Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chicken Soup with Rice, Mint, and Lemon

Now before you disregard this post completely, let me say that this turned out to be one of my favorite soups. I was pleasantly surprised by it's flavor. I'm not a mint person and neither is Shane. And anyone who knows him, knows he DOES NOT like fruit with his meats. But this was VERY good and amazingly filling. I' will make it again.

Prep time - 20 min.
Cook time - 50 min.

2 quarts canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 whole chicken breast
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
4 - 2 x 1/2 inch strips of lemon zest
3 sprigs fresh mint
2 sprigs parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, crumpled)
1 clove garlic, minced
4 black peppercorns, crushed
1 cup cooked long-grain rice
1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Optional garnishes (but highly recommended for color and a gourmet touch):

lemon slices
mint sprigs

1. In a 4-quart saucepan over high heat, bring stock, chicken breast, onion, zest, mint, parsley, thyme, garlic, and peppercorns to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until chicken is tender (about 30 to 35 minutes.)

2. With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken breast to a cutting board to cool. Strain soup into a large bowl, discarding all solids.

3. Return soup to the pan, set over high heat, and boil, uncovered, until the soup has reduced slightly - about 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, shred the chicken. Add to soup along with rice, lemon juice, salt, and chopped mint. Heat about 2 minutes more, ladle into soup bowls, and garnish with lemon slices and mint if desired. (The lemon and mint garnish add color and are a nice touch.)

Makes 4 servings.

1 Serving: Calories 237; Total Fat 4 g; Saturated Fat 1 g; Protein 21 g; Sodium 641 mg; Cholesterol 60 mg

Monday, December 27, 2010

Donut Recipe

Note: As I had never made donuts before, I did some research first. If you'd like, The Pioneer Woman Cooks blog has a great step-by-step guide of how-to-make donuts you may find helpful. I did. Her recipe is different, but it will give you a general idea of what to do and what to expect!
Also, my friend told me that you should glaze all the donuts, even if you plan to dip them in chocolate or something. The glaze will help lock in the moisture and help them stay fresh longer!

An Aside: I didn't have a biscuit cutter or donut cutter so I used a drinking glass and a medicine cup. :)

1 T yeast
1/4 C hot water
1 t salt
3/4 C luke warm water
1/4 C sugar
1 egg
1/4 C soft shortening
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 C flour

Soften yeast in hot water and a little of the sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients including half of the flour and mix. Knead in the rest of the flour. (Dough should be soft but not overly sticky.) Place in a greased bowl and let rise until double. Punch down and let rise until double again. Roll out dough 1/3" thick and cut out donuts. Let rise for 40 minutes on a floured surface (in a draft free place.) Heat oil to 375 degrees. Gently place 4 to 5 donuts in oil at a time for about 40 seconds. Flip over and fry on other side. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain excess oil. Immediately immerse in glaze and cool. Makes 18

1lb powdered sugar
1/2 C hot water
1/2 C butter

Heat over medium high heat and stir until melted and combined. If it's too runny and hot, cool slightly before dipping donuts. This recipe will allow you to dip 18 donuts.
Enjoy! They are DELICIOUS!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Leah and Dean's Amazing Goop

Okay, so "goop" is probably not a great word for this dish, and neither is this a great picture.  Leah and I found a recipe last night that we didn't have all the ingredients for, so we sort of improvised.  This is what we came up with, and it was GOOD!  It was healthy and tasted like something from a restaurant.  I think this might even be a kid-friendly recipe.

1 small bunch asparagus
3 oz. bacon, cooked, cut into chunks
1 can diced tomatoes
2 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
10 oz. uncooked wheat penne
1/4 cup parmesan 

1. Trim ends of asparagus.  Steam in steamer and keep warm.
2. Cook penne (at the same time as asparagus).  
3. Put bacon, tomatoes, garlic, seasoning salt and pepper into saucepan.  Heat until boiling.  Keep at a boil so that sauce thickens.  Add asparagus and penne.  Cook until sauce is thick and meal is heated through.
4. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve!

