Peppermint Bark

As requested, here is the recipe for peppermint bark that we made for the family Christmas party. Also, you can find the marbled bark recipe with oreo chunks over on our blog.

• 1 pkg. (8 squares) semi-sweet chocolate
• 1 pkg. (6 squares) white chocolate
• 2 tsp vegetable oil
• 1/3 cup crushed candy canes

Line the bottom and sides of a 9 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, smoothing out any wrinkles.

Melt the semi sweet chocolate with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a microwave-safe dish. Immediately pour the melted chocolate into the prepared pan and tilt the pan so the chocolate makes an even layer. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or until the chocolate has set.

Melt the white chocolate and remaining 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil. Immediately pour the melted white chocolate over the dark chocolate and spread evenly. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes evenly over the white chocolate. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or until the chocolate has set.

Remove the firm chocolate from the pan by lifting the edges of the aluminum foil. Peel back the foil and break into small irregular pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

From Allrecipes

3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.
Mix sugar, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.. Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Notes: My kids love mini muffins, so I made them in mini muffin tins and baked them for 12 minutes. I made the batter last night and baked them this morning, they were delicious with yogurt and Christie's granola recipe.


String Beans with Garlic

So I made these beans tonight and Jacob and Zach said they were the best beans they ever had.

From the Barefoot Contessa
1 1/2 pounds French string beans, both ends removed (I bought mine at Walmart in a little bag)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon good olive oil
2 to 3 garlic cloves, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper

Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for just 1 1/2 minutes. Drain immediately and immerse in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. When they are cool, drain and set aside.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a very large saute pan over medium heat and cook the garlic for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned. Add the string beans, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss together. Reheat the string beans and serve.


Peanut Butter Crunch Granola

This recipe is from my sister-in-law, Tami. I just made it today and keep grabbing handfuls as I walk by. Its tasty. The peanut butter is not overwhelming.. its just right. I made half the recipe just to try it out and it made a heaping cookie tray full, so depending on how much granola you will eat, you may want to do half.

Mix together:
10 cups oatmeal (not instant)
2 cups Grape Nuts (for crunch)
1 small bag coconut (optional)
2 cups wheat bran
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup walnuts, seeds, almonds (optional)

Boil for 1 minute:
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 cup honey
1 cup peanut butter (or less if you prefer)

Remove from heat and add
2-3 teaspoons vanilla

Pour over oat mixture. Bake on cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes at 325 until golden. After baked and while still hot you can add any dried fruit you want. (I added craisins and it is delish)



Someone I know was asking about good Mexican restaurants around town. One person mentioned a couple pupuserias, even though they're from El Salvador, not Mexico. I'd heard of them, so thought I should give them a try.

I found various recipes, most pretty similar. The one I followed the closest was this one for pupusas de queso, although I filled them with other stuff, too.

The dough is pretty much just the same as for corn tortillas:

2 C corn flour (masa de harina or maseca)
1 C water

Just mix that up, adding more water as needed, until it has the consistency of play-dough and so when you squish a chunk of it flat, the edges don't crack. Separate into 8 balls, shape into little cups, fill with refried beans, chicken, cheese, etc. I made half with refried beans and half with chicken with taco seasoning. I added some cotija and monterrey jack cheese to each. I recommend giving cotija cheese a try if you haven't.

Seal up the little cups, so you end up with a ball with the filling inside, and then smoosh it so it's the size of a pancake, keeping the filling inside and the masa outside as much as you can.

Pan fry them a couple minutes on each side. I sprinkled a little salt on top of them to add a touch of flavor. I made them pretty mild so the kids would like them, but you could stuff them with jalapenos or other spicy stuff. It would be good with salsa, sour cream, cilantro, or anything else you might eat with tortillas. They eat pupusas in El Salvador with a pickled cabbage; since I didn't have time for the pickling process, I just pan fried some cabbage with Mexican gray squash and served with cilantro lime rice.

You could probably fill them with some dessert fillings and come out with a pretty good treat. Or you could just spread nutella on your chicken and cheese pupusa.


Dijon Roasted Chicken & Potatoes

I made up a recipe for dinner tonight and it was quite tasty and very easy. Give it a try.. I also need to write it down so I remember how I made it. They had bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts on sale & I like roasted chicken that way.. it turns out more moist and flavorful than boneless, skinless, I think.

4-5 bone in, skin on chicken breasts
6-8 red or yukon gold potatoes (mine were garden fresh.. even better)
1/2 onion (sliced)

1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 T dijon mustard (I used a grainy, country style Grey Poupon dijon)
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
juice of 1/2 a lemon

Mix the sauce together until well combined. Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet (can line with foil for easy clean up). Brush the sauce onto the chicken. I tossed the potatoes in a bowl with just olive oil, salt & pepper and then placed the potatoes all around the chicken on the pan. Put the onion slices on top of the chicken. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes until the chicken is done (165 on a meat thermometer) & the potatoes are tender. I would have included carrots in the mix with the potatoes, but I didn't have any.


Peanut Butter Playdough

I got this recipe from my friend Becky. Its a fun snack/activity once in a while.

1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup honey
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix all together in mixer until its a dough consistency. You may need to add a little more powdered milk or sugar to get it just right. Give the kids a glob of it to play with/eat with cookie cutters, raisins, chocolate chips, etc. I usually give the kids their portion to play with and then use the cookie scoop to make the rest into balls and store in the fridge. Then I can snack on the leftovers & its easier to give the kids one little ball than a whole mound of it.


Chicken Tikka Masala

The recipe is from allrecipes.com. I took out the salt, since it called for an absurd amount in both the marinade and the sauce. Just sprinkle some on at the end to taste. Some commenters said it's a lot better if you add a teaspoon or two of garam masala to the sauce. I need to get me some of that. You can do the sauce with something not so calorie-laden as the heavy cream, but it won't be quite as good, so that's your call.

