Monday, February 27, 2012

salmon chowder

















This is a super delicious soup.  My husband told me over and over again over dinner last night and I have to agree.  We enjoyed it with some of Ruth's breadsticks which were delicious as always.  We sure ate well last night then broke out the brown sugar cookies with browned butter icing.
I made this meal for a friend's family and they said it was incredible!

salmon chowder (blog: Yummy Mummy)
1 cup chopped potatoes
1 cup sliced leeks
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 ear corn, kernels sliced off
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white wine (I used chicken broth)
2 cups crushed tomatoes
3 cups clam juice, fish stock or vegetable stock (I had chicken broth on hand)
1 cup half and half
1 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh dill (I used 1/4 teaspoon dried dill)
1 pound wild salmon, cut into about 2" pieces

Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add potatoes, leeks, mushrooms and corn kernels.  Saute until vegetables are starting to soften.  Add garlic and continue to stir for one minute.  Add white wine and simmer until most of the liquid has cooked off.  Stir in tomatoes, clam juice, half and half, yogurt, parsley and dill and bring to a low simmer.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add salmon and cook until just cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Garnish with parsley or dill.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

soft brown sugar cookies with browned butter icing









BEST ICING EVER.  These cookies are pretty awesome and I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to give them a whirl.  My kiddos made sure they ate every crumb then licked every little finger and everything else they could find that was coated with icing which was just about every beater, bowl and spoon in the house not to mention doorknobs, light switches...you get the idea.  I am going to start putting this icing on every cookie and cake I make.  Delicious!!
P.S.  Like my new hand towel?  I found that one and a few others at Crate & Barrel because I was in desperate need of something that wasn't totally ratty.  Teal, lime and lemon are our new kitchen colors for spring.  They make me so happy in the kitchen!

soft brown sugar cookies with browned butter icing (blog: Susie QT Pies)
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream

Blend together butter and brown sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time; blend well.  Add vanilla; beat until light.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with sour cream; mix well.  Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto non-stick or lightly greased baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack; cool.  Frost with Browned Butter Icing.

browned butter icing (the most delicious icing ever!)
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium high heat until it turns golden.  Watch carefully.  Remove from heat.  Stir in powdered sugar and enough milk to make a spreading consistency (I used a hand mixer).

Friday, February 24, 2012

carrot rice









This is a mildly sweet, flavorful rice that can be made with any kind of rice.  Last night I used brown basmati rice (the quick cook from Trader Joes) and it was my favorite way to make it.  Sometimes I add a little diced onion with the carrots to it to make it extra special.  A great way to sneak in a veggie or two!

carrot rice
your choice of uncooked rice
few carrots, grated
chicken broth
pepper
olive oil

Decide how much rice you want to make.  You will use the directions on the package of the rice to make this recipe.
In a pot with a tight fitting lid, pour a ring of oil into the pot over medium high heat.  Add the carrots and saute for a minute.  Add the amount of rice you desire and stir with the carrots.  Instead of adding the amount of water that directions calls for, add that amount of chicken broth and some black pepper.  Cook as directed.  When it is done, fluff with a fork.
I

Saturday, February 18, 2012

pork and egg lo mein









This was a big hit!  My kids were starving for dinner so I gave one of my kids (child #2 who was hungriest of all) a little taste of the pork.  She was in heaven humming as she chewed and swallowed.  I made this recipe because as I was thumbing though my Food Network magazine and my oldest said it looked really good and that we should try it.  It was really good!  New favorite.

pork and egg lo mein (Food Network Magazine, March 2012)
kosher salt
6 ounces dried lo mein noodles, spaghetti or linguine
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 1-inch-thick pork chops, thinly sliced
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups broccoli slaw mix
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add the noodles and cook as the label directs.  Reserve 3 tablespoons of the cooking water, then drain the noodles and rinse under cold water.  Meanwhile, mix the soy sauce and oyster sauce in a small bowl.  Put the pork in another bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce mixture.
Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the eggs; cook, without stirring until set, 1 minute.  Flip and cook 30 seconds, then transfer to a cutting board and cut into strips.
Heat the remaining two tablespoons oil in the skillet.  Add the pork and stir-fry until golden but not fully cooked.  Transfer to a plate.  Add the scallions, ginger and garlic to the skillet and stir-fry 30 seconds.  Add the broccoli slaw and bell pepper and stir-fry 4 more minutes.  Return the pork to the skillet and add the noodles, the reserved cooking water and the remaining soy sauce mixture.  Stir-fry until the pork is cooked through, about 2 more minutes.  Stir in the egg.

