Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chicken Nachos

We made these the other day when my in-laws were here and they were delicious! Super easy to make too, which is my kind of meal!

Ingredients:
Tortilla chips of your choice
chicken cooked and shredded, or canned chicken that's pre-cooked so it just has to heat up.
diced tomatoes
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
1 - 4oz. can diced green chiles
shredded cheese

Toppings:
Sour cream
Guacamole

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Get a big cookie sheet and spread the tortilla chips out, trying not to pile on too many on top of each other so that they're good and covered. Layer on the chicken, tomatoes and green chiles. Put in the oven for a few minutes, maybe 5-10. Then pull it out and add the cheese on top, stick it back in until the cheese is melted.

To make guacamole I just mash up a few avocados and add kosher salt, lime juice, and minced garlic, to taste. Sorry, I know I'm bad at giving exact measured-out directions. But I don't think this is something you can easily mess up, guac is pretty forgiving (and delicious!)

Chicketti

When Eliza was born my friend brought dinner to us one night. We loved what she brought and asked her for the recipe. Unfortunately it has cream of mushroom soup in it. I hesitate in posting this recipe after Steph and I talked about possibly banning cream of anything soups from this blog! Too bad those not so healthy soups make everything taste good and are so darn convenient!! But this chicketti really is so good and easy to make and it's a good way to use up some red/green pepper that’s about to go bad. We like this so much we have it every month or two.  

CHICKETTI
 
Ingredients:
½ pkg. cooked spaghetti
1 ½ c. chicken, cooked
¼ c. red and green peppers
½ c. onion
1 can cream of mushroom soup
½ c. chicken broth
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 ¾ c. grated cheddar cheese

Directions:
While spaghetti is cooking, chop chicken, onion, and peppers. Combine in bowl. Add cream of mushroom, broth, salt and pepper. Add drained spaghetti. Stir and pour into casserole dish. Top with cheese. Bake at 350F for 30 min.

I buy noodles in large quantities so I just guess on how many to cook. Enough to fill a 9x13 pan but not too many to where the final product is dry. I don’t follow all the measurements above; I go pretty light on the chicken and cheese and heavy on the peppers and sometimes add sautéed mushrooms. I made it once without chicken and it was good but I prefer it with chicken even if it’s only a little bit. I like the chicken, peppers, and onions diced up pretty small.

As a side note, this is what I use to make broth. My mother-in-law gave it to me. It works just like bouillon cubes but it's better for you (no MSG, etc.) and it has to be refrigerated after opening. I'm all for healthier alternatives that taste the same! 
Also I bet you could use left over turkey from thanksgiving, switch it out for the chicken, and make a delicious "turketti."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Full-Meal Chipotle Chop Salad

I'm not a huge salad fan. I used to assume vegans/vegetarians ate salad most of the time because...what else could they eat? Now that I've joined their ranks, I realize that you can eat tons of vegetables and rarely eat salad. Although I'm not anti-salad by any means, I just don't usually feel like they fill me up or taste great enough to make it a daily habit. Cafe Rio salads are an exception. And guess what - I found a way to get that Cafe Rio filled-up-from-salad-feeling without leaving my house!

This is a delicious recipe - we had it for lunch the other day and it was so good. Lots of protein from the beans and quinoa, and plenty of good flavor to go with the veggies. I can guarantee we'll be eating this salad many times in the future!

Oh, and one more plus is the homemade salad dressing. SO much better than the preservative-laden bottled stuff, and dirt cheap to make!

Full-Meal Chipotle Chop Salad with Agave-Lime Vinaigrette

adapted from Chloe Cooks

Agave-Lime Vinaigrette

1.5 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. agave
1/8 c. (or 2 Tbsp) fresh lime juice (about the juice of 1 lime)

Chipotle Chop Salad

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp. bottled minced garlic)
1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder (different than regular chili powder!)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 head romaine lettuce, cut into bite-sized pieces (I lay mine on the cutting board and slice it with a pizza cutter!)
1 large tomato, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped (we used more than this because we love red onion - use as desired)
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
1/2 c. cooked quinoa
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro

To make the Agave-Lime Vinaigrette: Blend oil, vonegar, agave, and lime juice in blender until smooth. Set aside.

To make Chipotle Chop Salad: Heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat and saute black beans, garlic, chipotle powder, and salt for 5 minutes. Let cool. (So much better than eating straight cold beans from the can - I promise it's worth this step!!)

In large bowl, combine romaine, tomatoes, onions, avocado, quinoa, black bean mixture, and cilantro. Toss with dressing and serve immediately. Serves 4 as a meal and 6 as a side. But please, serve it as a meal!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Grape Salad


I'm so excited to share this recipe with you. Don't be fooled by the title, this is definitely not healthy. But it is SO yummy. Our neighbors had us over for a barbeque last weekend and Jeanelle served this as a side/dessert. One of their family favorites, and it immediately became one of ours! EASY and so good and hey at least it has fruit in it! You and yours will love it and beg for you to make it again.

GRAPE SALAD

Ingredients:
2 lbs. green seedless grapes
2 lbs. red seedless grapes
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Topping:
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. crushed pecans

1. Wash and stem grapes; set aside.
2. Mix sour cream, cream cheese, white sugar and vanilla by hand.
3. Stir grapes into mixture and pour into large serving bowl.
4. Combine brown sugar and pecans and sprinkle over top.
5. Chill overnight (or at least a few hours).

- This makes a lot so unless you're making it for a pretty large group or want lots of leftovers, halve this.
- Jeanelle used light/low fat sour cream and cream cheese and it tasted great.
- You can obviously eat it without chilling but it's just better that way.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mom's frosting

We never had store-bought frosting growing up, and I still don't like it to this day! Mom's tastes the best. I made some cupcakes for my brother-in-law's Eagle Court of Honor yesterday, and I completely regret not using this recipe! But I didn't want to risk not being able to make it firm enough to stand, so I used Our Best Bites' frosting recipe.
We went patriotic 

 It was good and it looked really cute, but not as tasty in my opinion. So, lesson learned.

Mom's frosting
4 Tbsp. butter, softened (not melted!)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4+ c. milk

Combine ingredients with hand mixer or stand mixer. Add powdered sugar or milk as needed to reach desired consistency.

All the little kids loved the edible stars



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Italian Cheese Loaf

I made this for a ward recipe exchange and everyone loved it! Sorry no pic.