When I made it, it was okay the first day, but seemed a little gritty and tasted like there was either too much cumin or maybe like I'd burned the spices somehow. The leftovers the next day were awesome. It was much better after the flavors in the sauce had time to mix and settle down some.

I'd recommend just mixing up both the marinade and the sauce the day before. Let it marinate overnight and let the sauce settle overnight, and it should be much better.

And if anyone can come up with a good naan recipe to go with this, let me know.

Serve with Basmati rice.


1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
4 long skewers

1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
salt to taste
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and 4 teaspoons salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat a grill for high heat.

Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and 3 teaspoons salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro.


Crockpot Sausage and Tortellini Stew

I made this for Sunday dinner yesterday.  Rob and I liked it and ate the leftovers for lunch today.  The kids picked out the sausage and tortellini to eat since they aren't tomato or onion fans.

4 sweet Italian sausage links
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes with basil, garlic, & oregano
1 pk (9 oz) frozen cut green beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 pkg (9 oz) refrigerated cheese tortellini

Remove the casing from the sausage and form into small balls (about 1/2 inch diameter).  Stir tomatoes, beans, onion and seasoning. Add the sausage and cook in slow cooker for 3 hrs on HIGH. When 20 minutes is left, add tortellini and 1 cup of water.

I couldn't find crushed tomatoes with the added ingredients so I used diced.  I left out the green beans since I'm the only one that will eat them, but added about a 1/4 head of cabbage since it came in the Bountiful Basket the day before.  I never add a whole onion to anything...maybe 1/4.  I used a package of frozen tortellini.

Crockpot Ranch Chicken

My kids will pretty much eat any variation of chicken and rice so here's another chicken and sauce recipe to serve over rice.

4-6 chicken breasts, each cut into 4 pieces
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Frozen broccoli (optional)

Mix everything together and put in a crockpot. Cook on high 3-4 hours or low 5-6 hours.  The broccoli should probably go in half way through or so. Serve on top of mashed potatoes, rice, or even pasta.

This is not so low fat so I used the neufchatel cream cheese (you could probably go fat free) and the healthy request cream of mushroom.  Again, you've probably seen different variations to this using cream of chicken or dry Italian dressing mix.

Crockpot Apricot Chicken

I started going to a Fitness Club on campus last week from 5:15-6:15 pm so I was trying to have dinner all prepared when I left so we could eat as soon as I got home.  My friend compiled a big list of recipes from friends and emailed them out.  I've been trying alot of the crockpot ones since I can start them earlier in the day and they are all done after my workout.

Four people submitted variations to this recipe, which surprised me because I had never heard of it.  I'll put the variations in parenthesis.

1 package dry Italian dressing mix (or 1 package dry onion soup mix)
1 18 oz. bottle of Wishbone brand Russian salad dressing (or Catalina dressing)
1 small jar of apricot jam

Mix these all together in a crockpot.  Add 1- 1 1/2 Pounds chicken (breasts or tenders). Cook on high 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours or until done.  Serve over rice or potatoes.

My mom makes apricot jam so I used what I had from her.  I put probably 3/4 of a pint jar in it.  It makes alot of sauce so you could probably use a cup of jam or add even more chicken than it calls for.  I used the dry onion soup mix since I had it already.  My friend said she thought it tasted like Tiny Spicy Chicken when she used the Italian dressing mix.  I think I used 4 or 5 chicken breasts and cut them into 4 strips.


Baby Back Ribs

I've become more of a fan of ribs lately, getting past the fact that you're going to get a little messy eating them. There are lots of different types of ribs. The only beef ribs I've had weren't all that great, so I suppose at some point I'll try them again, but for now I'd recommend pork ribs over beef ribs.

There are many cuts. I learned a little about them when doing a secret shopper assignment at a local grocery store, and I had to ask questions about something in the meat department. For more information than you ever wanted to know about the different types of ribs, go check out amazingribs.com, otherwise just take my word for it that you want the baby back ribs. Some of the other types look bigger, but they have longer bones and thinner meat, so not really worth it.

Alton Brown from the Food Network has a good basic rib recipe that many other recipes out there appear to be based on. At least there is a troll that has posted on most of the top recipes that it looks like they copied Alton's recipe. It may actually be Alton. Who knows?

So if you want a specific recipe, you can go check out the proportions he uses. I just googled around to get a basic list of the spices people often use in their dry rub and sprinkled them on.

Before I jump into that, most recipes out there call for two racks of ribs. Both times I've cooked them, I've just purchased one rack, which will generally come in somewhere between 2 and 3 pounds. I think the idea, though, is if you're going through all this work, you might as well make twice as much, or else you're throwing a party, so you want to make sure there's enough for everyone.

The membrane is the weird part. The first time I made them, I couldn't find something that matched others' description of the membrane, so I assumed it had already been removed, and it came out fine. This time, I found a video that shows how to remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. I followed his directions, but it shredded all up instead of coming off in one piece. So if anyone else out there has better experience with this step, I'd appreciate your advice.

From there on, I took a good handful of brown sugar and sprinkled it all over one side of the ribs, maybe not quite as thick as you'd put it on cinnamon rolls. Then I sprinkled on cumin, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, pepper, and salt. I didn't measure at all, just sprinkled it out. This is where you can get pretty creative. If you want to add red pepper to spice it up, ginger to add an Asian touch to it, Emeril's Essence, whatever. These are your ribs.

Rub it in like you're giving it a good back rub, because pretty much that's what you're doing. Flip it over and do the same to the other side.

Wrap it up and seal it tight in some foil. Depending on how the bones stick out, you can rip some holes pretty easily, so you might need to do two layers or use heavy duty stuff. Throw it in the fridge overnight.

When it's time to cook, pull the ribs out of the fridge and unroll one end of the foil packet. We're going to add some braising liquid to the packet and reseal it. I used 1/2 cup apple juice with a tablespoon or so of red wine vinegar and about a tablespoon of honey. I also added a teaspoon or two of beef bouillon, mainly because we have a huge can of it. Microwave it to soften up the honey and mix it up. Some people recommend you add the same seasonings to the braising liquid as you used in the dry rub in case it gets washed off while you're pouring in the liquid, but I wasn't too concerned about that.

