Monday, December 13, 2010

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

I saw these taquitos over at Our Best Bites awhile ago, and when my mom tried them and loved them, I knew I'd have to have a go at them. I'm so glad that I did! My mom's only complaint was that the recipe was really spicy, and since my husband can't handle much spice I made a couple of changes (the recipe below is what I did). And the result was delicious! I was skeptical about if the tortillas would actually crisp in the oven and they did! We used around 16 fajita size flour tortillas for one recipe of the filling, and they were perfect! I also served our taquitos with extra salsa, sour cream and guacamole. We will definitely be making these again. (And thanks mom for letting me steal your picture- I hate it when my 2 year old steals my camera batteries! :)

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

1/3 C (3 oz) cream cheese
1/4 C salsa
1T fresh lime juice (about the juice of 1 lime)
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t chili powder
1/4 t garlic powder
3 T chopped cilantro
2 T sliced green onions
2 C shredded cooked chicken
1/2 C grated pepperjack cheese
1/2 C grated cheddar cheese
small corn or flour tortillas (I used flour fajita sized tortillas)
kosher salt
cooking spray

Heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds so it's soft and easy to stir. Add salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and granulated garlic. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.You can prepare up to this step ahead of time. Just keep the mixture in the fridge.

Work with a few tortillas at a time and heat in the microwave until they are soft enough to roll without cracking. (Our Best Bites notes: It helps to place them between damp paper towels. Usually 20-30 seconds will do it. If you find yours are cracking when you roll them or are coming unrolled right away, just try heating them longer and try the paper towel thing.) Place 2-3 T of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges. Then roll it up as tight as you can.

Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and sprinkle some kosher salt on top. Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pumpkin Cake Roll

This year for Thanksgiving, we spent the day with my husband's family. And since everyone lives close together, the meal components are split up so no one person is stuck in the kitchen all by themselves slaving over dinner. When they asked me what I'd like to make, I knew I'd have to make these pumpkin cake rolls. I remember my mom making them for us on Thanksgiving growing up, and they were quite possibly my favorite dessert to eat after the turkey spread. No matter the time of year, this pumkin cake roll with cream cheese frosting on the inside is sure to hit the spot. And my favorite way to eat it? Right out of the fridge!

Pumpkin Cake Roll

For Cake:
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned or cooked pumpkin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan with wax paper and grease paper. Set aside. Beat eggs till lemon colored. Gradually add sugar. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice. Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt; add to egg-pumpkin mixture. Pour batter into pan; sprinkle with chopped nuts (if using.) Bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle powdered sugar on kitchen towel. Turn cake onto towel, and remove wax paper. Roll up cake and towel lengthwise and allow to cool. While the cake is cooling, prepare the filling.

For Filling:
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Whip butter and cream cheese together. Beat in 1 cup powdered sugar. Add vanilla. Unroll cake and spread with filling. Roll up again. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cherry Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

I found this recipe on an advertisement in the newspaper a week or so ago and knew I had to try them. I love cherries and chocolate--and shortbread! How could it go wrong? They're really easy and chances are you've already got most of the stuff in your cabinets.

1 c. butter, softened (no subs.)
1/2 c. sugar, plus 1 T. for dipping
1/2 t. almond extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. corn starch
1/2 c. finely chopped dried cherries (they recommend Sunsweet)
about 1/4 c. finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate

1. Mix butter, sugar, and almond extract thoroughly using an electric mixer. Gradually blend in flour and corn starch. Add cherries and chocolate.
2. Form into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased baking sheet. Pour extra sugar onto small plate and dip the bottom of a water glass into it then press gently down on top of the cookies to flatten. (You may need to moisten the glass somehow. I used a tad of cooking spray.)
3. Bake at 300* F. for 20 to 30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes; remove to wire rack and cool completely.

This recipe also drizzles some melted chocolate on top (in a freezer bag, put 1/2 c. chocolate chips and 1 t. shortening, microwave on high for about 30 seconds. Snip off corner and drizzle over cookies.) but I thought it was just perfect without it. Also, they tasted even better the next day, so they're great to make a day or two ahead of a cookie exchange or to give to neighbors!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup

My mom made this a while ago for a luncheon after we blessed my youngest son at church. It was the first pot of soup to be emptied, so I knew I'd have to make it again in the future. Well the "future" came this week, and everyone loved it again! The carrots add a touch of sweetness that works great with the cheese and broccoli.
Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 medium chopped onion
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half cream
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 lb fresh broccoli
1 cup carrot, julienned
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
1.Sauté onion in butter. Set aside.
2.Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and add the half & half.
3.Add the chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.
4.Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat 20-25 minutes.
5.Add salt and pepper. Put portions in the blender and purée. Return to heat and add cheese. Stir in nutmeg.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oh Boy Waffles

This recipe comes from my mother-in-law, Renae. Her go to recipe, these waffles remind me of another recipe callede "waffles of insane greatness" (as I search for the link on the blog, I'm shocked to see it not posted- so I promise, I'll work on fixing that because they are awesome!). The difference is that these waffles don't call for buttermilk, whole milk, or cornstarch. These are more of the basice waffle ingredients, but they are crisp and oh so yummy! This recipe should make around 10-12 belgian waffles.
Oh Boy Waffles
2-1/4 cup flour
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 Tbl sugar
2 eggs
2-1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
Mix all the ingredients together. Bake in preheated waffle baker until golden brown. Serve with your favorite breakfast syrup or topping.

Monday, November 15, 2010

US Senate Bean Soup

When I try to plan frugal meals, I tend to try to incorporate beans since they are cheap, yet pack a nutritional punch. I just wish I had more yummy bean recipes! :) I found the original recipe for this soup that uses beans in the Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook and we loved it! My husband said he could have kept eating it all night long, and I wish he would have because this recipe made a ton of soup! In fact, there was too much of it to fit in the crockpot I had! 4 adults ate a little less than half of what this recipe yields, so if you have a smaller family, I'd definitely suggest cutting it in half. I also didn't have a hamhock (nor could I find one at the store), so I used bacon, and since my crockpot couldn't handle the volume of this soup, I had to cook it differently. So the recipe below is not the original, but instead is exactly how I made the soup.

US Senate Bean Soup
1 lb. dried navy beans, cooked and drained
1 lb. bacon
10 cups water
2 medium yellow onions, diced
3 medium baking potatoes or 5 small russetts, cubed
6 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 Tbl dried parsley
1/4k tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
salt to taste
1 bay leaf, optional (I used it)

Cook the bacon in the bottom of your soup pot until it starts to brown. Add everything else to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until veggies are tender or until ready to serve. (My soup simmered for about 4-5 hours and the potatoes and beans retained their texture and shape just fine.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Parker House Rolls

I decided to give my go-to roll recipe a break and try a new one. Coming from the 75th Anniversary edition of Joy of Cooking, I like that these rolls are easy to split for spreading with butter and jam. Although they tasted great, I served these cool, but I think they might have been a tad better if they were warm. But that's true of any home-baked good! :) I also changed the size of the rolls to be slightly bigger than the recipe suggest. When I baked these babies up, I noticed that the cooking time of 15 minutes was too generous, so I adjusted the time here to say 12-15 minutes (I baked mine for about 12.5 minutes). But I would suggest checking the rolls around 10 or 11 minutes just to make sure they aren't getting too brown.

