Thursday, December 26, 2013

Raspberry Bread Pudding

I made this for Christmas dessert this year. It's amazing! Unfortunately, you can feel your heart slow down to almost a stop when you eat it. It's so naughty. But so worth it.

Cream Mix
1 1/2 loaves aged, white bread (I found a great loaf of texas toast sized bread slices)
1 quart heavy cream
3 cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, combine cream, sugar, egg and vanilla. In another large bowl, tear bread into 1" cubes. Pour the cream mixture over the bread and stir to coat well. Let it stand for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to allow cream to absorb completely.

Fruit Filling
5 cups frozen raspberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple juice

Combine raspberries, sugar and apple juice, stirring until sugar is dissolved. I let this mixture stand for a while with the bread and cream.

Layer a 9x13 baking dish with 3/4 of the bread mixture, then pour all of the fruit filling over the bread mixture, spreading evenly. Top with the remaining bread mixture.
Bake for 40-50 minutes at 375 degrees.
Serve warm with vanilla sauce.

Vanilla Sauce
1/2 cup butter
3 T flour
1.5 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar

Over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir for 10 minutes until it has a nutty aroma. Do not brown. Add salt, cream and sugar and boil until mixture is thick (it takes a while). Remove from head and add vanilla. Drizzle over bread putting.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Split Pea Soup

I made these awesome centerpieces for our Relief Society activity. But now I'm left with a ton of split peas, which I've never cooked with. Ever. My only experience with them is making split pea bags (like bean bags) in Kathy Clark's basement as a child. Heaven help me when my kids start using food storage for their entertainment and experiments.

I make soup when it's cold. My kids ask me what soup we're having for dinner on a daily basis. And they hate all but 1 of them. In fact when this one came out, my oldest said, "Why do you always make food that I don't like?". I know, I'm so mean. I ended up eating all of it because it was awesome. Also, I halved this recipe because I was psychic and predicted that my kids wouldn't eat it. 

Here's the whole thing. 

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup green split peas (I only had green)
8 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp salt-free seasoning blend (I happened to have a Mrs. Dash table blend on hand)
1 tsp salt

In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Cook onion, garlic, carrots and celery until onion is fully translucent. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2.5 hours (I did less, or just until the peas were soft). Puree in a blender, return to pot to keep warm and serve. 

It has the appearance of what I imagine gruel to look like. But it's really good. Also, I forgot the garlic, so I substituted 1/2 tsp garlic salt and reduced the amount of salt I put in. That may be what made it so tasty.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ham and Lentil Soup

It's Fall!  Let's eat soup!  This is my family's favorite soup from my favorite cookbook, The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great by Pam Anderson.  The original recipe calls for arugula, which I had never cooked with before.  When my family saw it, they said, "Why are there leaves in our soup?  I don't want to eat this.  Why are you making me eat wet leaves, mean lady?"  The next time I made it, I left the arugula out and my family said, "This is the best soup, ever!  Why haven't you made it before?"  So, I'll let you decide if you want to add the arugula.

This soup takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.  It's filling and delicious, especially with a loaf of crusty bread.

Ham and Lentil Soup with Tomatoes (and Arugula)

2 tsp. olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 pkg. (8 oz.) ham, diced
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasonings
2 cans (19 oz each) lentil soup (I use Progresso)
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
4 cups (about 4 oz.) prewashed arugula (optional)
   salt and ground black pepper

In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, heat oil and garlic over medium-high heat until garlic begins to sizzle.  Add ham and sauté until ham starts to turn golden, about 5 minutes.  Add Italian seasonings, then soup, tomatoes, and broth.  Bring to a simmer.  Add arugula and continue to simmer until it wilts, 2-3 minutes longer.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

From Grandma Carol Furniss, Apple Bars

Mom brought this to me a few months ago.  Since we're getting close to apple season (but not quite yet in St. Louis, eh Melissa?) I thought it would be fun to try this soon.  I don't use margarine anymore, so I'll substitute unsalted butter.  In case you can't make out what it says at the top, the recipe is dated 5-12-78 from someone called "Ardys Holte" and it serves 32.  First one to try this, take a picture and send it to me please. :)  (Is anyone else interested in how the unpeeled apples look when they're cooked?  What kind do you think would work best, Jen?)

