Friday, December 18, 2009

Chocolate Cover Macadamia Nuts

This is a great recipe that I found out there on the recipe blogs (I can't remember which one though! I feel bad.) It is the mix of chocolates that makes these chocolate covered nuts so good. Other nuts like peanuts and almonds would also be great. I used Ghiradeli chocolate chips because good quality chocolate really makes a difference when chocolate plays such a major role.

Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts

1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
3 cups macadamia nuts or other nuts

Combine all chips in a microwavable bowl. Microwave on 60% power for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave for another minute on 60% power. Stir gently until chocolate chips mix completely and are melted. You may need to put the chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds - 1 minute on 60% power.

Mix in nuts and stir to coat well. With a spoon drop small clusters onto wax paper and allow to cool completely. Store airtight.

Jann's Chicken Enchiladas

Thank goodness for my wonderful friends who talk recipes with me! When I visited my friend Jann a couple months ago she told me about this recipe and I wrote it down on a page in my planner. Well tonight I actually made it and it was SUPER good! I like it better than my standard sour cream/cream of chicken soup/shredded cheese and chicken enchiladas. The cream cheese makes it extra creamy. Thanks Jann for this great recipe!

Jann's Chicken Enchiladas

1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 cans green chiles
3 cups cooked and cubed chicken or 2 cans cooked chicken
1, 8oz block cream cheese
flour tortillas (I used 9 medium size)
28 oz can green enchilada sauce
about 3 cups shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)

Saute onion in butter until soft and translucent. Add green chiles, chicken, and cream cheese and heat through until cream cheese melts. Scoop mixture (I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup to scoop) into tortillas and roll up with a sprinkling of cheese. Put enchiladas into a 9x13 baking dish. Pour green enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and top with about 1-2 cups of cheese. Cover with foil (I spray the foil with cooking spray so cheese doesn't stick to it) and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook a few more minutes. Serve with sour cream and salsa if desired.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cherry Rice Krispie Cookies

For our Dec. freezer meal swap we exchanged desserts as well as dinners and this lovely cookie dough was given to me by R. and the cookies were so good! My kids all love maraschino cherries so they thought they were awesome. The crunchy rice krispie outside and soft inside make these cookies so yummy!

Cherry Rice Krispie Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup flour (plus 2 tablespoons for high altitude)
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
maraschino cherries, halved (red and green ones would be festive!)
rice krispies (1-2 cups)

Cream together margarine or butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Add almond extract and mix. In a separate bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until a smooth dough forms. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour (if the dough is too sticky to work with let it sit in the fridge longer).

Roll dough into 1 inch balls (I used my smallest cookie scoop to help me keep them uniform) and then roll in the rice krispies pressing the rice krispies into the dough. Press your thumb into the center of the dough ball, place a maraschino cherry half into the indent from your thumb. Bake on greased cookie sheets at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven, gently press cherries down into cookies, and allow cookies to rest on cookie sheets for a few minutes then remove cookies to wire racks to cool.

Favorite Ginger Snaps

This is the plate of treats that we gave to friends and neighbors this year. Santa Claus Nutter Butters, Rolo Turtles, and Ginger Snaps with a spattering of kisses and miniature peanut butter cups. I loved how wonderful the ginger snaps made my house smell as they were baking. I thought I would try a different ginger snap recipe that had a mixture of butter and shortening to make them not so flat and it worked. These cookies stay thick and chewy even when cooled. Perfect.

Ginger Snaps

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups flour (plus 1/4 cup for high altitude)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Cinnamon Sugar:
1/2  cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter and shortening until fluffy, add sugar and beat for about a minute. Add the egg and molasses and beat well. Stir dry ingredients into the mixture until well incorporated, then roll into 1 inch balls (I use my smallest cookie scoop to help me make them uniform in size) and roll in cinnamon sugar before placing on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until top is just crackled and barely set (they won't look all the way done, but if you over bake the cracks open up and the cookies are hard when cooled). Remove from oven and allow to rest on cookie sheets for 2-3 minutes, then remove to wire racks and cool.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chicken Pot Pies (Freezer Meal)

I doubled my regular chicken pot pie recipe and made it into a freezer meal recipe for my freezer meal swap group this month. I love this chicken pot pie. Ultimate comfort food. It freezes well. The best way is to freeze the filling separate from the pie crust and then actually assemble the pie the day you bake it - it makes a much flakier crust that way, but for convenience of the ladies in my freezer meal swap I did assemble the pies before freezing them.

