Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chunky Potato Soup

Potato soup is an easy go-to recipe for cold winter nights, or a lazy Sunday lounging in your PJs. It is also convenient when I have forgotten to thaw out some meat for dinner, because I usually have the ingredients on hand in the kitchen. This recipe calls for bacon, but recently I have been making it without bacon and the results are just as delicious. I substitute a 1/2 stick of butter for the bacon and then the soup can be suitable for vegetarians as well. Also, if you want to "fancy it up", feel free to add whatever toppings you like, such as cheese, green onion, crispy bacon, etc. I like it "Plain Jane". I can't believe I just said that I like anything "Plain Jane", y'all know I'm all about "fancy-ing things up". But the flavors in this simple dish are rich and delicious on their own. Enjoy!!

Chunky Potato Soup
Makes 6 (1-cup) Servings
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 (13&3/4 oz) can chicken broth
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, cubed
1 cup milk
4 cups peeled potatoes, cubed
Cook bacon in 5-quart pot on medium heat until crisp, stirring frequently. Drain bacon, reserving 2 T drippings in pot. Set bacon aside. Add onion to drippings in pot; cook and stir for approximately 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in broth, milk and cream cheese; stir on LOW heat until cream cheese is melted. Add potatoes, cook on medium low heat 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Spaghetti Casserole

While visiting my sister-in-law, Jenny Detwiler, for the Thanksgiving holiday, she mentioned this dish and I knew I had to try it. Mostly because Little Chief is CRAZY for spaghetti. It is his all-time favorite dish and he never, ever, tires of it. Unfortunately, I do. I like adventurous cooking, challenging my palette and trying dishes with a gourmet flair. He likes noodles and sauce. Really? Every single time I have asked him what he would like for dinner he has said spaghetti, even if we just had it last night! So I saw this recipe as an opportunity to incorporate both his love of spaghetti and my hankering for something new and exciting.

Little Chief was at first not pleased to see his beloved spaghetti in a casserole dish. That got him suspicious right off the bat! He said "Moooooooom", I noted a little panic in his voice, "what is wrong with this spaghetti?" I used my ninja mom skills and remained zen, nonchalant, preoccupied with cleaning up the kitchen. I replied that this was a new spaghetti recipe, spaghetti casserole. He said "the word casserole makes me shudder". (How did this kid get so dramatic?) But all's well that ends well. After much protesting, complaining and whining he finally took a bite and actually liked it. The hubby and I really liked it.

This makes a 9x13 pan, but my sis-in-law said she often makes it for friends that have just had babies and makes two 8x8's, one for her family and one for giving away. I really like that idea. Or you could eat one and freeze the other depending on the size of your family. I took her basic recipe and added a few different elements and this is what I came up with.

8 ounces spaghetti
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese (cut in cubes)
1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained (seasoned to taste with dry oregano, dry basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper)
30 ounce jarred spaghetti sauce (I used Prego Garden Chunky)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions and drain, but do not rinse.
Return spaghetti to warm pot and add cream cheese.
Blend cream cheese until melted with spaghetti, then add sour cream and Parmesan cheese and blend until incorporated.
Put spaghetti mixture into greased pan (or pans)
Layer half of the mozzarella, then seasoned beef, then a little more mozzarella
Spread spaghetti sauce across and top with remaining mozzarella.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes.
Let stand for 5 or 10 minutes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chili for a Crowd

This past weekend we hosted a surprise birthday party for my son's sweet girlfriend, Silvia. She turned 23 and is an active duty member of the United States Marines. She is a 4'11" martial arts "weapon of mass destruction". We are so proud of her!
Ain't she a cutie!

