This blog is a compilation of all me and my husband's favorite recipes. Most are simple and easy to make. Please leave feedback if clarification is needed, if you like adding something else to the recipe, how you do it differently, etc. I would LOVE feedback! And mostly, I just hope you can enjoy eating some yummy food!!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Spinach Salad with Girard's White Balsamic Vinaigrette


This is my favorite salad dressing.  Ever.  It is amazing!  It has such an earthy and wholesome taste to it.  Try it!  I love to have it on my spinach salad with craisins, feta cheese, and some kind of candied nut.



1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 quarts apple cider
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves
3 inch stick stick cinnamon

Notes / Directions
Combine brown sugar, salt and cider. Tie spices in small piece cheesecloth; add. Slowly bring to boiling; simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Remove spices. Serve hot.

Sauteed Apples

A fine thanks to Allrecipes.com!

This is what I make when I have a bunch of apples lying around that need to be eaten!  And it makes a delicious breakfast too. 

1/4 cup butter
4 large tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Notes / Directions
1. In a large skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add apples. Cook, stirring constantly, until apples are almost tender, about 6 to 7 minutes.

2. Dissolve cornstarch in water; add to skillet. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve warm.

German Pancakes


Ever had these?  They are kinda weird looking...  But they are so yummy!  You can serve them with so many different toppings!  I've listed a few of my favorites at the bottom.

3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter

Notes / Directions
Set a clear glass pie plate in oven on bottom shelf. Turn oven on to 400 degrees. Mix flour and milk until smooth.  Add eggs and mix for 5 minutes on low setting. Remove hot pie plate from oven and add 2 tablespoons of butter. Rotate around until butter is melted. Add batter immediately. Bake for 20 minutes.

 Powder sugar
 Chocolate syrup 


IHOP Buttermilk Pancakes

I used to buy pancake batter from the store but it just was never that good!  Naturally, I began my quest for the best recipe out there and came across this copycat recipe and it is absolutely delectable.  I can only eat one pancake though because for some reason, they are extremely filling.

IHOP Buttermilk Pancakes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 pinch salt

Notes / Directions
1. Preheat a skillet over medium heat.
2. Mix all of the ingredients til combined.
3. Melt a little bit of butter in the pan.
4. Pour the batter by spoonfuls into the hot pan, forming 5-inch circles.
5. When the edges appear to harden, flip the pancakes.
6. They should be golden brown.
7. Cook the pancakes on the other side until they are also golden brown.
8. Enjoy.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Butterhorn Rolls

These rolls have been on the Thanksgiving dinner table ever since I can remember and are a classic at my house.  Not only that, they are absolutely TO DIE FOR good.  Once the first batch comes out of the oven, everyone runs to the kitchen, and my mom, armed with a broom, starts whacking people away.  Well.... not really.  But there is yelling and scolding involved :)  This is the first year that I'm going to be away from home for Thanksgiving so I'll be making them on my own.  My mom assures me that they are easy so hopefully it goes well for me.  Give it a try yourself!  They are truly the most amazing rolls.

2 pkgs. yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup milk
1/2 cup imperial butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, well beaten
5 cups flour

Notes / Directions
Combine warm water, 1 T. sugar and yeast and set aside. Scald milk and add butter, 1/2 c. sugar and salt. Beat eggs, add milk mixture, yeast, and 1 2/3 c. flour. Beat vigorously til bubbles form on the surface. Cover and set aside 25-30 minutes.

Add remaining 3 1/3 c. flour; knead. Put in greased bowl. Cover and let rise about 1 hour. Knead down. Divide into thirds. Roll each third into a circle and cut into 12 pie-shaped wedges. 

Brush with melted butter. Shape into crescents by starting to roll at wide end of triangle.

Place on buttered cookie sheets with pointed end tucked under.

Let rise til light (45 min-1 hour). Brush with salted butter. Bake 12-15 (mom says 10) minutes at 400. Brush with salted butter.  Makes 3 dozen.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Dip from the Olive Garden

Look no further for the perfect spinach artichoke dip recipe because this is THE ONE!!!  Straight from the Olive Garden's website.  They have other recipes on their site too.  Me and my husband were completely blown away that we could produce something so insanely good!  This dip is unparalleled!  I highly recommend making your own warm, moist, FRESH bread.  I made my french baguettes recipe, which is way better than anything you buy in the store.  Beware though, this is not the quantity of dip that you'd get at a restaurant.  It makes a lot of dip.  Like a 9x13 pan.  I think it would also work well in a round pie dish, it would just be thicker, but I haven't tried it yet.  AND don't leave anything out!!  Every ingredient has it's place.

