Friday, November 23, 2012

loaded chicken pot pie soup

This recipe won a $500 prize in the category of hearty soups but I still didn't expect it to be as good as it turned out to be.  The spices are a perfect combination and give a little zip.  This really is a comforting soup for a cozy night in.  I doubled the recipe and was so glad I did!

loaded chicken pot pie soup (Better Homes & Gardens, December 2012)
1/2 cup each chopped carrot and celery
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon each seasoned salt, dry mustard, chili powder and ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup half and half
1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 to 1 1/2 cups egg noodles (I used whole wheat egg noodles)
biscuits ready to eat

In a large pot cook carrot, celery, onion and garlic in hot butter about 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in broth, chicken, noodles and seasonings.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, 10 minutes or until noodles are tender.
In a small bowl, whisk together half and half and flour; add to pot.  Add broccoli and peas.  Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Spoon into bowls; top with biscuits.  Makes 6 servings.

I am so glad I discovered this method!
Place 2-3 frozen chicken breasts in a slow cooker.  Add carrot, celery, onion, garlic, chicken broth and seasonings.  Cook on HIGH for 6 hours.  Add broccoli, frozen peas and pasta.  Continue to cook until pasta is soft- doesn't take long.  Stir in half and half (or you can leave it out and it will still be great!).  Serve. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

eggnog pancakes

Happy Thanksgiving!  We enjoyed these pancakes this morning while listening to Christmas music- the holidays are so joyous.  These pancakes are GREAT and have just entered the seasonal rotation.  My husband thought the best way to eat them is with a little dusting of powdered sugar and a little maple syrup.  As we ate breakfast my husband told us that in Russia they enjoy "Pancake Week" once a year.  That week he and his companion made a different kind of pancake every day of the week starting with banana pancakes then chocolate pancakes leading up to the pancakes his companion made- Kool Aid pancakes. He says they were pretty bad.  Stick with these.

eggnog pancakes (Better Homes and Gardens, December 2012)
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used pumpkin pie spice because we're out of nutmeg)
2 lightly beaten eggs
2 cups eggnog
1/4 cup oil

In a large bowl, mix together the ingredients in the order given.  Cook pancakes on a griddle 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with powdered sugar and maple syrup.

apple pie toffee cookies

These cookies just sounded good and different from your average cookie so we had to give them a try.  Graham crackers, fresh apple, toffee bits!  They're great especially with a tall glass of cold milk.  I doubled the recipe so we could share them with friends.

apple pie toffee cookies (Inside BruCrew Life)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cups flour (I needed 1/4 to 1/2 cup additional flour)
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup finely chopped apple (we grated ours)
1/2 cup toffee baking bits
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon shortening

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugars and butter until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla.  In a bowl, combine flour, crumbs, baking powder, salt and spices.  Add to the butter mixture and mix until just combined.  Stir in the apple and toffee bits by hand.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool on pan for 2-3 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Melt the white chips and shortening.  Spoon into a plastic bag and cut the tip off.  Drizzle over cookies.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

grace's chocolate chip cookies

Grace is my daughter's favorite preschool teacher and was happily surprised when Grace delivered a plate of these cookies to her on her birthday with a card that she carried around the next day.  My kids hummed as they ate them and my oldest declared we must get the recipe!  When I saw the recipe I knew why they are so good- 1 pound of butter...and chocolate chips!!

grace's chocolate chip cookies (our friend Grace)
1 pound butter
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
2 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
about 2 cups chocolate chips 

Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla; mix.  Add next three ingredients; mix.  Stir in chocolate chips.
Scoop dough with spoons or ice cream scoop and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes or until set.