Italian Cheese Loaf

Ingredients:
1 loaf (1 lb.) French bread
2 c. diced fresh tomatoes
1 c. (4 oz.) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 c. (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 c. grated Romano cheese
1/4 c. chopped ripe olives
1/4 c. Italian salad dressing
1 tsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano

Directions:
1. Cut top half off loaf of bread; set aside. Carefully hollow out bottom of loaf, leaving a 1/2 in. shell (discard removed bread or let the kids gobble it up!).
2. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; mix well. Spoon into bread shell; replace top. Wrap in foil. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted. Slice and service warm.
Yield: 12 servings

Notes:
- I didn't have the fresh basil or oregano so I just used the dry spice, however you call that form of it. :)
- You can get creative with this. I've heard of people doing french bread pizza for an after school snack. Same idea as this, you just top it with some sauce and cheese and whatever your kids like (pepperoni, olives, etc.), broil it for a bit, and you've got a fun quick little pizza.
- I can't tell a difference between grated romano and grated parmesan. There probably is, but I'm sure grated parmesan works great too if that's all you have on hand.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chocolate Cream Cake

I'm not sure how I let two Wednesdays go by without posting. My apologies. One thing's for sure: when you try this cake, you'll quickly forgive me. You're welcome, in advance, for bringing this chocolatey goodness into your life.

An awesome father deserves an awesome father's day dessert. This is what I made...


It took 3 days to finish with 5 people working on it. And although it undoubtedly set me back on my weight-loss efforts, it was so worth it!

Chocolate Cream Cake

1 package devil's food cake mix: mix and bake according to directions. Bake in 8 or 9 in. round pans.

Stabilized Whipping Cream
1 envelope (1 T.) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
3 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
In small saucepan, combine gelatin with water, let stand until thick. Stir constantly over low heat until just dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly but do not allow to thicken. In large mixing bowl, whip cream, sugar, and vanilla until slightly thick. On low speed, graduatlly add gelatin, then beat on high until cream is thick.
This will hold up for 4 or 5 days. You can use it on waffles, crepes, cheesecakes, for dunking strawberries, or whatever else you feel like putting it on.

Chocolate Frosting:
4 T. cocoa
3 c. powdered sugar
4 T. butter or margarine, softened
2-3 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

ASSEMBLY:
Cut the round cakes in half using either a leveler or a bread knife, so that you split the layers horizontally. This is NOT like cutting a pie. Now you should have 4 round layers. You only need 3, so you can either freeze one for later use, or leave it out on the counter and watch is mysteriously disappear within 24 hours. :)
On cake platter put your first cake piece, then layer the whipped cream on top. Repeat layers, ending with cake on top.
Take your frosting and slather it all over till it is even and looks pretty.
Personally, I think cake tastes best cold, so I like to refrigerate cakes for several hours before eating them. Just a tip.

This cake is from Lion House Classics. Seriously, everyone should have this cookbook.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake

People joke about having a sweet tooth- I joke about having a mouth full of sweet teeth. I've decided recently that at least one of my teeth must have a hankering for garlic though, because I just can't get enough of it! I have always loved garlic bread and garlic-y pasta, and this recipe did not disappoint.

I suppose it's never a good thing to start off a recipe with 1 cup of butter. Unless it's a cookie, of course, but this is obviously not a cookie! You should definitely try it anyway.

Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake
adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

Ingredients:
16 oz. uncooked pasta (rotini, farfalle, penne, whatever you have)
1 cup butter
1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cups freshly shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (I used a garlic pepper blend and it was awesome)
2 cups cooked and diced chicken
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained well
5-6 green onions, chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

-Cook the pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is boiling, melt butter and whipping cream together over medium heat, stirring constantly.

-Once the butter has completely melted, turn the heat to low and add the parmesan cheese, salt, and garlic powder/garlic pepper. Stir until the cheese has melted also.

-Drain the pasta once it has finished and return it to the pot. Add the alfredo sauce, as well as the chicken, tomatoes, and green onions.

-Pour everything in a 9x13 baking dish and cover with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until cheese has melted and is awesome-looking! Serve with garlic bread, if you're crazy about garlic like I am.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tender Grilled Salmon

Every year my father in law goes fishing in Alaska. If we pay the shipping he'll send us all the fish we want! So for most of the year we have a freezer full of fish (mostly salmon and halibut). We didn't grow up eating fish (unless frozen fish sticks/fillets count!) so I've had to do a lot of experimenting. I'll be posting a few of our favorite salmon/halibut recipes since I think I'm the only one of us sisters that has ever allowed fish to enter my kitchen. Ok maybe Steph? :) I prefer halibut over salmon; salmon has a slightly more fishy taste. But neither of them taste strongly like fish I don't think. So try it sisters!! Salmon has a ton of Vitamin D so it's especially good to eat in the winter when you're not getting your 20 minutes of sun each day. Isn't it cool that there's a ton of salmon in Alaska, where people really need the extra Vitamin D!?! God planned that one pretty well.


TENDER GRILLED (or baked) SALMON
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets
lemon pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
salt to taste
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. water
1/4 c. vegetable oil

Rinse salmon fillets then pat dry with a paper towel. Season with lemon pepper, garlic powder, and salt.

In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and vegetable oil until sugar is dissolved. Place fish in a large resealable plastic bag with the soy sauce mixture, seal, and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat grill for medium heat.

Lightly oil grill grate. Place salmon on the preheated grill, and discard marinade. Cook salmon for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

If you don't have a grill you can bake it like I do! I'm sure it's SO much better grilled though. Cover pan with foil (optional but makes clean up so much easier! Learned that trick from Steph and Linds). Bake at 350F for 10 to 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork (may be longer if your fillets are pretty thick in the middle). Then broil for 5 minutes to crisp the top.

That white stuff is the salmon fat and is supposedly really good for you. From what I've heard salmon at the store is pricy, but if you LIVE in Alaska (ah hum Lindsay) or you know someone who loves to fish like I do then it won't be!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Breakfast Sandwiches

This morning I was feeling inspired to try something I saw on Pinterest (because we know the chances of actually doing those things we pin is small...) :


So I put cheese on bread and put it in the toaster, laid on it's side.
Meanwhile, I made two over-easy eggs (with garlic powder and Louisiana hot sauce on top).
Plop them on top of the toast and sprinkle cheese as desired.

All in all, it took about 3/4 minutes.