Parker House Rolls

1 cup milk
2 Tbl butter, softened
1 Tbl sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbl warm water
1 package (2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 large egg, optional (I used it)
3-1/3 to 3-2/3 cups all-purpose flour (I used bread flour)
melted butter (I didn't use)

Heat milk until it is warm, about 105-115* F (I microwaved it for 1 minute). Stir in the softened butter, sugar, and salt. In a large bowl, combine the yeast with the water and let stand until yeast is dissolved, or about 5 minutes.

When the milk mixture is lukewarm, stir it into the yeast mixture. If using, beat in the egg. Stir in part of the flour and then knead in the rest (I just kneaded the dough in the bowl). The goal is to have a dough that is easy to handle. Place finished dough in an oil bowl, and if wanted, brush the top with butter. (I didn't use the butter. Instead, I turned the dough over in the bowl once, so the surface of the dough was coated with oil.)

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Roll the dough into a 30 inch long rope and cut into 30, 1-inch pieces (I cut it into 18 pieces.) Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a 2" round. Using the handle of a knife or a rolling pin, score across the middle of each roll. Fold rolls over on the crease and lightly press edges together. Place about 2-inches apart on greased aking sheet. Let rise in a warm place until light, or about 35 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425*F. Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. (I brushed the tops of my rolls with butter while they were still warm. I find it helps the tops to stay softer longer.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu

My husband loves chicken cordon bleu, but I had yet to make it for him. So when I came across a recipe for it in the 75th Anniversary Edition of Joy of Cooking, I figured I give it a shot. And of course, I made a change or two. First, I used thawed, frozen chicken, so some of the chicken breasts I used were oddly shaped and were hard to get to stick together. To compensate, I just used toothpicks to hold the meat in place while I baked the chicken and then removed them before serving the chicken. Second, I didn't want to add a bunch of calories by frying, so I baked them instead (I've included both instructions below). This was a huge hit at our house, and is a recipe I will be revisiting.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/2 pounds)
salt and black pepper, to taste
4 thin slices of ham or pruscuitto (I used sliced ham lunchmeat)
4 thin slices of Gruere of Swiss cheese (I used swiss)
1 c. dry bread crumbs (I used Italian bread crumbs and left out the parsley)
1/4 c. minced parsley (or you could use 2 Tbl dried parsley)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 large egg
1 tsp water
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp butter (I didn't use)
1-1/2 tsp olive oil (I didn't use)

Trim any fat or tendons off the chicken. Using one breast at a time, place between two sheets of waxed paper and pound with a mallet (smooth side) or a rolling pin until about 3/8 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. Cover 1/2 the chicken breast with ham and cheese, leaving space around the edges. Fold the chicken over in half to cover the ham and cheese. Press the edges firmly together to seal. A 1-inch cut along the folded edge of the breast will help prevent the chicken packet from opening during cooking (or use toothpicks to secure meat). Repeat with remaining chicken.

In a shallow bowl, combine breadcrumbs with parsley, salt and pepper. In another shallow dish, combine/beat together the egg and water. Spread the flour on a plate. Press each side of the chicken packet with flour (shake off the excess), dip it in egg, and then coat with the bread crumbs (lightly press the crumbs into the chicken to help them adhere). Set aside on a plate until ready to cook.

To fry:
Heat butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant and nut-brown. Add in oil and stir together. Place packets in the skillet and cook until browned on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes each. Drain on papertowels and serve immediately.

To bake:
Place chicken on a greased baking pan. If you want, melt the butter and drizzle it over the chicken (this will help the breadcrumbs brown a little better, but it tastes fine without it). Bake at 375*F for 30-40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Peanut Butter Waffles

The other morning I woke up and decided that peanut butter waffles sounded really good for breakfast, so I went searching for a recipe. I found this one from and it was really good! From the picture you can see that I served them topped with bananas and syrup, but I actually liked it better without the bananas and my son liked eating them plain. However you serve them, maybe with a berry syrup or even just traditional maple syrup, these are a fun way to mix up your morning routine.

Peanut Butter Waffles

1-3/4 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

3 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

6 Tbl creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup butter

2 eggs

1-3/4 cup milk

Sift flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a bowl. Cream peanut butter with butter until smooth. Beat eggs and milk until blended. Add to peanut butter mixture. Beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients. Mix just until smooth. Bake in a hot waffle iron following manufacturers instructions. Serve immediately with jelly or syrup.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Easy Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Sorry for the half-eaten picture. It was just that good!
This is such an easy recipe, and really good! I've been pestering my old roommate to give it to me, literally for years. Finally a couple weeks ago she sent it and I made it for dinner just tonight!

1 lb. cooked and shredded chicken
1 pkg. cream cheese
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
1 pkg. flour tortillas
2 (10 oz) cans green chile enchilada sauce
3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese (I used Monterey Jack 'cause that's what I keep in the house)

1. Heat oven to 400*. Pour about 2 T. enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 9-by-13 baking dish.
2. Mix chicken, cream cheese, and chiles together in skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir until cream cheese is melted. Spoon chicken filling into tortillas, roll up and place seam down in baking dish. Pour enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tangy Meatloaf Topping

I'll be honest: I hate meatloaf toppings. I hate all the meatloaf toppings I've ever had--except for my mum's. That was pretty good, but still not great. I think it was just a little too sweet. I despise toppings that use more than a tablespoon of ketchup. C'mon we really need more ketchup in our lives?

So when I made meatloaf for the first time I was resolved NOT to use the meatloaf topping that was written down in my old Betty Crocker cookbook (p. 239), which employed--you guessed it--lots of ketchup. So I just kind of played around with some things in my cupboards until EUREKA! I had discovered a tangy topping. It was so good with the savory meatloaf that this is the only one I use now. Try it out for yourself!

2 T. Dijon mustard
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. lemon juice
3 t. molasses, divided

1. Whisk together all ingredients except 1 t. molasses.
2. Spread over finished meatloaf and drizzle extra molasses across the top. Serve hot.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti

Lately we've been on a mushroom kick around my house. I used to almost never cook with mushrooms, and in the last couple of months, I've bought fresh mushrooms several times for use in different dishes. Here's the latest dish. I found the original recipe on Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen (posted by doubledippedlife), but I changed the cooking method as well as some of the ingredients. So what you see here, is what I did. You could substitute frozen chopped spinach for the fresh spinach, just remember to thaw and drain the excess liquid before adding it in. I actually prefer fresh spinach to frozen because I find it has a less earthy flavor, but either will work.

Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti

1, 28 oz. jar of marinara sauce (or for a homemade version, try this recipe)

2 Tbl olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced (I used a garlic press)

10 oz. weight Fresh Spinach, chopped

8 oz. fresh button mushrooms, chopped

2 whole eggs, beaten

16 oz. weight ricotta or cottage cheese (I used cottage cheese)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

8 oz. weight manicotti shells

2-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese (I used the stuff from a can)

Cook the manicotti shells according to the directions on the box, but subtract one minute on the cooking time (this will under cook the pasta by just a little, but they will be easier to fill and they will finish cooking in the oven). Drain the pasta, and set out (separately) on a wax paper for them to cool.

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add chopped spinach and mushrooms, stirring until mushrooms are cooked and spinach is wilted (the spinach should still be green, not brown). Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 340* F while you assemble the filling and fill the shells. For the filling, beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add ricotta/cottage cheese, salt, pepper, and 1 cup mozerella cheese. Stir to combine. Add in the spinach and mushroom mixture and stir.

Spread some marinara sauce (probably 1/4 to 1/2 cup) on the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking pan. Fill the manicotti shells with the filling (I just used a small spoon and made sure that the shells were stuffed, but becareful to not break the shells). Arrange the shells in the baking pan. Top with remaining marinara sauce and top with the remaining mozerella cheese and the parmesan cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Homemade Marinara Sauce

I was going to direct you to this recipe in a dish I will be posting later this week, but I was shocked that I hadn't posted it yet! This is a great marinara sauce that has a lot of flavor and can be used as a dipping sauce, pizza sauce, or of course, a pasta sauce. The sauce also freezes well for future uses. Thanks goes to my mom for this recipe!

Marinara Sauce
1/2 cup oil
2 medium garlic cloves, diced or crushed (I used a garlic press)
3-1/2 cups, or a 28 oz. can, crushed tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried chopped parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp pepper
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until lightly browned. Add remaining ingredients and cook rapidly, uncovered, for 15 minutes. (The oil will separate from the tomatoes if allowed to stand for a long period of time, so just stir it to redistribute it again.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken

I love Chinese food, so when I come across a recipe, I always make a mental note of it. This recipe has been stewing in my head for awhile, but when we needed to get rid of a giant zucchini a neighbor gave us, I knew what I'd be making! It was really good and I've had requests to make it again. Sesame oil can be pretty expensive, so use it if you have it, but I didn't have any so I just doubled the vegetable oil. Thanks to Blog Chef for the recipe!

Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken


1lb boneless skinless chicken breasts

cornstarch (for dusting)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I doubled)

1 tablespoon sesame oil (I didn't use)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves (minced)

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 package fresh button mushrooms (or 8 oz.)

4 small zucchini (or 1 giant)

Cooking Instructions:

Step 1: Cut chicken and zucchini into 1” chunks. Lightly dust chicken with a little bit of corn starch until lightly coated.

Step 2: Add vegetable and sesame oil to the wok and fry chicken pieces until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Step 3: Add zucchini and mushrooms to the wok and stir fry for a few minutes. Add soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, minced fresh garlic, and ground ginger to the wok stirring to coat and stir fry until mushrooms and zucchini are fully cooked.

Step 4: Return chicken pieces to the wok and coat with sauce, heat thoroughly and serve.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Acorn Squash

I love squash. In fact, I think it's my favorite vegetable. And this is the time of year to enjoy it! This is a really easy, tasty way to cook it up. And healthy too! I use very little butter, and no milk or cream. (In fact, you could probably get by without the butter even, but that's for you to try, not me.)

1 acorn squash

2 T. butter (approx.)
all spice and/or nutmeg to taste

1. Cut off the end opposite the stem. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into halves again.

2. Place squash in a pot with enough water to just cover them (lay them on their curved backs). Bring the water to a boil and boil for about 15 minutes, checking occasionally with a fork.

3. When the squash is tender enough to mash or whip, take it out of the water and let it cool enough for you to handle it. (I'd say maybe 8 to 10 minutes.) With a spoon, scoop out the insides into a mixing bowl.

4. Add butter; beat with a hand beater (or mash with a potato masher, whatever you want to do). Add spices; beat again. Taste and adjust as desired.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Recipe Cards

This isn't a recipe post, but rather a recipe card post. YEAH! Bring on the pretty paper!

When I got married, I was given a pretty set of two small binders with beautiful recipe cards in them, all matching of course. I'm still filling them up, but I have a nice little collection. Then, a year later when we were too poor for a birthday gift for my best friend (who had gotten married earlier that year), I decided I would help her start a collection of recipe cards. So I looked all over the internet for recipe cards I could print for free. It took a long time, but I found a good site with lots of different styles and options. I printed them out on card stock--which was the most expensive part of the gift at a whopping $5 total. I cut out maybe 10 or 15 cards, wrote three or four of my favorite recipes on a few of them, and wrapped all of them up with a pretty ribbon and gave them to my friend. (I would have liked to get a nice tin from a thrift store, but I couldn't find one!)

Most of the cards will print as a 4*6, so they could also be slipped into a nice small photo album. Just do whatever!

Cheesy Skillet Chicken and Rice with Green Beans

What a dish! This yummy concotion came from Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe, and when I saw it I knew it would be an instant hit! Rice, chicken, and cheese- who can resist? Even my veggie hating husband and brother-in-law gobbled this up with no complaint and even went back for more! Plus, it's a one pot/pan meal, so that means less clean up! The only changes I made was that (1) I cooked the chicken completely in the first step, then diced it and added the diced chicken where Melanie added the whole chicken breasts to finish cooking, and (2) when I drained the "oil" out of the pan, I actually saved it since it contained juices from cooking the chicken and used it as part of the chicken stock you add in later. If you would rather use canned mushrooms, you could just add them at the end with the green beans, but the fresh were great and cooked up beautifully. This was so good and will definitetly be hitting our table again!

Cheesy Skillet Chicken and Rice with Green Beans

*Serves 4-6

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)

1 medium onion, chopped

8 ounces white button mushrooms, brushed clean and quartered or sliced

4 medium garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press

1 ½ cups long grain white rice

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

½ pound frozen or fresh green beans

1 cup shredded sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is rippling and hot. Carefully lay each chicken breast in the skillet and cook until the chicken is well browned on the first side, about 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken with a pair of tongs and let it brown on the second side, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Drain all but about 1-2 tablespoons oil from the pan.

