Thursday, December 29, 2011

Easy Chocolate Mousse

4 oz Packet of Jello pudding, Chocolate
1c. milk
1 small container Cool Whip

Combine the jello pudding and milk in a jar. (I used a Tupperware Quick Shake Container because I bought it at Goodwill for fifty cents.) Secure the lid and give it a good shake to combine the ingredients. Fold the pudding into a small container of Cool Whip. Divide the mousse into about nine individual serving cups (or just put in a really pretty bowl. You can serve immediately or chill until the party.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Vegetable and Beef Soup

5-6 carrots, sliced
4 celery stalks, sliced
2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can green beans
1 can corn
3 cans beef broth and 3 cans of water
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp crushed Basil
1 Bay Leaf
1 lb. sirloin beef cut into bite sizes

In a soup pot, cook meat until done. (Sometimes, season the meat with a little seasoned pepper.) Add beef broth and water. Add carrots, potatoes, celery, corn, beans, tomato sauce, and tomatoes. Salt to taste. Add about 1 Tbsp of dried basil and 1 bay leaf, broken in half. Turn down heat and cook until the vegetables are finished (about 20 minutes). Serve hot.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Chocolate Covered Pretzels have always been a Christmas tradition in my husband's family. This was something he made with his mother every Christmas when he was growing up. When we were first married, Liz would send us chocolate covered pretzels with our Christmas presents. She died in 2005 and I never thought to ask her for her recipe. This is the first year since she died that Roger showed interest in making chocolate covered pretzels with our girls. So I started looking for a recipe.

You'll need:

about 12 oz of chocolate
1Tbsp shortening
Parchment Paper

You can use chocolate chips or baking chocolate. Either works just fine. Liz always used the small pretzel twists, but we didn't buy the ingredients until Christmas Eve so they only had pretzel sticks left. We used white chocolate because they are Roger's favorite, but brown chocolate is just a good, in my opinion.

Roll out the parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Put the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwaveable bowl. Heat the chips/shortening in the microwaves until chocolate is mostly melted. Stir every 20-30 seconds. If you overheat the chocolate, it becomes thick and unworkable so watch your chocolate carefully. Take it out of the microwave while there are still unmelted chips. Stir until these chips melt.

If dipping pretzel rods, hold a rod by one end and dip it in the chocolate, leaving an inch or two uncovered. If you are dipping pretzel twists, drop the whole pretzel in the chocolate and submerge it slightly. Use a fork to pull the pretzel out of the chocolate. Shake the chocolate-dipped pretzels several times to remove excess chocolate. Place it on the parchment paper. If you are using sprinkles, sprinkle them on while the chocolate is still wet.

Put the cookie sheets of pretzels in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set the chocolate. Store in a plastic bag or plastic tub on the counter for easy snacking.

This is a really fun recipe to make with kids. I try to remember that I'm making memories as well as pretzels. (This is hard for me sometimes.) It's not too important if the pretzels aren't as pretty as what you buy at the store. As long as the kids are having fun (and sneaking licks of chocolate here and there.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cheesy Grits

When I think of grits, I think of My Cousin Vinny (1992). There is a scene where Vinny and Lisa order breakfast. When it arrives, Vinny looks at his skeptically...

Vinny Gambini: Whats this over here?
Grits Cook: You never heard of grits?
Vinny Gambini: Sure I've heard of grits. I just never actually *seen* a grit before.

I, too, was recently introduced to a grit. It is so yummy. If you've never had grits, you don't know what you are missing. Grits are roughly ground corn boiled in water with either salt or sugar. It's usually associated with the south, but it's actually of Native American origin. This recipe isn't sweet at all. It's not salty either. You can taste the hint of cheesiness and the garlic is just enough to have you scooping that second portion into your bowl. For this recipe, you'll need:

1 cup instant grits
8 oz Velveeta
3 cups water
1 egg
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Cook the grits, water and salt together as directed on the package. Add a stick of butter and 8 oz of Velveeta. Stir the butter and Velveeta cheese into the grits as they melt. I usually cube the cheese and butter so that it melts faster. It is very important that the cheese melts completely. You don't want pockets of Velveeta cheese throughout your grits. In a bowl whip together an egg and 3/4c of milk. Stir into grits mixture. Pour into 8x8 casserole dish and bake 350 30-45 min until top lightly browns. Double the recipe for 9x13 dish.

You can also make up this recipe the night before, refrigerate, and cook it in the morning. It's a great recipe to bring to a pot luck brunch because it looks great and is easy to transport. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Olive Dip


2 8oz packages cream cheese
1 4oz can black olives, sliced
1 8oz jar green olives
2 Tbsp green olive juice

Drain olives, reserving 2Tbsp of green olive juice. Quarter the green olives. Place the olives, cream cheese, and olive juice in a bowl and blend together until the olives are slightly chopped. Shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Serve with crackers.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cheese Ball

I bought the corned beef for this recipe at the deli for no other reason than I was couldn't find it in the lunch meat section of the store I where I was shopping(Commissary on Buckley AFB). I ordered 4 oz of corned beef sliced for sandwiches. (I was doubling the recipe for Thanksgiving.) The lady behind the counter asked why I wanted my corned beef sliced that way so I told her about this recipe and how delicious it was. As she is repeating the recipe back to me (probably to make sure she has it right), I realize the guy standing behind me is also making a mental note of the ingredients. Boy, I love sharing recipes!

1 package cream cheese
1 bunch green onions, chopped really small
2 oz corned beef, sliced thinly as if for sandwiches, then roughly chopped

Combine these three ingredients. Form into a ball. Refrigerate overnight wrapped in plastic. Serve with crackers.