All in all, I enjoyed thinking about it for the next 2 hours.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Avocado Tacos

These don't really have much of a "recipe". They are so versatile, you can pretty much just use whatever you have on hand. That's what I love about Mexican food! For some reason, everything just goes together so well. Here's what we used last night, but feel free to change it up as you prefer.

First of all, tortillas. We used these green-colored, jalapeno and cilantro tortillas that were really yummy and gave it an extra kick. Regular ones work just as well, but that's why the color is off in the picture.

For the filling:
1 can of black beans drained and rinsed, then heated up in the microwave
mexican rice
fresh salsa
1/2 of a yellow bell pepper (just because it was in the fridge and needed to be used)
cheese
spinach (put on after the picture was taken)
avocado
sour cream

If you're trying to cut out some carbs and watch calories, you could always do without the tortilla and just mix it up as a salad of sorts. It is so yummy! Although, as I have been posting this, my 5 yr. old son (the picky eater in the family) said, "Make sure you write that the kids didn't like it, but the adults did!" hahaha. It's true, he just had a cheese tortilla. And my girls just ate different options of the filling. My 3 yr. old almost ate a whole avocado by herself, and my 18 mo. old filled up on black beans and rice. There's something in this meal for everyone!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Chicken noodle soup, sans chicken

Yes, I'm re-posting from my own blog. It's lame, but my baby got her 4 month shots this morning, so I will be snuggling with her instead of writing a cool and original post.

My mom makes the best chicken noodle soup. Whenever she comes to visit she makes a huge pot of it and then we store it in jars in the freezer to pull out on sick days or I-don't-feel-like-cooking days. What's cool about the recipe is that it was a mistake! Probably one of the best mistakes ever too. I finally got up the courage to make it a few months ago, though I've thought about it randomly ever since I left home. Do you ever hesitate to make someone else's recipe? I am always afraid that I won't make it as well and that would really upset me... so it always takes some convincing for me to make another person's recipe. Weird, I know. So here is my meatless adaptation of Mom's adaptation of Lion House Classic's Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup. That's a lot of adapting.



Ingredients:
2 tsp. chicken soup base or 2 bouillon cubes
4 cups chicken stock, or water, or broth (I used stock for more flavor)
2 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 bag of frozen peas (16 oz)
1 Family Size Cream of Chicken Soup
1/4+ cup evaporated milk
4 cups cooked rotini pasta

Heat the chicken base and stock/water/broth together. Add your carrots and celery (NOT the peas- yet) and cook until the veggies are tender. I cooked my noodles and then my peas while the veggies were cooking. Add cream of chicken soup and let that simmer for a few minutes. Then add the noodles and peas and evaporated milk (start with 1/4 cup and then keep adding until it's the thickness you want) and let that heat through.

Sorry for another soup in the summer... but it's a great meal to make and then freeze for busy summer days!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mom's Maple Syrup

I'm posting twice this week since I was MIA last week. This morning we had Steph's cinnamon pancakes for breakfast topped with Mom's classic homemade maple syrup. I decided I needed to post the syrup recipe; not because it's a very unique recipe but because most people don't even think of making syrup. It's easy and quick and while it has a lot of sugar at least you're avoiding all the high fructose corn syrup found in the store bought stuff.

MAPLE SYRUP

1 c. water
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. mapleine
 *For Cinnamon syrup, substitute the mapleine for 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.

Combine sugar and water in small pan, bring to boil and boil until sugar's dissolved. Remove from heat and add vanilla and mapleine.
You can refrigerate the left overs and reheat another day! Or serve cold but I like it warm. The cinnamon syrup is not as good left over. It gets a "boogery" texture as my husband so appetizingly likes to call it. :)

Someone correct me if I'm misquoting Mom's recipe!

Baked Potatoes

We live in Idaho so you shouldn't be surprised that I post a lot of potato recipes!

Preheat oven to 425F. Scrub potatoes (I usually use russet*), pat dry, prick with fork. Place right on the oven rack and bake for 40 to 60 minutes or until tender. For softer skins you can wrap the potatoes individually in foil or rub potatoes with shortening.
Baked potatoes are good for you but can be not so good for you if you lather them with butter and cheese and sour cream! But we usually do a little of that anyway, AND top with canned chili. I hesitated to post that after looking at the sodium content of 1 cup! So use it somewhat sparingly. :) We always have potatoes and a can of chili on hand so we have this meal when I really need to go grocery shopping and can't think of anything else in the kitchen that we have that could combine to make a good meal. So in case anyone else has days like that, here's an idea. Oh and corn bread/muffins go great with this meal too. Just go ahead and stock up on those Jiffy boxes. They're "America's Favorite" for a reason!
*You can bake sweet potatoes/yams this same way. 

Cami is the queen of twice baked potatoes... maybe she'll share that with us soon! A yummy twist to the regular baked potato.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Veggie Pot Pie


Pot pie. In modern America, this usually means those frozen, sodium-laden discs that - I'll admit it - taste pretty good, but offer almost nothing nutritionally beneficial.

Enter a homemade, vegan pot pie! It's a little more work than your average 30-minute dinner, but it's well-worth it. This is the second variation I've made and we liked it even better than the first. The crust was awesome! Pie crust is a pain in my rear, but everytime I suck it up and make one, I'm so glad. So get the kids in the kitchen with you to chop veggies, put on your apron, and get ready to feel like a domestic goddess.

Veggie Pot Pie

adapted slightly from Veganomicon, the best vegan cookbook ever
Crust:
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. cornmeal
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. cold nonhydrogenated vegan shortening (I used Spectrum organic butter-flavored, I found it at Smith's)
1/2 to 3/4 c. cold ice water
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Filling:
3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
1/4 c. chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour - I ground my own using dried chickpeas and my wheat grinder! you could probably use all-purpose flour too
1 lg. onion, cut into fine dice
1 lg. carrot, peeled and cut into fine dice
2 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into fine dice
1 stalk celery, cut into fine dice
1 c. broccoli florets, cut small
1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
1/2 c. frozen peas
2/3 + 1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2-1 tsp. mustard powder
1/2 tsp. ground sage
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Have a pie dish ready.

Prepare the crust first:
Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder in large mixing bowl. Add the cold shortening by the Tbsp, in small chunks, and cut into flour wtih pastry cutter until crumbly.

Pour 3/4 c. cold water into small bowl and toss in a few ice cubes. Measure out 1/2 c. ice water into a 1 c. measuring cup and stir the vinegar into it. Add the vinegared water to the dough in 3 batches, gently mixing it in dough with a fork, until dough holds together when pinched. You can add up to 1/4 c. more water, a Tbsp at a time, til all dry ingredients are moistened and a firm dough is formed.

