Sunday, December 22, 2013

Creamy Potato Crock Pot Soup

There is something about a month of below freezing temperatures that makes me want to eat homemade soup.  One of the great things about doing it in a crock pot is that my house smells delicious all day long.  I made this on a day that we were having a blizzard.  I couldn't go to the store and this recipe didn't require very many ingredients.  It is flavorful as is, but it would also be great with ground up sausage, or bits of bacon in it.  But if all you have is potatoes and celery (like I did), you still won't be disappointed with this soup!

Creamy Potato Soup
adapted from:

8 c. diced potatoes (I didn't even peel mine)
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 c. chopped onion
3 cans (14.5 oz) chicken broth (I used chicken bouillon and water)
4 cubes of beef bouillon
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour

In the slow cooker, add the potatoes, celery, onion, chicken broth, beef bouillon and pepper.  Cook it on high for 3 hours.  After three hours, in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the flour and stir it together to make a paste.  Slowly pour in the milk and whisk it constantly until it begins to boil and thicken.  Pour it in to the slow cooker and gently stir it to combine.  Cook it for one more hour on high.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lemon Bread

There seems to be a lemon theme going on right now.  Three of the last four posts I've done have the word lemon in them.  Maybe lemons were on sale recently...  So, if you haven't gotten your lemon fix with tilapia or soup, go ahead and try it in dessert form!  

Lemon Bread
slightly adapted from:

1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
rind of 1 lemon

For glaze:
1/2 c. powdered sugar
juice from 1 lemon

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one.  Stir in the milk.  In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon rind and stir it well (this helps your rind to not clump together when you mix it in with the liquid stuff).  Pour the flour mixture into the mixing bowl and mix well to combine.  Pour it into a greased bread pan and bake it at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  During baking, in a small bowl stir together the powdered sugar and lemon juice and set it aside.  (As a side note, my lemons must have been extremely juicy, because I had to add quite a bit more powdered sugar to get the sweetness that I wanted.  Be aware and taste it before you pour it on your bread).  When the bread is done, remove it from the oven to a cooling rack.  While it is still hot, poke holes in the top with a toothpick or fork and then pour the glaze over the top of the holes.  Let it cool completely and then slice and serve!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Slow Cooker Lemon Basil Soup

If you love lemons and having food ready for you when you come home at night, you will love this soup!  Any time that I put something in the slow cooker, I am so happy the rest of the day.  Any time I use up the lemons in my fridge without them rotting, I am also happy the rest of the day. 

Slow Cooker Lemon Basil Soup
by: Carolyn 

1 chicken breast
fresh basil leaves (around 10 small leaves)
fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste
5 c. water
3 boullion cubes
1/2 onion, sliced
2 large potatoes, chopped (or you can use a cup of cooked rice)
1 c. chopped carrots
2 juiced lemons 
zest from one lemon

Combine all the ingredients in your slow cooker.  Cook it on high for 5 hours.  Shred the chicken breast before serving.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Quick Yeast Rolls

I came across this recipe on and have been using it for months.  It is the easiest roll recipe I have found (no kneading, no rolling, only mixing and plopping), and it is delicious, too!  It is fast (start to finish, about 2 hours) and the rolls come out light and fluffy.  It makes it simple for me to have fresh rolls for my family with dinner!

Quick Yeast Rolls
slightly adapted from:

2 Tbsp. shortening
3 Tbsp. white sugar
1 c. hot water
1 package active dry yeast
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. flour (just a little less than that, actually)

In a large bowl, combine the shortening, sugar and hot water and stir to dissolve (the shortening won't dissolve very much).  When the water has cooled to luke warm, add the yeast and stir it to dissolve.  Stir in the egg and salt, then add the flour and stir to combine.  Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise until it is doubled in size.  Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.  When the dough has doubled in size, divide it into the prepared muffin tin cups.  Cover it and allow it to rise again until it has doubled in size.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Bake the rolls for 10 minutes or until lightly golden (mine have never taken more than ten minutes).

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lemon Pepper Parmesan Tilapia

Last night I made this tilapia for dinner.  I found ingredients that I had on hand, and whipped it up in about 6.5 minutes, baked it for 15 minutes, and had dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.  Not bad!  And it tasted great!  My husband was very impressed when he walked in the house from raking leaves to see this gourmet meal on the table in such a short time.

