Friday, December 30, 2011

Boiled Kale

I originally read about boiling kale in the Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease book, then I got a craving for kale a few weeks later. Who gets cravings for kale? Me, I guess.

The only problem was I returned that lovely book (which will scare you straight, I tell you!) to the library and had to go on an intense google search to find a recipe for Boiled Kale. I didn't find many recipes, but  Great Kale Cookoff made me chuckle!

When I made this at our house, I jazzed it up with with minced garlic sauteed in olive oil and a little splash of lemon juice after I boiled it. My 4 year old begrudgingly took a bite, but my husband and I liked it, and it especially cut down the "sturdy" texture, which made my husband happy.

The next time I get a craving for kale, I'm sure this will be one of the ways I whip it up, along with my other favorite, Sausage, Lentil, and Kale Soup.

Boiled Kale
technique adapted from The Kitchn

Add one pound of chopped and stemmed kale to three quarts of salted boiling water and continue to boil for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your preferences. (Taste a piece, then continue cooking until the texture suits you) Drain kale and serve immediately. I tossed my boiled kale with minced garlic sauteed in olive oil and a little splash of lemon juice.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Slow Cooker Pull Apart Chicken

Ya gotta have those go-to crockpot meals, where you have a hunk of meat and 8 hours until dinner. This was easy set-it-and-forget it recipe with no special ingredients, but with just enough flavor to eat on it's own. This creates a basic shredded chicken recipe, but the chicken would be good in casserole.

My husband and 4 year old ate this with BBQ sauce, I was happy with how it was, and my 11 month old gobbled this up like nobody's business, but he is turning out to be biggest carnivore of the family. I will dread the grocery bill when he is 16! Mark my words!

Slow Cooker Pull Apart Chicken
recipe from Miserly Meals by Jonni McCoy
Serves 4

3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2-3 large) (I used 2 breasts and 2 thighs)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
4 hamburger buns, for serving

Place the chicken and the rest of the ingredients (except the hamburger buns) in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours. During the last 2 hours of cooking, use a fork to break apart the chicken into strands.

Spoon over hamburger buns and serve. This is also good served on a flour tortilla.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Lasagna Soup

I wanted to use up a jar of spaghetti sauce but was having a hard time coming up with something new. No on spaghetti, not interested in Crockpot Lasagna, and nothing from my cookbook binder sounded that great.

So after I found this recipe, I added it to the menu plan. When I was stirring this up, I threw in some cooked leftover green beans, cut into small pieces, and I think other veggies would be good in here as well.

After it sat in the frig for a day, the noodles absorbed most of the liquid, and my husband called it "Lasagna Ziti"...but he still happily ate it for lunch the next day!

Lasagna Soup
recipe adapted from $5 Dollar Dinners

1 onion finely diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic finely minced
Choice of meat: ground beef, Italian sausage, or meatballs (I used 1/2 pound Italian Sausage)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups jarred spaghetti sauce
4 cups chicken (or vegetable or beef) stock (I used homemade chicken stock)
2 bay leaves
8 oz pasta (Rotini, Fusilli, Campanelle, or Corkscrew)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese, for topping

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil to medium heat and saute onion until golden. Add garlic and warm through about 1 minute before adding your choice of meat. Brown the meat, drain any extra fat. Add oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, spaghetti sauce, chicken stock and bay leaves. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Add pasta and increase heat to bring to a boil and cook for recommended time on pasta box for “al dente”. Discard bay leaves and adjust seasonings by adding salt & pepper. Serve with a sprinkling of shredded Mozzarella cheese.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Basic Sugar Cookies

These pictures came from last Christmas, when I finally broke down on Christmas Eve afternoon and made Sugar Cookies

It would have been nice if I would have thought about it before hand and had enough powdered sugar on hand to make frosting, but that's just how I roll...they were sweet enough to stand up on their own, and no one in my house complains about cookies, but frosting would have been nice.