We had about 25 guests and I prepared a huge pot of chili and had a toppings bar with all kinds of goodies so each person could fancy it up to their own liking. It was easy to prepare ahead of time, which allowed me to participate in all the goings on instead of being stuck tending food in the kitchen. So here's the recipe:

2 lbs lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
1 large onion, chopped
1 each red, green and yellow peppers, chopped
2 T garlic, minced
2 large jars taco sauce, mild, medium or hot (to taste)
1 jar salsa
1 - 15 oz jar diced tomatoes, juice included
4 - 15 oz cans of beans (any combination you like black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, navy beans, garbonzo beans; drain and rinse well)
2 packages low sodium taco seasoning
2 T Apple Cider Vinegar
Optional Toppings:
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream
Corn Chips
Brown ground meat with onions until well cooked and crumbled. Add 2 packages of taco seasonings and mix well. Add chopped peppers, garlic, taco sauce, salsa, tomatoes, beans and apple cider vinegar. Mix and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low temp and simmer to allow flavors to develop, at least one hour (the longer the better). Stir to prevent sticking. Serve in a bowl with toppings of your choice).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cheater Chicken and Dumplings

One of my sweet baby boy's, Caleb, came home this weekend with his girlfriend Silvia and my precious new granddaughter, Natalie Jade. Caleb requested that I make Chicken and Dumplings because Silvia, who is originally from Mexico, had never had this delightful Southern staple. Well, I admit that getting my hands on that 3 month old angel baby was what was really on my mind, much more than slaving over a hot stove. So I used this cheater recipe and let me tell you my family was none the wiser. It tasted GOOD, Honey!!

1 whole Store-bought Deli Rotisserie Chicken
3 stalks Celery, Split Lengthwise And Sliced About 1/2" Thick
½ whole Medium Onion, Diced
2 teaspoons Seasoned Salt (I Use Lawry's)
1 teaspoon Garlic Salt
1 carton (26 Oz) Chicken Stock (not Broth)
2 cups Water
1 can (26 Oz) Cream Of Chicken Soup (I Use Campbell's)
1 can Ready-to-bake "flaky" Biscuits
¼ teaspoons Dry Poultry Seasoning
1 cup Frozen Carrots (optional)

Preparation InstructionsRemove the skin from the chicken and pick all of the meat off. Cut/tear the meat into bite-sized pieces, and set aside.

Heat a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the celery, onions, and both salts.

Saute the onion and celery for about three minutes, stirring often. You don’t need any oil. Don’t worry if it starts to brown and stick a little. The next step will take care of that.

Add the stock, water and soup to the pot, reduce the heat and let it come to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You might need to whisk it a little to get the soup to fully incorporate.

While the liquid is simmering, flour both sides of five of the canned biscuits. Using a rolling pin, roll each biscuit out to about 1/8″ thick. Cut the biscuits into 1″ wide strips and cut the long ones in half lengthwise. You now have dumplings, so set them aside.

(Note: The flour is key, as it will help thicken the liquid.)

Add the chicken, poultry seasoning and carrots (if desired) to the pot and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring the liquid just to a boil (it must be boiling).

Drop the dumplings into the boiling liquid and stir just enough to ensure they are all as submerged as you can get them. Stir gently so that you don’t break up the dumplings.

Let the pot boil gently uncovered for about 10 minutes, softly stirring/folding occasionally.

Remove from the heat, pour into a serving dish and let stand about 10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Saw this recipe on Pinterest and tried it last night and it was so good. It was easy for a quick weeknight supper and something different when you are trying to figure out what to do with chicken breasts. It is also a healthier version because there is not all the breading and frying of the chicken. Added a green salad to the side and that is all we needed.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

2 T Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Hot red pepper flakes, to taste
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups prepared marinara sauce (I used Prego garden chunky)
1/4 cup fresh basil chopped (I used dried oregano and basil, did not have fresh)
8 oz mozarella cheese, shredded
4 oz parmesan cheese, grated
1 5 oz pkg garlic croutons

Pour olive oil in bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sperad evenly over bottom of dish. Add chicken breasts. Cover with marinara sauce. Sprinkle with Basil. Layer 4 oz of mozarella and 2 oz of parmesan cheeses over sauce. Spread croutons over cheese layer. Layer remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shepherd's Pie Recipe

I did not grow up eating Shepherd's Pie, in fact I don't think I even knew about the dish until I was married with children. Now it is a fall go-to dish for me especially if I have leftover mashed potatoes. It is a comforting all-in-one dish that my whole family enjoys. Little Chief does not like green peas which is a traditional ingredient for Shepherd's Pie, so I use green beans instead.