Lemon Pepper Parmesan Tilapia
by: Carolyn

3 Tilapia fillets
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
fresh ground salt and pepper (just a grind or two)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.  With your fingers (or a spoon if you are opposed to finger mixing), on a plate, mix together the Parmesan, lemon pepper, parsley and salt and pepper.  Dip both sides of each tilapia fillet in the Parmesan mixture until it is well coated.  Place the fish in the pan and bake it for 15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Best Funeral Potatoes I've Ever Eaten

Last month I made some potatoes for a funeral at our church.  My sweet, 86 year old neighbor gave me her recipe, and I must say, they were the best funeral potatoes I've ever eaten.  Dustin concurred.  There are a couple of tricks that I'm convinced must be what made the difference. One is to sprinkle the cheese on the potatoes before pouring the soup mixture on.  The second was to mix the cornflakes with melted butter before sprinkling them on the top.  No soggy topping!

Funeral Potatoes
by: Donna 

32 oz. frozen hash browns (the cubed kind)
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. sour cream
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. chopped onion (I used my dehydrated onions and they worked great)
2 - 2 1/2 c. cornflakes
1/4 c. melted butter

Pour your hash browns into a 9X13 pan.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top of the potatoes.  In a bowl, mix together the onions, butter (not melted), sour cream and cream of chicken soup and spread it over the top of the cheese.  Crush the cornflakes and mix it with the melted butter and sprinkle that over the top (I ended up adding a little more cornflakes so it went farther).  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until it is bubbly.    

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Strawberry Apple Crumble

We had a big bag of apples from my brother-in-law sitting on our counter, and I decided I should make something with them.  I keep losing all my apple crumble recipes, so I found a new one to try tonight.  I modified this from a recipe on AllRecipes based on some user comments and what I had on-hand.  I'm still kind of in heaven over how good it was.  Even Jim loved it and he typically doesn't like apple desserts.

8-10 apples, peeled and sliced (I actually used 7 apples but I think it could have used a little more)
1 package strawberry flavored Jell-O (I used a 3 oz pkg but the original recipe called for a 6 oz pkg)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
heavily sprinkled cinnamon
light sprinkling of nutmeg

Slice your apples and lay them out in a 9 x 12 baking dish (I put mine in two 8 x 8 dishes).  Sprinkle your dry Jell-O package over the apples.

Melt your butter, and mix it with the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  I didn't measure the cinnamon and nutmeg but I used a lot of cinnamon and sprinkled the nutmeg 3 or 4 times (so 3 or 4 dashes)?   The original recipe didn't call for cinnamon or nutmeg but I couldn't imagine apple crumble without them, and I'm glad I added them.

Sprinkle the topping over the apples, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Serve with vanilla ice cream or some kind of whipped cream topping.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Raspberry Jello Salad

Raspberry Jello Salad

This is a recipe I got from my mom and it is a family favorite -- great for reunions and anytime I need to take a "potluck" dish.  (The angle is a little off -- there really is Jello and raspberries under the topping.)

Dissolve two small packages or one large package of raspberry Jello in 2 cups of boiling water.  When dissolved, stir in one small to medium package of frozen raspberries.  Pour into a 9 X 13 baking dish.  (If it looks a little top heavy in raspberries, I will sometimes add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of cold water and stir it in to give it a little more of a Jello base.) Put in the fridge to set up.

1 package of dream whip, mixed following directions.
Add 4 oz cream cheese and whip.
Add 1/3 cup sugar and whip.
Add 1 1/2 cups diced apples and stir them in. 
(I generally use 2 large apples or 3 small apples and dice them up.)

Spread the topping evenly over the top of the Jello after it has set up and serve.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Penne pasta with chicken alfredo

Around here, home-spun dinner is always hit and miss, but tonight, we got surprisingly lucky.  I needed to use my leftover grilled chicken, which I had marinated in a recipe off of the Tyson website.  It was yummy the first time around and added great flavor to our pasta the second time.

Penne pasta with chicken alfredo

3/4 package Penne pasta

3 T butter
2 T flour + 2 T (ish) water
2 cups water
2 chicken bullion cubes
Dehydrated onion
Dehydrated garlic
Fresh spinach
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c shredded Mozzarella
Grilled chicken, cubed
1 Tomato, diced

Cook pasta per directions on bag.

While pasta cooks, melt butter in a pan.  Combine flour & 2T water, shake it up to avoid lumps & then add to butter.  Stir until it thickens, then slowly add 2 cups water, stirring constantly.  Add bullion, onion, and garlic and stir until smooth.  You may need to add more water if it starts to evaporate to keep sauce from being too thick.  Add fresh spinach (may substitute frozen) and cook it down.  Then add heavy cream and mozzarella.  Stir, then add grilled chicken.  Last, add cooked pasta and fresh, diced tomato.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Chicken Caprese Sandwiches With Basil Pesto Mayo

This sandwich was so delicious!  Seriously yummy and seriously easy.  I threw it together in very little time, and we couldn't get over the amazing flavors in it!  I got it off of, (which, by the way, is one of my favorite food blogs), and I barely changed it (which, by the way, is not typical for me).  The chicken was supposed to be grilled, but to save time and a walk outside, I just cooked it in my frying pan in a little oil.  It would have been yummy grilled, but it was yummy either way!

