Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dark Gingerbread

If you're looking for something delicious to eat and you want your house to smell heavenly in a fallish-holiday type of way, then you should definitely give this dark gingerbread a try. It's a recipe my mom made when I was growing up. It's moist, flavorful and very enjoyable both hot and warm. It's currently in my oven and I'm planning on topping my piece with a spoonful of my favorite coconut whipped cream. I am so excited to be enjoying this recipe for dessert tonight!! If you have molasses on hand, you probably have all of the other ingredients already.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

½ cup shortening
½ cup sugar
1 egg
2 ½ cup flour
1 ½ teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cloves
1 cup dark molasses
1 cup hot water

Melt shortening. Cool. Add sugar and egg. Beat. Sift dry ingredients. Mix molasses and water. Add alternately with sifted dry ingredients to sugar mixture. Pour into 9x9x2 inches pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with a dollop of whipping cream.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Baked Potato Curls

This is practically a meal in itself, but also goes great with steak or anything else on the grill. It was designed for The Pampered Chef's Deep Covered Baker stone, but could be made in any casserole dish. I served it for my husband's birthday, with grilled steaks and a tomato and fresh mozzarella salad, and he said the meal was better than going out to a steakhouse!

Peel and slice 4 potatoes and place in casserole dish. Chop 1 bunch green onion tops and place in medium bowl. Fry 4-5 strips bacon and chop into fine bits, then add to green onions (real bacon bits work fine, too). Press 2 garlic cloves into bowl and mix with one cup shredded cheddar, 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup melted butter. Mix together and spoon over potatoes. Cover; bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Coconut Whipped Cream

If you like coconut and you like whipped cream, you're going to love this! I had heard about it and thought it was an interesting idea but I absolutely LOVED it when I tried it.

Buy a can of Coconut Milk. It needs to be full fat and preferably not generic (the generic ones are too thin). I buy the Thai Kitchen ones at Vitamin Cottage. They cost less there than my regular grocery store. Leave the can in the fridge for awhile and then open it and scoop off the thick, white part on top. Do NOT shake it before you open it. Save the clear liquid part for smoothies or to drink.

Put the thick part of the coconut milk in your blender and beat until fluffy. Add a small amount of vanilla and a little sugar if you'd like. Serve on pumpkin pie, smoothies or anything else that floats your boat. This stuff is SO good. It saves well for a few days so just put the rest in the fridge for later.

Bacon Cheddar Potato Soup

This is another Vita-mix recipe and it's delicious! I love the flavors the rosemary and dill bring into the soup. It's hearty and yet still healthy. I substituted ham for the bacon as that's what I had in the freezer.

Yield: 4 cups

Speed: Variable to High to Variable
Time: 4 minutes

2 cups (480 ml) skim milk
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, baked
1/3 cup (40 g) shredded, low fat cheddar cheese
1/4 small onion, sautéed
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces (55 g) turkey bacon, cooked, crumbled
1. Place milk, one potato, cheese, onion, dill weed, rosemary and salt into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
2. Select Variable 1.
3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
4. Blend for 4 minutes or until heavy steam escapes from the vented lid.
5. Reduce speed to Variable 3.
6. Remove the lid plug. Drop in remaining potato and bacon. Blend for an additional 10 seconds, until chopped.

Health Classification: Low Fat, Low Cholesterol, Heart Healthy, Gluten-Free
Meal Type: Soups

Persimmon Pudding

I absolutely love Fall {who doesn't} and all the tasty treats that come with it. Here is one that I haven't made for awhile but definitely would like to make this season if I can find ripe persimmons in the grocery store. Although it is called "pudding" it really reminds me of dark gingerbread. My mom would make it and serve it with whipped cream. I think I'm going to have to try it with coconut whipped cream because I'm sure that would be incredible with this. 
Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

1/3 cup melted butter
1 beaten egg
1 cup sieved ripened Persimmons
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup milk

1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
 2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt

Combine the two mixtures. Stir thoroughly, pour into buttered baking dish and place in shallow pan of hot water, cover and bake at 350 for 1 hour. Remove, cover, and brown for 10 more minutes. Serve with cream.
*Prepare one recipe at a time. Do NOT double!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Smoothie

I was hanging out with my friend, Kendall, and she asked if I wanted a pumpkin smoothie. At first it sounded strange to me but I was up for trying anything new and then I thought of how much people love Starbucks Pumpkin Latte's and such. She made this pumpkin smoothie out of her Vita-mix cookbook. The original recipe can be found here on their website. (Just look for Pumpkin sp-Iced treat)

Kendall was out of cream cheese so she replaced it with yogurt and it was still extremely delicious! If you want a taste of Fall but it's still hot where you are, you should definitely give this drink a try. The best part is, it's pretty healthy!