Pour the liquid into the end of your foil packet, and seal it back up. If you're not sure you have a great seal, just wrap the whole thing again in another layer of foil.

Place it in the oven on a cookie sheet, at 225 degrees for four hours. You can maybe bump it up to 250 for three hours, but don't push it. High temp, fast cooking = tough ribs.

I put them bone side up so the majority of the meat is soaking in the liquid. You can flip them halfway if you feel like you should do something to them, but resist the urge to open the packet. Just leave it closed. Don't worry, it's doing its thing. Go on a hike or something.

After the four hours is over, pull the pan out and carefully open your packet. Yes, we're cooking low and slow, but 225 degree steam still burns. It's best to just open one end first, pour the liquid out into a sauce pan, and then open the rest of the packet.

Use your little fat separator measuring cup thingy with the juice to get rid of most of the extra fat, and boil until it thickens up a bit, being careful not to burn it. Here's where you can add a little Sweet Baby Ray's if you want. Don't go crazy on the sauce, though, as we only need maybe 1/3 of a cup of sauce per rack. Brush the sauce over one side of the ribs, either on a new piece of foil or if you were careful, just use the remnants of your foil packet. Broil for a few minutes so the sauce caramelizes even more and gets nice and sticky. Flip it over, extra carefully, because if you did this right, it's going to be falling apart on you. You might need a helper. Sauce up the other side and broil again. Many people will do this part on the grill. If your ribs stay together well enough to toss it around on the grill, feel free.

Show the awesome ribs to your kids, let them tell you how disgusting it looks, and proceed to eat it all yourself.


Tomatoes at last!

Our tomatoes have been slowly ripening. This means dinners like BLTs (with added avocado and bleu cheese..yum).. and this delicious treat. I fed the kids mac and cheese and ate this for dinner tonight:

Baked Caprese Salad (or tomato cheese toast)
adapted from Giada Delaurentis

slices of crusty bread (today I used ciabatta)
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
sliced tomatoes
sliced fresh mozzarella
fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Arrange the sliced baguette bread on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn! Remove from the oven. Top each slice of bread with a slice of tomato and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top each slice of tomato with a slice of mozzarella and sprinkle with salt. Return the baking sheet to the oven until the cheese and tomato are warmed, about 5 minutes. Top each toast with a basil leaf. Using the brush, drizzle the remaining olive oil over the basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.
*photo from foodnetwork.com

Homemade granola

I have been trying to make better breakfasts for the kids before school. I pulled out the recipe for granola from mother. Caleb was having it for an after school snack with vanilla yogurt, so tasty.

So here it goes

Put 3 cups of oats in a 2 quart dish and microwave for 2 minutes. To the oats add and mix

1/3 c wheat germ
1/3 c coconut
1/3 c sesame seeds
1/3 c nuts (I used walnuts because that's what I had and I doubled the amount so I used 2/3 c and would probably add more next time because I always pick the nuts out, they are so good.)
1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/3 c sunflower seeds

To dry ingredients add
1/3 c vegetable oil or butter (used canola oil)
1/4 c honey
1 t vanilla

Mix until well coated. Cook in microwave on power level 7 for 7 minutes. Stir twice. If you want to add raisins add 1/2 c and cook 1-2 minutes more on full power.


Oreo & Fudge Ice Cream Cake

This ice cream cake from Kraft Foods is a surefire way to impress your friends. It really couldn't be easier to assemble, but when you pull it out of the freezer you will be serenaded with a chorus of "oohs" and "ahhs" and "wow, you actually made that?"

• 1/2 cup hot fudge ice cream topping, warmed
• 1 tub (8 oz) Cool Whip, thawed, divided
• 1 pkg. (3.9 oz) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
• 8 Oreo Cookies, chopped (about 1 cup)
• 12 vanilla ice cream sandwiches

Pour fudge topping into medium bowl. Whisk in 1 cup Cool Whip. Add dry pudding mix; stir 2 min. Stir in chopped cookies.

Arrange 4 ice cream sandwiches, side-by-side, on 24-inch-long piece of foil; top with half the Cool Whip mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining sandwiches. Frost top and sides with remaining Cool Whip. Bring up foil sides; double fold top and ends to loosely seal packet. Freeze 4 hours.


Chipotle Mayo

This is a great little variation on an otherwise ordinary condiment. We like to use it on burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches.

• 1 cup mayonnaise
• 2 chipotle peppers, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp adobo sauce
• 1/2 lime, juiced
• Salt and pepper to taste

Cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can typically be found on the Mexican food aisle at the grocery store. You can dictate the spiciness of the mayo by the pepper seeds. For example, when we had the parents over for dinner, I sliced the peppers open and scraped out all the seeds first. But when we are cooking for ourselves we leave the seeds in since we are partial to a little spice.


Chicken Enchilada Mummies

Photo is from the Betty Crocker website.

I have been wanting a really good enchilada recipe. In Oct of 2007 I found a little Halloween cookbook at the check out stand. There was a recipe for enchilada mummies in there, the enchiladas looked so good so I came home and looked all over the internet trying to find the recipe with no luck, so I forked up the 4 bucks and bought the little cookbook. I made the enchiladas and they were so good. It is now my go to enchilada recipe. This week Christie and I both couldn't find the recipe and were dying, we can't lose this recipe. Then we found them and said we need to get this on the blog. So again I googled the recipe and this time I found it, oh well.

It makes 1 9x13 pan and a 8x8. The original recipe has roasted red peppers in it which I have never added and last night when I made them I forgot the green chilis.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 1/2 lb), cut into 1-inch pieces(I like my chicken shredded so I either cook it in the oven or poach it and then shred it.