Return the pan to medium heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, scraping the browned bits off the bottom and edges of the pan, until the mushrooms begin to soften and start to brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add the rice and continue to cook until the edges of the rice turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken to the pan and cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the rice is mostly cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the skillet again, brushing off any rice that sticks to the chicken back into the skillet. Cover the chicken with foil to keep warm. Stir the green beans into the skillet, stir the mixture well, cover and continue to cook on low until the beans and rice are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Nacho Cheese Sauce

Nachos are an easy and quick meal. Plus they are versatile because you can put whatever toppings you want on them. I grew up just microwaving shredded cheese on top of the tortilla chips for nachos. But my mother-in-law serves them with this sauce, and it was a nice change. The sauce is very mild with no spice at all, which makes it great for kids. However, it would also be easy to spice up with some Tobasco sauce or red pepper flakes in the sauce, or with spicy salsa and/or jalepenos on top. Whether cooking for a crowd or for your family, this is sure to be a hit!
Nacho Cheese Sauce
2 cans Cambell's Cheddar condensed soup
1/2 cup sour cream**
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese**
Heat soup and sour cream together over medium until hot. Add cheese and stir until well combined. Serve over tortilla chips and top with desired taco toppings (i.e. taco meat, beans, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, olives, etc.)
**Amounts are approximate. Use what tastes good to you!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Broccoli and Ham Ring

This is an old Pampered Chef recipe that I remember my mom making when I was growing up. I wanted to make something different, but easy, for dinner, and I immediately thought of this. It can be a little pricey with the crescent roll dough, so buy the store brand or use your favorite homemade roll dough if needed. Or to compensate for the cost of the dough, you could used leftover meat- I think even chicken or turkey would substitute well in this recipe. I found this version on And I spaced taking a picture of the actual ring, and I didn't remember until it was too late. So if the instructions don't make sense in how to construct the ring, let me know and I'll help out as much as possible!

Broccoli and Ham Ring
4 oz. ham, chopped
4 oz. fresh broccoli, chopped
1/4 C. onion, chopped
1/2 C. fresh parsley, chopped (or about 1-1/2 Tbl dried parsley)
1 C. grated cheese (I used cheddar, but swiss would also be good)
2 T. Dijon-style mustard (I used regular prepared mustard)
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 packages refrigerated crescent rolls
Preheat oven 350ºF. Coarsely chop ham, broccoli and onion. Add parsley, cheese, mustard and lemon juice to ham mixture; mix well. Unroll crescent dough separate into 16 triangles. Arrange triangles in a circle on a 13 inch round baking stone (or a pizza pan or cookie sheet) with wide ends of triangles overlapping in the center and points toward the outside. (There should be about a 6-inch diameter opening in the center.) Scoop ham mixture evenly onto widest end of each triangle. Bring outside points of triangles up over filling and tuck under wide ends of dough at center of ring. (Filling will not be completely covered.) Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe comes from an old ward cookbook my mom gave me, but was submitted by one of my all-time favorite youth leaders I had- Amy Robinson. Amy was (and still is) a great role model for me and helped me to really find who I was. These cookies are best the day they are baked and the day after. They are similar to banana bread in that they get softer and stickier/gooier as they sit. It's a great way to use up bananas without having to fall back on the same ol' banana bread. These are delicious and I will be making them again!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup bananas (about 2 medium bananas)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup canned milk (I used regular 1% milk and it turned out fine)
1 tsp vanilla
2-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
Chocolate chips (I used 1-1/2 cups)
Mix all inredients. Bake at 350*F for 9 to 11 minutes (mine took 11 minutes- they don't brown very much on the top, so make sure they are set and if you are doubting, check the undersides for brownness with a spatula).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Meatless Chili

This is the best chili I have ever had--which automatically makes it the best I've ever made. Of course, it being the only chili I've ever made also makes it the best I've ever made.

I found it in a copy of Woman's Day magazine--which I love--and liked it so much I wrote it down. This version is slightly different, since I had to work with what I had, but it tastes so good! And it's not too spicy--just enough kick. And best of all, it's easy! So easy that even I, the Slow-Cooker Idiot, can succeed!

1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of kidney beans, rinsed
1 can of black beans, rinsed
1 c. frozen corn
1 can diced tomatoes, do not drain!
about 1 cup of water
2 T. cocoa powder
2 T. chili powder
1/2 t. hot pepper sauce--if you don't like any kick at all, this is what you want to leave out
2 t. cumin
a handful of chopped cilantro (not a biggy if you don't have it, but it's good, you should have it)

1. In a slow cooker, mix all ingredients but the cilantro. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
2. Stir in cilantro.
3. Serve with sour cream and cheese and corn bread.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups

Happy Labor Day! My sister-in-law Jamie introduced this yummy dish to me for lunch one day when all the kids were over and playing. It's very cool and refreshing- great for a hot day! It's also very quick and easy if you use the rotisserie chicken and preshredded carrots, but that does add to the cost of the meal. You could also add in other vegetables like peppers or celery, and you could add in almonds if you wanted. I think even orange segments might be good, too. Jamie originally got the recipe from the August 2010 edition of Womans Day Magazine. I hope you like it!

Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups
1 deli rotisserie chicken (or about 1 to 1-1/2 pounds chicken meat, chopped or shredded)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 can (8 oz) sliced water chestunuts, halved
6 scallions, diagonally sliced
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Asian sesame salad dressing
1 head Boston lettuce, separated into leaves (we used Romain lettuce- any lettuce should be fine)
Garnish: hot pepper flakes (optional- we didn't use)
Remove and discard chicken skin and pull meat off bones. Tear or cut meat into bit-size pieces. Place in a large bowl with carrots, water chestnuts and scallions. In a small bowl, whisk yogurt with salad dressing; toss with chicken mixture. Spoon into lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with hot pepper flakes, if using.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sauteed Vegetables

I've been trying to find healthy vegetable side dishes to serve with our main courses. You know, vegetables that aren't swimming in butter, cheese, or cream? I know, I know. Those three things make the veggies so much more palatable, but when trying to eat healthy they are a no-no. So I found this recipe in Debbie G. Harman's Cooking for Two Cookbook and I thought it tasted pretty good. My only complaint was that my potatoes were over cooked after the 15 minutes time to cook on their own plus the time to get the other veggies cooked. So next time I'll try 10 minutes on their own before I add in the broccoli and cauliflower.

Sauteed Vegetables

1 Tbl vegetable oil

3 small red potatoes

8 peeled baby carrots

1/2 cup chopped broccoli

1/2 cup chopped cauliflower

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

1 Tbl butter

salt and pepper, to taste

Place carrots and potatoes in 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Cover and steam on medium-low for 15 minutes. Add broccoli and cauliflower and steam 5 more minutes. Drain water. Heat oil in skillet. Turn vegetables into hot oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir-fry several minutes until vegetables are tender. Stir in butter and Italian seasoning until butter melts.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Crazy Chocolate Brownies

Sorry for no picture. But really, these look like every other chocolate brownie out there. So use your imagination!

