Monday, December 29, 2008

Potato-Leek Soup

I made this soup over two weeks ago, so I'm going to try to remember as best I can exactly what I did. The original recipe came from The Big Book of Soups & Stews by Maryana Vollstedt and I just made a few minor adjustments. This soup could easily be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon (which is not in the original recipe) and using a veggie stock instead of the chicken stock.

Potato-Leek Soup
  • 1 pound of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups half-and-half
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

In a large soup pot, fry bacon pieces until crispy. Remove with slotted spoon to paper towel, leaving grease in pot. Add in leeks and potatoes and saute for a few minutes, until leeks are tender. Add 1 cup of the stock. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add more stock if necessary. Using a potato masher, mash up some of the potatoes until you get your desired consistency. Add remaining stock, half-and-half, salt and pepper and simmer 5 to 10 minutes longer. Serve topped with bacon pieces.

Spicy Crockpot Beans

Another hit from KMay's blog. Beans, rice, and spicy? How can that go wrong? This was easy to prepare and tasted great. I had never used peppers in adobo sauce before and I have to say the smell worried me a bit. I'm not sure what it was, maybe the vinegar (which I don't like). The cooking did lessen the strength of the smell quite a bit, but I was still leery of my first bite. I was worried for nothing, it was delicious. So if you've never used this ingredient before either, give it a shot even if the smell concerns you!

Spicy Crock Pot Beans
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 15 ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 4 ounce cans diced green chiles
  • 2 chipotle chiles from adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 envelope chicken gravy mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped

Place chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients except tomatoes and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Thirty minutes before serving remove chicken, shred, and return to slow cooker. Stir in tomatoes. Serve over white rice.

Sausage Bean Casserole

I found this recipe in KMay's blog and since we are big fans of beans and sausage we had to give it a try. I've made quite a few recipes from this blog and haven't been disappointed yet. I made a few adjustments to the recipe to suit our tastes. It's an extremely easy dish to make, only dirties one pot, and tastes great as leftovers.

Sausage Bean Casserole
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about one medium onion)
  • 1 lb ground sausage
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14 ounce can chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 16 ounce cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 cups frozen chopped spinach

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown sausage, add onion and saute until soft. Add garlic, saute 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, scraping pan to loosen brown bits. Stir in brown sugar, tomato paste, thyme, pepper, beans and bay leaf. Add red pepper and spinach. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, remove lid and bake for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Grandma's Pumpkin Cookies

My grandma always had a wide variety of cookies set out for special occasions, all of which were good. But her pumpkin cookies always stood out to me as the best. They were so flavorful and cakey and delicious.

Unlike my molasses cookies, which are best the next day, these pumpkin cookies are almost irresistible when they come out of the oven. I ate three before they made it into the containers this time around, and that was showing a lot of self-control on my part. But don't worry, they're just as tasty when they're cooled.

Grandma's Pumpkin Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup cooked pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter, egg and sugar. Add in pumpkin and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Fold into pumpkin mixture, stir on chocolate chips. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Super Simple Cranberry Sauce

I had never eaten cranberry sauce in my life when I found this recipe in Real Simple magazine a few years ago. My family had always served the jellied canned cranberries and they just never appealed to me. But the photo of this sauce looked really good, so I thought I'd give it a try. I've made just a couple of adjustments from the original over the past couple of years, and this recipe is always a hit. We have quite a few people in our families with sugar restrictions and it's easy to make this a diet friendly dish. This is a great dish to make ahead, and actually tastes better if the flavors can combine overnight.

Super Simple Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 12 oz bag cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup orange marmalade (I use Smucker's sugar free made with Splenda)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • sugar or Splenda to taste

Combine cranberries, water and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop (I prefer more whole cranberries, you can cook it longer if you prefer more to pop). Remove from heat, stir in marmalade and nutmeg, cool. Add sweetener if desired. Cover and refrigerate.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cabbage Sausage Soup

A coworker gave me this recipe years ago when we had the world's largest cabbage to use up that we had bought at the farmer's market. It looked like the recipe came from a local fundraiser type cookbook, so I can't site a source here.