Gently press dough into a ball. On a piece of wax paper or a floured countertop, roll the dough out to the shape of the dish you'll be using but about 2-3 inches larger. Cover with plastic wrap or more wax paper and refrigerate while making the filling. You can do the pie crust in advance, if you want.

Prepare the filling:
Preheat oven to 375.

Heat a soup pot over med. heat and add 3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil. Stir in the chickpea flour. Stir constantly and toast flour for 5-10 minutes, until fragrant and a deep mustard color. Be careful - I burned a batch of flour here and had to start over!

Stir in chopped onion, cook for 4 minutes, and add carrot, potato, celery, and broccoli. Cook for 8 minutes, until veggies are soft. Stir frequently!

Pour in 2/3 c. vegetable broth, stirring to dissolve brown bits from bottom of pot. Cook 2 minutes to reduce a bit, then stir in frozen corn and peas. Pour in about 3/4 c. more broth and add thyme, mustard powder, and sage. Bring to simmer. Stir in remaining broth and bring to simmer again. Cook for another 6-8 minutes until broth has reduced slightly and a thin gravy has formed. Remove from heat and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Remove piecrust from fridge. Ladle filling into piedish. Top with crust, pressing edges down lightly, and crimp the edges or do whatever you like to do on a piecrust top. Poke a few holes in the middle to let steam escape.

Place in preheated 375 oven. Place a large baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch any spills from bubbling over. Bake pot pie 40-45 mins, until filling is bubble and crust is lightly browned and flaky. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.





Mom's pizza crust

This is the crust I promised last week! I've always loved Mom's pizza crust. I'm a big fan of bread and bready things, so that thin crust stuff does nothing for me. This crust is nice and thick. And, perhaps even more important, it's fast. I've seen lots of crust recipes, but this is for sure the fastest I've come across. Perfect for those busy days when it's 5:30 and someone asks, "What's for dinner?" These also can double as breadsticks.

Pizza/Breadstick Dough

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3+ cups flour

Combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt and let rest for a few minutes or until bubbly. Add 3 cups of flour (or more until it's not coming-apart-sticky) and then knead for 3 minutes. Let dough rest 10 minutes.

For pizza: press crust into a greased 12x17 pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-ish minutes, til light golden brown. Then add sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice (maybe this white pizza from last week? I would double that to cover this much dough) and bake again til cheese has melted.

For breadsticks: roll out dough and cut into 1 1/2 inch wide strips. Roll each breadstick in melted margarine and sprinkle with either cinnamon and sugar or garlic bread sprinkle and parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I have a dream. In my dream I am organized, and I own a deep freezer. In that deep chest freezer it is stocked full of pre-made meals, muffins, breads, and cookie dough, all ready to be pulled out at a moment's notice. But alas, I do not own a deep freezer, and I don't have things nicely made ahead of time. But these would be some good muffins to have in your freezer--ready for your husband to grab a bag on his way to work, or if your children need a mid-morning snack. This morning, they went nicely with our oatmeal and OJ.

A word about this recipe...I have no idea where it came from. I think I copied it down out of my mom's big box of 3x5 recipe cards before I left for college. But it seems kind of weird to me, so feel free to play around with it if you know what you're doing in the kitchen.

1 c. margarine or butter
2 c. sugar (what?! I only used one cup)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
16 oz. applesauce
3 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. soda
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. all spice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Cook at 350 for 15-20 minutes

*I took it easy on the spices, but you shouldn't. And surely there's gotta be a better way than a whole cup of butter right?
These are dense muffins. They don't rise a whole lot so fill up those muffin cups. Makes 24

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cinnamon Pancakes

This is not a pancake. This is my husband the veteran. He saves the world every day.

I was going to post something else today. A veggie pot pie, in fact.

But this morning, in honor of Memorial Day (since my husband is a veteran twice over, patriotic holidays are a big deal around here!), I decided to make pancakes. And as my family devoured every last scrap of said pancakes, I knew the potpie would have to wait. These are simply too delicious to keep to myself. So good that I don't even have a picture - they were gone before I even thought about it.

They are delicious, possibly my favorite pancakes ever. And since they're vegan, all you egg-eaters can keep this in your arsenal for those mornings when you are out of eggs, or just feel like having a cholesterol-free breakfast food. It doesn't hurt that they're amazing!

Cinnamon Pancakes

adapted slightly from Skinny B#$%*'s recipe
Makes 8 pancakes, so you'll probably want to double the recipe!

1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 c. almond milk (or milk of your choice)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. canola oil

In medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In separate bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla, and oil.

Combine milk mixture and flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Spray preheated griddle with nonstick cooking spray. Pour batter, 1/4 c. at a time, on griddle and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately with pure maple syrup.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"White pizza"

I asked my husband for help in deciding what to make for this week... he said, "remember that white pizza at Cici's that we both loved?" I did not. I don't think we have ever even been to Cici's Pizza together! But I attempted to re-create it for him anyway, adding bacon and chicken to half as well. We did a normal version, a no-greens version for picky eaters, and a cheese-and-sauce-only version. I used this alfredo sauce recipe and then flew blind on the rest. All 3 different sections of this schizophrenic pizza were delicious! Be advised... maybe my oven doesn't cook evenly or something, but I could not get the crust to cook through. I guess that's what I get for being lazy and using those crappy refrigerated dough cans for the first time! But we of course ate it anyway, because the rest is yummy! I've learned my lesson.

White Pizza

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup alfredo sauce (or more, if you like your pizza saucey)
4+ strips bacon, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup cooked and shredded chicken breast
6 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
I also sprinkled on the parmesan cheese leftover from making the alfredo sauce

*Note: this was enough for one can of Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust dough.

Spread alfredo sauce over your pizza crust. Then add bacon, chicken, spinach, and cheese. Bake at 350 for 10-ish minutes, until the cheese has melted! Or follow your crust's baking instructions. Maybe someday I'll share Mom's pizza crust!

This is not my picture... the crust debacle made me too angry to take one.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rotini and Sweet Pepper Primavera

All through college I had one main cookbook that I referred to for any recipe that wasn't from my mom. It is my oldest and dearest cookbook. Enter, Better Homes and Gardens.

In the book it says, "Primavera means 'springtime' in Italian. This creamy pasta, brimming with tender asparagus, crisp sweet pepper, and tiny baby squash, is the essence of that welcome season."

