Monday, March 30, 2009

Easiest, best tasting CHILI I've ever eaten...hands down!

This may not be Brian-approved Jenn (because I've seen you slave away making chili his way) but it's darn good and takes me longer to brown the meat then it does to mix everything else together. Definitely a must try with some of Corcor's homemade cornbread (recipe somewhere below)!

1 can corn, undrained
1 can white beans, undrained
1 can kidney beans, undrained
1 can red beans, undrained
1 can Rotel's chili fixens tomatoes
2 big cans diced tomatoes
1/2 pound hamburger, cooked
2 tablespoons white vinegar or to taste
Salt/Pepper to taste
Water if you like it a little more soupy

Mix all together, heat up and enjoy!
*NOTE: The original recipe called for both hamburger and Jimmy Dean's spicy sausage. I ended up omitting the sausage in future batches because one, I don't like sausage and two, I didn't feel like it added anything to the kick, no spice, in fact I couldn't even taste it in there. BUT having said all that, for those that do like sausage, it's worth giving it a try.

Macadamia Nut Cookies

My hubby really loves Macadamia Nut Cookies and I have found this to be the best recipe, he agrees. It actually came from the back of a bag of Ghirardelli white chocolate chips.

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups (one 11 oz bag) Ghirardelli Classic White Chips or whatever brand you have on hand - Ghirardelli are pretty tasty though.
1 1/2 cups Macadamia nuts chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Blend in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in white chips and nuts. Drop by teaspoon onto ungreased cookies sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

* I have equally separated the dough and used half for macadamia cookies and half for chocolate chip cookies. They were both yummy!

Click for cookie envelope directions.

Strawberry Pie

This has been the most flavorful strawberry season I can remember! I've made cases of jam since Brian won't eat any other (flattering, but sometimes frustrating). I decided to make a couple of strawberry pies. They are super easy and oh, so good!!

Strawberry Pie

1 cup fresh strawberries
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
5 cups fresh sliced strawberries

Crush 1 cup fresh strawberries and cook with water about 2 minutes and sieve (I never do that, it just makes the glaze smoother and I like chunks of strawberries). Combine sugar and cornstarch; stir into berry juice. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add a few drops red food coloring (never do that either). Place 2½ cups sliced strawberries in baked and cooled pie shell. Pour half sauce over. Repeat layers with 2½ cups berries and remaining sauce. Chill.

Brian likes it with whip cream.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Peanut Butter Noodles

Chris and I love Thai food and a NY friend of mine made this for me during my moving frenzy and it was delish and so easy, so this has become one of our favorites. If you are making it for more than two, I suggest doubling the recipe. I boil one chicken breast, shred it, and add it to the mix. I always use spaghetti noodles. You can vary the ginger and garlic to taste but I like the recipe as is. The minced ginger may be hard to find, I used pureed ginger and it worked wonderfully. It will be a lot more work if you have to mince the ginger yourself -- not fun.

1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 tsps)
8 ounces spaghetti or Udon noodles

1 cooked chicken breast (shredded)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, combine chicken broth, ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, chili paste, and garlic in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until peanut butter melts and is heated through. [Add chicken and stir to coat] Add noodles, and toss to coat. Garnish with green onions and peanuts.

Egg Sausage Casserole

6 slices of bread cubed (I like to use the not so good for you wonder white bread)
1 pound breakfast sausage, browned, drained
1 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese (I usually use more and I sometimes throw in Monterey jack cheese too)
8 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt (you may not want this because the sausage is pretty salty usually)
pepper to taste

Cube bread and place evenly in greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle evenly with sausage and cheese. Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over ingredients in pan. Cover and chill overnight if desired. (If left overnight, remove from fridge 15 minutes before baking.) Bake 45 minutes at 325 or until eggs are set. Cut into squares and serve.

8-10 servings.

Sometimes I half the recipe but this is one that also reheats really well -- I think.

Corn Bread

1 1/4 C flour
3/4 C corn meal
1/2 C sugar
2 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C milk
2 T oil
1 egg beaten

Preheat oven to 400. Mix all ingredients and pour into greased 8"or 9" square pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

I love this recipe because it is just sweet enough and moist. YUM!