1 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. margarine (or unsalted butter)

1 egg, unbeaten

2 c. chopped, unpeeled apples

1 c. sifted flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. nuts

Stiff batter.  Bake in 9"x12" (about) pan at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  (She wrote "less" above that, so maybe set the timer for 35 minutes and check on it.)  Cool.  Cut into 32 small bars.  Roll in powdered sugar.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sugar Cookie Frosting/Glaze

Many months ago I posted a recipe for sugar cookies and I didn't post the frosting recipe.  Not cool.  Here is the frosting!  It's a glaze more than a frosting, so you have to frost your cookies soon after making it, otherwise it gets too stiff and lumpy.  I like to get a few little bowls and put a few scoops of glaze in each, then food coloring so I can have different colored cookies. 

2 c. powdered sugar

3 T. milk

2 T. cream cheese

Blend with a hand mixer until smooth.  Add food coloring and stir.  I like to use a small spoon and put a spoonful of glaze in the middle of the cookie, then spread the glaze to all the edges of the cookie with the back of the spoon.  Remember to cool the cookies first!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Caramel Popcorn

Brian's specialty is caramel popcorn.  The soft kind.  It's one of the things we like to make on Sundays when we need a treat, so it's important to have all the ingredients (Makenzie!  ingredients!) in your house all the time.  Just in case of emergency, you know.

1 cube butter

1 c. light Karo syrup

1 c. brown sugar

1 c. sweetened condensed milk

1 big bowl of popped popcorn (not microwave popcorn)

In a large saucepan, combine butter, syrup, brown sugar, and condensed milk.  Bring to a boil, then take it off the heat.  Pour over popped popcorn and stir.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Peanut Butter Brownies

This is my very favorite brownie recipe of all time.  If by some miracle you have some left over the day after you make them, you will find that something magically delicious happens to these brownies after being in the fridge overnight.  These are so good, I'll even eat the edges.  [I remember Ben telling me once that he and Jen were perfect for each other because she likes the edges of the brownies and he likes the middle pieces.  That's true love.]


Peanut Butter Brownies

1 c. (2 sticks) of butter, melted
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
Mix above ingredients until well blended, then add:
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Mix well until blended and pour into greased 9x13 pan.  Dollop small amounts of peanut butter throughout the pan (about 1/2 cup total).  Use a knife to swirl peanut butter around just a bit.  Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Oriental Chicken Salad

  So, this is gonna sound weird, but I require a lot from my salads. I want pretty colors, yummy flavor and to still keep it healthy; since that's the reason I'd eat a salad in the first place. I've always loved oriental chicken salad but I've never found the dressing I quite wanted until now. In the past month I've fixed this a number of times and I get excited to taste it every time. Serves 4-5 (From the "Six Sisters" cookbook, ironic no? Since you guys are the originals!)

Salad: I think giving measurements for the lettuce would insult your intelligence. I'll just tell you what the salad consists of and you can make it to your particular taste, shall I?
Lettuce (go figure)
Bagged Broccoli Slaw (really good texture, I'd never had a reason to use it before this)
almonds ( I just chop them, but if you have the time you could toast 'em)
wonton noodles
mandarin oranges
Chicken (leftovers, a couple of pieces from the deli, whatever works)

6 TBS honey
3 TBS rice vinegar
1/2 cup mayo
2 Tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp sesame oil
 And there you have it! Super yummy!
For those of you with picky eaters or little ones  you could try what we do with Ian. I give him a little bit of everything, omit the lettuce and substitute a veggie he likes. So he still feels like he's getting the same as us and won't eat the noodles off my plate. 