Cook's Note: See that cute plate? When I bought that plate I had no idea what to use it for, but it's the perfect size for a cheese ball and crackers.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanksgiving Yams

This is my great grandmother Ireda Heath's recipe. It was one of my favorites when I was a little girl. My mother would make it every Thanksgiving. She would put the corn flakes in a baggie and one of us would get the job of crushing the corn flakes with Mom's rolling pin. Oh, how we argued over who got to do this job! The rest of the day, the lucky girl would covertly and smugly remind her sisters that they had not gotten to crush the corn flakes. Isn't it strange which memories float to the surface when you eat a dish from your childhood?

For this recipe you will need:

6-8 fresh yams or 1 large can yams, well drained
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2c walnuts
9-12 large marshmallows
2-3c corn flakes, crushed

Peel and boil the fresh yams until soft. If using canned yams, you can skip this step. Mash the yams and brown sugar together with a fork until smooth. Fold in the walnuts. With wet hands, pack a small amount (about 1/8 cup) of yam mixture around a large marshmallow. Roll the yam ball in corn flake crumbs. Be sure to call one of my sisters and remind her that SHE didn't get to crush the corn flakes this year. Place in a shallow baking dish. Bake at 375˚F for 10 to 15 minutes (just until the marshmallows begin to melt.) Serve warm as a side dish.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

We've all been've got a meeting to go to and realize at the last minute that it's a potluck. Here's a super easy recipe for Pumpkin Spice Muffins. They are delicious and low fat, too.

1 can pumpkin (14.5 oz)
1 box spice cake mix

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Combine the two ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until smooth. Spoon batter into a greased muffin tin. (I use those little cupcake papers.) Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy...everyone at the meeting will, too!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin Pie (from scratch)

It is both a blessing and a challenge when your children believe that you can do anything in the kitchen. From the time that our pumpkins were tiny green babies on the vine, my daughter has been asking me to make "her" pumpkin into a pie. That presents a bit of a challenge because I've always made my pies from the can. (Psst....sometimes I even buy it at the grocery store, remove it from the tin, and pass it off as my own. Don't tell.)

Those days are in the past, because this pie from scratch tasted completely different than a pie made from canned pumpkin. The flavor exploded in my mouth. I could taste every spice and there was nothing bland or boring about it.

So yesterday...I popped two small pumpkins in the oven to give this whole pumpkin pie from real pumpkins the old college try.

While those pumpkins are roasting, let's talk pumpkins. "Pie pumpkins" are not the huge Jack O Lantern pumpkins you carve at Halloween. Although you can use those, too if you forgot to carve yours, just add about 25% more sugar. You want a smaller sweeter pumpkin. They are sometimes called sugar pumpkins and are usually sold in the grocery stores from October through December.

Honestly, making pumpkin puree was the hardest part of this project. (See the blog entry called Pumpkin Puree, it's under the "how to" label on the right side of the screen.) This time around I tried something a little different. Instead of running my pumpkin through the blender (this process requires me to add a little water to get the pumpkin mushy) I put all of the pumpkin in a bowl and pureed it with my handheld electric mixer. I didn't want to add any water to the pumpkin since the pie filling is so runny to begin with.

The rest of the recipe was super easy. The ingredients needed are:

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground all spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
3 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cans evaporated milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Note: In a pinch (like if you are stationed overseas and the Commissary has been out of cloves since October) you can substitute 4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and ginger; but I think you get better results when you use the separate spices.

Mix all your ingredients together. Pour into the pie crust. This is enough pie filling for two pumpkin pies. Don't worry, the filling is supposed to be that runny. It will firm up nicely as it bakes. I cover the top of the pie crust with aluminium foil to prevent it from burning.

Bake at (a preheated) 425˚F for the first fifteen minutes. Then turn down the temperature to 350˚F and bake another 60-90 minutes...until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the pie cool and enjoy!

Pumkin Pie (Crust)

2c flour
1/2c sugar
1t salt
2/3c butter, softened to room temp
6T cold water

Mix the dry ingredients. Cut butter into dry ingredients using a pantry cutter. Add water and mix lightly. Don't kneed it too much. Divide into two equal portions, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

After thirty minutes, roll out the dough on the kitchen counter using a rolling pin and extra flour to keep it from sticking. Lay in the pie pan. It' will look naked until you have a chance to pour the pumpkin pie filling into the pan.

This recipe can be used to apple pie, peach pie, any kinda pie. It's enought to make crusts for two pumpkin pies, or a top and bottom for an apple pie.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Queso Dip

In college, we used to splurge and buy Queso Dip on special occasions...(I think it was about a dollar more than Salsa)...Awwwh the good old days when high class meant the expensive tortilla chips!!

2 lb Velveeta Cheese
2 can diced tomatoes with Green Chilies, drained
(Rot-tel or Del Monte are both nice.)
2 lb hamburger
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Brown the hamburger. Dice the Velveeta cheese. Combine all four ingredients in a saucepan and cook until it is hot all the way through. You can also put all the ingredients in a crockpot and put it on high for an hour or so. You are just heating the cheese through. Serve with chips.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Homemade Mac and Cheese

I've made my displeasure for blue box Mac and Cheese known on many occasions. I hate that stuff. I suppose I'd eat it if I was stranded in a desert and was trying to make it home to my husband and kids, but I would complain and gag the whole time. That being said, I do enjoy homemade Mac and Cheese...the kind you make with real cheese...not powder!! This is a pretty good recipe for Mac and Cheese. The kids love it, too.

1 package (8 oz) elbow macaroni
1/4c butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4c flour
2c milk
8 oz Swiss Cheese

Cook the macaroni as directed on package. In a frying pan, saute onion in butter. Add salt and pepper. Stir in flour and cook over low heat. Stir in milk. Cube cheese and stir into mixture. In a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish, mil the macaroni and cheese sauce. Bake at 375˚F for 30 minutes.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes

It's that time of year again...when the pumpkins are in season and all the trees are lovely shades of yellow, orange, and red. I love this time of year. It's the time of year that I start putting pumpkin in everything!!!