Chicken Caprese Sandwiches With Basil Pesto Mayo

2 chicken breasts, cut in half, and also cut in half in the way that makes them thinner
salt and pepper
1 tomato, sliced
fresh basil
4 hard rolls
4 slices of cheddar cheese
balsamic vinegar

Pesto Mayo
1/4 c. mayonaise
3 Tbsp. pesto

In a small bowl, stir together the mayo and pesto and put it in the fridge for later.
The pesto mayo looks kind of gross as a close up, in the bowl like that.  But don't be fooled.  It is sooo good.  Maren was eating it plain.  Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook them on the grill (or in a frying pan) until they are no longer pink in the center.  Build your sandwich, using the chicken, tomato, fresh basil, cheese and pesto mayo.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar on the top, or you could drizzle it on the under side of your top bun.  And, enjoy!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Corn and Saute'd Tomatoes


I made this one evening, with the intent to take some to a vegetarian friend for lunch the next day.  It ended up being an amazing, light, summer-y salad, that not only got rave reviews from my friend, but also my own family.  

Quinoa Salad With Avocado, Corn and Grilled Tomatoes
adapted from: two peas & their pod

1 c. quinoa, cooked according to the package directions and cooled to room temperature
1 c. frozen sweet corn, cooked and cooled to room temperature
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 avocados, chopped (pit and skin removed first)
tomatoes (as many as you like-we're not huge tomato fans around here, so we only had a few), chopped into 1 inch chunks and lightly saute'd 

For the dressing:
1/4 c. olive oil
juice of 2 limes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp. cumin
fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, corn, cilantro, Parmesan cheese, avocado and grilled tomatoes.  In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, cumin and salt and pepper.  Here is a tip for juicing limes, given to me by Monica.  Before you slice them, pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds.  When they are warm, you will be able to get so much more juice out of them!  When your dressing is well mixed, pour it over the top of your salad and stir it gently to combine.  Serve it fresh or chilled.  It is delicious either way!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Jen's Cabbage, Cranberry and Almond Salad

I didn't have a title for this, so I made one up.  Isn't it clever?  Sometimes my creativity amazes even myself.  If you take Jen's name out, you pretty much have every ingredient in the salad in that title.  Jen makes this a lot for family get togethers and it is becoming a family favorite.  It is very easy, very summer-y and, oh so delicious!

Jen's Cabbage, Cranberry and Almond Salad
by: Jen

1 medium size head of cabbage (peel off the outer leaves first)
1 c. mayonaise
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 c. cranberries
1/2 c. almonds

In a small bowl, using a wire whisk, stir together the mayo, sugar and vinegar.  Let it sit while you cut up your cabbage.  This will help the sugar dissolve before you pour it on your salad.  Rinse the cabbage.  Do you know how to cut up a cabbage?  Because I didn't.  Cut it off of the middle (like you would a pineapple). Then chop those sections in to bite sized pieces.  Toss together the cabbage, cranberries and almonds.  Stir in the sauce.  Stir it in a half at a time, and see if you think you need to add it all.  You don't want it too runny.  Keep it in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.  It is pretty and delicious!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Linguine with Bacon and Saute'd Summer Vegetables

I was looking for a way to use up some cherry tomatoes that I had and I came upon this recipe on  I adapted it to what I had and it ended up being a delicious, light, summer meal.  It was also quick and easy.  Perfect for a hot summer night!

Linguine with Bacon and Saute'd Summer Vegetables
adapted from: (and Bon Appetit)

12 oz. linguine
1/4 c. olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced (I used my already minced garlic)
4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil
cherry tomatoes
zucchini, peeled and sliced
Fresh ground salt and pepper

Cook the linguine in a pot of water until it is tender, but still firm to bite.  Drain the liquid, reserving 1 cup, and set the pasta aside.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and stir it for 30 seconds (don't let it burn!).  Add the tomatoes, zucchini and saute' until soft, about 4 minutes.  Add the chopped bacon and stir it in to the vegetables.  Pour the vegetable mixture into the pot with the noodles.  Gently stir in 3/4 cup of the cheese and 1/3 cup of the basil.  Add in the liquid (from the linguine) by 1/4 cupfuls, if it is a little dry.  Season with freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste.  Sprinkle basil and cheese on the top as you serve it. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Easy Slow Cooker Philly Cheese steak #2

We have a great philly cheese steak recipe on here already, but this one was just as easy, and I didn't have to go back to the store to get forgotten items.  Necessity is the mother of new recipes.  