How can you not make this meal with an intro like that? I'm here to vouch for it--our family loves this meal! I never really stick to the measurements suggested here, just throw in however much you want of everything. It seems to always work out in the end.

14 ounces asparagus spears
8 ounces dried rotini (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 large red or yellow sweet pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup halved baby pattypan squash or sliced yellow summer squash
1 10-oz. container refrigerated light Alfredo sauce
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh tarragon or thyme (I usually put in 1 tsp. dried tarragon)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I leave that out because it's WAY too hot for us)

Chop up your veggies into 1-inch bias-sliced pieces. Cook pasta according to directions, adding the asparagus, squash, and sweet pepper to pasta for the last 3 minutes of cooking. (Isn't that such a cool trick? I love how it saves dirtying another pan!) Drain. Return pasta and vegetables to pot.

Meanwhile, heat up your sauce with tarragon. If you are a vegan or just an over-achiever, you could always make Steph's vegan alfredo sauce instead of the bottled stuff. Pour it over your pasta and vegetables, stirring gently to coat.

Picture to come...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fajitas

This is another one of those "idea" posts. It's not a fancy recipe but it's an idea for dinner that may come in handy! We LOVE fajitas at our house. It's another one of those meals we eat once or twice a month. Our 2 year old can't eat them very well by himself so we just make rice and put the fajita filling over rice for him and he loves it. We've tried several different fajita seasoning packets and this one is by far the best! Just follow the instructions on the packet.

For the tortillas we usually buy the uncooked refrigerated ones. Or you may even try using Lindsay's homemade tortilla recipe! We sometimes top them with sour cream too. Mmm.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fried Tofu with Udon Noodles and Broth

Okay, peeps. Here's the deal. I know tofu is like a weird, freaky food. I haven't posted it yet (even though we love it and have it at least once a week for dinner) because I didn't want to weird anyone out and have it be a waste of a post.

But this recipe changed my mind. I really, truly think anyone - meat lovers included - will love this. I couldn't believe how delicious it was. I kept saying it tasted like something from a restaurant. If you've never had tofu before, this is a perfect jumping in point. It's cheap too, so if you totally abhor it (which you won't), you can throw out the tofu, just eat the veggies and noodles, and not be out more than $2. Okay? So please try this! It's easy, incredibly healthy, and great for a light dinner or even lunch, it's that easy. Mostly chopping veggies, which is stress-therapy. So MAKE THIS MEAL. Don't be scared by the abnormal ingredients, just embrace them. And tell me what you think!

Fried Tofu with Udon Noodles and Broth

Adapted slightly from a recipe in Christina Cooks
Serves 4

1 leek#, split lengthwise, rinsed well, thinly sliced into half-moons (white and light-green parts only)
1 carrot, cut into fine matchstick pieces
1/2 c. fine matchstick pieces fresh daikon*
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until tender and thinly sliced
4 c. water
3-4 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. brown rice syrup+
1/2 c. chopped bok choy
Olive oil, for frying
1 block extra-firm tofu, cut into 1" cubes
4 oz. udon noodles (you could also use fettucine in a pinch!)
2-3 scallions

Chop veggies - tedious, but fun. Layer leeks, carrot, daikon, and mushrooms, in order, in a soup pot. Add water, cover and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Add soy sauce, brown rice syrup, and bok choy, and simmer 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook your noodles al dente.

Meanwhile (everything's happening at once!), fry the tofu. Heat about 1" oil in a deep skillet over med. heat. When the oil is hot, increase the heat to high and fry a few cubes of tofu at a time until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Drain on parchment or paper towels. Repeat with remaining cubes until it's all nice and fried and deliciously crispy.

To serve, place some noodles in individual bowls. Spoon veggies and broth over noodles and top with fried tofu and scallions. Serve immediately.

Notes:

# Cut the leek in half lengthwise, rinse it, then cut off the dark green parts. Slice the rest into thin little half-moons, then dump them in a bowl of water. Swish them around with your hand to release the grit from inside - these are dirty little buggers. Remove the leeks to a towel and pat them dry. Dump out the water and sand.

*Daikon is a long white radish root with a clean, peppery taste.

+Brown rice syrup is a liquid sugar substitute similar to honey but with a different flavor. If you don't have it or don't want to buy a jar just for this, than you can probably sub with agave or honey. I haven't tried it, so I can't guarantee!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Easy Roasted Potatoes


When Samuel, our 2 year old, was born Caleb’s younger sister Anna came and stayed with us and was like our personal chef for a week! She made us lots of yummy food. My favorite thing she made was roasted potatoes. I was craving them one day after she left and I searched my cookbooks for a recipe. These are now a family favorite. They’re easy, pretty healthy (at least better for you than french fries!), good (even picky eaters will love them!), AND inexpensive.

Easy Roasted Potatoes
Better Homes and Gardens

3 medium round red or white potatoes (1 pound), cut into eighths, or 10 to 12 tiny new potatoes (1 pound), halved
2 Tbsp. olive oil or butter, melted
½ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. garlic salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. paprika

Place potatoes in a greased 9x9x2 inch baking pan. In a bowl combine oil, onion powder, garlic salt, pepper, and paprika; drizzle over potatoes, tossing to coat. Bake at 325F for 45 minutes. Stir potatoes; back 10 to 20 minutes more or until potatoes are tender and brown on the edges.

To speed cooking time, roast potatoes in a 450F oven about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I’ve only used red potatoes, and I usually cut each one into more like 12 pieces instead of eighths just b/c they’re easier for Sam to eat. Him and my husband and I can eat a double batch of these. For the double batch I use a 9x13 pan (pic left is before roasting). One time I did a double batch in the 9x9 and they weren’t as good b/c they didn’t get as crispy. So if you’re doing a triple or quadruple batch I’d use an even bigger baking pan. You may not have onion powder (I bought it just for this recipe and have only used it I think in one other recipe) but you can really get creative with the seasonings you want to use. I think when Anna made them she just used seasoned salt and maybe garlic powder or salt and that worked great too.
I usually serve with halibut and a green salad.

White bean chicken chili

Apparently it's soup week on this blog! Sorry to do another one. Even if it's warm outside, I love this recipe because it's so fast and easy to throw together. It smells great in the crock pot and by the end of the day, everyone is so excited for dinner. Credit for this yummy soup goes to my husband's aunt, Dana. This recipe is one big reason I'm SO glad I married into this family! Every time I make it, I think, "why don't I make this more??"

