Monday, February 28, 2011

salisbury steak with mushroom gravy









Shannon made dinner for the meal swap tonight and it was a hit! My kids at different times said, "I like it!" In fact, they liked it so much I was glad I ate mine quickly or I'd have gone without.

salisbury steak with mushroom gravy (adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, December 2010)
1/3 cup grated onions, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground sirloin
cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
few dashes Worcestershire sauce

Combine 1/4 cup onion, pepper, salt, garlic and beef. Shape into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) patties. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned.
Melt butter in pan. Add mushrooms; saute 4 minutes. Stir in wine and remaining onion; cook 2 minutes. Combine broth and flour; add to pan, and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until thick. Stir in ketchup and add Worcestershire sauce. Add patties and vinegar to pan; cook 2 minutes. Yield: 4 servings

What I have to say- I love that the onions were grated. It was a nice way to add flavor in a discrete way so my kids didn't pick them out or eat around them.

broiled tilapia parmesan


 








I've had this recipe for a while now and it's a go-to.  We served it at a Christmas dinner party we hosted a few years ago. It is really, really good!  Hall of Fame!

broiled tilapia parmesan adapted from allrecipes.com)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 pounds tilapia filets

Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside. Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat and for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets
from the oven and cover then with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.



What I have to say- you can substitute Mozzarella cheese for the Parmesan if you wish!


katie's make ahead meatballs









When my friend Katie came over for lunch today she brought some meatballs for me to sample. I was going to wait to post them until I post her amazing marinara sauce recipe but I couldn't wait. They are delicious. Full of flavor! She used red onion in the meatballs I sampled today and I'll do the same. I want mine to taste just like what I had this afternoon.

make ahead meatballs (my friend and visiting teacher Katie)
4 eggs
2 cups dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 pounds lean ground beef

In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add the next five ingredients. Add beef; mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls, about 12 dozen. Place in single layers on baking pans. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until no longer pink: drain. Cool. Place about 30 meatballs into freezer containers. Maybe frozen up to 3 months. Yields 5 batches about 30 balls per batch.
Making meatballs of equal size: Lightly pat meat mixture into a 1-inch-thick rectangle. Cut the rectangles into the same number of squares at meat balls in the recipe. Gently roll each square into a ball. Presto!

quick cabbage with tomatoes









I'm always looking for ways to add veggies to my diet. I used the leftover cabbage from the chipotle beef tacos I made the other day to make this recipe. The tomatoes add a nice sweetness and would compliment anything from the grill.

quick cabbage with tomatoes (adapted from Everyday Food Magazine, March 2011)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 bag packaged cole slaw mix
1/4 cup water
course salt and ground pepper
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high. Add cole slaw mix and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage begins to soften and brown around edges, 4 minutes. Add water, cover, and cook until cabbage is crisp-tender, 5 minutes. Uncover and season wtih coarse salt and ground pepper. Add cherry tomatoes and cook, uncovered, until tomatoes soften, 3 minutes. Stir in red-wine vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and top with fresh parsley.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

chocolate chip toffee bars









It didn't take much to persuade me to make this recipe and it's probably one of the easiest recipes yet- you don't even need to pull our a mixer. It's really rich so a little goes a long way. Be sure to check out the link below where I found this recipe. Lots of fun ideas.

chocolate chip toffee bars (blog: brown paper packages, so cute!)
2 1/3 cups flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts) optional
1 3/4 cups toffee bits (10 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix the flour and sugar together. Cut in butter until the mixture is course crumbs. Add beaten egg and mix well. Stir in 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and nuts. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of that mixture. Press the rest into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the top in an even layer. Top with 1 1/2 cups toffee bits. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture on top, followed by the remaining chocolate chips. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle remaining toffee bits on top.