Chicken Pot Pies (Freezer Meal)

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup flour
2 cans, 14 oz each, low sodium chicken broth
1 cup half and half or milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash (original blend)
4 cups cubed cooked chicken
4 cups frozen mixed vegetables (I use 2, 12 oz each, bags Green Giant Fresh Steamers Mixed Vegetables)
2 packages refrigerator pie crusts, or homemade pie crusts (enough for 2, 2-crust pies)

In a saucepan melt the butter over medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes, until tender. Whisk in flour, salt, chicken bouillon, onion powder, Mrs. Dash, and pepper until well blended. Gradually add the chicken broth and half and half, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened. Stir in chicken and vegetables. Remove from heat. Allow filling to cool.

Method I - Preferred Freezer Meal Method:
Divide filling in half and pour into 2 gallon size ziplock bags. Freeze each filling bag in a larger ziplock with a box of refrigerator pie crusts. Label with cooking instructions.

Method I Cooking Instructions:
Thaw filling and pie crusts in the fridge overnight. Allow pie crust to come up to room temperature. Line a pie plate with one pie crust, fill with thawed chicken filling, cover with the other pie crust, pressing edges together to seal. Tuck top crust under edge of bottom crust, flute edges, and cut slits in the top of the crust to vent. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and filling is bubbly. During last 15-20 minutes of baking cover the edges of the pie with strips of foil to prevent over-browning. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Method II - Pre-Assembled Pies Freezer Meal Method (more convenient for making, but results in a moist crust):
Line 2 pie plates (foil pie plates are available at most grocery stores) with 2 pie crusts. Add half of the cooled filling mixture to each pie and top with remaining 2 pie crusts. Tuck top crust under bottom crust, pressing together to seal. Flute the edges. Cut slits in the top of the crust. Place the assembled pot pies onto a cookie sheet and freeze solid in the freezer. Once pies are completely frozen, cover with plastic wrap and then foil. Label with cooking instructions and freeze.

Method II Cooking Instructions:
Thaw completely. Heat oven to 425. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until golden brown and filling is bubbly. During last 15-20 minutes of baking cover the edges of crust with strips of foil to prevent over-browning. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
**Will take considerably more time to bake from frozen.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cinnamon Apples

We had our ward Christmas party on Saturday and I signed up to bring cinnamon apples so I would get this tasty recipe. This is such a yummy side dish to go with BBQ - we had pulled pork and brisket as the main dish at the Christmas party! Yum! I'm making this again this week to go with BBQ pork sandwiches. And I can just imagine how good these apples would be warm over ice cream for a dessert.

Cinnamon Apples

5 lbs gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup brown sugar (you can use white sugar if you'd like a less caramely sauce)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 rounded tablespoons of Carnet Foods Ultra Gel (or you can use an extra tablespoon of corn starch)

Place apple slices and enough water to just cover in a heavy pan or dutch oven (I used an enamel covered cast iron dutch oven). Boil on medium high heat until tender, about 20-25 minutes with the lid on, stirring every so often. Pour out 3/4 of the water and put back on heat. Mix cornstarch and cold water and stir into the apples. Cook until thickened. Add sugar, butter and cinnamon. At this point I added the Ultra Gel to thicken it up more, but you could just add more corn starch mixed with cold water if it is not the consistency you desire.

Sesame Noodles

This recipe is from Pioneer Woman and it was a great side dish for the Teriyaki marinated pork loin that we had last week. It was simple and yummy - my kind of side dish.

