Monday, May 30, 2016

Zuppa's Garden Chowder

I love Zuppa's! Sadly, we don't live near a Zuppa's so I have to make my own copy-cat recipes and I think this recipe is pretty darn close to their garden chowder. My kids all love that soup at Zuppa's and they love this one just as much (even though it has zucchini in it - go figure). It is creamy and full of veggies. SO good! It's very much a summery soup. I served it with shredded cheddar on top and homemade bread on the side and it was a hit. I think my kids wish I would have also made chocolte covered strawberries to serve with it like Zuppa's - maybe next time!

Zuppa's Garden Chowder {Copy Cat}

2 tablespoons oil (avocado, olive, or vegetable oil)
3 small zucchini, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 can corn, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
6 cups whole milk, divided
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
3 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
½ teaspoon onion salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh finely chopped parsley (or you can use 2 teaspoons freeze dried/dried)

Heat oil in a large stock pot. Add the diced zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, and drained corn. Cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the veggies are just starting to caramelize a little. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the 4 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of the whole milk. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour, whisk and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the remaining 4 cups of whole milk. Bring to just a simmer, whisking constantly. Stir this mixture into the large stock pot of soup and bring back to a simmer.

Season soup with chicken bouillon, salt, oregano, Italian seasoning, black pepper, onion salt, and cayenne. Stir well. Add the parmesan and chopped parsley. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Allow to cook and simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Serve with more grated parmesan or shredded cheddar sprinkled on individual servings if desired.    

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Traditional Beef Stroganoff

Stroganoff is a wonderful comfort food dinner and this is a great traditional recipe. No condensed soups or ground beef in this one. It's tender sliced steak in a creamy mushroom sauce. My family really liked this meal (some of my mushroom haters picked out the mushrooms, but they still liked it!). I got this recipe from The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner cookbook and modified it just slightly. I served it with egg noodles and hot buttered peas and it was delicious!

Traditional Beef Stroganoff

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 lbs beef sirloin, cut into thin strips
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 cups beef broth (1 can)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons beef bouillon granuales or 2 cubes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup cream
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water
salt and pepper

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook and stir until soft. Add beef and stir and cook unitl browned. Add mushrooms, broth, salt, nutmeg, beef bouillon, basil, cayenne, and pepper. Bring to a boil and immediately decrease heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes uncovered. Cover and cook on low for 10 minutes. Stir the cream and sour cream into the mixture. Stir in the cornstarch mixed with water and cook for about a minute until thickened. Season with salt and pepper and serve over cooked egg noodles.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Kool Aid Play Dough

I love this recipe because the playdough smells good and it's so easy to make. I usually only make one color/flavor and my youngest has a ball playing with it for a long time. It's definitely my go to for those days I when I have something I want to get done (i.e. cleaning the house, laundry...) and I need to occupy my 3 year old for a while. Five minutes of minimal effort and this playdough is ready to go!

Kool Aid Play Dough

1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1 envelope Kool Aid
1/2 - 2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon oil

In a bowl mix together the flour, salt, and Kool Aid.

In a saucepan boil 2/3 cup water, add oil. Pour ever the dry mixture leaving a little in the saucepan. Stir and mix then knead with your hands until the dough is the consistency of playdough, adding more of the hot water/oil as needed. Its ready to play with immediately or you can store it in a ziplock bag.

Monday, May 16, 2016

My Favorite 100% Whole Wheat Bread

This is a fantastic whole wheat bread recipe! I was so happy with the texture and how light it turned out - whole wheat bread has such a tendency to be too dense. The secret it using white whole wheat flour (though you can use regular whole wheat flour too!) and vital wheat gluten - both help the texture to be lighter. And the flavor is delicious! There really is nothing better than a slice of fresh, warm bread with butter and jam. SO good! 

My Favorite 100% Whole Wheat Bread (3 Loaves)

3 cups very warm water
1 ½ tablespoons yeast (I use SAF instant yeast)
¼ cup shortening
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
6-7 cups whole wheat flour (I use white whole wheat flour)

In the bowl of a heavy duty mixer combine water and yeast, swirl the water and yeast together a little by mixing with the dough hook. Stop and wait for yeast to dissolve and froth a little. Add shortening, honey, salt, vital wheat gluten, and 3 cups of the ww flour and mix with dough hook until smooth. While mixing, add flour a cup at a time until you have a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead with dough hook on high speed for 5 minutes.

