Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Movie #5

Hello all!  I hope you've been enjoying the Christmas Movies so far!  This next one is another favorite of mine, but it definitely is not a movie for young kids.  It is Christmas Vacation



I have to thank my husband and his family for this one.  I hadn't seen it before I met him, but now it's one we own and pull out every year!  Enjoy!

What we'll be sipping on...
Bailey's Hot Cocoa
Since this is a movie for adults... I think a drink for adults will hit the spot!

Ingredients...
Milk (a mug's worth per drink)
1 tablespoon Bailey's Irish Cream (per drink)
1 tablespoon Quick powder or any other hot chocolate powder (per drink)

Directions...
Heat milk on the stove, over medium high heat until small bubbles start to appear around the edges (this is called scalding the milk- it makes it hot and kind of frothy).  Keep an eye on it, you don't want the milk to burn.  Carefully pour milk into your mugs.  Add one tablespoon each of Bailey's and Chocolate powder (if it's been ''one of those days'' add more).  Stir.  Top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with a bit of chocolate powder.
Enjoy!
 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Movie #4

Tonight's movie was The Santa Clause

What can I say about this movie?  Original, good humored, and definitely a family favorite!  I have even enjoyed the other movies in the series.  It was fun watching it with my kiddo.  I hope it will become one of his favorites.  
What we snacked on...

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Sandwiches
If you love chocolate and peanut butter, you will love this quick and easy treat!

Ingredients...
Buttery crackers (Ritz or Townhouse)
Peanut Butter
Chocolate bark

Directions...
Spread peanut butter on a cracker and top with another cracker (make a sandwich).
Melt chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave according to package directions.
Dip and spread chocolate all over the cracker sandwich.
It's messy, but sure is worth it! I think next time I'll make some with Nutella...
Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Movie #3

Tonight's movie was Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer




This is absolutely a childhood classic!  It was made for TV in 1964 and has come around every year since!  I can't imagine a person who hasn't seen this movie.  What could be better than a story about Santa's most famous reindeer, and elf who wants to be a dentist and an island of misfit toys?  Love it!

What we'll be snacking on...
Two Minute Mug Brownies with Ice Cream
Found the recipe here.

Ingredients...
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 T canola oil
2 T coffee or milk

Directions...
Combine all dry ingredients in a mug or ramekin.  Mix until there are no clumps.
Stir in wet ingredients until everything is incorporated and no dry clumps remain. 
Microwave at 30 second intervals, checking doneness.  The top of the brownie should spring back to light pressure.  
Top with ice cream, whip cream, caramel... whatever you enjoy with your brownie.  Devour Enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Movie #2

My second movie for this Christmas season is The Holiday.
 This is an adorable romantic comedy centered around the Christmas holiday.  Two single ladies (Camron Diaz and Kate Winslet) switch houses for Christmas.  The last thing they want or expect is to fall in love.  But love has a funny thing about turning up when you least expect it!  Curl up with your sweetie and enjoy this one!
What we'll be snacking on...


Rol-etzels
My Mom makes these for Christmas presents because they are incredibly addictive, so make a ton!  They'll disappear faster than an ice cube on a hot day!

Ingredients...
Rolos
Pretzels

Directions...
Cut sections of foil or parchment paper and line a baking sheet (sections allow for fast and easy removal).
Lay out pretzels in a single layer.  
Top with Rolos
Place in a preheated 200* oven for about 5 minutes (really just long enough for the chocolates to soften).
Take out of the oven, allow to cool for a minute and then press the rolos into the pretzels.  Remove the sections of foil to a cooling rack.  
Pop them into the fridge for 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Movie #1

Our first Christmas movie of the season is a classic, well sort of.  It is The Muppet Christmas Carol based on Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol.


This is one of my favorite Christmas stories, and what better way to introduce it to kids than with Muppets?
This version follows the original story fairly closely, but lightens it up quite a bit with that trademarked Muppet humor and music.  You can't go wrong with Michael Cain as Ebeneezer Scroge, Kermit as Bob Cratchit, and Gonzo as Mr. Dickens himself.

What we'll be snacking on while we watch...

Homemade Apple Chips
We LOVE this recipe.  Sure you can buy them, but they will be loaded with preservatives and sugar to keep them "fresh". The only other option would be to make them yourself, and let me tell you it couldn't be easier.   The apples are sweet enough on their own, and you control the texture (crispy or chewy) as well as the flavor (add your favorite spices).