Here's another batch of that I didn't roll out but dipped in chocolate. These were good, too!

Basic Sugar Cookie Dough
recipe adapted from Country Living

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

In a large bowl, beat together butter and confectioners' sugar using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt and beat until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low, add flour, and mix until dough is smooth. Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months; thaw in refrigerator before using.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gooey Chocolate Chip Bars

These are very gooey. Which is a very good thing when it comes to Chocolate Chip Bars. Licking chocolate off your fingers makes baked goods taste better in my book.

This recipe comes from the cooking portion of one of my favorite blogs, Clover Lane. These bars were easy to whip up and doesn't use as much butter as most baked goods. It seems like a lot of vanilla (a whole tablespoon??) but it is not overpowering. Just yummy.

I made these one day for our family, then a few days later for a friend that I delivered a meal to. She shared that her family really enjoyed them, too!

Gooey Chocolate Chip Bars
Recipe from Cooking on Clover Lane

1 cup sifted all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together. Combine melted butter and brown sugar.  Add beaten egg, and vanilla and blend well. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing well. Spread in a square (9x9x2) pan.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake for 20 minutes.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Prepping Dinner Ahead

One of the things that comes up when I chat with people (especially moms) about cooking is that they don't have enough time or energy when it comes time to cook dinner.

How I overcome the "witching hour" is to I prep as much of the work ahead of time. Either after breakfast, lunch, or even the night before when I'm still cooking, I decide what we're having for dinner and how much I can prep ahead.

Above is the prep for Orange Chicken: the peppers and onions are cut up,  the chicken is diced and in its marinade, the brown rice is cooked and ready to be re-heated in the microwave, the Orange sauce is done still in it's pot that I made it in and ready to be re-heated on the stove.

So all I have to do is heat up my big skillet, throw in the chicken and veggies, and cook 'em up. Reheat the sauce on Low on a back burner, and throw the rice in the microwave for 2 mintes. Presto...Dinner in less than 10 minutes.

This is a version of mise en place, but what works for me!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Almond Biscotti

I finally got bit by the Christmas goodie baking bug. My husband has the sweet tooth in the family, I like to hog down Spinach Veggie Dip, Chex Mix, and other savory/salty snacks during the Holidays.

After a Creatively Domestic Facebook conversation about Christmas baking, my friend Brandy mentioned Biscotti, and I got excited to make some!

This is a baked good that doesn't use any butter, so it could be a cheaper cookie if you already have the almond extract on hand.

I made half the Biscotti with roughly chopped natural almonds, and the other plain, which I dipped in chocolate.

My husband was genuinely shocked that these came from our kitchen, and I was very pleased with them. I packaged them up for the freezer, but an elf has been sneaking into that Tupperware container every night for a few for the grownups in the house. I'm hoping they'll make it to Christmas!

Almond Biscotti
recipe adapted from

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon almond extract
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup roughly chopped natural almonds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. (I use a silicone baking mat)

In a medium bowl, beat together the oil, eggs, sugar and almond extract until well blended. Combine the flour and baking powder, stir into the egg mixture to form a heavy dough. Divide dough into two pieces. Form each piece into a roll as long as your cookie sheet. Place roll onto the prepared cookie sheet, and press down to 1/2 inch thickness.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack.

When the cookies are cool enough to handle, slice each one crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Place the slices cut side up back onto the baking sheet.

Bake for an additional 6 to 10 minutes on each side. Slices should be lightly toasted.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cranberry Orange Relish

I love the contrast of the cold, tangy cranberry sauce against the turkey at Thanksgiving. The can-formed cranberry jelly was a big joke at our college Thanksgivings where it was mandatory, even though no one ate. There might have been photos of the jelly on a plate parading around the room, with people "Vanna White" posing with it. :)

These big feasts were where my two roommates and I (plus our significant others and random friends) would put together a big meal the weekend before we all took off to head back home. Of course, we starting cooking (and drinking) in the early afternoon, and ended up hungover from more than just turkey the next day.