Cheesy Artichoke Dip

1 C mayo
1 C grated cheddar cheese
1 C grated parmesan cheese
1 clove of garlic minced (about 1-2 tsps)
1-2 cans of artichoke hearts (in water)

Preheat oven to 375. Drain artichoke hearts and cut into bite size pieces. Mix all ingredients except paprika in a mixing bowl. Spread dip in an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika. Cook for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with bread or tortilla chips.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Veggie Melts

I was smelling some basil in Jenni's garden while we were in Phoenix and thought of these awesome sandwiches. I think it's a really old Pampered Chef recipe, but I'm not sure. In any case, they are delicious! I make them as a main dish with fruit and salad, but Brian thinks they are more of an appetizer.... I don't really have a specific recipe, but I'll tell you how I do them.

Veggie Melts

I usually use day-old French bread sliced thin. Depending on how many you think you'll be making, slice 1 or 2 Roma tomatoes very thin and a zucchini very thin. I like to slice the zucchini on the diagonal so it makes the slice cover more surface area of the bread. Mix about ¼ cup-ish of Mayonnaise with 1 or 2 cloves crushed garlic and about 1/2 tsp. dried basil. (I'm not completely sure of these quantities - I may shake a little more basil in than that and I can't even tell you how GOOD these are with some finely chopped fresh basil!!). Spread this mixture on the bread slices (¼ c. mayo will do about twelve melts). Then top with zucchini and tomatoes slices. Finally, cover each veggie melt with grated mozzarella cheese (I use sliced because it's a lot less messy). Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Serve warm. It's melty goodness.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sweet Smoky Chicken Legs

This was the first meal I made for Chris when we were married. It's super easy and so delicious! He asks for it all the time!

2 medium onions (Or 1 large onion); sliced
3 pounds chicken legs (skinned)
1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons hickory smoked salt (or I just use some Johnny's seasonings salt)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons mustard


1. Place sliced onions in a greased 13 x 9 x 2 in baking dish; arrange chicken in a single layer over onions and sprinkle with salt.

2. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over all, completely coating the chicken.

3. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 1 hr or until juices run clear, basting several times.

And Serve!

Sweet Smoky Chicken Legs Recipe

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pepper Jack Enchiladas with Green Chili-Sour Cream Sauce

Super yummy, not too time consuming and a perfect meal to take to someone who's just had a baby!

8 flour tortillas
8 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese, cheddar cheese mixed, divided
2-3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I like to use a rotisserie chicken)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
2 cans diced green chilies
Cilantro, chopped
2 cups chopped green lettuce

1. Spread 2 tablespoons of cheese on flour tortilla. Layer a corn tortilla on top of shredded cheese. Then spread some chicken on corn tortilla. Roll up the tortillas and place it seam side down in a 13x9 baking pan. Repeat with the rest of tortillas.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan and then stir in the flour. Add the broth all at once and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Stir in the sour cream and the chilies. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble, but do not boil. Pour the mixture over the tortillas.
3. Sprinkle left over cheese on top of tortillas as well as the cilantro.
4. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until warmed through and cheese on top has melted.
5. Serve over lettuce and drizzle extra sauce on top. Enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cheater Chicken Mozzarella

Over the years this recipe has evolved from breading the chicken by hand to buying the frozen chicken strips.  Either way tasted fantastic.  It's fast and the kids gobble it up without complaint.

You'll need:
Enough breaded chicken strips to feed your family - you can go cheap or spend lots of money
a jar of your favorite pasta sauce - we're partial to Ragu Mama's Special Garden Sauce
enough cooked spaghetti noodles for your family - we like Barilla Plus and use 1/2 a box
mozzarella cheese

Cook the chicken however the box tells you to.  Boil those noodles.   When the chicken is nice and crispy spoon some pasta sauce over each piece and top with mozzarella cheese.  Add the remaining sauce to the pasta (drain it first!).  Put the chicken back in the oven for a few minutes so the cheese can melt.  To serve, scoop some pasta onto the plate and top with a chicken strip or two.  Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired.  Helpful hint - I like to get the chicken started first because it usually takes longer than the pasta.  When the chicken is about halfway done I start the pasta.  Oh, you can bread your own chicken if you want.  Just dip in milk then a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and bake until juices run clear then top with pasta sauce and cheese.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Tonight I decided I would reorganize my recipe box (since it gets totally rearranged by me and my kids) and I came across my favorite cheesecake recipe. I think I will have to dig out those spring form pans! It has a smooth chocolate layer on top with the chocolate chip filling below and a chocolatey crust. The recipe came from a 2003 Taste of Home magazine, although I have altered it a little.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