2 artichoke hearts
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (grate your own cheese; it tastes better and melts better)
1/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves (I used dried thyme)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
5 green onions, chopped
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1 6-oz pack fresh spinach, chopped

Notes / Directions
Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Preparation for fresh artichokes:
Steam for 45 minutes with some lemon water.  Cool the artichokes.  Clean, peel, remove center "choke" and chop up into pieces.

Dip preparation:
Mix all ingredients together except the artichokes.  I did this in my kitchenaid.  Once everything is mixed well, fold in artichoke hearts.  Coat a large pan with pan spray; fill pan with mixture.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until bubbling and center is hot.  Garnish with parmesan cheese.

Bread preparation:
Cut bread into thin slices.  Lightly coat each side with olive oil (I skipped this part) and place on a cookie sheet.  Lightly broil each side so they are nice and crispy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kiwi Strawberry Smoothie

I was so surprised when I took a sip of this.  I seriously thought it came straight from Jamba Juice!

1 banana
6 strawberries
1 kiwi
1/2 cup vanilla frozen yogurt
3/4 cup orange juice
6 ice cubes

Notes / Directions
Place the banana, strawberries, kiwi, vanilla frozen yogurt, orange juice, and ice cubes in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Coconut-Mint Green Monster

I guess I was feeling a little adventurous this afternoon, but the results were very pleasing!  The coconut and mint in the recipe really came together nicely.  And as for the spinach, you can't taste it!  It just turns it green :)

1 frozen banana

2 cups of spinach
3 mint leaves
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon flax
1 very vanilla Yoplait yogurt
1 cup vanilla soy milk

Notes / Directions
As explained in my Smoothie Basics, freeze yogurt in an ice tray for about an hour.  Use half of the frozen yogurt in the smoothie.  Put everything in the blender and blend till smooth.

-You can use any kind of milk, though I highly recommend vanilla soy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Frozen Hot Chocolate

Making one of these might be a bad idea because you'll never stop making them!

2 packages of hot chocolate
6 ice cubes
1 cup milk

Notes / Directions
Blend everything together, serve with whipped topping on top.

Apple Pie Smoothie

I love apple pie, I love apple sauce, I love apples, and I love smoothies!  So I made an apple pie smoothie!  It is so GOOD!  Probably one I won't make often just because of the preparation of the apples but it is still a keeper!

Check out my Smoothie Basics to get ideas and tips on how to make smoothies
Adapted from Once Upon a Cutting Board 

1 apple or about 1/2 cup applesauce

1 very vanilla Yoplait yogurt
1 1/2 graham crackers
1/2 cup oats (or less or none)
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
4 dashes of cinnamon
2 dashes of nutmeg
1 cup vanilla soy milk

Notes / Directions
Freeze yogurt in an ice tray for about an hour.  Peel, and chop apple.  Put in boiling water for 5 minutes and drain.  Add ingredients in blender.  Blend it all together.  If it's too thick, add more milk.

-Can use any kind of milk, I just like the added flavor of the vanilla soy.

This smoothie just got easier!!  I used applesauce instead of boiling an apple and it was SO good and required WAY less effort!  I didn't make this one often because I didn't like to peel the apple and boil it but now that I use applesauce, my woes are over!  I used like 1/4-1/2 cup applesauce.  ENJOY!! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie

Check out my Smoothie Basics

1 frozen banana

1/2 fresh banana
1/2 cup oats
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 cup vanilla soy milk

Notes / Directions
Blend it all together.  If it's too thick, add more milk.

-Can use any kind of milk, I just like the added flavor of the vanilla soy.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie

Check out my Smoothie Basics

1 frozen banana

1/2 fresh banana
1/2 cup oats
1 tablespoon raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 dash allspice
1 cup vanilla soy milk

Notes / Directions
Blend it all together.  If it's too thick, add more milk.

