Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My New Favorite Sugar Cookie

I thought my sugar cookies were awesome, well these are better! They are moist, soft, thick and have just a hint of nutmeg. I love them. And the dough was so easy to work with - a definite bonus. I think I'll make them from now on. I think it's that little bit of nutmeg that sealed the deal for me. Thank you thank you to Whitney at My Favorite Recipes : Tried and True for this winner!

My New Favorite Sugar Cookie

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 1/4 cups flour (+ 1/4 cup for high altitude)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and beat. Add vanilla and sour cream and beat. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Add to wet ingredients and mix until well combined.

Roll out dough on a floured surface to about a 1/4" thickness (I think I probably rolled it out a bit thicker because I like thick and soft cookies) and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. You do not want them to brown at all so they stay nice and soft. Let cool for a minute on cookie sheets then transfer to cooling racks. Once cookies are cool frost and decorate with sprinkles, candy, etc. Makes 20-24 cookies depending on size of cookie cutters. (I got 21 cookies with a standard size pumpkin cookie cutter.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Salsa Chili

I love my go-to chili recipe, but when I saw this one at allrecipes I was intrigued by the salsa in it. Honestly, you really can't taste the salsa all that much, but it turned out to be a really good chili that my whole family enjoyed. I think I still prefer my regular chili recipe, but this one was good too. Oh and this makes a lot - we had it 2 days in a row, so you could always freeze half to have another day.

Crockpot Salsa Chili

2 lbs ground beef
1 cups chopped onion
2, 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes in tomato sauce
1, 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup Pace Picante sauce or other salsa
1, 15 oz can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1, 15 oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1, 15 oz can chili beans
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 packets McCormick lower-sodium chili seasoning mix

Brown ground beef with onion, drain off fat. Put browned beef and onion in crockpot. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa, light red kidney beans, dark red kidney beans, chili beans, pepper, garlic powder, and chili seasoning packets. Stir well. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

* I served it with hot dogs, shredded cheese, and corn bread. It was a yummy fall dinner.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Here's another week of what I'm cooking for dinner:

Monday - Chili and Cornbread with Caramel Apples for FHE treat
Tuesday - Leftover Chili and Cornbread
Wednesday - Spaghetti and Salad
Thursday - Stove Top Chicken Casserole and Mixed Vegetables
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Ham and Cheese Braid (freezer meal) and Peaches
Sunday - Crockpot Italian Chicken, Vermicelli and Green Beans

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stuffed Shells (Freezer Meal)

We love this freezer meal! It has very simple ingredients but really tastes great and is an awesome freezer meal that reheats so well. I think I originally got this recipe from my friend Stacey. We've been in 2  freezer meal swaps together in 2 different states! I make these stuffed shells often because it's a great standby meal, you can cook the shells from frozen if you need to, and well it's just yummy.

Stuffed Shells (Freezer Meal)

1 package of jumbo shells (40)
4 cups or 2 lbs small curd cottage cheese (or ricotta)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan
2 eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups jarred spaghetti sauce (about a 28 oz jar)

Cook jumbo shells for half the recommended time on the package, until just limp. Drain and cool in a single layer on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.

Combine cheeses, eggs, parsley, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. To fill the shells I've found the easiest way is to use a standard size cookie scoop and place one scoop in each shell. Lay stuffed shells back on wax paper covered cookie sheets and freeze. Once shells are frozen put into ziplock bags (2 bags with 20 shells in each is a good way to portion it out). Put 1 1/2 cups of spaghetti sauce into 2, quart size bags and freeze with the bags of stuffed shells.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw shells and spaghetti sauce in the fridge overnight. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cups sauce on the bottom of the dish. Arrange shells on top of sauce and pour remaining sauce evenly over the shells. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Uncover and if desired sprinkle with some shredded mozzarella cheese and parmesan; return to oven for a few minutes until cheese melts. Remove from oven and allow to stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

*To cook from frozen: knead spaghetti sauce bag under hot water until it thaws enough to pour. Follow directions as above (just using frozen shells instead of thawed) and increase cooking time to 1 hour.