What I have to say- I doubled the pork so doubled the sauce.

smoothie with secret ingredient: spinach












I put spinach in our smoothie for the first time a couple weeks ago.  Why hadn't I done it sooner?!  I handed everyone in our family a smoothie and asked them to guess the secret ingredient.  Nobody could.  Everyone happily drank their smoothies.  When I told them it was spinach my husband was totally impressed.  The next time I wasn't so fortunate.  My kids saw me stuff spinach into the top of the Vita-Mix and that was the end of that.  I got to drink a lot of smoothie that meal.  The trick is this: don't give away your secret.  They will never know unless you tell them.

smoothie with secret ingredient: spinach
3 ripe bananas
7 strawberries
1 cup of frozen blueberries
handfuls of baby spinach with stems
ice
a little milk (keep adding until you reach the consistency you want)

I do not ever use a recipe for our smoothies.  I put a bunch of fruit, ice and milk in the blender and away we go!  I never, ever add sugar or anything else.  They're healthy and delicious!  This particular smoothie made about 5 cups.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

classic pound cake









My friend Kiana puts on amazing teacher appreciation events at our neighborhood elementary school.  Today she's setting up a chocolate fountain with all sorts of things the teachers and staff can dip into the chocolate- strawberries, bananas, pretzels, rice crispy treats, tiny heart shaped sugar cookies and this pound cake.  This recipe has been in my "to try" binder for a long time so I was happy to pull it out since I'd almost forgotten about it.  My family is going to enjoy fondue tonight for our Valentine's dessert and I threw some poppy seeds into our loaf.  At the end of the recipe you'll find lots of great ideas of how to make all sorts of different delicious cakes.

classic pound cake (Martha Stewart Living Magazine, not sure of the month and year)
1 pound flour (3 1/4 cups) (weigh your flour for best results!  1 pound for me was 3 cups of flour)
1 tablespoon coarse salt
4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 eggs, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter two 5-by-9-inch loaf pans.  Combine flour and salt in a bowl.
Cream butter and sugar with a mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, for 8 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Reduce speed to medium and add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.  Lightly beat 9 eggs and add in 4 additions, mixing thoroughly after each and scraping down sides.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 4 additions, mixing until just incorporated.  Divide batter between pans.  Tap on counter to distribute; smooth tops.  Bake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 65 minutes.  Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes.  Remove from pans and let cool completely on wire rack.  Makes 2 cakes.

variations
poppy seed: Fold in 1 tablespoon poppy seeds into finished batter.
chocolate: Use 1 cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder in place of 1 cup flour. 
chocolate marble: Prepare 4 loaf pans.  Make 1 batch classic pound cake batter and 1 batch chocolate pound cake batter.  Scoop batters into prepared pans, 1/2 cup at a time, alternating plain and chocolate.  Swirl with a knife.  Makes 4 cakes.
blueberry sour cream: Use 1/2 cup sour cream in place of 1 stick of butter.  Toss 2 cups blueberries in 2 tablespoons flour; fold into finished batter.  Before baking, sprinkle 2 tablespoons sanding sugar over each cake.
cherry preserves: Fold 1 cup cherry preserves into finished batter.
vanilla bean: Use seeds of 1 vanilla bean in place of vanilla extract.
toasted coconut: Fold 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut into finished batter.  Before baking, sprinkle 1/3 cup additional coconut over each cake; tent with foil to bake.
cinnamon raisin: Toss 2 cups raisins into 2 tablespoons flour; fold into finished batter.  Divide batter in half.  Fold 2 tablespoons cinnamon into 1 half.  Scoop batters into 2 prepared pans, 1/2 cup at a time, alternating plain and cinnamon.  Swirl with a knife.
chocolate chip: Fold 2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips into finished batter.