2 1/2c Bisquick
1c milk
2 eggs
1c pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin)
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cinnamno
1/2 tsp nutmeg

In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, and eggs. Mix in the spices. Add the bisquick. The consistence of your batter is going to vary depending on how "wet" your pumpkin puree is. Don't be afraid to add a bit more bisquick to get your batter to a good consistency for pancakes.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the pan, using about 1/8-1/4 of a cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides. Serve hot with syrup.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Goulash Soup

The Goulash we ate growing up was a concoction of macaroni noodles, tomato sauce, and hamburger. Kinda like Spaghetti, but all mixed together and made with a mysterious packet of powder Mom bought on the spice aisle. It was alright, but imagine my surprise when I ordered this while stationed in Germany. Hmmmmm....the beef, the peppers, and potatoes simmered in this yummy broth and served with crusty bread. This was not my mother's Goulash, but it was heavenly!

3T butter or oil
1 lb beef (cut into 1" cubes)
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 green peppers, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp paprika
2 Bay leaves
1 Tbs lemon juice
4c beef stock
2c water
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
3T tomato paste

Brown meat in butter. Remove meat, leave the drippings. Saute onions in drippings until translucent. Add garlic, peppers, and tomato paste. Saute for 10 minutes. Add caraway seeds, paprika, and lemon juice. (The is where the original recipe tells you to run the soup through a blender and return it to the pot, but I like it better chunky so I skip this step.) Throw beef and all your sauted vegetables in a pot. Add beef stock, water, and bay leaves. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add potatoes. Simmer an additional 45 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Colorful Pasta Salad

We have some weird names for recipes at our house. We don't just call something Pasta salad. We'll call it "Your mother's pasta salad" or "That pasta salad I made for the company BBQ last month". This one, we call "my mom's colorful pasta salad" I'll call it "Colorful Pasta Salad" for short. It's good stuff. It's great for picnics because the ingredients won't spoil in the hot sun.

1 box penne pasta
5 green onions, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated with a large grater
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of small black olives, drained and sliced in half
1 can of Jolly Green Giant corn niblets, drained
1/4c Parmesan cheese
Kraft Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Boil the penne pasta and rinse with cold water. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Add about a cup of the Kraft Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette. Mix together and let it set. I like to make it up at least a few hours before I need it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cheesy Potato Soup

A complete stranger shared this recipe on Facebook a few weeks ago. I knew that I needed to try it when she said, "That potato soup recipe and my oldest daughter are the ONLY decent things I got out of my first marriage." With a recommendation like can you NOT give it a try.

5c potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
5c water
1 lb Mexican Mild Velveeta Cheese
2 cans cream of celery soup
2c ham, diced
salt and pepper

Combine the water, potatoes, and onion in a pot. Boil on medium high for about 20 minutes. Smash the potatoes with a potato masher until rough. Add cheese, soup, and ham. Mix together. Keep the soup on the heat to allow the cheese to melt. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Kebalsa Pie

I heard this recipe on the radio a few weeks ago. I wasn't too sure about it at first, but I wrote it down anyway because Roger loves Kielbasa. It sounded like it could either be really delicious...or really, really wrong. A couple of nights ago, I whipped this recipe together. It was really good. Roger liked it. The kids liked it. Even the little girl from next door who's a picky eater liked it. It's simple, it's hardy, and the sauerkraut gives it an unexpected tanginess that compliments the sausage.


Sauerkraut, drained
Mashed Potatoes, portioned for 6
1 Kielbasa Sausage, sliced
Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Drain a jar of sauerkraut and layer it in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish. Place the kielbasa sausage over the sauerkraut somewhat evenly spaced. Smooth the mashed potatoes over the sauerkraut and sausage. I used the kind out of the box. I was feeling lazy, but it doesn't really matter for this recipe. Cook pie for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and cook another 15 minutes.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Zucchini Bread

We recently bought our daughter a bunkbed that we found through a craigslist ad. We really enjoyed visiting with the couple selling the bed while we took it apart and loading it into the truck. As we were herding our children toward the truck, Brenda asked if we'd like a zucchini picked fresh from their garden that morning. Well, I have a personal policy against turning down home-grown produce. We took our zucchini home to make some bread


3 1/4c flour
1 1/2tsp salt
1tsp ground nutmeg
2tsp baking soda
1tsp cinnamon
3c sugar
1c vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3c water
2c zucchini, grated
1tsp lemon juice
1c pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon, and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, water, zucchini, oil, and lemon juice. Mix the wet into the dry ingredients. Fold in nuts. Divide the dough between two bread pans. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fruit Salad

I'm always looking for an easy dish to make for a family gathering, picnic, or just Sunday afternoon barbecue. My grandmother brought this dish to our most recent family dinner. The kids loved it. Roger loved it. It's light and refreshing without being too sweet. Since it doesn't use any dairy, it's not a big deal if it sits on the picnic table while the burgers are cooking.

1 crisp apple, diced
1 can Mandarin oranges, drained
1 banana, sliced
1 can pineapple tidbits with juice

Combine all ingredients. The pineapple juice will keep the bananas from turning brown.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fried Green Tomato BLT

I was going to call this recipe a BL(FG)T, but then it occurred to me that civilians might not appreciate acronyms quite like the Army does. Whatever you choose to call it, this sandwich was heaven. First there is the fried bacon. I could eat bacon right out of the pan all day long, but when you add the tangy, salty fried green tomatoes it's just about the tastiest thing you can feed your mouth. Now my kids turned up their noses at the tomatoes, but I considered that a bonus....more for us. I do wonder if the kids get suspicious when I make them eat their green beans, but I encourage them to hand over their green tomatoes.

3 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 eggs
1/2c milk
1/2c flour
3 Tsp cornmeal
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
toasted bread
salt and pepper

On medium or medium-high heat, fry your bacon in a skillet. Drain the bacon on a paper toweled plate. Don't pour off the bacon grease.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl. Pour in milk and whisk together. In another small bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper.