Shepherd's Pie
Serves 4
For Meat Mixture:

1 pound lean ground beef
1 T butter
1 onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup beef stock
1 can Green Beans, drained
Salt and Pepper, to taste
For Potatoes:
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 T butter
1/4 cup milk
1 T mayo
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

In a large skillet, melt 1 T butter over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and saute approx 5 minutes. Add lean ground beef and garlic and cook until browned. Add Worcestershire Sauce, beef stock, green beans and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low while preparing potaotes.

Boil potatoes until tender, drain. Put 4 T butter in bottom of pot used for boiling potatoes, return potatoes to the pot. Add mayo, milk. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy.

Layer meat mixture evenly into a baking dish. Spread mashed potoates evenly over meat mixture. Top with shredded cheese. Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bloody Mary Pot Roast with Fall Veggies, YUM

I love pot roast and I love Bloody Mary's so why not combine the two for one delicious slow cooked dinner. The recipe calls for arm roast, but I substituted a chuck roast because they were on sale. This recipe also calls for fall veggies such as leeks and rutagas, but I did not have either so I substituted onion for the leeks and potatoes and carrots for the rutabaga. I must confess that I have never tried a rutabaga, but I'm not opposed to the idea. I don't really think the name of this veggie is really doing it any favors though, it just sounds yucky. I do remember as a kid my Grandma Spellings talking about "rutabager pie" I was thinking to myself that ain't no pie I wanna try!! This recipe seems like a lot of steps but it really wasn't hard to put together and it was worth it.

Bloody Mary Pot Roast With Fall Vegetables
Serves Approx 8 people

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 3 -4 lbs boneless beef arm roast, seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper
• 1/2 cup low sodium beef broth
• 1 (12 ounce) bottle vegetable juice cocktail (V8)
• 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
• 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 leeks, sliced
• 3 ribs celery, sliced into 2-inch pieces
• 1 rutabaga, cut into 2-inch chunks (1 lb.)
• 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
• 1/4 cup cold water
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, leaves
• 2 tablespoons vodka
• 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
• hot pepper sauce
• kosher salt
• black pepper
• celery leaves (optional)
1. Heat oil in a saute pan; brown roast on all sides in hot oil over med-high heat, about 12 minutes total.
2. Remove roast from pan; place meat in a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker.
3. Deglaze the pan with broth, scraping up brown bits.
4. Stir in vegetable juice, horseradish, celery seed, and bay leaf; pour mixture into slow cooker.
5. Arrange leeks, celery, rutabaga, and bell pepper on top of meat.
6. Cover slow cooker, cook until meat and vegetables are tender—on high heat setting for 4-5 hours, or on low heat setting for 9-10 hours.
7. Using a slotted spoon, remove meat and vegetables to a serving platter; cover and keep food warm.
8. Transfer juices from slow cooker to a saucepan; skim off fat.
9. Stir cold water into flour; stir flour mixture into juices in sauepan; cook over medium heat until gravy is thickened, 2 minutes.
10. Stir parsley, vodka, and vinegar into gravy in saucepan.
11. Season gravy with hot pepper sauce, salt, and pepper.
12. Serve gravy over pot roast, vegetables, and noodles (if desired).
13. Garnish each serving with celery leaves.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy Boss' Day

Happy Boss' Day! To those of you who are bosses, don't be a "horrible boss"; to those who may one day become the boss, remember what it was like when you weren't the boss and be kind and considerate; to those of you who never want to be a boss, remember your boss is usually juggling a lot of responsibilities at once, be patient.

At our office we made breakfast for our bosses this morning. My contribution was a delicious French Toast Souffle. Also a family favorite for Christmas morning at my house. You do all the prep work the night before and refrigerate, then pop it in the oven in the A.M. I hope you will try it and let me know what you think if you do!!