Ingredients...
Firm apples (Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala, or Granny Smith apples work well)- one apple per person
A sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

Directions...
Slice the apples thinly (about a quarter of an inch) across the width of the apple.  
Using an apple corer tool or a small cookie cutter, punch out the cores (if you don't have either of these, you can use the tip of a sharp paring knife).
Place the apples on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet.  As they dehydrate, they'll shrink in size, so pack on as many as you can in a single layer.  And don't worry if they break or aren't cut perfectly.  The ugly ones taste just as good as the pretty ones when all's said and done.
Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon (or any other baking spice you prefer- nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice...) or leave plain.
Place the cookie sheet in a preheated 200* oven.
Flip apples every 30 minutes until they reach desired texture.  It took me somewhere between 90 minutes and 2 hours.  If you want them soft and chewy take them out sooner, if you want them crispy leave them in longer.  But be sure to watch them- they can go from crisp to burnt in no time flat!

It seems these disappear as soon as they come out of the oven, but if you have leftovers (I seriously doubt that will happen), you can leave them in a container (covered for chewy, open for crispy) on the counter top for a couple of days!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas

Every year, following Thanksgiving, we are bombarded with Christmas.  
Christmas in the stores, Christmas on the radio, and Christmas on the TV!  
I usually don't watch a whole bunch of the Christmas programming.  While it's definitely feel-good, sometimes it gets a bit too cheesy for me.
So I've put together a list of my favorite holiday movies- those that we pull out year after year.  Over the next 12 days (can you believe that there are only 12 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS?!?!), I'll be sharing the list with you.  I hope you enjoy the movies and maybe you'll watch along with me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Time to make a list...

I love knit picks :)

Check 'em out and make your own wish list!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 31

My final day in the 31 Day Challenge was great.  Again, I used someone else's recipe so I won't actually write it out.  I highly recommend checking it out though, it was tasty and totally awesome because it was made in the slow cooker!  It was a meal inspired by the fast food joint Panda Express.  I served my chicken over brown rice with a couple of pot stickers on the side.  Chinese "Take-In"!

Orange Chicken

Well, I'm finished.  I'm kind of going through withdrawls.  I spent the last 31 days really thinking about what I was putting in front of my family.  It was fun and challenging.  Was it tough?  Yeah, but I'd totally do it again.  Maybe you'll join me next year?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 30

I made the most amazing cookies tonight.  I found them on another blog, so rather than copying the recipe (copyrights and all), I will just give you the link.  I promise you, they are extremely easy and delicious!

Chocolate Rolo Cookies

Day 29

We love crescent roll hot dogs in our house.  It is a great go-to dinner on busy week nights.  In honor of Halloween, I ''dressed'' them up a bit...

Mummy Dogs
Ingredients...
Crescent rolls
Hot Dogs

Directions...
Press out crescent rolls in rectangles (two triangles together) being careful to press out the seams as much as possible.
Using a pizza roller, cut strips out of the dough.
Wrap the hot dogs with the strips of dough.
Bake according to package directions on crescent roll containers.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 28

Today's dish was both a success and a failure.  The failure was that the dish was supposed to look like this:

recipe and picture here




 instead it looked like this:
So instead of getting stuffed baked apples, I got applesauce.  Good thing it tasted amazing!  Another bonus, it made the house smell very fall-ish.  Like I had been baking all day :)

Slow Cooker Applesauce
Ingredients...
6 small McIntosh apples
1/4 cup backed brown sugar
1/4 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons raisins (I used golden raisins and currents)
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water

Directions...
Core apples, leaving bottom intact, with a paring knife.
Place apples in a single layer in slow cooker
Stir together all the other ingredients, minus water and orange juice and spoon into cored apples.
Pour orange juice and water over apples
Cover and cook on high for 3 hours. 
If your apples completely fall apart, like mine did, stir well and pull out the whole skins (or just mash them up too if you like the texture).
Enjoy!

Day 27

Tonight's dinner was superb. I mean really, melted cheese? On bread? and Sausage?  If you've ever thought fondue was too fancy or hard to make, let me allay your fears.  It is easy.  And it is delicious (even if it is fancy...)!  This would be a great appetizer, but we always make it into a meal.
you can find the original recipe here
Swiss Fondue
Ingredients...
1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, grated
1/2 pound Emmental cheese, grated
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2/3 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay works well)
1 garlic clove, cut in half
4 tablespoon Kirsch (cherry brandy)*
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Ground pepper

Directions...
Toss the grated cheeses together with the cornstarch.
Rub the inside of a heavy saucepan with the cut garlic clove.
Add wine and 2 tablespoons Kirsch (* I never add Krisch, only because I never have it.  I just add more wine to the mix) and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cheese mixture by handful, stirring, until mixture is hot and smooth.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons Kirsch (or wine) if mixture is too thick.
Season with nutmeg and pepper, to taste.
Transfer to a fondue pot and serve immediately with dippers of choice.

