Thursday, October 29, 2009

Potato Soup Plus

It barely gets into the 50's and I have already gotten out of all of the winter gear, including my boots. Oh how I love my boots! Another love of mine is my crock pot. Well, we did have a bit of a spout a few weeks ago when the glass lid came flying into my face and cracked me in between the eyes. Other than that, however, it is a very frequently used cooking device in this household.

I used to make one thing and one thing only: beef tenderloin and veggies. Now I have discovered the wide world of soups, chicken and other marvelous dishes the crock pot can conjure up. I bought a recipe book from Border's a while back that was called Easy Slow Cooker Cookbook. It has a ton of easy recipes. And I love EASY!

The first one I tried this week was a potato soup and it was good, but could use some work. My husband said that it was too "potatoey" whatever that means. I mean .. it's potato soup!? Anyways, I thought it was just fine. I could go with a little more cheese in it (because of course he is used to O'Charleys cheese soup with like 3 pieces of potato). I adjusted the recipe below to what I will make next time. I am only going to use one less potato and see how that goes. I think the level of "cheese was good enough that if I take out one potato it should make a big difference.

I am also entering this marvelous crock pot recipe into Jolene's Culinary Adventures contest for October Tasty Tools! I will update on who won and a link to the recipe because you know it will be amazing!

Potato Soup Plus

4 medium potatoes, peeled, cubed (5 potatoes used in this recipe)
1 cup cooked, cubed ham
1 cup fresh broccoli florets, cut very fine
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 can fiesta nacho cheese soup
3/4 can chicken broth
2 1/2 soup cans milk
paprika, to taste

Place potatoes, ham and broccoli in sprayed crock pot. In saucepan combine and mix soups, milk and broth until smooth. Stir into crock pot and cook for 7-9 hours on low. Sprinkle paprika when serving to taste.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

I went to the store today to get some white chocolate chips to make some white chocolate macadamia nut cookies later. While there, I happen to look over at the canned pumpkin area and noticed the big empty shelf with canned pumpkin puree was not empty. I got curious and walked over to see what the big difference was between the pumpkin pie mix and the canned pumpkin. I have heard so much about this and how there is a huge shortage of the puree. Yeah, I snagged 4 cans. Might go back later to get 4 more.

So when I got home, I wanted to find the perfect recipe. I had just purchased two huge bags of apples planning on doing several different kinds of recipes. I found an amazing muffin recipe online and just had to make it. I miffed it a bit but it still turned out amazing! So here is "my" version of the muffins.

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1 can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped

2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3-4 tsp butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease muffin tray.

In a large bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, pumpkin pie spice and baking soda. In separate bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin and oil. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture until moist and fold in apples. Spoon batter into muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix together last 4 ingredients, adding butter 1 tsp at a time. Spread over Muffins before baking.

Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Fettuccini with Asparagus and Ham

I always talk about my husband but I never have properly introduced him. His name is Brad and he hates vegetables. Anything green he calls "rabbit food" and picks aside on his plate. I can't sneak it in anything. Unless it's deep-fried and doused in grease there is no way he will eat it .. until now.

I found this recipe in my Better Homes cookbook that I got for the wedding. This is the third recipe I have made and without hesitation I can say that this book is not a disappointment. Fettuccini has always been one of my all-time favorite dishes, but I have never made it without alfredo sauce so I was very skeptical of this recipe. The one thing I did like was that I still had some asparagus leftover and didn't know what to do with it and this recipe also had only 6 ingredients. Absolutely love it!!!

I put the recipe as directed in the book below but I used my shredded cheese I already had that was half mozzarella and half pepper jack. The result was still great. I also have never understood when a recipe calls for cooked ham so what I did was slice up some deli ham and it was fine.

