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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Layered Turtle Cheesecake

This recipe called to me from the front of a little 5 x 7 Taste of Home magazine during my wait in the check out line. I was dying to try it for Thanksgiving, but never got my chance! So I didn't let it miss out on showing up on our Christmas dinner menu. It did not disappoint anyone! We will keep this in our favorite cheesecake file. (I need to post some of our other favorites like pina colada, brownie bottom and white chocolate raspberry cheesecakes).
If you enjoy a nice rich dessert occasionally and love cheesecake then this is probably a recipe you will want to try. I don't think you will be disappointed.

Seeing the layers
Ready to tickle and delight the palette!

Layered Turtle Cheesecake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
6 Tablespoon cold butter, chopped

4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1/4 cup carmel ice cream topping
1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons chopped pecans

Optional garnish: chopped pecan halves and additional caramel ice cream topping

Place a greased 9-inch springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil )about 18-inch square.) Securely wrap foil around pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and pecans; cut in butter until crumbly. Press onto the bottom of prepared pan. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup flour, cram and vanilla. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Remove 1 cup batter to small bowl; stir in melted chocolate until blended. Spread over crust.

Combine caramel topping and remaining flour; stir in pecans. Drop by Tablespoon over chocolate batter. Top with the remaining batter. Place springform pan in large baking pan; add 1-inch water of hot water to large pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until the center is just and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. (I would remove the foil at this point too. It never tells you when to do it, but it holds in moister from the water bath.) Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.

Place chips in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to boil. Pour over chips; whisk until smooth. Cool slightly, stirring occasionally. Spread over cheesecake. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. REfrigerate until set. Remove sides of pan. Garnish with pecan halves and additional caramel topping if desired.

Yield: 12 Servings

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan

I got two huge eggplants in my bountiful basket order last week, the last time I got a small one it went to waste so I was determined to make something with it this time. This recipe turned out good "The New Best" cookbook has hardly ever disappointed us, but you have to just plan ahead and know it is going to take some time with all the steps each recipe has in this cookbook.
we interrupt this posting to change a diaper....get toddler a snack....and who knows what else! If you are interested in this recipe check back in a few days.

Turnover Chicken Crescent Rolls

This is a quick and simple dinner that my kids just love. I got the recipe from my mother-in-law a few years back. I don't make it very often, but my kids and husband probably wish I did. Chalk up a point for one that everyone loves, but it's not the healthiest dish there is--probably why it taste good.

Turnover Chicken Crescent Rolls

1 (3 oz) softened Cream Cheese
2 Tablespoon melted margarine
2 cups cooked cubed chicken
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoon milk
1 Tablespoon chopped green onion
2 Tablespoons pimento (optional)

Mix all ingredients together (can be made ahead of time and chilled)

1 (8 oz pkg.) crescent rolls

Roll crescent rolls flat with rolling pin. Put 1/4 cup chicken mixture on roll--fold up sides and seal. Brush top with melted margarine. Dip into bread crumbs. (I skip the butter and bread crumb part and it makes it all the more simple! My family doesn't seem to mind either.)

Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Top with chicken gravy and serve.

Chicken Gravy--
1 Can Chicken Gravy
1 can cream of Chicken Soup
Mix together and heat until hot.
Or if you want to keep it super simply I just use a can of Cream of Chicken Soup diluted. I keep it stocked in the pantry, but I don't stock gravy. My family likes it all the same.

Easy Pretzel Turtles

Pictures of my cute little elves helping with the Christmas goodies.
They are thrilled whenever I let them help in the kitchen.
Notice the little elf! He must have snitched a treat. He is looking pretty suspicious don't you thing? He L-O-V-E loves treats! He takes after his momma. (This picture makes me LOL!)
I got this recipe from www.ourbestbites.com. I was looking for a simply, fun, and taste Christmas goodie my children could help me make. These were PERFECT! Jack loved them and asked, "You are not planning on giving these away are you?" while a huge grin and a mouthful. He thought they were yummy and could have eaten them all. The kids had a ball helping and I personally loved doing something with them that was a low stress activity--sugar cookie frosting and decorating is a high stress activity for me with my kids, but we always have to give it a whirl to. I keep hoping that maybe just maybe it will be easier the next time around. So if cookie decorating is a little more than you are feeling up for try these. You won't be disappointed. We will be making these again I am certain and I don't think we will be waiting until next Christmas to do it.

Easy Pretzel Turtles

small pretzels

Rolo candies - one bag has about 55 candies

Pecan halves - or optionally peanuts, cashews, and m&m's

Optional: almond bark or white chocolate for drizzling

Get Ready for some simple holiday fun!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place pretzels on a parchment lined baking sheet. I like to use parchment paper or my silpat for easy handling, but you can also put them on foil or directly onto the cookie sheet.