French Toast Suoffle'

Yield: Approx 12 servings

10 cup cubed sturdy white bread, about 16 slices (I use Pepperidge Farm Hearty White)
8 oz block cream cheese, room temperature
8 large eggs
1 1/2 c milk
2/3 c half and half
1/2 c maple syrup
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 T powdered sugar for garnish (optional)
Extra maple syrup for serving

Directions: Place bread cubes in a 13x9 cooking dish coated with cooking spray. Beat cream cheese with mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add milk, half and half, 1/2 maple syrup and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture over top of bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat over to 375 degrees.

Remove bread mixture from fridge; let stand on counter for 30 minutes. Bake at 375 for 50 minutes until set. Sprinkle souffle' with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Test Recipe Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

This week's test recipe was an effort to recreate one of Little Chief's favorite Chinese Food Noshes, Orange Chicken. He LOVES some orange chicken. However, Mama don't love the calories and fat that accompany that citrus goodness. I liked this recipe. It was so easy to throw together in the A.M. and when I got home from work, I just threw some rice in the rice cooker and we were ready to eat in 20 minutes. Next time, I would make a few changes to the recipe, mostly add some heat with crushed red pepper and would probably throw in some veggies, broccoli and water chestnuts and onion maybe. But we did veggies on the side this time. Little Chief did not like it so much. He said it was OK, but it didn't taste nothing like the orange chicken he liked. I told him it was a healthier version so it would not taste the same, but the essence should be the same. He went on to tell me "Mom, I am a connoisseur of orange chicken, I know what it should taste like". And he gave me that "Duh" look as if to say "I know everything and you know nothing". He's becoming a pro at giving me that look and he is only 10 years old. Me thinks the boy needs his booty smacked, but spanking your kids went out with feathered bangs...I miss spanking....but as they say what goes around comes around and I'm just dreaming of the day that spanking becomes trendy again. But I do digress, me and Chief liked the recipe and Little Chief ate it between protests. He also added so sweetly (not) that we should keep the Jade Garden Restaurant on speed dial. He will be eating PB&J for the rest of the week, thank you very much!!!

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

8 small boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 Tbsp flour
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/3 barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp grated ginger root

Toss chicken with flour in slow cooker. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Cover, cook on low for 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours. Serve with hot cooked rice.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What a Difference a Year CAN Make

Wow, the pics below are from 2011 Khaki ball. The last pic is from the 2010 ball. I am almost unrecognizable even to myself in that pic. I have lost 105 lbs in the lats year! Went from my embarrassing all time high of 216 in the pic below to this morning's Monday weigh-in of 111. YAY ME!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Test Recipe - Slow Cooked Tex Mex Chicken

Wow!! I have been away from the blogosphere for a while now. I promised myself to get back to blogging because I really do love it. However, something always seems to get in the way. But here I go getting back up on the bike. :) I will start my "back to blogging" with a recipe that I tried this week. I like to try to introduce at least one new test recipe to my family each week and see if it will be a hit or a miss. This recipe was a hit. It was easy and inexpensive to prepare. However, it does have some spice to it, which my family loves, but if yours is sensitive to spicy heat, cut down on the chilis and use a mild salsa. And true to form, I forgot to take photos, but I'll get back into the swing of that too. Enjoy!

Slow Cooked Tex Mex Chicken
Serves 4

1 cup dried pinto beans, rinsed
1 jar (11 oz) mild or medium salsa (1 1/2 cups)
2 T chopped canned chipolte chilis in adobo sauce (mexican food isle)
2 T all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
Sour cream and fresh cilantro for serving (optional)

Directions: In a 5-6 quart slow cooker, stir together beans, salsa, chilis, flour and 1 cup water. Season chicken with salt and pepper; arrange on top of bean mixture. Scatter onion and bell pepper on top of chicken. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours (do not open lid or stir). Remove chicken from stew; shred into large pieces and return to stew. Serve topped with sour cream and cilantro.