I know what you're thinking. "Crazy?" The Essential Food Storage Cookbook by Tami Girsberger and Carol Peterson, the cookbook this recipe comes from, said that they are called "crazy" because they don't need any butter, milk, or eggs because it is made with everyday ingredients you can find in your FOOD STORAGE! I found that these brownies tasted better the next day. I also added a basic chocolate buttercream frosting on top once the brownies cooled, and I think it was a smart move. The brownies are pretty dense and more cake-like, and I feel like the frosting helped add moisture back into the brownies. I also found that 30 minutes was not long enough to get my brownies cooked all the way, so keep checking them (you know, use a toothpick in the middle). I ended up baking mine for 50 minutes, but I will try 45 minutes next time because I think they were slightly overcooked.

Crazy Chocolate Brownies

1/2 cup cocoa

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1-1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup oil

1 cup water

1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350* F. In a large bowl, stir first 5 ingredients. Add vanilla, oil and water. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into greased 9x13" pan (make sure it is greased really well). Bake for 30 minutes, or until done. (Mine took about 45-50 minutes to completely bake)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Brown Stir-Fry Sauce

I first had this recipe when I was visiting my mom a while ago. I am always a sucker for Chinese food, and this quickly made its way to the top of my home-cooked Chinese favorite dishes. I will be making this quite often! The recipe comes from Blog Chef and the picture is from the time I had the dish at my mom's (I've made it recently, but I forgot the picture!). You can also make the whole dish to your own taste. For example, we sauteed garden fresh vegetables and chicken, added the sauce and then served it over rice. But you could use any combination of meat and veggies that sounds good. This would also be a great clean-the-fridge-out dish!

Basic Stir Fry Sauce (Chinese Brown Sauce)

3 garlic cloves (minced)

4 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 ½ cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon oil

Step 1: In a bowl mix soy sauce, brown sugar, chicken broth and corn starch. Make sure the mixture is well combined and set aside.

Step 2: Add 1 teaspoon of oil to a wok or saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir fry for 10 seconds. Add the chicken broth mixture and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce becomes thickened and bubbly.

Pasta with Beef, Broccoli, and Tomatoes

This recipe came from the Betty Crocker Sunday Dinner Cookbook, and it was yummy! It was fun to incorporate beef steak and everyone seemed to like the flavor of the dish. My only complaint was that the sauce didn't thicken as much as I wanted it to, so next time I think I will add 3 or 4 tablespoons of cornstarch instead of just the 2. And the instructions didn't originally state to season with salt and pepper to taste at the end of cooking, but it's a must!
Pasta with Beef, Broccoli and Tomatoes

3/4 lb boneless sirloin beef steak
3 cups (9 oz.) uncooked radiatore pasta (I couldn't find it at the store so I used rotini)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 pkg (16 oz.) frozen broccoli cuts, thawed
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes with roasted garlic, undrained (I used Italian diced tomatoes)
1 (14-1/2 oz.) beef broth (or about 2 cups beef broth)
2 Tbl cornstarch
2 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper, to taste

Trim the fat from the steak and cut it into 1/4 inch strips.

Cook and drain the pasta according to package instructions. Spray a 12-inch skillet with cooking spray and heat ofer medium-high heat. Add beef to skillet. Sprinkle with pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until brown.

Stir in broccoli, tomatoes and broth. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occassionally, until broccoli is crisp-tender.

Mix cornstarch and worcestershire sauce. Stir into the beef mixture. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Toss beef mixture and pasta.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Creamed Peas and New Potatoes

My family and I moved in with my in-laws while we are looking for a job. That means that I take turn cookings with my mother-in-law. Well last night, she made this side dish, and it was delicious! I loved how the sauce was so creamy, plus it is an excellent alternative to the normal mashed potatoes. But don't mind my picture... it's not that great and I was too hungry to play around with my camera to get a better picture! :)

Creamed Peas and New Potatoes

from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book

1-1/2 pounds (about 15) tiny new potatoes (we used russetts, just peel and dice them)

1 to 1-1/2 cups fresh peas (we used frozen peas; this would also equate to about 1 or 1-1/2 pounds shelled peas)

3 Tbl sliced green onion (we left this out)

4 tsp butter or margarine (we prefer butter)

4 tsp flour

1 cup milk

(salt and pepper to taste)

Scrub potatoes; pare off narrow strip of peel around center of each. Cook in boiling salted water 15 to 20 minutes; drain. Meanwhile, cook peas and onion in small amount of boiling salted water 8 to 15 minutes; drain. Make a white sauce of butter, flour, dash salt, and milk. Combine vegtetabes and sauce (and season with salt and pepper to taste). Serves 4 to 6.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Crepes, or french pancakes, are a delicious alternative to the regular pancake or waffle. They are also versatile, as you can fill them with anything you want. My favorite is to put a little butter, some cut up strawberries and fresh whipped cream on top. This time we had them with butter, cinnamon sugar, and sweetened whipped cream. My picture shows them folded and topped, but if you prefer, you could fill them and then roll them like a burrito. These are also very easy. Each crepe cooks quickly, which is great news since it means less time until you can each a delicate, but delicious breakfast! This recipe comes from the ward cookbook my mom gave me and was submitted by Shannon Carlson.


1 Tbl sugar
1-1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup milk (I used 2/3 cup powdered milk and 2 cups water)
2 whole eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbl butter or margarine, melted (I used canola oil)

Beat all ingredients together with a rotary beater (or hand-held electric beater). For each crepe, lightly butter an 8 inch skillet; heat over medium heat until butter is bubbly. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into skillet. Rotate pan until buatter covers bottom. Cook until it bubbles (the edges will also start to brown); flip once. Cook until golden brown. Fill with desired filling.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Honey Lime Fruit Salad

Another winner from Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe, this salad was a perfect compliment to the BBQ chicken and steak we had with a group of friends. I have a hard time with the texture of canned madarin oranges, so I actually opted to use fresh fruit instead of canned. It did make it more expensive, but I didn't mind. To me, there is nothing better than fresh fruit during the summer! Yum!

Honey Lime Fruit Salad

1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks, drained well (I used one small fresh pineapple, peeled and diced)

1 can mandarin oranges, drained well (I used 2 fresh oranges, peeled and diced)

2-3 ripe kiwi, peeled and sliced into thick half moons

1 cup green grapes, halved

1 cup strawberries, quartered

Zest from one lime (I also added a squeeze or two of fresh lime juice)

about 1 tablespoon2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon poppy seeds (optional- I left them out)

Combine the fruit in a medium-large serving bowl. Add the lime zest and poppy seeds, if using, and gently toss. Drizzle the honey over the fruit and again, gently mix until the fruit is evenly coated with the honey. Serve.