Fettuccini with Asparagus and Ham

8 ounces dry fettuccini, broken in half
1 pound fresh asparagus, ends cut off, 1-inch slices
1 tbsp canola oil (or cooking oil)
3 roma tomatoes, chopped (2 cups)
1/4 pound cooked ham, thin sliced and cubed (I used deli ham)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (or other preferred type)

Cook fettuccini noodles according to package directions, drain and keep warm. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook and stir asparagus in hot oil about 4 minutes or until lightly browned/tender. Add tomatoes and ham. Cook for an additional 2 minutes until heated through. There will be a little sauce, which is fine. Add asparagus mixture to fettuccini and stir gently to combine. Mix in cheese and stir until completely melted. Serve warm.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chicken San Marco

This past week I worked really late nights because of all the overtime we had to work. I really hate it but somebody's gotta do it. Well, at any rate I really enjoy coming home to dinner already made and allowing my husband to eat at his own convenience. He gets home a few hours before I do so I feel kinda bad that he has to wait hours on end for me to make dinner.

Because of this, I really like making crockpot recipes. I will make anything I can find. I even bought a huge crockpot recipe book from Borders on clearance for around $2.50. It's been pretty amazing so far. Anyways, I found this recipe on TPOX's blog and if you haven't figured it out yet, hers is one of my fav's. I did my own version and used mostly what I had.

Turned out well, but the chicken was really dry so maybe next time I will just put it on for 4 hours instead of 6. Also, I might use more canned tomatoes to allow the chicken to be more moist. Also next time I might keep the chicken frozen like she does in her recipe. That might help as well.

Chicken San Marco

1 head of broccoli florets, cut small
1 medium onion
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp chicken bouillon
1 8oz can italian plum tomatoes, with juice, chopped
1/2 can mexican chili-ready tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp cornstarch
2lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (left whole or cut into cubes)

Place broccoli, onions, carrots and plum tomatoes in bottom of crockpot. Place chicken on top. Mix together remaining ingredients and spread over chicken. Cook on 4 hour setting.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Perfect Apple Pie

Everyone has one. An old family recipe that is just perfect. Well, this is mine. Totally perfect and impossible to mess up. Trust me, if it could be done .. I would have somehow done it by now. I made this pie for my friend at work who was leaving. On her last day I brought this in and every single person that had a piece told me how amazing it tasted. One guy even said that it tasted like grandma's apple pie after Thanksgiving dinner.

Trust me, it is exactly that.

Perfect Apple Pie

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
7 medium to large apples (I used 5 granny smith and 2 gala), peeled and sliced
3 tbsp butter or margarine
3 tsp real lemon
2 nine-inch pie crusts

Stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in large bowl. Mix in apples until mixture is paste-like.

Add mixture into greased pie pan lined with one pie crust. Cover with the second pie crust and fold edges over and make into zig-zag (crust) pattern. Cut 6-8 slits in the top of the pie crust about an inch long. Sprinkle crust with cinnamon.

Cover edges of crust with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees (conventional). Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Apple Pumpkin Chili

Winter. The time for big sweaters, monstrous boots and chili. To me, the most notorious winter dinner is chili. I have been eating my husband's same old chili recipe for years now and although I love him, his chili could use some work. He does the traditional meat, tomatoes, beans, spaghetti, etc. I wanted something different and came across TPOX's blog (a personal favorite of mine) and her Apple Pumpkin Chili looked just amazing!

I made do with what I had and used some of my personal favorites in place of what was on her recipe. I also forgot about the bacon. I think the chili I made was missing something flavorful and the bacon definitely would have added to it so I think next try I will most certainly add it in there.

My husband didn't like the chili. He ate one bowl and said he won't eat any more or the leftovers, which is rare for him. I was so afraid to try it when I got home later this evening, but it smelled so good I didn't care what he thought so I tried it. I really loved it and I think it just all depends on what you like and your acquired taste. I don't like anything pumpkin AT ALL and the pumpkin in this is very subtle and not overbearing. I also couldn't really taste the apple until after eating the chili so I might add another apple next time too.