1/4 cup (60 ml) low fat milk or soy milk
1/2 pie pumpkin baked, flesh removed or 1 cup (240 ml) solid pack canned pumpkin
1/4 cup (60 g) light cream cheese
3/4 cup (165 g) brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
6 cups (1.4 l) ice cubes
On top of the smoothie, Kendall dropped a dollap of coconut whipped cream. It is SO GOOD!! She also served it to me with pumpkin pie. The combo of coconut and pumpkin is absolutely amazing!!
1. Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
2. Select Variable 1.
3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
4. Use the tamper to press ingredients into the blades.
5. In about 30-60 seconds, the sound of the motor will change and four mounds should form.
6. Stop machine. Do not overmix or melting will occur. Serve immediately.

Health Classification: Low Fat, Low Sodium, Low Cholesterol, Heart Healthy, Vegetarian
Meal Type: Desserts/Toppings

Chicken with Cucumbers

I know, it sounds weird! But, an abundance of cucumbers from my garden led me to a search for new recipes containing cucumbers. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of this one, and my husband liked it, too, which is amazing since he doesn't really care for raw cucumbers. It really is fresh-tasting, and the sauce is yummy. I would recommend using chicken stock instead of the granules and water as it adds a lot of flavor. I served it over orzo pasta. From

1 broiler/fryer chicken (3-1/2 to 4 pounds), cut up
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (I doubled this and still felt like it wasn't that much, but I love mushrooms)
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-3/4 cups water
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
2 large cucumbers
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown chicken in oil. Remove chicken and set aside. To drippings, add mushrooms and garlic; saute 2 minutes. Stir in flour until mushrooms are coated. Gradually add water and bouillon; cook and stir over medium heat until bubbly.
Return chicken to the skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, slice one cucumber into thin slices; set aside. Peel remaining cucumber; slice in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Cut into 1-in. chunks. Add to skillet and simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.
Stir sour cream into sauce; heat through but do not boil. Garnish with reserved cucumber slices. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spinach Salad

A number of years ago, I went to a baby shower for my friend Kristal and a lady from our Sunday School class, Kathy, made this salad as part of the main course. It was delicious and I made sure to get the recipe. I've been thinking about making it all summer and I finally bought all the ingredients this week so it's what we're having tonight and I'm excited! It's delicious, fresh and full of flavor! Try some tonight!

Spinach Salad
Use mostly spinach and a little spring lettuce
Garlic herb feta cheese
Chopped Kalamata olives (these are very strong but work really well in this salad)
Grilled chicken
Grape Tomatoes

For the dressing, infuse (blend in a food processor) equal parts of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a dash of black pepper. Toss all together just before serving. This is a very flavorful, delicious salad!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Meatless Tacos

Another great way to use up the abundance of squash this time of year. My husband and I loved this. The jury was split as far as the kids were concerned, but hey, at least one of them liked it! I think other veggies would be good as well, such as chopped bell pepper, onion, garlic, etc.

3 T. olive or vegetable oil
1 cup cubed potatoes
2 cups cubed zucchini
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tsp. chili powder
dash salt and pepper
12 taco shells
Toppings as desired: shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, green onion, chopped cucumber

Heat taco shells according to package directions.

Heat oil over med-hi heat. Saute potatoes for 8-10 minutes or until tender. Add zucchini during the last few minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients except toppings. Fill heated taco shells and top as desired.