2 C vanilla wafer crumbs
1/2 C finely chopped walnuts
1/4 C sugar
3 T baking cocoa
1/3 C butter, melted

4 pkgs. (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 C sugar
4 t cornstarch
4 eggs
1/3 C whipping cream
3 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 C miniature semisweet chocolate chips

3 squares (1 oz each) semisweet chocolate, melted
1 T butter, melted
1 C powdered sugar
1/4 C whipping cream

In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 10 inch springform pan. Refrigerate for 15 minutes,
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Combine sugar and cornstarch; beat on low speed just until combined. Add the cream, vanilla and chocolate chips,. Pour into prepared crust.
Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until center is nearly set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosed; cool 1 hour longer. (Cheescake top may crack but topping will cover.)
For topping, combine chocolate, butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Slowly beat in cream until mixture achieves spreading consistency. Spread over cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove sides of pan. Refrigerate leftovers.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Teriyaki Chicken

Seriously, this is a good recipe AND it takes me fifteen minutes tops to cook up and serve.

2 large chicken breasts
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup soy sauce (I like Kikkoman)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking rice seasoning, see note below)
1 garlic glove
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch (more if needed)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 scallions, sliced thin

Cut up chicken into strips. Cook in oil until barely done. While the chicken is cooking mix soy sauce, water, sugar, mirin, garlic, cornstarch and red pepper flakes together in a bowl. When the chicken is done, stir in soy sauce mixture. Simmer until sauce is thick and glossy. If it's not thickening up, add more cornstarch. Serve over rice and sprinkle the scallions on top.

NOTES: First don't be intimidated by mirin if you've never heard of it before. You can find it in ANY asian market and just recently, I noticed my WalMart had it in stock. It really does add a nice flavor.
Second, I omitted ginger in this recipe because I don't like ginger but feel free to add it AND lastly, you can use beef in place of Chicken.

Moroccan Hummus Cups

1 container (7 oz) plain hummus spread
1 T Moroccan Rub (from Pampered Chef, but any rub might work??)
1 plum tomato
1 1-in piece seedless cucumber
1/4 c pitted kalamata olives (I hate olives and don't use them)
2 T packed fresh parsley leaves (or cilantro)
24 tortilla chip cups (ie Tostitos)
1/3 c plain yogurt

Combine hummus and rub. Mix and set aside.

Slice tomato in half lengthwise and remove seeds and dice.

Slice cucumber into circles, then into strips and dice.

Chop olives and parsley.

Combine vegetables together and mix well.

Put hummus into tortilla chip cups. Spoon a dollop of yogurt over hummus. Divide veggie mixture evenly among cups.

I could not put them down!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Apple dumplings

2 tubes (8 oz each) refrigerated crescent rolls
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter melted
¾ c Mountain Dew soda
Ground cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream

Unroll rolls and separate into 16 triangles. Cut each apple into 8 wedges. Wrap a roll around each apple wedge. Place in a greased 13x9x2 pan.

In a bowl, combine sugar and butter; sprinkle over rolls. Slowly pour the soda around the rolls, but do not mix. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.
Makes 16 dumplings

NOTES: This is the exact recipe, but I have never made it like this. I love this recipe because it is so easy to have the stuff on hand without worrying about spoilage. I don't drench it in butter. I just melt a couple table spoons and brush it over the top. And then I just spinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top. This recipe seems like it has too much sugar for my taste, but I thought I'd show the original version first. Also, I’ve never used Mountain Dew. It tastes just fine without any soda at all.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies

This is my favorite Oatmeal Cookie recipe I have come across and since we made them last night, I thought I would share! I got it years ago from a piano teacher and have been enjoying them ever since. They are great plain or you can add raisins or chocolate chips (my personal favorite). The recipe is also calculated in case you want to make 1 1/2 batches and those numbers are in parentheses.

Oatmeal Cookies

Mix: 1 C shortening (1 1/2 C)
3/4 C brown sugar (1 1/8 C)
3/4 C white sugar (1 1/8 C)
1 t vanilla ( 1 1/2 t)
1 t water (1 1/2 t)
Add: 2 eggs (3)
1 t baking soda (1 1/2 t)
1 t salt (1 1/2 t)
Add: 2 1/4 C flour (3 3/8 C)
2 1/2 C old fashioned oats (3 1/2 C)

Bake at 335 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

White Chili

I thought all white chili tasted gross. I was wrong. I found this recipe from the Year of CrockPotting blog. (Seriously, check out her amazing recipes.) This is so easy to make and so delicious. The chili is fairly sweet so we don't like to add cheese.