White bean chicken chili

Ingredients:
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
3 cans Great Northern white beans
2 cups salsa (I use Pace usually)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese

Directions:
Combine all ingredients EXCEPT FOR the cheese in a crock pot. Cook on high for 2+ hours.

Once the soup is really hot (I usually let it sit on a high setting for 2.5-3 hours to be safe), add the cheese. If it's not hot enough, the cheese won't melt and mix properly.

Turn the heat down to low and keep it there for another 5-6 hours, stirring every once in a while so nothing gets stuck on the bottom.

Serve over rice with chips, cheese, and sour cream! It's the best!

Sorry, I didn't remember to take a picture until the crock pot looked like this!



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Macaroni and Tomato Soup

I know it isn't exactly soup weather for the "lower 48", but here in Alaska you can make soup all year round :). This recipe comes from one of my most favorite cookbooks, Lion House Classics. It is awesome, and I especially love their soup selection. This is easy to throw together and doesn't take much time. It's a great option for those days when all of the sudden it's 5:30 p.m. and you haven't even started dinner yet. Not that that ever happens around here...

You will need:
2 T. butter or margarine
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1 cup diced celery
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) tomato soup
1 can water
1 can (46 ounces) tomato juice
4 oz. macaroni, cooked *I always do a little more because it's my kids' favorite part
Dash of pepper
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. sweet basil
1 T. sugar
1 to 2 bay leaves

In heavy saucepan, melt butter; cook onion, green pepper, and celery until limp but not brown. Add remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling. Makes 10 to 12 one-cup servings.


Pair it with some cheese sandwiches on Kim's homemade bread and you've got yourself a meal my friends!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers

I'm sure you're all aware that 70-80% of my recipes have come from Our Best Bites. It's no secret--they're awesome. If nothing else, I am just compiling some good meatless recipes so when I feel like I need to resort to my old recipes just becasue I can't think of anything to make, I'll have a good collection on this blog. Plus, these are super good. I love meals where you eat "the whole package". Like soup in bread bowls, or these stuffed bell peppers.

Ingredients:
4 (if they're very large) - 6 bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange but not green)
Olive Oil
1/2 cup rice or quinoa
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 – 1 jalapeno, minced (or you could sub a small 3oz can of mild green chilies)
1 14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 green onions, sliced
1/2-1 tsp chipotle chili powder (you can start with 1/2 and add more to taste)
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 black pepper, plus more to taste
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
1 1/4 C jack or pepperjack cheese, divided
3-4 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
tortilla chips, just a handful and more for serving if desired.

Start by cutting off the tops of your peppers and hollow out the middle.
 Then you'll want to put them in a big pot of boiling water for 4-5 minutes till they're a little softer.
Take out the peppers using tongs, and drain the water off of them. Throw in that half cup of rice into the pot of boiling water and cook till it's done, about 13 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno (or chilies) and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add corn, beans, green onions, chipotle chili powder, kosher salt, and pepper. Stir until corn and beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Place peppers in a baking dish. Remove skillet from heat and add rice, tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, and cilantro. Stir to combine well and give it a taste. Add additional salt, pepper, and chipotle powder to your liking. Then evenly divide mixture between peppers.
Top peppers with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and crushed tortilla chips.
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

I only added maybe 1/3 cup of cheese to the whole thing, and it still tasted great. I can't say this meal satisfied my picky eater, but the rest of us gobbled it up!

Baked Spaghetti

Make spaghetti as you normally do then combine noodles and sauce, put in a 9X13 pan or whatever size you have, sprinkle with grated cheese (we like cheddar), and bake uncovered for 30 min. at 350F.
We either use a seasoning packet to make our sauce (you know the tomato paste, water, packet combo) or we use a can of ready made sauce (the can of Zesty and Spicy sauce is one of our new found favorites!). Instead of meat we usually just add some mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms separately first in a little olive oil.
For some reason we like baked spaghetti so much better than regular spaghetti! We eat spaghetti at least twice a month so I welcomed this easy way to switch things up. It's not quite as quick as just throwing noodles and sauce on a plate but it's just as easy and even more delicious. And for some reason the worst part of doing dishes for me is putting the left over food in containers. Well with this you can just cover the pan and put it in the fridge! Sorry for the lame post but hopefully this at least gives you an idea for dinner some night when you're out of them. :) Enjoy!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lentil Tacos

Growing up, taco night was a pretty regular thing at our house. We had the crunchy shells, the ground beef cooked with packaged taco seasoning, and cheese - that's all I wanted on my tacos at least. Mom always provided tomatoes and lettuce, but I can't say I ever added them on top. Tacos are MEANT to be just meat and cheese.

Since abstaining from meat (we expelled it from our lives in September 2011), I can't say I've missed it at all. But the other day I was craving a good old taco. I decided to try cooking lentils in the crock pot with (ahem) packaged taco seasoning and see how it went.

Well, it worked! It took longer to cook than I had anticipated (one site I found suggested cooking lentils in the crock pot for 4 hours - that was NOT long enough!) so I ended up finishing them up on the stove top for speed's sake.
I bought the crunchy shells and, as we had run out of vegan cheese and I didn't have time to drive 30 minutes to Whole Foods, I even broke down and bought a block of normal cheese. It was a throw-back to my childhood and we all loved it! (I tell you, cheese is like crack around here.) We topped it with our favorite Costco salsa and ate the leftovers for the next week. I can't say it tastes JUST like meat, but the texture, in my opinion, was spot-on, and the flavors too.

Cheap, practically effortless, and healthy! (Well, at least the lentils are.)

Lentil Tacos


1 lb. lentils, rinsed and picked over for stones
8 c. water (you may need more - check it periodically throughout cooking WITHOUT lifting the lid)
1/2 c. (or more to taste) taco seasoning

Cook lentils on low in the crock pot for 8 hrs. Season more if desired. Use anywhere you would use taco meat. And rejoice in the healthier choice you're making!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

First of all, I can't take credit for this recipe. I found it on Pinterest.


This is possibly the easiest cake I've ever made, and it is so delicious. I've been trying to ration it out but it's difficult! Here is what you need:

24 Ice Cream Sandwiches
1 pint of Whipped cream
1 bag of mini Reeses PB Cups
1 bottle of Caramel syrup

1st layer:
Ice cream sandwiches (you lay them like bricks)

2nd layer:
Whipped cream - as thick as you want
 (we may have used half the container..or more...)
Drizzle the caramel syrup over the whipped cream (to taste)

Then repeat, and top with Reeses PB Cups (we cut ours in quarters)

Put in freezer for an hour or two (if you can stand to wait) and serve!