1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers (from a jar)(I have never put these in)
1 can (4.5 oz) Old El Paso® chopped green chiles
3 cups finely shredded Mexican cheese blend (12 oz)
2 cans (10 oz each) Old El Paso® enchilada sauce
12 Old El Paso® flour tortillas (8 inch)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) and 8x8-inch (2-quart) baking dishes with cooking spray.
2. In 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and onion; cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Stir in cumin, garlic salt and oregano. Cook 1 minute longer; drain if necessary. Pour chicken mixture into large bowl.
3. Reserve 2 tablespoons sour cream in small bowl; refrigerate. Into bowl of chicken mixture, stir remaining sour cream, roasted peppers, chiles and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese blend.
4. Spread heaping 3/4 cup chicken mixture in center of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas; arrange 8 seam-side down in 13x9-inch baking dish and 4 seam-side down in 8x8-inch baking dish.
5. Top each baking dish evenly with enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese. Spray 2 sheets of foil with cooking spray; cover each baking dish with foil, sprayed side down.
6. Bake about 50 minutes or until enchiladas are hot. Place reserved 2 tablespoons sour cream in Ziploc® Brand snack bag. Seal bag; cut off 1 corner of bag. Squeeze bag to pipe eyes and mouth on each mummy. ( I did make them mummies once)

They are really good served with fresh tomatoes, guacamole or sour cream, and cilantro on top.


Chicken Souvlaki Gyros

These make for a tasty (and reasonably healthy) summer meal.

Souvlaki Marinade

• 3/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
• 1/2 lemon, juiced
• 1 tbsp dried oregano
• 1/2 tsp black pepper
• 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

• 4 large pita bread rounds
• Romaine lettuce
• Diced tomato
• Sliced red onion
• Pepperoncini
• Feta cheese crumbles
• Tzatziki Sauce (see below)

In a small bowl, mix the balsamic vinaigrette, lemon juice, oregano and black pepper. Place chicken in a shallow dish or large resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade over the chicken and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Remove chicken from marinade and place on prepared grill. Discard remaining marinade. Cook chicken until juices run clear, about 8 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from heat, and allow to sit for a few minutes before slicing into thin strips.

Place pita rounds on the grill, and cook for about 2 minutes, or until hot, turning frequently to avoid burning. Stuff pitas with chicken and toppings to serve.

Tzatziki Sauce
• 1 (8 oz) container plain yogurt
• 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1/2 lemon, juiced
• 1/2 tsp dried dill
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• Salt and pepper to taste

Squeeze the cucumber with a paper towel to remove any excess water. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix to desired consistency. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Gelato di Cioccolato (Chocolate Gelato)

Gelato differs from American ice cream in that it has lower butterfat and sugar content. It also has a more dense texture with more intense flavor. The author of this particular recipe notes that it isn't totally authentic because real gelato doesn't use whipping cream, but this is "the best way to re-create it at home with the kind of ice cream makers most people can afford to have in their own kitchens." For more detailed instructions with plenty of photos, definitely check out her original article.

• 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 cup milk
• 2 3.5-oz high-quality chocolate bars (I used Lindt 50% Cocoa Bars)
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 cup whipping cream
• Mix-in of your choice (optional)

Put the beaten egg yolks, sugar, and milk into a small saucepan, then turn the heat onto a relatively low setting. Cook this mixture, stirring regularly until it is slightly thickened and starts to coat the spoon and sides of the pan as you stir. Remove from heat.

As the milk/sugar/egg mixture is heating up, break up the chocolate bars into pieces and put the pieces in a microwave-safe dish. Melt slowly in the microwave on a medium power setting in 30 second intervals, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is melted.

Add the vanilla and whipping cream to the melted chocolate and mix it thoroughly. The chilled cream may cause some of the chocolate to solidify. If so, briefly return the mixture to the microwave to maintain a smooth texture. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the saucepan with the milk/sugar/egg and mix until well-blended.

Pour the mixture into a container and cover with plastic wrap so that the plastic actually touches the liquid. This will keep a skin from forming in the cooling process. Put the mixture in the refrigerator and cool it to at least room temperature, then freeze it according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Eat it straight out of the machine if you like it soft, or let it set in the freezer for a couple of hours if you want it more firm. Store the finished gelato in an air-tight container.


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Here is the recipe for the muffins I made at the cabin, which I found on All Recipes as usual. Depending on the size of your muffin tins, this should make somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-18 muffins.

• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1/2 cup plain yogurt
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
• 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the egg, oil, yogurt and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in bananas and chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.


Fruit Pizza

This dessert always seems to be a hit. Here's my version:

2 packages of sugar cookie dough (I like the Target or Pillsbury brand break and bake kind that comes in a flat rectangle-- it rolls out easier, but you could use the tube kind). Or you could go crazy and make your own cookie dough.

Let the dough soften out of the fridge for an hour or so. Roll it out flat on a cookie sheet and bake for ~15 minutes at 325 degrees until done.

Mix until smooth:
8 oz cream cheese
4 oz cool whip
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

After the crust is cool, spread the cream cheese mixture on the crust and top with fruit(berries, kiwi, mandarin oranges, etc.).

This is for the big cookie sheet size. You could easily do half and just put in on a pizza pan or a 9x13 pan.


Pizza à la Settebello

After reworking my homemade pizza a few months ago, I have been experimenting with different topping combinations. This latest one was inspired by one of the pies we had at Settebello, and turned out really good.

Tomato Sauce & Mozzarella
See "In Pursuit of Pizza Paradise" from my blog for more detailed instructions.

Also known as Italian-style bacon, you can get pancetta from the deli at Harmon's. 5-6 super thin slices are sufficient to cover a 14" pie.

Fresh Basil
One large basil leaf torn into several smaller pieces goes a long way.

Garlic Slices
Instead of mincing the garlic like we usually do, I cut a clove into thin slices and placed them strategically. It's like biting into little garlic land mines.

Toasted Pine Nuts
These add a nice texture to an already flavorful pie. Pine nuts are toasted by heating a dry skillet to medium heat and tossing them for a few minutes until golden brown.

