Thursday, November 19, 2009


I always look forward to November! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, for many reasons that I won't go into right now... but one of them is (obviously) the food! I love how Jeremy and I have to sit down weeks before Thanksgiving and plan out the menu--we have a lot of fun in the kitchen together :o) I thought it would be fun to post our menu, along with the recipes (ones in italics are links) we use, for anyone in need of some inspiration--or if you just want to try something new!

We are not gourmet people, so don't be intimidated... I admit--I use stuffing from a box, so there! Here's what we have down for this year:

  • Alton Brown's Good Eats Roast Turkey: Jeremy told me I have to mention that, to date, there are over 2300 5-star reviews of this recipe on Food Network. We have yet to be disappointed...
  • Stuffed Sweet Potatoes: I make this recipe with a few variations. I don't use pecans, and I cook the potatoes at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. It makes them smushier :o) and easier to eat, I think!
  • Mashed Potatoes: We use large red potatoes, cook them as usual, but keep the skins on and add milk, butter, sour cream, Lawry's season salt, dry ranch dressing powder, or whatever else we feel like. See what you can come up with!
  • Stuffing: We've tried different recipes over the years and haven't found anything we really love. So we keep looking! This year, I'm making Trader Joe's cornbread stuffing--I'll probably add some celery, onion, etc. but keep it simple :o)
  • Fresh Cranberry Compote: I'm usually the only that eats this--no, that's not true. Bennett eats it, too... But I just have to have it on the table! It's so pretty, and I think it tastes good :o) I don't care what anyone else says!
  • Peas and Pearl Onions: This is a tradition from my mom's family. I hated them growing up, but now I will search far and wide to find pearl onions for this recipe. I basically just cook the peas and the onions according to the directions on their respective packages, put them together in a dish and put a little bit of butter on them. They're so pretty!
  • Corn: My mom used to make this Amish sweet corn, but it took a lot of time and I haven't replicated it yet... Our friends are bringing a corn pudding this year, so I'm excited to see what it's like! Otherwise, I might just leave it off the menu (way too much starch already :o)
  • Lion House Rolls: These are Jeremy's specialty! I just stay out of his way, and prepare to enjoy the fruits of his labors at the table.
  • Apple, Craisin & Feta Salad: I have to have something fresh on the table or else I go crazy. It's the mom in me :o) And this one is so pretty, it fits just right on the table...
***Now, I must explain the number of pies... In Jeremy's family, the Thanksgiving menu is not complete until there are at least 2 pies per person, I kid you not. We have scaled things back a bit in our family, but we still have way more than we need... Tradition!
  • Apple Pie in a Paper Bag: Always a huge hit... I can't remember a Thanksgiving without it. Just make sure you've got vanilla ice cream to go along!
  • FlyLady's Pumpkin Cheesecake: I've made this one every Thanksgiving for about 5 years now. It's really easy, cheesecake-speaking, and I love how different it is from the rest of the desserts. Best with fresh whipped cream on top!
  • Janelle's Toll House Pie: Our friend Janelle brought this one last year, and it will be joining us permanently from now on. Requires ice cream as well...
  • Sopapilla Cheesecake: This one is new to the menu this year. I might try it in a pie plate, as opposed to a 9x13 as the recipe calls for... We'll see how it goes!
  • Pumpkin pie: We haven't found anything that beats Costco's--for the time it takes to make :o) Anyone have any great ideas???
I hope this is helpful to you. Let me know if you'd like clarification on anything...

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Toll House Pie

Our friends brought this to Thanksgiving dinner last year, and it was so popular that we have decided to make it a permanent fixture on our holiday menu :o) Thanks, Janelle! It's a very simple recipe, so it's nice for Thanksgiving Day--and it's amazing right out of the oven! So just throw it in while you're eating dinner...

Janelle's Toll House Pie
2 eggs
1/2 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
3/4 C butter, softened (not melted!)
1 C chocolate chips (semi-sweet; milk is too sweet!)
1 C walnuts, pecans or almonds (optional)
*pre-made 9-inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 325. Beat eggs, add flour and sugars. Add butter and blend well. Stir in chips (and nuts if you want) and pour into pie shell. Bake for 1 hour; let sit for 15-30 minutes to settle. Serve hot with ice cream.