What I have to say- I made 3 loaves so I know you can half the recipe to make only 1 loaf if you desire.  Great recipe!

Monday, February 13, 2012

sweetheart sundaes with fresh strawberry sauce




























Okay,  the sundae was supposed to have vanilla ice cream but somebody put the huge gallon of vanilla ice cream in the refrigerator and left it there for 24 hours.  That somebody was me!  I was lucky we had some chocolate ice cream in the freezer for my daughter's party.  This sauce is delicious and smells magnificent due to the vanilla and lemon.  I chose to leave the strawberries sliced instead of pureeing them because I wanted the sundae to look fresh and real.  None of that artificial strawberry sauce for us!

sweetheart sundaes with fresh strawberry sauce (grouprecipes.com)
3 cups of fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan (I sliced my strawberries).  Bring to a boil over high heat stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a food process or blender and puree (I omitted).
You can add a tablespoon of this to 7-Up, lemonade or my husband added some to some milk and used his aerolatte for a fun drink.

yumm! bowls and wraps

















My friend Kara recommended I pick up some Yumm! Sauce at our fancy grocery store (that I love and will find any excuse to go there) to make bowls and wraps at home.  Can I just say these are my family's new favorite condiments?!  They are YUMM and we had bowls and wraps for dinner on Saturday then for lunch and dinner on Sunday!  We had a whole buffet going- shredded chicken, ground beef, smoked pork, tortillas, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, beans, jalapenos, green chiles, pico de gallo, sour cream, cilantro, etc.  DELICIOUS!
My husband and I went out to lunch the other day and saw a Cafe YUMM! in town.  I can't imagine their bowls taste any better than ours did...

YUMM! Sauce

Our store in town sells 3 flavors.  I picked up roasted garlic and chipotle.  Our favorite is the roasted garlic.
It's egg free, dairy free, gluten free, wheat free, sugar free, cholesterol free and low sodium!
The jar says it can be a dressing for salads, sandwich spread, topping for baked potatoes, vegetable, rice or bean dishes, dipping sauce for veggies, bread or chips, basting sauce for grilled or baked items, dollop on soup or chili.  Yumm it up!
Apparently you can go to www.cafeyumm.com but I am having trouble pulling it up.  Can't wait to see their menu so I can re-create at home for cheap!

What I have to say- Kara warned me that the flavor is very distinct and might be an acquired taste and that a little goes a long way.  We loved it right away but she's right- it has a very distinct taste. $4.99 per jar and we used them for 3 meals and they are still half full.

leninade























Some friends of ours said they bought some of these Leninade drinks at Fred Meyer so of course I had to go get one for my husband who loves all things Russian.  Get this-

FRONT:
Join the Party!
Get Hammered & Sickled!
Leninade: A Taste Worth Standing In Line For!
Drink Comrade!  Drink! It's this or the gulgag!

BACK:
A Party In Every Bottle!
Surprisingly Satisfying Simple Soviet Style Soda
Misha, Chill Down This Bottle & Chill Out!
Beware The Repressed Communist Party Animal Who Is Really A Proletarian In Denial Masquerading As A Bourgeois Cold War Monger!
Get Really Hammered & Sickled
Our 5-Year Plan: Drink a bottle a day for five years and become a Hero of Socialist Flavor


We aren't sure yet what socialist flavor is because my husband hasn't opened it after weeks of it sitting in our fridge!  Maybe I should encourage him to save the bottle.  OR we could probably buy more (imagine that!).
At $1.50 a bottle, get one and knock yourself out!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

citrus cupcakes (cheater style)










We're hosted a Valentine's party this afternoon.  Before planning this party I had a little chat with my daughter and enthusiastically mentioned all the fun places we could host a party but she said she definitely wanted to have her party at home.  It took me a while to get into the idea of hosting a bunch of crazy kids it but now I'm glad she chose that.  It really is more fun to plan and prepare although I may change my mind several hours from now once the kids have left and there are frosting-finger marks and strawberry sundae sauce marks all over my house.
I wanted to have some cupcakes for the kids but didn't want to make them entirely from scratch so I remembered a trick that my friend Mandy told me which is: she sneaks a can of mandarin oranges in the mix to freshen up the cupcakes.  I did that then added some more powdered sugar and lemon extract to the icing for a delicious cupcake.  My kids had sample cupcakes and my oldest kept saying how great the icing was.

citrus cupcakes 
1 box white cake mix
11 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
1 tub white icing
1 teaspoon lemon extract
powdered sugar

Prepare white cake mix according to directions using a hand held mixer.  Add a can of mandarin oranges and continue to mix until the oranges are broken up and combined.  Pour into cupcake liners and bake according to package directions.  Allow to cool then ice.