Yupp, it's that easy.  It's also really fast and tastes great!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Vanilla-Orange Sugared Cranberries

I thought these were good. The sugar sweetens up the bitter/sour cranberries. Shane wasn't a big fan but my girls liked them! And they are really pretty AND easy to make! They do need to sit overnight, so plan ahead for that.

3 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons orange extract (or grand mariner)
1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries (about 3 cups)

1. Combine 2 ½ cups of sugar, water, vanilla, and orange extract in a sauce pan. Heat over medium until the sugar has completely dissolved—but not boiling.
2. Pour in the cranberries and stir. The hot syrup will loosen the skin, saturate the berries and adhere to the berries over time.
3. Cover the cranberries with a small plate to keep them mostly submerged. Then cover the pan and place it in the refrigerator over night.
4. Place the remaining 1 ¼ cup of sugar in a rimmed dish. Strain the cranberries and place them in the sugar. Shake until they are completely coated.
5. Carefully transfer them to a baking sheet to dry—about an hour.
6. Once the sugar coating is hard, place them in an air-tight container and keep in a cool spot for up to a week!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Carmel Dip . . .

. . . for apples.

My friend (the chef) made this for our book club tonight and I had to post it so I wouldn't lose it. :) It is SO good!!

1 cup Carmels, unwrapped
10 big marshmallows
1 Tblsp. Butter
3 tblsp. cream

Melt Carmels in a microwave safe bowl until soft. Mix until smooth. Mix in marshmallows, butter, and cream. Reheat as needed. Serve with sliced apples! HEAVENLY! :)

Friday, September 17, 2010


I got this from Leah who got it from a friend. It's a must try!

I made this last night and it was SO yummy!!! I used it with whipped cream and cherries, like a Black Forest (because my friend doesn't do coconut.) But I'm eager to try the frosting! The cake tasted like those with pudding in them! SO GOOD!


• 2 cups sugar
• 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup Cocoa
• 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
• 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup milk
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 cup boiling water (+ 3 T for high altitude)

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.


• 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 4 cups confectioners' sugar
• 2 tablespoons heavy cream
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring (I added more, but it’s up to you)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
• 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted (optional)

1. Beat the cream cheese and butter in a mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time, alternating with heavy cream. Beat in the salt, coconut flavoring, and vanilla extract. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and spreadable. Add additional confectioners' sugar if necessary to thicken the frosting, or more cream to thin. Stir in the coconut. If desired, spoon toasted coconut evenly over frosted cake.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jerry's Famous Brisket

Here's another of Jerry's recipes that he made for us after Dean's wedding. Awesome! I've not personally made this, either, but it's delicious when Jerry makes it.

Brisket (as much as needed for the event: 10-20 lbs)
2 Whole onions thickly sliced
1 Tbsp tarragon
1 Cup molasses
6 Cloves garlic
Masterpiece BBQ sauce
Mesquite Chunks

Throw the mesquite chunks into the grill and light the fire. Rub the meat with any spices you want. Brown the meat on the grill until it is mostly cooked. While the meat is browning, in a disposable roasting pan on the grill brown the onions and garlic. Add the molasses, tarragon, masterpiece and browned meat. Let the mixture simmer and cook until the meat falls apart. Then remove it from the grill and continue to cook it in a roaster or crock pot or similar. Jerry takes approximately 24 hours from the beginning to the end of this process. By doing this on the grill, the meat will have a rich smoky flavor. You could leave it on the grill the entire time if you can watch carefully and control the heat well enough.

NOTE Jerry used Sirloin tip roast when he did it for us. It was outstanding. He says he has used it for a pork Boston butt roast also and been very successful.

Jerry's Baked Beans

This recipe is from my sister's father-in-law Jerry, and it is sooooo good! I've never personally made it, but we got the recipe from him after he made if for us after Dean's wedding. Fabulous!

1 Gallon can Bush Beans
3 lbs bacon end cuts
1 whole onion thickly sliced
6 cloves garlic
1 Cup molasses
About ¼ cup prepared mustard
Black pepper to taste
Mesquite Chunks

Throw Mesquite chunks into your gas grill and start the fire. In a disposable roasting pan, brown the onions and garlic. Cook the bacon lightly (it will finish cooking while the mixture thickens.) Add the beans, molasses, mustard, and pepper and let simmer until the beans thicken to the desired consistency. By doing this on the grill the beans will have a rich smoky flavor. Scraping the sides and bottom and including the crusty stuff will increase the flavor.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pizza Sandwiches

Do you remember these?
They are so easy and yummy!!! The kids LOVE them!

slices of bread
spices of your choosing (like Mrs. Dash or your own blend) opt.