This recipe could easily be made vegetarian by omitting the sausage and it would still be a delicious soup. But I prefer to make it with my favorite sausage, Bob Evans Zesty Hot.

Cabbage Sausage Soup
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 bay leaf

Combine carrots, onions and sausage in a frying pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sausage is browned and vegetables are crisply tender. Pour off fat. In a soup pot, combine remaining ingredients. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Stir in sausage and veggies. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until stew is thickened.

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

This is a meal that I put together last minute. I wasn't going to blog it originally, but it turned out really well so I figured I'd go ahead and throw it up here. There's nothing fancy about it, but it was easy to make and tasted really good. Definitely a cold-weather comfort food.

Easy Chicken Pot Pie
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed veggies, brought to room temperature
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
  • 1 package Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations
  • salt, pepper and thyme to taste

Spread mashed potatoes on the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish. Spread mixed veggies and shredded chicken over top. In a small saucepan, combine soup and milk and mix over medium-high heat until smooth and warmed through. Pour over top of chicken. Season with salt, pepper and thyme to taste. Unroll Recipe Creations and lay it over top of pot pie ingredients. Bake according to package directions (I think it was 350, but I don't recall exactly. I'll update this next time I make it) until golden brown, approximately 17-20 minutes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Molasses Cookies

About a year ago I set out to find a molasses cookie recipe that was similar to what my Grandma used to make. I read all sorts of reviews of cookies on Recipezaar and found this one that described the kind of cookie I was looking for. Chewy, soft, spicy, everything a good molasses cookie should be. I have to say, I was lucky in finding the perfect recipe my first try. If this is not the recipe my Grandma used, I know it has to be close.

When you make these cookies, make sure not to over-bake them. They might seem a little under-cooked when you first pull them out, but they firm up quite a bit as they cool. If you let them bake too long they will be rock hard the next day. They taste even better once they've cooled, so I try to resist eating any as they first come out.

Molasses Cookies
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon all-spice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • white sugar for rolling

Cream together shortening and brown sugar. Stir in egg and molasses and mix well. In a small bowl mix remaining ingredients. Fold into shortening mixture and stir. Cover and chill until firm (about 1 to 2 hours). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into small balls and roll in white sugar. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 9 to 10 minutes. Leave on sheet for 1 minute until set, then remove to cooling rack. Do not overcook, they will firm up as they cool.

Cabbage Roll Casserole

First off, I'm going to apologize again for the picture. I promise it looks more appetizing than this in person, but when it gets dark in Michigan at 5:30 at night, it's tough to get a decent shot.

On to your regularly scheduled blog post . . .

I had cabbbage rolls for the first time a few years ago and decided I needed to try to make them at home. Then I got to thinking about all the work involved and changed my mind. So I hit up Recipezaar and found this. With just a few tiny adjustments I got to my current recipe.

I usually use my favorite Bob Evan's Spicy Hot Sausage, but this time we had some sausage we bought from a fundraiser so we used that instead. I also usually use regular green cabbage, but switched in Nappa cabbage instead. I think that if I were to use Nappa again I would eliminate the water and reduce the oven time, as it was a bit soupier than normal.

Cabbage Roll Casserole
  • 1 pound ground sausage or beef
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 quart stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 6 cups cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Brown meat in a sauce pan. Add onion and garlic, saute until tender. Add tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil, add rice. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Place half of cabbage in a greased casserole dish, cover with half of rice mixture. Repeat layers. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Could've had a V8

This is another recipe I found online years ago and have no idea where it came from. So again, if it's familiar, let me know so I can credit the source.

This is one of those recipes that's great because we generally have all the ingredients on hand to make a last minute supper. It's quick, easy, tasty, and full of your daily vegetable servings. It can be thrown in the crock pot in the morning or made quickly on the stove after work.