-Can use any kind of milk, I just like the added flavor of the vanilla soy.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Check out my Smoothie Basics

1 regular Yoplait light very vanilla yogurt
1/2 fresh banana

2-3 strawberries
1 cup vanilla soy milk

Optional (Recommended)
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 tablespoon flax 

Notes / Directions
1. Spoon yogurt into and ice tray and freeze for about an hour.

2. Put everything in a blender and blend till smooth.

-Can use any kind of milk, I just like the added flavor of the vanilla soy.

Smoothie Basics

I have been on a smoothie rampage as of late and have learned a thing or two that I'd like to share!

Smoothie milk base:  I always use vanilla soy milk as the base.  I honestly don't really care for vanilla soy alone, it's got a weird texture and taste, but it seriously makes the BEST smoothies.  Hands down.  It adds such a rich and delicious taste.  People always comment on how good my smoothies are -- it's the vanilla soy.  It's great stuff and it keeps for a long time in the fridge, like a month or two, so buy vanilla soy.  I usually start out with about a cup of vanilla soy with each smoothie.  If you like thicker smoothies, put less.

Frozen yogurt cubes:  I just love the Very Vanilla Lowfat Yoplait Yogurt.  Excellent stuff for smoothies.  I make frozen cubes of yogurt to add to my smoothies.  I fill an ice cube tray up with 2 things of yogurt and freeze them.  So one thing of yogurt will make about 8 cubes.  Perfect for smoothies.  Seriously.

Bananas.... they go in EVERYTHING!  For real!  We have been going through bananas like crazy!  So I buy tons.  I usually peel and cut up a whole bunch and then stick them in the freezer for later.  If I found that I bought too many bananas and they start to turn pretty brown, I make banana bread :)

Strawberries:  I'm cheap.  Really.  So I don't buy frozen strawberries.  I go to Costco and buy a big huge thing of fresh strawberries and then I take them home, pit them, and then stick them in my freezer so they don't go bad.

Oatmeal:  Oatmeal is a great and delicious way to add more substance and nutrients to a smoothie.  It's was weird the first time I had oatmeal in a smoothie but I love it now and I usually end up putting 1/4-1/2 cup in a smoothie.

Flax:  This adds wonderful texture and nutrients to a smoothie.  Try it.

Spinach:  It's always freaky to see a green smoothie.  Or one that just looks like it's been through someone's digestive system.  But you honestly can't taste it!  Spinach is SOO good for you and you can't taste it so just throw some in!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Chicken Salad

This is by far the best salad in the world.  It comes from a restaurant called Zupas in Utah.

spring mix salad
blush wine vinaigrette
strawberries, sliced
red grapes
oven roasted chicken strips
cashews, diced

Notes / Directions
Toss salad greens with salad dressing. Top with everything else in desired quantities.

Other salad dressing:
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup canola oil
4 strawberries
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar

Blend everything but the oil.  Slowly add oil until well mixed.

Amish White Bread

My friend Scott is a bread critique and he said that this is probably the best white bread that he has ever had.  It really is quite delicious!

2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups bread flour

Notes / Directions
1. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam.

2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

3. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.

4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.

French Baguettes

So I made these the other day for the first time and HOLY COW!!  They were SO good!  I ate a whole loaf by myself and then I made another batch because everyone else wanted some more too.  I also couldn't believe how easy it was!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

1 cup water
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons SAF instant yeast
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

Notes / Directions
Combine water, flour, sugar, and yeast and kneed for 5-7 min (in mixer).  (If using different yeast, proof yeast first.) Remove dough hook, cover work bowl and let sit 15 minutes. THEN, sprinkle salt evenly over the dough and knead again until the salt is well incorporated. Set aside in warm place (85°F) until doubled in size.

Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 16x12 inch rectangle. Cut dough in half, creating two 8x12 inch rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, beginning at 12 inch side, pounding out any air bubbles as you go. Roll gently back and forth to taper end. Place 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches, or make one lengthwise slash on each loaf. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Mix egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water; brush over tops of loaves.