I still love the cranberry sauce, even though the company of my Thanksgiving dinners are little different. I snatch up the bags of fresh cranberries when they first make their appearance in the grocery store to make this homemade sauce. This is not an overly sweet sauce, so if you want a sweeter sauce, add more sugar

This whole batch only lasted one day, although I was looking forward to eating some Black Friday oatmeal for breakfast with a big scoop of this on top. Oh well!

If you want to make your own sauce, but still keep that authentic "can shape" check out Food in Jar's Home "Canned" Cranberry Sauce. 

Cranberry Orange Sauce
a combination of and Tyler Florence

1/2 cup sugar
1 orange, juiced
12 ounce bag fresh cranberries
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries and orange zest and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove the heat and place sauce in a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pecan Pie Surprise Bars

This was planned as our only Thanksgiving dessert. I don't make a lot of pies: something to do with me being intimidated by pie crust...I know, I know, I need to get over it, so I love almost-like-pie desserts.

My son ended up being adamant that there needed to be pie at Thanksgiving, too, so I ended up buying a cheap bakery Pumpkin Pie from the grocery store, too. Unfortunately for him, this dessert was the hands-down favorite of everyone. The huge pan of bars only lasted maybe 24 hours!

Pecan Pie Surprise Bars
from Aunt Joan

1 package yellow cake mix, divided
1/2 cup margarine (or butter), melted
1 egg

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans

Reserve 2/3 cup dry cake mix. Put remaining mix in large bowl. Add margarine, 1 egg and mix until crumbly. Press into greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Mix reserved cake mix, sugar, syrup, vanilla, and 3 eggs. Beat at medium speed for a minute or two and pour over partially baked crust. Sprinkle with pecans. Return to oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool; cut into bars.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Good but basic cookies. They were ALL gobbled up. It is unheard of to hear anyone complain about cookies in this house. The dough was easy to whip up, although I don't know how the cornstarch effects the cookie dough, but it definitely did not hurt them!

Overall, these were very good cookies!

Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Apple a Day from Anna Olson, Food Network Canada

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.

3.  Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chunks.

4.  Using a standard-sized cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  (The tops will not brown, but do NOT cook longer than ten minutes.)

5.  Let cool, on the sheet, on a wire rack for five minutes.  Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Shrimp Salad

Each of the family members got to pick a dish for Thanksgiving. My husband chose Bacon Brussel Sprouts, my son picked Pumpkin Pie, and I chose this salad. It's been hanging out in my "To Try" folder for a long time, and I have been trying to pick an event worthy to create this.

I liked this best the day of, when the heat of the horseradish was strongest, but it was still good the next day. My son picked out the shrimp to eat, which was fine with me, and hubbie took a serving with no complaints.

But, the leftovers languished in the frig for way too long, (this recipe made a LARGE bowl's worth) and I ended up dumping most of it. Which made me sad. But I still have a ton of horseradish left in that small bottle I bought just for this recipe, so I've been trying some new flavor combos (Black Bean Patties with a topping of Horseradish Mayo?)

Shrimp Salad
from Muffins and Mayhem by Suzanne Beecher

1 1/3 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup cocktail sauce
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
Horseradish, to taste (I added 1/2 teaspoon)

8 ounces elbow macaroni or shells, cooked and drained
17 ounce can small early peans, drained (I used 8 oz frozen peas, cooked and drained)
1/2 to 3/4 pound medium or large shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined, and cut into halve (if medium) or thirds (if large)
2 1/2 ounce jar sliced mushrooms, drained (i used a 4 oz can)
1 cup finely chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
2 tablespoons diced pimento

In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients of mayo, cocktail sauce, milk, salt, onion salt, pepper, celery salt, and horseradish. In a large bowl, gently combine shells, peas, shrimp, mushrooms, celery and pimento. Gently stir dressing mixture into macaroni mixture. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving, preferably overnight.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

This tastes like store bought, makes four times as much, and is as easy as pushing a button on your food processor. I have another recipe on this site for Garlic Hummus, but, wow, this was good.