Monday, November 19, 2012

carrot dill soup

This soup would be a fantastic starter for a holiday meal.  I love carrot soup but I loved this one especially because of the dill and the splash of cream over the top.  My friend Gillian brought this to me and it was such a treat!

carrot dill soup (Cookbook: The New Basics Cookbook, Rosso & Lukins)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
2 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, leaves included, diced
8 cups chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh dill
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 teaspoons creme fraiche, for garnish
6 dill sprigs, for garnish

Melt the butter in a soup kettle.  Add the onion and cook over low heat until wilted, 10 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery, stock, 1/4 cup dill, salt, black pepper and cayenne.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cover.  Simmer until the carrots are tender, 40  minutes.  Allow to cool slightly.
Puree the soup, in batches in a blender.  Return it to the kettle, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons dill and adjust the seasonings.  Heat through.
Serve each bowl of soup garnished with a dollop of creme fraiche (Gillian used cream), a sprinkling of red pepper and a sprig of dill.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

banana chocolate spice cake

Happy Birthday to the girl who requested a cake using chocolate, bananas and acorns!!  I just happened to see this recipe posted online a day or two later and was overjoyed.  The icing on this cake is velvety- great choice and great flavor combination.  Make these acorns to garnish the cake.

banana chocolate spice cake (Your Cup of Cake)
1 box yellow cake mix
2 large ripe bananas
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk (I put 1 tsp. vinegar into milk)
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

chocolate spice buttercream icing (I halved this recipe for a bundt cake)
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, use a fork to mash bananas with baking soda and lemon juice.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, oil, vanilla extract, buttermilk and cinnamon.  Stir in bananas.
Stir in cake mix.
Grease a bundt pan and pour batter inside.  Bake for the legnth of time indicated on the back of the cake box.
To make the icing, beat butter until smooth.  Add cocoa, vanilla, milk and cinnamon and beat again.  Slowly add powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency.  Spread onto cooled cake and top with acorns and banana chips.

lindsey's zucchini cheese soup

Lindsey hosted a luncheon the other day and made this wonderful soup.  It's the kind of soup that you wish you could sit and eat for hours without the bowl emptying or your tummy filling.  Of course I had to go home and make it right away which meant an extra trip to the store and I don't usually make extra trips to the store!  My whole family enjoyed it.

lindsey's zucchini cheese soup (my friend Lindsey M.)
2 medium zucchini, cut in quarters lengthwise, then sliced into 1/4" slices
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried bail
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 (15 ounce) can corn (I used Mexicorn)
1 (15 ounce) can evaporated milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Saute the zucchini, onion and herbs in the butter until soft.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper.  Add the water and bouillon; bring to a boil and cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Add corn, tomatoes and canned milk and reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Add cheeses and stir to melt.  Serve.

Friday, November 16, 2012

pumpkin fluff dip

When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it and I knew it would be delicious.  I took it to preschool for snack time this morning and watched my son as he licked the remaining dip off of his plate (we believe in excellent manners in our home).  I then served it as an after school snack and although nobody licked their plate clean, it was a hit.  This dip just made the list of seasonal "must makes".

pumpkin fluff dip (adapted from
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

In a large bowl, mix together instant vanilla pudding mix, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice.  Fold in the thawed frozen whipped topping.  Chill in the refrigerator until serving.  Serve with fresh fruit, graham crackers or gingersnaps.

pumpkin pie snickerdoodle bars

Although my two youngest kids did not appreciate these bars, plenty of people did as we shared them with many friends.  My husband's favorite pie is pumpkin and he said he really enjoyed them.  I made these bars with the fresh pumpkin puree that my friend Janet brought over.  Where there's pumpkin puree, there's always a new recipe to experiment with!

pumpkin pie snickerdoodle bars (Plain Chicken)
snickerdoodle layer:
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

pumpkin pie layer:
1 cup flour
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 ounce white chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 9x13 pan and lay a piece of parchment paper (I used foil) across the pan so that it extends the pan.
To make the snickerdoodle layer, sift togethr flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.  In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in the flour mixture until well blended.  Spread evenly in prepared pan (mixture will be thick and cookie batter-ish).
To make pumpkin pie filling, mix together butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined.  This layer will be less thick and more pourable.  Pour over the snickerdoodle layer, smoothing out the top.
Combine the white sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.
Bake for 33-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let the bars cool completely.  They may deflate a bit and remain a bit pie-like on the top layer.
After the bars are completely cool, place the chopped white chocolate into a bowl or zip-lock bag and melt on low power.  When it's melted add the pumpkin pie spice and mix.  Use a spoon or cut a small corner of the bag and drizzle the melted chocolate over the top of the bars and let it cool and harden.
Pull the dessert out of the pan by lifting out the parchment paper or foil.  Cut into bars.  Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Friday, November 9, 2012

pumpkin snickerdoodles

cracker barrel chicken tenderloin

This chicken was very tender and flavorful and with only a few ingredients.  It did take a little while to cook the chicken long enough to get the sauce to caramelize but it was worth the time.