Icing:  Combine 1 tub white icing with 1 teaspoon lemon extract.  Add powdered sugar until you get a good consistency that will allow you to pipe the icing onto the cupcake and hold it's shape.

Monday, February 6, 2012

southern pulled pork

















I recently made dinner for a friend as she and her family returned home from a funeral.  I get nervous sometimes when I cook for other families because I don't always know what they'll like.  I decided to play it safe and since I knew her husband wanted to get into town and watch the Superbowl while eating dinner so I decided to make southern pulled pork on rolls, simple cole slaw, velveeta & rotel macaroni and pan de chocolat.
I kept some pulled pork without bbq sauce for myself and enjoyed it great that way.  I poured some bbq sauce in the rest because that's how my family enjoys it.
Go ahead and make a large batch!  I can't wait to make green chile enchiladas tomorrow with the leftovers that I saved without bbq sauce.

southern pulled pork (adapted from allrecipes.com)
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
5 pounds boneless pork roast
2 1/2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
2 1/2 medium onions, chopped
10 cloves garlic, crushed
5 cups water
2 1/2 tablespoons liquid smoke flavoring (next time I'll use more)

Cut the pork into large chunks.  Season generously with cajun seasoning.  Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add pork, and brown on all sides.  Remove from the skillet and transfer to a slow cooker.
Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook for a few minutes until tender.  Stir in the water scraping the bottom to include all of the browned pork bits from the bottom of the pan, then pour into the slow cooker with the pork.  Stir in liquid smoke flavoring.
Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or until meat is falling apart when pierced with a fork.  Remove pieces of pork from the slow cooker and shred.  Return to the slow cooker to keep warm while serving.

velveeta and rotel macaroni









Macaroni and cheese with a kick!  I made some without the rotel for my kids and they devoured it.  Once in a while they like me to make the box of Kraft macaroni and cheese but now I'm afraid they're going to want me to go all out with the Velveeta.  Okay, I have to laugh at that. :)

velveeta and rotel macaroni (adapted from i heart nap time)
1 (16 ounce) box rotini
16 ounces of Velveeta
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained


Cook pasta according to directions, drain.
Meanwhile, heat cheese in the microwave in a big glass bowl.
After the cheese is melted, pour the noodles into the bowl and stir to combine.  Add the tomatoes.
Put the pasta in a baking dish and top with cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes.


What I have to say-  I made the above recipe as written, however for my family I skipped the baking and simply served the pasta with melted cheese.  It was great and they loved it so the baking part may not be necessary if you're looking to skip a step.

pan de chocolat

























When I saw this decadent dessert online I was reminded of the many, many pan de chocolates I ate on campus at the BYU-Hawaii cafeteria the first semester I lived there.  The first time I saw it I didn't think it could possibly be good so I ate one.  I wouldn't have eaten one had I known that every night after dinner I'd have to have one for dessert.  I had forgotten about these until I made them for my family and for a friend who was coming home from out-of-town after having been to a funeral.  My husband saw them and said his mother used to make them all the time, only without the powdered sugar (she served her mission in France).  Instead of calling them "chocolate filled crescents" she called them pan de chocolat.  With only three ingredients this dessert is a must-make!

pan de chocolat (adapted from Pillsbury)
1 can (8 ounces) Pillsbury buttery flake crescent dinner rolls
mini chocolate chips (don't be stingy!)
powdered sugar for dusting

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Separate dough into 8 triangles.
Place a tablespoon of chocolate chips all over triangles and press down on chocolate chips to secure.  Roll up, starting at longest end of triangle, rolling to opposite point.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Dust with powdered sugar.