Pumpkin Cheesecake

This is one of my very favorites at Thanksgiving...

FlyLady's Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 1/4 C gingersnap cookie crumbs (crush about 20 cookies in a plastic bag with a rolling pin)
1/4 C butter, melted
3 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temp
1 C sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 16-oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, mix the cookie crumbs and butter. Press evenly into the bottom of a 9" spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300.

In another large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon and ginger on medium speed until smooth. Add pumpkin puree. Then add in the eggs, one at a time, on low speed. Pour into the cookie crumb pie shell.

Bake cheesecake until center is firm, about 1 hour and 15 minutes (perhaps longer, just watch it). Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours. To loosen cheesecake from the sides of the spring form pan, unbuckle the side and carefully remove.

Serve with a dollop of whip cream on top!

Sopapilla Cheesecake

One of Jeremy's favorite co-workers brought this in last month--his wife had made it and set some aside for us :o) Thanks, Stacy! We loved it so much, we asked for the recipe, and I've made it a few times already. Bad, bad idea... But it's soooo good!

Stacy's Sopapilla Cheesecake
2 cans Pillsbury crescent rolls
2 8-oz. blocks cream cheese (room temp)
1 1/2 C sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan with 1 can crescent rolls, pinching seams together so it's all one piece. Blend cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla till creamy; spread on top of crescent rolls. Put other can of crescent rolls on top, pinching seams together again. Combine melted butter and remaining 1/2 C sugar; pour over crescent rolls. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes (till top is brown and bubbly), then take out and let cool entirely. Best when served chilled, so if you have time to put it in the refrigerator for a while, do it!

Italian Wedding Soup

I made this for a little lunch I hosted yesterday... It's really easy and REALLY good :o) You can never go wrong with the Barefoot Contessa, IMO.

Click here for the link to the recipe at Food Network... Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brooke's Banana Bread

Our senior year, my friend Brooke compiled a book of recipes from women in the ward for her Laurel project. She gave one to each of us who were graduating, and I still have mine... It has been much-used and well-loved! I don't know who gave Brooke the recipe for this really yummy, no-fail banana bread, so she's been getting the credit all these years :o) Love you, Brookie!

Brooke's Banana Bread
1/2 C butter or margarine
1 C granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 C mashed bananas (abt. 2 whole)
1/4 C milk
1 tsp lemon juice
2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C nuts or chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and beat. Add bananas, milk, and lemon juice. Sift dry ingredients, add all at once, and mix till thoroughly combined. Stir in nuts or chocolate chips, if desired. Bake in well-greased and floured loaf pan for 1 hour.

**My favorite thing to do with this bread is to sprinkle brown sugar on top just before baking. It gives the top a sweet, crispy edge (see the picture above)--YUM!


For the last 2 years, I've been working hard to teach my Mia Maids (14/15-year old girls I work with at church) the value and importance of home skills so that when the day comes, they will be proud of their roles as mothers and homemakers. But in this day and age, it's a hard sell--so I've been easing them into it little by little... and what better way to start than with donuts! I had them over to my house last fall for a Mutual activity, and we had such a blast--although I was finding oil and powdered sugar all over my kitchen for the next month :o) Everyone helped out, and we had different toppings you could put on them when you were done. The girls were so surprised by how easy they were to make, and that they did it!

It's not something you want to do often (obviously!), but still a really fun group activity--whether for Mutual, Family Home Evening, or a day off school with the kids. Add some cider or hot chocolate, and you're in for a good time :o)

Here's the link to the recipe we used, but feel free to look around other sites and see if you like something else better. I just wanted to get the idea out there!

Easy Lemon Cake

I was trying to think of something to make for a get-together at my house recently, and my mom said, "You should make Grandma's lemon jello cake!" All of a sudden, the memory of this cake came flooding back and I knew she was right. Mom couldn't find her recipe, so I looked online and found that lots of grandmas used to make this yummy dessert :o) I found one just like my Grandma Gege's at Click here for the link, or look below for a couple variations... It's especially festive in the spring, but you can find a good excuse to make it anytime!