We love these dippers:  rye bread, sourdough bread, tart green apples, roasted potatoes, roasted broccoli, sausage.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 26

Here's another great slow cooker meal.  I didn't cut the chicken before putting it in the slow cooker.  Right before serving, I used the back of a spoon and broke the chicken apart.  This makes enough food to feed a crowd, or for freezing for a later date.

Chicken Spaghetti
Ingredients...
2 pounds chicken breasts
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
15 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
15 ounce can tomato sauce
6 ounce tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions...
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Serve over pasta.

Day 25

This recipe came straight off of pillsbury.com.  I am not much of a pork chop fan, and I never really understood the whole ''pork chops and applesauce'' thing, but I am definitely a fan of this meal.  The chops and appples were so tender, you could cut them with your fork.  The cranberries added a hint of tang, and the cayenne and cinnamon added just a hint of heat in the back of your throat.  It was by far the best meal we've had this month!  And to make it even better, it was done in the slow cooker!  We are planning on repeating this as one of our holiday meals.

Slow Cooker Pork Chops and Apple Chutney 
Ingredients...
4 center-cut bone-in pork loin chops, 1 inch thick (about 2 lb)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
2 medium baking apples, peeled, chopped (2 cups)
 
Directions...
Spray 3- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. 
Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper and place in slow cooker.  
In small bowl, mix brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, cinnamon, red pepper and cranberries. 
Spoon over pork in cooker and top with apples.  
Cover and cook on Low heat setting 4 hours to 4 hours 30 minutes.
 We served ours with a dollop of mashed potatoes, but you could have yours with roasted root veggies, sweet potatoes or a corn dish.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 24

Here's a recipe I got out of Deceptively Delicious.  I'm pleased to report that the muffins turned out really well.  They were moist and sweet.  Yum!

Applesauce Muffins
Ingredients...
Topping
2/3 cup oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, diced
Muffins
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup applesauce
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup milk
1/2 cup sweet potato puree (can use baby food...)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup veg oil
1 egg

Directions...
Preheat oven to 400*
Combine topping ingredients
Combine flour, oats, powder, soda, and cinnamon.   
Mix applesauce, milk, veg puree, sugar, oil and egg.   
Add dry to wet and stir until combined.
Bake 18-20 min, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Enjoy!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 23

This is a lovely dessert that represents fall well.  The aromas, flavors and ingredients are warming and easily found in the fall.  I like to serve the pears warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the sauce can be saved and used as an ice cream topping on its own.  Enjoy!
 
Ginger Pears 
Ingredients...
5 firm, ripe pears (Bartletts or Anjous work well)
3 cups apple cider
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon almond extract or Amaretto

Directions...
Peel, quarter and core pears.
Set pears, apple cider, ginger and salt to simmer on stove for 20 minutes, or until pears soften.
Mix cornstarch and water in a separate container.  Add to pears and stir until sauce thickens.
Remove from heat and add almond extract or Amaretto.
Serve either warm or cold.
Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day 22

So this one is kinda cheap... BUT we almost always have this whenever there is a get together at our house (think football parties, movie nights, and game nights).  In fact we've made this twice this week alone.

Chili Cheese Dip
Ingredients...
8 ounces of Velveeta Cheese, cubed
15 ounce can of chili
Your favorite type of tortilla chips

Directions...
Place cheese and chili in a microwave safe bowl. 
Microwave in one minute increments, stirring in between.  It usually takes about 3 minutes.
Serve with your favorite chips

Day 21

Have you ever made your own pizza?  It's a lot of fun, especially when you have little ones helping out in the kitchen.  Use this recipe as a start and make your own creations.
 
Chicken Sausage Pizza
Ingredients...
Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
1/2 cup Pizza Sauce
2 cups shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
2 Chicken Sausages, chopped
1/4 cup Roasted Red Peppers, sliced
1/4 cup Red Onion, sliced
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 teaspoon Italian Seasonings
1 teaspoon dehydrated garlic

Directions...
Preheat 425*
Layer ingredients in order.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and browned.
Enjoy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day 20

I made this for a potluck, and boy is it an excellent appetizer!  You could also top a green salad, make a sandwich on some toasted sourdough, or wrap it up in a whole wheat tortilla. Yum!

Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps
Ingredients...
2 cups cooked chicken, finely chopped
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
4 ounces water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1/2 cup spicy peanut sauce
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
*everything should be chopped to about the same consistency
Small Bibb lettuce leaves (my grocery store didn't have Bibb lettuce, so I used endive, which worked really well)

Directions...
Mix all ingredients (except peanuts and lettuce) in a medium bowl adding chicken broth as needed (if your salad is kind of on the dry side, add more).
Spoon mixture into lettuce cups.
Garnish with chopped peanuts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 19

Here's a meal with a little international flair.  I am happily surprised that it went over so well in my house (I am feeding some fairly picky eaters), there were no leftovers!  We did our chicken on the grill, but you could also cook it under the broiler or even stove top if you wanted (forget the skewers if you do stove top).  You could also use a store bought Peanut Sauce, but this sauce was so easy, why would you want to? I'm sure the leftovers would be tasty (IF you end up with some).  Serve with rice or noodles- your choice!

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
Ingredients...
Chicken Satay...
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cloves minced garlic
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

Peanut Sauce...
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 cloves minced garlic

Directions...
Combine all "Chicken Satay" ingredients to a resealable bag.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Immerse bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before using to prevent burning.
Thread cubed chicken onto wet skewers, leaving some room between pieces. 
Over medium heat, grill your chicken, turning occasionally until all pieces are cooked through about 10-12 minutes. 
To make sauce- combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce is smooth and warm.  Serve with chicken.
Enjoy!

Day 18

This recipe comes to you courtesy of a dear friend of mine.  It is a great meal for parties, family nite or freezing for a later date.  We served it with our Pesto Pizza


Vivian's Pasta
Ingredients...
1 lb uncooked Ziti
1 lb Italian sausage
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoons tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite-diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 T dried
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions...
Cook pasta according to pkg directions, omitting salt & fat.  Drain pasta and set aside.
Remove casings from sausage, if you've bought links.  Cook sausage, onion and garlic until browned & crumbled.  
Add tomato paste, salt & pepper, canned tomatoes (with juice), bring to boil.  
Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 min.
Add basil and cooked pasta to sausage mixture.  
Place half of the pasta mixture in a casserole dish coated with non-stick cooking spray.  
Top with half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan.  
Repeat layers.  
Bake in a 350* oven for 25 min or until bubbly.
Enjoy!

Day 17

I don't think I can tell you enough how much I love my slow-cooker.  It is truly an essential tool in my kitchen, and I would recommend it to anyone.  The prep, clean up, and effort for most slow-cooker meals is minimal and the final product tastes amazing.
Today's meal: 

there's no way to make this look pretty, but trust me... it's good!

Slow Cooker Jambalaya
Ingredients...
1 pound chicken breasts, cubed
3 cups chicken broth (plus extra)
3/4 cups water
1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
4 ounces smoked sausage, sliced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning
2 cloves minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
1 bay leaf
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes

Directions...
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.
Cook on low for 6 hours, adding more chicken broth as needed

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 16

Penne Bake
Ingredients...
1 lb pasta cooked
2 cups marinara sauce
16oz ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Parmesan cheese

Directions...
Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions.
When pasta is done, drain and return to the hot pot.
Mix in all other ingredients and stir until well incorporated and ricotta is melted.
Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and pour in pasta.
Top with Parmesan cheese.
Bake in a 350* oven until everything is warmed through (approx 30 minutes).

Day 15


Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Ingredients...
4 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup dry sherry
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 lb cooked chicken, cut into bite size pieces (rotisserie chickens from the grocery store work really well for this)
1 cup frozen veg, thawed

Directions...
Melt butter in dutch oven, then add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.  
Stir in the flour.  
Slowly whisk in the sherry, scraping up any browned bits.  
Stir in chicken broth and cream.  
Simmer until thickened about 10 min.  
Season with salt and pepper to taste.  
Stir in chicken and veg, warming thoroughly.  
Pour into pan, top with a can of biscuits cut into pieces.  
Bake at 375* for 15 min or until biscuits are done.
Serve and Enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 14

Breakfast Scramble
Ingredients...
9 eggs, broken and blended
1/2 lb breakfast sausage, broken-up
5 slices bacon, chopped
32 oz package of frozen hashbrowns, cooked
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions...
In a skillet over medium high heat, cook hashbrowns according to package directions until done.
In a separate skillet (large enough to add hashbrowns), cook bacon, drain and set aside.
In the bacon skillet start breakfast sausage.  When it is almost done, drain off some of the fat and then add hashbrowns and eggs.  Stir mixture continuously until eggs are cooked (this will only take a few minutes).
Add bacon and cheese, and stir until cheese is melted. 
Salt and pepper to your taste.
Serve hot (I like to top mine with salsa- yum!) .
Enjoy!