V8 Soup

  • 1 46 ounce bottle Spicy Hot V8
  • 1/2 to 1 pound ground beef, lightly cooked and drained
  • 3 to 4 cups vegetables (can be fresh, frozen or canned)
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on high for one hour. Reduce heat to low and simmer 6 to 8 hours. -OR- Combine all ingredients in soup pot and simmer on stove top for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Split Pea Sausage Soup

Bob Evans Hot sausage. Almost without fail, if I have a recipe that calls for any type of sausage, I will switch it to Bob Evans Hot sausage. It's the kind that comes in a one pound roll of ground sausage, and the hot variety is in the red package. It adds such good flavor to everything I use it in.

So many years ago when I was looking for a pea soup recipe and found one that called for cut up link sausage of some sort, I used my beloved Bob Evans Hot instead. And for 8+ years now I have never made pea soup any other way. I'm not sure exactly where I got this recipe, only that it was online, so if it looks familiar to anyone please let me know so I can give credit to the original.

Also, a little product rave. I am in love with mini saltine crackers. They are so good and so cute, and they get a cheapy like me to spring for name brand instead of generic (I'll even buy the store brand sausage if I don't have a Bob Evans coupon).

Split Pea and Spicy Sausage Soup
  • 1 16 ounce package dry split peas
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 5 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrot
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 onion, chopped

Brown sausage. Combine all ingredients. Cook in a slow cooker on high for 4 to 5 hours, or simmer in a stock pot over low heat for 2 to 3 hours, stirring often.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Costa Rican Rice

On our honeymoon in Costa Rica my husband and I ate a ton of great food. Many people will tell you that Costa Rica is not a good vacation destination for a foodie, but I think that if you enjoy good food you'll enjoy Costa Rica. The food we had there was all very simple, but so flavorful.

One of the activities we did on our trip was to go Canyoning with Pure Trek. This was an amazing experience doing waterfall rappels in gorgeous rain forest surroundings (that's me dangling from a rope up above). After our morning trip we were taken back to their headquarters for lunch. We were served a delicious and simple meal of a rice dish, some red beans, some fruit, and a fruit drink (I think I'm remembering this all correctly three years later).

Recently we were talking and both thought it would be great if we could try to recreate that rice dish we were served, so I contacted Pure Trek through their web page and asked for the recipe. I soon heard back from them, and the following recipe is what they sent back with just a few minor adjustments of my own. I'm not a really big fish fan, but this is a good way to eat it without it seeming like I am.

Costa Rican Rice
  • 2 tilapia fillets
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cups day old cold white rice
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3 teaspoons powdered chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a deep sided pan, fry tilapia fillets in a little bit of olive oil until done (this took me just a few minutes on each side). Remove to a plate and flake. In the same pan saute garlic and onion. Add rice and stir together. Add carrots, peas and corn and heat through. Add back the tilapia flakes. Stir in chicken stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.

PB Chocolate Chip Muffins

I wasn't going to blog these anytime soon. I first made them before I started my blog, and even though I loved these muffins I was going to put off blogging them because they'd been done quite a bit and I figured I would try some new things first.

But we were taking Joey over to my Grandpa's for a quick visit on Halloween, and my Grandpa loves the chocolate/peanut butter combination. I knew he would love these muffins, so I made a batch that morning. And I figured, as long as they're here, I might as well blog them. :)

I originally got the recipe from Annie's Eats, and they are some of the best muffins I have ever tasted, let alone made myself. The only thing I might alter in the future is to try and incorporate some oats into them (I just couldn't try it this time in case it didn't turn out -- didn't want to leave Grandpa with no muffins; I'll blog it if it works when I try it).

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, peanut butter, eggs and milk until smooth. Add in the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin tins, filling each to the top.

Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (the two batches I've done have taken over 20 minutes). Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hamburger Potato Casserole

Many of you know this dish as Shepherd's Pie. When I was growing up, we always called it Hamburger Potato Casserole. For me, this is a go-to winter warming dish, and I always look forward to it as the weather turns cool. The version I grew up eating is a bit different than most, as it doesn't have a tomato based sauce or gravy in it like most recipes I've seen. I've tweaked it a little bit since I've started cooking it myself, adding in some extra seasonings. This is another recipe that can be adjusted to your personal tastes, making it with less meat and more veggies if desired.