Dredge the slices of green tomato (one a time) in the flour mixture. Shake of the excess and dip into the egg mixture. Now back in the flour mixture. Place the tomatoes in the hot oil and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Place the tomatoes on a paper toweled plate to drain the excess oil.

Construct the sandwiches by pulling mayonnaise on the toast. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with bacon, lettuce, and the fried green tomatoes. Top with the other slice of bread.

(This recipe makes about five sandwiches depending on how much of your bacon gets stolen by snacking kids while you are cooking.)

Fried Green Tomatoes

3 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 eggs
1/2c milk
3 cups canola oil (Bacon grease is better if you have it.)
1/2c flour
3 Tsp cornmeal
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper

Pour oil into a skillet. Heat it on med-high. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. Pour in milk and whisk together. In another small bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper.

Dredge the slices of green tomato (one a time) in the flour mixture. Shake of the excess and dip into the egg mixture. Now back in the flour mixture. Place the tomatoes in the hot oil and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Place the tomatoes on a paper toweled plate to drain the excess oil.

Serve with Ranch dressing. If you forgot the ranch (or don't like ranch) no these little puppies plain and they are still the best thing you'll eat today.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Greek Salad

1/2 cucumber, quartered long the way and sliced thickly
1/2 tomato, chucked
8-10 olives
red onion, thinly sliced
feta cheese
Basil Parmesan Vinegarette (It's a Kraft dressing make with Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

This is a recipe that I make for myself when the kids want something like Mac and Cheese for dinner. I hate mac and cheese, but I don't want to deny them this American childhood rite of passage. The amounts of the above ingredients are approximate. I don't usually measure them out, but for this blog I counted so you'd have an idea of the ratio of vegetables. Feel free to use more or less depending on your preference. The ingredients above are for one serving.

Quarter the cucumber the long way and slice the cucumber into thick slices. I usually quarter the tomato too and chuck it. The other halves I put in the fridge for the next day. Open a can of whole olives. I use the small, but it doesn't make any difference. Toss 8-10 olives into the salad. Thinly cut one or two slices of red onion. Now cut the slices in to quarters. Toss in the salad. Sprinkle salad with feta cheese. Drizzle some Basil Parmesan Vinegarette on the salad. I think Kraft also makes a Greek Salad dressing, but they don't carry it at my grocery store. Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Roasted Beet and Potato Borscht*

Beets are sweet and earthy roots that for years were under utilized in my house. When I was growing up, my mom would put pickled beets on the table from time to time in the same fashion that people put olives on the table at Thanksgiving. The first apartment I rented after college had a garden in the back. I was very poor and lived off that garden all summer long. Since the last homeowner had planted beets, I ate a LOT of beets that summer. They are so delicious that this summer I planted beets in my garden. I used some of my own beets for this recipe. They were delicious!


2 lbs red beets, scrubbed, peeled and diced
1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
coarse salt and pepper
5 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Sour Cream and parsley for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400˚F. On a cookie sheet, toss together beets, potatoes, shallots, and olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt, pepper, and thyme. Arrange in a single layer and roast for 45 minutes.

Add mixture to a medium pot along with chicken broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. With a potato masher, mash the vegetables until soup is thick and chunky. Stir in red wine vinegar. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with parsley. (I didn't have sour cream today so I skipped that step.)

*Borscht is a fancy name for any of a variety of eastern European soups made with beets, cabbage, potatoes, or other vegetables and served hot or chilled, often with sour cream. It is pronounced: bore-sht.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Piña Colada

It's hot! I mean it's really, really hot! Go to the pool and take a dip hot. Turn on the radio, listen to Kenny Chesney, and wish you were in the Caribbean hot. Unfortunately, we don't have the coins for the Caribbean, but I did pick up the ingredients for this tropical treat. The kids totally love it and have asked for it three days in a row.


4 fluid oz Cream of Coconut
4 fluid oz unsweetened Pineapple juice
2 cups ice
maraschino cherries and frozen pineapple chuncks (if they are handy)

Combine the Cream of Coconut (NOT to be confused with coconut milk. Cream of Coconut is found with the mixers), pineapple juice, and ice in a blender. Blend well. Garnish with marachino cherries and frozen pineapple chucks in you have them. I went a step further (and the girls felt like royalty). Add a few drops of red food coloring to a small bowl of granulated sugar and mix with a fork. Wet the rim of the glass in a little maraschino cherry syrup and dip it in the sugar. It's an extra step, but it adds a little class to this summer treat.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Homemade Lemonade

I am loving the summer! A few weeks back the kids decided to open a lemonade stand. The watered down lemonade (made from powder by eight year olds) gave me a craving for the real deal. So I rooted up this recipe...maybe someday I'll live in a house with a lemon tree in the backyard. Wouldn't that be paradise!

For homemade lemonade, you will need:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4-6 lemons
3 to 4 additional cups cold water (to dilute)

Heat 1 cup each of sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely. While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice. Mix the juice and sugar water to a pitcher. Add 3 to 4 cups of cold water to dilute. You can add more or less depending on how strong you like your lemonade. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it. If you are feeling fancy serve with ice and sliced lemons.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dessert Island

Here is a cute snack that the kids can help make. It would be cute for a beach themed or pirate themed party, but we couldn't wait that long.