Easy Lemon Cake
1 box yellow cake mix (or use white for a different look)
1 small pkg. lemon jello
3/4 C water
4 eggs, well-beaten
3/4 C oil

Juice and zest of 2 lemons
2 C powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a jelly roll pan (I just use my cookie sheet with high sides). Combine cake mix and jello powder and mix to remove lumps. Add eggs, oil and water. Mix together till combined--but don't overmix. There will still be lumps. Pour batter onto pan (or sheet) and smooth it out evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes till toothpick comes out clean.

While cake is baking, mix juice and zest with powdered sugar till it's smooth--try not to have lumps. When cake comes out and is still warm, pierce all over with fork and pour glaze on top. When cake is cooled, cut into squares and serve with dollop of whip cream. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Homemade Oreo Cookies

Just a quick one tonight... We made these on Halloween and they were so yummy and so easy! You can change the color of the frosting to match whatever holiday you're celebrating. We're already dreaming about green (mint) ones for Christmas... Thanks, Lolli!

Homemade Oreo Cookies
1 box devil's food cake mix
1 stick of butter
2 eggs

Directions: Mix ingredients together. Roll into small balls. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. After cookies have cooled completely, spread frosting on one cookie and sandwich with another.

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 Tbsp butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

Directions: Beat ingredients together until smooth, and then spread between two cookies.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

That cool, crisp air...

It is definitely Fall here in Maryland--my FAVORITE time of the year... Honestly, I often wish it was Fall all year round. But then it wouldn't be special anymore--I know, I know.... But still!!! I will soak it in while it lasts, which is never long enough for me :o)

I LOVE pulling out the "warm" recipes when things start to cool off around here. Soups and breads especially... And anything goes if it has pumpkin or apples in it--I don't care if it's sloppy joes! Seriously, we went to a Pumpkin Festival when we lived in Ohio and had Pumpkin Sloppy Joes. They were interesting, I'll just say that...

Anyway, these are some of the recipes I've been making in the last couple weeks (or will make soon). Hope you enjoy them--and please leave a comment if you do, so that others know what they're like!

French Onion Soup

This one is on our family list of all-time favorites... It's Tyler Florence's recipe, so I take no credit whatsoever. Here's the link to get it directly from him :o) But just look at that picture--don't you want to make it right now? I do!!!

Chicken Chili

(from FoodNetwork's Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten--click HERE for the recipe)

My friend Janelle made this for us once when I had surgery, and Jeremy has requested it from her a few more times since then. Serves her right for being nice to us! Love you, Janelle...

I finally made it myself a couple weeks ago on a Sunday, and I tweaked some of the ingredients just for fun. I had extra veggies, so instead of ALL the peppers, I did half peppers and half zucchini. Bennett and Ethan gave me a fight at first, but once they tried it I didn't hear another word :o) And I liked adding cilantro instead of basil... And I used chicken thighs instead of breasts, and shredded the chicken after it was cooked. Make it your own, right???

PS: The picture doesn't nearly do this recipe justice. FoodNetwork needs to work on their photo skills...

Ruth's Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies

My MIL Ruth is a fantastic baker! She introduced me to these cookies soon after Jer and I got married, and I don't think I've missed a season of making them since. Actually, we usually make a few batches of these each Fall :o) Except I don't put nuts on top--my camera doesn't do food justice, so this picture's off the web...

Ruth's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 C butter
1 1/2 C brown sugar
2 eggs
1 C pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 C flour (or more)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 C chocolate chips (or more :o)
Cream cheese frosting

Preheat oven to 375. Blend sugar and butter. Add eggs and beat till batter is smooth. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and dry ingredients all at once; then mix till well blended. Stir in chocolate chips till well distributed. Bake for 10-12 minutes; let cool and frost. Best when warm :o)

Chantilly Farm Market's Hot Mulled Cider

I would take cider over hot chocolate any day of the week--unless it's mint, and then I'd have to really think about it... This recipe is from my days growing up in Virginia. I've kept it all these years for a good reason!