I made it as an appetizer for Pita Chips and Baby Carrots for Thanksgiving, but we also ended up using this with leftovers for Turkey, Hummus, and Veggie Pita Sandwiches. The final remainder was eaten up pretty quickly with crackers.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
recipe revised from

12 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained, juice reserved
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon paprika

In a food processor, process the red peppers until roughly chopped. Remove 2 tablespoons as a garnish for the finished hummus. To the processor bowl with red peppers, add remaining ingredients. Process until smooth, adding the reserved bean juice a tablespoon at a time (I used about 2 tablespoons or so) if needed to get to the consistency you want. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Spoon into your serving container and top with the reserved chopped red peppers.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Drop Biscuits

One night we were having soup, and I realized the soup alone wasn't going to cut it. I didn't have enough time to do a yeast bread like breadsticks or rolls, and didn't have the energy for rolling, cutting and re-rolling biscuits. Hello drop biscuits!

I have not always been a fan of drop biscuits, as the majority of the rocks drop biscuits I've had growing up were made of Bisquick and resembling pucks. But these drop biscuits were fluffly, with little pockets of air inside, perfect for dipping into soup. The key is not to overstir the batter and allow it to be pretty loose when scooping them onto the baking sheet.

They don't split evenly for my favorite leftover biscuit food: egg biscuit sandwiches, but they are a quick fix and made for a great side for our soup.

Baking Powder Biscuits
revised from Betty Crocker Cookbook
Makes: 12 biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour *
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup butter or shortening
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and onion powder in a medium bowl. Cut in butter/shortening using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until mixture looks like fine crumbs.
Stir in milk until dough JUST comes together - don't overstir. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out biscuits onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart for crusty sides, touching for soft sides.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm. *If using self-rising flour, omit baking powder and salt

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Leftovers

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and ate lots of good food with family and friends! If you're like me, you are dealing with mondo leftovers (which is one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving, in my book) or shopping it off!

I'll be making lots of turkey stock with the turkey bones and *such*, but my favorite new recipe for leftover cooked turkey is this Turkey Tetrazzini:

and this Cheater's Turkey Pot Pie would be great, too!

Crockpot Taco Soup could give the leftover turkey a little Mexican twist:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup (copycat of Panera's)

This is one of my first copycat recipes that I went hunting for. Panera used to be my favorite lunch out when I worked, and spent more money than I care to remember on Cinnamon Crunch Bagels, and this soup with a Sierra Turkey sandwich.

I took both boys there for lunch while I was waiting for my car to get its oil changed a few months ago. The food was just as good, but it was a much different atmosphere trying to keep one child from crawling under the table and the other from throwing the dishes on the floor. Yes, much different...but still good. :)

This soup is a very easy meal to put together and a great way to use a big bag of frozen broccoli florets that I can get on sale. This only issue I've had with this soup is that it creates a bit of thick brown skin on the bottom of the pot, so at the end of the cooking time don't scrape the pot. Serve it up with bread, biscuits or breadsticks!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup from Panera Bread
from Top Secret Recipes
Serves: 4

3 cups broccoli florets
4 cups chicken broth (or 2 cups chix broth & 2 cups milk)
1 cup half and half (omit if using 2 cups milk)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
8 slices Kraft cheese slices (or approx 5.3 oz shredded cheddar cheese)
1/2 cup shredded carrots, chopped a little
1/3 cup diced white onions
Pinch ground  black pepper

Steam broccoli on a steamer basket in a covered saucepan over boiling water for 6 minutes. Remove broccoli to a chopping board until cool, then use a large sharp knife to dice broccoli into pieces that are about the size of peas. (To make it super easy, use a food processor)