You'll need:

Pudding cups
graham crackers
Pirouette wafers (I used Pepperidge Farm)
green Laffy Taffy candies

Put the graham crackers into a sealed plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Remove the lid from a pudding cup and pour the crushed graham crackers on top of the pudding. Place the cookie stick in the cup. With clean scissors, carefully cut four leaves out of the green Laffy Taffy candy. Pinch the leaves together at one end. Use a small amount of icing to attach the leaves to the top of the cookie stick. Place two Whoppers in the "sand" for coconuts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blueberry and Peach Pie

Look at all the blueberry juice that just bubbled over the side! It looks so good! When Roger came downstairs this morning he said I was just being mean. Why would I make a pie with blueberries when he doesn't like blueberries? Well, my philosophy about cooking is to try all kinds of things and decide afterwards if I don't like it. I'll ease my husband and children into different foods by introducing them over and over again. This pie had a happy ending (well, not if you are the pie). Roger took one taste from my fork and asked me to dish him up a slice, too.

Ingredients for the crust:
2c flour
1/2c sugar
1t salt
2/3c butter, softened to room temp
6T cold water

Ingredients for the Filling:
1 1/2c sugar
5T quick cooking Tapioca
1/2t salt
3lbs peaches, peeled and sliced
12 oz blueberries (about 2 cups)
3T lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2T cold butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven at 425˚F.

Pie Crust:
Mix the dry ingredients. Cut butter into dry ingredients using a pantry cutter. Add water and mix lightly. Don't kneed it too much. Divide into top and bottom, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Mix together the sugar, tapioca, and salt. Add peaches, blueberries,and lemon juice. Mix together.

Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out your bottom crust to a 12 inch round. Spray pie pan with Pam. Add bottom crust. Pour in filling and dot filling with cold butter.

Roll out the remaining crust, also into a 12 inch round. Put over the pie. Trim the excess around the edges and crimp edges. Cut little vents into the top crust. Brush top crust with water and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Set the pie pan on a rimmed cookie sheet to protect your stove from the overflow. Bake at 425˚F for 20 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 F and bake for another 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cucumber Salad

This cucumber salad is my favorite to bring to a summer gathering. It's so light and crunchy. It's sweet and a little tangy. You can eat it as a side at the BBQ, put it on a burger, or eat it as a snack. It's not going to be in your refrigerator very long.

1 medium cucumber, sliced thinly
1/4-1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 cup cold water
1/4 tsp pepper
tomato for garnish

Thinly slice the cucumber and onion. Combine all the ingredients and chill before serving. I like to dice up a tomato to garnish the salad, but it doesn't affect the flavor. This recipe serves about four so I always double it so there is a little something for me to snack on later. Like many great recipes, this salad is even better the next day.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pulled Beef Brisket Sandwich

This was a very humbling recipe for me. I'll be honest, I've never cooked (or even bought) a brisket before. I looked in the meat section of my grocery store, but couldn't find it. I asked the butcher if he had any brisket.

He sneered at me, and waved his arm toward the right side of the meat fridge, "It's down there."

I did the only polite thing to do. I looked him straight in the eye and said, "I don't have any idea what it looks like and I couldn't find it overthere (waving my arm in that direction) could you point it out for me?"

Win/win situation. The butcher got to feel superior. I got the cut of meat I needed for this recipe. It was worth it. Saying this, I should probably tell you that I'm not usually a BBQ fan, in fact, I avoid it as much as possible. This recipe, however, is the exception. It was really good without tasting like it came out of the bottle. The pickles were a nice touch to finish off the sandwich. I'll be adding it to the menu more often.

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 3-4 pound beef brisket
1 18-ounce bottle of barbecue sauce
2 onions, chopped
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
12 Dinner rolls

Mix the minced garlic, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and pepper. Rub over the brisket. In a small bowl mix the barbecue sauce, onions, Worchestershire sauce and liquid smoke. Place the brisket in a slow-cooker and pour over the sauce. Cook on low for 10 hours. Remove the beef and shred with two forks. Ladle the cooking liquid into a glass bowl and skim off the fat. Mix the sauce back into the pulled beef. Serve on rolls with pickles.

This recipe can be made ahead, stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat before serving

Monday, April 11, 2011

Easter Cupcakes

We made these this weekend just for fun. I had cut the recipe off a cupcake box a few weeks ago. The kids really enjoyed decorating the cupcakes.

1 Box yellow cake mix
water, vegetable oil, and eggs called for on the cake box mix

2 1/2c shredded coconut
1 container of vanilla frosting
orange gumdrops
whopper robin eggs (next time I'm going to try jelly beans)
yellow and green food coloring

Mix up the cupcake batter following the instructions on the box. Bake as directed and allow to cool. Divide the coconut in half and place in ziploc bags. Add 4 drops of food coloring to the bag. Shake to mix. Frost the cupcakes with white frosting. Top with yellow or green coconut. For eyes, add brown m&m'. Cut orange gum drops to resemble a beak. Place on cupcake. Add Robin Eggs to the green cupcakes. If I had thought about it, I would have bought some red licorice strips to turn the green cupcake into a basket.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ants on a Log

I am not nearly as patient with my kids as I should be. They like to "help" me cook, but that usually translates into more dishes, a bigger mess, and a mommy who has lost all her patience. I realize that this is a short-coming on my part so I've been letting them into the kitchen to help more often. This is a recipe that I let Kaitlyn help me make.

Celery Sticks
Peanut Butter

It's pretty self explanatory. Kaitlyn uses a butter knife to put peanut butter on the celery sticks and puts the "ants" on the peanut butter. Of course, then she decided she didn't like raisins and picked them all off before eating the celery stick, but it was still a fun activity to do at snack time.