Easy Slow Cooker Philly Cheese Steak
adapted from:

1 roast, thinly sliced against the grain (I had the meat guy do this for me)
1 (14 oz.) can of beef broth (or use a couple of boullion cubes and water)
1 envelope italian dressing mix
1 green pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
mushrooms, sliced
canola oil
provolone cheese slices
bread or buns

Pour the beef broth and italian dressing mix in your slow cooker and stir it to combine.  Place your sliced roast in the slow cooker and spoon the liquid over the top of it.  Cook it on low for 6-8 hours.  Don't over cook it.  When your meat is done, saute' your onions, peppers and mushrooms in a large frying pan, until tender.  Layer it all on your roll and top with provolone cheese. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Pancakes Dos

For our family reunion this year (my immediate family totals 30 people now!) we divvied out the meals to make it easier on everyone.  Carolyn and I picked up a breakfast, (because who’s kidding, we’d both rather be trying a new pancake or waffle recipe any day), and came across this one, Lemon Blueberry Pancakes.  I know you’re saying to yourself, but Nicole, you’ve tried a million variations of Blueberry pancakes.  Aren’t you satisfied yet?  The answer is NO people.  I will always be trying new variations of my favorite pancake because every time I try a new one I find it exciting and delicious and just a little different than the last.  (Although it truth be told, I do have a favorite basic recipe that I use most often.)  This one was no exception.  Everyone loved them, especially when we put it over the top with Buttermilk Syrup!  Oh it was so yummy!  You should definitely make this, especially if you have an insatiable love for blueberries and lemon (and pancakes) as I do!

Side note: If you have picky eaters like, you know, all of my nieces and nephews (so what if I myself was an extremely picky eater most of my life), I made the lemon pancakes for them, sans blueberries, and the freshness of the lemon was a delicious twist on a regular pancake too.  They loved it (all minus one who shall not be named and ate toast for 2 mornings).

Lemon Blueberry Pancakes

1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, or use frozen thawed blueberries

Beat egg until frothy; beat in remaining ingredients except blueberries, beating just until smooth. Gently stir in blueberries. Grease a heated griddle. Cook as usual.  Serve with Buttermilk Syrup if you want to make it exceptional.

Oh look, the picky-eater herself.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Olive Garden's Ravioli Di Portobello (Actually, Just the Amazing Sauce Recipe)

My hubby and I recently ate at Olive Garden, and I was determined to eat something besides their Stuffed Chicken Marsala (I get it every time I eat there. Literally.).  I chose the Ravioli Di Portobello.  And I have found my new favorite Olive Garden dinner.  Smoked Gouda cheese.  Sun-dried tomatoes.  And... well, not much else.  Not only is this recipe delicious, it is super easy!  I made it for our family reunion, and it got rave reviews.  To make my life ridiculously easy, I just went ahead and bought a big thing of 5 cheese tortellini from Costco and served the sauce over that.  And, for about the same cost as one dish at the Olive Garden, I fed 13 people!

Sauce for Olive Garden's Ravioli Di Portobello

2 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
8 ounces smoked Gouda cheese
3 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the flour and stir it until it makes a thick paste.  Add the milk, stirring constantly.  Cook it until the sauce thickens.  Cut up the smoked Gouda cheese and add it to the saucepan.  Throw in your sun-dried tomatoes and stir it all until the cheese melts.  Serve it over ravioli (or tortellini, or whatever you want).
*Note: this amount serves 2-4, not 13!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Crispy Pan-Fried Tilapia

The other day I was looking for a new way to cook fish, and for some reason fish and chips sounded really good.  I found this recipe in my good ol' Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book and we were not disappointed.  The crust was crispy, the inside was tender.  I made some lemon mayonnaise to dip it in, but it wasn't even worth putting the recipe on here.  For some variety, the book suggests putting a little curry powder or chili powder and paprika in the breadcrumbs.  My family thought it was delicious this simple way.  And I served it with some homemade fries.  Close enough to fish and chips to satisfy me!