***For those who prefer a more crunchy crust, use only egg white for brushing the loaf - and throw 1/4 cup of water onto the bottom of the oven (avoid heating element if you have an electric oven) - immediately place the loaf in the oven and bake as directed... the water will create steam and gives the bread a crispier crust. When I prefer a soft crust, I whisk a whole egg (not just the yolk). For bread sticks omit brushing the dough with egg.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Sweet & Salty Granola

This is like the perfect combination of sweet and salty.  I now make a batch a week for breakfast and it is wonderful.  I do leave out the berries though.

4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cup almonds, sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Notes / Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a bowl mix the oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. In a saucepan warm the oil and honey. Whisk in vanilla.

Carefully pour the liquid over the oat mixture. Stir gently with a wooden spoon; finish mixing by hand. Spread granola in a 15x10 inch baking pan.

Bake 40 minutes, stirring carefully every 10 minutes. Transfer granola-filled pan to a rack to cool completely. Stir in raisins or cranberries. Seal granola in an airtight container or self-sealing plastic bag. Store at room temperature for 1 week or in the freezer for 3 months.

If you find that you'd like it crispier, try cooking it for longer. 

Hot Fudge

So my grandma would never admit it, but she's a chocoholic and it's a given that you get chocolate recipes from chocoholics. After all, they are most likely the chocolate experts! This recipe comes from my grandma so you know it's good. And I can tell you it's good because I literally use 1/2 cup on any small amount of ice cream. I just can't ever have enough hot fudge!

1 cup water, boiling
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter

Notes / Directions
Add cocoa to boiling water. In a separate bowl mix flour, sugar, and salt. Add to water and coca stirring briskly. Cook and stir over medium heat till thick. Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup swiss cheese, shredded
2 1/2 cups broccoli, lightly steamed and chopped

Notes / Directions
Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15-20 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft. Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes. In a separate medium-sized stockpot, melt butter then add flour, salt and pepper. Cook together, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, then whisk in warmed milk. Stir and heat together on medium heat until soup starts to thicken, about 5-8 minutes. Add warmed chicken broth and continue to stir until well blended. Add cheeses and stir until completely melted. Stir in seamed broccoli. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Serve immediately in bowls or bread bowls.

Note: To make my life easier, while the soup is coming together, I put the chopped broccoli in a large glass bowl with a little water, cover with saran wrap and microwave for about 3-4 minutes. It cooks perfectly and just in time to add it to the soup.

Corn Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups corn meal
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 egg whites
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup butter
1 cup honey
1 cup milk
1 cup apple sauce

Notes / Directions
Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Slightly beat egg whites and mix in oil, butter, honey, milk, and apple sauce until semi blended. Add dry ingredients and stir till moist. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

***You may also substitute corn meal with oats and then add some apples and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon for cinnamon apple muffins.

Oatmeal Cookies - No Sugar!

Adapted from Blueberry Girl

1 1/2 cups regular rolled oats
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup almond meal (see below to make your own)
1 cup dried fruit (I use craisins, but any dried fruit is good)
3 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup canola oil (I use coconut oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Notes / Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine everything into a bowl and mix until well blended, adding dried fruits last.  Cookies retain the same shape that you spoon them into.  Spoon into a round, thick, flat blob. Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

***These freeze GREAT!  After done cooking, let them cool and put into zip lock bags and freeze them.  I just ate one while it was still frozen and it was delicious!

Almond Meal
If you've got a good blender, it's easy to make your own almond meal.  It might have a little more texture to it but you can't tell in the cookies.  Put about 1-2 handfuls of almonds (sliced, whole, slivered) into your blender and blend till it's smooth.  The smoother, the better.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yoplait Triple Berry Smoothie

You know the yummy Yoplait Triple Berry Smoothie packs you can buy in the freezer section that are so good??  Well, I didn't want to pay the money for it when the concept was so simple.  So, I stole their idea and created my own recipe for it!  I go and buy a big huge bag of frozen triple berries from Sam's club and a bunch of little Yoplait yogurts.  I fill my ice trays with the yogurt and once I have lots of frozen yogurt cubes, I transfer them to a Ziploc bag.  And wallah!!  I can have a smoothie whenever I want!  The best thing is that it's VERY healthy!  I buy the light yogurt because in a smoothie I can't taste the difference and use vanilla soy milk because is really good for you and the added vanilla flavor is delicious.  Over all, one smoothie has about 240 calories and is nutrient filled.

