"It's the company, not the cooking, that makes the meal!" ~Perilee 
(Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup (Nicole Hendershot via Girlfriends Kitchen Group)

I got this recipe from a good friend Nicole in our month Girlfriends Kitchen group I recently started up.  I started this group for many reasons 1- to get out of the house and have lunch with friends and 2- to exchange menu ideas to help me get out of a funk I was in.  It has proven to be meeting both of those needs.  This recipe got 5 stars from all but one of my kids whom gave it a 4.5 so you know it is now one of our favorites! I love that there is no pre-cooking, just open the cans and pour everything in. The *'s are what I did for our adaptations.

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (I usually put in about 8 tenders) 
     *I used a 1 lb. breast meat that I diced into small pieces while frozen
1 (15oz) can crushed tomatoes *I used a can of petite diced tomatoes with chiles
1 (10oz) can enchilada sauce
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles *I eliminated this because I used the tomatoes w/chiles
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. onion powder (or you can put in real onions) *I used 1 cup sweet onions, diced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 bay leaf
1 can black beans
1 package frozen corn (Nicole usually just put in one can of corn) 

      *I used half a bag of frozen corn so roughly 8 oz.
1 TBSP. chopped cilantro (I don't add this).

Directions: Pour all ingredients in slow cooker and cover and cook on high 2-3 hours until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and shred then place back into cooker. Continue cooking on high 1-2 hours. Remove bay leaf before eating. (Nicole usually just cooks it until everything is done and shred the chicken and put it back in and eat it right away) Top with crushed tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream. She also suggest trying it with fresh diced onions and avocado on top! 

Love avocados in any Mexican flavored soups! Thanks for sharing this amazing soup recipe with us Nicole!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Photo to be added soon :-)
Found this recipe on pintrest. My family is in love with it! These remind me of a caramel version of our much beloved "Fudge Nut Bars".  I have waited a long time to try this and it was well worth the wait.  You can see the original recipe on Averie Cooks below I listed the way I adapted it for a larger pan- we always need larger than an 8x8 for family dinners! This Quick and simple layered bar cookie.  The crust and topping are an sweet brown sugar, vanilla (heavy on the vanilla), oatmeal and flour mixture. The middle there's layers of rich chocolate and caramel sauce. This cookie is chewy and just oozing with caramel. We served it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and they are a match made in heaven.  Averie suggested that "You can add salt, to taste, to the caramel sauce for salted carmelitas" I chose to add a little kosher salt and loved it. You must let these bars set up for at least 4 hours before slicing or even overnight. I put mine in the fridge to help with the set up time too. These got rave reviews and 5 stars from all.

1  cup margarine, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cup whole-rolled old fashioned oats (not instant or quick cook)
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, optional and to taste
58 caramel squares, unwrapped (I used one bag Kraft caramels) 
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste, if you prefer salted caramel sauce
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 11.5 x 13.5-inch pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Lining your pan is highly recommended for ease of cleanup due to the stickiness of the caramel; set pan aside..
2 Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
3 Add the flour, oats, baking soda, optional pinch salt, and stir until combined. Mixture will be quite thick.
4 Add half of the mixture to the prepared pan (just eyeball it), and smooth it with spatula or the back of a spoon, to create an even, smooth, flat layer; set remainder aside.
5 Bake for 10 minutes. While it bakes, make the caramel sauce.
6 In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl or in a sauce pan. For the microwave: combine the caramels, cream, and heat on high power in 60-second bursts to melt caramels, stirring after each burst. It will likely take about 4 to 5 minutes total to melt; heat until mixture can be stirred smooth. Alternatively, combine caramels and cream in a medium saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat to melt, stirring nearly continuously, until mixture can be stirred smooth.
7 Optionally stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste, for salted caramel sauce; set sauce aside.
8 After 10 minutes, remove pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle with the chocolate.
9 Slowly and evenly pour caramel sauce over the chocolate.
10 Evenly crumble reserved oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top.
11 Return pan to oven and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes (I baked 16 1/2), or until edges are lightly browned and center is bubbling slightly.
12 Allow bars to cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving, giving the molten caramel time to firm up. This can take up to 4 hours, or overnight, at room temperature. You can speed it up by placing pan in fridge with a sheet of foil over the top to prevent fridge smells. If you don't wait for bars to cool completely, they'll be a literal hot mess. They'll taste fine (don't burn yourself), but they won't slice neatly with clean cuts. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Salted Caramel Pecan Bars