What I have to say-  you'll want to make a double batch for sure!

jalapeno popper chicken









This chicken brought back great memories of living in a tiny apartment in California with my husband when I was pregnant with my first child.  I craved jalapeno poppers like crazy so I would bake jalapeno poppers and we would sit and dip them into Taco Bell sauce while watching a t.v. show we both liked.  I savored every bite and felt slightly guilty that I was allowing myself such an indulgence so regularly.
This chicken tastes exactly how I remember those jalapeno poppers tasted.  YUM!!  This is a new favorite.

jalapeno popper chicken (adapted from blog: Cassie Craves)
4 ounces light cream cheee
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
4 strips bacon, cooked and diced (I like to bake my bacon now!)
3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (mine were huge)
1 cup panko (season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder for best results)
1/4 cup canola oil

Stir together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon and jalapenos in a small bowl.
Cut a pocket horizontally through the thickest side of each chicken breast and fill with 1/3 of the cheese mixture.
Roll the chicken breasts in panko to coat.  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until browned.  Finish baking in an oven at 350 until chicken is cooked thoroughly.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

red velvet gooey butter cookies









My kids couldn't get enough of these and the sister missionaries really enjoyed them when they came for dinner.  It's such an easy recipe.  A keeper for sure!  I might experiment by throwing in some white chocolate chips next time.  Mmmm!

red velvet gooey butter cookies (adapted from blog: Taste and Tell
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 box red velvet cake mix
1 tablespoon water
confectioners' sugar for sifting


In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter.  Beat in the egg then the vanilla.  Add the water.  Beat in the cake mix until completely combined.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll the chilled dough into tablespoon sized balls.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.


What I have to say- to begin, I rolled the balls into powdered sugar before baking but found that the sugar absorbed into the cookie so I decided to sift some powdered sugar over the cookies after baking them.  We got double the sugar which was probably a good thing.

garlic parmesan crusted chicken









We had the sister missionaries over for dinner last night.  We had this chicken that turned out to be delicious and red velvet gooey butter cookies.  My kids asked for several helpings of the chicken and didn't want to stop after "only" a couple cookies.  I wish my kids hadn't been so downright embarrassing.   They get so hyper and say the weirdest things every time the sisters come over.

garlic parmesan crusted chicken (adapted from blog: Plain Chicken)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 3/4-inch thick
1/2 cup ranch dressing
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper

ranch spread
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup ranch dressing

parmesan crumb topping
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan
2 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup shredded Provolone cheese

Combine ingredients for the marinade and pour over chicken.  Let marinate in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight.  Grill 12-15 minutes or until chicken is done.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the ranch spread and Parmesan crumb topping.
For the ranch spread, mix 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan and 1/4 cup ranch dressing.  Set aside.
For Parmesan crumb topping, mix bread crumbs, garlic salt, shredded Parmesan and butter.  The crumbs should be evenly moistened.
Position rack in center of oven.  Preheat broiler.
Transfer cooked chicken to oven-safe casserole dish.  Spread 2 tablespoons ranch spread on each breast, then top with Provolone and Parmesan crumb topping.  Place chicken under broiler and cook until cheese melts and crumb topping begins to turn light brown.  Serve immediately.

What I have to say- oops!  I put the cheese on the chicken after the breadcrumbs.  Next time I'll put the cheese on beforehand.

under the sea party favor












My first grader came home from an "Under the Sea" birthday party with this adorable party favor.  Ordinarily I loathe party favors because they are usually little bags full of junk that I will pick up off the floor of my home 20,000 times before I finally throw it into the garbage can knowing that my child will know it is missing as soon as she comes home from school and cry about it and remind me for years to come that I threw away her "special" thing.  Not this time.  I am in love with this party favor.  A couple of Swedish fish (who doesn't love Swedish fish) a handful of M&M's (who doesn't love chocolate) and a bottle that we can take with us to the coast and use to send a message to the other side of the world.  Brilliant if you ask me.

under the sea party favor
a really cool bottle that can be sealed with a cork
a couple of Swedish fish
a handful of M&Ms

smoked salmon spread









I wish I had a better photo for this spread because this spread is dynamite!  Hall of Fame, in fact.  It's rich, creamy, smoky and absolutely delicious.  My friend Amy brought this spread to our gourmet club.  When I asked for the recipe she said it's really quite simple.  Here it is!

smoked salmon spread (my friend Amy N.)
smoked salmon
cream cheese

Combine the two and serve on fancy crackers.  

