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
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

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


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


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


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.


# 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

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

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.

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!


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, 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


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


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.

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

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.

sweet potatoes - cut into 1/2 inch cubes
black beans - drained and rinsed
kidney beans* - drained and rinsed
fresh spinach
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