1 regular Yoplait light very vanilla yogurt
1 hand full frozen triple berries
1 cup vanilla soy milk

Notes / Directions
1. Spoon yogurt into and ice tray and freeze for about an hour.

2. Put all of frozen yogurt, a hand full of berries, and soy milk into blender and blend till smooth. Makes one big smoothie, I usually split it with my husband.

-Can use any kind of milk, I just like the added flavor of the vanilla soy.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easy Pull-Apart Orange Rolls

My grandma always makes these when I go to visit her.  Mostly because they are my FAVORITE and I devour the whole plate but also because she's getting old and tries to keep things as simple as possible.  And these rolls are SO simple!

2 pkgs regular sized biscuits
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
orange rind, grated

Notes / Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place biscuits standing up in a bundt pan. Boil sugar and butter together. Place orange rind in the mixture. Pour over biscuits. Bake 15-20 minutes. turn over onto plate and serve warm.

Benihana Japanese Onion Soup

4 cups canned chicken broth
2 cups water
1 white onion, chopped
1/2 carrot, coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 celery, coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 green onions, diced (green part only)

Notes / Directions
1. Combine chicken broth and water in a large saucepan over high heat.

2. Slice the white onion in half, then coarsely chop one half (save the other half for later).

3. Add coarsely chopped onion, carrot, celery and salt to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent. As the broth simmers, heat up 1 cup of vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.

4. Slice the remaining white onion into very thin slices. Separate the slices, dip the slices into the milk, then into the flour. Fry the breaded onions, a handful at a time in the oil until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.

5. When the soup has simmered for 10 minutes, strain the vegetables out of the broth and toss them out. Pour the broth back into the pan and keep it hot over low heat.

6. To serve soup, ladle about 1 cup of broth into a bowl.

7. Drop a few pieces of fried onion into the soup, followed by 6 to 8 mushroom slices (about 1 mushroom each) and a couple pinches of diced green onion. When the fried onions sink to the bottom of the bowl (a couple of minutes), serve the soup.

Taco Soup

I love this soup.  I always have the ingredients on hand so if I'm in need of a dinner, this is what I make :)

1 lb ground beef, sauteed
1 onion, sauteed
1 can black beans, undrained
1 can kidney beans, undrained
1 can corn, undrained
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups water
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can green chile peppers, drained
1 package taco seasoning
Cheddar cheese
sour cream

Notes / Directions
Put everything in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Serve with Fritos, cheese, and sour cream.

Potato Bacon Chowder

Adapted from Taste of Home

2 cups potatoes, cubed
1 cup water
8 bacon strips 

1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 3/4 cups milk
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

Notes / Directions
In a covered saucepan, bring water to a boil and cook potatoes until tender (5-8 minutes).  In a separate skillet, cook bacon until it's nice and crispy.  Place on a paper towel to drip off grease.  Add celery and onions to the bacon grease and saute until tender.  Add to the pot of potatoes and stir in soup, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper.  Cook over low heat until heated through.  Crumble bacon and add to soup along with parsley.

* I reheat pre-cooked bacon strips and over cook them a little so they will crumble.  This makes the process WAAAY easier.

Ham and Potato Soup

I love this soup.  I love it so much.  Every Christmas Eve growing up we had clam chowder and it was pretty good but I don't really like clams.  This is the soup I make instead.  It is a perfect Christmas Eve soup.  I also always make my French baguettes to go with it which is WAY better than any kind of bread you'd buy at the store.  For a fraction of the price as well.  You can even make the dough into a bread bowl.

3 1/2 cups potatoes, diced
1/3 cup celery, diced
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup cooked ham, diced
3 1/4 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

Notes / Directions
1. Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.

2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.

-It can also be cooked in a crock pot for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Herbed Chicken and Cheese Panini

1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped
2 chicken breasts, pounded thin (about 1/2 lb)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, sliced
2 (7-inch) pocketless pita breads or flatbreads, each cut in half
4 slices cheddar cheese
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced

Notes / Directions
1. In small bowl, mix butter and herbs until blended; set aside.

2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook chicken in oil about 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until no longer pink in center. Remove chicken from skillet; set aside and keep warm. To same skillet, add onion; cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Remove onion from skillet, set aside. Reduce heat to medium.

