Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Flaky Sugar Cookies

This recipe was given to us by a lady who worked with Dustin, who's parents owned a bakery. It has become a favorite among many of my sisters and so I thought I'd post it so everyone can have it. The key to this recipe is to only cook them for 5 minutes (unless your oven cooks really slow, like mine does, and then you might want to do 6 minutes). Another key is to roll them thick. Also, it never seems like there is enough flour, but by the time I add flour to the table and the rolling pin while I'm rolling them, they come out fine. They stay soft and have a great flavor.
Flaky Sugar Cookies
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. shortening
1/2 c. milk
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/4 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Cream together the sugar and shortening. Add the milk, egg and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add it to the other mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut it into your favorite shape and bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Great Zucchini Bread Experiment

I recently had the opportunity to eat everything out of my big freezer (not all by myself) in a very short amount of time. Isn't that fun? I had a lot of frozen zucchini from my neighbors sharing their wealth this summer, and in the name of science, I have decided to conduct an experiment on which zucchini bread is the best. At least of the four recipes I tried. Anyone who came near got a chance to chow down and give me their biased opinion and from all those opinions, I have formulated a winner. Sort of.

So here are the different recipes I used. I'll try to keep them as concise as possible. And just FYI, they all call for chopped nuts, which I'm not even taking the time to type in because I didn't add them to any of the recipes. But if you like that sort of thing, go ahead and add those back in. (If you want to skip ahead to the winner and avoid all the recipes, go straight to the bottom)

Paula Dean's Zucchini Bread

3 1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg (I used 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp cloves)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 c. water
2 c. grated zucchini
1 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl combine the oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Spray your loaf pans with cooking spray, pour the batter in, and bake for 1 hour or until a tester comes out clean.

Allrecipes Popular Recipe-Mom's Recipe
3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
3 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
2 1/4 c. sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
2 c. grated zucchini

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon together in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla and beat well. Add the sifted ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix it well. Stir in the zucchini until it is well combined. Grease and flour two loaf pans and pour the batter into the pans. Bake for 40-60 minutes (it's going to be 60), or until a tester comes out clean.

The Real Mom's Zucchini Recipeby: Lynne'

2 c. zucchini
1 c. oil
3 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
2 c. sugar
3 c. flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder

Blend together the zucchini, oil, eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the salt, sugar, flour, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (I used cinnamon but I actually think the pumpkin pie spice would have been awesome in this), soda and baking powder. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until well blended. Pour into two loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until tester comes out clean.

Healthy Zucchini Breadby:
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
2 1/4 c. zucchini
1/4 c. oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl combine the eggs, zucchini, oil and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the tester comes out clean.

The Results:Now folks, you may think that these are all so similar (minus the healthy one, of course) and yes, they are. And they all tasted great (minus the healthy one of course) (just kidding, kind of). They were all moist. In retrospect, I should have found recipes that were completely different from each other, but come on, it is zucchini bread! There just isn't a lot of variation (minus the healthy one, of course). However, even though there were only slight differences, I believe those differences did make a difference :) And this is what we decided. More cinnamon and spice=better flavor. More eggs means=denser bread. More sticky, crusty crust=more yumminess. Healthy ingredients=not as tasty bread. In the end, according to my professional opinion, the winner was a combination of Paula Dean's recipe and the Allrecipe version. The Allrecipe one had the best fluffiness, overall flavor and a great sticky crust (although my Mom's had the very best crust). There was a lot of cinamon in the Allrecipe version and the one thing that could have made it better was the nutmeg and cloves that were in the Paula Dean bread. Those two spices gave it a little kick of flavor that was delicious and different from all the other recipes. So here is my winning version of Zucchini Bread:

The Zucchini Bread Winner
adapted by: Carolyn

3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
3 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
2 c. sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
2 c. zucchini

Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients. Combine the two. Bake in two greased loaf pans at 325 for 60 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Monica's delicious wonderful perfect chicken noodle soup of the soul and the belly

I am pleased to announce the first recipe that I have ever created on my own (which is why I also was able to create the name. Do you like it?).

4 carrots - sliced
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 small onion - diced
10 cups of water
10 bullion in whatever form you prefer (I personally like the powder because it lasts longer, dissolves faster and tastes better, but you can do whatever you like)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1 package egg noodles
1 chicken breast - shredded
cornstarch or flour

In a large pot combine the water, bullion and carrots and bring to a boil. While the water is heating up, put the olive oil and garlic into a small pan and stir it on medium heat for about two minutes. Add the onion and celery and cook until the onion is tender and beginning to be translucent. Add that mixture to the boiling water and then add the pepper, salt, basil and chicken. You may want to add more salt and pepper depending on your preference and the saltiness of the bullion, but I have found that this amount works for me. Add the noodles and continue to boil until the noodles are tender (usually about 1/2 hour).