*You can also substitute cream cheese for the peanut butter.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cilantro Lime Rice

My girlfriend Lisa told me about this recipe so I begged for the recipe. I've been meaning to try it for awhile and I'm sure glad that I did. I left out the cilantro in the portion I gave my husband. He really doesn't like cilantro. When I tasted his batch, the lime was a little over powering, but when you mix in the cilantro you get just the right mix. The kids gave it mix reviews. Maura loved it, but Kaitlyn was happy to eat it after she'd picked out all the "leaves". I really liked this and will be sneaking it onto the menu from time to time.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1c basmati rice
1 1/2c chicken broth
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed and chopped
2 Tbsp lime juice
zest of one lime
1/2c cilantro, chopped
1 tsp salt

Add the oil to a sauce pan and heat on medium. Add the garlic and rice to the oil and saute for about 2 minutes on medium heat. Add the chicken broth, salt, and lime juice. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Turn heat down, cover the pan, and simmer the rice for about 15 minutes. If the rice is too moist. Simmer a little longer. The texture of the rice in this dish is the same as if you cooked your rice in a rice cooker. I live at a higher elevation so I had to simmer my rice longer. When the rice is finished, mix in the lime zest and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Note: If you use long grained rice, follow the cooking directions on the package substituting the ingredients in this recipe for the water.

Monday, March 28, 2011

How to Boil an Egg

I know, I know...laugh all you want, but the perfect boiled egg isn't actually boiled at all. If fact, if you boil an egg for very long, the shell breaks or the egg turns out rubbery or tough. Not very appetizing and you can't dye the broken eggs for Easter. So! With Easter fast approaching, this is how you boil an egg.

Place the eggs in a saucepan. You can do two or a dozen, it doesn't matter. Cover the eggs until the water is about half an inch above the egg. Turn the burner on high.

Bring the water to a boil. Cover the pan and immediately remove from the heat. The egg is continue to cook in the hot water. Set your timer for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, take the pan to the sink and run cold water over the eggs. This will stop the cooking process. You can eat the eggs right away for refridgerate them for up to a week.

Another little factoid I've learned recently is that fresh eggs are much more difficult to peel than older eggs, but seriously unless you are gathering your own eggs from the heirloom chickens you raise on your Connecticut estate, you aren't necessarily going to know the age of your eggs.  To skirt this issue and to make the eggs easier to peel, drain the hot water from the pot and immediately add cold water and two or three trays of ice cubes.  The sudden drop in temperature will make the eggs easy to peel.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hot Apple Pie Dip

I picked up this recipe at the grocery store. It was printed on one of those little pull tab thingies. The combination of apples and cheddar cheese peaked my interest. The family eyed it suspiciously at first, but gave it rave reviews after tasting it.


8oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 apple, chopped
1/4c cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp pecans, chopped

Mix cream cheese, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl until blended well. Stir in half of the chopped apples. Spread into a pie plate or small casserole dish. Top with the remaining apples, cheese, and nuts. Bake at 375˚F for 10-15 minutes. Serve with Wheat Thin crackers.

Blueberry Drop Cake

The original name of this recipe was Blueberry Crunch, but one of my girlfriends calls this kind of dish a 'drop cake' because you drop the ingredients into the casserole dish. I kinda like that so I'm offically changing the name.


3c blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1/2c sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1 large can crushed pineapple
1/2 box yellow cake mix
1/2c pecans, roughly chopped

Grease 9x13 with Pam. Cover the bottom of the pan with pineapple. Pour blueberries over the pineapple. Sprinkle sugar over blueberries. Add dry cake mix and butter. I add the cake mix a little at a time and drizzle the melted butter over the cake mix evenly. I original recipe calls for the whole box of cake mix. I use about half the cake mix and put the other half in a Ziploc bag to use later. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the cake mix. Bake at 350˚F for 45-50 minutes. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lime Chicken Tacos

Tacos get a little boring for me. So I'm always looking for a way to switch it up a little. I've been working on this recipe for awhile now. When I try a new recipe, I like to follow the instructions first...then make adjustments for my family's preferences. With this recipe I cut down on the chili powder. If you like your tacos to fight back a little, double the chili powder.

4-5 chicken breasts
2 limes (about 3Tbsp lime juice)
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1/4c honey
1c frozen corn
1c chunky salsa
12 flour tortillas
Cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatos, avacado, sour cream...whatever you like to dress your tacos with...

Put the chicken breasts in a crockpot. Combime the lime juice and chili powder and pour over the chicken. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken and allow to cool slightly. Shred the meat with two forks. Add the honey to the juice in your crockpot and stir. Return meat to slow cooker. Stir in corn and salsa. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve in tortillas with toppings of your choice.

Lemon Basil Pasta with Grilled Chicken

I've started an herb garden in my kitchen window. I'm learning that the herbs I use the most are basil and cilantro. This is one of my basil recipes. (Just a warning for my friends, growing an herb garden is kind of cool. When I start talking about raising my own heirloom chickens, it's time for an intervention.) Anyway, My kids love this recipe. You can use more or fewer lemons depending on how lemony you like it. We love lemons, but found that four lemons was a little too much. Of course, this recipe is best when fresh lemon and basil are used.


4 Grilled Chicken Breasts, sliced
1 lb penne pasta, cooked
1/2 stick butter
2-3 lemons
3/4c heavy cream
1/4c half and half
1 1/2c parmesan cheese, grated
20 Basil Leaves, chopped

Cook pasta. When you drain the pasta water, reserve one cup. Set pasta aside. In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat. Squeese in the juice of 3 lemons. Whisk together. Pour in cream and half and half. Whisk until hot. Add the cheese and continue to whisk until melted. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a little pasta water as needed to loosen up the sauce if needed. Toss the pasta and sauce together in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle the pasta with fresh basil. Serve with chicken breast.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Baked Potato Soup


3 bacon strips, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp pepper
3c chicken broth
2 large baked potatos, cubed
1c half and half cream
Shredded cheese
fresh parsley, minced

In a medium soup pot, cook bacon until crisp. I usually cook 4 or 5 slices of bacon because I live near a bacon black hole. It starts to disappear as soon as it comes out of the pan. Drain the pan, reserving about a Tablespoon of the bacon drippings. Crumble the bacon and set aside. Saute onion and garlic in the drippings until tender. Stir in flour, salt, basil, and pepper. Mix well. Gradually add broth. Bring to a boil and stir for two minutes. Add the potatoes and cream. You can peel the potatoes if you like, I just scrubbed them before I baked them. Heat through, but do not bring to a boil again. Garnish with bacon, cheese and parsley. Prepare for the marriage proposals that will follow.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Penne with Havarti Cheese and Basil

This is my secret weapon. It's my go to meal when I want to impress new friends. It's also pretty easy to make the day and pop in the oven the day you need it.