Pour chicken broth into a large saucpan with the half and half. (or chicken broth and milk) Whisk in flour, and then add remaining inredients, including broccoli. Turn heat to medium, stirring often until mixture begns to bubble. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until carrots are tender and soup is thick.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Freezer Cooking: Muffin Lunches

I have been struggling with lunches at our house. Usually, dinner leftovers are rotated into the next day's lunches, but we have had a low amount of leftovers. My son could get PB&J everyday, but his momma needs variety in her life. I hate trying to invent the wheel everyday for lunch, I'd rather have the majority of the work done, but the last time I checked, the "Lunch Fairy" doesn't stop by my house. As a result, we've been eating more fast food than I care to.

This week, I bought two packages of english muffins (you could also make your own) and made myself Ham & Cheese Toasters and my son Mini Pizzas for our lunches for the week!

Freezer Mini English Muffin Pizzas

1 package (6 count) english muffins
1 can tomato paste (Italian seasoned works great, but plain is fine, too)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
Dried oregano, garlic powder (optional)
kosher salt for sprinkling

Spilt all the english muffins on a baking sheet and broil in the oven until lightly toasted. Let cool a little bit.

Spread each muffin with tomato paste, then top with shredded cheese. Sprinkle with oregano, garlic powder and kosher salt.

Place the whole sheet in the freezer if it will fit; if not, transfer half to a plate and freeze the muffins. Once they are frozen (if they are stiff, it makes it easier to wrap them) remove from the freezer and wrap the pizzas individually with plastic wrap.

Place into a large bag and return to the freezer. (I used the bag that the english muffins came in, but a resealable bag works great, too)

To serve: remove the amount of individual pizzas you'll be eating and remove plastic wrap. Either place into the microwave for 2 minutes or until melted or place into the toaster oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned. I found a combo of a defrost in the microwave, then finish baking in the toaster oven my preferred cooking method.

I follow the same method for the Ham and Cheese Toasters (and freezing/wrapping them individually) and bake them at the same time!

Serving the pizzas to a 4 year old on a Lightning McQueen plate only makes them taste better!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

French Cranberry Chicken

When the temperature cools down in Florida, I get excited to turn off the AC, wear jeans, and...bake in the oven. I've posted something similar to this for the slow cooker (Crockpot Cranberry Chicken), but I really prefer the oven version.

I usually make about 4 chicken breasts instead of the recommended 6 (only because our family can't eat all that) but the extra sauce does not go to waste! I just make sure I have mashed potatoes or something to put the yummy sauce on. It's sweet, tangy, and savory all at the same time!

I made this dish ahead in the morning after breakfast and stashed in the frig. Below is the Oven Fried Potato Wedges waiting to be put in the oven at the same time. This makes the dinnertime rush so much easier!

French Cranberry Chicken

Serves: 6

6 chicken breasts

1 8-ounce bottle french salad dressing
1 cup whole cranberry sauce
1 package dry onion soup mix

Lay chicken breasts in a 9x13 pan.

Mix together French dressing, cranberry sauce and dry onion soup mix. Pour over chicken breasts.

Bake uncovered 1 1/4 hours at 350 or until chicken is tender.
Note: If you use glass dish, bake at 325º.

Monday, November 14, 2011

White Chocolate Fudge Cookies

This recipe is insanely similar to another cookie recipe I have posted, Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. But I made both of these recipes in one week, (the former for my husband's Halloween potluck at work, then this recipe for a Bake Sale) and decided I preferred this recipe.

I made these to sell at a Bake Sale for my Mom's Club, and my friend who picked up the cookies confessed to having sampled one. These have the effect of calling to people!

My husband and kids loved these, and my son said "These look like the cookies from Subway!" which for some reason, made them taste even better.  It was a sad day when he realized my healthy lunch place served cookies. If you want them to be even closer to Subway's, add half white chocolate chips and half chocolate chips.