Hamburger Potato Casserole
  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 10 medium potatoes, mashed
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups vegetables (fresh, canned or frozen)
  • Seasonings to taste (I used salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown hamburger in a pan, drain if needed. Mix in your desired seasonings at this time. Place the hamburger in a casserole dish, add in vegetables and stir. Top with the prepared mashed potatoes. Bake for approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees (I like just a little bit of crispness on the top of my potatoes).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

Last fall I bought The Big Book of Soups & Stews by Maryana Vollstedt. DH and I love soups, and this is a great book with a good variety of soup recipes. This time out, I decided to make Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup, with just a few minor changes. I made these changes because: 1) I almost never make a recipe exactly as it is written (unless it's baking). 2) I like the taste of veggies that have been sauteed before going into the soup. 3) Everything tastes better with bacon. This is a good soup, but not a stand-alone meal. We ate it with grilled cheese sandwiches. The recipe follows, with my changes in italics.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets (I used the entire head, not just the florets)

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cauliflower florets

  • 2 large russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cubed

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (I used the half a sweet onion I had sitting in the fridge)

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth (I used a full can, about 2 cups)

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine (optional)

  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for topping (I didn't use this)

  • 1 pound center cut bacon, cut into bite-size pieces

In a soup pot, fry bacon pieces until crisp. Remove to paper towel lined plate, leaving fat in the pot. Add vegetables to soup pot, saute for approximately 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup of the stock to the pot and bring to a boil (1 cup didn't seem enough to simmer the veggies in, I added the full two cups at this time). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 15 minutes. Add milk, remaining 1/2 cup stock, thyme, salt, pepper, and butter, if using, and simmer, uncovered, until ingredients are blended, about 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cheese (I topped with the bacon pieces instead).

I labeled this recipe as vegetarian, because if you omit the bacon and use a vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock, you can easily make this into a vegetarian dish.

Please excuse my photos, I have resigned myself to the fact that I probably won't get a decent photo of dinner until spring. It's dark before dinner here, and we live in the woods making it even darker. So fluorescent lighting and a flash it is.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Stuffed peppers were always a big hit in our house, but the leftovers were a lot of work since whole peppers take forever to reheat in the microwave. After chopping up my pepper to reheat one day I got to thinking that I could just make it that way to start with. And Stuffed Pepper Casserole was born. This is a very simple and very forgiving recipe. This time around we went heavy on the veggies and light on the meat. You can just as easily double the meat for a heartier meal. You'll notice that there are no seasonings in this dish. That's because we use home-canned tomatoes, which are so delicious they're all the flavor you need. If you use commercially canned tomatoes you may want to play around with some herbs and spices.

Stuffed Pepper Casserole
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 quart stewed tomatoes, divided
  • 3-4 medium green peppers, chopped into large bite-size pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups instant white rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix beef, half of the tomatoes, green peppers and rice in a large bowl with hands. Put into a casserole dish. Dump the remaining tomatoes on top. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until you get a thermometer reading of 160 degrees.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My First Blog Post Ever

I feel all hip and current now. lol

First, an explanation. My husband is a professional firefighter. Whenever I make a new recipe and we end up with way to many (insert tasty treat here) for the two of us to eat, all the extras go to work with him. It's a great way to try new things without the worry of something going to waste.

I wasn't sure how I wanted to start this blog. Did I want to just start typing in all our favorite recipes and add pictures as I made them? Or did I want to add recipes as I cook them?

I decided that I will be adding the recipes as they're made. I figure this gives me a good reason to go back and re-make some favorites that we may not have had for a while.

There will be a little bit of everything in this blog. I love to cook and try new recipes. Just recently I've started baking more and have realized it's a lot easier than I ever thought it was. I will also occasionally try to include baby food recipes, as I will start cooking for my son in just a couple of weeks (I can't believe he's almost six months old already!).

I'm looking forward to sharing some of our favorite recipes on here!