Saturday, February 26, 2011

chipotle beef tacos with cabbage and radish slaw









 

When I saw this recipe I knew I should wait to make it until I was sure my husband would be home for dinner which is very rare these days as he has been working late. I made this anyway and had to imagine my husband declare, "Hall of Fame!". 

chipotle beef tacos with cabbage and radish slaw (adapted from Real Simple Magazine, 2011)
3 pounds beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
kosher salt
4 cups bagged cole slaw mix
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
12 (6-inch) tortillas
sour cream, pickled jalapeno peppers, and hot sauce, for serving

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, toss together the beef, onion, garlic, chipotles, oregano, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt.
Cover and cook until the beef is very tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
Twenty minutes before serving, heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, radishes, cilantro, lime juice, and 1/2 teaspon salt. Wrap the tortillas in foil and bake until warm, 5 to 10 minutes.
Transfer the beef to a medium bowl (reserve the cooking liquid) and shred, using 2 forks. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl with the beef and toss to combine.
Fill the tortillas with the beef and slaw. Serve with the sour cream, jalapenos, hot sauce, and lime wedges.

What I have to say- this tastes so authentic and tasty!! Once again, Hall of Fame!

Friday, February 25, 2011

won ton chicken tacos









When I saw this recipe I knew my kids would enjoy making them and eating them too.  The tacos were a BIG success and were declared Hall of Fame!

won ton chicken tacos (adapted from blog: See Jane in the Kitchen)
1 cup shredded chicken breasts
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1 package won tons
oil for frying


Drain chicken and mix with cream cheese, salsa and seasonings. Place about 2 teaspoons of mixture on won ton and fold into a triangle (wet the edges and seal by pinching or running your finger along edges). Fry in hot oil until light golden brown, they are done fast. Serve with salsa, sour cream and/or guacamole.

What I have to say- I set out bowls of sliced green onion and sliced olives so my kiddos could add them to their individual won tons. Next time I will add green chiles to the mix!

chocolate mousse









My neighbor Morgane shared this absolutely insane chocolate mousse with us this evening. Whoa is it rich! I've never tasted anything so delectable. It doesn't take much to knock your socks off. The recipe came from her mother who is French and resides in France. She says it's easy to make- only takes about 5 minutes. Did you notice there are only two ingredients to this recipe?! When she told me she was sending over some mousse (French mousse!) I anticipated that my husband would come home and pull out his French accent, which comes out every now and again. He always says something like "Kiss me, I'm French" which is confusing because he spends most of his time trying to convince the kids and I that he is Russian (he served his mission in St. Petersburg).

chocolate mousse (Morgane's mother's recipe)
4 eggs
200 grams (half a bag) dark chocolate, the darker the better

Beat the egg whites until they stiff and form peaks.
Melt the chocolate (Morgane used a combination of 70% cocoa and semisweet chocolate chips) on the stove. Pour in bowl. Beat in the yolks.
Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

camarones al ajillo- shrimp in garlic sauce









This shrimp dish will tickle your taste buds. The flavor is intense so prepare yourself for something exquisite. If you're not a seafood lover, don't discount this recipe, turn it into garlic chicken.
Does anyone know- is this dish Italian or Spanish?

camarones al ajillo- shrimp in garlic sauce (adapted from American Lifestyle Magazine)
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
a few tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
15 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock plus more as needed
juice of 1 large lime
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon flour
1/4 cup diced parsley

In a heavy pot, heat butter over medium heat. Once the butter begins to turn golden brown, add the shrimp and sear them. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.
In the same pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 to 7 minutes until both are soft. Add the stock, juice, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and cook 15-20 minutes. You may need to add extra stock if the sauce evaporated too quickly, but not more than 1/4 cup.
Measure out 1/2 cup of the hot liquid and place it in a bowl. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the pot and stir until the sauce thickens to the consistency of light syrup. Add the shrimp and parsley and stir, incorporating all the ingredients completely. Cool for 5 to 7 minutes. Do not overcook the shrimp of they will be tough. Serve with white or saffron-seasoned yellow rice.