Preheat oven to a low broil setting and put the oven rack close to the top.
Place slices of bread on a cookie sheet. Spread ketchup over the bread. Sprinkle spices lightly over the ketchup. Layer with cheese. Broil until cheese is melted!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Do You Dream in Banana?

Because this pie sure does!  I've spend a few weeks perfecting this recipe for banana cream pie.  I wanted a filling that didn't use eggs.  I wanted it to be fluffy and creamy.  So, here's my new banana cream pie, and Leah says it's the best banana pie she's ever had.  I think she might be biased, but still...

2 walnut crusts (see below)
Sliced bananas to cover crusts

  • 2 cups half and half (or milk, if you want to be lame)
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/3 (or even 1/4) cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 package unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water

3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

In the blender, blend two bananas and 1 cup half and half.  In a saucepan, mix sugar (1/3 cup), cornstarch, and salt.  Before adding heat, stir in banana/half and half mixture plus the extra cup of half and half.  Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, dissolve gelatin in cold water.  Set aside.  As pudding mixture heats, stir constantly.  Do not let boil, though it's not a big deal if you do.  Once hot, take off heat and stir in dissolved gelatin.  Put in fridge to set up.

While pudding is setting up, whip the cream to stiff peaks.  If you only whip to soft peaks, pie will not set up.  Set aside.

In bowl, beat eggs, remaining sugar, and cream of tartar.  Whip to very stiff peaks.  (Note, while everyone else probably knows this, the cream of tartar is not optional.  In fact, the pie will not set up without it.)  Set aside.

Once the pudding begins to congeal on edges of saucepan, remove from fridge and blend with rotary beater.  Fold in cream and meringue.  Put mixture into walnut crusts topped with sliced bananas and cool overnight.  

Walnut Crust:  There are two ways to do this.  The first is to make a regular pie crust and just sprinkle lots of chopped walnuts on the top before cooking it.  The other way is to make the crust OUT of walnuts.  Make it just like a graham cracker crust only with chopped walnuts.  Note that this way doesn't hold its shape very well.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chocolate Cream Popcorn

I tried this today for something a little different, and loved it!!!

2 quarts popped corn
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup chocolate pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lightly grease large bowl, and place the popped corn in it.

In saucepan, mix sugar, water, corn syrup and salt. Cook over moderate heat to 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Add butter; when it is melted; add chocolate. Stir in vanilla extract.

Slowly pour hot syrup over popped corn, stirring constantly with two forks.

Continue stirring until corn is coated and syrup loses its gloss. When mixture is cool; store in tightly covered containers.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Torta Rustica

I made this because I thought it looked good.  Needless to say, I didn't have leftovers.

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, browned
1 large egg separated
8 oz. ricotta cheese
2 packages (10 oz. each) refrigerated pizza crust or regular pie crust (I put chopped fresh basil in mine)
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 jar (7 oz.) roasted red bell peppers
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves

Mix egg yolk with ricotta cheese.  Set white aside.  Take half us pizza dough (or pie crust) and roll it out; line piepan.  Top with half of mozzarella cheese and half of sausage.  Top with all of bell peppers, ricotta mixture, and basil leaves.  Top with remaining sausage and mozzarella cheese.  Now, top with other half or dough (or crust).  Brush top crust with reserved egg white.  Bake at 425 for 25 minutes.  After about 15 minutes of cooking, you may want to cover with foil.  Voila!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Rice Krispie Easter Eggs

If you ever need a fun, crative, food craft for Easter, this is it!
3 Tblsp. butter
40 large marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispie's Cereal
Food coloring (varius colors)
Melt butter and marshmallows in a pan on low heat. Add cereal and stir until coated. With buttered hands, shape into eggs. (I poured the mixture in to a buttered pan to cool slightly and they were easier to shape.) Cool.
Put 1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar in each bowl. Add a drop of food coloring and stir until mixed. If you want a richer color, add more color. Roll treats in the sugar. Frost or decorate with candy if you want! YUM!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pepper-Corn Chowder

This was in my Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I tried it tonight, and it was really good. It called for saffron, but I substituted food coloring, since saffron is so expensive! Don't leave out the leeks, as they give it such great flavor!