Unwrap your Rolo candies and place one on top of each pretzel (a great step to keep the kids busy).

Place pan in the oven for 3-4 minutes. Any longer is probably too long. You just want the chocolate on the outside to look glossy and melty, but they should still hold their shape.

Remove pan from oven and take a pecan and gently press it right into the center of the chocolate candy.

If you want to get fancy you can give them a little drizzle of almond bark or white chocolate. Just melt some in a plastic baggie and nip the corner off to drizzle. A little goes a long way; used a half a square of almond bark or 1/4 cup white chocolate chips melted.

Spoil yourself and eat a few of these babies warm off the pan. Mmmm-YUM! Wait for the rest to cool and harden before you pack or plate them up.

Mix it Up: For parties, simply for color, or for the non-nut lover in your family do them with all M&M's on top. Kids love how colorful and fun they turn out to be. Try them with cashews and peanuts or those mini Hershey's kissables are cute too.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peppermint Bark

My friend from Connecticut--Lynnette has always been a huge inspiration for me when it comes to many things in life. But I would have to say that she was one of the big reasons I have learned to enjoy cooking and trying new recipes in the kitchen. She is an amazing cook and I know if she recommends a recipe that there is no doubt in my mind that it is going to be G-O-O-D! Last year at Christmas time she posted this peppermint bark and I really wanted to try it. So this year was my year! I tried it and it was great! It was the perfect touch for my goodie boxes for my friends and neighbors this year. As always thanks Lynnette (like she even looks at this, but it makes me feel good just to say thank you :-D)

Lynnette's Peppermint Bark see her picture and read about the inspiration behind how and why she made 25 batches of this peppermint bark to become the candy bark expert!

Peppermint Bark adapted from Bon Appetit

17 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped

6 ounces coarsely crushed candy canes

7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

6 tablespoons whipping cream

¾ teaspoon peppermint extract

Take your very best non-warped cookie sheet, turn it upside down and cover securely with foil. Using a ruler, mark a 12x9-inch rectangle directly on the foil. (I use the tip of a sharp knife.)

Very, very gently melt the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Start low, go slow, and stir frequently. Pour 2/3 cup melted white chocolate onto the prepared rectangle on the foil. Using an offset spatula, spread the chocolate evenly to fill the rectangle. Sprinkle with ¼ cup crushed peppermints. Chill until set, about 15 minutes.

In a clean bowl microwave the bittersweet chocolate, cream, and peppermint extract until just melted. Stir until smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm. Pour this chocolate mixture in long lines over the white chocolate rectangle. Using a clean offset spatula, spread the bittersweet chocolate in an even layer. Refrigerate until very cold and firm, about 25 minutes.

Gently rewarm the remaining white chocolate and pour over the firm bittersweet chocolate layer. Spread to cover. Working quickly, sprinkle remaining crushed candy canes over the top and gently press to make sure they are embedded into the white chocolate. Chill just until firm, about 20 minutes.

Lift foil and bark off of cookie sheet. Peel away foil and discard. Place bark on a cutting board. Using a long sharp knife cut bark crosswise into 2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 3 sections, then each section diagonally into 2 triangles. Or make up your own geometry and cut into desired size and shape. If the bark seems resistant to cutting just let it sit until it comes to room temperature, then proceed.

Chill in an airtight container. Let stand 15 minutes at room temperature before serving. Keeps about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Notes on the recipe: How many batches of this do you have to make to call yourself an expert? Does 25 count? I took 15 batches to a cookie exchange one year. I won’t be doing that again anytime soon, but I did learn some valuable tricks:

-You can use white chocolate chips instead of baking chocolate, but you won’t be able to cut the bark into shapes because the chips contain more stabilizers than baking chocolate. Instead of cutting the bark just break it into random shapes.

-I have a very strong preference for Ghiradelli chocolate in this recipe, both white and semisweet. Other brands of white chocolate don’t melt very well.

-When melting the chocolate make sure the bowls and spoons are completely dry. Moisture can cause the chocolate to seize. I avoid wooden spoons for stirring because they can hold water, especially if they were put through the dishwasher recently.

-Pay attention to the chilling times – this helps the layers adhere to each other.

Snowman Soup (simple gift)

Last week we had quiet the snowstorm on our area. I was feeling a little cooped up. The baby had gone down for a nap and my 3 year old wanted to help me shovel snow. So we bundled up and headed outside. We shoveled a little and played a lot. We created a snowman family to resemble our family. It was wonderful to take a break from the mundane day to day house work and do something with my little guy. So I thought I would post the snowman soup we have all seen surface at Christmas time as a fun and simple gift.