Spiced Carrot-Zucchini Bread

Everyone's probably baking lots of zucchini bread right now, and here is a recipe with a slightly different twist. My cousin, who is deployed in Afghanistan, said the zucchini bread I sent him was the only one he got that was still moist. My aunt asked me how I did it, and I'm not exactly sure, as it was a while ago!! The only thing I can think of was that I sent him a loaf of this bread, and the carrots kept it moist. Even if I'm wrong on that part, it's still a yummy, easy bread. The spices seem to be louder than in regular zucchini bread. Perhaps the carrots set them off? I like that aspect, but if you're not a huge cinnamon or cloves fan you may consider reducing them a tad.

from The Pampered Chef

2 1/4 c. flour (I usually use 3/4 - 1 cup of whole wheat)
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder (original recipe calls for 1/2 tsp. I live at high altitude and reduce it)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 c. finely chopped carrots - I don't know who has time to finely chop carrots when you could just shred them! That's what I always use. I've also subbed shredded apple in a pinch
3/4 c. finely chopped zucchini (same as above!!)
1/2 c. coarsely chopped nuts
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350. Spray bottom only of greased loaf pan with Pam. In large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients; stir just until dry ingredients moistened.

Spoon batter into pan. Bake 65-70 min. or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 min. Loosen sides of loaf from pan; remove loaf to cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amazing Pesto

POWER BASIL PESTO -Osage's infamous recipe
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
4 TBS virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp salt
1 to 2 cloves garlic
1-TBS Hot pasta water*

After lightly desteming the basil, blanch the basil for ~1 minute in boiling water. Remove the basil from the water with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander for a short time. This blanching gives the pesto a rich wonderful creamy texture.
In a blender or cuisinart blend the olive oil, garlic, salt and blanched basil. Blend for a minute and clean down the sides of the bowl. Add toasted nuts and blend. Last add the parmesan cheese.
Blend until creamy. * Hot Pasta water as needed. Best served fresh or room temperature.

This recipe is from Osage Gardens and it really is super tasty. They have many other herb recipes as well as other types of pesto recipes. I'll definitely be trying more of their recipes!

The blanching is what sets this pesto apart from other recipes I've seen or made. I don't mind the garlic but if you want the flavor of the basil to be prominent, use a smaller amount of garlic or possibly none at all.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Corn Edamame Salad

In the words of my friend Jen, this "tastes like summer". It came from Parents magazine, as a way to try to get kids to eat veggies. They might try it if they like corn. But adults love it, too!!

3 ears corn
2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame, cooked and drained
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 slivered green sweet pepper, or your favorite color
2 Tbs. red-wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Husk corn and brush with 1 tsp. oil. Grill on medium heat about 15 minutes, or until tender, turning occasionally to brown evenly. Remove and let cool.

2. Cut kernels from the corncobs into a large bowl. Add edamame, tomato and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir dressing into corn mixture. Serve at room temperature or cover and chill for up to 3 days. Makes about 6 cups.

Note: I also have subbed 1 can corn, drained, rather than grilling the corn.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The New York Times No-Knead Bread

This bread is very low-maintenance and tastes like it's not! Be sure to use instant yeast, not to be confused with Rapid Rise. I did, and it took me awhile to figure out what I was doing wrong! Although my friend who gave me the recipe always uses Rapid Rise. Not sure why it works for her and not me! It comes out crusty on the outside, spongy in. Delicious with butter, or jam.

3 c. all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. salt
cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 c. water, and stir until blended. Dough will be sticky and shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 min.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450. Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into it, seam side up; it may look like a mess but that is OK. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighen out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 min., then remove lid and bake another 15-30 min, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack. Makes 1 1/2 lb. loaf.

Chicken and Barley Soup

We are still having rainy, gloomy weather in Glenwood Springs, which to me is a perfect reason to make soup in my crock pot and smell it cooking all day long! My hubby loves this because of the barley. I served it with No-Knead Bread. From Susan Richardson of Libertyville, IL.

1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, cut into thin slices.
1/2 cup medium pearled barley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cut up whole chicken (about 3 lb)
1 T. olive oil
3 1/2 c. chicken broth (I used 1 cup broth and the rest water as I think the chicken makes its own flavorful broth and doesn't need added salt)
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 tsp. salt (I left it out)
1/2 tsp. dried basil (I used about 1 tsp., plus 1 tsp. rosemary because I love it!)
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1. Place celery, onion, carrot, barley and garlic in slow cooker.