I like a thicker soup so I add some cornstarch or flour to thicken it up. To use cornstarch combine about 1/8 cup cornstarch and about 1/2 cup cold warm water in a container that can be sealed. Shake the mixture until it is blended and then slowly add to the soup until it is the desired thickness. Use flour the same way. I like cornstarch better because it keeps the soup a little clearer. Neither affect the taste. Another option is to use potato flakes.

Another thing that really changes the soup is the type of noodles you use. The best kind are those made from scratch, but because I don't usually plan ahead I like to use a kind that you find in the frozen section of Aldi or just some that are dry but still resemble the homemade kind.

And viola! That is my chicken noodle soup. I realize that there are probably a bunch of recipes that look very similar to mine, but I have literally made soup a dozen times trying different spices and combinations and in the end this was the one that tasted the best by far. The bullion really changes things too because some brands are a lot stronger than others or have a lot more flavor. you really have to find one that you like. The one I have now has MSG in it (I didn't notice until the last time I made soup...) and so now I understand why my soup has so much flavor. I also know now why my children seem to be lacking a few brain cells...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cheese Soup

The title of this soup really doesn't do it justice. It should be called "Cheesy Veggie Chicken-y Bacon-y Yumminess". This is, by far, my most favorite soup. Can you see all those veggies packed in there? Can you see the bacon and the chicken? Can you see the yumminess? It is slightly high maintenance, but worth every pan that you dirty.
Cheese Soup
Adapted by Carolyn
original recipe from Megan
6 c. water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 c. celery, diced (Ick. I hate crunching celery in cooked foods so I omit this)
1/2 c. onion, diced
3 c. potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 (20 oz.) package frozen broccoli, cauliflower, carrot blend
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 jar of Ragu Cheese Sauce (this is found with the spaghetti and Alfredo sauce)
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
4 slices well cooked bacon, chopped
In a large pot combine the water, bouillon cubes, celery, onion and potatoes. Boil ingredients for 20-25 minutes or until cooked. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cook your frozen vegetables according to the package directions (maybe even slightly less). Drain the liquid from that pan and when your large pot of vegetables is cooked, add the broccoli, cauliflower and carrot blend to it.
In another saucepan, over low heat, combine your cream of chicken soup and cheese sauce until smooth (the original recipe calls for 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. of Velveeta Cheese in place of the Ragu. This is also delicious, but more pricey than the Ragu sauce and I think the flavor is just as good with the Ragu.)
While all of my vegetables are cooking, I usually cook my chicken, then my bacon, both in the microwave. Shred the chicken and chop the bacon and stir them into the large pot. Then add your cheese mixture to the large pot and stir gently until combined. This will take a few minutes of stirring, but don't get to hasty and start mashing up your soft vegetables.
One of the great things about this recipe is that it is so easy to adapt to what you have. I usually add more potatoes and more fresh carrots. You could use all fresh vegetables if you would like. You can omit what you don't like. It also makes a lot of soup so I usually take a bowl to someone else, feed my family, eat it for leftovers and still have enough to freeze for later. It is just a big ol' pot of cheesy yumminess!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Slow Cooker Mushroom Pork Chops

My mother-in-law introduced me to this recipe a few years ago and it has become my favorite way to eat pork chops. It is so easy and smells wonderful as it cooks all day long. I serve it over rice or a potato and I'm pretty sure all of my children ate this the last time I made it :)

Mushroom Pork Chops
by: Carolyn
4 pork chops
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
salt and pepper to taste
1 can sliced mushrooms
Mix together the mushroom soup, water, milk, garlic, onion powder, seasoned salt, salt and pepper in a bowl (I mix mine directly in my crock pot). Add the mushrooms and stir gently. Add your pork chops. Cook in a slow cooker on low heat for seven hours or high heat for five.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Now that it is finally feeling like Autumn around here, I am in the mood for things like soup and chili for dinner. I have been making this chili recipe for years and have never actually documented it. It was kind of tricky trying to figure out how much of different spices that I add, but in the end, I think I got it right. This is only a semi-homemade recipe because I add this little helper:

But, I figure I add enough extras to still call it my own.
Carolyn's Easy Chili
by: Carolyn
3 cans of beans (any variety you like-I usually mix it up a bit, with a couple of kidneys (he he) and a small red or chili, or whatever)
2 cans tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 packages chili seasoning
2 tsp. minced garlic
3-4 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 can corn
a dash or two of chili powder (if you want to heat it up a little)

Throw all the ingredients into a large pot (you should probably open the canned items and dump them in, instead:). Stir it all up really well. Bring it to a boil, cover it and let it simmer on a low heat for as long as you want. It seems like the flavors come out better if I have let it simmer for 20-30 minutes. I always serve mine with corn bread, butter and honey.