Friday, December 30, 2011

Stuffed Shells

1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained (I just run under warm water in a colander)
1 (16 oz.) container low-fat cottage cheese (2 cups)
1 cup part-skim mozzarella shredded cheese, divided
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 egg white
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
20 jumbo macaroni shells (for stuffing), cooked, drained and cooled
1 (28 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix spinach, cottage cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella, peppers, egg white and oregano until well blended; spoon into shells, adding about 1 heaping Tbsp. to each shell. Spread half the sauce onto bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish. Arrange shells, filled-sides up, in baking dish; top with remaining sauce and mozzarella. Cover with foil. Bake 40 min. or until heated through, removing foil after 30 min. Serves 5-6.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Herb-and-Garlic-Crusted Pork Roast

I came across this recipe in the November, 2011 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. I admit, it was a little bit involved, but after serving this to my family, I think it is, without question, the very best pork roast I've ever tasted! Brining the meat before roasting makes it moist and juicy. It would make a perfect meal to serve for company or for a special occasion. Seriously delicious!!!

Makes: 6 servings, plus leftovers
Prep: 25 minutes
Marinate: overnight
Roast: 1 hour
Stand: 15 minutes
8 cups cold water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 center cut, boneless pork loin, approximately 3 to 3 1/12 pounds

3 Tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil
4 slices Black Forest bacon or other thick-sliced bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces (uncooked)
1 Tbsp. apricot preserves
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh garlic
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs***
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. butter, melted

1. For brine, in a very large bowl dissolve salt and sugar in 8 cups cold water. Transfer pork to brine, making sure to submerge it fully. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 2 days.

2. Remove loin from brine and blot dry with paper towels. In a nonstick skillet heat oil, then brown roast on all sides, about 10 minutes. Set aside for 5 to 30 minutes to cool slightly.

3. In a food processor, puree uncooked bacon to a smooth paste. (This amount of bacon is necessary for blades to process. Use the remaining puree to make appetizers: spread on baguette slices then broil until golden.) Transfer half the bacon to a bowl. Stir in apricot preserves, chopped garlic, and 2 tsp. of the chopped rosemary.

4. Position oven rack in lowest position. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place cooled pork loin on waxed paper. Spread with bacon mixture. In a separate bowl combine the bread crumbs, parsley, remaining rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and the melted butter. Toss well to mix. Press an even layer of the crumb mixture on the roast (except the ends), applying enough pressure for the crumbs to adhere to the bacon layer.

5. Carefully transfer roast to a foil-lined baking pan or roasting pan and place pan on the lowest rack in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Roast for 45 minutes more or until an instant read thermometer registers 145°F. (If crust begins to brown too deeply, tent roast with foil.) Remove roast from oven, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes in a warm place. Temperature of roast will rise approximately 10°F as it stands.

** If you don't let the crumbs stale overnight, spread them in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan and bake, uncovered, in a 300°F oven 10 minutes or until dry, stirring once or twice. Crumbs will continue to dry as they cool.

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Okay, so I really, really love pumpkin. When I saw this recipe in the October, 2011 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I just had to try it! My kids asked why it was orange and were a little hesitant to try it, but they all liked it and my husband declared it his "favorite mac and cheese ever." It's a unique savory side dish or main course that I'll definitely be making again soon!

2 cups dried elbow macaroni (8 ounces)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup whipping cream*
1 cup whole milk
4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf sage, crushed
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs (1 piece of bread, crumbled)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon olive oil

Sage leaves (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta in a large pot following package directions. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot.

2. For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add whipping cream and milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese, pumpkin, and sage until cheese is melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. Transfer macaroni and cheese to an ungreased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.

3.In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, walnuts, and oil; sprinkle over pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with sage leaves.

* NOTES: I used whole milk instead of whipping cream and it seemed plenty rich and creamy and saved us a few calories as well! 

If you can't find Fontina cheese, try Havarti cheese instead.  They are very similar.