Pan-Fried Fish
from: Better Homes and Gardens

1 pound fish fillets (I used tilapia)
1 beaten egg
2/3 c. cornmeal or fine dry bread crumbs (I used Italian bread crumbs)
1/2 tsp. salt
dash pepper
cooking oil for frying

Rinse and pat dry the fish fillets.  Cut them in half.  In a shallow dish, combine the egg and 2 tablespoons water.  In another dish, mix the bread crumbs, salt and pepper.  Dip the fish into the egg mixture, then coat the fish with the bread crumb mixture.  In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch cooking oil.  Add the fish to the pan and cook it on one side until it is golden.  Turn it carefully and fry the second side until it is golden and the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Homemade Granola Bars

This is a great recipe for easy, no bake, throw in whatever you have, granola bars.  I got the recipe off of a food blog, but I have tweaked it a few different times and used whatever sounded good at the moment.  If you look closely, you'll see in the picture that there are marshmallows in this recipe.  This was a s'more granola bar.  I have since made it using different kinds of chocolate chips and no marshmallows and also with almonds.  It would taste great with any nuts, coconut, variety of chocolate chips, or even craisens or other dried fruit.  It is so quick and easy and really yummy!  I cut mine into strips and then wrap them in plastic wrap to put in my kid's lunches.  Yay for no preservatives!!

Homemade Granola Bars
adapted from:

1/4 c. margarine or butter
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. oats
1/2 c. crispy rice cereal
1/2 c. chopped graham crackers, or almonds, or something else that gives substance
1 c. mini marshamallows (or leave this out, if you aren't doing s'mores)
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Line a small pan with wax paper (8X8-ish).  In a large saucepan, stir together the butter, sugar, honey and peanut butter and bring it to a boil.  Boil it for two minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly (the last time I made these, I took it off the heat before two minutes were up.  It started to look like it was going to burn.  Just watch it closely).  Take it off of the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Then add the oats, crispy rice cereal and graham crackers (or almonds, or whatever you choose) and stir it until it is all combined.  Very last, mix in the chocolate chips and marshmallows (or whatever you choose).  Press it into the pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Then you can cut it into bars and store them for later, or eat them all in one evening, as we often end up doing! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chocolate Tacos

In celebration of Cinco De Mayo (which we have never actually celebrated before, but then again, we've never found a recipe for chocolate tacos before, either!) we made chocolate tacos.  These were awesome!  They were kind of like chewy, thin brownies.  It's like having an amazing banana split, or hot fudge sundae, in the palm of your hands.  So yes, it is a little messy.  But totally worth it.  I've been thinking about using this recipe to make homemade waffle cones or bowls.  We opted to drizzle a little melted chocolate and sprinkles on our tacos.  Then we put them in the fridge until the chocolate hardened.  Chocolate on your chocolate?!  Si!

Chocolate Tacos
from: &

1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. flour
3 Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. egg whites (I used about 1 1/2 egg's worth)
1 tsp. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla
cooking spray
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1 tsp. canola oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, flour, cocoa, cornstarch and salt and stir it well.  Then mix in the egg whites, milk and vanilla.  Coat a baking sheet with the cooking spray and draw six five inch circles with your finger onto the pan.  These will be a general outline for your batter.  Drop 1 tablespoon of batter onto each circle, and using the back of the spoon, spread the batter into your circle shape (I couldn't fit all six onto one pan, so I did it in two shifts).  Bake it for 6 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.  While they are baking, find some wooden spoons and suspend them over deep bowls, as shown below (just imagine them without tacos draped over the top):  
Working quickly when the tacos are cooked, carefully loosen the edges of the tacos with a spatula, drape each taco over a suspended wooden spoon and gently shape them into the shape of a taco.  They are pretty delicate, but even with some helpers, ours all remained intact.  Let them cool completely in this shape.  When they are completely cooled, you are ready to add more chocolate!  In a small glass bowl, microwave the chocolate chips and canola oil for 30 seconds, then stir it until it is smooth.  Dip the edges of the tacos in the chocolate and then sprinkles (and drizzle the leftovers on, for good measure).  Put them in the fridge until it is hardened.  
When you are ready to eat, take them out, add some ice cream scoops and any toppings that you want and enjoy your chocolate taco!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Brazilian Beans And Rice (Feijoada)

My hubby served a mission for our church for two years in Brazil.  That was 16 years ago.  And for the first time in our 12 years of marriage, I made him some Brazilian food.  I thought it was going to be harder than it was, and so I never did it.  And maybe if I had made this totally authentic, it would have been harder.  But I made it with what I had, and in the slow cooker, and it was actually really easy and really tasty.  If you ever buy a big spiral ham around Christmas time and don't know what to do with the ham bone, here is your answer!  If you've ever had a bag of dried beans sitting in your food storage for about 10 years and didn't know what to do with it, here is your answer!  This is the recipe you need to use up random food items that you don't really know what to do with.  Yay!