Chantilly Farm Market's Hot Mulled Cider
1 gallon sweet apple cider
1 stick cinnamon
1 pinch whole cloves (sorry, Dave!)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 lemon or orange squeezed into it--and you can float citrus slices on top for decor

Heat everything at least 15 minutes. If I'm doing this for a party, I'll often just stick it in my crockpot on low; not only does it keep it warm, but it makes the house smell great, too!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Easy Recipes for a Busy Spring

We have been so busy around here lately! I feel like we just run from one thing to the next, and I've been on more plane trips than I'd like... not much of a flying fan. Luckily, my sister has some really yummy, easy dinner recipes that she gave me a while back. I pulled them out last week and started going down the list! Jeremy has commented a few times on how good they are, so I thought I'd share... Enjoy!

Black Bean Enchiladas

This dish is kind of like lasagna, except Mexican! Lots of layering... And it can be vegetarian if you wish--just omit the chicken.

Black Bean Enchiladas
2 C. chopped chicken
2 T. chopped cilantro
2 cans black beans, drained
1 can green chilies, undrained
1 can enchilada sauce, red or green
8 corn tortillas
1 1/2 C. shredded cheese
16 oz. sour cream

Heat oven to 375; spray 11x7 pan. In medium bowl, mix chicken, cilantro, beans and chilies. Spread 2 T. enchilada sauce in bottom of 11x7. Place 4 tortillas, overlapping. Spoon 1/2 chicken mixture and spread over tortillas. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over mixture, then spread 1/2 the can of enchilada sauce, and 1 cup sour cream. REPEAT. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. Sprinkle top with rest of cheese; bake uncovered for 5 more minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Chicken Pot Pie

Up till now, I've been too scared to make anything like this! I am not good at crusts, and I can just see the whole thing falling apart in my head. BUT... once again, Annie has come to the rescue. I've made it on 4 different occasions now, and it hasn't failed me yet. Ask me if I care about using a store-bought crust!?!?!?

Chicken Pot Pie
1/3 C butter
1/3 C flour
1/3 C chopped onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2/3 C milk
3/4 C chicken broth
1 C frozen peas
1 C frozen corn
2 C cooked chicken, chopped
2 C carrots, diced
2 packed pie crusts
**optional: cooked, diced potatoes; broccoli, etc.

Preheat oven to 425. Make a roux (thick, white paste) with butter, flour, onion, salt and pepper. When it sticks together, take off heat and stir in milk and chicken broth, using whisk to keep it from clumping. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly (really watch this, or it WILL burn). Add peas, corn, carrots and chicken; pour mixture into pie shell. Top with other crust, pinching sides together--or use fork and press down to seal. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until top crust is nice and brown. 

Spicy Thai Noodles

This one is great either on its own or as a side dish. It would go well with my Teriyaki Chicken or Jennie Call's Sweet & Sour Chicken. Yuh-hum!

Spicy Thai Noodles
1 lb. spaghetti or fettuccine noodles, uncooked
1 bunch baby spinach (or regular spinach cut in half)
1 bunch green onion, chopped in 1-inch pieces
1 lb. cooked chicken or tofu (optional for main dish)
*chopped cilantro, optional

Cook noodles according to package directions. Combine sauce ingredients (see below). Pour sauce over cooked noodles; add spinach, onion and chicken. Mix well, top with cilantro (if desired) and serve immediately. 

1/2 C sugar
3/4 C soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/4 C rice vinegar
1/2 C olive oil
3 Tbsp peanut oil
1/2 C crushed peanuts

Chicken Fettuccine

Usually I'm not a casserole fan, but this one is definitely an exception. My sister says this is her signature recipe when she takes dinner to new moms, etc. and it's always a hit!

Chicken Fettuccine
12 oz. spaghetti or fettuccine noodles (broken into 1-3 inch pieces)
1 cup sliced mushrooms, fresh or canned
1/4 C butter
4 chicken breasts, cooked & cubed (I use canned chicken from Costco)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
16 oz. sour cream
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/4 C onion, chopped
1 C mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

Lightly saute peppers and onion in butter. Mix together all ingredients except cheese. Put in 9x13 pan. Top with cheese and sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover; bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Uncover and cook till cheese melts and casserole is bubbly. 