Homemade Kettle Corn

During the holidays, there are plenty of opportunities to cuddle up and watch a movie, or football or play games with family and friends. One of my favorite comfort foods is hot popcorn and this recipe for Kettle Corn is a new favorite at our home! Recipe from allrecipes, but I've adapted the directions a little, based on my experiences.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
Salt, to taste

Add 3 popcorn kernels and vegetable oil to a large pot (about 10 inches across). Add the lid to the pot and heat over medium heat until the 3 kernels pop. Remove from the burner. Add the sugar and quickly stir with a wooden spoon. Immediately add the 1/2 cup popcorn kernels and replace the lid. Put back on the burner and heat until corn begins to pop. Put on oven mitts and hold the lid in place while you shake the pot for 3 seconds, place on the heat for 3 seconds, then shake for 3 seconds. Continue, alternately shaking the pot and heating until pops slow. Remove from the heat and let the last few kernels continue to pop before you remove the lid. Sprinkle with salt and carefully pour into a large serving bowl. Makes 5 servings (2 cups each).

NOTES: We also tried this with brown sugar and none of us liked it as well as with white sugar as directed:)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Crumb-Topped Apple Pumpkin Pie

I LOVE Thanksgiving and am so excited that it's next week! If you can't decide between making a pumpkin pie and an apple pie, this recipe is perfect for you! I like the combination of 2 of my favorite Fall foods in one unique dessert! Recipe from Taste of Home.

1 sheet refrigerated pie pastry (I used my Mom's Pie Crust recipe HERE)
2 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1-1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
4-1/2 teaspoons cold butter
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts (I substituted pecans)

On a lightly floured surface, unroll pastry. Transfer pastry to a 9-in. deep-dish pie plate. Trim pastry to 1/2 in. beyond edge of plate; flute edges with your thumb. In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, flour, lemon juice and cinnamon. Spoon into crust.

In another large bowl, whisk the pumpkin filling ingredients. Pour over apple mixture. C
over edges with foil to prevent over browning, if necessary. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes.

For topping, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly; stir in walnuts. Sprinkle over pie. Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until a knife inserted into pumpkin layer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 10 servings.

Kathy's Coffee Cake

I had a brunch with friends this week, so I made my favorite coffee cake. This recipe comes from family friend Kathy Newton and it is DIVINE! I remember being giddy when Kathy would bring this over at Christmas when I was younger.

Cream together:
       1 cup butter or margarine
       2 cups sugar
       2 eggs
       1 cup sour cream (I use reduced-fat sour cream)
       1 tsp. vanilla
       2 cups all-purpose flour
       1 tsp. baking powder
       1/2 tsp. salt

Spread half of the batter into a greased tube pan. Sprinkle with half of the topping (Below). Repeat with remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining topping. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 50-60 minutes. Let cool in pan.

Topping: Mix well:
        1/2 cup brown sugar
        2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Shepherd's Pie

Mashed potatoes:
        2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
        2 Tbs. sour cream
        1 egg yolk
        1/2 cup chicken broth
        Salt and pepper, to taste
        2 pounds lean ground beef
        1 carrot, peeled and chopped
        1 onion, chopped
        2 Tbs. butter
        2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
        1 cup beef broth
        2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
        1 cup frozen peas
        1 cup frozen corn
        1 teaspoon sweet paprika
        2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and chicken broth. Add the mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are very smooth.

While potatoes boil, heat sauté pan to medium-high heat and add ground beef. Season meat with salt and pepper.  Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes. Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook veggies with meat 5 minutes, stirring frequently. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook butter and flour together for 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables. Stir in peas & corn.

Preheat broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Sprinkle potatoes with paprika and black pepper and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned. Remove from oven and top with chopped parsley. Serves 8.

Notes: I used yukon gold potatoes and 1 yam for the topping and we loved it! I cooked and then mashed the yam right along with the potatoes. Yum!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lion House Sweet & Sour Chicken

This has quickly become a favorite at our house. The sauce is delicious and it is super easy to prepare. 

6- 8 chicken breasts (or 10-12 tenders)
1 egg beaten
4-6 T. corn starch or flour
2 tsp. garlic salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. black pepper
1 c. vinegar (I use half apple cider vinegar)
1 c. chicken broth
7 T. ketchup
2 tsp. soy sauce

Method 1

Sprinkle chicken with garlic salt and pepper let stand for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 325º. Dip chicken in egg then in corn starch or flour. Brown in hot oil and place in baking dish. Combine sugar, vinegar, chicken broth, ketchup, and soy sauce. Pour that over chicken, cover and bake for 1 hour at 325º. Turn chicken once or twice. Serve with rice or quinoa.