Also I think Peggy told me that we all have the "Best Bites: Savoring the Seasons" cookbook. Give the Grilled Chicken and Berry Salad from the summer section a try. We tried it this week and all of us loved it, my mouth is watering thinking about it right now.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Easy Cream Biscuits

You cannot go wrong with these!  They turn out perfect every time.  And they taste even better when they're heart shaped.  Perfect Father's Day card not included. :)

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 c. heavy cream (I've used regular cream and it's fine, but the heavy stuff definitely tastes better)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Whisk together the dry ingredients, then stir in the cream with a wooden spoon and keep stirring until the dough starts to form.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly until it's smooth.  Pat the dough into a circle that is 3/4 of an inch tall.  Use a biscuit cutter (or metal cookie cutters that are simple shapes).  Keep reforming the dough and cutting until it's all used up.  Bake on the parchment-lined baking sheet for 14-15 minutes.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Blueberry Pound Cake

This is such a treat at our house!  You can make it with fresh or frozen blueberries, but of course fresh are best, which makes it perfect for the 4th of July since that's when blueberries are in season.  This year my dreams came true because I was able to use blueberries from our very own bush!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt  pan, as well as a smaller pan (like a bread loaf pan).  This recipe makes way too much for just one cake pan, so have an extra pan ready.

2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer (or your Bosch or Kitchen Aid) until creamy.  Gradually add sugar, beating well.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one and scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.

In a separate large bowl combine:
4 cups flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

In a liquid measuring cup:
1 cup milk

Alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour.
Stir in:
2 tsp vanilla

Fold in:
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Pour batter into prepared pans.  Place in preheated oven for 1 hour plus 30-40 minutes.  The smaller pan will only need 45 minutes to an hour, but the bigger one will need over an hour.  Since all ovens are different, and so are altitudes, check the oven after an hour (for the bigger cake).  The cake should have a dark-ish golden color to it.  It may look burned, but it's not.  If you want, you could cover the cake with foil halfway through cooking to prevent over-browning, but I have never done that.
Place cooked cake on a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mom's Holiday Cheese Ball

I know this is already in one of our cookbooks, but I need it in here. It should be in all cookbooks because it's the best.

2 8oz pkgs cream cheese

2 T chopped green pepper

2 T chopped onion

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp garlic salt

pinch of pepper

1-2 pkgs chipped beef, chopped into tiny squares (I like 2 packages best)

Leave cream cheese out of the fridge for about an hour to soften it. (Or microwave for about 20 seconds in the mixing bowl. Take off the wrapper first. :)) Mix all ingredients using 1/2 of the beef. Roll it into a ball, then roll the ball into the remaining chopped chipped beef. Refrigerate.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I think everyone should have a pancake recipe that isn't Bisquick (no disrespect) or Krusteaz (disrespect).  My kids love these - it's a Saturday Morning Specialty at our house. :)

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 TB sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 large egg

3 TB unsalted butter, melted and briefly cooled (I buy more of this than salted butter because we use it in anything that calls for butter - less greasy)

2 c. buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk, whisk 1 Tablespoon lemon juice with regular milk and set it aside for a few minutes)

Vegetable Oil Spray

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, and then the buttermilk.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the buttermilk mixture into the well and stir with a rubber spatula until you can't seen dry flour anymore.  (Don't mix it too much, it will affect how your pancakes rise.)

Lightly spray a heated skillet (or whatever you're using) with vegetable oil and drop the pancake batter on in 1/4 cup scoops.  Wait, you all know what to do at this point, right? :)

Italian Pasta Salad

This is Sally Plautz's recipe in the second Sisters' Cookbook.  I'm putting the smaller version here because I think her recipe is meant to feed The World.  (Five lbs of pasta, three bottles of dressing, etc.)  I was just trying to feed my family, man!  Take it easy!  This is a great, easy pasta salad for summer parties.

12 oz. tri-color pasta

1 bottle of Italian dressing

1 English cucumber, seeded and chopped (ha! I didn't seed mine)

1 c. grape tomatoes, halved (or quartered, if you prefer)

1/2 c. pepperoni

1 green onion chopped fine (optional)

Italian blend cheese, grated (I bought the bagged kind)

Boil pasta according to al dente directions (don't over-cook).  Drain and rinse with cold water to speed up cooling time.  Put cooled pasta in a large serving bowl.  Add cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions and mix well.  Poor dressing over the salad and mix it in until it's as juicy as you want it.  Leave some salad dressing to freshen the salad when you're ready to serve it.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Just before serving, add shredded Italian cheese.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Never Fail Chocolate Cake

Never Fail Chocolate Cake
This recipe was given to me by my good friend Tammy Fenberg.  i have tweaked it just a bit to make it even more foolproof.  it is fast and easy, especially if you don't have a box mix.