Sesame Noodles

12 oz angel hair pasta
1/4 cup soy sauce (plus more to taste)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2-1 teaspoon hot chile oil (if you like zip go for 1 teaspoon)
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons hot water
3 green onions, sliced thin
sesame seeds (toasted if desired)

Cook angel hair according to package instructions. Meanwhile, whisk together 1/4 cup soy sauce, sugar, garlic, rice vinegar, sesame oil, hot chile oil, canola oil, and hot water. Drain noodles and put into a large bowl. Pour soy sauce mixture over hot noodles and toss to coat. Add green onions and toss. Add more soy sauce to taste and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mom's Fudge

Fudge! This is my Mom's fudge and I love it. It is a quintessential Christmastime treat and I made it last night for munching on as we trimmed our Christmas tree. Christmas music, ornaments, laughter, and fudge. Does it get better than that?:)

Mom's Fudge

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk (5 oz can)
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (my mom uses chips, I used 3, 4 oz. Ghiradelli semi-sweet baking bars, chopped)
7 oz jar marshmallow cream
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional (I left it out)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix butter, sugar, and milk. Bring to a full boil and boil stirring constantly for 5 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 234 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted, add marshmallow cream and vanilla and stir well (takes some arm strength). Pour into a 9x9 pan. Let cool for about 2 hours at room temp or until cooled completely. Cut into squares and enjoy.

Fettuccine Alfredo

This lovely lovely recipe is from my friend Jenny who got it from The Pioneer Woman. I made it last night with the tri-color Christmas fettuccine that I got as a present from a friend. It was so good! And so simple to make. Obviously this is not something you should have everyday what with the stick of butter and heavy cream and all, but once in a while this is a perfectly wonderful meal and my whole family loved it. We had it with Caesar salad. Mmmm!

Fettuccine Alfredo

1 lb fettuccine
1 stick of butter
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a sauce pan melt the butter in the heavy cream; season with salt and pepper. Put 1 cup of Parmesan into a large serving bowl. Pour hot cream mixture over the top of the Parmesan in the serving bowl. Drain pasta and immediately pour into the bowl. Toss a couple of times, sprinkle with remaining cup of Parmesan. Toss to combine. Season again with salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately. Top individual servings with more Parmesan.

BBQ Steak Strips

This was a freezer meal from R. in my freezer meal group and it was yummy and smelled so good as it was baking! Getting new freezer meal recipes is making me so happy! I'll make this one again for sure!

BBQ Steak Strips

2 lbs steak cut into strips
1 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry ginger
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar

Spray a 9x13 foil pan with cooking spray Place steak strips evenly in the bottom of the pan. Combine remaining ingredients; pour over the steak and cover with foil. Label with cooking instructions and freeze.

Cooking Instructions:
Completely thaw in the refrigerator. Bake covered with foil at 350 for 50-60 minutes.

Caramel Apples

These are so easy to make and probably one of my top ten favorite desserts. I love caramel apples! I love the ones at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, but they are expensive and you can only get Granny Smith caramel covered apples there. I think Galas or Honey Crisp apples are so much better covered with caramel. So anywho, I made these for FHE last week and everyone loved them.

Caramel Apples

2 bags caramel bits
1/4 - 1/3 cup heavy cream
chopped Heath or Skor bars, mini m&ms, or other favorite topping
5 large apples (I used Gala)

Heat caramel bits and heavy cream over medium heat until caramel is completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Dip apples (that have been skewered with popsicle sticks) in hot caramel and then roll in topping of choice, pressing into the caramel. Place on a parchment or wax paper covered cookie sheet. Let cool completely and enjoy - my kids like me to cut up their caramel apples into slices to make it easier to eat.

Parmesan Chicken (Freezer Meal)

This is a freezer meal from my friend S. and it was great! I baked it from frozen and it turned out great. The chicken was moist and flavorful. I'll definitely make this freezer meal again.

1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
5 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup Parmesan
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
2 teaspoons seasoned salt

Mix breading ingredients together. In a separate bowl, melt butter and garlic salt. Dip chicken in butter mixture, then in bread crumb mixture and place in a foil 9x13 pan. Pour any remaining butter over chicken. Cover with plastic wrap, then foil, and label with cooking instructions.