Method 2 (I prefer it this way) 

If you are short on time or are trying to cut calories skip battering the chicken and simply put raw chicken breasts in casserole dish, sprinkle with pepper and garlic salt and top with sauce. If using this method add 3 Tbs. cornstarch to the sauce and cook for 1 1/2 hrs or until sauce darkens and thickens. This method is how it is pictured above.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Zupas Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup

My husband always gets this soup when we go to Zupas so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. We really liked it. It is a lot healthier than I would've imagined too (no heavy cream). Trick your kids into eating veggies, just tell them its cheese soup :) 

2 tablespoons margarine or butter (1/4 stick)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk (2% would probably be best but I use skim and it is fine)
1 can (13 3/4 to 14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth
1 head (2 1/2 pounds) cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup pepper jack cheese

In 4-quart saucepan, melt margarine or butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour and salt; cook 2minutes, stirring frequently. Gradually stir in milk, chicken broth, and 1 1/2 cups water; add cauliflower and heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes. In blender (with center part of blender cover removed to allow steam to escape), blend cauliflower mixture at low speed in small batches until very smooth. Return cauliflower mixture to saucepan; heat over medium heat until hot, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in mustard and 1 1/2 cups cheese until melted and smooth. Garnish soup with remaining cheese. Serve on its own or along side your favorite sandwich. (pictured here with ham and cheese crescent rolls)

Ham and Cheese Crescent Rolls

These are so simple and are great for lunch or along side a soup or salad.

1 package crescent rolls
ham slices
cheese (we like swiss)

separate crescent rolls. place desired amount of ham and cheese on crescent dough. Roll up and cook according to package instructions. 

TIP: Make these fun for your kids and let them fill their own. Add veggies, honey mustard, or sprinkle with poppy seeds. The possibilities are endless. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Cake

I love cinnamon rolls. My Mom and I have always said that if we had a last meal on Earth, they would be part of it. Believe it or not I have found something I love more...this cake. It has all the gooey flavor of a cinnamon roll with a fluffier cake texture, plus it is a lot easier to make than cinnamon rolls (no rolling pin required, yay.) This is great as a dessert but would also work for a breakfast/brunch. 

3 c. flour
1/4 tsp.salt
1 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. butter, melted

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Mix all the cake ingredients together except for the butter. Slowly stir in the melted butter and pour into a greased 9x13 pan. For the topping, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Drop evenly over the batter and swirl with a knife. Bake at 350 for 28-32 minutes. 

2 c. powdered sugar
5 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Pour over cake while still a little warm. 
recipe from Life as a Lofthouse

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Healthy and Hearty Chicken Quinoa Stew

This is another recipe that I've been making for a few years and I can't believe I haven't posted it here yet. This yummy stew is from my friend Jenny from Picky Palate. It's my favorite of all her recipes. We love it!

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups sweet pepper, chopped (I get the big bag from Costco, love them!)*
1 large zucchini, quartered and sliced (my kids like it better peeled first)
64 oz. (8 cups) chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, scrubbed and cubed into 1 inch pieces
3 Cups cooked quinoa*

4 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, shredded and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard*
1 Tablespoon Hot Sauce, I used Cholula (optional)
Kosher Salt, fresh cracked black pepper and Lawry’s Garlic Salt with Parsley, to taste
1 1/2 Cups fresh parsley, chopped

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion, celery, carrots, peppers and zucchini until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and tomatoes and potatoes. Increase heat to high just until broth starts to boil. Reduce to medium high and cook potatoes for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Reduce heat to low and stir in quinoa, chicken, dijon mustard, hot sauce and season to taste w/ salt, pepper and Lawry’s. Stir in fresh parsley and simmer until ready to serve.

*Alli's NOTES: To cook quinoa, use 1 1/2 cups dry quinoa and 3 to 3 1/2 cups water. Cook in the microwave (10-12 minutes) or in a small saucepan (20 minutes) or until almost tender. Quinoa will continue to cook when you add it to the soup, so it's best to undercook it a little.

I only use 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard and it seems like plenty. In a pinch, I've also used bell pepper in place of the sweet peppers.

The recipe says 8-10 servings, but it makes 12-15 when I've made this.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chicken Crepes

This was what I usually asked my Mom to make for birthday dinners when I was younger. They are SO good and work well for company or an elegant meal. This recipe comes from family friend Jean Hill. I just cut the sauce in half (the recipe listed below is my new change) because the original recipe makes oodles. I hope you enjoy these as much as we do! Pictured with BLT Coleslaw.
      4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

CREPES:  Mix in a blender until smooth:
      1 1/4 cups milk
      1 cup all-purpose flour
      2 eggs
      1 Tbs. butter, melted
      1 Tbs. sugar
      1 tsp. salt

Spray a non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and pour in about 1/2 cup of batter, swirling until it covers the bottom of the pan. Cook until it begins to bubble and carefully flip over with a spatula. Cook on the other side until edges just begin to brown. Repeat with remaining batter. Makes 12 crepes.