Edit: After eating a few bowls, I can now say that I will not use coriander for this recipe.. or any other for that matter. What a horrible spice. Blegh! It was too crunchy, especially for chili.

Apple Pumpkin Chili

1 pound ground turkey or chicken
2 cans white beans (Navy & Northern are my personal choices)
1.5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
1 medium shallot, diced
1 granny smith apple, diced
1/2 of a 14oz can of pumpkin puree (1 cup)
2.5 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp dry sage
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp thyme
(optional) equal parts cornstarch & chicken broth for thickening
grated cheese (gouda is quite popular but I used what I had, cheddar & mozzarella)

Combine all ingredients except cheese and thickener in a crockpot, stirring well. Cook on high 4 hours or medium 6 hours. If consistency is not as thick as you would like, add the thickener as needed for a few minutes on high. Top chili with cheese and serve warm.


I saw the most delicious looking picture on the Apple-A-Day blog for some snickerdoodles. These cookies are my favorite from when I was a kid and growing up. I think the cinnamon flavor is so might lighter to enjoy than chocolate chips. But then again, I am not your normal chocolate lover. Cinnamon is another story, however. My apple pie .. YUM! Well, that is for another blog .. another day.

At any rate, I made these exactly as specified to the recipe, but unfortunately everybody's oven is different and cookie trays are different. Well, my cookies came out really soft to begin with (so soft I thought they weren't completely cooked although they were). After cooling on the cooling racks they were very hard. I don't like hard snickerdoodles so I will definitely try try again! After keeping in the fridge, however they were quite soft. Also, this is the first time I have used the cooling racks. I see them everywhere so I wanted to get some to use. Not a huge fan so far. They aren't anything to brag about.

Tip: eat the cookies after heating in microwave for about 10 seconds with a small glass of milk!! OMGYUM!! For the rest of them, keep them refridgerated and they will stay nice and perfectly soft!!


2 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4-5 tsp ground cinnamon

Sift together flour and powder in a small bowl. Set aside. Put butter and 1 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs. Gradually stir in flour mixture on low speed.

In a separate small bowl, mix together remaining 1/4 cup sugar and desired amount of cinnamon to preferred ratio. I typically always have a nice mixture on hand for cinnamon sugar toast, which will do just fine!

Shape dough into 1 3/4 inch balls and roll into cinnamon sugar mix. Note: the mixture was pretty sticky so have all of your pans laid out and ready to go before making these! Place on baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until edges are very slightly golden brown. Halfway through baking, rotate cookie sheets. Cool on wire rack if desired.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Banana Bread

Who eats all their bananas before they turn brown? Nobody in my household. I started freezing them, hearing that they make for good banana bread later. I found a fantastic recipe and decided to try it since I had everything at home for it and didn't need to buy anything. I love those kinds of recipes. The ones I can just find things in my pantry and make right away.

I have never made banana bread before so I wasn't aware of just how dark it is supposed to get. I didn't finish cooking it the first trial so I just stuck it back in the oven for a little while longer. Next time I'll know. I adjusted the recipe below to account for that.

Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups flour
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Mix all ingredients with a mixer for about 2 minutes. Bake in a greased 9x9 pan at 350 degrees (conventional) for 50-55 minutes or until completely baked through. Check this by sticking a toothpick in the middle.

I also think these would make great banana cupcakes (future blog)!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

So a friend of mine at work brought in these amazing melt-in-your-mouth cookies one day. Well, of course I had to try to remake them myself. When I remade them they weren't quite the same taste, but both were equally fantastic! I am not really a big chocolate lover, but these have a hint of peanut butter so the chocolate is not overwhelming. These cookies are also the only cookies I have ever made that didn't turn into rocks 2 hours after baking them. I am so proud!! They are the PERFECT soft batch cookies.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 pkg peanut butter chocolate chips

Blend butter, sugars, eggs, vanilla and baking powder in large bowl. Mix in chips and then flour. Refrigerate for a few hours (optional, but helps to roll dough later).