Cooking Instructions:
Frozen: Remove plastic wrap and foil. Bake at 350for 50-60 minutes.
Thawed: Remove plastic wrap and foil. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Serve over spaghetti with spaghetti sauce over all and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This recipe for hootenannies or German Pancakes is from my friend Cami and her way of cooking them in a mini-loaves stoneware pan is fantastic. They come out so fluffy and scrumptious. My husband said these were the best German Pancakes he's ever had and that is saying something since German Pancakes are one of his favorites.


6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar (optional)
1 stick of butter

Preheat oven to 350. Place 2 tablespoons of butter into each mini-loaf pan (I have the Pampered Chef 4 mini-loaves stoneware pan) and melt int he oven. Mix eggs, milk, flour, and cinnamon sugar. Divide mixture evenly into the 4 mini-loaf pans on top of the butter. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with syrup or jam and powdered sugar or pie filling and whipped cream.

* You could also cook this in a regular 9x13 baking dish and cut into slices to serve.

Bolognese Sauce (Freezer Meal)

This is a great meat sauce for spaghetti or fettuccine, but it's also great on pizza. I got the recipe from Clouse Cousins Cooking and love it! It makes a great freezer meal too so yay!

Bolognese Sauce (Freezer Meal)

12 strips of bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 lb ground beef
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1, 24 oz jar Classico traditional sweet basil pasta sauce (or other favorite brand)
1 1/4 cups half and half (can also use milk)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (+ more for topping individual servings)
1 1/2 tablespoon Carnet Foods Ultra Gel (optional)

Cook bacon pieces in a large dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat until browned and crisped. With a slotted spoon remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. Saute onion in the reserved 2 tablespoons of bacon fat for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add beef, salt, and pepper and cook until beef is crumbled and browned, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in cooked bacon pieces. Reduce heat to low and stir in pasta sauce, half and half, and Parmesan. Stir to combine adding Ultra Gel at this point if desired, cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour. Boil 1 lb of pasta of choice. When pasta is cooked drain and add it to the bolognese sauce stirring well to combine, let it heat through for about 5 minutes. Serve with Parmesan topping individual servings.

Freezer Meal Instructions:
Cook as directed above, simmering the sauce for 20 minutes. Let sauce cool until just warm. Pour sauce into a gallon size bag, get as much air out as possible and seal. Label with cooking instructions and freeze flat.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw sauce in fridge. Bring thawed sauce to a boil. Meanwhile cook about 3/4 lb pasta of choice and drain. Add cooked pasta to bolognese sauce stirring well to combine. Top individual servings with Parmesan cheese.

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

I LOVE this recipe. It's from Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame. I make it lots, but for some reason it's never made it onto my blog. Weird. These potatoes are fabulous with pork or meatloaf or well anything.

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

3 pounds red potatoes
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1 cup half and half
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cut up the potatoes with skins on and place in a pot add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer covered for 30-45 minutes - until completely tender. Drain.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment mix the potatoes for a few seconds to break them up. In a small saucepan, heat the half and half and butter until butter melts. Add slowly about 1/2 of the half and half/butter mixture, mixing on lowest speed. Add another 1/4 of the half and half mixture. Fold in by hand: sour cream, Parmesan, and pepper. Add the remaining 1/4 of half and half mixture if necessary.

Wallaby's-like Pulled Pork

We used to live in Utah and one of our favorite eateries was Wallaby's. They have fantastic pulled pork and smashers (mashed red potatoes). I decided to try to recreate a Wallaby's dinner for my family and it worked. I used my friend Corinne's crockpot pork roast recipe and it gave the pork just the right amout of sweet and savory-ness. I served the pork with applesauce and smashed parmesan potatoes. It was yummmmmmy.

Wallaby's-like Pulled Pork

pork shoulder butt roast (I used about a 5 lb roast)
1 1/2 cups salsa
1/3 cup brown sugar
barbecue sauce (for serving)

Place pork in crockpot. Mix together salsa and brown sugar and pour over pork roast. Cook all day on low, turn on high the last hour (makes it easier to shred). Take pork out of crockpot and shred it. Pour the juices from the crockpot through a strainer into a bowl. Put the shredded pork back into the crockpot and add enough strained juices to make it moist. Turn crockpot to low until you are ready to serve. Serve with warmed barbecue sauce.