SAUCE: Mix in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick:
      1/2 cup butter
      1/2 cup all-purpose flour
      1 cup 2% or whole milk
      2 cups chicken broth
      1/4 tsp. salt 
      1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

      1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Lay a crepe down in the baking dish and fill with 1/3 cup shredded chicken and about 1/4 cup of sauce. Roll up and repeat with the remaining crepes. Bake for 25-30 minutes. 

Heat the rest of the sauce and pour over the crepes and sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese. Bake for 5 minutes more, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serves 6 (2 crepes each).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ham and Cheese Lasagna

This dish was in heavy rotation at my house about 10 years ago, then I misplaced the recipe. While looking through my file this week, I found it (I had ripped it out of a magazine) and was so excited to make this delicious and unique lasagna again. It's perfect for company because you can make it in advance and pop it in the oven when you're ready. The lasagna does need to sit for 15 minutes after baking so it sets up, so please keep that in mind. Recipe from Woman's Day magazine, 2/19/2002. Enjoy!

      2 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) condensed Campbell's Cheddar Cheese soup
      1 soup can low-fat milk
      1 can (14.5 ounces) no-salt-added petite diced tomatoes, rinsed and drained 
      1 Tbsp. dry mustard
      1 Tbsp. dried minced onion
      1 (15 ounce) container low-fat ricotta cheese
      2 large eggs
      1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
      3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
      12 uncooked, flat oven-ready lasagna noodles (such as Barilla)
      1 bag (16 oz.) frozen chopped broccoli florets, thawed, pressed dry on paper towels and finely chopped
      1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
      8 oz. thinly sliced deli ham
      1 (12 oz.) jar roasted red peppers, well-drained, rinsed and chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a deep 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2.  Cheese Sauce: Whisk ingredients in a small saucepan until blended. Heat, stirring constantly, until cheeses melt.
3.  Ricotta Layer: Mix in a small bowl until combined.
4.  Layer lasagna in prepared baking dish as follows:
  • Spread 1 cup hot cheese sauce over the bottom of the pan.
  • Top with 4 overlapping noodles
  • Half of the ricotta mixture
  • The chopped broccoli
  • 1 1/2 cups hot cheese sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 4 more overlapping noodles
  • Remaining ricotta mixture
  • The sliced ham
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • The chopped red peppers
  • 1 1/2 cups hot cheese sauce
  • 4 more overlapping noodles
  • Remaining hot cheese sauce
  • Sprinkle top with 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
5.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 50 minutes or until sauce and noodles are tender. Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 10.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Root Beer Float Cookies

We LOVE Root Beer around my house and when my oldest daughter found this recipe, I was excited to try it. Root Beer concentrate can be hard to find and is sometimes seasonal (Summer), but I can always find it at Wal-Mart, of all places! Recipe from 101 Gourmet Cookies for Everyone.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. Root Beer concentrate (aka extract)
4 cups flour
pinch of salt (about 1/8 tsp.)
1 tsp. baking soda

2-3 Tbsp. whipping cream
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Cream together sugars and butter until fluffy. Add milk, eggs and Root Beer concentrate. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour until firm then tool into 1-inch balls. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Frost with glaze.

*NOTE: I didn't have whipping cream, so I made frosting with 3 Tbs. softened butter, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 3 Tbs. evaporated milk and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.  

Lentil Barley Soup

I found this soup recipe at eatingwelllivingthin. *It's a vegetarian dish, but I added diced ham because I had some leftover after making my Mom's Ham & Noodle Casserole. It's full of veggies and good-for-you lentils and barley. Even my kids liked it! Pictured here with oyster soup crackers.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 carrots, diced
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken or beef)
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup dry lentils
2/3 cup pearl barley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste

2 cups diced ham (optional)*

In a stock pot, heat oil over medium-low heat . Sauté onion, garlic, celery, and carrots in oil until onion is tender. Add broth, tomatoes, lentils, barley, oregano, rosemary, pepper, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for one hour or until lentils and barley are tender, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup water or broth if soup gets too thick before the barley and lentils are soft. Makes approx. TEN 1-cup servings.