What I have to say- my friend Erin tried this recipe. Knowing her family wouldn't appreciate the shrimp, she made it with shrimp and with chicken. I thought it was a great idea so tried the recipe using chicken and it turned out beautifully.



chevre'd broccoli









This is a dish that should be served when company comes to dinner. The broccoli is bright and cooked to perfection with just the right amount of herbs and cheese. Delightful!

chevre'd broccoli (adapted from cookbook: Greene on Greens)
1 1/2 pounds broccoli
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup crumbled chevre (goat cheese)
1 teaspoon chopped chives
1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
a pinch of dried tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly grated black pepper

Cut the broccoli tops into flowerets. Cut off about 3 inches of the stems, peel them, and cut them into thin strips, about 1 1/2 inches long. Set both aside.
Heat the butter with the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots; cook 2 minutes. Add the garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the broccoli floweretsa nd stems and toss to coat each piece. Add the chicken stock. Cover, and cook until just barely tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
Raise the heat slightly and cook, uncovered, until all but 1 tablespoon liquid has evaporated. (Do not leave more than that in the pan.) Toss in the chevre and continue to cook, tossing constantly, until the cheese melts and forms a sauce. Sprinkle with the herbs and add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chunk cookies









I made some with white chocolate chips and some with semi-sweet chocolate chips because I wanted to make some for a friend who I thought could use a little cheering up. Once I started making the cookies I remembered that this friend does not like white chocolate so I did a little of each. I thought of another friend whose infant has pneumonia and another friend whose husband has been overseas this week on business and thought I should make the rounds. I won't even have to leave the neighborhood! These cookies are delicious. They remind me of my cousin's cranberry hottycreeks, which I was never able to make turn out right. They would be excellent with some pecans thrown in.

oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chunk cookies (Ocean Spray)
2/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (6 ounce) package Ocean Spray Craisins Original Dried Cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 375. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on to ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

chicken stew with coconut milk










This is a mild flavored, comforting and delicious stew. I didn't know until I tried this stew that I could enjoy lima beans so much! My kids opted to grab an apple from the center of the table and eat apples for dinner. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. I'm okay with that. More leftovers for me.

chicken stew with coconut milk (adapted from allrecipes.com)
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 medium yellow onion, chopped or sliced
1 cup peeled potatoes, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup halved baby carrots
1 (9 ounce) package frozen baby lima beans (or you can use chickpeas if you prefer)
1/2 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup light canned coconut milk
1 cup fat free chicken broth
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce or to taste
parsley or cilantro for garnish

Put all ingredients in a pot on the stove with a tight fitting lid and cook on medium-high for 30-40 minutes.

What I have to say- I like to turn up the heat so I like to put lots of garlic chili sauce on my serving. If your nose hasn't started running by the 4th bite you haven't put enough in it. Add some more...really clear out those sinuses!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

snow ice cream









When
life gives you snow make snow ice cream! My kids had a school delay due to snow so my husband called out, "Who wants to help make breakfast?" When I heard the back door open I knew what he was up to. It makes him nervous sometimes how well I know his every move. He made vanilla and lemon this morning. It was way too sweet for my taste so you might want to add the sugar gradually but not too gradually or your ice cream will melt!

snow ice cream
1 gallon snow
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
extract of choice to taste

Stir together in a large bowl.


Monday, February 21, 2011

bacon and cheese-stuffed chicken meatball heroes









 

My friend Melissa made these for our dinner swap tonight. It was absolutely divine. I've never met a meatball I didn't like but I've fallen in love with this one. Remember back in first grade if you said you loved something someone would tell you to marry it? Well, I would gladly marry this sandwich. Bacon, chicken, Parmesan cheese, cheddar... YUM! I'm glad you weren't at the dinner table because I ate this sandwich like I haven't eaten in months. My kids were oohing and aahing and couldn't get enough. They take after their mother.