I know chicken alfredo and barbecue chicken are popular amongst the family. What other topping combinations do people like?


Roasted Potatoes for 50

I'm trying to make a point of recording recipes and amounts when I cook things in large quantities. Just in case anyone needs to serve roasted potatoes for a crowd, here's what I did for Grandma's 90th.

• 15 lbs red potatoes, washed & cut in bite size pieces
• olive oil
• salt & pepper
• rosemary

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash potatoes and cut in bite size pieces. Lay out as many as will fit in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil (just eyeball it on the amount.. enough to lightly coat the potatoes). Sprinkle with salt & pepper and dried or fresh rosemary (again, eyeball the amount) and toss with your hands until its evenly coated. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, turn potatoes with a spatula and bake for another 15-20 minutes until browned to desired doneness.

For the party, I made them a day in advance, let them cool, and put them in containers in the fridge. Party day, I spread them on cookie sheets and reheated at 350 for about 30 minutes until heated through. We ended up moving them to foil pans and keeping them in the oven until it was time to eat and serving them in the foil pans. I suppose we could have just reheated them in the foil pans, but I thought they would be more crispy if we re-heated them in a single layer on the cookie sheets.


Tomato Artichoke Spaghetti

I'm always looking for a good meatless meal. I never thought I would hear Russ classify a meatless meal as one of his favorites, but this one is. I believe Cheryl has made it with added sausage and you could add chicken, but I like it just as is. There are tons of great pics and step by step instructions at The Pioneer Woman.

• 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
• 2 Tablespoons Butter
• 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
• ½ whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
• 1 can Artichoke Hearts (14.5 Oz. Quartered Or Whole) Drained (I buy quartered and chop them in smaller pieces)
• 1 can Diced Tomatoes With Juice (14.5 Oz.)
• 1 cup Heavy Cream
• ½ cups Chicken Broth (More As Needed)
• ½ teaspoons Nutmeg (I leave this out)
• Salt And Pepper, to taste
• 1 pound Thin Spaghetti
• 1 cup Parmesan Cheese, Freshly Grated (I use regular old Kraft in the green bottle)
• 2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives (or Other Herbs) Chopped (I've never put this on, but I will now that its garden season)

Cook spaghetti till al dente. Drain and set aside.
Melt olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Stir and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cream and chicken broth. Add salt and pepper to taste (do not undersalt!) Cook over low heat until heated through, then turn off heat.
Place drained pasta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 cup Parmesan. Pour sauce over the top. Add chives. Toss lightly to combine and coat; add a tiny bit of reserved pasta water if sauce seems too thick. (Christie note: I toss the drained spaghetti with parm. in the pasta pot, mix the pasta with the sauce in my big skillet. The sauce thickens as you mix it around & let it sit. Its great the day of and even better as leftovers the next day)


Garlic Butter

Here is our aforementioned Garlic Butter recipe. It comes from All Recipes, but I greatly reduce the amount of garlic salt compared to the original. Don't worry, it is still plenty potent.

• 1 cup butter, softened
• 1 tbsp garlic, crushed
• 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 tsp garlic salt
• 1 tsp Italian seasoning
• 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
• 1/4 tsp ground paprika

In a small bowl, combine softened butter, crushed garlic, and parmesan cheese. Season with garlic salt, Italian seasoning, pepper and paprika. Mix until smooth.


Variations on a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Who knows how many grilled cheese sandwiches I have consumed in my lifetime. I'm at the point where they just don't excite me much any more. Over the years I have done various things to try liven them up a bit, such as working in a little parmesan or other seasonings when buttering the bread.

Lately I have been regularly perusing our cookbook American Sandwich for new ideas. I noticed the sandwich for Vermont, the "Cheese Dream," which sounded unusual yet intriguing. Essentially it is grilled cheese combined with french toast, and it is actually pretty good.

Cheese Dream Sandwich

• 2 slices quality sandwich bread
• 1 egg
• 1 tbsp milk
• Sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
• 1/2 tbsp butter
• Maple syrup (if you are adventurous)

Lay out slice of bread and cover with cheese; top with remaining slice. Lightly press sandwich together. Whisk the eggs and milk together until frothy and place mixture in a shallow dish.

In a frying pan or griddle, melt butter over medium heat. Dip each sandwich in the egg batter, letting excess drip off, and place it in the frying pan. Fry sandwiches over medium heat until golden brown on each side. Slice sandwiches in half, and serve with maple syrup for dipping (I haven't gotten up the courage to try it with syrup yet).

One disclaimer—the original recipe calls for Grafton cheddar cheese and Vermont maple syrup. Alas, I do not have either of those things. I imagine those local specialty flavors would take the sandwich to another level.

Then just today I was surveying the various ingredients we had in our fridge trying to decide what to have for lunch. When Kristen asked what I was going to have, I declared with some uncertainty "a grilled pizza sandwich." Confused, she asked what that was, but I informed her I was still concocting it in my mind. Here's what I ended up making.

Grilled Pizza Sandwich

• 2 slices quality sandwich bread
• Garlic butter
• Mozzarella cheese, sliced
• Tomato sauce
• Pepperoni

Spread garlic butter over one side of each bread slice and flip over (we have a really good garlic butter recipe, perhaps I'll have to post that another time). Add a thin layer of cheese, a modest scoop of tomato sauce, pepperoni, then another layer of cheese, and top with the remaining slice of bread.

Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Grill each side until golden brown and the cheese is melted. Slice in half to serve.

I was surprised at how good this little improvisation turned out. I will definitely be making it for myself again (assuming we have the same assortment of ingredients in the fridge). And I'm willing to bet Eddie is going to love this sandwich as well.


Taco Seasoning

I ran out of my big taco seasoning from Costco and wanted to make tacos so I searched online and found this recipe which I really like. It gives me some satisfaction to make my own seasoning as opposed to using pre-made stuff. I also have a homemade marinade for fajitas that is really good too. So in honor of Cinco de Mayo coming up, here you go.