Baked Ziti Spinach Casserole

This one always gets rave reviews... One of my friends thought it came from a restaurant :o)

Baked Ziti Spinach Casserole
1 lb. ground sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/4 C pesto sauce
10 oz. ziti or penne pasta, cooked
8 C spinach leaves, stems cut off
6 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 C grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Heat large saucepan over medium high heat. Add olive oil; saute onion and garlic until soft. Add sausage; cook until sausage is no longer pink. Add tomatoes with juice. Cook about 10 minutes. Stir in pesto; season everything with salt and pepper. Lightly oil 13x9 dish. Combine pasta, spinach, mozzarella, and 1/3 C Parmesan cheese in large bowl. Stir in hot tomato sauce; mix well to combine. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese over top. Bake until bubbly, about 25-30 minutes.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

This one is more semi-homemade than homemade :o) But it tastes good all the same, so who cares?

BBQ Chicken Pizza
2 cooked, cubed chicken breasts (or canned chicken)
1/2 C fresh chopped cilantro
thinly sliced purple onion
BBQ sauce (we love Sweet Baby Ray's)
shredded cheese
pizza dough (homemade, frozen, or pre-made Boboli's, etc)

Spread a little BBQ sauce over pizza dough. Sprinkle enough cheese to the amount you prefer. Combine some BBQ sauce and cubed chicken, and put on top of cheese. Sprinkle onion and cilantro on top. Bake pizza according to dough directions. 

Teriyaki Chicken

This recipe is just about as easy as it comes... and I get compliments every time we make it! A great side dish to go with this would be Vegetable Lo Mein or Spicy Thai Noodles, and some edamame on the side.

Teriyaki Chicken
6 chicken breasts
1 cup ketchup
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar

Combine ketchup, soy sauce and brown sugar till dissolved. Pour over chicken--it's that easy!

You can change the measurements depending on how much chicken you need. For example, if you're making less chicken, you can just use 1/2 cup of each ingredient. Or if you are making LOTS, you can use 2 cups of everything! Then just throw them in the crockpot, or put them on the grill as breasts or on skewers. Have fun with this no-fail recipe!

Vegetable Lo Mein

This recipe is from a great book called "How to Cook without a Book" by Pam Anderson. It might sound counter-intuitive, but the whole point of the book is to teach you how to use variations on the same basic ingredients to come up with all kinds of different dishes. It's a wonderful resource--check and see if your library has it!

So... in keeping true to the book, you can change this recipe up--I've only ever used vegetables, but you can add chicken, beef, shrimp, pork or tofu (you'd cook it first before adding the veggies). I like to have Lo Mein as a side dish to complement whatever meat I'm using. You can try it with my Teriyaki Chicken or Jennie Call's Sweet & Sour Chicken...

Vegetable Lo Mein
2-3 cups vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces (I use any combination of broccoli, carrots, snow peas, mushrooms, bell peppers, etc)
1 onion, sliced into strips
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1-2 Tbsp soy sauce
2-4 Tbsp vegetable oil
8 oz. spaghetti/linguini/fettuccine noodles, cooked
1 batch of Lo Mein sauce (see below)
**toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Heat a large skillet on high, then turn down to medium and add 1-2 Tbsp oil and onion. Cook for a minute until onion is a little soft and slightly browned. Then add your vegetables, one variety at a time, and cook till crisp-tender before adding the next group. When veggies are all in, add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 more minute. Then remove from heat and put veggies in a bowl.

Next, put the now-empty skillet back on the heat and add the rest of the oil. When the oil is shimmery, add noodles and stir-fry for a minute till coated and hot. Put the veggies back in, pour Lo Mein sauce over everything, mix well till coated, top with toasted sesame seeds if you want, and serve immediately!

Lo Mein Flavoring Sauce
1/4 C chicken broth
1/4 C soy sauce
2 tsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. sugar

Honey Carrots

I am always looking for ways to spice up my veggies. Here are a couple of great, easy ideas from my sis...