cracker barrel chicken tenderloin (Hen's Nest
1 pound boneless chicken breast tenders (I filleted and sliced breasts)
1/2 cup Zesty Italian dresing
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey 

Mix dressing, lime juice and honey in a large resealable bag or container.  Add the chicken.  Marinate for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.  In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the entire mixture with chicken to the pan.  Braise chicken on all sides until golden but not dry.  Make sure most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce has a chance to caramelize.  The darker, the more flavorful.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

homemade creamy vanilla ice cream

Is everyone on the edge of their seats tonight?  We made this delicious, creamy ice cream from start to finish in just 30 minutes.  It's super, super delicious and with only 4 ingredients.  We had three options tonight: root beer floats, sundaes or cones.  The root beer floats got the most votes tonight.

homemade vanilla ice cream (adapted from my Cuisinart recipe booklet)
1 cup half and half, chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1 to 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, to taste

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the half and half and sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes on low speed.  Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste.  Turn the Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker on, pour mixture into freezer bowl through ingredient spout and let mix until thickened, about 25 minutes.

Monday, November 5, 2012

cherry rhubarb freezer jam

I was finishing up at our school's teacher appreciation car wash when my friend Lindsey saw me from the road and pulled over with a loaf of hot homemade bread and jar of cherry rhubarb freezer jam.  That's the kind of thing that happens approximately once in a lifetime but you wish would happen every day!  This jam is absolutely wonderful.  I had never had cherry jam, rhubarb jam or a combination of the two.  It was a real treat.  This jam recipe is a keeper!!

cherry rhubarb freezer jam (my friend Lindsey)
6 cups rhubarb, chopped (Lindsey says you can buy it frozen at Market of Choice)
1 1/2 cups frozen cherries (How easy!  Cherries can be high-maintenance.  Not this time)
2 cups sugar
4.5 ounces cherry gelatin (I never would've guessed!)

Combine and bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes.  Take off heat and add jello.  Cool uncovered.  Ladle into jars.  Place in refrigerator uncovered for 4 hours.  Add lids to the jars then allow to freeze in freezer.

creamy southwestern shrimp

My husband said the next time I make this dish, with a combination of shrimp, scallops and mussels it will be Hall of Fame.  This dish was delicious!!  The original recipe is called Southwestern Shrimp Bisque and I had planned to serve it as such until I realized how thick and rich it was.  I think we'd only have been able to eat about 3 bites as a bisque.  It needed some pasta or rice underneath to balance the richness.

creamy southwestern shrimp (adapted from Taste of Home, April/May 2012)
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup water
1/2 cup half and half
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup sour cream (I didn't think it needed any more richness so omitted it)
chopped fresh cilantro

In a small saucepan, saute onion in oil until tender.  Add the garlic; cook 1 minute longer.  Stir in flour until blended.  Stir in water, cream, bouillon and seasonings; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Cut shrimp into bite-sized pieces if desired; add to soup.  Simmer 5-10 minutes longer or until shrimp turn pink.  Place sour cream in a small bowl if serving as a soup; gradually stir in 1/2 cup of soup.  Return all to the pan, stirring constantly.  Heat through, do not boil.  If desired, top with cilantro and avocado.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

yogurt marinated chicken kebabs

These kebabs reminded me a lot of my chicken tikka masala recipe.  They were delicious!  This is a repeater for sure and I'd love to rate them Hall of Fame.  I think my husband would've agreed but I doubt he could even taste them, he was so out of sorts from working all night.

yogurt marinated chicken kebabs (adapted from
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
1 cup plain Greek style yogurt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/4-inch pieces

Place crushed red pepper and paprika and chipotle pepper in a large bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons warm water.  Let stand until a paste forms.  Add yogurt, oil, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper to spice mixture in bowl; whist to blend.  Stir in garlic then chicken.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour.  Keep chilled.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat).  Thread chicken pieces on metal skewers, dividing equally.
Discard marinade in bowl.  Sprinkle each skewer with salt, pepper and additional paprika.  Brush grill rack with oil.  Grill chicken until golden brown and cooked through, turning skewers occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes total.  Transfer skewers to platter.