Brazilian Beans and Rice (Feijoada)
adapted from:

1 lb. dry black beans
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 onions
1 ham bone (or any of your spiral ham that is leftover-I had a ham bone and also some ends of the ham that weren't sliced and I didn't know how to use them)
5 cloves garlic, minced (2 1/2 tsp. already minced)
1/2 lb. bacon
2 beef bouillon cubes
1/2 tsp. pepper
fresh ground salt to taste (you don't need much, the ham and bacon will make it salty)

Dump your black beans into your crock pot and then fill up the crock pot with water until it covers the beans.  In the morning, drain the water from the crock pot.  Then add six cups more water to the crock pot (just to get fresh water).  Thinly slice your onions.  In a frying pan, pour your olive oil and saute' your onions until they are translucent.  In the same frying pan, caramelize the edges of your ham bone, then add the onions and ham bone to the crock pot.  In the same frying pan, cook your minced garlic for one minute, then add to the crock pot.  Add your bacon to the frying pan and cook it until it is almost crispy, then throw it in the crock pot, too.  Add the beef bouillon cubes, pepper and salt to the crock pot and gently stir it all together.  Cook it on high for 1 hour, then turn it down to low for 5-6 hours.  At the last hour of cooking, remove the ham and bone,discard the bone and shred the ham, and then return the shredded ham to the crock pot.  You may want to cut the bacon into chunks (if you have little kids like I do).  The original recipe called for a couple of different kinds of sausage as well.  I think you can basically add any pork item that you have on hand and you won't go wrong.  I served mine with brown rice, orange slices and a salad, and it was delicious.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Honey Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins & Pumpkin Pie Spice Substitution

I got this recipe from Monica a long time ago and have made it a dozen times.  Like the zucchini muffins, these are great to freeze for school lunches.  I just take one out in the morning, stick it in a baggie, throw it in the kid's lunch box and it is thawed and ready for them to eat by lunch.  They use 100% whole wheat flour and applesauce instead of oil and so you can feel good about this healthy snack choice!

Honey Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins
adapted from:

3 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. brown sugar (I use a little less)
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (see below for the substitution)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. applesauce (the original recipe calls for oil-you could do half and half, too)
1 c. honey (I use a little less)
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In another bowl, beat the eggs.  Mix in the pumpkin puree, applesauce and honey.  Make a well in the flour mixture, pour in the liquid ingredients and stir to combine.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly touched.  

Pumpkin Pie Spice Substitution
from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

In place of 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice (so double this for this pumpkin muffin recipe), add the following:
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Roasted Vegetables With Bacon

For Christmas, Dustin gave me a cooking class (of my choice) and Lynnette and I decided to do it together. We chose "Cooking Without A Cookbook".  We had so much fun and since then, I have tried to "be bold and try anything" as our instructor taught us.  These were the roasted vegetables that my group prepared that night (we were split into small groups, shown a whole bunch of ingredients we could choose from, and instructed to make roasted veggies, a side dish, like quinoa, and a main dish).  We were so happy with how everything turned out and I have since recreated these veggies for my family.

Roasted Vegetables With Bacon
by: Carolyn

3 or 4 varieties of vegetables (the first time I did carrots, brussel sprouts, red onions and cauliflower)
4 slices of bacon (give or take a slice)
canola oil
fresh mint
fresh marjoram
red pepper flakes to taste
dash of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Chop your vegetables all about the same size.  Pour them in to a large bowl.  In a frying pan, cook your bacon.  Set the bacon aside and pour the bacon grease (I know, I know, but it is going to taste so good!) over the veggies.  Chop up the mint and marjoram and add them to the bowl.  Add your red pepper flakes (I did about 1/2 tsp.), nutmeg and salt and pepper and stir it all gently to coat.  If you need a little more oil to coat everything, add a little canola oil.  You can taste one of your veggies to see if the flavor is good, or if you need to add more of anything (I'd taste a carrot).  When you have it how you want it, pour the vegetables onto a 11 X 17 pan.  Chop your bacon into small pieces and sprinkle it over the veggies.  Roast them in the oven for 45 minutes, to an hour, or until they are tender, stirring often.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef Stew (Or Not, You Choose!)

I know this picture looks like a big pile of mash, but it actually was really delicious beef stew.  I made it two weeks in a row.  The first time, I made it in the slow cooker.  The meat was very tender, but the potatoes kind of turned in to mush.  The second time, I didn't remember to do the slow cooker and made it on the stove.  I cooked it for about an hour, and the potatoes weren't at all mush.  However, the meat was not as tender as it had been in the slow cooker.  So I guess it is a toss up which is the best way to cook it.  Either way, it is a hearty, easy to prepare stew for a cold winter day.

