Monday, December 21, 2015

orange fluff jello salad













When I made this for a dinner party along with a green salad, my family couldn't identify it because I've probably only made a salad like this once and it was most likely over 10 years ago.  Surprisingly enough my family liked it so well I'm making it again for Christmas dinner.

orange fluff jello salad (adapted from Six Sisters Stuff)
1 large package cook and serve vanilla pudding (4.6 ounces)
1 large package orange jell-o (6 ounces)
2 cups water
1 (16 ounce) Cool Whip
20 ounces pineapple tidbits, drained
22 ounces mandarin oranges, drained 

Mix together pudding, Jell-o and water over medium heat until it boils.  Remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl.  Refrigerate until mixture has thickened, about an hour.  Beat until creamy.  Fold in Cool Whip and fruit.  Chill about an hour before serving.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

chicken stew with roasted sweet peppers









Everyone ate it and enjoyed it!  It's easy, healthy and delicious.  We served crusty sourdough bread on the side.

chicken stew with roasted sweet peppers (myrecipes.com)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 cups chopped zucchini
1 cup finely chopped carrot
1 small can green chiles
3/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 cup chopped roasted red peppers (I bought a jar of roasted red peppers, no sugar added)
4 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro (whoops- forgot that!)

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add chopped onion and chicken; saute 5 minutes or until lightly browned.  Add zucchini and all ingredients through the broth; bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until veggies are tender.
Add peppers and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle with cilantro.
Store stew in fridge up to 2 days.  Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat until thoroughly heated; sprinkle with cilantro before serving.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

singapore chicken stew










Hall of Fame.  And that is coming from my husband who gives that title out sparingly.  I agree- this soup was mighty tasty and I wish I had doubled the recipe because there aren't any leftovers for tomorrow.  So glad I found this recipe!!

singapore chicken stew (myrecipes.com)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice (I used curry powder)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 can (13.5 ounces) light coconut milk
1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth
2 cups lightly packed washed baby spinach leaves
1 can (14 ounces) baby corn, drained
2 roma tomatoes, rinsed, cored and chopped
1/4 cup sliced can water chestnuts (I used sliced bamboo shoots- loved them!)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Rinse chicken, pat dry and cut into chunks.  In a ziplock bag, mix flour, salt, chili flakes and five spice.  Add chicken pieces and mix to coat.
Pour oil into a 4-5 quart pan over medium-high heat.  Add chicken mixture, garlic and ginger.  Stir frequently until chicken is cooked on the outside but still pink in the center, about 3 minutes.  Add coconut milk and broth and bring to a simmer.  Adjust heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook to blend flavors, about 5 minutes.
Stir in spinach, corn, tomatoes, water chestnuts (or bamboo shoots!), green onions and lime juice and cook, stirring often, until spinach is wilted.  Sprinkle with cilantro before serving from pan.




easy oven stew









I threw this together last night and it was delicious.  The meat was SOOO tender.  We had Trader Joe's blend of jasmine rice and wild rice already made and in the fridge so we put the stew on top of that.  Next time I'll serve it over mashed potatoes.

easy oven stew (pass the peas, please)
1 1/2 pounds stew meat
salt and pepper
1 (15 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes
1 packet McCormick beef gravy mix (I always look for the brand with no MSG)
1 small can V8 juice
handful of baby carrots, cut in half
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 small onion, cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Using a casserole dish that has a lid, mix the tomatoes and gravy mix inside.  Add the V8 juice and combine.  Add everything else and stir.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place the lid on top.  Bake at 275 for 4 hours.  Serve over mashed potatoes.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

ward party- dessert waffle bar













Primary was in charge of food for our ward's Christmas party.  We anticipated serving 200 people which we came very close to doing.  Being in charge of food is always tricky- will we have enough food?  Will it meet expectations?  Will the event be beautiful and festive?  Can we stay within our budget??!  We decided on a dessert waffle bar.  Waffles were cooked in the kitchen and on the buffet line.  Luckily they we had a bunch made in the kitchen because we blew 2 circuits in the cultural hall. :)  We served waffles with vanilla ice cream, homemade hot fudge, homemade caramel sauce, strawberry sauce, mini chocolate chips, toasted coconut, crushed peppermint sticks, holiday sprinkles and whipped cream.  We had bottled water for beverages.  The decorations on the buffet line were simple- a rectangular plastic tablecloth, a string of white lights over the top then tulle over the lights.  I really liked the effect (before our short circuit, ha ha).  For the serving dishes I bought glass bowls and glass candlesticks at the dollar store and my husband epoxy glued them together.  There was a lot of interest in those! I really wanted the food to be simple and elegant and I think it worked out in the end.  For invitations, paper goods, 200 gold place mats, 9 plastic tablecloths for the buffet tables, extention cords, scrapbook paper to cover the whipped cream canisters, all the food and ice it cost about $450.  Relief Society spent about $35 on table decorations.  They were creative in their decorations and much of it was homemade.  Here are some pics before the event:































