Chicken Cordon Blue Stuffing Bake (Freezer Meal)

This yummy casserole is from The Sister's Cafe. My family loved it.

Chicken Cordon Blue Stuffing Bake (Freezer Meal)

2 packages reduced sodium chicken stuffing mix
1 can cream of chicken
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 lb. sliced deli ham, cut into 1 inch strips
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 - 3 cups cooked and cubed chicken

Prepare stuffing according to package directions. Meanwhile in a bowl combine soup and milk. Put chicken into a greased 9x13 baking dish (a deep one like for lasagnas would probably work best - I used a regular 9x13 pyrex and has some spillage). Sprinkle with pepper. Layer over the the chicken: ham strips, Swiss cheese, 1 cup of Cheddar cheese, soup/milk mixture, and the stuffing. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of Cheddar. (*At this point you can freeze this casserole.) Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Freezer Meal Assembly:
Layer the casserole as instructed above into a foil 9x13 deep dish pan. Cover with plastic wrap then foil and label with cooking instructions. Freeze.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw in fridge for at least 24 hours. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before baking. Remove plastic wrap and foil, recover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

BBQ Chicken Pizza (Freezer Meal)

We actually had this a couple weeks ago, but I finally put all the pictures from my camera onto my computer so now I can do the post for it! This was a great pizza and freezer meal from L. Thanks so much! Everyone loved it and since we have pizza almost every Friday I know we'll have this again and again.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 pizza crust (store bought or homemade - you can use 1 loaf frozen bread dough)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 chicken breast, cooked and cubed (about 2 cups)
2-3 cups BBQ sauce
cilantro leaves

Roll pizza dough and press onto a foil pizza pan. Spread with BBQ sauce, top with chicken, onion, cheese and cilantro. Freeze solid in freezer. Wrap in plastic wrap, then foil and label with cooking instructions.

Cooking Instructions:
Take pizza our of disposable foil pan and bake on a pizza stone or in a pizza pan at 400 for about 20 minutes (until hot and cheese is melted all over pizza).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monthly Menu Plan

You know what? I'm a month or 6 week planner when it comes to dinners. So instead of writing what we are going to have each week I think I'll do a monthly menu plan instead. So here's the dinners I'm going to make over the next 6 weeks. I always plan pizza on Fridays and "Fend for Yourself" on Saturdays which means leftovers, breakfast for dinner, grilled cheese sandwiches... something easy, so I didn't include those dinners in these.

  1. Ikea dinner - Swedish meatballs, boiled red potatoes with butter and salt, lingon berry preserves
  2. Chicken cordon blue sandwiches and a green salad
  3. Macaroni and cheese (freezer meal), applesauce, and green beans
  4. Taco soup and Fritos
  5. Sweet and sour chicken, rice, and mixed Asian vegetables
  6. Creamy chicken and wild rice soup and wheat rolls
  7. Light chicken basil pasta (freezer meal) and asparagus
  8. Pulled pork, parmesan smashed potatoes, and broccoli
  9. Chicken cordon blue stuffing bake and carrots
  10. Spaghetti bolognese and salad
  11. Crockpot pork chops and green beans, rice/egg noodles, and peaches
  12. Parmesan chicken (freezer meal), spaghetti and sauce, broccoli and cauliflower
  13. BBQ beef (freezer meal), au gratin potatoes, and corn
  14. Stuffed shells (freezer meal) and salad
  15. Tacos and salad
  16. Crockpot navy bean and ham soup and cornbread
  17. BBQ pulled pork, wheat rolls, chips, and applesauce
  18. Pistachio chicken pasta (freezer meal), pumpkin bread and mixed vegetables
  19. freezer meal (from my freezer meal group)
  20. Asian pork chops (freezer meal), sesame noodles, and salad
  21. Chicken enchiladas and corn
  22. freezer meal (from my freezer meal group)
  23. Sweet and sour meatballs, rice and carrots
  24. freezer meal (from my freezer meal group)
  25. Broccoli cheese soup and bread sticks or crescent rolls
  26. Spaghetti and meatballs and olive cheese bread
  27. BBQ pork loin, noodles or baked potatoes, and veg
  28. Chicken pot pie and peaches

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Feel Complete Now

I met the PIONEER WOMAN!!! How awesome is that! I went to a book signing for her new cookbook which is amazing, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl. It was so weird and to meet and talk to her and tell her how much I love her BBQ meatballs!! I am such a fan! And she signed my cookbook. Yay!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's My Recipe Blogaversary!