Beef Stew
adapted from:

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into one inch chunks
1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. chopped bay leaves (or one bay leaf)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
2 c. beef broth
3 potatoes, diced
4 carrots, sliced

For the slow cooker:
Place the meat in the slow cooker.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper and pour it over the meat.  Stir until all the meat is coated.  Stir in the garlic, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce and beef broth.  Add the onion, carrots and potatoes.  Cook on low for 10-12 hours, or on high for 4-6 hours.

For the stove top:
In a large Ziploc bag, pour the flour, salt and pepper and shake to stir.  Add the stew meat and shake it until it is all coated with the flour mixture.  Brown the beef in 1-2 tablespoons of oil.  In a large pot, add the beef, garlic, bay leaves, Worcestershire, onion, potatoes, carrots and beef broth.  Bring to a boil and then turn it down to low and simmer for as long as you need to, stirring occasionally.  I did mine an hour.  You could add more water if needed.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lazy Sunday Casserole

This was a delicious meal that we just happened to make on... Sunday.  It was easy, the only real time-consuming part was chopping up all of the vegetables.  It was the first time I've cooked with, or eaten for that matter, fennel.  It's a very interesting vegetable, it has almost a black licorice flavor (which I actually don't like, but eaten as a bite with all of the other vegetables combined it wasn't bad).  My husband liked the flavor of it combined as well.  My sister-in-law informed me that fennel is an ingredient in a lot of Italian sausages (which may be a clue as to why I don't like Italian sausage that much) so it complimented the flavors of the dish well.  

After all of my fennel talk, it was just a small part of the dish and the overall flavor was well balanced and delicious!  The vegetables were moist and it had just the right amount of seasoning.  This is one of our new favorites for sure.  I got it from Kayotic Kitchen, a new blog that I found via Pinterest, and was so happy to find it.  As she suggested, we used vegetables we had on hand, so my slight adaptations are from the vegetables we needed to use up which included mushrooms. My husband was very happy that I finally chose a recipe that used sausage, his favorite.  And I liked it just as much as he did!

Lazy Sunday Casserole
slightly adapted from Kayotic Kitchen


4 sausages (beef or pork)
3 large potatoes
3-4 large carrots
1 red bell pepper
1 large onion
1 fennel bulb
5-6 mushrooms
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp oil
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 tsp Italian herbs
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar


1. Peel the potatoes, wash them and cut each potato into large cubes. Chop carrots into large pieces and slice mushrooms.  Chop onion into wedges. Remove the base and stalks of the fennel and slice it into wedges as well. Slice bell pepper into strips and put everything in a big roasting tray.

2. Use a big bowl to combine the oil with the Italian herbs, grated or chopped garlic, and chicken broth and pour it over the vegetables. Toss them around to make sure the broth gets everywhere. Season with a generous amount of salt and black pepper.
3. Cover the tray with aluminum foil and pop it in a preheated oven. Bake at 450F (225C) for 45 minutes.

3. While the vegetables are cooking, lightly brown the sausages and slice each sausage in half. (Sausages do not need to be cooked through.)

4. After 45 minutes the potatoes and vegetables should be fork tender. If they’re not, cover the tray with the foil and pop them back in the oven for a few more minutes. If they are fork tender, place the sausages in there and pour the balsamic vinegar all over. Place the tray back in the oven, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Take it out after 15 minutes, flip over those sausages and ladle some of the juices lurking at the bottom all over the vegetables and sausages. Put it back in the oven for the remaining time, until everything is nice and brown.

Lasagna Cupcakes

It's been a while since I've posted a recipe, but honestly, it's been a while since I've tried a fun recipe that I've really liked.  This was an easy one Matt and I made together Friday night (we're attempting to eat out less- although I don't know if it worked because we just went out Saturday morning instead:).  I needed to use up the last of our wonton wrappers, and this was an easy and delicious way to do it, in a non-traditional way.  Although, I don't know if you've seen Pinterest and all the ways people are getting creative with wonton wrappers and cupcake tins!  

This recipe is from The Girl Who Ate Everything.  She is one of my favorite food bloggers, so it's thanks to her I have this yummy recipe. 

A few notes about this dish: I hardly ever use real Parmesan cheese, I guess I'm too cheap to ever buy it, but I happened to buy it on a whim the other day, and I loved it!  It also goes a long way!  It might be nearly as cheap to buy it fresh!  I may be sold on splurging for real Parmesan from now on.  Also, fresh basil is one of my favorite things on pizza.  We grow it in our garden during the summer/fall and then I wash, pat dry and then freeze all my extra basil leaves so that I can either make a fresh pesto with it or take a few leaves out at a time and throw them on top of my pizza (or lasagna cupcakes) the last couple minutes of baking.  It tastes just as good as fresh to me!