16-oz. bag of frozen white corn (yellow works too)
2 cans of white beans (any kind will do - DON'T DRAIN)
1 4-oz. can of green chilies
1 small to medium onion, chopped (I like to use sweet onions)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable broth (you can use bouillon and water)
juice from one lemon (or a shot or two of lemon juice from a jar)
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Dump everything into the crockpot. You don't need to drain and rinse the beans or the chilies. Cook on low for 8-9 hours, or high for 4-6.

Chicken Salsa and Rice

This is made in the crockpot. I told you I loved my crockpot! If you don't have one it's pretty easy to adapt to the stove. My family snarfs this up and we rarely have leftovers.

2 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (or the equivalent homemade)
1 1/2 c. salsa
2 cloves garlic, minced or 2 tsp. minced garlic from a jar
1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes - low fat works fine, but I like the regular one better
hot cooked rice - white or brown, whatever your kids will eat

Toss all the ingredients into the crock pot except for the cream cheese. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. About 30 minutes before you want to eat, stir in cubed cream cheese and turn off heat. Let it sit while you make the rice and yell at the kids to set the table. Stir it right before serving.

For my family I use two chicken breasts because a) I'm trying to use less meat and b) it's cheaper. You can cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces before you put it in the crockpot or you can throw it in completely frozen and shred it before serving. You could add another can of corn or beans to make it a little thicker and/or make up for less chicken. I also think this would work well without chicken entirely. Hmm...that will be my next experiment. This works really well on pasta too, or over chips or in a tortilla like a burrito/enchilada thing.

Breakfast pizza

I've never actually made this before so we'll see how it turns out. We tried it at the Scout pizza pack meeting and we all liked it.

2 pkgs. crescent rolls or the equivalent homemade (I'm going to try it with whole wheat)
1 pkg. white country gravy dressing or the equivalent homemade
1/2 to 1 lb. sausage, cooked
6 eggs
enough milk and butter to make scrambled eggs with the above eggs
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked
a handful or two of mushrooms, sliced
shredded cheese - whatever kind you want

Spread the crescent rolls (or homemade dough) onto a pizza stone or large cookie sheet with sides. Cook according to directions until lightly browned. While the dough is cooking mix up the gravy packet (or make your own) and brown the sausage and and bacon. Scramble the eggs - I'm sure you don't need me to tell you how to do that. When the crust is done top with gravy, then sausage, bacon, eggs and mushrooms. Sprinkle with cheese and stick it back in the oven until cheese is melted.

For the gravy I'll be doing this:
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
a dash or two of pepper
2 c. milk

Melt the butter then whisk in the flour, salt and pepper. Let it cook for a few minutes, whisking now and then. Slowly stir in the milk and keep stirring until it thickens. You may need to add a tbsp. or so more flour or milk to get it the thickness you want.

My menu for this week

In case anyone is interested this is my menu for the week. I'll post the recipes now and update with pictures as I make them.

Sunday - Bean tostadas, fruit
Monday - Breakfast pizza, cottage cheese, fruit
Tuesday - Baked potatoes, veggies and dip, fruit
Wednesday - Chicken salsa and rice, kale, fruit
Thursday - White chili, cornbread, fruit
Friday - new recipe - this week I'm trying a spicy black bean chili
Saturday - Lasagna, salad, fruit

I don't think I'll post a recipe for the tostadas because they're pretty easy - smear refried beans on a tostada and top with whatever you want.

And I think you can figure out the baked potatoes, too.

My lasagna recipe is one I just throw together without quantities so I can't really pass that on. Use your favorite recipe. If you don't have one let me know and I'll try to talk you through mine.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Oatmeal Pancakes

Should I be embarrassed that I have about 10 different pancake recipes? And should I feel ashamed that we eat them for dinner? Well, I'm not. We ate these for breakfast today. But I'll probably make them for dinner soon. I like to shake things up like that. And everyone here likes pancakes. My boys ate the leftovers with peanut butter for lunch, like a pancake sandwich. This made enough to feed the kids and myself. If my husband had been eating with us I would have done another batch.

1 1/4 c. quick cooking oatmeal
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 c. packed brown sugar (you could probably use 1/2 c.)
2 eggs
4 tbsp. melted butter or margarine or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. buttermilk (or regular milk - I used the powdered buttermilk today)

Mix the dry ingredients together. Then chuck in the wet ingredients and stir it until combined. The oatmeal will want to hang out at the bottom so make sure you make it join the party. Cook on a hot griddle, at about 300 degrees. These are so sweet you don't really need syrup. Or if you do use syrup, add just a touch.