(Without ham added) Per serving: Calories 151; Protein 8 g; Fat 4 g; Carbs 13 g; Sugar 2 g; Sodium 355 mg

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies

I've made this recipe 3 times now. The first time, I followed the recipe exactly, but the middle fell and the edges were too crispy. I made it twice more and tweaked the recipe quite a bit and... voila! These are soft and bake up perfectly. It barely resembles the original recipe, but you know I wouldn't put just any mediocre recipe on here. No offense, Martha! :) If you love gingersnaps like I do, these soft cookie bars will make you smile! Recipe inspired by Martha Stewart's Cookies

Makes about 18-24 bars (depending on how you cut them)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (12 oz.) package (1 3/4 cups) white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9" baking dish with aluminum foil and then spray the aluminum foil with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, soda, salt, and spices in a bowl and set aside. 
  3. Beat butter, sugar, molasses, egg and vanilla in a large bowl until fluffy. Add flour mixture and mix well. Stir in white chocolate chips.
  4. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake until toothpick poked in the center comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes in pan, then lift tin foil out and continue to cool; cut into squares.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Garden Fresh Salsa

I know that I am a little late in the season for this recipe, but such is the business of my life! In any case, you can still get these veggies for a great deal right now, and the post will always be here for next summer as well!

I have been blessed with an abundance of veggies from my little garden this year and have tried a few different salsa/pico recipes in search of just the right combination. This is what works for me, but I must say that salsa is one of those very personal foods and we all tend to have different preferences. With that in mind, you could always alter some of the amounts in this recipe to fit your personal taste.

4-5 cups diced tomatoes- any variety will work
1 medium onion- finely diced
1/2 cup diced green onion
1 1/2 cups diced chili pepper *
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalepeno pepper**
juice of 2 limes
1-2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili pepper

*I was able to grow some "mild salsa peppers" in my garden that I loved, but I think that these are very close to a basic chili pepper or an Anaheim pepper that you can find in the grocery store. You could use regular green pepper, but these peppers add a lot of flavor to the salsa.

** The jalepeno is optional but it does add some great flavor and actually does not add a ton of heat. When I first tried it, I was worried that it would be too hot for my kids, but they liked it better than without it. If you have never worked with these peppers, just make sure that you wear rubber gloves when handling them and DO NOT touch anything (especially you face). Most of the heat is in the seeds and membranes, so clean them well for a mild heat and leave a little in if you like it spicier.

The key to his recipe is the chopping... and there is a lot of it! Dice all your veggies, and cilantro and save the jalepeno for last and combine them all in a large bowl. Add the lime juice and other seasonings and stir until well combined. Allow to refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving. Remember that this salsa will actually get more flavorful the longer that it sits and it will save for up to a week in the fridge.

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I am loving Fall this year! The cooler temperatures, the soccer games, the cute pumpkins everywhere we go, and the amazing colors of the leaves as they change. With all the Fall spirit in the air, I have been craving a good pumpkin chocolate chip something or other. I found this recipe and was thrilled! You only need three ingredients (that I had in my house all ready), 25 minutes to cook, and they taste just as good as they smell. Happy Fall baking!

1 box Spice Cake Mix
1- 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 small bag of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 muffin tins with paper liners. Combine cake mix and pumpkin in a medium bowl and mix for about 30 seconds on low speed and then for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Stir in chocolate chips (these can be omitted if you are looking for a healthier alternative). Using a large cookie scoop, fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full and smooth out the batter. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly and then enjoy!

** This recipe makes about 24 muffins but can easily be doubled. These muffins will freeze well and would make a great snack to pull out of the freezer and pop into a school lunch. They would be thawed and delicious by lunch time!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"A Man's Barbecue Ham Sandwich"

I'd made this several years ago and had forgotten about it until looking through a favorite cookbook recently. I write the date I first make a recipe and some notes in my cookbooks. This one said it was "a keeper that my whole family enjoyed." I made this again last night and it was even better than I remembered. It's perfect for a busy afternoon and will make your home smell delicious!
Recipe adapted from family friend Melanie Bills...

Mix well:
     1 cup ketchup
     1 cup V-8 juice (Spicy or Regular)
     1/2 cup brown sugar
     Onion & garlic salt, to taste
     1 tsp. Dijon mustard
     1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
     1 tsp. soy sauce
     2 pounds good-quality ham, slivered and finely chopped

Place in a slow cooker and cook on low for 2-3 hours. Scoop ham with a slotted spoon and pile high on toasted hoagie rolls.  Serves 6-8. 

