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.