**This recipe either makes 1 or 2 meals depending on your family size. I do 20 shells in a 9x13 pan with 1 1/2 cups of sauce for my family of 5 (but I have 2 young children who don't eat a whole lot).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yay for fall and pumpkin treats! In my neck of the woods it really feels like fall - it even snowed earlier this week! So I made these cookies to celebrate the arrival of fall. I love this recipe because it uses oil instead of butter or shortening (a little less saturated fat is always a good thing) and it also uses a whole can of pumpkin (lots of good vitamin A). And just in case you're curious each cookie is 116 calories (that's bases on getting 48 cookies total) and has some fiber from the pumpkin. All in all I think this cookie is a good choice as far as cookies go and they are tasty, cakey, and good!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1, 15 oz can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour (+ 2 tablespoons for high altitude)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a mixer combine oil, sugar and egg. Beat together till combined. Mix in pumpkin and vanilla. In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and beat until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Drop onto lightly greased cookie sheets. (I used a small cookie scoop to make it easier and keep the cookies uniform.) Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. Yields 4 dozen smallish cookies.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This is my first "Menu Plan Monday" post. I love reading all my favorite recipe blogs Menu Plan Mondays so I thought it'd be fun to play along. Here's what I'm making this week:

Monday - Chicken Noodle Soup ,Wheat Rolls and Chocolate Crescent Rolls for FHE treat
Tuesday - Sweet and Sour Chicken, Rice and Asian Veggies
Wednesday - Italian Beef Sandwiches and Spinach Salad
Thursday - Chicken Pillows with Cream of Chicken Sauce, Rice and Quick Carrots
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Stuffed Shells with Spaghetti Sauce and Salad (A meal from my Freezer Meal Group! I'll be sure to post the recipe.)
Sunday - BBQ Meatballs, Individual Potato Gratins, and Green Beans

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chicken Ramen Stir Fry

I'm reposting this from almost a year ago because I finally remembered to take a picture when we had it for dinner last week. I usually serve this stir-fry with orange rolls.

I got this recipe from a a Young Women leader when I was 16 years old - that just tells you how long I've been obsessed with collecting recipes. I used to make this all the time for my family in high school and this was one of the dishes that I won my husband over with when we were dating. It really is a very yummy dinner and my kids all like it, well except for the zucchini in it, but I refuse to take it out because I LOVE zucchini.

Chicken Ramen Stir Fry

3 raw boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
3-4 carrots, sliced thinly
1/2 onion, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
2 c. broccoli florets
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
small amount of vegetable or canola oil
2 packages chicken Top Ramen (flavor packets reserved and noodles broken up)

Heat oil in a large deep skillet or wok. When oil is hot add the chicken and stir fry until mostly cooked through. Then add in order: onions, garlic, carrots, broccoli, and zucchini. Let each vegetable cook a few minutes before adding the next (carrots need a little longer). Drizzle 2 tablespoons of soy sauce over the cooked meat and vegetables. Mix chicken broth, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, cornstarch, and flavoring packets from the Ramen noodles. Pour this mixture over the chicken and vegetables. Add broken up Ramen noodles. Bring mixture to a boil, turn heat down to medium and cover and cook for 3 minutes. Stir and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, until noodles are all the way cooked.

Beef Stew

This is a fan-tab-ulous beef stew! I got the recipe from my new favorite cookbook, The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook - all the recipes I have tried so far have been great! This stew is hearty and flavorful!

Beef Stew

1, 3 lb boneless beef chuck roast, cubed
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped finely
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon crushed bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 lbs red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 1/2" cubes
4 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup frozen peas

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.

To cube the roast, pull apart the meat at its major seams then use a sharp knife to trim off excess fat and silver skin; cut the meat into 1 1/2" cubes. Dry beef cubes with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large dutch oven (I used a 6 qt. enamel covered cast iron dutch oven) over medium high heat. When oil is hot add half of the beef cubes. Brown meat well (about 10 minutes) then remove meat to a bowl. Heat another 1 tablespoon of oil and repeat with remaining meat. Remove meat and juices to a bowl and set aside.