Taco Seasoning
I don't remember where I found this, maybe All Recipes.

• 1 T chili powder
• 1/4 t garlic powder
• 1/4 t onion powder
• 1/4 t oregano
• 1/2 t paprika
• 1 1/2 t cumin
• 1 t salt
• 1 t pepper

Mix in a small bowl. Store what you don't use. It doesn't make a ton, but more than I use for one batch of tacos. It is good if you add it to shredded chicken and a little bit of water.

Fajita Marinade
This Week for Dinner

• 1/4 C lime juice
• 1 tsp honey
• 1/4 tsp oregano
• 1 tsp chili powder
• 2-3 garlic cloves pressed
• 1/2 tsp salt
• ground pepper
• 1/4 C light olive oil

Enough marinade for 2 pounds of chicken breasts. Marinate chicken for several hours. Grill then serve with tortillas, grilled onions and green peppers.


Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce

We're still making our way through all the fresh vegetables we got from Bountiful Baskets. A cool thing about getting all the fruits and vegetables you might not normally buy is that you have to learn new recipes to use it all.

It was late last night, time for dinner, no meat in the house, and we'd already had tortillas with beans, the end of the chicken, cheese, and tomatillo salsa for lunch after a morning full of soccer and precipitation. While we have a ways to get to get through all our tortillas, I wasn't feeling like more Mexican for dinner.

I found this marinara recipe, since we had several fresh tomatoes we needed to use. Dinner was really basic, just spaghetti, the sauce, garlic toast, and salad.

During the dinner, we had the following conversation:

Rob: Brynlee, do you notice anything different about dinner tonight? Something about what we're eating? Or actually, more about what we're not eating?

Brynlee: Ashlee's gone.

Rob: And we usually eat Ashlee for dinner?

Brynlee: Oh. Let's see. There's no meatballs.

Of course, when Brynlee said dinner was different due to a lack of meatballs, that's not to say we always have meatballs. We have chicken more often than we have meatballs, but the meatballs would be the obvious type of meat to go with spaghetti.

So she did pick up on it pretty quickly when asked about it but I don't know if she'd have noticed there was no meat if I hadn't asked. We had some Swiss Chard Curry last week with no meat in it, and no one noticed. I'm reminded of the first time we had veggie burritos, and we weren't allowed to look inside the burritos until we had tasted them, presumably because if we'd known it was just zucchini and other vegetables, we would have refused to try them.

Another memory brought back when putting together this sauce was of the huge stock pot full of spaghetti sauce that would simmer all day after harvesting the tomatoes, onions, and various herbs and spices from our garden in the fall and then canned or frozen.

Here is the recipe as I found it online:


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups (about 3 large) peeled, chopped tomatoes
1 can(6 oz.)no-salt-added tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed


Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, green pepper, and garlic. Cook, uncovered, 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tomatoes are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes; stir occasionally. Cool 5 minutes.

Place cooled tomato mixture in blender jar 1 or more cups at a time. Cover and blend at stir about 30 seconds after each addition. Blend at puree about 30 seconds. Return mixture to saucepan. Simmer over low heat about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over fresh pasta.

We didn't have any green pepper or fennel seed, so I just left those out. I had tomato paste, but I just never got around to putting it in. I added some parsley, and every time I tasted it I added more oregano. I dipped the tomatoes for 10-15 seconds in the boiling spaghetti to loosen up the skins for easy peeling, then just quartered the tomatoes and smashed them up in the pot while they cooked. I didn't run it through the blender, just served it extra chunky.


Grilled Asparagus

This recipe comes from our always reliable Better Homes & Gardens Grilling Book. It is a super easy (and delicious) way to cook asparagus if you are already grilling. If you have never tasted the wonders of crispy asparagus tips, definitely give it a try.

• 1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed
• 2 tbsp butter, melted
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• Dried dill
• Salt & pepper
• Finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Place asparagus on a sheet of aluminum foil or disposable foil pan. Drizzle with butter and sprinkle with garlic, dill, salt and pepper. Toss to mix. Grill for 5-7 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. The tips should be slightly crispy and the stalks tender. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Makes 4-6 servings.


Tomatillo Salsa

We got a Mexican Food Pack along with the standard Bountiful Baskets delivery this week. It came with tomatillos, cilantro, serrano peppers, onions, avocado, limes, and a ton of tortillas.

I found this Tomatillo Salsa recipe which matched up pretty closely with the ingredients we had received, so that's what ended up on the menu last night.

I marinated some chicken for a few minutes in a little bit of milk, vinegar, chili powder, garlic, cumin, and probably a few other random spices from the cupboard and sauteed it with onion and bell pepper.

For the rice, I was going to post the recipe I used, but it was very similar to the Lime Rice Pilaf just barely posted here, so no need to duplicate. I pretty much just throw some bouillon cubes, cilantro, and lime juice into the rice cooker along with the rice and water.

So we served up the rice, chicken, and tortillas along with guacamole, sour cream, and some fruit salad for a pretty good Mexican dinner.

On to the Tomatillo Salsa:


1 1/2 lb tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
Salt to taste


1 Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.

2 Cut in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.

3 Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, chili peppers, sugar in a blender and pulse until all ingredients are chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator.

Serve with chips or as a salsa accompaniment to Mexican dishes.

Makes 3 cups.

I broiled the peppers, tomatillos, and onions. I also threw in a couple green onions. I used two serrano peppers, and it was very mild. I was expecting it to be hotter and would have put in more peppers now if I knew how mild it was going to be. Supposedly with both jalapenos and serranos, sometimes they're really mild and other times really hot, so maybe we just got a mild batch of serranos.


S’more Cookies

We got our first taste of s'more cookies while sampling refreshments at a church event a few weeks ago. They were so good, I was performing an intensive internet search on the subject as soon as we got home. I eventually figured out the cookies we had came from Over the Top Cookies in South Jordan, but this recipe from The Domestic Scientist looked promising so we tested it out in Logan over the weekend.