Something fun, quick, easy, and tasty for a quick dessert.

Salted Caramel Pecan Bars
Makes 4 dozen. From Southern Living

1 cup chopped pecans
12 Whole graham crackers
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons Whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a single later in a shallow pan 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Stirring halfway through.

Line a 15 x 10-inch jellyroll pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper; lightly grease.  Arrange graham crackers in a single layer in prepared pan, slightly overlapping edges.

Combine sugar, butter, and cream in a medium-size heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.  and stir in vanilla and pecans. Pour butter mixture over crackers, spreading to coat.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 11 minutes or until lightly brown and bubbly.

Immediately sprinkle with salt, and slide foil/paper from pan onto a wire rack.  Cool completely (about 30 minutes). With a knife, cut bars.

**Chocolate-Peacan-Carmamel variation: Prepare recipe as directed until removal from oven. Once removed from oven, top warm bars with 1 cup dark chocolate morsels. Let stand 3 minutes, spread chocolate over bars, then sprinkle with salt and proceed with recipe as directed. Chill 20 minutes before serving.

** Our favorite (Tried this recipe out during Christmas 2014 season.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cinnamon Churro Chex Mix Treat

I saw these on pintrest and they sparked my interest as a fun treat. At my house Muddy Buddies or AKA Puppy Chow or many other names are beloved and evil all at the same time.  My favorite is still the original Muddy Buddy flavors, but it didn't take long for these little munchies to disappear either.  

Cinnamon Churro Chex Mix 

9 cups rice Chex cereal
3 cups cinnamon chips
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Pour Chex cereal into a bowl. Set aside. Combine sugars and cinnamon in another small bowl. Set aside.

In a microwavable bowl, melt the cinnamon chips. Heat for 1 minute then stir. Heat for an additional 30 seconds. Stir. Continue with additional 30 seconds until completely melted. Pour melted cinnamon chips over the cereal. Stir until cereal is well coated.

Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Toss to coat. Pour out the cereal onto a cookie sheet. Continue to sprinkle and toss the cereal with the rest of the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Pan-Seared Five-Spice Tilapia with Hot Orange-Ginger Sauce

Recently I snatched a few free Cuisine at Home magazines from the Library.  I found a Tilapia recipe I wanted to try, weeks went by and I kept looking at it thinking I am going to make a menu this week, then the week would pass. Finally, I did it. It was scrumptious! A new 5 Star recipe at my home to add to the "fish" file.  Jack gave it 5 stars the kids agreed with lots of "yummy" and "MMMmmm's".

I have to post it soon, so that when I go to Utah soon I can make my parents a special dinner as a belated anniversary present.  It had a salad that went with it. I did not try it that evening but think I will include it here as a resource for a side for the next time around.

Mom! I think you are going to love this!

Pan-Seared Five-Spice Tilapia with Hot Orange-Ginger Sauce
Source: Cuisine at Home Issue no. 73 February 2009, p 35
Yields 4 servings       Total time 15 minutes

Five-Spice Tilapia

1/2 tsp. Chinese Five-Spice Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil, divided
1 lb. Tilapia Fillets (4-6)
2 Tbsp. minced Scallions (I had to omit because I didn't have them on hand)

Mix five-spice powder, salt, cayenne pepper with 2 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl.
Pat fillets dry, brush both sides with spice mixture. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high hear until skillet is lightly smoking.  Add fillets; sauce 3 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with scallions. Serve with Hot Orange-Ginger Sauce.