Honey Carrots
6 carrots
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp butter
Cook carrots 15 minutes. Drain well. Add butter and honey. Mix well and serve immediately.

Party Broccoli

Party Broccoli
1 1/2 lbs. broccoli
2 Tbsp onion, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 C sour cream
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. poppy seeds

Cook broccoli till tender. Drain well and set aside. Microwave onion and butter for 2 minutes, then stir into broccoli with remaining ingredients. Heat through, but do not boil. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Some New Recipes...

It is that great time of year for one of my favorite food groups--SOUPS :o) I have a bunch that I've been making lately that I love, and I am happy to share... Enjoy!

Clam Chowder

This easy, New England-style chowder is my Grandma Verna's recipe, who passed away a few years ago, and I always think of her whenever I make it. When we went to Boston as a family back in November, we walked FOREVER to get to this restaurant that supposedly had amazing clam chowder. Jeremy took one bite and said, "This doesn't come close to Grandma's." I think it's the curry powder that makes the difference...

Grandma Verna's Clam Chowder
1/2 C diced onion
1/2 C diced celery
1 8-oz. can minced clams
4 C chicken broth
1 C diced, peeled potato (peeling is optional)
1/2 C flour
1 C milk
1 C half-and-half
Dash each of thyme, salt, pepper, & curry powder

In a large saucepan, saute onion and celery in 2 TB melted butter until transparent. Add liquid from clams, chicken broth and potatoes; simmer until potatoes are tender. In a separate pan, melt 1/4 C butter and stir in flour until smooth (this is called a roux)--do not brown. Gently stir butter mixture into soup. Add chopped clams, milk, and half-and-half. Stir gently until thickened, then add thyme, salt, pepper and curry powder. Makes about 6 servings.

**This recipe is great on its own, but also lends itself well to chives, bacon bits, oyster crackers--whatever you like on your chowda...

White Chicken Chili

This one is from my friend, Natalie. It's become one of our family favorites--a great alternative to tomato-based chili, which we love too :o) It's fun to play with this recipe, if you like to do that. You can add or subtract ingredients, depending on your preference!

Natalie's White Chicken Chili
1 Tbs. oil
1 lb. chicken
1 C chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 C chicken broth
2 cans canellini (or any white) beans
2 4-oz. cans green chilies
1 pkg. frozen white corn
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. cumin
dash of cayenne pepper
2-3 Tbs. lime juice
Toppings: cheese, avocado, green onions, sour cream, tortilla strips or chips, etc.

Cook chicken, onion and garlic in oil just till onion is soft--chicken will continue to cook in broth. Add remainder of ingredients; bring to boil and simmer for 15-30 minutes. Serve with whichever toppings you like!

**I like my chili a little bit thicker than how this recipe turns out. I like to mix together a little bit of cornstarch and cold water, then add it gradually to the soup until it comes to the thickness I prefer. You can do this with any soup recipe without changing the flavor or the fat content!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love throwing this one in the crock pot and coming back to it 6 hours later... I also like doing a combination of white and dark meat. Just gives some variety--chicken breasts can get really boring after a while, you know???

Chicken Tortilla Soup
4 skinless chicken thighs or breasts
1 4-oz. can green chilies, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 C chicken broth
1 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1/2 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 avocado, cubed
1 lime, juiced

Put chicken in crockpot. Combine chilies, garlic, onion, tomatoes, 1/2 C broth and cumin in small bowl; pour mixture over chicken. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours, until chicken is tender. Adjust seasonings, adding additional broth if necessary. Just before serving, add tortilla strips and cilantro to crock pot; stir to blend. Serve in bowls, topping each serving with cheese, avocado, and a squeeze of lime juice.

Tuscan Bean Soup

This recipe is great for a quick, healthy meal... It comes from an old vegetarian cookbook I can't find anymore, but I copied the recipe before I lost it :o) Smart thinking!!!