Oh yes, it's important to note: we put ours on tin foil because that's what the girl on the Pinterest did, but I don't recommend it. It was really annoying to cut out the pieces and then have to peel off the tin foil from the bottom of the piece. Maybe saran wrap would work? You'll have to experiment and let me know.

Delicious! Enjoy!

Enchilidas

I know this isn't new, but it sure tastes good.  One of the best things about making a roast (after you walk in the door from church and smell the wonderful aroma!) is making enchilidas with the leftover beef.  Here's the photo, but I couldn't capture the yummy, restaurant taste.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Snickerdoodles (chewy ones!)

I guess Steph and I broke down and made a treat in the same week. But I'm sure you won't mind once you taste these snickerdoodles! They are delicious. I've always been a fan of snickerdoodles, but I'm not a fan of crunchy cookies. I believe that cookies should be chewy! So when I found this recipe on allrecipes.com, I was skeptical. After much experimentation, I've learned that this is a recipe that must be followed down to the minute. Don't overbake these cookies, no matter what! Anything over 10 minutes is a crispy cookie sentence, and that's just unacceptable.

Chewy Snickerdoodles


Ingredients:

1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

Cream together the shortening and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each one. Stir dry ingredients into the creamed mixture until well-mixed.

Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Roll the cookie dough into walnut-sized balls and then roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Place on a greased cookie sheet a few inches apart.

Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes (Remember, DON'T OVERBAKE).


Another reason I love this recipe is the way this dough freezes! I like to make one pan of these and then freeze the rest. Just roll the dough like you normally would, but pop those babies in a Ziploc bag and freeze 'em! When you have a cookie emergency and need more, just let them thaw while the oven preheats and then bake normally.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Delicious Ham and Potato Soup

Sorry I'm posting a day late. Yesterday was our anniversary, so that's my excuse!:)
This soup is delicious and the fun thing is you don't have to follow it exactly. Add whatever you have on hand. I love that it doesn't have cream of chicken or mushroom soup in it, so it really is pretty healthy. If we ever have to use our food storage I think soups will be the main thing we eat so it's not a bad idea to learn the basics of soup making. I'm definitely not an expert but I've started experimenting. Chicken bouillon is an easy way to flavor any soup, and this flour/butter/milk combo works great to thicken any soup.

Ingredients:
3 1/2 c. peeled and diced potatoes (4 med.)
1/3 c. diced celery
1/3 c. finely chopped onion
3/4 c. diced cooked ham
3 1/4 c. water
1 Tbsp. chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp. white or black pepper, or to taste
2 Tbsp. butter
4-5 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. peas


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. Add in the peas (if you want -- original recipe didn't call for them. I use frozen and I just put them in frozen) at some point -- I usually throw them in after the rest has been boiling for a few minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.
2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk to avoid lumps. 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.

I'm not sure where I got this recipe. I just googled potato ham soup one day and looked around and found one and then tweaked it from there. Sorry I can't give proper credit. The original recipe calls for more butter, bouillon, and pepper (at least double of what I put in) but for me the amounts I listed above are plenty. I usually double it so we can have lots of left overs for Caleb to take for lunch. This soup is one of his favorites!

Sweet Potato Tacos

I am so excited to share this meal with you. It got a huge thumbs up from my husband, it's very healthy, it's SUPER fast to prepare, and the best part...NO dishes!! Trust me, this will be added to your regular menu rotation each month. Not only that, but I think it'd make a great meal for over a campfire or grill, since we're coming up on the summer.

Ingredients:
sweet potatoes - cut into 1/2 inch cubes
black beans - drained and rinsed
kidney beans* - drained and rinsed
fresh spinach
butter
toppings: sour cream and cheese

*I substituted kidney beans, where the original recipe calls for cooked hamburger meat, mixed with taco seasoning and tomato sauce. We only eat meat about once a week, and even that's only because we're still cleaning out our freezer of meat. I thought it might be missing some flavor without the taco meat, but it's delicious! I didn't miss it at all! But that is an option.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On sectioned pieces of aluminum foil, start piling on the goodness! I start with sweet potatoes on the bottom, then about 1 tbsp. of butter. Salt if desired. Add your kidney beans, black beans and spinach. A word about the spinach... when I was putting the spinach on, it looked like it was taking up a lot of room. Once it's all cooked together, the spinach wilts and left both me and my husbadn wishing there was a little bit more spinach there. Also, I realize that in the picture below you see cheese on there. But let me tell you from experience, leave off the cheese for now! I found that it just stuck to the aluminum foil and so it was pretty much a waste of cheese. Wrap the foil up, leaving some breathing room in there. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Put all the yummy filling in a tortilla (here's when you can add the sour cream and cheese if you want it), and enjoy!


Adapted from Three Many Cooks

Monday, April 30, 2012

Wannabe Frosty

We agreed that on this blog we would try to stick to non-dessert foods. But let's be honest - a LOT of what I make and eat is dessert. :) And my sweet tooth is definitely genetic, so I'm sure everyone else will enjoy this "recipe."

I know you've all heard of one-ingredient ice cream. If you haven't, then welcome to the world; click on the link, and make it. It's magical. We often (and I mean OFTEN) make banana ice cream and top it with strawberries, coconut flakes, slivered almonds, and chocolate sauce and call it banana splits. Because it tastes JUST like it, for a fraction of the calories.

But the other day, my husband, who is the blender king around here, decided to try something new. He made banana ice cream with milk and then threw in some Nutella with it. (I know, Nutella is NOT vegan. But it is sinfully delicious.) The result was surprisingly like a Wendy's frosty, albeit a little more banana-y. It was awesome. This would probably also work with chocolate syrup - anything to add some chocolate flavor in with the banana. And the milk just makes it more melty and soft-serve-ish. Yum. A perfect spring/summer healthy (ish)treat!

And there are no measurements because...you don't need any. That's the beauty of it. I would average at least a banana per serving you want, and just add in until it looks right!

Wannabe Frosty


Frozen bananas
Almond milk, start with 1/4 c. and add to your desired consistency (obviously you could use whatever kind of milk you want!)
Nutella or chocolate syrup

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and blend. Serve.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Magically Delicious Potato Soup

Since I missed my day to post due to being out of town, I'm making up for it today with a little extra Friday post.