• 1 1/2 cup butter, softened

• 1 1/2 cup brown sugar

• 1 cup granulated sugar

• 1 tbsp vanilla

• 2 eggs

• 4 cups flour

• 1 cup graham cracker crumbs

• 2 tsp baking soda

• 1/2 tsp salt

• 2 cups broken up Hershey’s bars
 (1/2 inch chunks)
• 1 1/2 cup broken up graham crackers
 (1/2 inch chunks)
• 1 1/2 cup marshmallows

In an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugars. Add vanilla and eggs. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients, except the last three add ins. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined. Add in the chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows last.

Preheat oven to 375. Scoop with a tablespoon or medium ice cream scoop and roll dough into balls. Place on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 9 – 11 minutes or until the sides and tops just start to turn golden brown.

NOTES: These really do taste like s'mores. Try to avoid marshmallows on the bottom or close to the edge of the dough balls, or when they melt, the cookies will get impossibly stuck to the pan. The recipe makes a ton. We ended up with over 3 dozen, and they are larger than your average teaspoon-sized cookies.


It's Time to Make the Doughnuts

So I decided for some reason to make homemade doughnuts the other day. They were delicious. I took the recipe from here.

Pay no attention to my unprofessional photo taking skills, just look at the delicious doughnuts.


Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce

We have been thinking we needed to find a good pasta recipe for some time and this one sort of happened spontaneously. Our neighbors went to California for two weeks, so before they left, they gave us all their perishables, including produce, milk, and some whipping cream. We had bought some fresh basil for Dave's latest pizza creation and found this recipe on the package. It turned out delicious! Eddie loved it so much he asked for more "noons" about six times.

We used red onion in place of the shallots, as well as white wine vinegar instead of white wine (which we watered down a bit so it wasn't as strong).


• 2 Shallots, minced
• 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
• 1 Tbsp Flour
• 1/4 c Butter
• 1/4 c White Wine
• 1 1/4 c Cream
• 1 c Parmesan
• Fresh Basil, chopped
• 2 c cooked pasta (we used penne)

In medium saucepan, sauté shallots and garlic in butter until softened. Add flour; cook and stir one minute. Stir in wine; cook one minute more. Slowly add cream, mixing until smooth. Add parmesan, cook over medium heat until smooth and thick. Add basil and mix well. Pour sauce over cooked pasta.


Lime Rice Pilaf

While eating Rice-A-Roni with dinner recently, Kristen observed that no matter what flavor is listed on the front of the box, it always just tastes like Rice-A-Roni. Very true. Plus it is no doubt chock-full of sodium. Surely making seasoned rice from scratch couldn't be that difficult. This simple recipe from Food Network confirmed to us that it isn't.

• 2 tbsp butter
• 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
• 2 cups long grain white rice
• 3 3/4 cups chicken stock
• Juice and zest of 1 lime
• Salt and pepper
• Fresh parsley or cilantro, finely chopped

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat. Add chicken stock, lime juice and lime zest. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand covered 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro.

The recipe says is makes 4 servings, but one batch has lasted two dinners so far and we still have some leftovers. But most importantly, it doesn't taste like Rice-A-Roni.


Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

This was our FHE treat on Monday(thanks to Melinda for the idea).. anybody drooling? It was a fun little project for me and the boys. You can also drizzle with white chocolate, etc. to make them fancier, but these were just fine.

• 1 lb strawberries, washed and dried
• 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

I melt the chocolate chips in the microwave.. careful not to overheat. Dip the strawberries and set on wax paper. Refrigerate until set. Enjoy.


Reuben Sandwiches

We had our second annual adventure with corned beef this last Sunday. Since I just recently had my first Reuben at a local deli, I wanted to try out making a homemade version with the leftovers.

After getting a whiff of the sauerkraut, Kristen elected to go without. I can't give her too much grief though—sauerkraut is a strange thing. I certainly wouldn't just eat it plain, but it is does contribute to the distinct taste of the sandwich.

• Rye bread
• Corned beef
• Swiss cheese
• Sauerkraut, drained
• Thousand Island dressing
• Butter or margarine

Spread butter over one side of each bread slice. Spread Thousand Island dressing on the other side. Pile the corned beef, cheese, and sauerkraut on top of the dressing.

Heat a large griddle over medium heat. Grill each side until golden brown and the cheese is melted. Slice in half to serve.


Crock Pot BBQ Ribs

This recipe comes from Church Suppers, a cookbook we got from my aunt. We like this recipe because it is really easy, but isn't just plain old barbecue sauce.


• 2 tsp instant minced onion
• 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
• 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp garlic powder
• 3 pounds pork loin back ribs, cut into serving size pieces
• 1 medium onion, sliced
• 1/2 cup water
• 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

In a small bowl, combine the minced onion, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and garlic powder and mix well. Rub the mixture into the ribs. Layer the ribs and sliced onion in a crock pot. Pour the water around the ribs. Cover. Cook on low 8-9 hours. Remove the ribs from the crock pot and drain and discard the liquid and onions. Return the ribs to the pot. Brush both sides of ribs with barbecue sauce and pour remaining sauce over the ribs. Cover and cook on low 1 hour.

Our Variations: We use boneless "country-style" pork ribs and (mainly for our convenience) don't do the sliced onion thing. After the ribs have cooked for 4-5 hours we will shred the pork, add the barbecue sauce, and let that cook for another hour or so.


My Kitchen Cafe and Orange Chicken

My Kitchen Cafe is one of my new favorite food blogs, I have made a couple recipes on here and have a huge list I want to try. Here is the latest one I tried last night. I liked it because it wasn't deep fried. The kids love the orange chicken in the school cafeteria. They said this was different from the school orange chicken, but they like it.