White Chocolate Fudge Cookies
recipe from Barefoot Contessa
Makes 2 dozen large cookies

1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds white chocolate coarsely chopped (or 2 cups white chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350º.
Cream the butter and 2 sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the chocolate with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Fold in the chopped white chocolate.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4 inch ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone) Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  If making small cookies, bake about 10-12 minutes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Yorkshire Pudding aka The Puff Pancake

This was our Daylight Savings morning breakfast. Ya' know, that morning where everyone is up early and it hard to know what time it really is. While I was lying on the couch super early while the kiddos watched TV and played with toys on the floor, the only thing that motivated me to get moving was the thought of a yummy breakfast. My world is run by food...and that morning, coffee.

We decided to call it "The Puff Pancake," and I know my family is totally ruining the heritage of this dish by calling it that (Sorry British folk!) but when I told my 4-year old what the actual name of this dish was, I got some weird looks. Ignorance is bliss sometimes.

We served this with just pancake syrup, but it would great to dress it up with sliced strawberries, whipped cream, chunky jam, or whatever special toppings you put on pancakes or waffles.

It is much better to eat it the day of. While the leftovers weren't bad, it was more more delicate, fluffy, with a little crunch on the brown bits straight out of the oven. My husband even though this would be a great Christmas morning breakfast.

Yorkshire Pudding or "The Puff Pancake"
recipe from This Week for Dinner

Blend in a blender:

4 eggs

2 1/4 cups milk

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place 4 tablespoons margarine or butter in the oven in a 9″ x 13″ pan until boiling. (or until it’s all melted and maybe just starting to brown and bubble a bit). Pour the blended ingredients directly into the hot pan. Bake at 450 for 25ish minutes, until it is very puffed and browned.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Old School Chicken and Rice Casserole

When my cousin Rachelle (who I also got the great recipe Cake Mix Cookie Bars from) posted on Facebook that she finally found a Chicken and Rice recipe that her husband said tasted like one his Grandma used to make, I hopped all over that and asked for the recipe.

I made this for Sunday lunch and it was such a nice treat to have a big fancy meal during the day. OK, so this wasn't *that* fancy, but lunches on the weekends are pretty thrown together around our place.

I've been plotting about starting the "Sunday Dinner" tradition, but I've yet to get organized or really convince the rest of the family. Mostly my husband. Because as soon as church is over, football takes center stage, and that's fine for the stage we're in right now. But to borrow a line from Field of Dream, "If I build it, they will come"...or, "If I make the food, arrange the dinner, force them to avert their eyes from the TV or heaven forbid, turn it off, they will eat it." This would be a perfect meal if you already have Sunday Dinners broken in around your house.

This is old school comfort food for me so I was all over it. I could have eaten the whole pan myself. My husband really liked the rice, but said to try boneless chicken next time. The kids ate it with no issues. It was very easy to put together and throw in the oven, leaving time to put together side dishes or wrestle the TV remote from your husband.

Old School Chicken and Rice Casserole

1 cup rice (can use brown or white)
2 cups water
Bone-in chicken pieces (original recipe calls for a whole cut-up chicken) or 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1.25 oz envelope dry onion soup mix
1 10.75 oz can cream of celery (I used cream of mushroom)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle rice on the bottom of the dish, add the water, then arrange chicken pieces over top.

Sprinkle with dry onion soup mix and drop spoonfuls of the can of soup over all. (Don't worry about getting it evenly covered...while it is baking, the soup will cook down and spread throughout.) Cover with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Onion Walkabout Soup

Anyone ever do a cookbook "audit"? I have recipes in my cookbook binder that haven't been made in a few years, and I like to give them the once over to make sure the recipe still makes "the cut."

This soup recipe has been in my cookbook binder for at least five years, back before we had kids, and we lived in a condo right by an Outback Steakhouse. We must of liked it, because it's been taking up space in my book every since. But no date, no notes, no "Very Good!"...nothing.

