Monday, November 28, 2011

Fudge Mint Brownies


Fudge Mint Brownies
Recipe from: here

Brownie Layer~
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
4 oz. dark chocolate (apx. 80% cocoa, or use half unsweetened and half bittersweet)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mint Layer~
3 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon heavy cream (or milk)
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (or 1/4 teaspoon creme de menthe and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint)
1 drop green food coloring

Chocolate Glaze~
3 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (apx. 70 % cocoa)
1 Tablespoon butter
Andes Mints (apx. 1/2 package, or 14 whole pieces, about 2.5 oz.), chopped (I used Andes Mints baking bits! Saved time!! And they were cheaper!)

Preheat oven to 325*F. Prepare a 9"x9" (or 8"x8") square baking pan by lining parchment paper across the bottom and sides of the pan, like a sling. You can use a little butter on the pan to help the paper stay in place.

Brownies~
In a stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmering water (or double boiler), melt the butter and chocolate.
Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with a spoon. Stir in flour and salt and beat with a spoon until the batter is smooth and glossy (about 1 minute). Pour the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until brownies start to pull away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely (about 1 hour).

Mint Layer~
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat all ingredients until smooth. Add 1 or two drops of green food coloring (one at a time, you don't want it too green). If the frosting is too thick, add a bit more cream (the frosting should be just thin enough to spread). Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownie layer. Place in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes, or until slightly firm.

Chocolate Glaze~
In a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread over the mint filling, then top with chopped Andes mints. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the chocolate glaze starts to dull.

To Serve~
Remove brownies from the pan by lifting the ends of the parchment paper, and transfer to a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut into apx. 1-1 1/2 inch squares. For best results, rinse off the knife in hot water, then wipe dry after each cut.

Brownies can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, best served at room temperature.
Makes about 25-30 small squares.

Our verdict: HEAVEN! I made these for Thanksgiving and they were incredible! They aren't a quick brownie...although I'm sure you could make from mix brownies and then just make the mint frosting and chocolate glaze. But that wouldn't be as amazing. They were dense and rich and heavenly.

No-Bake Energy Bites


No-Bake Energy Bites
Recipe from: here

1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/3 cup honey
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything above in a medium bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls and enjoy! Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Our verdict: These are like crack! SOOOOO good!! I have lots of ideas for variations, with dried fruit and stuff - but we LOVED these! :) I need to make another batch, asap!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle


Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle
Recipe from Taste of Home
  • 1 fudge brownie mix (13-inch x 9-inch pan size)
  • 1 package (10 ounces) peanut butter chips
  • 2 packages (13 ounces each) miniature peanut butter cups
  • 4 cups cold 2% milk
  • 2 packages (5.1 ounces each) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 teaspoons Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cartons (8 ounces each) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions

  • Prepare brownie batter according to package directions; stir in peanut butter chips. Bake in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with moist crumbs (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack; cut into 3/4-in. pieces.
  • Cut peanut butter cups in half; set aside 1/3 cup for garnish. In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Add peanut butter and vanilla; mix well. Fold in 1-1/2 cartons whipped topping.
  • Place a third of the brownies in a 5-qt. glass bowl; top with a third of the remaining peanut butter cups. Spoon a third of the pudding mixture over the top. Repeat layers twice. Cover with remaining whipped topping; garnish with reserved peanut butter cups. Refrigerate until chilled. Yield: 20 servings (1 cup each).

Our Verdict - OH MY WORD, this is amazing!! I have made it several times and it's always delicious and always a hit! It's really rich, but just so amazing! I don't bother with the peanut butter chips in the brownies. This does make a HUGE trifle.

Chicken Lettuce Cups



Chicken Lettuce Cups
Recipe from Taste of Home
  • 1 packet stir-fry seasoning powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced water chestnuts
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce (inner leaves only), or 2 heads of butter lettuce and /or radicchio
  • For garnish: Mint, cilantro, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts

Directions

  • In a small bowl, combine stir-fry seasoning, water, soy sauce, lime
  • juice and sugar. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken meat and use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Cook until browned, about 10
  • minutes. Add red bell pepper, water chestnuts, scallions and red
  • pepper flakes and cook 5 minutes. Stir in reserved stir-fry seasoning mixture. Cook until liquid evaporates, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Serve in lettuce cups garnished with mint, cilantro, bean sprouts and chopped peanuts. Yield: serves 6 to 8.

Our verdict: AWESOME!! I've made these for a couple of get-togethers/parties and they are always a big hit! We love them - and actually think they have better flavor than the lettuce wraps at PF Changs!! I haven't made them in awhile...I think I'm going to have to make them soon!! :)

Zesty Penne with Sausage and Peppers


Zesty Penne with Sausage and Peppers
Recipe from Taste of Home
  • 3 cups penne pasta, uncooked
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 each green and red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 jar (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 tsp. fennel seed
  • Dash crushed red pepper
  • 4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Directions

  • Cook pasta as directed on package.
  • Meanwhile, crumble sausage into large skillet; cook and stir on medium heat 8 min. or until done. Drain. Add bell peppers; cook and stir 5 min. or until crisp-tender. Stir in next 3 ingredients; cook 5 min. or until heated through. Add cream cheese; cook 2 min. or until melted, stirring frequently.
  • Drain pasta. Add to sausage mixture; mix lightly. Top with Parmesan. Yield: 4 servings, 2 cups each.