Remove dough and place in a large non-stick sprayed bowl. Cover with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, about 40 minutes. Knead again with hands on a non-stick sprayed (or floured) surface. Cut into 3 equal pieces and shape into loaves. Place in 3 greased 9x5 loaf pans. Cover loosely with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in pans, about 40 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until browned on top and bottom. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter. Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool on a wire rack at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Homemade Strawberry Jam

I recently got a free flat of strawberries (yay!) and I decided the best way to use them was to make strawberry jam. I really do love canning. It's incredibly satisfying to me. You start with some simple ingredients and jars and in the end you have homemade preserves to last your family for months. The best thing about this jam recipe is that it tastes SO good. It really tastes like fresh, sweet strawberries - so much better than any strawberry jam you can buy. I got this recipe from Pioneer Woman - her Food From My Frontier cookbook - but I also think this recipe is on her website. I use a propane camp-stove set up in my garage (with the door open of course) to can because it keeps the mess off of my cook-top inside and I find it boils the water in my canner so much quicker. With strawberry season coming I hope you'll try this recipe. Canning is fun!

Homemade Strawberry Jam
-makes 12 half pint (8 oz) jars

7 1/2 cups mashed strawberries (about 6 lbs strawberries)
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, strained
1 1/2 packages (49 grams each) powdered fruit pectin
10 1/2 cups sugar
12 half pint canning jars
12 new jar lids
12 jar rings

1. Run 12 half pint jars through a dishwasher cycle, without detergent. Leave jars in dishwasher until ready to use so they stay hot. Fill your canner pot, rack removed, with water and bring to a boil. While it is coming to a boil, follow the instructions below.

2. Bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer. Add the jar lids and allow them to stay in pan while you prepare jam.

3. Place hulled strawberries on a large rimmed baking sheet and mash them with a potato masher until they are mostly mashed, but you have some small bits/chunks left. Measure out 7 1/2 cups of mashed strawberries and pour into a large stock pot.

4. Add lemon juice, stir and bring to a boil over high heat.

5. Pour in powdered pectin and stir to combine.

6. Pour in sugar and stir and bring to a hard boil.

7. Boil stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and skim off excess foam from the top with a large spoon.

8. Using a canning funnel, fill hot jars with jam mixture leaving 1/4 inch head space.

9. Run a clean knife around the inside of the jars to remove any air pockets.

10. Use a damp cloth to wipe any stickiness from the rim and outside of the jars.

11. Remove lids from the saucepan and place on top of the jars, center lid, and screw on jar rings. Don't overly tighten the rings, just make them finger tight.

12. Place jars into the removable rack of your canner. Lower the rack in the canner so that the jars are covered with water. Make sure the waster comes back up to a boil, then cover and allow to boil/process for 15 minutes (at my high elevation - over 6000 feet - I process for 22 minutes). 

13. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the canner with the lid on for another 15 minutes. 

14. Lift rack out of water and remove jars to a towel lined counter. Allow them to sit undisturbed for 24 hours. You should hear the lids pop as they seal.

15. After 24 hours, check the seals of all the jars: remove the rings from jars and press each jar's lid in the center. The lids should be tightly indented and not give at all when you press your finger on them. Jars can be stored on your shelf, but once opened store in the fridge. If any jars have failed to seal, store them in the fridge and use right away (you can reprocess them, but in the off chance you do have one not seal, why not just use it first).

Monday, May 2, 2016

Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo

This Alfredo sauce recipe is from Olive Garden's website and it really does taste like Olive Garden's sauce. Yay! When I was pregnant with my second I craved fettuccine Alfredo like mad. I thought about it all the time and every time I had the chance to eat out all I wanted was pasta and Alfredo sauce! I now manage my occasional Alfredo cravings better and probably only make this at home once or twice a year, but oh how good it is and this sauce is perfect. It is creamy and coats the pasta so well. I served it with Caesar salad and garlic bread and my family loved it, me especially.

Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo

1 lb fettuccine
6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside.

In a large skillet melt butter. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in heavy cream, milk, Parmesan, Romano, and salt. Whisk constantly and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Stir in the cooked fettuccine. If needed add a little of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.