2. Remove and discard skin from chicken pieces. Separate drumsticks from thighs and trim back bone from breasts. Save wings for another use. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; brown chicken pieces on all sides. Place chicken in slow cooker.

3. Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker. (I left out the herbs and added them about 20 min. before serving for stronger flavor) Cook on low 7-8 hours or high 4 hours or until chicken and barley are tender. Remove chicken; separate chicken from bones and cut/shred into bite-size pieces. Discard bones. Stir chicken into soup. Makes 4-6 servings.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fondant Frosting & Glaze for Sugar Cookies

I found this recipe on Simple Organized Living and thought it looked like a fabulous idea! My MOPS group was going to make cookies for the Moppet workers and I suggested we try this for the frosting. It was a little bit of trial and error but the cookies turned out beautifully and I will definitely be using this fondant frosting and glaze again.

TIPS: You definitely need a mixer to work with the fondant. It's too tough otherwise. We made one batch of fondant and one batch of glaze. We had two batches of cookie dough (we used store bought and one homemade...but not off Simple Organized Living's website) and ended up with extra fondant for probably another 10 cookies and some extra glaze. All together, we frosted about 40 regular sized cookies. The fondant melts enough to stick to the cookies but still held it's shape and didn't melt as much as we expected. We found that it works better to roll the fondant thin (1/8 of an inch or so). The fondant can become a little dry and more difficult to work with if left out too long. You can actually roll it out and cut out the shapes first. The fondant stacks well and doesn't stick together so it's something you can prep ahead of time if desired. Whatever order you do it in, just make sure that you have the fondant ready to add to the cookies as soon as they come out of the oven!

8-10 oz white mini marshmallows
2 T water
1 T flavoring (1/2 vanilla and 1/2 almond)
1 lb powdered sugar, plus more to add until recipe is right consistency
Vegetable shortening for bowl
Food coloring

  1. Grease the inside of a glass microwaveable bowl.
  2. Add marshmallows, water, and vanilla -- microwave on high for 30 seconds; stir and microwave on high at 30 second intervals until marshmallows are completely melted.
  3. Measure powdered sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and pour melted marshmallows over powdered sugar.
  4. Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed until well blended.
  5. Continue adding powdered sugar until it's no longer sticky. Add food coloring and mix until combined.
I found that it worked well to add coloring to make one color, remove half and then add more coloring to that first color to get a different color. This way I could use the same bowl and mix it in the mixer still. I started with pink and then took half out and added blue to make a purple.

This glaze worked really well and was super easy to use. I would recommend putting it in a Pampered Chef frosting squeeze bottle with a fine tip like the ones below. These worked great!

2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 cu warm water
1/2 T corn syrup
1/2 T flavoring of choice (the almond works great here as well!)
Food coloring
  1. Combine ingredients and stir until well combined. {The glaze may be lumpy at this point}
  2. Let set for one hour so the lumps melt and the air bubbles come to the surface.
  3. After the hour has passed, stir until smooth.
  4. {The glaze should be thick, but thin enough to disappear after 10 seconds when it is folded over on itself.}
  5. Divide glaze as desired, and add the colors you need and decorate your cookies and let it dry completely.
  6. Spoon glaze into piping bags with small round tip and decorate as desired

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wild Rice Soup

This soup is amazingly yummy. It's hearty, healthy and has amazing flavors! My friend Tracey has made a variation of this soup that I've eaten in the past. I also found another recipe for wild rice soup online that looked really good. The following recipe is a combination of the two recipes and I've made it two times in the past three weeks. It comes together quickly, especially if you have cooked, frozen chicken pieces in the fridge. I love making this homemade wheat bread and serving it with the soup. 