Tuscan Bean Soup
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 1/2 C vegetable (or chicken) broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 C small pasta shells (any small pasta works well)
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 15-oz. can canellini (or any white) beans
1 tsp. dried sage or basil

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot; saute about 3 minutes. Add broth and 2 1/2 C water; cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic, rosemary, and pasta. Cook uncovered for 5-8 minutes or until pasta is tender but firm to the bite (al dente). Stir in tomato sauce, beans and sage; heat through. Serve hot--pasta will soak up broth after a little while. 

**This recipe is wonderful with a little fresh parmesan on top and crusty bread on the side!

Ravioli Soup

My mom makes this soup every Christmas Eve--it's red and green, but more importantly, it's fast and easy on a night when moms have much more to worry about than dinner :o) We made this for our friends one Christmas, and now she makes it about once a month--proving that it's good any time of year!

My Mom's Ravioli Soup
3 C water
1 18-oz. can tomato juice (V-8 is great)
1 1/2 C beef broth
1 C sliced carrots
1 C diced potatoes
1/4 C chopped onion
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 15-oz. cans ravioli in sauce (my mom always uses Chef Boyardee)
1 bunch fresh spinach (discard stems first)

Combine all ingredients except ravioli and spinach. Simmer on medium heat until veggies are tender and liquid is a little thicker. Then add ravioli and spinach; heat through and serve with parmesan cheese on top. 

Black Bean Chili

This EASY one speaks for itself...

Black Bean Chili
1 lb. pork tenderloin, cubed
16 oz. chunky salsa
3 15-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 C chicken broth
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano

Put cubed tenderloin in crock pot. Add remaining ingredients; cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Just like with the white chicken chili, you can top this with whatever suits your fancy: sour cream, avocado, tortilla strips, etc...

Greek Salad

This one is from a friend from our BYU days. She and her sister-in-law were both in our married student ward, and they have a fantastic recipe blog, Edwards Edibles. Check it out for more good recipes, but this one caught my eye--and it's SO good.

The Ultimate Greek  Salad
6 Tbsp olive oil (or less)
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano

1 head lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
3 large plum tomatoes, sliced thin
1 English cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium red onion, cut into thin rings
1 small green or red pepper, cut into thin rings
3/4 C kalamata olives
3/4 C crumbled Feta cheese

Whisk dressing ingredients together till blended; season to taste. Layer in order (or just combine) all salad ingredients in large bowl; pour dressing over and either toss or leave it for everyone to do individually.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rhonda Shelton's Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is per the request of my friend, Kathy...

Rhonda Shelton was in our married student ward when Jer and I were newlyweds. We have no idea where the Sheltons are anymore, but Rhonda's cookies are legend... This is honestly the only cookie recipe I actually crave. You'll know what I mean after you try them!

Rhonda Shelton's Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 + 1/3 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1 pkg. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Blend butter, shortening, and sugars till creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add baking soda, salt, and flour all at once--you can add more flour if dough is too wet. Mix well, then add chocolate chips. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until just barely golden brown. Do NOT overcook--these are better a little undercooked than overcooked. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Mom's Famous Whole Wheat Bread

One of the things I miss most about home is my mom's freshly baked whole wheat bread. I LOVED coming home from school to that smell... I do not profess to be the baker in our household; Mom definitely did not pass that trait on. But she gave me her recipe and I'm trying to figure out how to re-create the scene--hope you can, too!

Mom's Whole Wheat Bread
5 cups hot water
1/3 cup honey
abt. 4 cups whole wheat flour
2 TB yeast
1 TB salt
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
more flour... anywhere from about 4-6 cups more :o)

Put water and honey into mixing bowl; mix until honey is dissolved. While keeping the dough hook turning, add flour until combined--dough should be very wet! At this point, add yeast and let that mix again for about 1 minute. Then add salt and oil until combined. Start adding more flour to the mixture until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl; the actual amount of flour you need depends on lots of factors, so just watch the dough until it comes away from the sides. Once this happens, put the top on your mixer and let it mix for about 6 minutes.

Once you've done this, my mom likes to just let the dough sit and make sure it's starting to rise. Once you can see it is, split the dough into thirds and transfer to loaf pans. Let sit for another little while, then cook at 350 for 35 minutes.