1 package hot chocolate mix

3 Hershey Kisses

10 mini-marshmallows

1 candy cane

Place in a small ziplock bag or in a new mug.
Attach this poem:

"Was told you've been real good this year
Always glad to hear it
With freezing weather drawing near
You'll need to warm the spirit
So here's a little Snowman Soup
Complete with stirring stick
Just add hot water, sip it slow
It's sure to do the trick!"

Chocolate Orange Logs

This recipe comes from my Lion House Christmas Cookbook. I thought they looked fun and simple fancy. It was a simple dough (Though not sweet enough for my taste. I think I will add a little more powdered sugar next time.) and very delicate. My love for orange and chocolate together runs deep in my blood. My grandma Bartholomew loved orange chocolates and has passed it on to my mom and all of her kids. Can't eat an orange chocolate flavored anything and not think of what an amazing woman my grandmother was to so many people.

These were fun to make with my boys for our Christmas goodie boxes this year. The chocolate and nuts are an absolute must! The cookie just doesn't taste good with out it.

Chocolate Orange Logs (Lion House Christmas)

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon orange extract
2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter in a large bowl, gradually adding sugar and beating until light and fluffy. Stir in orange zest and orange extract. Gradually add flour. Shape dough into a long roll 3/4-inches wide; cut roll into 2-inch pieces. Place on greased cookie sheet. Flatten one end of cookie lengthwise with a fork. Bake 10 minutes, or until light brown. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Melt chocolate chips in microwave oven or in top of a double boiler over simmering water. Dip unflattened ends of cookies in chocolate, then roll in chopped nuts. Store in covered container.

Makes 4 dozen.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sweet Cafe Rio Pork

There are several recipes I have seen for the Cafe Rio meats. Having only eaten there a few times on my visits to Utah I don't really know if they taste like the restaurants meats or not, but we enjoy them anyway. Sorry I don't recall taking a picture of this meal. It makes a lot of food so prepare it when you have company coming or plan to freeze it.

Sweet Pork
1 (3 lb.) Pork loin roast, thawed if previously frozen
1 (16 oz/ 2 cups) jar of Salsa
1 can green chilies
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 can black beans, undrained


In the bottom of a large crock pot mix salsa, green chilies, brown sugar, and black beans. Add the pork roast and cook on high for 4 hours. Take the meat out of the crock pot and shred with a fork. Return meat to crock pot and cook one hour more.

Serve on tortillas with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes or your other favorite taco toppings.

Yeilds 8 servings (We actually served 4 adults for two meals, plus had enough leftovers for our family of 5 to have an additional dinner.) The recommended 8 servings must be HUGE because I felt like each time we served it everyone ate nice size helpings.

**We served it in both hard and soft shell tacos and both were great.
Make it meal and serve it with Cafe Rio Lime Rice, Cafe Rio Pico de Gallo, and Tomatillo Cream Cafe Rio Dressing (Awesome dressing!) if making it into a salad instead of a taco, but we also like the dressing drizzled on our tacos.

Cafe Rio Chicken (2 different recipes here)

My good friend Sharla served this at a surprise birthday lunch she hosted in my behalf. Everyone loved the recipe so of course I had to ask her a copy. And of course I had know idea about the surprise, so there is no picture. Doesn't a soft shell taco all wrapped up look the same anyway? It isn't hard to imagine it is it. YUM!

Cafe Rio Pork or Chicken (Sharla P. family recipe)
4 lbs. Pork Roast or Chicken
2 cups brown sugar
1 (12-14 oz) jar Salsa
2 cans Coke (24 oz or 2 1/2 cups)

Place roast in crock pot, fill half way with water and cook for 6-8 hours on low. Disgard water. Shred meat with forks and return to crock pot. Combine sugar, salsa, and coke in a separate bowl. Add to crock pot. Cook about 3 hours more on low. Stir Occasionally

Simply add chicken to crock pot. Combine sugar, salsa, and coke in a separate bowl; add to crock pot. Cook 5-6 hours on low (or until chicken is done I have several crock pots and they all cook at different rates). Stir occasionally.

Place in a warm tortilla on a plate. Top with Rice, Black beans, pork/chicken, lettuce, and top with plenty of Creamy Tomatillo Cilantro Dressing.

Cafe Rio Chicken (www.365daysofcrockpot.com)

5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thawed
1 small bottle Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1 Tablespoon Chili powder
1 Tablespoon Cumin
3 Cloves Garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients except the chicken in a bowl. Place chicken on bottom of a greased crock pot.

Pour mixture in a bowl over the top of Chicken. Cook on high 5-7 hours. Shred chicken with a fork and reserve juice to pour over chicken when serving.