I have now been recipe blogging for 1 year! It has been a fun year and all my children expect the picture taking at the dinner table now. I love being a part of the food blogging community and thanks to everyone who tries my recipes! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I find out that someone has enjoyed a recipe from my blog. For the record I made Lentil Stew, Quick Bread Sticks, and Sugar Cookies to celebrate my little anniversary - all 3 are favorite recipes from this last year.

Quick Bread Sticks

These are fast and yummy breadsticks! We had them with Lentil Stew tonight and everyone loved them. I think I had to stop the kids after they had 3. My youngest thought they tasted like Wetzel's Pretzels. Yummy.

Quick Bread Sticks

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon instant yeast (SAF)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 cups flour (+ 1/4 cup for high altitude)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted (3 tablespoons for each cookie sheet)
about 2 tablespoons melted butter (for brushing tops)
garlic salt
parmesan cheese

Mix water, yeast, sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook. Mix for 3 minutes. Let dough rest for 10 minutes. Spread melted butter onto 2 11x17 inch baking sheets. Roll breadstick dough to about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thickness and cut into strips with a cookie cutter (10 strips and slice all the strips in half). Twist slightly if desired and place about 1/2 inch apart on baking sheets. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan. You can sprinkle with Italian seasonings too if desired. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. While bread sticks are rising preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Macaroni and Cheese (Freezer Meal)

This is a family favorite and definite kid pleaser! This recipe is for 2, 9x13 pans of macaroni and cheese or 4, 8x8 pans, so it's great for a crowd.

Macaroni and Cheese (Freezer Meal)
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
8 cups or 1/2 gallon milk (2% or whole is the best)
3 tablespoons grated onion
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2 pounds sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 pounds elbow macaroni, cooked, drained and rinsed with cold water

In a big stock pot melt butter and add onion. Stir till onion is cooked but not browned. Remove from heat and add flour and salt and stir until smooth. Over medium heat add milk in a steady stream, stirring constantly until thickened. It will talk a while for it to come to a slow boil and thicken, but keep stirring. Add cheese and blend well. Pour cooked and drained macaroni into pot and mix it all together. Remove from heat. This makes 4, 8x8 inch foil pans or 2, 9x13 inch pans. Pour into foil pans. Cover with plastic wrap, then foil (at least 2 layers), and label with cooking instructions. Freeze.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw for 24 hours in refrigerator. Bake uncovered at 375 for 30-40 minutes or until its hot and bubbly and cheese on edge is browned. If it is partially frozen it will take longer to bake through.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I'm reposting this from last year because I actually got a picture this year, but funny enough these comments I made last year still works for this year: We made these last night with the pumpkin seeds we saved from carving our jack-o-lanterns on Monday. I just loved the smell that radiated through out the house as they roasted away. Such a yummy snack! Nina would eat them all if we left them in her reach!!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups raw pumpkins seeds
2 tablespoons butter, melted (or you could use olive oil for a healthier version)
seasoned salt, probably 2 teaspoons (I have McCormick's Season All)

To prepare seeds you can either rinse them a lot and pick off all the pumpkin goo or boil them in salted water for 20 minutes (cleans them right up). After you prepare the seeds spread them out on a cookie sheet to dry overnight. When seeds are dry combine with butter and seasoned salt to taste. Toss to coat well. Spread the coated seeds on a cookie sheet , sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 300 for 30 minutes, stirring seeds around at least once while roasting. When they come out of the oven sprinkle them with some Kosher salt and there you go. I love munching on them when they are still hot. Mmmmm!!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Biscuit Topped Chicken Pot Pie

I really love my chicken pot pie recipe, but as luck would have it I had Pillsbury biscuits in my fridge and an idea. I thought I'd double the filling recipe for my pot pie, make half of it into a casserole type pot pie with biscuits on top, and take the other half and make it into a freezer meal casserole. I haven't tried the one that I froze yet, so I hope it will work out, but I did try the one I made the night of and it was great! I think my kids even liked it better than my usual pot pie.

