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. 

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