Day 13

We went out of town for part of the weekend, and I haven't done all my posts yet... (sheepish grin)
I was able to cook though, so I'll get them up throughout the week, and hopefully be all caught up by the end of the week.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups
Ingredients...
Your favorite pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough
(using pre-made dough will ensure consistancy)

Directions...
Spray a standard size muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
Take about a tablespoon of cookie dough and form into the bottom and up the sides of the cups in a standard sized muffin tin.  Make sure the dough is fairly smooth, without any breaks in the dough.  The dough should be no more than about a quarter of an inch thick through out.
Bake approx 8 minutes.
Wet a teaspoon measuring spoon, and with the back press the center of the cookie cup down gently. The dough will naturally try to puff up, by pressing it down you keep the cup shape.
Bake 2 more minutes, press dough with spoon.  Repeat until cookie cup is done (my cookies took about 12 minutes to bake) 
Cool completely in muffin pan.
Using a toothpick, gently run along the edge between cookie and pan to loosen.  Gently lift out.
Fill with ice cream and top with your favorite dessert toppings (chocolate sauce, whip cream...)
Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 12

I think that it is safe to say that fall is officially here.  The days are consistently cooler, and the nights are cold enough to need an extra blanket on the bed.  In my opinion, this means perfect soup weather.  And what would make it even better than to be able to spend all day cooking it without actually having to spend all day cooking it.  Of course what I mean by that, is using the slow-cooker.  All the aromas without the work!

Tonight's dinner was found on here


Cheesy Potato Soup
Ingredients...
1 32 ounce bag of frozen diced hashbrowns (thawed)
1 32 ounce container of chicken broth
1 medium stalk of celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
bacon
scallions, chopped

Directions...
In a slow-cooker, combine thawed hashbrowns, chicken broth, celery and onion. 
Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.
Using a potato masher, slightly mash potatoes to a creamier consistency.
Mix flour and milk in a small bowl.  Stir into soup.  Set heat to high for 30 minutes.
Melt in cheese, stirring continuously.
Garnish with chopped scallions and bacon.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Days 10 and 11

I decided to roll day 10 and 11 together, because it was one meal that became two.

Every spring we plan, plant, and hope our vegetable garden does well.  Usually there's a thing or two that doesn't do well, but we always have tomatoes (I tell people tomatoes are ''stupid-easy'' to grow).  This year we had amazing luck with the tomatoes, 50 pounds of amazing luck over the course of the season.  Now I love tomatoes as much as anyone can, but 50 pounds is an incredible amount.  Especially when the majority of them ripen all at once.
30 pounds brought in all at once!
We had a work party and processed all the tomatoes (peeled, portioned, and froze).  It is really lovely to have a taste of summer in the middle of a cold dark winter!  My favorite thing to make with the tomatoes is a Marinara Sauce.  This sauce is so simple and allows the true tomato flavor shine.

Anywho, Day 10 was the Marinara Sauce served with pasta, salad and bread.  So simple and delicious.  The recipe is here.

Day 11 was sauce, round two, in Lasagne .  I love to make homemade lasagne, especially when I have some homemade sauce to push it over the top.  Here is my go to recipe to making the goods.


Lasagne
Ingredients...
Marinara Sauce
Lasagne Noodles
16 ounces part-skim Ricotta Cheese
2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 tablespoon Dried Italian Seasonings (or use a teaspoon each of basil, oregano and parsley)
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
Parmesan Cheese

Directions...
Partially boil the lasagne noodles in batches of 4-5 (I usually go about 5 minutes) with a tablespoon (doesn't need to be presice) of olive oil (this will keep the noodles from sticking after you drain them).
Meanwhile, mix the ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/4 cup shredded parm, Italian Seasonings, and garlic in a large bowl. 
Spoon some sauce into the bottom of a large casserole pan.
Layer noodles, ricotta mixture, a handfull of mozzarella cheese and more sauce (in this order). Repeat until pan is full.  Top with shredded mozzarella and parm cheeses. 
Cover with foil and bake in a 400* oven for 25-30 minutes or until lasagne is bubbling.  Remove foil and let go another 10 minutes to brown the cheese on top.
Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before cutting so lasagne sets. 
Enjoy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 9

We went to a birthday party Sunday afternoon, and were asked to bring a side to share.  I decided to make a Greek Pasta Salad.  It was really tasty, quick to make, and so good there were hardly any leftovers (Kiddo even liked it)!  The ingredients are adjustable to your liking, think of the recipe more like a guideline than a must follow. 
Greek Pasta Salad
Ingredients...
4 cups pasta, cooked according to package directions (rotini, penne, etc)
1 cup cooked chicken, cooled and shredded (I used a rotisserie chicken I bought from the store)
1/2 cup creamy Greek dressing (I used this)
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
same amount pitted Greek olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions...
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (adjust amounts as necessary) and mix thoroughly.  Refrigerate leftovers. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 8

Straight out of college, my husband got a job in New Mexico.  So we packed up our one bedroom apartment, VW Bug, and two cats and made the cross country trip.  Thus began my love affair with New Mexico Green Chiles. 