You could use all whole wheat flour, or all white flour. I've found that cinnamon and vanilla help to "hide" the wheat flavor.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mom's Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

I'm sorry I don't have a picture of this.  We were rushing around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get all the groceries put away, cook dinner and get the older boys to Scouts and before I knew it all the sandwiches were gone!

This is my brilliant mother's recipe and it's one I use when I do my shopping.  Or when I need something really fast, but totally delicious.  It's also one I can't give exact quantities on because it will depend on how many people are in your family.  Quantities listed below are a family of 6 - 2 adults and 4 children ages 8 and under.

3/4 to 1 lb. roast beef (from the deli)
3/4 to 1 lb. sliced white cheese from the deli - muenster, provolone, mozzarella, etc.
hoagie or french rolls - one per person
1 lb. sliced mushrooms, optional
1 lg. onion, quartered, optional
softened butter

If you want a buttery flavor then slice each roll, spread with butter and lay butter side down on a large cookie sheet.  Toast at 400 degrees for a few minutes, until butter is melted and bread is barely crisp.  You can also just toast the bread without the butter.  Flip them over and add a few slices of roast beef and some cheese.  Stick back into the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.  If you want (and I highly recommend it) you can saute the mushrooms and onions in butter while everything is toasting and then put a large spoonful or two on top of the cheese once it's melted.  Or on top of the roast beef, then add the cheese and melt it all.  My kids don't like the mushrooms/onions so they eat theirs with meat and cheese only.  The two littlest guys (2 and 5) split one.

An alternative to the roast beef is to use some sort of beef sliced super thin, or stir fry meat (make sure you cut it smaller if the strips are very long).  Brown the meat in some butter and throw in some garlic powder, onion powder, beef bouillon granules, soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, and Jane's Mixed-up seasoning or salt.  This is sometimes cheaper than a pound of roast beef, but takes longer to make.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Caribbean Chicken

Brian actually liked this dish and ate several servings (after I toned down the heat). He's not really into chicken or Caribbean I'm glad he liked it.

I forgot to take a picture until I was scraping the pan it doesn't look all pretty (and it's actually the leftovers from the day before), but it's tasty!

Caribbean Chicken

1 teaspoon cornstarch (I didn't have any so I used flour)
1 (6 ounce) can pineapple juice, divided
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I accidentally added a bit too much, Brian made me make another batch of sauce)
¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips (I just used however many breasts I had)
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons oil
½ cup thinly sliced green onions
½ cup golden raisins (Brian hates raisins, so I didn't add those-I have no idea if it would have changed the flavor drastically)
2 medium firm bananas, sliced (DO NOT saute them before hand, it makes the dish too sweet and overwhelmingly banana)

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1/2 cup pineapple juice until smooth (I just used all the pineapple juice, it doesn't make a difference since it's all going to thicken up anyway). Stir in the mustard, thyme and red pepper flakes; set aside. Sprinkle chicken with salt. In a large non-stick skillet, saute chicken in oil for 3-4 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Remove from the skillet and keep warm.

Pour remaining pineapple juice into skillet. Stir in green onions and raisins; cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir reserved pineapple juice mixture and add to skillet. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Return chicken to skillet; heat through. Stir in bananas. Serve over rice if desired.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Big Biscuits

When serving soup, I like to have some sort of bread. Tonight I made some lovely biscuits from a recipe I found here. I forgot to get the butter out to soften. Okay, it was actually still in the freezer. So I just grated it with a cheese grater and it worked perfectly. I also doubled the recipe for my family of six. As written below, the recipes makes 12 biscuits.

1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup milk

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Cut in butter (or grate it!) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk just until moistened. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently 8 to 10 times. Roll or push with your hands to 3/4-in. thickness or so; cut with a large biscuit cutter and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Sausage Barley Soup

Here's a flavorful soup for your crockpot. I love my crockpot. If you don't love yours, you can make this on the stovetop.

1/2 to 1 pound Italian sausage - I used the reduced fat kind and it worked just fine
1 onion, diced
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
6 cups chicken broth or 1 48 oz can chicken broth - I used half broth, half water and bouillon
3 to 4 large carrots, sliced
10 pz. frozen chopped spinach*
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley**

Cook the sausage, onion, and garlic until the sausage is done. Toss all the ingredients into your crockpot and give it a hug. Cover and cook 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.