Fabulous Orange Chicken

• 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2" cubes
• 1/2 cup flour
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 2 tablespoons oil or butter

• 1 1/2 cups water
• 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
• 1/3 cup rice vinegar
• 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon orange zest
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon finely minced ginger
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 2 tablespoons green onion
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/4 cup water

Heat oven to 350. In a shallow dish combine the flour, garlic powder and pepper. Dip each piece of chicken in flour mixture and coat evenly.

Pour oil (or melt butter and pour) in a shallow baking dish, large enough to accommodate chicken in a single layer. Arrange chicken in pan and bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine water, fresh orange juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, orange zest and whisk over medium heat for a few minutes. Then stir in brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and green onion and let it come to a boil. Combine cornstarch with water and let it dissolve and add it to the sauce until thickened.

After chicken has baked the 30 minutes, turn each piece over and pour 1/2 sauce mixture evenly over chicken. Bake another 30 to 40 minutes basting frequently.

Serve chicken over rice with extra sauce on the side.


Another Delicious Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Christie and I both made this soup this week. It was so delicious.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
From My Kitchen Cafe

• ½ cup butter
• 1 finely chopped onion
• ½ - 1 cup frozen corn (or ½ cup chopped celery, if preferred)
• ½ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
• ½ cup carrots, sliced
• ¾ cup all-purpose flour
• 6 ½ cups chicken broth (can use 7 bouillon cubes plus 6 ½ cups water)
• 2 cups cooked wild rice
• 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon curry powder
• ½ teaspoon mustard powder
• ½ teaspoon dried parsley
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 1 cup slivered almonds
• 2 cups nonfat half-and-half

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion, corn, chicken and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté 3-4 more minutes. Then add flour and stir well. Transfer mixture to large pot. Over medium heat, gradually pour in the chicken broth, stirring constantly until all has been added. Bring just to a boil and then reduce heat to low and let simmer.

Next, add the rice, salt, curry powder, mustard powder, parsley, ground black pepper and almonds. Allow to heat through and then pour in the half-and-half. Let simmer 1 to 1 ½ hours. Be careful not to let the soup come to a boil or it won't thicken properly - let it simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally.

Notes: Christie and I both used celery instead of the corn. I added a couple handfuls of shredded cabbage, you couldn't even tell it was there. Christie served hers with the almonds on the side and I left them out. It was very delicious, Sarah ate 2 bowls.


Chicken Piccatta

We tried this last week and liked it a lot. Neither of us had ever had capers before and they really add a nice kick. It's probably pretty fattening, which might be why it is so tasty. Does anyone else have a piccatta recipe that doesn't use so much butter and oil?


• 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, butterflied, then cut in half
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• All-purpose flour, for dredging
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 cup chicken stock
• 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
• 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped


Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.


Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin

• 2-3 pound pork tenderloin
• 1 can cream of mushroom soup
• 1 can golden mushroom soup
• 1 can French onion soup

Place pork in crock pot. In a bowl, combine the soups and stir until smooth. Pour over the pork. Cover and cook on low for 4 - 5 hours until the meat is tender. Serve over mashed potatoes.

I couldn't find golden mushroom soup so I used 2 cans of regular.

Shoyu Chicken or Chinese Chicken

From Marilyn Edmunds and a favorite of my kids

• 8 thighs cut into bite size pieces (I use boneless thighs from Costco)
• 1/4 c soy sauce
• 1/4 cup Veg oil
• 1/4 c sugar
• 1 t minced garlic
• 1/2 t ginger (I use dry ginger because that is what I have on hand)

Pour over chicken and marinate 1 hour to overnight. Stir occasionally, pour in baking dish and bake at 350 uncovered for 1 hour, stir occasionally. The sauce will be very thin. Serve over rice.

Bourbon Chicken

From My Kitchen Cafe

• 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
• 2 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1/4 teaspoon ginger
• 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 1/4 cup apple juice
• 1/3 cup light brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons ketchup
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/3 cup soy sauce

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside. Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium heat until well mixed and sugar has dissolved. Add chicken back to the skillet and bring to a hard boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over rice.

Notes: This has a little kick to it, but it's sweet at the same time. Landon was the only one who needed to gulp down water after every bite...though, I think he might have been adding a little extra drama :) Chicken and rice is a staple at our house so I'm always trying to find new ways to fix it.

THE Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Adapted from good life eats

• 1 Tbs butter and 1 Tbs olive oil
• 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breats
• 2 leeks, halved and sliced thin (white and light green parts only)
• 1 - 8 oz pkg sliced mushrooms
• 1 cup diced carrots
• 1 cup diced celery
• 3 cloves garlic
• 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
• 1 1/2 c half and half
• 1/4 c flour
• 1/4 tsp pepper
• 1/2 tsp tarragon
• 1 tsp poultry seasoning
• 1 - 6 oz pkg Long Grain and Wild rice (cooked according to pkg instructions-- can use 2 boxes of rice if you prefer)

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Heat oil and butter in a large stock pot. Add chicken and cook until chicken is lightly browned. Add leeks, mushrooms, carrots, celery and garlic. Sauté until tender. Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 minutes. Combine flour, pepper, poultry seasoning and tarragon. Whisk flour mixture into half and half. Add half and half to soup, stir to combine. Bring to a gentle boil for 3 minutes. Turn heat to low and add rice.

Notes: The recipe I made for Mom's birthday which has been made over and over in several different ways. I think I need to put it on the menu for next week.

Elizabeth's Sugar Cookies

• 1 cup butter (softened)
• 3 oz cream cheese (softened)
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 t. vanilla
• 1 t. almond extract
• 1/2 t. salt
• 2 1/2 cups flour

Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla & almond extract and mix until combined. Mix dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture. Mix well. Chill dough for several hours. Roll and cut into shapes using some flour as the dough will be sticky. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes or until set. Makes about 2-3 dozen cookies depending on the size.

Notes: These are the best sugar cookies. We made them for Valentines Day. I only make them once or twice a year though because of the labor involved. I like to frost them with cream cheese frosting.