As you can probably tell by the name, green chilies are a big deal in New Mexico.  As well they should be.  They are a mild(ish) green pepper that is often smoked before being eaten.  You can find them in and on everything in New Mexico.  From green chile burgers, to chile relleno, I've even had them in fettuccine alfredo (by the way, aaah-mazing!).  But one of the best applications for the green chile, is chile stew.
This was our dinner for Day 8:
Green Chile Stew
 Ingredients...
This will make a large pot of stew
1 whole stewed chicken (yes, we actually spent the day stewing a chicken.  If you want to be lazy fast, buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store) picked apart
4 medium sized potatoes diced
2-3 quarts good quality chicken stock (The amount of stock needed is really dependent on how much chicken, chiles, and potatoes you use)
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes
12 green chiles, roasted and skins peeled off (if absolutely neccessary, and I mean a dire situation, you can sub in a large can of whole green chiles, but really try to go with the fresh ones... I do believe it makes a difference!)
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup of white wine
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions...
Set a large stew pot over medium heat and add oil.
Once oil is hot add diced onions and cook until softened (3-4 minutes stirring often)
Deglaze pan with white wine, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
Add stock, potatoes, tomatoes, chicken and chiles (if need-be, add more stock so the soup is a consistency to your liking).
Bring up to a boil.  
Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar, and turn heat to low.
Simmer for an hour.  
You can garnish this with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, or can be eaten as is.  Makes really lovely leftovers, because somethings just get better with time.
Enjoy!

*How to roast a green chile*
Pick large, firm chiles and wash well.
Pick a heat source:
Broiler
Gas stove-top burner
BBQ (charcoal or gas)
Heat peppers, turning frequently, until the skins are charred and blistering 
(char = flavor  don't be afraid to really burn the skins)!
Place in a bowl and cover with a wet towel.  
Let stand for 15 minutes.  
Cut the tops and peel the skins, they will now slip right off.  You can use these directly, within a few days, or freeze (If freezing, leave skins on until you are ready to use them.  Pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds and proceed with the cutting and skinning). 
Yum!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 7

 
Today we had breakfast... for lunch!   

Peach Pancakes with bacon, yum!  I had some left over peaches from my farmer's market trip, so I "googled" peach pancakes and came up with this recipe, and I thought I'd give it a go.  Phew!  If you need a good recipe for pancakes you should give this one a try.  This would be a great stand-by batter (with or without fruit) and you could probably sub-in any other kind of fruit you wanted. 
They. Were. Amazing. 

We will definitely be repeating this one.
They even got kiddo's seal of approval.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 6

Tonight's dinner had all the factors that lead to a great mid-week meal: it was quick, easy, and a crowd pleaser.  We had Quesadilla Casserole

It was one of those McCormick "Recipe Inspirations" packets, where all the spices/ seasonings (minus the salt and pepper) come together along with a recipe card and instructions.  We've tried a couple of these different "inspirations", and so far have been rather pleased with them.  The nice thing is you get a recipe card out of it, so if you like the meal you can make it again without having to buy the spice pack.  Kiddo wasn't much of a fan, but then again if his food is mixed together he gets rather suspicious that you are trying to trick something "healthy" into him.  The whole dinner fed four adults and a partial plate for the wee one with a little bit left over.
For dessert, I made a Rustic Peach Tart.  I made it with peaches I bought at our local farmer's market, and I'll tell you what... nothing beats farmer's market produce (that is unless it is your own home-grown produce)!  The peaches were so tender and ripe and incredibly juicy.  This is your recipe for the evening...
Rustic Peach Tart
Ingredients...
2 or 3 skinned peaches, sliced (*for directions on this, see below)
1 Refrigerated pie crust
a couple tablespoons of large grain sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter

Directions...
Place pie crust on parchment paper or lightly sprayed (with non-stick cooking spray) foil
Top pie crust with sliced fruit leaving 2 inches around edge.
Cube butter and top fruit
Sprinkle a few teaspoons large grain sugar over fruit (if your fruit is really sweet, you won't need a lot of sugar)
Fold the edges of the pie crust over the edge of fruit, overlapping as you move around the tart.  It should be very rustic looking (hence the name)
Lightly brush crust with water using a pastry brush.
Sprinkle crust with more sugar.
Bake at 350* for 40-45 minutes (check on your tart toward the end of the backing time to make sure your crust isn't burning).
Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting (lets the juices set up a bit)
Serve with some vanilla ice cream- yum!