6 Tbsp Olive oil
1 1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
3-28 oz cans of tomato, drained
2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2c chicken broth
1 lb penne pasta
2 1/2c Havarti cheese, shredded
1/2c parmesan
1/4c fresh basil (if you have it)

Over a medium heat, sauté onion and garlic in 3 Tbsp Olive oil. Mix in the tomatoes, dried basil, and red pepper. I use diced canned tomatoes because it's faster, you can use whole tomatoes and just break them apart as you add them to the pot. Bring mixture to a boil. Add broth. Bring to a boil again and reduce heat. Simmer for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, stirring every once in awhile. Cook and drain the pasta. Mix the remainder of the olive oil with the pasta. Let the pasta and the sauce cool. Mix the pasta, sauce and cheese together. Put in a baking dish. I like to divide the pasta into two baking dishes. I cook one and freeze the other for later. Bake at 350˚F for 30-45 minutes. Mix in the fresh basil right before serving.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hoppin' John

American Folklore states that eating Black Eyed Peas on New Year's Day will bring your family prosperity. This mostly Southern tradition has Jewish roots. It is thought that the first Sephardi Jews brought this tradition to Georgia when they settled in the 1730's. By the end of the American Civil War, the custom was practiced by Jews and non-Jews alike throughout the south. Well, I'm all about celebrating our rich American traditions, especially when they are as yummy as this recipe.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large ham hock
1c onion, chopped
1/2c celery, shopped
1/2c green pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp garlic, chopped
1lb black eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 quart chicken broth
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp dry thyme leaves
3c steamed white rice

Heat oil in a large pot. Add the ham hock and sear on all four sides for four minutes. Add onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for four mins. Add the black eyed peas, stock, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes. Add more stock or water if the liquid evaporates. Serve over rice.

Crockpot: Sauté onion, celery, and green peppers in a pan. Toss in the Crockpot. Add all the other ingredients (except rice) and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Stir it once or twice. Serve over rice.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pico de Gallo

It's game day. The Packers are playing the Steelers at 6 EST. I'm super excited...not so much for the football game, but because it is a great excuse to make some Pico de Gallo and Guacamole. Do you ever really need an excuse to make some Pico? In a perfect world, not really.

5 whole Plum (roma) tomatoes
1/2 large onion
2 whole jalapeños
1/2 Lime
Salt and Pepper

Chop jalapeños, tomatoes and onions into a very small dice. (Leave seeds in your jalapenos for a hotter pico, I take mine out). Adjust amount of jalapenos to your preferred temperature. Next, chop up a nice-sized bunch of cilantro. Just remove and discard the long leafless stems before chopping. No need to remove the leaves from the stems completely. Place all of these ingredients together in a bowl and give it a good stir.

Squeeze the juice of half of one lime into the bowl. Add salt to taste and stir again. Put the whole thing in the fridge. It needs an hour or so for all the flavors to mix together.

Guacamole (from scratch)


3 whole Avocados
Pico de Gallo, see recipe
1/2 Lime
Salt to taste

Start with ripe avocados. Halve them lengthwise and remove the pits. Next, with a spoon scrape the “meat” out into a bowl. Mash the avocados, making sure to leave it relatively chunky. Salt to taste, just a few shakes should do. Next, add a generous helping of Pico de Gallo. Fold together. Lastly squeeze the juice of half of a lime over the top. Give it one more stir. Cover with plastic. Press the plastic down into the bowl to prevent the Guacamole from browning. Guacamole tastes best if it's had a little time for the flavors to mix so I put it in the fridge for an hour or so before digging it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Smokey Roasted Potato Soup

It must be the weather or the cold, but all I feel like eating lately is soup...delicious soup! It was a little too spicy for the kids, but Roger and I thought it was amazing.

3 red bell peppers
1 lb small red potatoes, any larger potatoes halved or quartered
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 Tbsp olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4c chicken broth
3oz chorizo (about 1/2c), diced small

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. In a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet, toss together the red bell peppers, red potatoes garlic cloves, and olive oil. Arrange in a single layer and roast until peppers are tender and potatoes are cooked through. This is about 25 minutes.

Peel and chop garlic. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop bell peppers. Add garlic, peppers, and potatoes to a medium sized pot. Add chicken broth to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a simmer over medium high heat. With a potato masher (or the back of a spoon) mash some of the potatoes and peppers until the soup is thick and chunky.

Wipe your roasting pan clean. Add the chorizo to the roasting pan and roast for about 7 minutes. Add the chorizo and pan drippings to the soup. Serve and Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Soup

My youngest took one look at this soup and said, "Oh, Mommy, I can't like that." Well, she had to try it anyway...and quickly ate her way through the bowl. This soup was just a tad bit sweet which was a little surprising, but not too much. I think the sweetness is due to the ground coriander. This soup was really amazing and I love the bright orange color that the squash brings to the soup.

4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
coarse salt and pepper
4c chicken broth
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp of lemon juice

In a roasting pan, toss together chicken thighs, squash, and onion. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the ingredients in a single layer on pan. Roast in oven at 425˚F for 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and allow to cool. Transfer squash and onions to a medium pot and add chicken broth and spices. Bring to a simmer over med-high heat. With a potato masher, mash some of the vegetables until soup is thick and chunky. Discard skin and bones from the chicken and cut meat into small pieces. Add to soup. Stir in 1 to 2 Tbsp of lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Before serving, garnish with cilantro.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry

Our family loves Chinese food. We are especially fans of Sweet and Sour chicken. Except I don't really like the breaded chicken and sometimes I just don't feel like that thick, goopy sauce. This recipe is a nice alternative and it has far fewer calories. The fresh ginger really adds a complexity to the flavor that I like.