bacon and cheese-stuffed chicken meatball heroes (my friend Melissa in PA got this one from Rachael Ray)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus 1 tablespoons for the greens
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound ground all-white meat chicken
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup (a couple of generous handfuls) bread crumbs
1/2 cup (a couple of handfuls) grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (4 ounce) piece cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 cups arugula roughly chopped or 1/4 head lettuce, shredded
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 sub rolls, split in half but not all the way through

Preheat oven to 425. Heat a medium-size, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with 1 turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon. Add the chopped bacon and cook until crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Remove bacon from the pan to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside. Place the ground chicken in a medium-size mixing bowl and add the egg, milk, bread crumbs, grated cheese, parsley and cooked bacon. Season the chicken mixture with salt and pepper. Mix all ingredients together and roll into 12 medium-size meatballs, each about 2 inches round. Place a piece of cheddar cheese into the center of each meatball and maneuver the meat around the cheese to seal it in the middle. Place the skillet you cooked the bacon in back on the burner over the medium-high heat and add the remaining EVOO. The oil should generously coat the bottom of the pan. Place the meatballs in the pan and cook about 5-6 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. While the meatballs are browning, place the split sub rolls on a baking sheet and toast under the broiler for about 30 seconds to a minute. Make sure you don't burn them! In a bowl, combine the chopped arugula and tomatoes, squeeze the juice of half a lemon and drizzle a little EVOO over the greens. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. To serve, assemble 3 meatballs per sub and top with the arugula tomato mixture.

What I have to say- exceptional sandwich. When I made mine the for the first time I used Hot Habanero cheese and it was sooooo good and spicy. Lately I've been baking my meatballs instead of frying them to cut back on fat/oil and I've been pleased with the results.

sister hall's tomato bisque









My friend Erin served this soup as part of a Relief Society meeting several years ago when we both lived in St. Louis. It is a delicious, sophisticated soup- not a soup that should be eaten out of a plastic bowl with a plastic spoon like we did that night.


sister hall's tomato bisque (my friend Erin in MO)
1 leek
1 stalk celery
4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 tablespoons butter
Add above ingredients to a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add to the saucepan the following:
3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 (16 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
Simmer for 30 minutes. Puree the mixture until very fine and quite smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan and add the following:
1/2 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
salt to taste

Sunday, February 20, 2011

baked kale chips









How do you get your one-year old to eat kale? Here's your answer: kale chips. My kids loved them and referred to them as kettle chips.
Have you ever wondered the nutritional benefits of kale? My friend spells them out at her blog.

baked kale chips (adapted from allrecipes.com)
1 bunch kale
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 -1 teaspoon salt

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.
Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

apricot-almond coffee cake with crumble topping









 

A big hit with the entire family!

apricot-almond coffee cake with crumble topping (Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine, Jan/Feb 2011)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups apricot preserves (I used Polaner All Fruit with Fiber)
crumble topping (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with mixer until blended. Add sugar, beating until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until just combined. Stir in sour cream. Spread half of batter in prepared pan. Gently spread preserves over batter. Drop remaining batter by tablespoonfuls over preserves. Sprinkle with crumble topping. Bake for 30 minutes to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 30 minutes before cutting.

crumble topping3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sliced almonds

In a small bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Using a pastry blender cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Stir in almonds.

What I have to say- wonderful! Next time I will use homemade spiced peach jam. I didn't today because I only have one jar left and peaches won't be in season until late summer. Bummer.

spiced peach jam











Spiced peach jam is probably the second thing I learned to can.  Peaches are somewhat of a pain just as tomatoes are but this jam is well worth the effort!!