*notes on spinach - I used the frozen leaf kind and it was dripping all over. Make sure you use the chopped. You could also throw fresh chopped spinach in right before serving and it would probably look prettier and taste fresher. I also plan on trying this with chopped kale and will add it right before serving.

**you could substitute a diced potato or two for the barley. I think cheese tortellini would also taste great with this soup. I'd cook it separately and add it in when serving.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Enchiladas Verdes

So, my first recipe is for enchiladas! But they're green. And spicy. And not your normal enchilada. We absolutely love these. The sauce can get a little spicy depending on the amount of serrano peppers you use. I used two tonight and it was pretty tame. I've used up to five and it gets a little fiery then. Our kids are wimps so they usually don't eat the sauce. They have chicken on the tortillas with a bit of queso fresco and maybe some cilantro. It's all good. The sauce freezes really well so I usually double or triple it and throw it in a Ziploc bag for later. Enjoy! Oh, I think I got this recipe from http://www.allrecipes/, but I'm not sure anymore.

2 or 3 bone-in chicken breasts
2 c. chicken broth (I often use bouillon cubes)
1/4 onion
1 clove garlic
2 tsp. salt
1 lb. tomatillos (remove the husks and wash well)
2 - 5 serrano peppers (or less if you don't want it really hot. We have used jalapenos, too)
1/4 white onion
1 clove garlic
12 tortillas (corn or flour -we like flour better)
Queso fresco
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

In a large pot, add first 5 ingredients. Boil for 20 minutes or until chicken is done. I often let it go for several hours. Reserve broth. Let chicken cool then shred; set aside for later. Place tomatillos and peppers in a pot with water, enough to cover them. Let boil until tomatillos turn a darkish green. Strain and place in a blender with 1/4 of the onion, garlic and salt. Pour in reserved broth until it just covers the vegetables by 1 inch. Blend. Pour in saucepan and bring to a low boil. If using corn tortillas, heat some vegetable oil in a pan and slightly fry, drain, then dip in low boiling green salsa. If using flour tortillas, just dip into the salsa. Place 1 to 3 tortillas on a plate. Top with shredded chicken then green salsa. Top with crumbled queso fresco, chopped onion and cilantro.

Red Velvet Cake

I've been kinda sick of that same old cake that Brian always wants (chocolate), plus I needed to use up some buttermilk, so I thought I'd try something from my childhood (when I went to a restaurant and ate it). Boxed cake mixes aren't my favorite, so I made this from scratch.

Right off, Brian isn't a fan. He thought it would be more chocolatey than it was. I made the traditional butter roux frosting, instead of the modern cream cheese frosting. Brian thinks it tastes like condensed milk, and it did the first day, but mellowed out into a buttery caramel flavor. I'm not 100 percent sure if I made the frosting right, but I liked it. Anyway, it was good enough that I'll make it again (probably only once a year), but with the cream cheese frosting instead.

Red Velvet Cake

½ cup shortening
1½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 or 2 (1-ounce) bottles red food coloring (I only had 1/2 of one, so it didn't look as brilliant)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2½ cups sifted cake flour (all purpose flour 2½ cups -5 Tbs. which is what I did)
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cocoa powder (I actually took out 2 Tbs. more of flour and replaced it with more cocoa powder)
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Beat shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
Stir in food coloring and vanilla, blending well. Combine flour, salt, and cocoa; set aside.
Combine buttermilk, vinegar, and soda in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup. (Mixture will bubble.) Add flour mixture to shortening mixture, alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes; pour batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans (I used a 9x13). Bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Spread frosting between layers and on top of cake. Garnish with chopped pecans, if desired.

Sheet Cake: Pour batter into a greased and floured 13- x 9-inch pan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Spread cream cheese frosting on top of cake. Garnish, if desired.

Butter Roux Frosting:
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the milk and flour in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until thickened. Cream together sugar, vanilla and butter, beating until fluffy. Gradually beat milk mixture into butter mixture (this is where I think I went wrong, if you don’t let the milk cool, it just melts the butter when you add it, which is what happened to me. And that makes it hard to follow the next instruction). Beat until the frosting becomes fluffy and spreadable.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 pound box confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream it all together.

Ellie ate part of it before I could take a picture...

Well, let me know what you think, and if you have a better one please share. All in all, I'd give this about 3 1/2 stars....