Biscuit Topped Chicken Pot Pie

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup flour
2 cans, 14 oz each, low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup half and half or milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
about 1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
4 cups frozen mixed vegetables (I use 2, 12 oz each, bags Green Giant Fresh Steamers mixed veg.)
2, 12 oz each, tubes Pillsbury Grands Jr. Golden Layers Buttermilk biscuits (10 count packages)

Melt butter in a dutch oven or pot. Add onion and cook until translucent. Do not allow to brown. Add flour and whisk well. Pour in broth and half and half or milk and whisk well. Cook stirring until thickened. Add salt, bouillon, onion powder, pepper, and Mrs. Dash. Heat through and add vegetables. Heat through.

Grease a 9x13 baking dish (or 2, 9x9 pans if you are freezing one). Pour chicken mixture into baking dish and top with biscuits (9 biscuits for 9x9 pans and 15-18 for 9x13 pans). Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Cover with foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

**Freezer Meal Instructions will be added soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Egg and Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches (Freezer Meal)

My family loves sausage and egg McMuffins, so when I saw this freezer recipe on Real Mom Kitchen I was wondering why I hadn't made these before. These sandwiches are great for quick breakfasts and my husband likes taking them to work with him. If you have a little microwave egg poacher like I have they are so fast to whip up.

Egg and Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches (Freezer Meal)

English muffins, toasted
eggs (number of eggs depends on number of finished sandwiches desired)
water (1/2 tablespoon per egg)
cheese slices (American singles, cheddar, colby jack etc.)
frozen breakfast sausage patties (or sliced ham or cooked slices of bacon)

Decide on the number of sandwiches you'd like; you'll need one egg mixed with 1/2 tablespoon of water for each sandwich. I put all the eggs and water I need into a bowl and whisk them up to make scrambled eggs. You can either cook the eggs omelet style and then cut them into squares for each sandwich, cook scrambled eggs in a skillet and then pile them up on each sandwich, or if you have a microwave egg poacher you can pour a small amount of egg mixture into the egg poacher and microwave for 1 minute and 40 seconds.

To assemble place 1 slice of cheese on half of an English muffin, then egg, sausage patty (or other meat), and top off with other half of English muffin. Wrap each sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and label with heating instructions. Place all your wrapped sandwiches in an extra large ziplock bag and freeze.

Heating Instructions:
Remove plastic wrap. Wrap sandwich in a paper towel. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds on 30% power to defrost. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until hot.

Nordstrom Cafe Tomato Basil Soup (Freezer Meal)

This was a freezer meal from my friend K. It was delicious with grilled cheese sandwiches. Is there anything better than a new yummy soup recipe??

Nordstrom Cafe Tomato Basil Soup (Freezer Meal)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large carrots, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 large cans whole tomatoes with juices
2 large cans tomato puree
4-5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1-2 cups heavy cream
kosher salt (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into fine ribbons (optional)

In a large stockpot over medium heat saute the carrots, onion, and dried basil in olive oil until softened, about 12-15 minutes. Do not allow to brown. Add the broth, tomatoes, and tomato puree. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot. (Or you can blend small amounts of the soup in a blender or food processor and return blended soup to the pot.) Simmer over low heat. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Add the cream. Taste again and adjust seasonings if needed. Garnish individual serving with fresh basil if desired.

For Freezer Meal:
Prepare soup as directed above. Let soup cool. Put into a ziplock bag and label with heating instructions. Freeze.