One Sunday afternoon (a very lucky one) my friend Janet brought over a plate of potstickers for us to cook up.  My kids were so excited they had a hard time waiting for our next meal!  Janet went to a lot of work to make these but you could certainly take shortcuts (like I plan to).  Whereas Janet ground the pork herself and made the wrappers herself (I was in awe when I found out) you could buy the pork already ground and the wrappers.  She said there are plenty of You Tube videos that demonstrate how to wrap them.  I'll just ask my daughter how; she learned at Activity Days.  Warning:  they DO stick to the pan!

potstickers (my friend Janet adapted it from epicurious)
1/2 pound fatty ground pork
1/4 pound cabbage, steamed, drained and minced
1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar, not seasoned
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of white pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems
3 tablespoons finely chopped flowering chives, flat Chinese chives or scallions
24 to 30 round dumpling wrappers, preferably with egg

Combine all ingredients (except cilantro stems, chives and wrappers) in a large bowl then stir in cilantro stems and chives.  Set bowl in a larger bowl of ice to keep chilled while forming dumplings.  Place a slightly rounded teaspoon of filling in center of a wrapper and moisten area around filling with water.  Fold in half to form a crescent and press to seal.  Moisten one corner and bring corners together, pressing them to form a tortellini-shaped dumpling.  Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.
Janet's cooking instructions:  Put some oil in a pan and place the potstickers in a pan.  Fill with water until potstickers and half covered with water.  Cook until water evaporates.  (I flipped mine in the pan which is why they were browned on all sides).


store bought favorite: carrol shelby's chili kit

This has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl.  My grandma used to make Carroll Shelby's chili all the time.  There are stories about she and my grandpa and how they would make this chili while serving missions in Switzerland.  My grandma would make a giant pot of it then she and my grandpa would call their mission friends and tell them to bring a bowl and a spoon and come have a bowl with them.  My grandparents became very popular.  How I loved to go over to their home for Sunday dinner.

carrol shelby's chili kit
I got my kit for about $2.19 and there are suggestions on the back of the box of how you can make your chili.  My grandma always used ground beef, onions, diced tomatoes and kidney beans but I did something a little different this time.

Here's what I did to make a hearty, no-bean chili that was delicious and sooo tender:
2 pounds steak meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, diced
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 red bell pepper, diced 
seasoning packets in the box

Brown the meat and onions in a pan.  Pour into a large crock pot.  Add chiles, pepper, green chiles, tomato sauce, 2 cups water and seasoning packets in the box.  An hour before you're ready to serve, stir in the masa flour.

What I have to say- this recipe is gluten free!

six layer bars

My friend Gillian brought us some six layer bars (she omitted the coconut) and they were delicious!  I am not a sweets person but I make sweets for family and friends but the almonds on top called out to me so I had to sample an almond.  The almond was so good I had to sample a butterscotch chip because butterscotch chips had been on my mind, believe it or not.  From there it only got worse- I had to take a little nibble to get the full effect.  And then another nibble...

six layer bars ( Gillian adapted the recipe from Eagle Brand
cooking spray
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup butterscotch-flavored chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped raw almonds

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter; mix well.  Press crumb mixture firmly int bottom of prepared pan.  Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture.  Layer evenly with remaining ingredients; press down firmly with fork.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.  Loosen from sides of pan while still warm; cool on wire rack.  Cut into bars or diamonds.
For perfectly cut cookie bars, line entire pan with foil, extending foil over edge of pan.  Coat lightly with no-stick cooking spray.  After bars have baked and cooled, lift up by edges of foil to remove from pan.  Cut into individual bars.