Here's the story: I never in a million years dreamed I'd can. I grew up with a mom who told me about all the yucky, tasteless things she ate growing up, most of which came from a homemade can, mostly to feed her family of 9. So I grew up thinking that store bought was better. At the age of 33 I came to find out that canning is far different from what I ever thought. I was at the library one morning when I ran into my friend Suzette. The conversation drifted to canning and I remember saying something like, "Why can?" I mean, seriously, you can buy anything you could ever dream of at the grocery store and at great prices if you watch the ads and use coupons. I certainly didn't see an economic benefit. Well, Suzette was growing everything known to man in her garden so she didn't have to buy all the produce. She also wasn't new to canning so she had all the supplies. Still, what was so great about it, I wondered. So Suzette invited me over to help make salsa. For most of the time we chopped and chopped and chopped. It seemed far too laborious and time consuming to me. THEN Suzette made some cheese crisps with fresh tortillas so we could sample the salsa. I was hooked. Sold. The flavor and quality was exceptional. From that moment on there was no turning back. That summer Suzette supplied me with all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables so I could start canning and I went to a local produce stand to buy whatever else I needed. The effort required was no longer a consideration at all. The very next summer our family started our own "salsa garden" and planted several fruit trees. It feels terrific to see something through from start to finish. Thank you, Suzette for guiding me through this exciting process! I can't wait to share her salsa recipe!

spiced peach jam (my friend Suzette who inspired me to start canning)
makes about 3 1/2 pints
4 cups peaches (peeled and mashed
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 box powdered pectin
5 cups sugar

In large saucepan, mix well peaches, cloves, cinnamon, allspice and pectin. Bring to a full boil. Add sugar and bring to full boil again for 1 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and skim. Fill jars and seal. Process in water bath for 10 minutes or steam for 15 minutes.






Saturday, February 19, 2011

slow-cooker chicken posole









 

This is a great soup. Really great. It's remarkably flavorful with the perfect amount of spice and the chicken is always very tender.

slow-cooker chicken posole (Women's Day Magazine, March 2009)
1 can (15 ounces) yellow or white hominy, drained (I used sweet frozen corn)
1 can (14.5 ounces) Mexican-style diced tomatoes
1 can mild green enchilada sauce (I use the big can)
2 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
5 chicken thighs (1 1/2 pounds), skin removed (I like to use boneless, skinless)
chopped cilantro
tortilla chips, optional

Combine hominy, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, carrots, onion, garlic and cumin in a 4-quart slow cooker. Add chicken and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high 3 to 3 1/2 hours until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Skim and discard any fat from the surface. Remove chicken; pull meat off bones into large shreds. Stir back into slow cooker. Stir in cilantro, if using. Serve with lime wedges and tortilla chips.

What I have to say- sometimes I like to throw in some raw brown rice before I start cooking the soup. I wish I had remembered when I made it earlier today. Oh, it was too spicy for the kiddos.






cookie pizza









 

I love my kids' birthdays and the preparation. It gives me time to reflect and think about when I prepared for their arrivals. Daughter #2 turns 6 soon. Six years ago I went to a doctor's appointment on a Monday morning and was told after an ultrasound to come back at 5pm for an induction and not to eat anything after noon. My oldest who was almost 3 was with me and we went straight to McDonald's (a very common thing to do during my pregnancies) where we each got burgers. Mine was a double cheeseburger and we drove to a park in my neighborhood to eat them. As I sat there I felt all sorts of emotions but most of all I was overjoyed that I would give my daughter the gift I had wanted at a very young age but didn't get until I was older- a brother or sister.

cookie pizzadough: For this pizza we used my grandma's sugar cookie dough recipe but you can use store bought. We've used chocolate chip cookie dough in the past but I like the look of the white crust. Just press the dough onto a pizza pan or 9x13. For this party we pressed one batch of cookie dough into both. It was just the right amount.

sauce: Add red food coloring concentrate into homemade or store bought icing. This time we bought our icing and it took 1 container to ice both pizzas.

cheese: This time we added yellow food coloring concentrate into store bought icing (only took about 1/4 of a container) and piped loops onto the sauce. In the past we have used white and yellow sprinkles and they worked well or you can use white and yellow-colored coconut.

toppings: I think circles cut out of fruit roll-ups works great for pepperoni but I couldn't find any solid red roll-ups so we cut licorice bites into small pieces. We cut up green and white gumdrops for green peppers and onions. If you want to cut up the yellow gumdrops you'll have pineapple chunks!