**Note: This fruit salad is best served right away (or at least within an hour of making) because the strawberries tend to stain the light colored fruit. It doesn't affect the taste at all but is a slight bummer for presentation.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Island Chicken

Here's another fabulous recipe from the talented Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe. This chicken is so delicious and is a wonderful change from the regular baked chicken seasoned only with seasoned salt and pepper. I love the lemon zing the lemon juice gives to the chicken, and the leftovers we had were great diced and used in chicken Caesar salad wraps. Yum! We will definitely revisit this recipe in the future!

Grilled Island Chicken

1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1-2 lemons)
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-4 chicken breasts

Combine all ingredients except chicken in a mixing bowl or large airtight plastic bag. Whisk or shake well until the marinade is well mixed. Add the chicken breasts to the bowl or plastic bag so that they are covered by the marinade. If using a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap. If using a plastic bag, press out all the excess air and seal the bag tightly. Refrigerate and marinate up to 10 hours (I would suggest marinading for at least 3 hours at the minimum).

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. Grill the chicken for 6-7 minutes per side (depending on how thick the chicken breasts are), until the chicken is no longer pink in the center (if you have a meat thermometer, the chicken should register 165 degrees). Tent with foil and let the chicken rest for about five minutes before serving.

Alternately, the chicken can be baked using the following directions:
When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and pour the excess marinade over them. Bake in the oven until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165° F, about 45 minutes (exact baking time will depend on the size of your chicken pieces.) Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How to save on produce: Bountiful Basket

Here's a tip that I've been wanting to share with you for awhile. Do you hate how much it costs to buy the fresh fruits and vegetables that are in grocery stores? Well, there's this wonderful, non-profit, produce co-op called Bountiful Basket, and I have been participating over the last several months. It costs about $16.50 for a conventional basket of produce (50% vegetables, 50% fruits) that would normally cost upwards around $50 if you were to buy it from the store. And the best thing is that it is the same produce that stores and restaurants are purchasing, so you know it is high quality. They also offer breads, crackers, specialty produce baskets, cases of seasonal fruit, and organic produce baskets (These extras cost more, and I've never bough them, but I've heard they are good). The downside is that you don't pick the fruits and vegetables, so you have to be willing to try new produce. I have found that they are pretty normal. The only "weird" things I've ever received were a coconut and swiss chard. But I love getting my new basket every 2 weeks- it's almost like Christmas! Unfortunately, Bountiful Baskets isn't established everywhere. So if you are interested, visit their website found here to see if there is a co-op near you and to find out more information.

***Bountiful Baskets has not contacted me to share this information. I am just a satisfied member of the contribution pool who wants to share a key way to save money while eating healthy!***

Produce photo found here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

PW (No Knead) Dinner Rolls

Do you have a hard time kneading your bread by hand because you don't have a fancy machine to do it for you? Then this recipe is for! The Pioneer Woman shared these on her blog a while ago, but I just got around to trying them out because I wanted to do something new. I am so glad that I gave this a whirl! They are more time consuming than the rolls I usually make because I just throw that recipe into the bread machine and forget about it until it's time to shape them, let them rise, and then bake. With this recipe, I had to babysit my dough a little more, but it isn't hard and it gives you great results! It's also a great recipe because you can make the dough 1-2 days ahead of when you want it, and it will store great in the refrigerator. Just remember to take the dough out of the fridge 1-2 hours before you need to shape them. And the only problem I had with this recipe was that my first dozen rolls were rather toasty when I checked them at 14 minutes. When I used the rest of the dough the next day, they were done at 12 minutes when I checked them. I did also find that I could have made about 2-1/2 dozen rolls with the dough I made, even though PW says it should make 2 dozen. All in all, this is a great recipe that yields fluffy rolls! (In fact, it took a lot of restraint to keep from eating them all!)

PW Dinner Rolls- No Kneading Required!

  • 4 cups Milk
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 9 cups Flour (I used bread flour)
  • 2 packages (4 1/2 Tsp.) Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 2 Tablespoons Salt

Pour 4 cups of milk into a stock pot or Dutch oven. Add one cup of sugar and 1 cup of vegetable oil. Stir to combine. Now, turn the burner on medium to medium-low and “scald” the mixture/lukewarm (between 90 and 110 degrees).

Before the mixture boils, turn off the heat. NOW. Very important stuff here: walk away. Walk away and allow this mixture to cool to warm/lukewarm. The mixture will need to be warm enough to be a hospitable environment for the yeast, but not so hot that it kills the yeast and makes it inactive. I don’t usually use a thermometer, but if you’d like to, a good temperature is between 90 and 110 degrees. I usually feel the side of the pan with the palm of my hand. If it’s hot at all, I wait another 20 minutes or so. The pan should feel comfortably warm.

When the mixture is the right temperature add in 4 cups of flour and 2 packages of (4-1/2 teaspoons) of active dry yeast. After the yeast and flour are nicely incorporated, add another 4 cups of flour. Stir together and allow to sit, covered with a tea towel or lid, for an hour. After about an hour it should have almost doubled in size. If it hasn’t changed much, put it in a warm (but turned off ) oven for 45 minutes or so. When it had risen sufficiently add 1 more cup of flour, 1 heaping teaspoon of baking powder, 1 scant teaspoon of baking soda and about 2 tablespoons of salt. Stir (or knead just a bit) until combined.

Butter 1 or 2 muffin pans. Form the rolls by pinching off a walnut sized piece of dough and rolling it into a little ball. Repeat and tuck three balls of dough into each buttered muffin cup. Continue until pan is full. Cover and allow to rise for about 1 to 2 hours.

Bake in a 400-degree oven until golden brown, about 17 to 20 minutes (mine were done at 12 minutes).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Curried Apricot Glaze for Chicken or Chops

A recipe, AND A PICTURE! Impressed? So am I.

This was so easy. I actually decided about five minutes before I started that this is what we would have for dinner! (I'm usually a big planner when it comes to dinners, so this is a biggy.) I didn't have everything so I compromised. (My compromises will be in parentheses next to the real ingredients.)

1 can apricot nectar (2 T. fruit medley baby food and 1 T. or so of water)
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. soy sauce
1 t. curry powder (maybe a little more)
2 sliced fresh apricots
2 green onions (I didn't have any, but I think it would be even better with them!)

1. Mix first four ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk.

2. In pan, lightly sautee apricots and onions for about 2 min. Pour curry mixture into pan and cook for an additional 2 or 3 minutes--until slightly thickened.