1C. buttermilk/sour milk (add 1 tsp. vinegar to 1 C. milk; let sit five min.)
1 C. oil
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine above ingredients; mix well

3 C. flour
3 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 C. sugar
1/4 C. special dark cocoa (if you can find it; regular works, too, but is not as fabulous)
1 box chocolate jello pudding mix

Sift above ingredients into a large bowl.
Add wet combination; mix on medium speed.
Add 1C. hot water slowly while mixing.

Bake @ 350˚ for 35 minutes

Fudgy Chocolate Frosting
1/4 C. softened butter
3/4 C. cocoa
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/4 C. milk
dash of salt

Saturday, May 18, 2013

1 Meal x 3 ways: Jerk Chicken with Roasted Peppers and Pineapple

This is the first of the recipes, Jerk Chicken
Being a busy mom of 6 (picture me wearing a sweet little apron over a skirt, with heels and pearls) I love a recipe that I can make once and use for several days.  This recipe requires you to make a large portion to begin with and divide it into three meals, changing it up a bit for the second two meals.  I have tried freezing it and it works pretty well.

Jerk Chicken
3 red onions: 1 coarsely chopped and 2 sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
2 jalapeno peppers halved and seeded (at our grocery store you can buy them already chopped= time saver!!)
3 TBS grape juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1 TBS paprika
1 TBS cumin
2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 chicken drumsticks
8 chicken breasts
*since this recipe was designed to feed  family of 4 and I need it to go further, I always use16 chicken breast, since there's so little meat on a drumstick*
Salt and Pepper
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 yellow pepper, sliced
2 red peppers, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced

*preheat the oven to 400 degrees *
In a food processor, combine the chopped red onion, garlic, lime juice, jalapenos, grape juice, orange juice, paprika, cumin, allspice, and thyme.  Pulse a few times, then add a little olive oil to make a paste-like consistency.
In a roasting pan, or glass casserole dish, sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper, then pour the spice paste over the top, making sure to get all the chicken pieces covered.  Roast in the oven for 45 minutes.
In another casserole dish arrange the pineapple and peppers and the other 2 red onions.  Drizzle some olive oil over the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  After the chicken has been in the oven for 15 minutes, add the peppers and pineapple dish to the oven to cook along with it for the last 30 minutes.

Divide the cooked food so that the first meal gets half of everything, the second and third meals each get 1/4.  (Like dividing a 4/4 measure of music into one half note and two quarters :)

 Meal #1
Each person gets a helping of the chicken, the veggies and some steamed rice.

Meal #2  Sweet and Spicy Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken
First we add a few more ingredients to our 1/4 portion of the chicken and peppers already cooked

1 lb spaghetti
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tsp ground ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
3 TBS peanut butter (stay with me!)
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
Hot Sauce-a few dashes
2 TBS canola oil
2 TBS honey
1 small package slaw mix
4 green onions
3 TBS sesame seeds

Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions.  While the pasta is cooking, heat the chicken stock in a small pan.  Once warm, add the ginger, garlic, peanut butter, tamari, hot sauce, canola oil, and honey and whisk to combine.
Using whatever method you can, shred the chicken, then put it in a big mixing bowl with the peppers and pineapple.  If you think your family will eat it, you can also add half of the slaw mix.  I choose to omit this.
 Drain the pasta, add it to the bowl, then drizzle the sauce over the top.  Toss to combine.  Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

*My kids were surprised that they liked this, since they saw me with the peanut butter and all...*

Meal #3 And my favorite!!  Jerk Chicken Quesadillas
Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack cheese, grated

Arrange small portions of the Jerk Chicken and pineapple and peppers on a tortilla, add grated cheese, place another tortilla over the top and heat using desired method (frying pan, broiler, George Foreman Grill).  I'm sure David Martinez would know the exact method.  He was a whiz with the quesadillas at the beach!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup

I have soup problems. It's all I make in the winter, and it's winter 9 months of the year in Colorado.
I like this one because it's got so many veggies in it and my kids might take a bite. That's exciting to me.  Sometimes they eat a cup full. And always I eat the rest.