3 cups cooked wild rice
5 cups water (you can also start with one can of broth and then add enough water to equal 5 cups)
1 package frozen veggies (I use peas but you can use broccoli, or other veggies that you'd like)
1-2 medium carrots, shredded
2 teaspoons dried minced onion (or 1/2 cup chopped fresh onion)
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed (or 1 container Philadelphia cooking creme)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups cooked chicken
¼ cup slivered almonds, optional

Cook rice in a rice cooker or according to your normal method while assembling the rest of the recipe. In a large saucepan or slow-cooker add all ingredients. When rice is finished, add that as well. Cook until soup is hot and vegetables are cooked. Stir in almonds if desired. Yield: 8 servings

Monday, March 21, 2011

Apple-Feta Tossed Salad

Delicious! Perfect for winter when it's hard to find veggies for your salad. From Taste of Home magazine.

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup walnut halves
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon pepper
5 cups torn romaine
5 cups torn red leaf lettuce
1 medium red apple, chopped
1 medium green apple, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

DRESSING: (I added a little olive oil to help tone down the vinegar)
6 tablespoons white wine or rice vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the walnuts; sprinkle with sugar and pepper. Stir until well coated. Spread onto a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring every 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. (I just used candied walnuts which I bought to save a few minutes)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the romaine, red lettuce, apples and feta cheese; set aside. In a blender, combine the dressing ingredients; cover and process until blended. Drizzle over salad; toss to coat. Sprinkle with sugared walnuts. Yield: 12 servings.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Creamy Cucumber Bites

These are a big hit everywhere I take them! From Charissa Stiefvater of Schaumburg, IL.

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 oz pkg. ranch salad dressing mix
1/2 t. dill weed (I use at least a full tsp, sometimes more)
1 loaf sliced party rye bread (usually found near the deli)
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
Garnish: dill weed

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; mix well and spread on one side of each bread slice. Top each with a slice of cucumber and sprinkle with additional dill weed. Chill until ready to serve. Makes 2 dozen.


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1 can chicken (large size)
1 8 oz. brick cream cheese
1/2 c blue cheese dressing (I left this out)
1/4 c cayenne pepper sauce (or about 2/3 c. wing sauce)
1 pkg. shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
celery sticks, crackers or corn chips

Melt cream cheese over medium-low heat. Once creamy, add blue cheese, hot sauce, and chicken.
Remove from heat, fold in 1/2 pkg. of shredded cheese.

Pour into square 8x8 oven-safe dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350°F until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with celery sticks, crackers or corn chips.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sweet 'n' Sour Ribs

Tasty, easy to prepare ribs that cook up tender in the crock pot. Recipe serves 8.

3 to 4 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs
1 can (20 ounces) pineapple tidbits, undrained
2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup thinly sliced green pepper
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place ribs in an ungreased 5 quart slow cooker. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; pour over the ribs. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until meat is tender. Thicken the sauce if desired.

I added a little bit of tangerine-clementine juice when I made this, as the tangy sweetness nicely complements the overall character of the dish and I substituted some low sodium teriyaki sauce for half of the Worcestershire sauce (out of necessity, as I ran out of Worcestershire sauce). Also, I used a 15 oz can of tomato sauce and a whole 5 oz can of tomato paste (it's only 1 tablespoon more than the recipe calls for). I also used an orange bell pepper instead of green, which makes the finished product just as flavorful but a little bit less colorful. To save time, I made the sauce the night before, so my actual morning preparation took less than 5 minutes.

Recipe from Taste of Home Winning Recipes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Instant Oatmeal

OK, admittedly I am not a huge oatmeal fan, but I eat it (and serve it to my kids) often because it's so cheap and so good for you! But compared to cereal or toast, it's a little time-consuming when you've got hungry kids waiting. So when I stumbled on this recipe for making your own instant oatmeal, I was really excited. I hardly ever buy the prepackaged kind because it's so much cheaper (and healthier) to make real oatmeal.

Back to the not-being-a-fan part, oatmeal is much easier for me to eat with various toppings such as chopped apples, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc. So I decided to improvise a little bit and made the first batch with Craisins, sliced almonds and dried chopped apples. I'm looking forward to experimenting with some other types of whole grains next time, too. But here is the recipe as it appeared in Woman's Day magazine.

18 oz. container quick-cooking oats.
1 envelope (3.2 oz) nonfat dry milk (which I didn't have, so I just left it out. It still turned out fine)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup raisins

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Transfer to an airtight container. To serve, scoop 1/2 cup oatmeal mix into a bowl and add 1/2 cup water. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Makes about 16 servings.

