pour into preheated pan over medium heat. cook until chicken is browned. Add vegetables and cook 1-2 minutes more. Serve wrapped in flour tortillas with sour cream and guacamole.

We always put Mexican rice in ours too.

Tangy Potato Salad


I am not a huge fan of traditional potato salad. I like this one because it doesn't have eggs in it, but it does have bacon. This salad is delicious when served warm or cold. I like it best served cold from the fridge on the second day, so if you have time, make this salad the day before you want to serve it. Also, this is a big salad - it fills my big Tupperware bowl - I usually make it for large gatherings.

5 pounds potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 T white sugar
3 T honey
3 T dried parsley
2 T grainy mustard (not yellow)
1 cup chopped onion (optional)
1/2 lb. of bacon, cooked and crumbled
salt and pepper to taste

Cut raw potatoes into cubes and boil until tender but not mushy. While the potatoes are boiling, whisk together the mayo, vinegar, sugar, honey, parsley and mustard until well combined. When the potatoes are done, drain them and put them into a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and stir until they are coated. Mix in the onions and bacon and then salt and pepper to taste.

This salad can be served right away while the potatoes are still warm, or chilled for a few hours.


The vinegar creates a tangy flavor that might be overwhelming, taste the dressing before you pour it. You can add a little more honey or sugar to lighten it up.


I use a mixture of red and yellow waxy potatoes for this salad. Sometimes I leave the potato skins on, they give the salad color. However the skins are not my favorite part of the salad and I sometimes find myself pealing them away before I take a bite.


Some people feel that potatoes should be boiled whole. I've read that you should keep the skins on while boiling to give them more flavor. The potatoes can be boiled up any way that you like, but cubing them is the fastest way to get them cooked. Also, make sure that you have enough salt in the water - this will give your potatoes much needed flavor.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Almond Sheet Cake


I have never made this cake without someone asking me for the recipe. It looks like a regular yellow sheet cake but it is so much more!
It is easy to make but get the leftovers out of your house or you will eat the whole pan. (I am not kidding)

Bring to a boil :

1 Cup Butter
1 Cup Water

Let Cool

Combine in Mixer:

2 Cups flour
2 Cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

Add:

1/2 Cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
2 eggs

Add cooled butter and water mixture. Mix until incorporated. Pour into a 12x17 jelly roll pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes.
Frost while still warm.

Frosting

Combine in Mixer:

4 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 tsp almond extract

Bring to a boil:

1/2 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Milk

Add to Powdered sugar mixture and beat until smooth.
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad


I got this recipe out of Family Fun a few years ago. Sometimes I just crave it. I love the combination of lime and cilantro. It has been a hit whenever I take it to a function. You can serve it as a salad, or as a chunky dip with tortilla chips, which is what we do.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 cups fresh (don't cook) corn kernels, cut right off the cob (about 5 ears)
1 1/2 cups diced avocado; about 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 avocados)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered (I have also used Roma tomatoes)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. Add the corn, avocado, tomatoes and onion and toss to mix. Serve at room temperature. Serves 4-6

Tips: To remove corn kernels for a salad or salsa, stand an uncooked ear in a shallow bowl and use a sharp, thin bladed knife. I like to get the corn from one of the stands here in town because it is super fresh.

If you're not sure how to pick out the corn I've been told to look for tightly closed, bright green husks and it should feel cool in your hand. I don't know if its true, but it has always worked for me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fried Rice


This rice definitely falls into the category of top 5 meals for me. It meets all of the important criteria:
1. Tastes great
2. Everyone in my family likes it
3. I usually have all of the ingredients on hand
4. It is really easy and fast to make
5. It makes great leftovers the next day (I recommend doubling this recipe)

Lately I have been adding small dices of chicken to the recipe so I can make the rice into a one dish meal. Usually I would serve it along side a stir fry, but when I add the chicken I guess I consider it more of a complete meal. If you decide to add chicken to this recipe, dice 2 chicken breasts into small dices. Cook the chicken before any of the other ingredients for the fried rice. Make sure your pan is hot, I mean really hot. Add a small amount of oil. Drop the chicken into the pan, but don't move it around to much. Let the chicken sear so it gets that nice brown color on the outside. Remove chicken from pan then add chicken back into the rice at the very end.

Tamari is a dark soy sauce. I really think it adds a better flavor to the rice. It does not have the overpowering salty flavor of regular soy sauce. Tamari can be found at both grocery stores in town.

2-3 c. cooked rice, cooled or cold leftover rice (leftover rice works best)
3 T. veg. or canola oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, grated (optional)
1/2 c. shredded carrots
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 c. frozen peas
1/4 c.- 1/3 c. Tamari, dark soy sauce
Sesame oil

Cook rice. Spread rice on cookie sheet to quick cool it. Heat a wok or a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add 1 tsp. oil to the pan. Add a little sesame oil whenever you add canola oil. Add eggs and scramble, then remove from the pan. Adda little more oil to the center of pan and add garlic, ginger, carrots and green onion and quick fry veggies for 2 minutes or until soft. Add rice and combine with veggies. Incorporate scrambled eggs and continue to another 2-3 minutes. Add peas and Tamari and stir fry 1 more minute.