Mmmmm...kids love this stuff!

Friday, February 18, 2011

chicken tikka masala









 

Trust me, you will love this dish. When my cousin and I both lived in St. Louis she invited us to dinner and served this recipe with fresh naan bread. I thought for sure I had died and gone to heaven. It's hard for a girl like me to choose favorites when it comes to recipes and/or cousins but I think I found my favorites. I believe she told me her sister got the recipe at an Indian restaurant in or around Provo, Utah. HALL OF FAME!!!!!
 
chicken tikka masala
(my dear, talented cousin Emily)
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
4 long skewers
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice and 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenno, black pepper, ginger and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in chicken, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat grill. Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with naan bread.

What I have to say- I always double or triple this recipe because it's just too good not to. Tonight I doubled all of the ingredients except for the jalapeno and cream and it turned out great.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

magically easy stew









 

The weather is so gorgeous today (seriously, the neighborhood girls are running around in daisy dukes)!! We had so much fun blowing bubbles and drawing with sidewalk chalk that I almost forgot to get my magically easy stew into the oven this afternoon. It's really, really good and we enjoy it often.

magically easy stew (my friend Annie)
1 pound beef stew meat, cubed
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 to 1 green pepper, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2" pieces (I throw in baby carrots)
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup tomato juice or V8 (we went with spicy hot V8 tonight)

Place beef in a large heavy casserole dish or pot with a tight fitting lid (don't brown the meat first!). Add all chopped veggies. Combine seasoning and tomato juice. Pour this mixture over the vegetables and meat. Do not stir. Cover tightly and cook 3 hours at 325 degrees or 4 hours at 275 degrees.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

new orleans beignets










You must try these and soon. They are splendid. Nothing compares to homemade, fresh from your own kitchen. This recipe is straight from the French Quarter which of course reminds me of none other than the ride Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, by far the happiest place on earth. Our family had the tradition of dining at the restaurant The Blue Bayou which is located inside the ride Pirates of the Caribbean. There, we'd eat Monte Cristo sandwiches dusted with powdered sugar and sip Mint Julips while listening to the crickets and fireflies with lit lanterns hanging overhead. What a setting.

new orleans beignets (Southern Living Magazine, February 2011)
1 (1/4 ounce) envelop dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
6 1/2 to 7 cups bread flour
vegetable oil
sifted powdered sugar

Make the yeast mixture: Combine yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar in a bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Add milk, eggs, salt and remaining granulated sugar.
Form a dough: Microwave remaining 1 cup water until hot (about 115 degrees); stir in shortening until melted. Add to yeast mixture. Beat at low speed, gradually adding 4 cups flour, until smooth. Gradually add remaining 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour, beating until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl; turn to grease top. Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours.
Roll and cut: Turn dough out onto a floured surface; roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 2 1/2-inch squares.
Fry until golden: Pour oil to depth of 2 to 3 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 360 degrees. Fry dough, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack. Dust immediately with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

cabbage beef soup









 

This soup tastes like Pennsylvania. I'm not sure exactly what that means. Maybe it's this- it reminds me of country living but has something a little unexpected and special to it, sort of like the town where I live. Hershey, PA. Be sure to dip some bread into it. Mmmm...one of my favorites.

cabbage beef soup (allrecipes.com)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef
1/2 large onion, chopped (I used half a bag of cole slaw mix)
5 cups chopped cabbage
2 (16 ounce cans) red kidney beans, drained
2 cups water
24 ounces tomato sauce
4 beef bouillon cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add ground beef and onion, and cook until beef is well browned and crumbled. Drain fat, and transfer beef to a slow cooker. Add cabbage, kidney beans, water, tomato sauce, bouillon, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir to dissolve bouillon, and cover. Cook on high setting for 4 hours, or on low setting for 6 to 8 hours. Stir occasionally. Enjoy!