1/2 T Olive oil
1 T butter
 1/2 c sliced carrots 
2 stalks celery, diced
1 c diced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 medium potato
32 oz chicken broth
1 T brown sugar (I add a lot more to taste)
1 T kosher salt
3/4 t dried sage

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil and butter. When butter is melted add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add the squash and potato, sage, salt and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer with the lid on for 30-40 minutes or until everything is tender. Check a piece of squash and also a piece of celery and potato to make sure they are fork tender. Stir in the brown sugar. 
Use an immersion blender, or transfer soup to a regular blender and puree until smooth. 

You can add a little parsley or drizzle a bit of heavy cream or sour cream on it. I just add more sugar until it tastes like I want. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gardiner Bars

These will take you right back to school lunch.  Courtesy of the Scott and Sarah Gardiner family test kitchen.
Cookie Base:
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup salted butter
1 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter, divided
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting:
1/2 cup salted butter
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 c milk (pref 2% or whole)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 c powdered sugar
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda, then whisk in quick oats, set aside.  In a new mixing bowl, whip together butter and sugars until pale and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes).  Blend in 3/4 c peanut butter.  Stir in eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until combined.  Mix in vanilla.  With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Spread cookie mixture in an even layer into a 15X11 rimmed cookie sheet (it will be fairly thin once spread).  Bake in preheated oven 13-15 minutes, until lightly golden.  REmove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes, then dollop remaining 3/4 c peanut butter by the spoonfuls over peanut butter bars.  Aloow dolloped peanut butter to rest about 1 minute then carefully sperad peanut butter into and even layer over top.  Prepare chocolate frosting according to directions listed below and spread over peanut butter layer.  Allow to cool before cutting into squares.  Store in a single layer in an airtight container at room temperature.

Frosting Directions:
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in cocoa powder, then whisk in milk and bring mixture just to a boil.  Once mixture reaches a boil, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Add in powdered sugar and mix until well blended.  Immediately pour frosting over peanut butter layer and spread into and even layer (frosting sets quickly).

Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken

I have never been to China, but I am 78% sure this is the least authentic recipe for Kung Pao Chicken, ever.  I do not care.  Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken includes some of my favorite vegetables (green peppers, red peppers, zucchini) and none of those completely unnecessary vegetables (I'm looking at you, celery and water chestnuts!) that I often get from more authentic restaurants.  I had a lot of cravings for this chicken when I was pregnant with Miles, so I know what it's supposed to taste like.  This recipe is pretty darn close.  It's from a cookbook full of restaurant knockoffs that I borrowed from the library. 

Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken

1 lb. 1/2" cubed chicken breasts
1 small egg
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
2 green onions
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 T. soy sauce
1 T. cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. cold water
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
2 divided T. vegetable oil
1 chunked red pepper
1 chunked green pepper
1 chunked small zucchini
1 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Sugar, to taste
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
4 cups cooked white rice

  1.  In a zip-top bag, combine meat with egg, water, cornstarch, and salt; marinate, chilled, for at least 30 minutes. 
  2. Slice the green onions, both the white part and greens, into 1/2" pieces.
  3. Combine water and soy sauce , stir in dissolved cornstarch and rice wine vinegar, and chill.
  4. About 20 minutes before serving time, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a hot wok (or large frying pan).  Stir meat, drain, and discard marinade.
  5. Quickly stir-fry the meat for 60-90 seconds.  Transfer to a large container.
  6. Stir-fry the peppers until almost tender.  Add the onions and zucchini, remove, and reserve with meat.
  7. Heat the remaining oil and stir-fry garlic and season with pepper flakes and ginger.
  8. Stir the reserved sauce mixture before pouring into seasoned garlic.  heat through to thicken.  Sweeten to taste with sugar, adding a bit more ginger and/or red pepper flakes, as needed.
  9. Add cooked food to sauce and stir in peanuts.  Serve over hot rice.
Serves 4-5.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Southwest Rubbed Chicken

Every Tuesday at our house is Taco Tuesday.  I make rice, seasoned black beans, guacamole, and this Southwest Rubbed Chicken.  We put everything in serving bowls on the table, add cheese, salsa, and tortillas and let everyone create their own tacos.  I usually go sans tortilla.  Jeff overfills his and makes a mess everywhere.  Chloe and Miles fill theirs with rice, beans, and cheese.  And Harrison fills his plate with tears. 