Our verdict - Good. Nothing spectacular, but it was good. The sausage gave it good flavor. I didn't have a jar of spaghetti sauce, so I used tomato sauce and added seasonings. This was easy and good.

Sweet Apple Pancakes with Cider Syrup


Sweet Apple Pancakes with Cider Syrup Recipe from Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 2 cups complete pancake mix
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup grated apple
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • CIDER SYRUP:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup apple cider or juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

  • In a small bowl, stir the pancake mix, water, apple and cinnamon just until moistened.
  • Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top. Cook until second side is golden brown.
  • Meanwhile, for syrup, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in cider until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Stir in butter and lemon juice. Serve with pancakes. Yield: 12 pancakes (1-1/4 cups syrup).

Our Verdict:

SOOOO yummy! This was a great fall breakfast! Really simple to make, but the cider syrup made it absolutely delicious! Note to self - make these again soon!!

Blueberry Streusel Muffins


Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Recipe from here
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/3 c. flour (I used 1 c. whole wheat)
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. butter

Cream sugar and butter. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk. Fold in blueberries. Scoop batter into greased muffin tins (or paper-lined tins).

For Streusel: Mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over muffins.

Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes. Makes 12-18 muffins.


Our Verdict: Well, we love muffins. :) I alternate between this and one other blueberry muffin recipe as my go-to recipes for blueberry muffins. They're great with fresh or frozen berries. I like being able to use whole wheat flour in my baking, and so often with muffins and quick breads I will substitute at least part of the flour with whole wheat.

Mexican Lentil Stew


Mexican Lentil Stew
Recipe from here

  • 2 cups dry red lentils
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Two 14.5 oz. cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp each turmeric and cumin
  • 1 tsp each chili powder
  • 10-15 dashes hot sauce
  • 1 medium lime
  • 1 handful cilantro
STEP 1: In a medium pot, bring the 2 cups of lentils and 4 cups of water to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn off the heat and let sit with a lid on for about 20 minutes.

STEP 2: While the lentils are cooking, begin the stew. Finely dice the onions and cook over medium heat in 2 Tbsp of olive oil. While the onions begin to cook, finely dice the garlic and add to the pot. While the onions and garlic cook, finely chop the celery and then add to the pot.

STEP 3: Cook the onions, garlic and celery until they are soft but not brown. Add the cans of diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, turmeric, cumin, chili powder and the hot sauce. Continue to cook over medium heat until hot.

STEP 4: At this point, the lentils should have absorbed the water and become soft. Add the lentils and any remaining water to the soup mixture. Stir well and slightly mash using the back of your spoon. (I used my immersible blender - which worked great!)

STEP 5: Once the entire mixture is hot, add a handful of chopped cilantro and taste test to see if you want any more heat (hot sauce) or salt and pepper.

STEP 6: You can either add the juice of lime to the pot or serve the bowls of stew with a wedge of lime. I like the wedge of lime because it makes for a pretty presentation and that way people can choose whether or not they want it.

Our verdict:
We really liked this soup - it was different. I probably would call it Mediterranean Lentil Soup instead of Mexican...the turmeric adds a different flavor. I only made a half batch, and it was still a lot of soup. I couldn't find red lentils, so I used plain ol' lentils. You could easily add some chicken to this if you wanted to, but it's nice to find some good vegetarian meals as well - healthy and keeps our food costs down a bit! The website this recipe came from is really great, breaks everything down by cost....this soup only costs $0.77/serving! :)

Tuscan Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream


Tuscan Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream
Recipe from here

  • 1 (20-oz.) package refrigerated four-cheese ravioli*
  • 1 (16-oz.) jar sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 medium-size fresh tomatoes, chopped**
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Garnish: fresh basil strips

Preparation

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, pour Alfredo sauce into a medium saucepan. Pour wine into sauce jar; cover tightly, and shake well. Stir wine mixture into saucepan. Stir in chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped basil, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Toss with pasta, and top evenly with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish, if desired.
*1 (13-oz.) package three-cheese tortellini may be substituted.
**1 (14.5-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, fully drained, may be substituted.

Our verdict: This was really good and really simple! I had to make a few substitutions though. I couldn't find the sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce, so I used roasted red pepper alfredo. And I did use a can of petite diced tomatoes. Oh, and I only had red wine on hand, so I used 2 tablespoons of vodka instead of white wine. So basically, I made up a new recipe, ha ha!! I don't usually make things with jars of sauce - but I saw this on Pinterest, and thought it looked yummy. It went together really fast, so it'd be a great one to just keep the stuff on hand for, and if I don't have a lot of time, can throw it together!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies



Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies
Recipe from here

Yield: 24 small brownies

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
3 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line an 11″- x 7″-inch pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, eggs and oil until smooth. Set aside.