3. Spread generous half teaspoon herbed butter on outside of all of 4 bread halves. Place 2 halves in heated skillet, buttered side down. Top each with 1 slice cheese, 1 chicken breast, half of the onion and sliced tomato, and another slice cheese. Top with remaining pita bread halves.

4. Cook about 2 minutes, pressing down with spatula, until bottom is golden brown. Turn; cook about 2 minutes longer, pressing again with spatula, until cheese is melted. To serve, cut each sandwich in half.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

No-Bake Cookies

1/2 cup margarine
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups oatmeal

Notes / Directions
Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a sauce pan. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and peanut butter and stir till well blended. Add oatmeal and stir. Spoon onto wax paper while hot. Let cool.

Famous Family Caramels

Ever since I can remember we've made Christmas caramels for our neighbors and friends.  Up until I moved out, my job was wrapping hundreds of caramels.  They were always a lot of effort but we made them anyways because they were the talk of the neighborhood and we'd probably get toilet papered if we didn't hand them out.  They are THAT good.  We even made our caramels a science fair project one year!  We tried using different brands of sweetened condensed milk and had people taste test the different brands to see which was the best.  Eagle brand won!  Using Imperial butter also makes a big difference in how the finished product tastes so don't leave that one out.  And lastly, make sure that you have a flat wooden spatula so that you can scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir.  It's easy to burn the caramel.  You also need a candy thermometer.

Prepare a 9x13 pan by taking the cube of Imperial butter and
spreading a thin layer around the bottom and sides of the pan.

 Melt the butter and stir in brown sugar and corn sugar.

Gradually add sweetened condensed milk while stirring constantly.

Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly.  Make sure that you scrape the bottom and the sides of the pan.  It is easy to burn it so keep stirring and scraping.  Don't ever let it sit.  It can take around 20 minutes before it gets to the right temperature so plan accordingly.

Candy thermometers can vary a little.  My mom has an old thermometer and the perfect temperature for her caramels is 230 degrees.  The perfect temperature on mine is 245 degrees.  To help you decide where is perfect for you, have a small bowl of cold water next to you and drizzle a small amount of caramel into it periodically and see how well it balls up and holds shape.  You want probably don't want to get to the hard ball marking on the thermometer.  I did that once and it cracked when I tried to get it out of the pan.  Also be SURE you know how to read your thermometer before you start.  I ruined a batch a few days ago because I misread it.

When it's hit the right temperature, remove from heat and add in the vanilla.  Stir it in well and pour into greased pan.  Once it has cooled completely, cut a thin strip off then end so that you can get the spatula under the caramel to pry it out onto waxed paper.  If it's really stuck, try running the bottom of the pan under hot water to help loosen it.  Prying it out can often ruin the top of the caramel so take a spatula and press down to help smooth it out.

Using a pizza cutter or a long knife, cut off a row about an inch wide and
cut into smaller pieces.  I usually end up with 12-13 pieces per row.

Pull off about 10 strips of waxed paper about 3-4 inches wide.  Cut them in half and then cut
the halves in half so you end up with 40 wrappers.  You'll probably need to do this twice.

To wrap the caramels, place on the wrapper and roll up.  Pinch one end and
give it two full twists being careful not to rip it.  Do the same to the other side.

1 cup salted real butter
1 lb. (2 1/4 cups) C&H brown sugar
dash salt
1 cup light corn syrup
1 (15 oz.) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cube Imperial margarine

Notes / Directions
Use Imperial margarine to butter a 9x9x2 in. pan. Melt real butter in a heavy 3 qt. saucepan. Add sugar and salt; stir thoroughly. Stir in corn syrup; mix well. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Cook and stir over medium heat to form ball stage (about 230-250 degrees depending on your thermometer) 12 to 15 minutes. Have a small dish of cold water by you so that you can periodically drizzle a little caramel into it. Ball up the drizzle and try it, making sure that it is not to soft nor to firm. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour into buttered pan and let it cool completely. To remove the caramel, run the bottom of the pan under hot water to loosen the caramel. Using a spatula, carefully pry out caramel onto a wooden cutting board (it sticks to plastic). Use a big knife to cut into squares. Wrap in small squares of waxed paper.
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