Roll dough into balls and place on greased cookie sheet. With palm of hand or a flat spatula, flatten dough balls down. Bake at 350 degrees (conventional) for 15 minutes or until edges are a light golden brown. Remove from baking sheet to cool.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chicken Parmigiana

I tried this recipe from a cookbook I got as a wedding gift. I am always trying to test new recipes and seeing what I can find. This one caught my eye because I thought it was a baked chicken recipe. Nope. Stovetop. Either way it was pretty easy and quick. It was also a little spicy which my husband really enjoys! He calls himself a chili-head.

The chicken I used was pretty thick so I had to cook it much longer than the recipe called for but it still turned out fantastic. I also got home late and we were both starving so I didn't allow time for the cheese to melt when I took the picture. The recipe called for Parmesan cheese but I used what we had, since we had a ton of it. Definitely a must-make recipe!!

Chicken Parmigiana

1/3 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 tsp sugar
dash salt & pepper
1/8 cup basil
4 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts (the thinner ones work best)
1/3 cup seasoned fine dry bread crumbs
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

For sauce

In medium saucepan, cook onion and garlic in hot butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in sugar, salt, pepper and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in basil and set aside.

For Chicken

Dip chicken in bow with egg and milk mixture. Then, dip it into another bowl with 3 tbsp parmesan cheese, oregano and bread crumbs. Place in a large skillet in hot oil over medium heat. Cook on each side for 3-5 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Transfer chicken to serving dish and cover with sauce mixture and remaining 1 tbsp parmesan cheese. Let stand until cheese melts.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Spicy Meatloaf

I apologize in advance because meatloaf is one of those recipes I don't ever measure anything. There aren't very many, but there are a few. I did try to do my best to measure for the sake of the blog. Typically my meatloaf is ground beef but I had some ground turkey and leftover peppers and I was feeling spicy. I have never made it with anything but onions but this time added peppers. Turned out pretty delicious and it's really the first recipe that I have tweaked nearly every part of. I did add spices in which I never had before.

Spicy Meatloaf

1 lb ground turkey
1 egg
1/3 cup ketchup
2 slices wheat bread (any other kind will do)
1/3 cup mixture of chopped onion, red and green pepper
1 tsp canola oil
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cajun seasoning

Knead all ingredients in a bowl with hands until thoroughly mixed. Shape in the form of a loaf in an 8x8 pan. You won't use the entire pan but it will drain fatty juices as it cooks. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pumpkin Seeds

My favorite time of year is fall. I am not to keen on the weather because it's a precursor to blizzards, snow, sleet and 8 layers of clothing. What fall does offer is lots of great seasonal food. Some of the best types of food are squash, pumpkins, etc. I have learned through the years to not waste leftovers, too. Here is a great, easy recipe you can do with your pumpkin seeds with everyday household items.

Also, you can substitute any oil you want to use. I use peanut oil because it's fairly healthy and bakes well. I used some of my leftover spaghetti squash seeds (as an experiment to see if they taste the same .. since they look the same). Yeah, they are just as delicious.

Pumpkin Seeds

4 tsp peanut oil
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 cups seeds

Mix everything in a bowl and bake in the oven on a cookie sheet at 350 (conventional) for 25 minutes. Halfway through, flip the seeds over with a spatula.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Having lots of leftover spaghetti squash I had no idea what to do with it. Someone on The Nest website's What's Cooking board had posted this recipe. Two words: easy and delicious. Neither of those words does it justice. Just make it!!

I used extra cheese just because I love cheese. I also omitted the water (totally by accident) so I just didn't include it on my recipe below. Turned out perfect anyways! The girl on the website that gave me the recipe said that she omitted all the cheese and added a little parmesan to the top. Make it your own...