In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, spices, salt and brown sugar. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until passes toothpick test. Cool completely before cutting.

Our Verdict:
These are delicious!! I don't like pumpkin pie (I know, I know...it's tragic apparently!) but I love pumpkin bread, cookies, muffins.....it's the texture of pumpkin pie that I just can't handle! :) Anyway, a couple of years ago I had made some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that were really good! These brownies reminded me of those - but with the cocoa powder in them too - they were just a hint more chocolatey. Yum! Makes me want to take the pumpkins on my porch and make them into a bunch of pumpkin puree to freeze, so I can make these all year long!!!


Baked Potato Soup with Cream Cheese


Baked Potato Soup with Cream Cheese

LinkRecipe from here

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened and cubed
  • 4 small-medium russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 6 slices of thick cut bacon, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • good quality chicken stock
  • pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • a good knob of butter
  • big handful of garlic chives, chopped, reserving some for garnish

Directions:

In a heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven, cool the bacon over medium high heat until the bacon is cooked to your preference. Remove the bacon from the pot, place on a plate covered with a paper towel, and set aside for later.

Remove all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon fat from the pot and add the onions, cooking until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute while stirring until fragrant. Add the potatoes to the pot and stir around to get a bit of bacon fat on the potatoes. Add enough chicken stock to the pot to cover the potatoes, and turn up the heat to bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat to keep it at a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

With a stick blender or in a blender, puree about 2/3 of the soup, leaving some chunks of potato in the soup. While blending, add the cream cheese into the soup. Add the bacon back to the soup, along with the garlic chives, and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.

Our Verdict:
YUM!!! Brandon and I both really love soup, and I love how a pot of soup will be several meals for us! :) We had family visiting last weekend when I made this - and it was a perfect sized batch for the 4 of us. It had good flavor, was hearty and delicious! Would also be great with ham in it - especially for to use up some leftover ham!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup


Chicken Tortilla Soup
Recipe from: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

6 cups chicken broth
One 14.5 ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Six 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into strips - 1/2 inch wide and 2 to 3 inches long
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or 3 thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded & minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I used pepper jack)
Chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

1. Combine broth and tomatoes in a soup pot, and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add tortilla strips in a couple of batches and cook, stirring once or twice, until light brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove fried strips to paper towels to drain.
3. In same skillet, cook chicken 3 to 5 minutes without stirring, until nicely browned on first side. Add onion, garlic, jalapenos, cumin, and salt; cook 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are softened.
4. Add contents of skillet to simmering broth; cook 10 minutes.
5. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish each with tortilla strips, cheese, and cilantro; serve each bowl with a wedge of lime.

The verdict: We LOVED this!! It was a really quick soup to put together - and has a LOT of flavor! If you don't want to make the tortilla strips, it'd be a great way to use up the last few tortilla chips in the bottom of the bag!! Will be making this again for sure!!! Yum!!

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pork Carnitas


Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pork Carnitas
Recipe from: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

One 3-pound pork butt (I used a pork loin, because that's what I had!)
1 can lemon-lime soda
2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
Twelve 8-inch flour tortillas, warmed
Salsa and sour cream or guacamole for serving

1. Trim pork of excess fat; cut into 2 to 3 inch cubes. Combine pork cubes in a large heavy pot with soda, water, and salt. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to low and continue to simmer, uncovered for 2 hours. Do not stir. (I actually transferred everything to my crockpot at this point)

2. After 2 hours, turn heat up to medium and cook, covered, until all liquid has evaporated and pork fat has rendered, about 45 minutes. Stir a few times, just often enough to keep pork from sticking hard to bottom of pan. If it starts to stick, add a little more water as you complete cooking time. When done, pork will be brown on both sides, and just a little liquid fat will remain in pot. Pork will be so tender that it will fall apart at a touch. (after it cooked all afternoon in my crockpot on low, I transferred back to the pot on the stove to cook down the juices)

3. Serve pork in warm tortillas with salsa and sour cream or guacamole. (Brandon likes the green salsa and cilantro!)

Our verdict: Great! We'll make this again for sure. Using the crockpot made it a really easy way to do the slow cooking - since I wasn't home all day! Also, our cat thought this smelled great, and was begging all evening to eat this! Even for leftovers!!! Silly cat! :)

Sauteed Pork Sandwiches with Mustard Sauce

Sauteed Pork Sandwiches with Mustard Sauce
Recipe from: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

2 pounds pork loin, trimmed of fat
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, cut into long thin shreds
2 cups sliced mushrooms (we didn't use - since we don't like mushrooms!)
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 hoagie rolls, toasted

1. Cut pork loin across the grain into 1/4 inch thick slices; cut slices into 2-to-3 inch long strips.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot and butter melts. Add onion and cook, without stirring, 2 to 3 minutes. Don't stir until you start to see some browned bits. Add mushrooms and cook 2 to 3 more minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove onion and mushrooms to a separate bowl.
3. In the same skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until hot and butter melts. Add half of pork and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until it's the way you like it. Transfer to a bowl and cook remaining pork in the same way. Set aside pork and keep warm.
4. In the same skillet, quickly whisk together broth, mustard, soy sauce and cornstarch while broth is still cold. Heat mixture over medium heat until bubbly and starting to thicken. Return pork, onion, and mushrooms to broth mixture in skillet. Mix well and heat through. Serve spooned over toasted hoagie rolls.