Pumpkin Cookies

These are my very favorite pumpkin cookies! I make them with chopped pecans or chocolate chips, depending on what I'm in the mood for. Either way, they are delicious!
Recipe from my friend Linda Thorne...

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped nuts -or- 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Beat together brown sugar, pumpkin, oil egg and vanilla. Stir together the baking soda and powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt, then add to the pumpkin mixture. Stir in nuts or chocolate chips, if desired. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Pork Chops with Honey Yams

This is a meal all in one dish: Meat, 2 vegetables and a fruit. My family really likes this one! Recipe adapted from family friend Dorothy Brubaker...

1/4 cup flour
salt & pepper, to taste
6 boneless pork chops
1 Tbs. prepared mustard
2 Tbs. brown sugar
6 pineapple rings
6 green pepper rings
2 Tbs. butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1-2 large yams, peeled and sliced into 1/4" slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the flour, salt and pepper in a bag with the pork chops and shake to coat. Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and lightly brown pork chops on each side. Place pork chops in a 9 x 13" pan. Mix mustard and brown sugar and spread on pork chops. Place a green pepper ring and pineapple on top of each pork chop. 

Mix the butter and honey in a medium bowl and add yams to coat. Place yams in the dish around the pork chops. Cover with tin foil and bake in preheated oven for 45-60 minutes, or until meat is cooked through and yams are tender. Serves 6.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili Bowl

I found this gem over at skinnytaste. It's healthy and doesn't get much easier. It is definitely going to be a regular meal at our house. The husband was a big fan! 

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 16-oz can black beans
  • 1 16-oz can kidney beans
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 10 oz package frozen corn kernels
  • 2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 24 oz (3-4) boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • chili peppers, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Combine beans, onion, chili peppers, corn, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in crock pot. Place chicken on top and cover. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to crock pot and stir in. Serve over rice and top with fresh cilantro, cheese, sour cream etc. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Witch's Fingers Cookies

My oldest daughter and her friend made these this week to get them in the spirit of Halloween. They are delicious and would be perfect for a costume party! Recipe from

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole almonds
1 (.75 ounce) tube red decorating gel (optional)

Combine the butter, sugar, egg, almond extract, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat together with an electric mixer; gradually add the flour, baking powder, and salt, continually beating; refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease baking sheets or use parchment paper.

Remove dough from refrigerator in small amounts. Scoop 1 heaping teaspoon at a time onto a board that's lightly floured and roll the dough into a thin finger-shaped cookie. Press one almond into one end of each cookie to give the appearance of a long fingernail. Use a dull knife to make "knuckles" on each cookie near the tip and again near the center. Arrange the shaped cookies on the baking sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies are slightly golden in color, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the almond from the end of each cookie; squeeze a small amount of red decorating gel into the cavity; replace the almond to cause the gel to ooze out around the tip of the cookie.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

This is another recipe I'm re-posting with a better picture. It's an incredible recipe, so I hope you'll try it! My friend Karen brought me this soup after I had a baby 8 years ago and it's still one of our favorite comfort foods! Recipe from Karen Edwards. Pictured with Whole Wheat Dinner Muffins...

1 (11 oz. pkg.) frozen egg noodles (I ♥ Grandma's brand) 
2 chicken breasts
6 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes (or 2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules)
2-3 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 can condensed Cream of Chicken soup
3/4 tsp. dried basil
black pepper, to taste
1 cup frozen peas (optional)

Follow package directions to defrost frozen noodles. Set aside.

Place chicken in a stockpot and barely cover with water. I add a bit of dried onion for flavor. Cover and boil 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain and shred chicken and set aside.

Meanwhile, place 6 cups water and bouillon, chopped celery and onion and sliced carrots in a large pot. Boil for 15 minutes. Add defrosted noodles, taking care to separate noodles as you add them to the pot. Add shredded chicken, Cream of Chicken soup, basil & pepper. Return to a boil & cook for 20 minutes, or until noodles are soft. Add frozen peas during the last 5 minutes, if desired. Can add a bit more water if too thick. Garnish with basil or parsley. Serves 8.

Cranberry Chicken

I had posted this last year, but the picture was not great. I made this again this week and wanted to repost it... Just in case you didn't try it because of the picture! It's so delicious, elegant and easy. Recipe from Andrea...