Friday, December 11, 2015

butterfinger dreams









This made for a very rich and delicious birthday dessert.  As I described to my curious children how I made it before we indulged and how there are Butterfinger bits in every layer they were pretty excited to try it.  It's super easy to make especially if you cheat on the whipped cream layer like I did.

butterfinger dreams (adapted from Plain Chicken
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups Butterfinger Baking Bits, divided (found mine at Walmart)
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9x11 pan with cooking spray.
Stir together 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and flour in a bowl.  Using a pastry cutter or fok, cut cream cheese and butter into flour mixture until crumbly.  Stir in 1 cup of baking bits.  Press mixture into prepared pan. 

Bake for 3o minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.

For topping, whip cream and 3 tablespoons powdered sugar together with a hand-held electric mixer until stiff (of use a container of Cool Whip like I did!).  Fold in 3/4 cup bits.  Spread over cake.  Sprinkle remaining bits over the top.  Cut into squares.  Stir in refrigerator.



english toffee










My friend Dee-Anna brought her English Toffee to a cookie swap.  It's amazing.  English Toffee has always been a part of my Christmases because it was always one of my mother's favorite things to make around the holidays.  Dee-Anna's recipe is a little different so now I've got two great toffee recipes!

english toffee (my friend Dee-Anna)
1 pound butter
2 cups almonds, ground
2 tablespoons Karo syrup
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 bags milk chocolate chips
1 package pecans, chopped

Mix first four ingredients in skillet and cook until it smokes.  It should completely pull away from the sides and turn a slightly darker color.  Pour onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet and spread it out quickly  Sprinkle milk chocolate chips on top.  Wait a minute until they get soft then spread evenly like frosting.  Sprinkle chopped pecans on top.  Completely cool for several hours before breaking into pieces.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

chocolate cherry fudge













Christmas is in full swing at our house.  We love Christmas at our house and we've had to make ourselves wait to make Christmas goody deliveries.  When we received our first plate of Christmas goodies on November 30th I gave myself permission to jump on the bandwagon.  This fudge is delicious, soft and creamy.   I love to make fudge because it reminds me of my grandma Betty Mae who made fudge every Christmas.  I love to make all kinds of fudge- this was my first time making cherry fudge.  Merry Christmas!
(Our labels this year say "Have a very Cherry Christmas!".  You could also write "Hope your Christmas is Cherry and Bright!")

chocolate cherry fudge
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 ounces)
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup diced dried cherries

Heat sugar, butter and milk to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Boil on medium heat until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees.  Remove from heat.  Stir in chocolate and marshmallow creme until melted.  Stir in vanilla and cherries.  Spread in a greased 9-inch square pan.  Cool at room temperature at least 4 hours.  Cut into small squares.

creamy basil parmesan italian chicken soup













Hall of Fame!  This soup recipe was an instant hit at my home.  In fact, it's my new favorite and I can't imagine that changing any time soon.  Don't bother going out- stay in and have a bowl of heaven at home.  Enjoy with some crusty bread.

creamy basil parmesan italian chicken soup (adapted from Carlsbad Cravings)
3 large chicken breasts, chopped bite sized
1 cup whole wheat small macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 red bell pepper, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup flour
6 cups chicken stock
2 (14.5 ounce) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chicken stock
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup heavy cream or half and half (I used half and half)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a soup ot over medium high heat.  Add chicken and cook until almost done.  Remove to a plate.
Melt butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in the now empty pot and heat over medium high heat.  Add onions and carrots and cook while stirring for 4 minutes.
Add celery, red peppers and garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Sprinkle in flour and cook, while stirring.  Gradually stir in chicken stock followed by tomatoes, bay leaves, pasta and all remaining herbs and spices.  Bring to a boil; cover and reduce to a gentle simmer.  Add the chicken and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes. 
Stir in Parmesan cheese followed by half and half.