Our verdict: This was ok. Surprisingly, the sauce had ZERO flavor! And I had actually doubled the amount of mustard! It was strange! The sauce smelled great cooking, and then once I put it all on the rolls, there was no flavor to it. So, we put some dijon mustard on our sandwiches, and then it was pretty good! :) Not sure I'll go to the trouble of making the sauce next time, or if I'll just saute some pork medallions and onions and toast some rolls and put dijon or deli mustard on the rolls!


Mexican Tortilla Skillet
Recipe from: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

1 pound ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 packet taco seasoning
6 burrito size flour tortillas
2 cups pureed canned or fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)

1. Heat a large skillet over high heat until hot. Add ground beef, garlic and taco seasoning. Cook until beef is browned, breaking it into small pieces and mixing everything together.
2. While beef is browning, slice tortillas into 1-inch squares. A pizza cutter or scissors works well for this.
3. Add tomatoes, salsa and cut-up tortillas to skillet and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. If it seems dry, you can add a little water. Once this heated through, sprinkle cheese over top and cover for a few minutes. Once cheese is melted, it is ready to serve. Sprinkle with chopped green pepper (if using) for a little color, crunch and a healthy dose of Vitamin C.

The Verdict: Delicious and simple! Really not that different than making tacos - but just a bit different way of serving it! :) It went together so fast, especially if your ground beef is thawed! I didn't use 6 tortillas, maybe 3 and that was plenty. We really liked this and I think it's going to be a go-to quick dinner recipe, since I usually have these things on hand! Great way to use up the last couple of tortillas too!!

Korean Barbecued Beef (Kalbi)


Korean Barbecued Beef (Kalbi)
Recipe from: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

2 pounds round steak (I didn't have round steak, so I used some other cut of boneless steak that I had in the freezer!)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup lemon lime soda
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped (I didn't have green onions, so I finely diced about 1/4 of a yellow onion)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sesame seeds


1. Thinly slice beef against the grain. Mix remaining ingredients together in a glass baking dish. Add steak; cover and marinate overnight. (I mixed this in the morning and let it marinate about 7 hours)
2. Preheat grill. Remove beef from marinade, and grill to desired degree, turning slices over at least once while cooking.


The Verdict: SO amazing!! This was seriously yummy!! We had some friends over for dinner that night, and I served it with rice and broccoli - and there was not one bit of beef left over!! We will make this again for sure! When I served it we sprinkled some red pepper flakes on - and that was delicious! I might add a couple of shakes into the marinade next time!

Slow-Cooker Chicken Cacciatore


Slow-Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
Recipe from: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 to 4 pounds bone-in chicken thighs (I didn't have these, so I used boneless chicken breast)
Two 6-ounce cans tomato paste
Two 4-ounce cans sliced mushrooms (we don't like mushrooms, so I left these out)
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon celery powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

1. Layer onion over bottom of a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker. Add chicken pieces to cooker. Combine next 12 ingredients and red pepper, if using. Pour over chicken in cooker. Cover and cook on Low 7 to 9 hours or on High 3 or 4 hours.
2. Serve over pasta or rice.

The verdict: REALLY good! Brandon really liked this a lot - said it reminded him a little of mole - which is one of his favorites! :) It had a good amount of heat, and flavor - but not overwhelming - it had a touch of sweetness, but it wasn't too sweet! Very dark and earthy tasting - but really really good!! I will make this again for sure!! (I served it with pasta)

Restaurant-Style French Toast a.k.a. The Best French Toast of Your Life


Restaurant-Style French Toast
Recipe from: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used a little more - probably closer to a teaspoon)
1 cup milk
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil or shortening
8 to 10 slices Texas toast or crusty French bread
Confectioners' sugar, sliced fruit, butter and pancake syrup for serving (optional)

1. In a medium-size bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon Add milk, eggs, and vanilla; whisk briefly to remove any lumps of flour.
2. Grease a skillet or frying pan (I use an electric griddle) with a paper towel that has been dipped in oil or shortening. Heat skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles when flicked onto skillet.
3. Dip both sides of bread slice into the batter briefly. Let some of the batter drip off, then place bread in skillet. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes on the first side and 1 minute on the second. If needed, add a little more oil to the skillet to cook all of the slices. Repeat procedure with remaining bread slices. Keep French toast warm in a low oven as you cook remaining slices.
4. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with butter, syrup, or fruit if using.

The verdict:
DELICIOUS!! The best french toast I've ever made!! It was SO good! Using the Texas toast (thick-sliced prepackaged white bread with a soft crust - not the garlic stuff in the freezer section!) made a HUGE difference!! I often will toast my bread just slightly before dipping it in the batter too, so that the bread doesn't get TOO soggy. I want to make this recipe again right now and eat it!! :) I served with strawberries and whipped cream! Yum!!!!