Cafe Rio Lime Rice

This rice is a nice savory flavored compliment to off set the sweetness of the Cafe Rio pork/chicken.

Cafe Rio Lime Rice
2 Tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
6 2/3 cup water
7-8 bullion cubes
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups long grain rice

Saute butter, onions, and garlic. Boil everything else excepted rice in a large pot. Add onion and garlic--then rice. Cover and simmer.

Tomatillo Creamy Cilantro Dressing (Cafe Rio)

Simply stated, this dressing is awesome. I love homemade dressings that beat anything that you can purchase in the stores.

Tomatillo Creamy Cilantro Dressing

1 pkg. Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch Dressing mix
1 cup Buttermilk
1 cup Mayo
2 Tomatillos (peel outer skin)
1 clove minced garlic or 1 tsp. minced jarred garlic
1/2-1/3 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1 small jalapeno (seeds removed)

Put all ingredients into a blender. Add extra mayo if dressing is too thin. Refrigerate.

Cilantro Lime Rice

I got this rice from Jamie Cook's it Up blog. It is a sweet rice. We enjoyed this recipe but I wouldn't serve it with the sweet chicken or pork recipe.

Cilantro Lime Rice

2 cups uncooked rice
1 Tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic minced
4 chicken bullion cubes
1 teaspoon lime zest
4 cups water
2 Tablespoon lime juice
1 Tablespoon sugar
3 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

In a large skillet combine rice, butter, garlic, lime zest, bullion cubes, and water. Bring to a boil and stir well. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar, and cilantro. Pour over the top of the hot cooked rice, and stir to incorporate. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chocolate Banana Cream Trifle

I was looking through my cook books and noticed I made this back in April 2009 and I hadn't posted it yet. So I thought that I would post it just for the sake of posting something. I haven't had anything that I have wanted to blog about lately. Haven't been in the "oh lets try something new mode" lately it has been more of a "survival mode" and doing the quick easy family favorites a.k.a comfort foods that I know my kids will gobble down. My picture doesn't look even close to the cookbook photo--I think my trifle dish was too big, making all the layers seem more like one. But regardless of how it looks it's a dessert so we had enjoyed eating it anyway!

Chocolate Banana Cream Trifle
18 whole graham crackers, divided
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (12 oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed and divided
1 pkg. (3.4 oz) banana cream instant pudding and pie filling (I used my Family's Banana Cream Pie recipe)
1 cup milk
1 lemon
4 large bananas

Finely chop half of a graham crackers; set aside. Coarsely crumble remaining crackers into a 2-qt. mixing bowl.
For ganache, place chocolate morsels and 1 1/2 cups of the whipped topping into a small bowl. Microwave on high 45-60 seconds or until melted smooth, stirring every 15 seconds. Combine the pudding mix and the milk; whisk until mixture begins to thicken. Fold in remaining whipped topping ; set aside.
Juice lemon to measure 2 Tablespoons juice. Peel bananas and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Slice banana sections with egg slicer if desired. Add lemon juice and toss gently. Set aside 12 slices for garnish.
To assemble trifle, place half of the crumbled graham crackers over the bottom of trifle bowl. Place half of the bananas over the crackers, arranging some of the bananas against sides of the bowl, and top with one-third of the ganache. Spread half of the banana filling over ganache spreading to edges. Repeat layers one time. Decorate with remaining ganache. Sprinkle top of trifle with chopped graham cracker. Arrange reserved banana slices around edges of trifle.

Yeilds 16 servings (Recipe taken from Pampered Chef Spring/Summer 2009 Seasons Best booklet)

** The chocolate was a little dark for my taste. Next time I will try it with a milk chocolate.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cranberry Salsa

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. She makes this salsa during the holidays. It is different and we all enjoy it. This past week I got all but two of the ingredients in the recipe in my Bounitful Basket so I decided I would make Ruth's recipe where we wouldn't be spending Thanksgiving with her this year.

Cranberry Salsa
1 orange, unpeeled, quartered and seeded.
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed.
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 med. green pepper, chopped
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
3 Tbls. chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Position knife blade in food processor bowl; add orange quarters. Process until coarsely chopped, stopping once to scrape down sides. Add cranberries, sugar, and salt; pulse 2 or 3 times or until cranberries are coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and stir in greenpepper and next 3 ingredients. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Serve with sweet potato chips or as a spread for turkey sandwiches. (Ruth also freezes this recipe)

Sweet Potato Chips
1 (8 oz.) sweet potato, peeled
vegetable cooking spray
1/4 tsp. salt
cookie sheet, cooking spray - 325 degree oven for 15-25 min.
sprinkle with salt.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cream of Pumpkin Soup

This recipe comes all the way from Portugal. This is the soup Jack was served in his mission home. His mission president and wife gave us the recipe and the hand blender to make it for our wedding. We enjoy this soup and its simplicity. I love that the Portuguese make their soup so full of goodness. This week as I served this to my family Jack shared with our boys that the way the Portuguese start every meal is with a hot bowl of soup. We have been making this soup for 12 years now. I love that it is so good and cheap too. We had a small pumpkin given to us for the boys to carve that didn't get used so I used it here. It made 5 batches of soup! So we were able to share with all of our neighbors. It is so wonderful to share the bounty that we have been given. We have much to be thankful for everyday. Hope you enjoy this soup it is a great fall and winter dinner when served with a nice roll/bread and a salad of choice.