This soup is a copycat of Outback Steakhouse's Onion Walkabout Soup, although I don't know where this original recipe came from, and my online search didn't come up with anything.

So fast forward to two kids and five years later, I made the soup one night...

Nobody ate the soup.

Even incredibly polite taste-tester husband stopped after a few bites.

Let's not get started on the 4 year old. Massive hissy fit. "Momma, there are ONIONS in here!"

Well, except me. I had a couple of bowlfuls. Mostly "I-made-a-soup-no-one-likes" guilt. I just kept eating. "Oh, it's not THAT bad..."

I served Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins with the soup, as I was going with the Tightwad Gazette mantra of soup every week, but serve it with a homemade bread/biscuit/muffin to offset any grumbling.

So everyone filled up on muffins. A lot of muffins. Not the healthiest meal on the books, but oh well.

I still thought the soup was good, and very similar to the restaurant's, and although my family wasn't a fan, doesn't mean yours might not be!

Outback Steakhouse Onion Walkabout Soup
Serves: 4

8 cups water (or stock - skip the bouillon cubes)
8 beef, chicken, or vegetable bouillon cubes
3 medium white onions
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Heat the stock to boiling in a large pan. Add the bouillon cubes and dissolve, if using. Cut the onion into thin slices. Then half the slices. Add to the broth. Add salt and pepper. Bring the mixture back to boiling, then turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered for 1 hour. While stirring, sift the flour into the soup. Continue to stir if any large clumps of flour develop. Be careful when you stir; aggressive agitation or using a whisk may tear the onions apart. As the soup continues to cook, any lumps should dissolve. After 30 minutes of additional simmering, add the cream and 1 cup of cheddar cheese. Continue to simmer the soup for about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the soup hot after sprinkling a tablespoon of cheese on top.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Make Ahead Breakfasts: Muffin Tin Eggs

Let's be honest, cleaning the muffin tin pan is the WORST job in the kitchen. I have a ghetto, burnt-on muffin tin that I hate...and I curse grumble alot when I have to wash it. Not my finest moments.

But my husband asked to try making eggs this way, and surprisingly, it has been the the biggest hit for make ahead eggs for our family. That still doesn't mean I love scrubbing that darn tin and all those pain-in-the-butt (as my 4 year old would say "Momma, that's a bad word!") individual cups. I have debated paper or foil liners, but I have yet to remember to buy some at the store to try it.

We've done hard-boiled eggs, but for some reason, they just don't go over well. Scrambled eggs made it's appearance for awhile, but now my husband is eating egg whites, so everyone needs their own preferences. I've sure we'll move onto something new in a month or so. :)

Egg whites for the husband, and the egg yolks for the 10 month old, so nothing goes to waste. If all the levels of eggs are at the same level, they cook more evenly, so I put 2 egg yolks together.

The key is cooking the eggs until they are just barely completely cooked, so when you re-heat them, they aren't overcooked and rubbery.

Muffin Tin Eggs

Nonstick Spray
12 eggs, or one for each muffin cup
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin well with non-stick spray.

Crack an egg into each muffin cup, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  I made 6 whole eggs, 4 egg whites, and two cups holding 2 egg yolks each.

Cover with foil and bake for approx 10-15 minutes. If the eggs are just a teeny bit wiggly, (the whole eggs take the longest to bake) remove the pan from the oven, and let sit still covered with foil to finishing cooking. (I baked the eggs at the same time as the Baked Oatmeal for the week!)

Once the eggs have cooled a little, but still warm, run a small knife (I use a paring knife) around the edge of each egg and pop out of the hole. (Don't let them cool all the way or you'll have to chisel them out!) There seems to be a bit of temperature sweet-spot (not too hot, not too cold) that makes it easiest to pop out the eggs, although it's never perfect.

Remove to your storage container of choice.