Swedish Meat Pies


Swedish Meat Pies
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 pinch ground nutmeg
2 large red potatoes, grated
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening
6 tablespoons sour cream

1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Crumble in the ground beef and add onion, parsley, allspice, dill, nutmeg and grated potatoes. Cook and stir until the meat is browned. Drain any excess grease. Turn off heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Set aside to cool.
2. Preheat oven at 400*F
3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Mix in the shortening with a fork or pastry cutter until only pea size lumps remain. Stir in sour cream a little bit at a time until the dough holds together. Knead briefly on a floured surface. Divide into four equal portions and pat into balls.
4. Roll out each ball of dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Place a heaping 1/2 cup of filling into each one. Fold over into half circles, and seal by moistening the edges with warm water and pressing together. Place on a baking sheet.
5. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown.

Our verdict: Yum!!! I love the Swedish Meat Pies that you can buy at the Scandinavian Fest in Junction City each summer - and this year, I bought a recipe at one of the little shops at the Scandi Fest (for 10 cents!) for them. (I also bought a Swedish Meatball recipe) We really really liked these! Next time I will add a little salt to the meat mixture, just a little to enhance the flavor! But other than that, these were delicious! The combination of seasonings, parsley, allspice, nutmeg and dill - is interesting, but delicious!! Yum!!!

Amanda's Buttery Garlic-Cheese Biscuits


Amanda's Buttery Garlic-Cheese Biscuits
Recipe from: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 cloves garlic, minced

1. Preheat oven to 375*F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk and cheese; stir just until combined. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups.
3. Here's where it gets really yummy. Mix together melted butter and garlic; drizzle over biscuits. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Our verdict: Awesome!! These are very similar to Red Lobster cheddar biscuits, and so easy to make! They were a great addition to a dinner! I will make them again FOR SURE!!!

Mexican Chicken Salad

Mexican Chicken Salad
Recipe from: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup frozen (thawed) or canned (drained) corn
1 cup chopped ripe tomatoes (I used a can of petite diced tomatoes , drained)
1 15-oz can black beans, drained
2 green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 10-ounce package lettuce mix
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I used pepper jack)
2 cups slightly crushed tortilla chips
1 cup sour cream
1 cup thick, chunky salsa

1. In a small jar with a lid, combine vinegar, honey, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Shake vigorously until well mixed. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Sprinkle chicken cubes with garlic, then cook until no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes.
3. Place chicken, corn, tomatoes, beans, green onions, and red pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add honey dressing and toss until well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.
4. When ready to serve, combine chicken mixture with lettuce. Serve with cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream, and salsa in separate bowls.

Our verdict: AWESOME!!!! We LOVED this salad!! I made it for dinner last Sunday, and then made it again on Tuesday to take for a potluck!! You could add things depending on your tastes - I think the next time, I will chop up a jalapeno and add it and maybe some fresh cilantro as well! But, it doesn't need to be changed, it's delicious just the way it is!!

**Sorry there's not a picture, I'm sure I'll make this again before long, and I'll take a picture and add it to the recipe then! :)

Pork Chops with Apricot Sauce

Pork Chops with Apricot Sauce
Recipe from: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

2 to 3 pounds boneless pork chops
1 onion, minced
1 cup apricot jam
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375* F.
2. Place pork chops in a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients; pour over top of pork chops. Cover pan with aluminum foil; bake until chops are cooked through, about 1 hour.
3. Remove from oven. To serve, ladle the sauce from pan over chops after plating.

Our verdict: These were good - but I think I will tweak it a little the next time! The pepper (which both of us normally like!) was a little overpowering in the sauce - so I think I will cut it in half at least. But other than that, these were pretty good - and I think I'll make them again, it's hard to find pork chop recipes that we like!! :) (Sorry there's not a picture!)

Chili Corn Pone Pie



Chili Corn Pone Pie

Recipe from: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

Filling:
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
One 15-ounce can kidney or small red beans, drained
1/2 cup frozen or canned (drained) corn kernels
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce (about 12 ounces)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt

Crust:
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Topping:
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
2. Preheat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add ground beef, and cook until no longer pink, breaking it into small pieces with the side of a spoon. Remove beef from skillet; add onion to skillet. Cook onion until it begins to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining filling ingredients; stir well to combine. Simmer until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes.
3. In a medium-size bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add beaten egg, milk, and oil to flour mixture; mix well to form a soft dough.
4. Spread meat mixture over the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Drop tablespoonfuls of the corn bread mixture all over the top of the pie, distributing it as evenly as possible. Sprinkle cheese across the top. Bake 45 minutes, or until cheese is flecked with brown and filling starts to bubble out the sides.

Our verdict: YUM!! We love chili and cornbread, so it was nice to have a variation on that! Would be a great way to use up leftover chili too!! The only change I would make for the future, would be to add a jalapeno into the chili next time - just because we like a little extra heat.