We ate it over baked chicken and rice with creamed corn. (I wouldn't eat it with the corn again, but it was what we had that could be cooked up in three minutes.) The original recipe served it over pan-seared pork chops, which is pretty easy too. I just didn't have those on hand. This makes enough for two people.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli (aka Olive Garden Minestrone Soup)

Thanks for being patient with me the last couple of weeks. I am back in town now, but we are now getting ready to move out of state. I am trying to have some posts scheduled so that there will be something new to look at every couple of days, but if I disappear again, please know I will be back soon! I've just got to pack, move, and then unpack, etc. etc. Whenever I go to the Olive Garden, I almost always get the same thing- the soup and salad combo with minestrone soup. I love it! So when I was visiting my family last week, my mom suggested we make this recipe for dinner one night and I'm so glad we did! It tastes every bit like the wonderful soup at OG, but now I can make it at home for way cheaper than it is to buy a bowl and their salad. Mmmmmm! The day we chose to make this soup ended up being rather busy, so we followed the first 2 steps and then threw everything, except the pasta, into the crockpot and let it simmer while we were gone. Then about 20-30 minutes before we sat down for dinner, we stirred in the cooked pasta (so make sure you cook your pasta ahead of time if you want to cook it this way). We also had some fresh peas from the garden that we threw into the mix, and you could do that with any vegetables you have hanging around. It was so delicious and I can't wait to make this again!

Pasta e Fagioli (aka Olive Garden Minestrone Soup)
1 pound ground beef 1 small onion, diced (1 cup) 1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup) 3 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup) 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes 1 15-ounce can red beans (with liquid) 1 15-ounce can great northern beans (with liquid) 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce 1 12-ounce can V-8 juice 1 tablespoon white vinegar 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon oregano 1 teaspoon basil 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/2 teaspoon thyme 1/2 pound (1/2 pkg.) ditali pasta 1. Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Drain off most of the fat. 2. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. 3. Add remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour. 4. About 50 minutes into simmer time, cook the pasta in 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is al dente, or slightly tough. Drain. 5. Add the pasta to the large pot of soup. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and serve. Serves 8.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Time Away

I feel like I keep doing this to those of you who actually follow this blog, but I have been and will be busy with family, so I'm going to take another week or so off from blogging so I can focus on those that mean most to me. Thanks for understanding and for your patience!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pistachio Fruit Salad

After I had my second baby, a good friend brought me dinner and as dessert, she made this. It is quite possibly the most delicious fruit salad I have ever had! My absolute favorite part was the tiny pistachios from the pudding mix that are crunchy and almost remind me of toffee bits. I am so glad that I asked her for the recipe because it is something I'll be making again and again. Plus, it is very versatile as you can use whatever fruit you want. I chose to use grapes and oranges, but you could use anything you want. I wanted to put bananas in it, but I knew we would have leftovers and I didn't want them to go brown. I listed the ingredients below, but besides the pudding and whipped topping, it is more of a guideline. So use as much or as little of the fruit and marshmallows that you want.

Pistachio Fruit Salad

1 box of pistachio pudding mix (the 4 serving one)
1 large container of frozen whipped topping, thawed
mini marshmallows, either fruit flavored or regular, as many as desired
around 2 cups chopped fruit, either fresh or canned

Combine pudding mix with whipped topping. Fold in marshmallows and fruit. Chill until ready to serve.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

I've had my eye on this dessert for quite some time and when I was craving something chocolate and gooey, I immediately thought of this beauty from Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe. Instead of icecream, I paired it with fresh raspberries and freshly whipped whipping cream. And I didn't have any chocolate chips on hand, so those were sadly left out, but it was delicious! Even my chocolate disliking husband (I know! I don't know what he's thinking!) ate a big serving! However you serve it, though, you will need a tall glass of milk to wash it down as it is very rich. But, I ask you, what is better than a warm, gooey, chocolatey delight and a glass of ice cold milk?

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

1 cup sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips (I left these out with good results)
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Whisk ½ cup sugar with ¼ cup cocoa powder and set aside.

Whisk the flour, remaining ½ cup sugar, remaining ¼ cup cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk milk, butter, egg yolk, and vanilla in medium bowl until smooth. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips (the batter will be stiff).

Using a rubber spatula, scrape batter into prepared pan and spread into corners. Sprinkle reserved cocoa and sugar mixture evenly over the top. Gently pour boiling water over cocoa. Do not stir.

Bake until the top of the cake is cracked, sauce is bubbling and a toothpick inserted into cakey area comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 22-24 minutes. Cool on rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Beef Enchiladas

Wow, I can't believe it has been almost a whole week since I've posted anything. Sorry for those who keep checking to see if there's anything new! I'll try to spend some time on getting posts together this weekend so I can get back on track.

Also, I want to apologize for the picture. I know it is hard to tell what you are looking at and it might look a little gross to you. However, I promise that this is an AWESOME meal. I decided to make beef enchiladas, which I found on my mom's blog, but since I don't get along well with corn tortillas- as in they always crumble- I decided to make it a casserole. After we had dinner, my husband quickly added this meal to his all-time favorite dinner list. We hope you like it, too!

Beef Enchiladas

For the filling:
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper

For Sauce:
1 small can of diced green chilies
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

8 corn tortillas (5 or 6 inches in diameter)
Shredded cheese, sour cream and chopped onions, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350°.

2. Cook beef in 10-inch skillet over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown; drain. Stir in onion, sour cream, 1 cup cheese, the parsley and pepper. Cover and remove from heat.

3. Heat water, chili powder, oregano, cumin, chilies, garlic and tomato sauce to boiling in 2-quart saucepan, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 5 minutes. Pour into ungreased pie plate, 9 X 1 1/4 inches. (Casserole directions follow original directions)

4. Dip each tortilla into sauce in pie plate to coat both sides. Spoon about 1/4 cup beef mixture onto each tortilla; roll tortilla around filling. Place seam side down in ungreased rectangular baking dish, 11 X 7 X 1 1/2 inches. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas.

5. Bake uncovered about 20 minutes or until bubbly. Garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream and chopped onions.

Casserole directions:
I just put a little bit of the sauce in the bottom of a round casserole dish, and then layered tortillas with the filling mixture and more sauce. I used 8 tortillas per filling recipe, but some of the layers I made just cheese since we like cheese at our house. After you put on the last tortilla, pour more sauce over the top and place more cheese on top and bake as directed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Maple Pancake Syrup

We eat a lot of breakfast foods at our house (like things of the waffle and pancake variety) and I'm always looking for ways to change it up. When I found this recipe, I thought it would be fun to try since I usually just make plain ol' buttermilk syrup. This was sooooo good, and is another winning recipe from an old ward cookbook. I particularly like this recipe because you can use regular milk or buttermilk depending on what you have on hand. And if you happen to have leftovers, they store well in the fridge. Just reheat and serve! And I didn't take a picture of this one, but I think everyone knows what pancake syrup looks like. Try it and you'll be in heaven!

Maple Pancake Syrup

1 cube (1/2 cup) butter or margarine (I used butter)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk (I haven't tried it yet, but I think buttermilk would be fine, too)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp maple flavoring (I bought a 2 oz bottle for $3- which will last a while)

Bring to a boil in a medium sized saucepan, then remove from heat and serve warm.