Picture from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, one of my favorite food blogs

A couple years ago, our whole family together - it was probably Christmas. I was in charge of cooking one of the dinners, and I made a recipe I loved from a cookbook called Essential Mormon Celebrations: Secret Combinations for Holidays, Homecomings, Potluck Dinners, and More. It was called Creamy Potato Soup, and the description under the title said, "This savory soup warms the winter night."

Little did the cookbook authors know how much it warmed the winter night. In fact, it warmed everyone's winter LIFE. Everyone LOVED this soup. That was probably 4 years ago, but I still get phone calls every couple months from one sister or another asking for the recipe. It was so delicious, nobody has ever forgotten it. My only regret is that it's not vegan so I can't eat it anymore. But don't worry, I am planning a veganization of Creamy Potato Soup and then it will be the soup that takes over the world. Or something.

I know it's summer and most people are out of soup season, but when my phone rang at 6:15 this morning with another request for the recipe, I knew today would be the day I would share it with the world. Enjoy!

Magically Delicious Potato Soup

adapted from Essential Mormon Celebrations' Creamy Potato Soup

12 medium potatoes (I use russet, but whatever kind is fine)
1 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. butter or margarine
2 c. cream (THAT'S why everyone loves this soup!!)
3 c. milk
1 Tbsp. salt
grated cheddar cheese
sliced green onions (lots!)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Peel and quarter potatoes and place in large pot. Fill pot with cold water just to cover potatoes. Put on lid; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes or until tender.

Place chopped onions and butter/margarine in microwave-safe glass bowl and heat on high power for 2 minutes. (This is a lazy-man's saute - if you would rather, just do the normal thing and saute the chopped onions in melted butter on the stovetop until soft and transluscent. But the microwave method, surprisingly, does work just fine.) Set aside.

Remove potatoes from heat and drain. Add cream; stir together. Mash potatoes until mixture is smooth. I, like Linds, have been known to pull out my hand mixer to whip those babies lump-free, and it's a good idea with this soup.

Stir in milk, salt, and onion-butter mixture. Return pot to stove and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Watch carefully to avoid scorching on the bottom. Turn down heat if necessary. Salt and pepper to taste. (You'll definitely need at least a little salt - start with about a tsp. I do a few cracks of fresh-ground pepper.)

Pass cheese and green onions for topping individual servings. *

*We also served crispy crumbled bacon pieces on the soup, but I can't bring myself to actually put bacon in the recipe since am wholeheartedly anti-bacon. If you must, top individual bowls with bacon, but feel very very guilty about it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chili's {copycat} Salsa

My husband and I both LOVE chips and salsa. But that doesn't even begin to cover it. We have found that our marriage is happier when we have separate salsa bowls so no one can claim that the other is eating too much, and we buy more bags of tortilla chips per week than I care to admit. So when I say this is our favorite salsa, that really means something!! This is a recipe I found on Six Sisters' Stuff (ironic), but it was a little too spicy for me, as I'm nursing and spicy stuff makes my baby spit up. Plus, the tomato was a little too strong. So here is my less tomato-y (that's totally a word), milder version. It reminds me of Chili's restaurant, which I think is pretty yummy! And there's no chopping or bottling or anything hard or time-consuming. Just pour, blend, and eat! 

Chili's Copycat Salsa

Ingredients:

1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes (whole or diced work), drained well
5-6 jalapeno slices 
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2-1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. sugar 
2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 cup minced onions (to be honest, I just shake some in there. I don't measure them)

*A note about the jalapenos: The first few times I made this, I bought new cans of jalapenos and ended up throwing some away when I didn't make another batch soon enough. But then I came across these babies.

They're much better because I can use less and not worry about storing them in another container. One less dirty dish? I'll take it. It's also easier to increase the spice by just a little bit instead of a whole jalapeno.

Directions:

A peek down my blender before mixing.
Combine all ingredients into blender. Blend until smooth. What's great about this is that it's so easy and you can add more/use less of anything to fit your preference! I would also suggest that you let the salsa sit in the fridge for a couple of hours after mixing. The flavors will blend, and who likes warm salsa, anyway?


I am going to start doubling this... we seriously eat one batch in a few days!! But that's okay, because it's cheaper than bottled salsa and more tasty, if I may say so. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Homemade Soft Pretzels


Sundays are "treat days" at our house. We love to make dessert on Sunday. This past week, my 5 year old had seen a picture of homemade "CTR" (stands for Choose The Right) pretzels in The Friend magazine and had been bugging me for days on end to make them. So we made some soft pretzels for the first time and they turned out delicious!  I took the recipe from the Food Network so I can't take any credit for it, but we sure enjoyed them. Note: these are not nearly as good the next day. So either invite people over or eat a lot, because they're best eaten fresh. It makes 8 pretzels.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt (kosher salt again)

Directions

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

French Toast at a new level

I'm serious. This french toast is to die for. When we went to Steph's house for her son's baby blessing almost two years ago she served this for breakfast. I decided we should make it a blessing breakfast tradition so we had it this past Sunday morning before Eliza's blessing. We had some family in town and everyone LOVED it. I heard "mmm"s and "WOW"s and "can I have this recipe?" and there was even a "I can barely come up for air" comment (Cami!! :)). Yes we like food in our family! Use store bought french bread for best results. This recipe ironically comes from another great sisters cooking blog found here. (that was my first hyperlink ever. I'm pretty proud of myself for figuring it out!)

IHOP French Toast

2 eggs
½ c. milk
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 T. flour


Beat eggs then add the other ingredients. Use hand mixer or whisk. It'll be a little lumpy.
I doubled it for a whole loaf of french bread and it was just right.

Serve with coconut syrup and fresh berries!

Coconut Syrup

7-8 T. butter
¾ c. buttermilk
1 c. sugar
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp coconut extract

Combine butter, buttermilk and sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil on medium heat (stirring pretty consistently) and boil one minute. Remove from heat and add soda and flavoring.

If you don't have buttermilk like I didn't just use the 'ol lemon juice and milk trick. Put 3/4 tsp. lemon juice in a 3/4 c. measuring cup (works for whatever amount a recipe calls for, just always use the 1 tsp. to 1 c. ratio). Fill the rest of the cup up with milk and let sit about 10 minutes.

You can use this syrup for pancakes, waffles, crepes, etc. My friend even told me she drizzled it over popcorn one time and it was delicious!!

This obviously isn't the healthiest breakfast but believe me it's worth it, and plus that's why we save it for special occasions!