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.