What I have to say- this spread brought back memories of working at a bagel shop years ago.  We had a spread called lox dill.  For lox dill all you need to do is add some dill to your liking.  Serve on a bagel.  Delish!

berry lime sparkler












This is a nice drink that you can jazz up with some fresh or frozen floating raspberries.  My friend Kris served this drink from a fancy glass drink dispenser.  It was rather large dispenser so she made quite a large amount.  It's going to be 58 degrees today.  Cheers to that!
P.S.  This drink is a great color to serve on Valentine's Day.

berry lime sparkler (my friend Kris)
3 cans Minute Maid berry punch
1 can limeade
1 liter Ginger Ale soda
frozen berries to float and make extra fancy

Mix ingredients in a punch bowl or drink dispenser.  Add frozen berries when it's time to serve.  If you like a tart drink, you can make the punch and limeade a 1:1 ratio.

Friday, February 3, 2012

gourmet club







































I am currently involved in a few different groups: a preschool group, a virtual quilting bee group and now this fun group- gourmet club!  Being a part of a few different groups at once gives me a chance to get to know a wide range of people so I can learn from them and have fun!  It makes my life interesting and enjoyable.
This gourmet club is comprised of about 8 women.  We will get together once a month and rotate homes.  The hostess will make the main dish and the rest of the group will make dishes that compliment the "theme".  I hosted our first get-together and provided salmon as the main dish.  Lunch was delicious and I can't wait for the next gourmet club next month.  I will share the recipes with you as they become available.

butternut squash soup









Since I planned to serve leftovers last night for dinner I thought I should jazz up our meal a little bit by cooking up something new.  I has some beautiful diced squash in the fridge so decided to use it up.  Besides, my family loves soup.  I wasn't sure how well squash soup would go over but it went over quite well.  My husband loved it and three out of four of my kids ate it.  That's pretty good, isn't it?

butternut squash soup (allrecipes.com)
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (save yourself the hassle and buy it at Costco already prepared!)
1 (32 ounce) contianer chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large pot, and cook the onion, celery, carrot, potatoes and squash 5 minutes or until lightly browned.  Pour in enough of the chicken stock to cover vegetables.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer 40 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.
Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth.  Return to pot and mix in any remaining stock to attain desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.

crock pot ranch pork chops









I almost didn't try this recipe but come on- it has three ingredients that you throw in a crock pot.  I had to try it.  It didn't taste as "ranchy" as I thought it might which was good.  The pork was very tender and tasted really good!  Plus, it was nice and hot and ready to serve right when we needed a ready-made hot meal.  When I served it a second time as leftovers my daughter said, "Oh good.  I like this."

crock pot ranch pork chops (blog: Cassie Craves)
6 pork top sirloin chops
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1 (10 ounce) can cream of chicken soup

Combine ranch dressing mix and soup in crock pot.  Add pork chops.  Cook on high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 6 hours.  Serve with rice or mashed potatoes. 

Next time I will not break up the pork chops after cooking as it doesn't look so good.  Take a look at the blog Cassie Craves (above) for a better photo.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

honey butter pork tenderloin

















Excellent.  This pork is excellent.  I'm not sure what else to say.  I'll be making this dish again for sure.

honey butter pork tenderloin (blog: Momma Hen's Kitchen)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In an ovenproof pot, heat butter and honey over medium heat until melted.  Sprinkle pork tenderloin with Cajun seasoning and black pepper.  Brown each side for 5 minutes.
Place pot in oven and roast for 7 to 10 minutes.  Transfer the pork to a plate covered with foil to rest.  Add water to pan and stir over medium heat.  Simmer until sauce is reduced to about 1/2 cup.  Slice pork on the diagonal and drizzle sauce over top to serve.