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (16 oz.) can whole berry cranberry sauce
8 oz. (1/2 bottle) Catalina salad dressing
1 pkg. dry Lipton Onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 400° F. Combine cranberry sauce, salad dressing and soup mix in a medium bowl. Place chicken in a lightly greased casserole dish or 9 x 13" glass pan and cover with sauce. Bake for 60 minutes. Serve over steamed rice or noodles. (Pictured here with my favorite, quinoa) 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apple Cake with Butter Sauce

This is another favorite dessert for cooler weather. I made it yesterday for a baby shower and when I looked up the recipe here.... Gasp!... I hadn't posted it yet! It's full of apples and just tastes like Fall. Recipe from my friend Heather Fenn.

*February, 2012 update: I currently live at 5,290 feet above sea level and I've had better results with this cake when I bake it at 315 degrees F. instead of 325. It still cooks in about the same time, but doesn't brown as quickly and sets nicely in the center. I'd recommend that adjustment, especially if the middle is still wiggly at the end of your baking time :)

Apple Cake
     4 cups apples, peeled and chopped
     2 cups sugar
Stir in:
     2 cups all-purpose flour
     1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
     2 tsp. cinnamon
     1 tsp. salt
     1 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
Combine in a separate bowl, then add to the apple mixture:
     2 eggs
     3/4 cup vegetable oil
     2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.* Pour cake mixture into a greased 9 x 13" pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown and set in the center. Cook the Butter Sauce ingredients in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil and thickens slightly. Sauce will thicken even more while it cools. Serve warm sauce over warm cake. 12 servings.

Butter Sauce:
     1 cup sugar
     1/2 cup butter
     1/2 cup evaporated milk
     1 tsp. vanilla 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Crock Pot Lime Chicken Tacos

As the weather gets colder I seem to be using my crockpot more and more. There is something about smelling delicious food cooking all day that makes being stuck indoors more fun. These tacos are easy and yummy! 

recipe from Taste of Home

  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup chunky salsa
  •  flour tortillas, warmed
  • optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and shredded lettuce etc.

  • Place the chicken in a 3-qt. slow cooker. Combine lime juice and chili powder; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until chicken is tender.Remove chicken; cool slightly. Shred meat with two forks and return to the slow cooker; heat through. Stir in corn and salsa. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes or until heated through. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cheddar Ham Soup

My 8 year old son had to plan and prepare a meal for his Boy Scout requirements and he chose this soup to make tonight. I was proud of him for doing it all (except for chopping the onions!) It's a substantial soup that's perfect for a cold day. Recipe from Taste of Home magazine.

2 cups diced peeled potatoes
2 cups water
1/2 cup sliced carrot
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (optional)

In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, water, carrot and onion. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add the milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese until melted. Stir into undrained potato mixture. Add ham and peas, if desired; heat through. Yield: 5-7 servings.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cinnamon Batter-Dipped French Toast

This recipe comes from my friend Tisha, who has some amazing recipes on her blog. This recipe is like a mix between pancakes and French Toast!

2 cups Bisquick (biscuit mix)
1 1/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
12 slices bread

Heat griddle or skillet. Spray with cooking spray. Stir Bisquick, milk, cinnamon, vanilla and eggs until blended. Dip bread in batter and drain excess batter into the bowl. Place on hot griddle. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with syrup and whipped cream, if desired. 

Whole Wheat Dinner Muffins

I LOVE LOVE LOVE these muffins! They are whole wheat, but do not have yeast, so they are quick and easy to make. They are perfect to dip in a soup or stew or are delicious with butter and honey or jam. Recipe makes 16 muffins, but I got 21.* Recipe originally from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook, adapted by Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
4 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
6 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons butter, melted, or olive oil
2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
3 tablespoons sesame seeds for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease 16* standard muffin cups; fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping during baking.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl or a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the egg yolks, butter, buttermilk, and sour cream until blended. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture just until evenly moistened. Don’t overmix! The batter will be slightly lumpy.

In a clean bowl, using a mixer with spotlessly clean beaters on medium speed, beat the egg whites just until they form soft peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter until blended, again, taking care not to overmix because that will result in tough, dry muffins.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup nearly level with the rim of the cup. Sprinkle the muffins with the sesame seeds. Bake the muffins until they are golden, dry and springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the muffins cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins and serve warm or at room temperature with butter and/or jam, if desired.
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