This chicken works great for tacos, fajitas, taco salad, burritos, or eaten plain with your bare hands.  Here's how to cook it to perfection:

Southwest Rubbed Chicken

1 T. taco seasoning*
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
nonfat cooking spray

*For spicier rub, use 1 T. chili powder and 1/4 tsp. cumin in place of taco seasoning.

Preheat broiler on high.  Spray broiling pan with cooking spray.  Combine spices.  Rinse chicken.  Pat dry with a paper towel.  Rub spices all over chicken breasts.  Broil for 6 minutes on each side.  (Large chicken breasts may take 8 minutes on each side.) 

One and a half chicken breasts are usually enough for our family, so I freeze the rest of the cooked chicken for the following Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Crockpot Chicken & Apples

I am always looking for healthier crockpot recipes. I have no problem using cream-based, condensed soup occasionally but sometimes it feels like that's all I find. So when I run across stuff like this I love it, also it's about 20 minutes of prep-time which is awesome. The recipe says this makes 4-6 servings but I feel like it stretches further than that for us. I serve it over brown rice.*

6 oz frozen apple juice               2 garlic cloves minced
1/8 tsp nutmeg                           2-3 lbs chicken breast/ pieces
2 tsp curry                                 salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbsp butter                            3 granny smith apples (chopped)
1 onion chopped                       1/3 c chicken broth
                                                 1 Tbsp cornstarch

Combine butter, onions & garlic in bowl. Microwave 1-2 minutes until the onion is soft, spread it in the bottom of the crockpot.
Combine juice and spices, dip chicken in the mixture then lay it on the onions, pour remaining juice over the top, add salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours. Add apples and cook another 40-50 minutes, apples will be soft and the chicken cooked. Shred the chicken and then add it back to the pot.
Mix broth and cornstarch in small bowl-stir into crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until thick. (It's only ever taken me 10 minutes, if that.)

*Making brown rice on the stove is so time consuming, and then if you stir it too much the starch will end up making it all gummy. I found this method to cooking brown rice a few years ago. It's so low maintenance and works every time. In a 9 "x 13" pan, add your rice and water (ratio is 1:2-I usually do 2c. rice/4c. water) a pinch of salt. Cover the pan with foil and cook in 375 degree oven for one hour. That's it!

Monday, April 8, 2013


Again.  It's not that I make cornbread that often.  It's just that when I do make it, I usually scramble around looking for that recipe that I liked.  Cornbread can so easily go wrong.  This is from the Blue Cornmeal label of the Bob's Red Mill Blue Cornmeal.  Don't tell him that I figured out that the cornmeal doesn't have to be blue :)  Shhh!

2 1/4 cups flour
1 3/4 cups cornmeal (your favorite color)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (or not)
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk (or evaporated)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (I keep buttermilk powder around for these kind of surprises)
1 1/2 cups drained corn kernels (or not)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish.  Sift dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, eggs, and buttermilk.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just blended.  Add corn kernels.  Pour into prepared baking dish.  Bake until tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Serve warm.

The Only Cookie

This recipe is so good I almost don't want to share it, but since I originally found it on the internet I figure it's fair game. The base is a chocolate chip cookie, the others were developed over extensive experimentation in my kitchen by Ethan and myself.   It is truly the only cookie recipe you ever need.  Ever.  There is no point even keeping any other cookie recipe around because this is perfection. People will think you are a genius. Because you are ;) You're welcome!

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
*see below for alterations depending on your cookie needs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray the cookie sheet lightly with cooking spray only before the first batch.