Baked Ziti Casserole



Baked Ziti Casserole
Recipe from: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

1 pound uncooked ziti pasta
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 cups tomato puree or one 28-ounce can
1/3 cup Spaghetti Seasoning Mix (see recipe below)
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Coat a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with non tick cooking spray.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook stirring frequently, until browned. Add tomato puree and spaghetti seasoning; simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in sour cream.
4. Spread pasta over bottom of prepared casserole dish. Pour sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until cheeses melt, 20 to 30 minutes.

Spaghetti Seasoning Mix
makes about 2 cups (or 6 seasoning "packets"
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup dried parsley
1/4 cup garlic powder
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground sage

Place all ingredients in a medium-size container with a tight-fitting lid; shake well until combined. Divide equally among 6 snack-size zip-top plastic bags, or store in the jar and scoop out 1/3 cup for every quart of crushed tomatoes that you use.


Our verdict: This was a great vegetarian dish! We really enjoyed this! I accidentally cooked my pasta a little too long, so it got a bit mushy, but it was still tasty. I also used whole wheat pasta, which might have been part of the reason why it had a different consistency. I use almost exclusively whole wheat pasta. The only change we made was to sprinkle a few red pepper flakes on the top when we ate it - it just added a little kick. I think the next time, I'll add them into the sauce!! I will make this again for sure!!

Crunchy Baked Chimichangas



Crunchy Baked Chimichangas

recipe from: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup picante sauce or your favorite salsa, plus more for serving
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, plus more for serving
2 green onions, chopped, plus more for serving (I didn't have green onions, and just chopped up a small onion instead)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Six 8-inch flour tortillas
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 400*F.
2. Combine chicken, picante sauce, cheese, green onions, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and oregano in a medium-size bowl. Divide mixture evenly among center of tortillas. Fold opposite sides of tortillas over filling, then roll up from the bottom and place, seam sides down, onto a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter.
3. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Garnish with additional cheese and green onions; serve salsa on the side.

Our verdict: These were DELICIOUS!! This will be added to our regular rotation of meals for sure! :) They were crispy and had good flavor - and as Brandon said, they were the perfect balance between Chimi & Changa - which of course is crucial in a good chimichanga! :) I loved that they were baked not fried, and didn't have any cream cheese or cream of something soup inside them, which made them a bit healthier!! I also loved that all the ingredients in this recipe are always in my house!! :) I will make these again for sure!!!!

Perfect Potatoes au Gratin

Originally posted May 2, 2011

We enjoyed Easter dinner with some (awesome!!) friends this year - and I made these potatoes au gratin (a la The Pioneer Woman) for our feast! They were incredible! I was even accused of putting a controlled substance in the potatoes! I didn't know cream and butter were controlled substances...but maybe they should be! :)

Perfect Potatoes au Gratin
Recipe from: The Pioneer Woman
4 whole Russet Potatoes, Scrubbed Clean
2 Tablespoons Butter, Softened
1-½ cup Heavy Cream
½ cups Whole Milk
2 Tablespoons Flour
4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
1 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Freshly Grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Smear softened butter all over the bottom of a baking dish.

Slice potatoes, then cut slices into fourths.

In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, milk, flour, minced garlic, salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes.

Repeat this two more times, ending with the cream mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown and really bubbling. Add grated cheese to the top of the potatoes and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving by the spoonful. Delicious!

Sliced Baked Potatoes


These are something else my mom made when I was growing up. Really yummy, easy, and different way to fix potatoes. I can't believe I haven't fixed them more often!!

Sliced Baked Potatoes

4 med. even potatoes
1 tsp. salt
2-3 tbsp. melted butter
2-3 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs, such as chive, parsley, thyme, sage or 2-3 tbsp. dried herbs you choose
4 tbsp. grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese

Peel potatoes if the skin is bad, otherwise just scrub and rinse them. Cut potatoes into thin slices BUT not all the way through. Use a handle of a spoon to prevent knife from cutting all the way. Put potatoes in a baking dish. Fan them open slightly. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with butter. Sprinkle with herbs. Bake potatoes at 425 degrees for about 50 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake potatoes for another 10 to 15 minutes until lightly browned, cheeses are melted and potatoes are soft inside. Check with a fork. Serves 4.

San Francisco Pork Chops


My mom made this when I was growing up - and it's a tasty, but different way to serve pork chops. I served it with sliced baked potatoes (I will post a separate recipe for those).

San Francisco Pork Chops
Recipe from here

4 Pork Chops ½ to ¾ inch thick, about 1 ½ lbs.
1 Tbs. Oil
1 Garlic clove, minced

Sauce:
2 tsp. Oil
4 Tbs. Dry sherry or broth
4 Tbs. Soy sauce
2 Tbs. Brown sugar
¼ tsp. Crushed red pepper
2 tsp. Cornstarch
2 Tbs. Water

  • Trim pork chops of fat.
  • heat oil in skillet. Brown chops on both sides.
  • Remove and add a little more oil if needed.
  • Saute garlic for a minute, being careful not to burn it.
  • Combine oil, sherry or broth, soy sauce, brown sugar and red pepper.
  • Place chops in skillet. Pour sauce over them. Cover tightly.
  • Simmer over low heat until chops are tender and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Add a little water, 1 to 2 Tbs.. if needed to keep sauce from cooking down too much. Turn once.
  • Remove chops to platter. Stir in cornstarch dissolved in water. Cook until thickened.
  • Pour over chops and serve.
Tips:
  • Boneless pork loin chops can be used. Trim fat and pound to ¼ inch thickness. Cooking takes only 20 minutes.