Zesty Pecan Pasta

This turned out really yummy. The sauce reminds me a little of artichoke dip, and would be great even without the pecan topping, maybe as a side dish (served over the pasta). From Southern Living magazine.

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 (12 oz) package linguine
1 (14 oz) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained (make sure they are NOT marinated)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 (3 oz) package cream cheese, softened
3 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves (a litttle strong. One might be sufficient if you're not a huge garlic fan)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
salt to taste

1. Heat pecans in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often, 5-7 min. or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from skillet. Let cool 5 min. Stir together pecans, parsley and zest.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.

3. Process artichoke hearts and next 5 ingredients in food processor or blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Add 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid. Pulse 3-4 times until smooth. Toss with hot cooked pasta; season with salt to taste. Top each serving with pecan mixture.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chinese Chicken Morsels

Yum! The marinade for this is so delicious, and unique. My only change would be to use a little less lemon if you're using bottled juice. If using fresh, the entire amount would probably be OK. Also, I don't know what cut of "dark chicken" the authors used, but I used thighs, and they just don't cut into "cubes"! :) Mine turned out more like little piles, but were still so tender and juicy. I'm a big dark chicken meat fan! But these would be great with white meat, too. From Once a Month Cooking cookbook.

1 lb. boneless, skinless dark chicken
1/2 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (gives it a tasty kick without being too spicy for my little ones)
1 c. uncooked rice (Jasmine is perfect for this)

Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes.

In medium bowl, mix next 5 ingredients. Place chicken pieces in marinade and refrigerate, covered, for several hours, or freeze in large ziploc for later use.

Remove chicken from marinade, reserving marinade. Place chicken cubes about 1 inch apart on broiler pan sprayed with Pam. Broil 4-5 inches from heat for 7 minutes.

Brush with marinade. Turn chicken cubes and broil another 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare rice according to package directions.

Heat remaining marinade (I boiled mine a few minutes to sort of sterilize it). Serve chicken and marinade over rice. Makes 4-5 servings.

Wine Poached Chicken

I was a little disappointed by this. The flavor of the wine just didn't infuse the chicken as much as I was hoping, and the sauce is so thin it's hard to get much with each bite. Maybe thicken it (the sauce) with corn starch at the end? It is lowfat, though, and very quick and easy. From Simply Colorado cookbook.

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/3 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon leaves (which I didn't have, thyme made a nice substitute)
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 c. dry white wine

Saute mushrooms over medium heat until just starting to cook down. Add chicken to skillet; sprinkle evenly with salt, tarragon, pepper and parsley. Pour wine over chicken. Cover and simmer for 15 min. or until chicken is tender. Serve with sauce left from skillet. Serves 4.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Smoked Monte Cristos

A FAST, easy lunch or dinner that everyone in my family really enjoyed, even my picky 4 year old. The blackberry preserves sounded weird to me but were surprisingly complementary! From Southern Living magazine.

4 T. whole grain mustard (Dijon works in a pinch)
8 honey-wheat bread slices
1/2 lb. thinly sliced smoked deli turkey
4 (1 oz.) Swiss or mozzarella cheese slices
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
2 T. butter
2 T. blackberry preserves
1 T. powdered sugar (optional)

1. Spread mustard over 1 side of each bread slice. Layer 4 bread slices, mustard sides up, with turkey and cheese slices. Top with remaining bread slices, mustard sides down.

2. Whisk together eggs and milk in a shallow dish. Dip both sides of each sandwich into egg mixture.

3. Melt 1 T. butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; cook 2 sandwiches in skillet 3-4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Repeat procedure with remaining butter and sandwiches. Serve immediately with blackberry preserves. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Grandma Della’s Potato Salad

This is a delicious potato salad. I really don't like potato salads usually but I love this one because the flavor is so great. In the summer time, my favorite meal involves this salad, BBQ chicken with homemade BBQ sauce, homemade biscuits and homemade strawberry jam. You just can't get a better summer meal.