Sift together dry ingredients and set aside.  

In a separate bowl, cream together melted butter and sugars until well blended.  Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until light and creamy.  Mix in dry ingredients until just blended.  

Drop cookie dough onto prepared cookie sheets.  This recipe works well for very big cookies or small.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly toasted. Cool on the baking sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

*For Chocolate Chip Cookies:  add 2 cups chocolate chips , blend by hand after adding dry ingredients

*For Snickerdoodles: add 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg to dry ingredients, roll cookie dough balls in cinnamon sugar before baking

*For Peanut Butter Cookies:  decrease butter to 1/3 cup and add 1/2 cup peanut butter (if the dough is too crumbly add more butter 1 tsp at a time until dough holds together)

*For Chocolate Cookies:  reduce flour to 1 1/2 cups and add 1/2 cup cocoa powder

* For Oatmeal Cookies:  reduce flour to 1 1/2 cups and add 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves to the dry ingredients.  If dough is crumbly, add more butter one tsp at a time until the dough holds together.  If desired, add raisins and nuts totaling 2 cups per your preference after the dough is finished.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Glazed Carrots

This is Alice Waters's method for glazed carrots.  It's not a recipe, see.  I've used this same method on broccoli and green beans (minus the herbs because I didn't know which ones to use).  The reason this is wonderful is because it makes carrots taste like carrots.  No sauce, no deep-fried anything - they just taste like carrots, which took me off-guard.  That's what carrots taste like?!  Who knew.  And it's quick.


Carrots, cut in half then quarter lengthwise (don't use mini carrots)

Unsalted Butter


Fresh Basil (I've tried it with dried and it's not awful, but fresh basil is the way to go), chopped


Fill the bottom of a sauce pan (the size will depend on how many carrots you need to make) with your cut carrots.  Arrange them as evenly as you can, but not more than an inch high.  (If it's more than an inch, get a bigger pan.)  Pour water in, coming halfway up the carrots and no higher.  Add pats of unsalted butter, as much as you would use per serving.  Add salt (again, as much as you would per serving).  Put the saucepan on high heat until it boils, then cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer (covered) for 7 minutes.  Take the lid off and add chopped basil.  Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes, then transfer the carrots to a serving dish, adding a little of the glaze over the top of the carrots.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Avocado bean dip

a friend from church served this to me when I attended a knitting group meeting at her house.  doesn't that sound domestic?  it could be served just as a dip with tortilla chips (don't those broken chips look appetizing?) or inside a wrap.  it is delicious and full of nutritional goodness.

1 Can corn (or the equivalent measurement of frozen corn)
1 Can black beans drained
3 green onions diced
1/2 C. chopped fresh cilantro
1 C. sliced cherry tomatoes
1-2 ripe avocados chopped

1 envelope Good Seasons Zesty Italian salad dressing mix. Follow directions on back.

mix all ingredients together.  add salt to taste and anything else that suits your fancy.  this is the sort of recipe that you can add your favorites to or leave out your not favorites. it is meant to be served cold. chill in fridge.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Matt's 4th of July Pulled Pork

This is the most delicious pulled pork ever!  Keep in mind that it takes 2 days to prepare, since the meat has to soak in the brine solution for 8-24 hours, then cooked "low and slow" (as Matt says) for several hours.   It's a labor of love, and totally worth it.

1 whole Boston Butt pork shoulder

Dry Rub

1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs cayenne pepper
1 Tbs salt
1 Tbs pepper
1 Tbs paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar
Mix well.  Can be mixed ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.

Brine Solution
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 qts cold water
2 bay leaves
3 Tbs Dry Rub Mix

Add salt to cold water and stir very well until all the salt is completely dissolved.  Then add the brown sugar, drub and bay leaves and stir well to combine.