Heat the last tablespoon of oil in pot. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth and stir scraping up any browned bits. Stir in remaining 2 cups of broth, worchestershire, bouillon granules, crushed bay leaves, and thyme. Stir in beef cubes along with any accumulated juices. Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer the pot to the oven. Cook for 1 hour.

Stir in potatoes and carrots. Cover and cook for an additional 1 hour and 30 minutes. Take out of oven, stir in peas, and allow stew to sit with it's lid on for 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ginger Snaps

This recipe is from my friend Sadie and I made them tonight for a primary pioneer activity tomorrow. They are soft and chewy with a nice crispy outside. Great with a glass of milk! I'm going to keep these in mind for cold wintry days in the months ahead. They are so tasty!

Ginger Snaps

1 1/2 cups butter, softened (can also use shortening or butter flavored shortening)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cups molasses
4 cups flour (I think I might add 1/4 cup next time for high altitude)
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoon cinnamon
about 2 cups sugar to roll dough balls in

Preheat oven to 325.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs; mix. Add molasses; mix. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and beat until combined. Take 2 teaspoons of dough, roll into a ball and roll ball in sugar. Repeat over and over. Place dough balls on greased cookie sheets. (They spread out so do 4 rows of 3 for a standard size cookie sheet.) Bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes. Cookies are done when the top has cracks in it. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes then when cookies are able to transfer put them on cooling racks. 1 batch = 50 cookies

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

This is a scrumptious classic comfort food dish. I love the filling of this pot pie! Creamy. Delicious. Everyone happy at dinner. What more can you ask for?!

Chicken Pot Pie

1 box Pillsbury pie crusts, thawed if frozen and allowed to come to room temperature (2 rolls of pie crust for 1, 9", 2-crust pie)
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can, 14oz, chicken broth
1/2 cup half and half or milk
2 1/2 cups cooked and shredded or chopped chicken
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed (I used a 12 oz bag of Green Giant Fresh Steamers mixed vegetables)
1 egg
about 2 tablespoons water

Heat oven to 425.

In a saucepan melt butter over medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes, until tender. Whisk in flour, salt, chicken bouillon granules, 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.

Line a 9" pie plate with one of the crusts. Pour chicken mixture into the crust. Top with second crust, seal edges and flute. Cut slits in several places in the top of the crust. In a small bowl combine egg and water and beat to make an egg wash. Brush egg wash over the top crust. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. During last 15-20 minutes of baking cover the edge of the crust with strips of foil to prevent over-browning. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

I'm so bummed I didn't get a picture of it before we cut into it! It was so much prettier!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Freezer Peaches

I love home canned peaches. Nothing compares! But I haven't canned peaches in years because it's so time consuming (and I don't actually own all the canning supplies - last time I canned peaches with about 6 years ago with a group of friends). I've found that freezing peaches is a great way preserve peaches without all the mess and freezer peaches are nearly as good (not as good surely but a close second and way better than canned or frozen peaches you buy at the store). All you have to do is thaw a bag and there you go, fresh peaches with dinner. My son could eat bowl after bowl...

Freezer Peaches

peaches - blanched, peeled, pitted and sliced
Fruit Fresh powder - 1 tablespoon for each quart of sliced peaches
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar for each quart of sliced peaches depending on the sweetness desired

Blanche peaches in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove peaches and place in a big bowl of cold water. Slice the peaches in half, take out the pits, then peel off the skins and cut into slices. Place peach slices into a large pitcher with measurements on the side (so you'll know how many quarts of peaches you end up with). After all peaches are prepared and you've measured to see how many quarts you have, put peaches into a large bowl. Add Fruit Fresh and sugar according to how many quarts of peaches. Mix in the Fruit Fresh powder and sugar gently until sugar dissolves. Place peach mixture into quart size ziplock bags (I put 2 heaping cupfuls into each bag).

Amounts/Measurements I used today:
6 lbs ripe peaches (this yielded about 2 1/2 quarts of sliced peaches)
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons Fruit Fresh powder

Prepared this made 3 quart size bags of peaches for me so I guess that's about 2 lbs of fruit per bag. I hope to make it to the farmers market this weekend to get some more - the peaches are gorgeous and sweet right now!