Heating Instructions:
Allow bag of soup to thaw somewhat or completely in the fridge (you could double bag the soup or put the bag in a pan in case it leaks). Empty the soup into a pot and heat until soup is hot and steamy. Don't allow the soup to boil (cream in it can separate if boiled).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Here's what we're having this week:

Monday - Nordstrom Tomato Basil Soup (freezer meal) and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Tuesday - BBQ Meatballs, Individual Potato Gratins, and Green Beans
Wednesday - Chicken Lo Mein (freezer meal) and Carrots
Thursday - Chicken Pot Pie and Spinach Salad
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Eating Out
Sunday - BBQ Shredded Pork Sandwiches, Homemade Hamburger Buns or Wheat Rolls, Salad or Pasta Salad and Peaches

I didn't realize when I was making my menu that we are having BBQ stuff twice. Oh well. The meals are different enough that it won't matter. Stay tuned for those freezer meals recipes from my freezer meal swap - I know I can't wait to try them.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Easy Shepherd's Pie

I adapted this recipe from the "Cottage Pie" recipe at Eat at Home. It's a great easy shepherd's pie that you can have on the table in under 30 minutes. My kids all loved it (putting cheese on top helped out with that).

Easy Shepherd's Pie

1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped onions (I used frozen chopped onions)
1 jar Heinz Home Style Savory Beef Gravy
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
dash of dried sage
salt and pepper
1/2 - 1
2 cups instant mashed potato flakes
1/2 - 1 cup shredded cheese, optional*

Prepare instant mashed potato flakes according to package directions with the right amount of water, butter, milk, etc. (I used the Hungry Jack mashed potato flakes directions for 6 servings: 2 cups potato flakes, 1 3/4 cups water, 3 tablespoons butter, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup milk.) Set aside.

Brown ground beef with onion. Add gravy, thyme, sage, salt and pepper, and frozen peas to the meat. Heat through and pour into a casserole or 8x11 baking dish. Top with prepared mashed potatoes using a butter knife to spread potatoes over the meat and evenly as possible. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and allow to cook another couple minutes to melt cheese.

*If you leave out the cheese just dot the top of the mashed potatoes with butter and sprinkle with paprika before baking.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Crockpot Navy Bean and Ham Soup

Recently we ate at Marie Callender's and I had their super yummy navy bean soup (it's the Saturday soup of the day) and cornbread. I've been wanting to recreate that meal ever since I had it. SO. I looked at a bunch of different recipes on the internet and combined the ingredients I thought would make it taste most like Marie Callender's and also I wanted it to work in the crockpot. So here's what I came up with and guess what?? It totally tasted like the Marie Callendar navy bean soup. Awesome result. And it's a great healthy meal that my family enjoyed.

Crockpot Navy Bean and Ham Soup

1 lb. navy beans
3 cans low sodium chicken broth
1, 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
4 tablespoons dried chopped onion
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed bay leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 ham hocks/slices of ham shanks
1 1/2 cups diced ham (I used a 12 oz package Hormel diced ham)
3 tablespoons Carnet Foods Ultra Gel (optional)

In a large pot soak beans overnight in water making sure that beans are covered by at least 3 inches of water.

Drain and rinse beans. Put in rinsed beans in crockpot. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes with juices, dried onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves, garlic powder and cider vinegar. Stir. Add ham hocks and ham and stir. Cook on high for 7-8 hours. Remove ham hocks and discard. Whisk in Ultra Gel if desired. Remove about 1 1/2 cups of the soup and blend in a blender. Add back to the soup in crockpot to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste. It may not need any salt at all. Serve with corn bread.

Italian Chicken Crockpot Kit (Freezer Meal)

This is the freezer meal that I contributed last month at my freezer meal swap. My family really loves the Italian chicken and it worked out great as a freezer meal. Yay!

Italian Chicken Crockpot Kit (Freezer Meal)

5 frozen chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1, 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 envelope Italian dressing mix

Assembly Instructions
Place chicken breasts into a gallon size bag. Heat block of cream cheese in a large microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds in microwave. Combine cream cheese, cream of chicken soup, and Italian dressing mix with an electric hand beater until smoth. Scoop cream cheese mixture into a quart size bag. Put chicken bag and cream cheese mixture bag into a larger ziplock and label with cooking instructions. Freeze.

Heating Instructions
Place chicken (thawed or frozen) into crockpot. Run cream cheese bag under warm water until it loosens up a little and then pour over chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours. Break up chicken with a spatula and thin out sauce if needed with milk or chicken broth. Heat through and serve over vermicelli pasta, other noodles, or rice. (I always serve it over vermicelli.)