How to skin a peach 
(also works well for skinning nectarines, plums and tomatoes)
Set a large pot of water to boil over high heat. 
Wash and score the skin of the bottom of the fruit with an "X" shape.  Be sure to use a sharp knife so you don't cut your fruit too deep- the deeper the cut, the more juice will escape into the boiling water.
When water reaches a rolling boil, drop some scored fruit into the water (don't crowd the pot, you want the water to keep boiling)
Leave for 20 seconds (less time for riper fruit, more time for unripe fruit) then pull out with a slotted spoon and place directly into a bowl of ice water (yes, a bowl of water with actual ice in it) leave for a few minutes.  This ice bath stops the fruit from cooking and cools it enough so you can handle it. 
The skins should slip right off, leaving the flesh intact.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 5

October 5's dinner was Meatball Soup and Pesto Pizza
I picked up Jessica Seinfeld's book, Deceptively Delicious from my local library in hopes that I could learn some tricks to get my Veggie-Phobic Tot to eat more of the good stuff.  It's all about hiding pureed veggies in different kinds of dishes.  I am not above a little bit of deception ;)
Tonight's dinner was meatballs in a tomato soup base.  The broth was made up with pureed carrots, tomatoes, garlic, onion and chicken broth.  Pretty basic and for the most part pretty good.  I think I'd make the broth again.  The meatballs had pureed sweet potatoes in them, and that made them surprisingly sweet (duh).  I think, though, I would make some changes to these.  First off, there were no real seasonings (besides from a little bit of paprika- that you couldn't taste at all) in the meatballs.  I think next time I would add something spicy, like some chili powder or a touch of cayenne, to contrast the sweet.  Ya know, sweet and spicy always goes well together.  The recipe also called for using cubed bread in the meatballs.  They did not hold up through the cooking process, and half of them ended up dissolving into the broth.  It really ended up being tomato hamburger soup with meatballs.  A little much.  I  think I would try using breadcrumbs instead in attempts to get them to hold together through the cooking.  You also added some cooked pasta to bulk up the soup.  I don't think you'd need to, the meatballs make it hearty enough. 
My side was a pesto pizza, which was of my own creation and is your recipe for today!
Pesto Pizza
Ingredients...
Pre-made Thin Crust Pizza Crust (I used Freschetta Artisan Pizza Crust- Thin)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Minced Garlic
Pre-made Pesto with Basil
Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions...
Pre-heat oven to 425*
Drizzle olive oil over pizza crust and spread with a pastry brush.
Sprinkle minced garlic on crust
Top with a couple tablespoons pre-made pesto (enough to your liking, but make sure the crust is covered).
Sprinkle parm on top of pesto
Bake until toasty and cheese is starting to brown, about 10-12 minutes.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 4

Day 4's Dinner: Pork Chops, couscous, and Mexican Grilled Corn with Cilantro.

I have a confession to make.  I have never eaten grilled corn on the cob before.  I am now a convert, I don't think I'll eat it any other way!


Mexican Grilled Corn with Cilantro
Ingredients...
2 ears corn
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Directions...
Shuck the ears of corn
Toss corn in olive oil, salt, and pepper in a medium sized bowl (reserve the bowl).
Grill over medium heat for 10-12 minutes until the kernels are tender.
Place cilantro, lime juice, and warm corn cobs in the reserved bowl and toss.
Garnish with fresh lime wedges.

Day 3

A funny thing happened...

So, I was talking with my mom about this challenge.  She was very enthusiastic and encouraging about the whole thing.  This was a good sign because she often recognizes my crazy impulses at the onset and is more than willing to tell me when I'm being a dork and getting in over my head.  You should know that I am extremely impulsive- like the time I decided I was going to run a marathon even though I hated running and would do everything in my power to avoid doing so.  Or the time I decided I was going to make a craft every day for the next year even though I was well aware that I had a toddler at home.  See?  Ridiculously impulsive.  She had one question though :
Are you just doing dinners at home, or is it all meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)?

Leave it to moms to ask the hard questions.  I thought about it for a moment and came up with this answer:
I was thinking I would just focus mostly on dinners. 

Here's my reasoning: Some days it's just easier to grab something while we are on the run, and besides dinners out are often more expensive and more time consuming than lunches on the go.  Albeit lunches and dinners out are probably equally unhealthy, I just figured the dinner thing would suit the challenge (and lifestyle) a little bit better.  Mostly making excuses so I'd still be able to go to Taco Bell every now and then.  She invited me to meet with her stitching group for lunch. 