Spaghetti Squash Casserole:

1 small spaghetti squash, cooked
1 lb ground beef
1/2 C chopped onion
1/4 C chopped green pepper
1/2 C chopped red pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 tsp oregano
2 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste

In large skillet, cook the beef, onion, peppers and garlic until meat is browned. Drain fat, return to pan with tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and squash. Continue cooking 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

Transfer mixture to large casserole dish and mix in 1.5 cups of the cheese. Bake at 350 (conventional) for 25 minutes. Top with additional 1 cup of cheese and bake until melted.

Spaghetti Squash

So I went to the pumpkin patch with my mom last week and the owner and my mom convinced me that making this huge spaghetti squash is something that I just had to do. Needless to say, it was amazing. I have tons of leftovers so I got another recipe I will try tonight and review and post.

Spaghetti Squash:

Cut squash in half and place on baking sheet flat side down. Add a little water to baking sheet. Bake at 350 (conventional oven) for 30-35 minutes for large squash. It is done when you can easily get the spaghetti-like strings inside.

Homemade Caramel Apples

I tried
this caramel at-home recipe. I used the caramel candies against my better judgement only because I couldn't justify purchasing a candy thermometer to use once a year. Silly.
Tip #1: Rinse the apples after sticking them with the skewers under hot running water and dry thoroughly. The website didn't mention anything about that but I read on almost all other websites that it helps to get rid of the waxy film.

Tip #2: Use big plates for toppings. It gets pretty messy!

Tip #3: It says to let the caramel drip off the apples and then hold them upright to even it out. DO THIS FOR A LONG TIME! I did it for ohhh say 5 seconds each way and I ran out of caramel and the caramel on the first few apples I did ended up falling off anyways on the parchment paper. But they still look and taste delicious!!

Homemade Caramel Apples:

700 g. (24 oz.) caramels, unwrapped
4 tbsp. whole milk
10-12 medium-sized apples
sticks inserted in tops

1. Melt caramels and milk in double boiler or in microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments (stirring in between) until melted and smooth.
2. Dip apples in caramel at an angle and roll to get a nice, smooth coating.
3. Hold apples upside down until the caramel stops dripping. Flip upside down and hold until caramel is evenly coated.
4. Roll apple in desired toppings.
5. Place on wax paper and place in fridge to harden caramel.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie, Trial 1

So for this recipe I used my grandma's cookbook circa 1942. I don't think you can buy this at any Border's. Hopefully old-fashioned recipes are the best.

Cut the pumpkin down the middle with a serrated knife and scoop out the entire middle: seeds and "goop" as I call it. I didn't get it all and after I steamed it, it was really stringy so MAKE SURE YOU SCRAPE IT REALLY GOOD!

Steam the finished product. You can also bake or microwave them. Baking takes the longest. They are done when the skin almost peels off itself. Steaming took about 15 minutes or so. My mixture of the filling ingredients was frothy and more liquidy than I had anticipated but then again I don't like pumpkin pie so I never make it and had no idea what to expect.

Edit: My husband tried this pie the day after I made it. I don't know the best way to store it. Any ideas? Stovetope with or without celophane? In the fridge? Either way the crust was soggy and he said the texture was not right. Ehh I'll do Libby's for now then. =)

Pumpkin Pie:
1/8 t salt
2 t pumpkin spice **
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 2/3 C milk
1 1/2 C mashed cooked pumpkin
1 pastry shell

Sift dry ingredients and stir in eggs. Add milk and pumpkin mixture. Line pie pan with pastry shell and pour in filling. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then turn down to 325 for 35 minutes. NOTE: I turned it up to 350 and still had to bake an extra 40-45 minutes or so. It is done when filling doesn't stick to toothpick.

**Use 1 t cinnamon, 1/4 t nutmeg and 1/2 t ginger for an alternative to pumpkin spice.


Welcome to my first food blog. I dedicate this to my poor adorable husband. He taste-tests all .. or most .. of my creations; sometimes in hesitation. He really does have a huge heart and really supports all the ruckus I make in the kitchen. I do it all for him. Bradley, I love you.