Pork Shoulder Preparation:

Meat in roaster oven reaching 200 degrees.
pull meat apart wearing gloves.
 Rinse pork shoulder and place in a large 2.5 quart ziplock bag, then pour the brine solution into the bag.  Making sure that the meat is completely covered, let the excess air out of the bag and seal it tightly.  Place in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours.  Then remove pork shoulder from brine solution, pat dry with a paper towel, place in a baking pan that is bigger than the pork shoulder by at least an inch in length and width, and at least 3 inches deep.  We always use our roaster oven.  Sprinkle dry rub on the surface of the shoulder and massage in such that it sticks to the meat.  (touching meat=gross).  Coat all sides.  Make sure you place the meat in the pan with the fat side up.  Place baking pan uncovered in a 225 degree oven on the middle rack.  Do not remove from oven until the center of the shoulder reaches 200 degrees.  OR, if you have a roaster oven and a lot of time, set the temp to 200 and cook overnight and well into the day.  You know, low and slow.  When the meat has reached 200 degrees internally, shut off the oven and let the meat sit for an hour or longer before removing it from the oven.  When the temp drops to 170 or lower, remove from oven.  Place on a large clean working surface, like a cutting board, and remove the top layer of fat, as well as any other fat from the meat.  Then you can pull the meat apart with two forks, or wear kitchen gloves and pull it apart with your hands.  The meat is very tender and easy to pull apart.  It's delicious as is, or you can add some of your favorite BBQ sauce.  We also like to make sandwiches using those square-shaped yellow buns.  Serve with potato salad and red jell-o!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Breakfast Shake

This is our morning breakfast shake. It sounds disgusting, but it's not. My kids actually drink it.

1 Banana
1 handful of spinach
1 cup (apx) of frozen blueberries
1/2 cup POM juice
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk (or regular milk)

Blend it in the blender. I throw in some ground flax seeds when I remember .

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tortellini Soup

I'm so ready for Spring, but right now it's snowing sideways outside.  Winter is mocking me.  But the joke is on winter, because I'm happy to stay inside as long as I have soup to keep me warm. 
This is one of my favorite soups.  Some soups are delicious, but work best as a side dish (like my Cream of Carrot Soup.  yum!) and some soups are just "stuff floating in water" (as my husband so eloquently put it) and are only delicious if you have a stomach bug and are craving something bland.  This soup is neither.  This soup is a meal.  ("I want a MEAL!")  It will fill you up and make you happy.  So there, winter!

Tortellini Soup

1 lb. Italian sausage
1 c. chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, crushed
5 cups beef broth
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 c. thinly sliced carrots
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 cups cheese-filled tortellini
1 1/2 c. sliced zucchini
3 T. chopped fresh parsley

In a large soup pot, brown sausage over medium heat.  Remove sausage and drain all but 1 tsp remaining fat from the pot.  (If sausage is very lean, you may need to add a little olive oil to prevent sticking and burning.)  Saute onion and garlic in pot.  While the onion softens, slice carrots. 

When onions are soft, add beef broth, red wine vinegar (Full disclosure: I've never used red wine vinegar in this soup, so I'm not sure what magic I'm missing.  Do not substitute regular vinegar.  If you don't have it, just leave it out.  The soup will still be tasty.), tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, sausage and 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer 30 minutes, uncovered.

While soup simmers, slice zucchini and chop parsley.  (Secretly I've never used fresh parsley, either.  My whole life is a lie!)  Skim fat from soup.  Stir in zucchini and parsley.  Simmer covered for 15 minutes.

Add tortellini and simmer five more minutes, or until tortellini is al dente.  Serve and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Banana Nut Bread

I noticed Mom was using this recipe and it reminded me that this is the PERFECT banana bread.  It cooks evenly all the way through, there is a fun nut topping, it looks pretty.  I put it in the second Sisters Cookbook (page 11).  This is the only way I'll eat a banana.  (Bleh.  They make my tongue tingle if I try to eat them straight up.)  This makes two loaves, one for you, one for everyone else to share.

In a small bowl, mix together (for the topping):

1/2 c. chopped nuts (I always use walnuts)
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

In a large bowl (or mixer) combine the following until it is mostly smooth:

1/2 c. unsalted, softened butter
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. sugar
1 c. mashed bananas
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Divide the dough into two loaf pans.  Sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon/nut mixture evenly over both loaves.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.  Transfer the loaves to tin foil immediately and wrap them up.  (This preserves the moisture and helps the topping stay on.)