Combine in saucepan and heat to boiling:
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. Dry mustard
Beat in bowl:
1 egg
2 tbsp flour
Add small amount of hot mix to egg mix and keep adding until hot and incorporated, then add all to hot mixture and cook over low heat until thickened. Cool in fridge. 
Add 1-2 tbsp or so of turmeric, salt and pepper to taste, and combine vinegar sauce with equal parts mayo to make dressing. I usually start with about ½ cup of each and keep adding whichever it needs until it’s a little tangy but not overpowering.
Pour over cooked potatoes, hard boiled eggs, celery, pepper, relish, onion and anything else that sounds good.
*I usually just make a half recipe of the vinegar sauce because I typically only use half in a very large recipe (about 12 potatoes & 12 eggs).
I’m a little weird when it comes to potato salad. I don’t like crunchy things in it so I only do the sauce with potatoes and eggs. It’s delicious but if you’re more adventurous, add the additional ingredients.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Curried Cauliflower-Ginger Soup

My 3 year old and 20 month old ate their big bowls full of this soup without stopping and without being asked a single time to "take a bite".  That says a lot!  :)  I wouldn't say this is absolutely delicious, but it is pretty good.  Definently do add a chunk of butter to each bowel - it calms the sharpness of flavor from the spices.  (It isn't "hot" spicey).

Curried Cauliflower-Ginger Soup

Serves 4 – 6 as a starter to a meal
1 medium onion – chopped
1 small stalk celery – sliced
1 whole medium sized cauliflower – chopped in large chunks
1” piece ginger – peeled and minced
4 cups homemade chicken stock or water, or a combination
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon turmeric
unrefined sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Good quality butter for serving
Chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
In a small dish, stir together the cumin, coriander, turmeric and garam masala. Set aside. Place onion, celery, ginger, and liquid in a medium soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 7-8 minutes. Meanwhile heat a small skillet over a medium flame. Add the spice mix and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to keep it moving over the heat. When it becomes fragrant and barely darker in color remove from the heat and add to the soup, along with the cauliflower. Cover, raise the heat again to boiling, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from the stove.
Puree soup until smooth, and ladle into serving bowls, accompanied with a dollop of fresh butter and some chopped cilantro if you like.

I served this with fried battered fish and steamed sweet potato chunks.  The kids cleaned their plates! 

Recipie from here:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

French Dip Roast

My whole family loved this, including my 1 and 4 year old daughters! I think they like the dipping element.

from Patti Boston, out of the Fix-it and Forget-it Cookbook

1 large onion, sliced (fine without it for onion-haters)
3 lb. beef bottom roast (fat trimmed, if desired)
1/2 cup dry white wine, or water
1 pkg. dry au jus gravy mix
2 cups beef broth

1. Place onion, if using, in slow cooker. Add roast.
2. Combine wine and gravy mix. Pour over roast.
3. Add enough broth to cover roast.
4. Cover, cook on high 5-6 hours, or low 10-12 hours.
5. Remove meat from liquid. Let stand 5 min. before slicing thinly across the grain. Serve on Kaiser or French rolls with au jus on the side.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chocolate Peanut-butter Cookies

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I've been craving a combination of chocolate peanut-butter. One night while I was craving this combo, I searched on (my favorite place to look for ingredient based recipes) and came across this recipe called "Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies." I made them and thought they were as good as everyone else thought. Try them for yourself!


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the peanut butter, vanilla and egg until well blended. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the batter just until moistened. Mix in the oats and chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Drop by tablespoonfuls on to lightly greased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges start to brown. Cool on cookie sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Wheat Bread

Wheat Bread (Home-Style Yeast Bread)
From Tracey Walter 

This is a very tasty bread recipe. It's not dry like many homemade breads turn out. It lasts a few days and still tastes good. I love eating it fresh and hot but it makes great toast and sandwiches as well. 
  • 3 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast (6 ¾ tsp)
  • 2 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Cups Wheat Flour
  • 5 ½-6 cups bread flour
  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, butter, salt, eggs and 4 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough.
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Punch dough down; turn onto a floured surface. Divide into thirds. Shape into loaves and place in three greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  • Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 3 loaves (16 slices each).