Cream of Pumpkin Soup

2 Leeks (I can't always get these so I have substituted 1-2 shallots in its place)
Small amount of olive oil and butter (1 Tablespoon of each is what I usually do)
3 cups pumpkin, peeled and cubed
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium carrots, peeled and cubed (like usual I always double the carrots in all my soups. In this soup I feel they are added for a sweetener as well as for giving it its rich color)
1 small onion, chopped (roughly 1 cup)
2-3 cubes Chicken bouillon
Water (see instructions but it ends up being around 4-6 cups)
Salt and Pepper
Half & Half cream, if desired (milk can also be used)

Saute leeks and onions in pan (a pan that you can use rival hand blender in. If you don't have a hand blender then you can use a regular blender, but the soup will have to cool more before you blend it) Add pumpkin, potatoes, and carrots vegetables; cover the vegetables with water and add bouillon cubes. Cook until vegetables are tender. Cool slightly then blend all vegetables together with blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add Half & Half if desired. Heat again after adding cream but do not let it come to a boil. Garnish with green onions or chives.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Orzo Chicken Noodle Soup

Last week I tried two new recipes on one night--bad idea! Main dish was a chicken dish in the crock pot I really didn't like the flavor, Jack hate it but didn't have much to say, the kids didn't like it all that well. The other was a Brown Butter and Cinnamon Orzo. This recipe was created because I was trying to find a recipe that I could use the pound of orzo that I had cooked. I did a search for orzo soups and found a few online. One was a pumpkin orzo from Paula Dean (I have yet to try it.) A couple others were a chicken noodle of sorts. The one I modified was from Food Network chef Anne Burrell. I chose hers because she used cinnamon and nutmeg in her chicken noodle soup. I thought this would be a good choice because my orzo had a cinnamon flavor on it. If you are interested in Anne Burrell 's original recipe check it out on foodnetwork.com.

Jill's Orzo Noodle Soup

Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch diced
4 ribs celery, cut 1/2-inch diced
5 carrots, cut 1/2-inch diced
Kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon- 1 teaspoon)
2 gloves garlic, smashed
1 lb. boneless chicken meat-use white and brown meats as desired, diced into small pieces
8 cups water
9 Bouillon cubes or 3 Tablespoon Chicken Base
1 teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups Orzo (prepared prior cooked to "al dente" in a separate pot of well-salted water)
* My recipe is very different from Anne's recipe which called for 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 2 grates of fresh nutmeg. I left these out because I was using the Brown Butter and Cinnamon Orzo left overs I had.

Coat a large stock pot with olive oil. Add onions, celery, garlic, and chicken pieces. Cook until chicken is no longer pink . Season with salt. Fill the pot with water and bouillon or chicken base. Add seasonings and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add lemon juice and simmer soup for an additional 30 minutes.

Spoon some of the prepared Orzo into the bottom of each dish and ladle hot soup over the pasta. Having as few or as many Orzo noodles as you wish.

Lemon Chicken

This morning I was asking my boys what we should make for dinner tonight. They said, "Pasgetti" so we might just have spaghetti and meatballs. I was curious what they thought of last nights Lemon Chicken, so I asked. How many stars was last nights dinner. One star, four stars...? Cameron replied 5 stars, Quin piped up and said 8 stars! Then Cameron said 100 stars. The number kept climbing so I said, "Did you guys really like it?" Their eyes got as big as their smiles as the nodded their heads. So folk I guess this one is a keeper. For me it is a keeper because it is so quick and easy and I always have everything on hand to make it. Once again this is a recipe my sister Echo, who is a great cook recommended. (I think she is going to get her on Label...guess that's like my cooking Hall of Fame. ;-)) Echo said this is her go to meal when she is short on time and doesn't know what she is making.

This is a east and quick gourmet dish that could be served with anything from a baked potato to noodles or rice of choice. A nice seasonal vegetable or salad rounds out the meal perfectly.