1c long grain white rice
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4c sugar
1/4c vinegar
1/4c soy sauce
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 bell peppers (red, green), seeded and diced
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and halved
1 carrot, sliced at an angle
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

Cook rice in rice cooker. In a small jar, combine cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar. Put lid on jar and shake. Set aside. In a large skillet or wok, heat oil. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently until chicken is almost done. Add vegetables and cook for 5 minutes. Add ginger and garlic, stirring frequently for about 4 more minutes. Shake soy sauce mixture, add to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat. Fluff rice with fork. To serve, spoon chicken stir-fry over rice.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Simple Crêpes

These are treats we'd buy the kids at German festivals for about 4 Euro ($5.30) apiece. I'm not sure if they are European in origin, but to our family they will always be a European treat. One batch made enough to feed four ravenous kids (about 10 crêpes) so next time I will have to double the batch so the adults can have some, too.

In a blender, Purée:

1 cup flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2c milk
4 eggs
3 Tbsp butter, melted

Let batter sit at least 15 minutes at room temperature. (You can also refrigerate for up to 1 day, just whisk before using). Pam a 12-inch skillet. Pour 1/3 cup of batter into the skillet. Swirl skillet to completely cover the skillet. This is going to look too thin, but remember, this is a crêpe, not a pancake. Cook over medium heat until the underside of the crêpe is golden brown...about 1 1/2-2 minutes. Loosen the edge of the crêpe with a spatula, and then flip the crêpe quickly with your fingertips. Cook for 1 minute and move to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, spraying the pan with PAM between crêpes.

The kids really enjoyed these crêpes with Nutella and bananas. In fact, one of the little food critics sleeping over (whose Dad makes the best crêpes, EVER) says that mine were "really good!” I always consider it the highest of compliments when other people's children will eat what I cook.

If Nutella is not your thing (For example, if you are over the age of 15) you can also fill these crêpes with ham and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, powdered sugar, strawberry jam and whipped cream...or anything else left over in your fridge.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Black Bean Soup

I'm beginning to understand why magazines tote reduced calorie recipes in January. My jeans are protesting against a comment I made in December about hating low-cal recipes. So I'm eating my words. I still hate food that tastes like card board, but every recipe box should include some recipes that fill you up without filling out your jeans.

This black bean soup recipe has a little burst of flavor. I think it's the jalapenos. Although the feta cheese that you sprinkle on top bring a little salty combination that really compliments the soup. This soup is so delicious. My husband, who doesn't like beans of any kind, accused me of being selfish because I made this soup, packaged it up in individual servings, and didn't share with him. Maybe I'll share this batch.
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped into tiny pieces
2 (15oz) can black beans, undrained
1 (15oz) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2c chicken broth

For garish
fresh cilantro, chopped
green onion, chopped
feta cheese

Spray Pam into your skillet. Sauté onions and garlic and transfer to your Crockpot. Add shredded carrot, cumin, jalapenos, beans, tomatoes, and chicken broth to the Crockpot. Cook on low all day. Sometime in the afternoon, transfer half the soup to the blender and puree. Pour back into the Crockpot and mix. Garnish with cilantro, green onions, and feta cheese.

If you don't have a crockpot: Pam the bottom of your pot. Add onion, carrot, and garlic. Saute until softened. Mix in cumin and jalapeno. Add beans, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Puree 1/2 of the soup and return to pot. Mix well. Garnish each bowl with cilantro, green onion, and feta cheese.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Split Pea Soup

I spent my whole childhood hating Split Pea Soup. I don't know why. I don't remember ever having tried Split Pea Soup. I think it the color of the soup that was so off putting for me. When I was in college, I worked with a woman who taught me a lot about the kind of woman and wife I wanted to be (when I grew up). She also shared a few recipes with me. I've since lost touch with her, but I think of her whenever I cook the foods she taught me to cook.

12c water if cooking stovetop, 8c water if using a crockpot
2c split peas, rinsed
3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 carrot, grated
Butt portion or ham hock (This time I used the bone from my Christmas Ham with whatever meat was still attached.)
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper

Stove top: Toss all the ingredients into a pot. Simmer for four or five hours or until peas are mushy. You will use more water if cooking stovetop because some water boils off as the soup simmers. Stir occationally, adding additional water if necessary. Remove the ham bone before serving.

Crockpot: Toss all the ingredients into your crock pot and cook on low all day long. I usually stir it up every few hours, but it's really not necessary. Remove the hambone before serving.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

White Chili

I had the most amazing white chili at a baby shower a few months ago. I've been looking for a good recipe ever since. Now that I think about it, I should have asked for the recipe, but I didn't know the hostess very well and sometimes people get really offended when asked to share their recipes. Not me. I'll share 'em with the world.

I took a few White Chili Recipes and blended them. I think that means I'm becoming an experienced cook. It could also mean that my children have learned to suffer in silence. I think it's the combination of green chilies and cilantro that make this chili so yummy.

1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, sliced thinly
4 cups chicken, cubed or shredded
4 cups water with 3 chicken bouillon cubes added
4 cans green chili peppers, chopped
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (I used fresh)

For garnish
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
green onion, sliced

There are two ways to cook this recipe. The first is to sauté the onions in Pam, then toss all the ingredients into your Crockpot and cook slowly all day long. If you don't have a Crockpot:

In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onions and celery. Cook until onion is translucent. Add chicken, beans, chicken broth, green chilies into the pot. Season with cumin, oregano, and cilantro. Cover and simmer for 15 or 20 minutes.

Whichever way you cook it, garnish with shredded cheese and green onions. I also tossed in a few more cilantro leaves as garnish because I really like cilantro.