Sweet Fire Chicken Breast


My very favorite entree at Panda Express is Sweetfire Chicken Breast. I LOVE IT!!! I love the breaded chicken pieces, but like that they're breast meat and not bits and pieces like in orange chicken. I like the sweet and sour and spicy sauce and the bell peppers and pineapple in it. So, I decided I wanted to try to recreate this - and I found a recipe. It was SOOOO good! Brandon told me it was better than the stuff at Panda. This is going to be a regular for us - which will ultimately save us a lot of money, because we go to Panda fairly often!! :) Bonus!! :) I was SOOO happy with how this turned out! :)

Sweetfire Chicken Breast
Recipe from here

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into approx. 1" pieces
1 cup flour
salt & pepper, to taste (we hardly use any salt and add more pepper)
canola oil, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan or PAM cooking spray
1/2 of a red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 of a small onion, chopped
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped (could substitute a can of pineapple, drained - this is what I used)
Thai sweet chili sauce (I used about 3/4 cup, but we both would have liked it hotter, so next time I'll probably add more and maybe a shake or two of red pepper flakes)


Chop and prepare all ingredients before starting. Heat oil in pan on stovetop. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a gallon ziplock bag. Add chicken pieces and coat evenly. Once pan has heated, add the chicken pieces. Throw out the leftover flour mixture. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring several times to cook chicken. If the pan surface gets dry, spray some additional cooking spray on the surface or add a little bit more oil. Once the chicken has browned, add the bell pepper and onions. Stir in and cook about 3-4 minutes. Add the sweet chili sauce and stir. Then immediately add the pineapple and stir. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Serve over rice immediately.

Flatbread Tacos with Ranch Sour Cream



I got behind on posting recipes again - so there will be a LOT! Enjoy!! :)
We both really liked these. The only thing I changed from the original recipe - is that instead of using the refrigerator biscuits for the flatbread, I actually bought whole wheat flatbread pitas. We both REALLY like them (we use them a lot for pizzas - which are delightful!) - so I figured I might as well make them with real flatbread. :) I'm sure they'd be really good with the biscuits as well, and I might try them that way the next time I make them!

Flatbread Tacos with Ranch Sour Cream
recipe from: Taste of Home

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons ranch salad dressing mix
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tube (16.3 ounces) large refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
  • Optional toppings: sliced ripe olives and shredded lettuce and cheddar cheese

Directions

  • In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, dressing mix and lemon juice; chill until serving.
  • In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add the beans, tomatoes, taco seasoning and pepper sauce; heat through.
  • Meanwhile, roll out each biscuit into a 6-in. circle. In a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook each biscuit for 30-60 seconds on each side or until golden brown; keep warm.
  • To serve, spread each flatbread with 2 tablespoons ranch sour cream; top each with 2/3 cup meat mixture. Sprinkle with toppings if desired. Yield: 8 servings.

Asian Beef Noodle Bowls


Delicious! Will make this again FOR SURE!!! :)

Asian Beef Noodle Bowls
Recipe from: Pillsbury

4 oz uncooked angel hair pasta (capellini), broken in half (I used whole wheat - because we've switched entirely to whole wheat pasta, it was delicious of course!)
8 oz fresh sugar snap peas
5 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 lb boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup teriyaki baste and glaze (from 12-oz bottle) - I used Kikkoman brand
4 medium green onions with tops, sliced (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS
  • Cook pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, snip off stem ends of sugar snap peas and remove strings if desired. Drain pasta; cover to keep warm.
  • In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 3 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Stir-fry beef in oil about 2 to 3 minutes, until no longer pink. Remove from skillet; keep warm.
  • In same skillet, heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Stir-fry peas and carrot in oil about 3 to 4 minutes, until crisp-tender. Stir in pasta, beef and teriyaki baste and glaze; toss until well blended.
  • Serve in bowls; sprinkle with onions and peanuts.

**I've made this several times - I also add a thinly sliced bell pepper. And it's great with a little sriracha on the leftovers!

Curried Chicken Salad with Grapes



This is really tasty! Really great for lunch the next day too! I served it with some pita chips on the side, and I think it would be really good in some nice whole wheat pitas as well! I did add a little extra curry powder (not sure exactly how much!) because it was still smelling a little mayonnaise-y for my taste - and both Brandon and I could have actually used even more curry powder, so I'll probably double the amount next time! Other than that, it was really great! It's really excellent for the summer!! I love the combo of the sweet crunchy grapes with the curry.

Curried Chicken Salad with Grapes
Recipe from: Quality Health

Ingredients:
3 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 tbsp scallions, sliced
2 tbsp orange juice
1/2 cup celery, sliced
1-1/2 cups red or black grapes, halved
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp pepper, to taste, ground
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

Cooking Directions:

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in another bowl and whisk together until smooth. Toss the dressing with the salad and serve.