Lemon Chicken

3 Whole chicken breast, boned, skinned, and halved (I used tenders and pounded them into cutlet like pieces).
1 1/2 cup flour (I only used 1/2 cup for starters. You can always add more so you don't have waste.)
1/3 cup Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Wash and dry chicken pieces. Pound them flat with a mallet. Melt the butter and oil in a large skillet. Put the flour in a plastic bag and drop the breast in to coat. Regulate the heat to moderately high, and put the chicken breasts in the skillet. Cook approx. 3 minutes on each side. When they are done, salt and pepper them and put them on an oven proof dish and into a 250 degree oven to keep warm while you make the sauce. (I personally added 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper right in with my flour before coating the breast so I didn't have to worry about it. I also didn't put mine in the oven while making the sauce. I simply covered it with foil. The sauce comes together so quickly I think its a waste of energy to warm the oven for that amount of time. Unless you have it on for something else.)

Add 4 Tablespoons butter to the chicken skillet and melt, scrapping up brown bits from bottom of pan. Remove from heat; add 4 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley (I didn't, tasted fine still), and the juice from 1/2 lemon. Pour hot sauce over breasts and serve. (I spooned it over each piece with a Tablespoon).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Beef Stroganoff-Crock Pot

Yes, another Beef Stroganoff for the crock pot. We do eat other dishes, honest!
I didn't get a picture of this dish. Most nights lately I feel lucky if I can get dinner on the table by 6 or 6:30. Life with the baby is good and normal as far as babies go. What is not normal in our lives at this point is how little we see of our daddy. (I always love having extra help with the kids while I am cooking...a grown-ups help that is!) Because it takes me so long to prepare and cook dinner with one hand while trying to keep my composure during the chaos with kids running, playing, or hanging out under my feet crying that they are hungry I am grateful to have recipes like this one for the crock pot my sister-in-law Echo gave me. It earned 5 stars at her house. Jack and I really liked it, the boys ate it but didn't love the sauce. It all worked out great because I am off dairy for Daisy right now so I kept the sauce separate to we could add it to our liking. (I had to snitch one bite so I would know how a complete bite would taste. ;-))

This makes a huge roast so I use the shredded leftover beef )because the sauce wasn't mixed in to make my easy beef pot pie-1 for dinner and 1 for freezer. I thought about beef enchiladas too but the cheese took it off the list for now.

Beef Stroganoff

2 lbs Beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into thin slices (about 1/2 inch think and 3 inches long) [I just put the roast in whole and mine was about 3 1/2 lbs)
1 Large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 lb White mushrooms, trimmed and halfed. Quarter if they are large [I used 8 oz package]
Course salt and black pepper
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
Cooked thin Egg noodles
Chopped fresh dill, for garnish, (optional) [I didn't use]

In 5-to-6 quart slow cooker, toss beef, onion, and mushrooms with 1 1/2 teaspoons course salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook on low until meat is tender, about 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high.

In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk cornstarch with 2 Tablespoons water. Ladle 1 cup liquid that has cooked off your beef into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil; cook until thickened, about 1 minute. With slow cooker turned off, stir in cornstarch mixture, then sour cream and mustard. Serve beef over noodles; sprinkle with dill if desired. [I just mixed the sauce all in my small sauce pan so we could serve it separately. It reminds me a little of a hollandaise sauce in its flavor.)

If you prefer you can make this in the OVEN: Preheat oven to 350. Follow steps for the crock pot using a 5-quart oven or heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid instead of slow cooker. Add 2 cups water, and cover. Transfer to oven; cook until beef is tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Proceed with the sauce instructions as listed above.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pumpkin Haystacks-Lion House Bakery

My little sister called this past week searching for a pumpkin cookie recipe. I shared this one with her from my Lion House Bakery cookbook and it motivated me to try it myself. I only had a large can of pumpkin on hand so I had to double the batch! It is a good thing they turned out wonderful because it was a HUGH batch of cookies! Just the butter, sugars, and eggs filled my Kitchen Aid to the rim. Adding the dry ingredients required using the largest bowl I have. Worked out great, because they were a hit with my family and neighborhood friends. A perfect Halloween pumpkin treat.

Pumpkin Haystack Cookies
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups butter, softened (I used 1 cup butter flavored crisco & 1/2 cup real unsalted butter)
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (16 oz) can solid pack pumpkin
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans (I made these optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add pumpkin, then gradually add the dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts. Scoop batter onto lightly greased cookie sheets and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until cookies are firm and lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.
Makes 4 dozen cookies

Friday, October 22, 2010

Margherita Pasta with Grilled Chicken

My sister-in-law gave me this recipe and said they really enjoyed it. We second the notion. If you like the smell of Italian food cooking, you will love this one. My kitchen smelled heavenly while I was preparing it and I couldn't wait to eat it. I knew Jack and I were going to love it because our favorite pizza flavor is the Margherita Pizza. Sure enough Jack loved it and so did I. Our kids love the noodles and chicken they are not crazy about tomatoes yet, but they are at least willing to taste them. I didn't have the grape tomatoes as listed, but had two home grown tomatoes that I was saving to try this dish with. There's nothing like a home grown veggies!