Per serving 201 cal; 13g total fat (2g sat) 57 mg chol; 1 g carb; 205 mg sodium; 0g fiber, 23 g protien

Hot Orange-Ginger Sauce
-Vary the amount of red pepper flakes to adjust the heat of the sauce to your liking.
Makes 1/3 cup ; Total time 10 minutes

1/4 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (I used mixed from concentrate)
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt to taste

Whisk marmalade, orange juice, vinegar, ginger root, and pepper flakes together in a small bowl.

Saute garlic in sauce pan with oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add marmalade mixture and simmer, stirring continuously, until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt

Mandarin Spinach Salad
This colorful Asian salad can be garnished with store-bought chow mien noodles or homemade fried wonton strips.

Makes 8 cups (4 servings) Total time 25 minutes

For the Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. rive vinegar
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. minded fresh ginger root
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
Pinch of salt

Whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, ginger root, dijon, sesame oil, and salt for the vinaigrette in a small bowl.

For the Salad
8 cups baby spinach
1 can mandarin orange segments drained (11 oz.)
1/4 cucumber, seeded, sliced thinly into half moons
1/2 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced almonds toasted
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup chow mein noodles or Fried wonton strips (optional)

Combine spinach, oranges, cucumbers, mushrooms, almonds, and scallions in large bowl. Toss with vinaigrette just before serving. Garnish with noodles

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

1-Minute Ham and Egg Breakfast Bowls

My kids love breakfast foods and they also love to help in the kitchen from time to time.  Breakfast is one of those great learn to cook beginner foods for kids to learn to cook.  I clipped this recipe out of a magazine awhile back-it was an advertisement for the www.incredibleEgg.org.

These were quick simple.  I loved the shape of them when made in a ramekin they slip right out and would make the perfect english muffin egg sandwich.

1 Think slice of deli hame (1 oz)
1 egg, beaten
Shredded Cheese

Line the bottom of the 8 oz ramekin or custard cup with ham slices, folding ham is necessary.  Pour egg over ham.

Microwave on high for 30 seconds until egg is almost set, cook 15 to 30 seconds longer if needed.

Top with cheese. Serve immediately

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Korean Beef

I have an inspiring bunch of ladies I run with early in the morning.  I am so grateful to have them! We run and visit about many topics of interest. One morning I asked if any of them had cooked anything new that they liked lately.  Des said she had tried this Korean Beef recipe from pintrest and even her picky eater liked it! My kids aren't to picky so I thought I would give it a try. I searched pintrest for the said" Korean Beef" and found many to choose from-that's always hard to pick which one to print out. It was good, my family liked it!  I find that we are liking the things we can copy cat at home more than eating out and it saves lots of money. :-)

Korean Beef is a very standard dish. Nearly every Chinese restaurant sells it but it's usually made with flank steak and sauteed with broccoli. This recipe I adapted from http://elizabethbryant.blogspot.com/2010/05/korean-beef to our liking. Using hamburger as suggested makes this  recipe is less expensive and easier than a flank steak. I like to use as lean of beef as I  can get for this dish so it will be oily and gross.  


1 pound lean ground beef
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce (I use low-sodium or use regular and add 1-2 Tablespoons of water))
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced (see note)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red peppers (to desired spiciness original said 1/2-1 tsp.)
salt and pepper
1 bunch green onions, diced (don't skip this!)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown hamburger with garlic in the sesame oil. Drain most of the fat and add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper and red peppers. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Serve over steamed rice and top with green onions. 

Note: Fresh ginger doesn’t keep forever but it can be frozen.  I have found that it zest on my microplane grater really well when its frozen.  I almost prefer to use it this way. Or I also love my garlic twist -its not just for garlic it does wonders on ginger too! One of my favorite kitchen gadgets Jack has given me.