Yogurt Coffee Cake Muffins

Originally posted April 13, 2011

I made these delightful little muffins the other night and they were a hit! Ok, it doesn't take much for something to be a hit in our house. Especially since I only have to please myself and Brandon! But nonetheless, we really enjoyed them!! :)

Yogurt Coffee Cake Muffins

Recipe from: Amy's Finer Things

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour

Topping:

  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 1/2 T. brown sugar

** sour cream is a nice substitute for plain yogurt

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, yogurt (sour cream) and vanilla. Mix well. Combine baking soda, baking powder and flours. Add to wet mixture. Scoop into greased muffin tins. Sprinkle topping over each muffin. Bake at 350° for 20-22 minutes. Yield: 2 dozen muffins

Black Bean Soup

This was an easy and quick soup recipe - it made a VERY small batch, so I will be at least doubling it the next time. It's a good basic black bean soup, and you could do a lot with it to spice it up! I was thinking of adding lentils and maybe some bacon next time. I wanted to make cornbread with it - but realized at the last minute I was out of cornmeal, so we just ate it with salad. Next time there will be cornbread! :) Sorry there's not a picture of this one!

Black Bean Soup
Recipe from Taste of Home

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained, divided

Directions

  • In a large saucepan, cook onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of broth over medium heat until onion is tender. Stir in the oregano, thyme, cumin and cayenne; cook for 1 minute. In a blender or food processor, cover and process half of the beans for 30 seconds; add to saucepan with the remaining beans and broth. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for 15 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 2 servings.

Creamy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheddar Basil Sandwiches



We LOVE tomato soup - especially with grilled cheese sandwiches! I have been trying to recreate the Tuscan Tomato Basil Bisque from Safeway, and this was the closest I've gotten so far! I will add some red pepper flakes next time, and see if that does the trick! :) The grilled cheese sandwiches with fresh basil on them were awesome!! :) Enjoy!

Creamy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheddar Basil Sandwiches
Recipe from Muir Glen

Soup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) muir glen® organic or meridian ruby™ diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Sandwiches
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened, or olive oil
  • 12 slices white bread
  • 12 slices aged cheddar cheese (6 oz)
  • 12 large fresh basil leaves
1. In 4-quart saucepan, heat olive oil, onion and garlic over medium heat 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is soft and translucent.
2. Reduce heat to low. Add tomatoes; heat 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add remaining soup ingredients. In blender, place soup mixture. Cover; puree until smooth. (I used my immersible blender, it's easier! Once I put hot soup in the blender, and even though I was holding the lid on - the steam built up pressure inside the blender and exploded the lid off - and I had a HUGE mess of salsa chicken black bean soup all over the kitchen!)
3. Spread butter on 1 side of each bread slice. Arrange 6 slices bread, buttered side down, on work surface, and place 2 slices cheese and 2 basil leaves on each bread slice. Top with remaining 6 bread slices, buttered sides up. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook 2 sandwiches at a time over medium heat until golden brown and cheese just melts; repeat for remaining sandwiches. Serve with soup.

Chocolate Chip Snack Cake



I wanted to make snacks for our small group, and so I tried these. We really really liked them! They are healthy and different! The combination of the cinnamon sugar with the chocolate chips was really different, and I liked it a lot! I also liked that it used low-fat sour cream and applesauce instead of lots of oil!

Chocolate Chip Snack Cake
Recipe from Taste of Home
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • TOPPING:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  • In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Add egg, then egg whites, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream, applesauce and vanilla (mixture will appear curdled). Combine the flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda; stir into butter mixture just until blended.
  • Pour half of the batter into a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle half over the batter. Top with half of the chocolate chips.
  • Gently top with remaining batter; spread evenly. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar and chips. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 15 servings.

Grilled Chicken Kabobs with Thai Peanut Sauce

Originally posted April 4, 2011

I made these for dinner the other night (in April), and they were different, but good! I think I will make a few changes to the sauce the next time I make it, but other than that we really liked it!! :) I will use less soy sauce, a little more rice vinegar and more hot sauce the next time. But those are our preferences! :) Here's the recipe!

Grilled Chicken Kabobs with Thai Peanut Sauce
Recipe found here

Sauce
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper sauce
Kabobs
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (2 lb), each cut lengthwise into 4 strips
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 24 pieces

Cooking spray

  1. Heat gas or charcoal grill. In 2-quart saucepan, mix peanut butter, soy sauce and vinegar until smooth. Stir in sugar and pepper sauce. Cook over medium-high heat about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Place 3/4 cup sauce in small serving bowl to use as dipping sauce.
  2. On each of 6 (12-inch) metal skewers, thread 4 chicken strips and 4 bell pepper pieces alternately, leaving about 1/4-inch space between each piece. Brush chicken and bell pepper with some of the remaining sauce.
  3. Spray kabobs with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Place kabobs on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 5 minutes. Turn kabobs and brush with sauce; cook 2 to 3 minutes longer or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Discard any remaining sauce used for brushing kabobs during grilling. Serve kabobs with reserved sauce for dipping.
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