Margherita Pasta with Grilled Chicken
(From Cuisine at Home magazine)
For the Pasta--
8 oz dry spaghetti
3 cups (12 oz) halved grape or cherry tomatoes. I used regular tomatoes/slightly drained
2 cups (8 oz) diced fresh mozzarella (I used 8 oz shredded mozzarella-can't get fresh here)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons minced garlic (I used 3-4 med/large size cloves)
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil (I used a little less and it was still good, but full amount can only make it tastier.)
Salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
Toasted pine nuts (we didn't have on hand)

For the chicken--
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4 or 5 oz each) I used 6-7 Costco tenders
Extra-virgin olive oil, dried oregano, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes

Preheat the grill to medium-high.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti.
Cook spaghetti according to package; drain and set aside. (I did this last so it was warm to serve.)
Combine tomatoes and mozzarella for the pasta in a bowl; set aside.
Coat chicken with oil, oregano, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. (Season them like you would when BBQ not specific amounts, just shake it on. I didn't use much of the red pepper flakes because my kids don't love hot and spicy. A few pinches did the trick for us). Grill, covered, until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. (Less for tenders). Remove chicken from grill and tent with foil; rest 3-4 minutes. Slice each breast into strips.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a skillet over medium-low. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. (cooked mine a little longer) It's important to cook the raw taste out of the garlic so it doesn't overpower the other flavors in the dish. OH CAN YOU SMELL IT NOW? YummO.
Toss tomatoes and cheese mixture with the garlic-infused oil and pasta . Stir in basil; season with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
To serve, divide pasta mixture among 4 bowls, and top with sliced chicken and pine nuts. (Those are huge portions! We fed our little family of 5 easily with a nice amount of left overs. Granted we served it with sauteed zucchini and a slice of ciabatta bread.)

Oh I hope you Italian food lovers give this one a try. It is a quick meal to prepare 30 minutes tops.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fresh Okra and Tomatoes

We got okra in our Bountiful Basket this week and it sent me on a search for a recipe. Most okra I have had has been fried, but this one is cooked on the stovetop and healthier than fried for sure. Another added bonus was it helped use up some off the fresh tomatoes that my neighbors gave me. I was surprised that my kids like the okra as much as they did. The recipe didn't have a recommendation of what to serve with it so I chose pasta so that if it wasn't a hit with the kids that they would have something to fill their tummies.

Okra and Tomatoes

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2006

1 pound okra, rinsed and trimmed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups finely chopped red onion (I used sweet onion as usual.)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 cups peeled and chopped tomato

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon freshly ground grains of paradise* or black pepper (I used the black pepper)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom (I don't have cardamom so I used 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)


Cut each okra pod in half lengthwise and set aside. If there are any pods longer than 4 inches, cut them in half crosswise and then lengthwise.

Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions along with the salt and cook until they begin to turn golden, approximately 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and add the ginger, pepper, cardamom and okra. Stir to combine. Cook, uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Serve immediately.

*Cook's Note: Grains of Paradise are available online and in specialty spice markets. They have a zesty flavor reminiscent of pepper, coriander, and cardamom.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Our Sweet Bun Fresh Out of the Oven

Picture of our boys coming to pick Daisy up from the hospital.

40 weeks and 5 days later (Sept. 17, 2010) our little sweet bun in the oven decided to make her grand entrance. We are enjoy her and want to gobble her up she is so sweet. We are so grateful for the generous meals from other families kitchens. We still have a pile of recipes that were on our menu for the month that we hope to try. As I get around to cooking again and have a free minute to post our keepers I will, but it isn't going to be a huge priority right now. I am trying to enjoy every minute of this little piece of heaven that has been granted to us.

Breaded Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce

This dish was delicious! I found it on realmomskitchen.com who took it from foodonthetable.com. It was a hit with my family. We loved the sauce over pasta too. If you like things extra saucy you may want to double the sauce recipe. We served it with angel hair pasta--how could you go wrong in the eyes of kids and pasta lovers. We will make this again, but it was great to use our garden fresh basil. If you don't have fresh substitute 1 Tablespoon dried Basil in the sauce. Hope you get to please your pallet with this tasty dish.