1 cup chopped onion
1 leek, cleaned and chopped
5 cups loose-pack frozen whole kernel corn
2 14-oz cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 medium red sweet pepper, chopped
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
yellow food coloring (a few drops)
Snipped fresh chives and/or ground black pepper (optional)

Coat a big pan with cooking spray. Preheat for 1 minute. Add onion and leek: cook 5 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally.
Add corn; cook 5 minutes or until corn softens, stirring occasionally. Add one can of the chicken broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 20 minutes or until corn is very tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Transfer half the corn mixture to a blender or food processor; cover and blend or process until smooth. Return pureed corn mixture to pan.
Add remaining broth, the sweet pepper, 1/8 tsp black pepper, cayenne pepper, and food coloring. Heat through. Top with snipped fresh chives and/or ground black pepper.

One serving (1 1/3 cups): 155 calories, 1 g fat

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sogno di Cioccolata (Chocolate Dream)

If you've ever been to Carrabba's Italian Grill, this is the scrumptious chocolate cake they serve!! It is fanaminal! This recipe makes a ton and it's rich, but very tasty!


2 boxes Duncan Hines Fudge Brownie Mix (each using 2 eggs and milk instead of water)
1/2 cup Kahlua (coffee-flavored liqueur)
4 cups chocolate mousse (use your own recipe, or mix up two
(4.2-ounce package Chocolate Mousse Mix)
4 cups whipped cream (from 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped)
2 ounces semisweet chocolate shavings

(As a substitue for Kahlua, use chocolate extract - plus coffee granuals if you want. Or, I made a soft ganache that tasted great too. I used cream, semi-sweet chocolate chips and powdered sugar. If you wanted to add coffee granuels you could too. This part is to intensify the flavor of the chocolate!)


Mix brownies according to instructions on box, using the two-egg recipe and substituting milk for the water. Line two 13 x 9 x 2 1/2-inch glass or metal pans with either parchment paper or wax paper (the paper lining makes it much easier to remove the brownies from the pan.) Grease bottoms with oil or spray with Pam. Pour batter into pans, and bake - either in a convection oven at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes, or in a standard oven for about 24-26 minutes. (The convection oven is preferred - it makes a chewier brownie). Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the middle of the brownie comes out clean.


Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.Loosen the sides with a knife, then remove the brownies in one piece from one of the pans. Turn the brownies upside down and return to the pan.

Peel off paper, then brush the brownie with half of the Kahlua, starting from the outer edges and working toward the center.

Spread 2 cups of the chocolate mousse evenly over the brownie, then spread 2 cups whipped cream over the mousse.

Use a vegetable peeler to shave chocolate, then sprinkle top evenly with chocolate shavings. Remove second brownie from the other pan, brush with remaining Kahlua, and place on top. Repeat layers, first spreading the remaining chocolate mousse, then the remaining whipped cream. (There are no chocolate shavings on top). Refrigerate to store.

Chewy Peanut Butter Blossoms

I have a perfectly good peanut butter cookie recipie until I got this from a friend. These cookies are simply divine!!! They are the best peanut butter cookie I've ever had! And they are a MUST try!


About 48 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 Tblsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Granulated sugar

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolate pieces.
2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
3. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until very lightly browned (do not overbake). Remove from oven; immediately press chocolate piece in center of each ball. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completley. Store in tightly covered container. About 48 cookies.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Crockpot Chicken Burritos

2-3 chicken breasts
2 cups salsa
2 cans beans, any kind

Drain and rinse beans. Place chicken, salsa, and beans in crockpot and cook for 5-6 hours. Shred chicken and return to crockpot. Cook another hour. Serve in warm tortillas with cheese, sour cream, more salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

This is super easy, and pretty good too. It doesn't really taste too salsa-ish, which surprised me. My kids both liked it.