Now, I am a firm believer in Karma.  You know, the force that smacks you around when you're feeling cocky.  So when the appointed time rolled around, the kiddos and I packed up in the car and set off to the designated food stop for lunch.  We had a lovely lunch with the ladies, my boys were particularly charming.  When it was time to leave, we loaded up in the car, got our seat belts on, then... nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  The car wouldn't start, wouldn't click, the lights wouldn't even turn on.  The battery was completely dead.  I don't know about you, but having a dead car battery at naptime is not my idea of fun.  This was definitely a sign that we needed to be eating at home as much as possible.  Sigh, I guess I can live without Taco Bell. 

Last night's dinner was a really quick and easy one.  Although it isn't the prettiest, my family devours this in no time flat.  It is really quick and is perfect for when you have leftover fish (I think fish tends to get a little funky when you re-heat it, so this is a great way to use it up without wasting the leftovers).  Using canned tuna makes it even faster- I can get this on the table in no time with a can of tuna!  We had:


Tuna and Potato Pancakes

Ingredients...
(will make about 8 patties depending on size)

16 oz frozen shredded hashbrowns thawed
8 oz cooked and cooled fish (salmon works really well with this) or 2 cans tuna (well drained)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Minced garlic
Pepper
Any variety shredded cheese

Directions...
~Flake fish (or drain your tuna) and mix with the thawed hashbrowns and fresh cracked black pepper. 
~Form patties and make sure to squeeze out extra liquid.  Both the hashbrowns and tuna will have a lot of water, if there is too much in the patties they won't stick together and will make your pancakes soggy. 
~Warm oil (just enough to coat the bottom of your pan) and garlic over medium high heat, stirring often so the garlic doesn't burn.
~Once the garlic is fragrant, add the patties to the oil.  Cook for about 5 minutes on each side (or until hashbrowns are brown and crispy).  On the second side, top the patties with about a tablespoon shredded cheese and let melt before taking out of the pan. 
~These are really great with katchup, sour cream, or a squeeze of lemon- whatever you prefer. 

My 3 year old LOVES these and often out eats my husband and me.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 2

October 2nd's dinner was a feast fit for a king!  We spend at least one night a week with my family for dinner.  This is a great opportunity to spend time together, and eat eat eat!  We share the cooking duties, and last night I happened to get the night off. 

My dad loves to cook pot roast, that is his specialty.  This is a meal that takes all day (and makes a big mess according to him) but is so worth it.  The beef and carrots simmering away until they practically melt in your mouth.  The rich smells permeating the air, creating a warmth that embraces you.  I can't think of a meal that represents fall better than this.
Pot Roast, Carrots, Mashed Potatoes, and Scalloped Corn

Sunday, October 2, 2011

31 Days

October 1st marked the first day of the "31 Days... Challenge" hosted by The Nesting Place.  That means for the next 31 days, I will be talking part in this challenge.

I've been thinking a lot about this over the last couple of weeks trying to come up with something to write about for an entire month... crafting, knitting, cupcakes, cleaning, blah blah blah.  Nothing really stuck with me and I had pretty much given up on the idea.  Until I went for my run this afternoon and it finally hit me.  We've been really trying to limit our eating out lately and that would be the perfect challenge.  So for the next month, we will be eating homemade, healthy and mindful meals at home.  I hope you will join me for 31 Days at the table.

Since I am (fashionably) late to the party, it looks like I will be playing a little bit of catch-up.  But the good news is we actually ate at home last night (the bad news is I have no pictures), so here goes...

Cheesy Chicken Casserole
This is one of my husband's stand-by recipes.  He's got a couple of goodies he can pull out whenever he is responsible for dinner, and this is one of them.  It is pretty quick and would make an awesome left-over revamp if you've got all the ingredients hanging around.  It is also great for customizing with your favorite kind of meat or veg.

Ingredients...
1 box Mexican or Spanish Rice
1 jar (15oz) Tostitos nacho cheese dip (or your favorite cheese sauce)
2 chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup frozen corn kernel, thawed
1 4 oz can diced green chilis (we had some from our garden that we roasted- yum)

Prepare the rice according to the package directions and preheat oven to 350*.
While the rice is cooking, dice chicken and cook over medium high heat until no longer pink.
Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Spread cooked rice in the bottom of dish.
Layer with frozen corn, chilis and chicken.
Top with the nacho cheese.
Place in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until bubbling.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Inbred Animals

I hope this gets you through your Wednesday



(I couldn't resist)