Breaded Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce (foodonthetable.com)
4-6 chicken breasts (I would recommend pounding them into thin cutlets or buying cutlets)
flour (about 1/2 cup)
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
black pepper
3 Tablespoon butter (can use 1 Tbsp more if needed)

1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 (4.0 ounce jar) sliced pimento peppers, drained
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
black pepper

Place eggs in a shallow bowl. Place flour in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, combine both bread crumbs with salt and pepper to taste.
Coat chicken with flour. Then dip in egg, then coat with breadcrumb mixture.
In a skillet over medium heat, fry chicken in butter, on both sides, until the juices run clear, about 15 minutes. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
Add the broth to the skillet; bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir and scrape to loosen browned bits from pan.
Stir in the cream and pimentos (If using dried basil add this now); boil and stir for one minute. Reduce heat; add the Parmesan cheese, basil and black pepper to taste. Simmer and stir until heated through. To serve, pour the sauce over the chicken.

Macaroni Grill Bread

Macaroni Grill Bread (Jamie Cooks it Up-blog)

Yield: 2 loaves

Time: 1 1/2 hours start to finish

1 1/2 t active dry yeast

1 C warm water

3 T olive oil

1/4 t sugar

2 1/2 C flour

1 1/2 t salt

1/4 t McCormick Italian Seasoning Grinder

1/4 t cracked black pepper

3/4 T fresh rosemary, snipped

1 egg

butter and salt

1. In the bottom of your mixer combine water, yeast and sugar. Mix it around a bit with a spoon and let it sit for 5 minutes.

2. Add the salt, oil and 1 C flour. Mix for 30 seconds to incorporate.

3. Add the rest of the flour about 1/2 C at a time, while the mixer continues to mix.

4. When all of the flour is incorporated mix on high for about 7 minutes.

5. While your mixer is doing it's fine work, get your herbs and seasonings ready to go. I like to snip rosemary with scissors. You don't want to eat any of the thick stem that rosemary comes on, only the little needles.

6. When your dough is done mixing add the rosemary, pepper and Italian seasoning. Mix just until incorporated.

7. Cover your mixing bowl with a kitchen towel and let it rise for about 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.

8. Divide the dough into 2 parts. Shape into balls and place on a sprayed cookie sheet, or a cooking stone with a bit of olive oil on it.

9. Spray a sharp knife with cooking spray and cut 2 slits in the top of the bread.

10. In a small bowl whisk an egg until frothy. Brush the egg all over the top of the loaf and into the cracks.

11. Place the loaves into a warm oven. (I set mine to 170) Let them rise until doubled in size, about 15 minutes.

12. Turn your oven up to 370 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

13. When the loaves come out of the oven, place them on a cooling rack. Brush butter over the tops and sprinkle a little bit of salt over the top of the butter. Be careful to not get too much. I always use freshly cracked salt. You can buy both salt and pepper crackers at Costco these days. Look on the spice aisle.

The end....hope you enjoy!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Orange Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry

I got this recipe from a blog called Jamiecooksitup. My family loved it. I used 9 chicken tenders when I tried it and Jack said there needed to be more meat in the dish. The kids and adults gobbled it down so I guess it was a hit. I passed the recipe on to my sister-in-law two doors down and her family had the same response. So Thank You Jamie-who ever you are- for this creation and for sharing it with us.

Orange Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry


Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Recipe created by Jamie Cooks It Up!

4 chicken breasts

3/4 C flour

1/4 t salt

2 T olive oil

5 large carrots

1 onion

2 bell peppers (red, green or orange...you choose)

6 stalks celery (I will use a little less next time my kids weren't crazy about it)

salt and pepper to taste (again with the "you choose")


3/4 C fresh orange juice (I use from concentrate and it works fine)

1/4 C soy sauce

1/2 t ginger

2 t rice vinegar

1/2 C brown sugar

1/2 t sesame oil

pinch red pepper flakes (Optional if you don't like the kick! Jack and I like it; kids not so much.)

2 T corn starch

1 C chicken broth

Cut those chicken breasts up into 2 inch cubes.

Combine the flour and the 1/4 t salt in a small bowl, and toss until coated.

Heat up a large skillet. When it's nice and hot add 1 T oil and put your

floured chicken into it. Toss the chicken in gently, now.

Cook your chicken until it is golden all over. (About 10 minutes)

While your chicken is cooking up, chop up your veggies. Make sure they are about the same size.

When your chicken is pretty and golden, take it out of the pan and place it on a nice plate.

Add another T of oil into the hot skillet. Add your veggies and cook over medium high heat

until crisp tender...about another 10 minutes.

While your veggies cook add all sauce ingredients to a medium sized sauce pan.
Whisk them together until they are all combined nicely. Bring to a boil. Once it boils it should thicken up nicely for you.

When your veggies are crisp tender add your thickened sauce and chicken into the pan.

Serve over a bed of rice.