Lasagna Cupcakes
from The Girl Who Ate Everything

1/3 pound ground beef
salt and pepper
24 wonton wrappers
1 3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese (7 oz)
1 3/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (7 oz)
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (3 oz)
1 cup pasta sauce
fresh basil for garnish (optional, although definitely recommended)

1.    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
2.    Brown beef and season with salt and pepper. Drain.
3.    Reserve 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese for the top of your cupcakes. Start layering your lasagna cupcakes. Begin with a wonton wrapper and press it into the bottom of each muffin tin. Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese in each. Top with a little meat and pasta sauce.
4.    Repeat layers again (i.e. wonton, Parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, and pasta sauce). Top with reserved Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
5.    Bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. To remove, use a knife to loosen the edges, then pop each lasagna out. Garnish with basil and serve.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Slow Cooker Lemon Rosemary Pork Roast

This week, I finally cashed in on a Christmas present that my hubby got me this year.  It was a cooking class called "Cooking Without a Recipe" at a local cooking school.  Lynnette came with me and we had so much fun!  Our teacher talked a lot about being bold, and being willing to try making food based on what we think will be good.  Since then, I have made some amazing grilled cheese sandwiches, and today I tried this Lemon Rosemary Pork Roast.  It turned out great!  It is a lot of fun to look through my cupboards and fridge and try to imagine what I can make with what I have.

Slow Cooker Lemon Rosemary Pork Roast
by: Carolyn

1 three pound pork roast
1/4-1/2 c. lemon juice
1 c. water
1 tsp. dried rosemary
freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
3 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 onion, cut into 1/2 inch slices

In a frying pan, braise the pork roast.  I coated my pan in olive oil first.  In your slow cooker, combine the water, lemon juice, rosemary, salt and pepper and garlic.  Place your roast in the slow cooker and then cover it with the carrots, potatoes and onion slices.  Cook it on high for 4-5 hours, or until the roast reaches 160 degrees.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

This is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  It comes from my BFF roommate from college, Jacque.  She's given me other great recipes.  Like the Easy Pudding Dessert, or the Easy Chicken Tacos.  And I'm pretty sure Jacque was the one who opened my eyes to Easy Pumpkin Cookies.  These delicious, moist, light and fluffy chocolate chip cookies?  Not so easy.  Not that they are actually very hard, but it is a really big recipe.  So big, in fact, that the title is "Big Family Chocolate Chip Cookies" by Betty Bell.  That is a big title, that even has the word "big" in it!  I half it every time I make it (which takes some mad math skills and amazing egg splitting abilities).  However, they are also big in flavor, and totally worth the extra math effort (or not, if you are in need of a huge batch of cookies).  So bake up a ginormous batch today!!

Big Family Chocolate Chip Cookies
by: Jacque (via her mother, Betty)

7 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. shortening
1 3/4 c. white sugar
1 3/4 c. brown sugar 
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 Tbsp. water
5 eggs
1 bag chocolate chips 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream the shortening.  Add the sugars (I always reduce my sugar and it still tastes great and bakes up normally), water, vanilla and eggs and cream it until it is light and fluffy.  Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix it well.  Then add the flour and stir it to combine.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Slow Cooker Sun Dried Tomato Basil Chicken

One day I was searching for a good slow cooker chicken recipe.  I read a number of recipes, but nothing sounded like what I wanted.  I finally decided that I could make up my own recipe using what I had available.  So I did.  And it turned out great!  The funny thing is, I thought I was so original, but in the end, it was very similar to one of my favorite recipes, chicken milano.  It was a Freudian Slip, I guess.  I couldn't get away from that flavor combination in my mind.  However, this recipe was done in the slow cooker, which is always lovely for the easiness.  I served it with garlic mashed potatoes, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, and it was delicious!

Slow Cooker Sun Dried Tomato Basil Chicken
by: Carolyn

2 chicken breasts
1/2 c. sundried tomatoes
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. dried basil (fresh would be great if you had it on hand-I did not)
1/2 tsp. pepper
a few grinds of sea salt
1/2 c. whipping cream

Place the chicken breasts in your crock pot.  Add the sundried tomatoes (I chop mine up first), chicken broth, basil, pepper and salt.  Cook for 4-5 hours on high.  Add the whipping cream for the last 30 minutes of cooking.  Serve it with garlic mashed potatoes and Parmesan cheese.