When I "boiled" mine, it didn't actually boil like water does. Instead, it got really frothy and started expanding, at which point I stirred it and cooked it for a couple of minutes just to be safe. (So make sure you use a saucepan that is bigger than what you think need or you might have to clean up a sticky stove top.)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Teriyaki Chicken Casserole

I know this dish looks rather unassuming, but it was delicious! The recipe came from the book 101 Things To Do With A Casserole by Stephanie Ashcraft and Janet Eyring. I added some sliced red onion to the mixture before I cooked it (just a few slices- I was using up some that I had in the fridge already). This was easy and very appealing to our family. I will be making this again!

Teriyaki Chicken Casserole
2 raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed (I used 3)
1 can (15 oz) chicken broth (I used 2 cups water and 2 tsp chicken bouillon granules)
2 Tbl brown sugar
2 Tbl soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 can (8 oz) pineapple chunks, drained

Preheat oven to 350*F. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer mixture to a greased 9" x 13" baking pan. Cover and bake 1 hour, or until rice is done (I didn't cover mine and it turned out fine). Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sticky Coconut Chicken

If you still haven't visited My Kitchen Cafe, you really need to. I can always find something that sounds good, and I have never tried one of Melanie's recipes that I didn't like! As I'm sure you can guess, this recipe is no exception! I made this for dinner one night when I was visiting my family in Boise and it was all gone after dinner! Even the landscaping guys could smell it cooking and wanted in! I used chicken tenders when I made this dish and it worked fine, so I'm sure any cut of chicken would work fine. You definitely won't be disappointed after you make this! (Photo courtesy of my mom- thanks mom!)

Sticky Coconut Chicken

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used about 3 pounds chicken tenders)
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger (or use 1 tsp dried ginger, but I did use fresh)
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (my mom's flakes were hiding, so I used 1 tsp chili oil)

3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (again, I used 1 tsp chili oil)

Marinade chicken in coconut milk, ginger, pepper and red pepper flakes at least one hour (Melanie likes to let hers marinade for about four to five hours). Grill on barbecue.

While the chicken is grilling, bring glaze ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until mixture is reduced and thickened, about 8-10 minutes. (If you are using chicken tenders or pieces of chicken that will cook fast, I would make the glaze before you start grilling.) Be patient because it takes a little while. But once it starts getting really thick, immediately take it off the heat! Glaze both sides of chicken the last few minutes of grilling and serve chicken over rice.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Citrus Water Punch

This is such a refreshing drink and I'm excited to make it in the summer! It tastes like a limeade, and is sooooo good! It tastes better than store bought lemonade/limeade and is a lot healthier for you, too! Thanks to Melanie from My Kitchen Cafe for the recipe! You can find the citric acid at most health food stores (if you live in Rexburg, ID- I found some at Nature's Nook). Make this! You'll be glad you did!

Citrus Water Punch

2 tablespoons citric acid (you can find this at most pharmacies or natural food stores)
5 quarts water
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons pure lemon extract
3 sliced lemons
3 sliced limes
Crushed ice

In a large pitcher or punch bowl, stir water, sugar, citric acid, and lemon extract together. Add sliced fruit and ice.

A note from Melanie: *Note: as mentioned by commenters (and I’ve received emails about it), if you have leftover punch, remove the sliced limes and lemons before refrigerating. The limes and lemons will give the punch an overly sour acidic taste if the punch is stored overnight that way.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

PW Sloppy Joes

The wonderful Pioneer Woman inspired this dish and it was well worth the effort. I would highly recommend serving these on homemade hamburger buns, too. The sloppy joes were excellently flavored and also served as a hideout for some peppers and tomatoes I had lurking around my house waiting to be used. This is definitely something the whole family can enjoy!

PW Sloppy Joes

  • 2 Tablespoons Butter (I used olive oil to brown the veggies in and nothing for the beef)
  • 2-½ pounds Ground Beef
  • ½ whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 1 whole Large Green Bell Pepper, Diced (I also added in 1-2 diced tomatoes)
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1-½ cup Ketchup
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder (more To Taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Mustard (I used about 2 -3 tsp prepared mustard)
  • ½ teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes (more To Taste)
  • Worcestershire Sauce To Taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste (optional) (I left out)
  • Tabasco Sauce (optional; To Taste) (I left out)
  • Salt To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • Kaiser Rolls (I used homemade hamburger buns)
  • Butter
Add butter to a large skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Drain most of the fat and discard.

Add onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until vegetables begin to get soft.

Add ketchup, brown sugar, chili pepper, dry mustard, and water. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Also add tomato paste, Worcestershire, and Tabasco if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Spread rolls with butter and brown on a griddle or skillet. Spoon meat mixture over the rolls, topping with a slice of cheese if it makes your skirt fly up. Serve hot with kettle cooked chips!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Homemade Hamburger Buns

I've been wanting a good homemade hamburger bun recipe for a long time and

I finally found one! These are light and airy like store-bought, but taste so much better! This recipe came from

Hamburger Buns


  • 2 cups warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/4 cup margarine, melted (I used vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed (I used bread flour)


  1. In a large bowl, stir together the milk, margarine, warm water, sugar and yeast. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
  2. Mix in the salt, and gradually stir in the flour until you have a soft dough. Let rise until doubled. Divide into 25 pieces, and form into balls. Place on baking sheets so they are 2 to 3 inches apart. Let rise until desired height, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake the rolls for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool slightly, then split them in half horizontally to fill with your favorite burgers.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Penne with Tomato Cream Sauce

This was a delicious dinner when I made it! I got it out of The All New Better Housekeeping Cook Book that I checked out of the library (which is an excellent place to go when you need meal ideas! And I mean both the cookbook and the library!) While it is similar to spaghetti, it is different enough that even if you had spaghetti the night before you'd still enjoy this dish. You could make it even heartier by adding cooked ground beef, chicken or even ham. We will definitely make this fast, easy, and delectable meal again!

Penne with Tomato Cream
1 Tbl Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (I used 2 Tbl dehydrated chopped onion)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (I used my garlic press)
1/8 to 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (I just added a pinch)
1 can (28 ounces) tomatoes in puree, coarsely chopped (the closest I could find was S&W crushed tomatoes in a rich sauce)
3 Tbl vodka (optional; I left it out)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 package (16 oz) penne or rotini
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced (I just sprinkled in some dry basil into my sauce, probably about 2 tsp)

1. In a nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes (If using dehydrated onion, add with the garlic). Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook until garlic is golden brown, about 30 seconds longer. Stir in tomatoes with their puree, vodka if using, and salt; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce has thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in cream and peas; heat to boiling.

2. Meanwhile, in large saucepot, cook pasta as label directs. Drain. Toss pasta with sauce and sprinkle with basil. Makes 4 main-dish servings (It made enough for 4 adults and some leftovers when I made it, but I also served it with fruit and dinner muffins).

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