November 30, 2010

Recipes to Try

In lieu of recipes I've tried, I give you recipes I have yet to try. Thank you to the people who've contributed them (you know who you are). I promise to try them as soon as I can!


November 27, 2010

Rainy day lunch

There is nothing better than soup on a rainy day, especially chicken tortilla soup.  Add jalapeno cheddar corn muffins and a refreshing cucumber salad, and it becomes a meal worthy of compliment.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, boiled then shredded (save water for soup base if desired)
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 (14.5oz) cans chicken broth (or 1 can plus water from boiling the chicken breasts)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 Tb lemon jc
1 cup chunky salsa (any brand will work)

for garnish: corn tortilla chips, sour cream, grated monterey jack cheese

Once the chicken breasts are boiled and shredded, add to pot with chicken broth (and/or water used for boiling), corn, salsa, chili powder, lemon juice and salsa.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in saute pan.  Saute the onions until soft, then add garlic and cumin.  Mix and saute for another minute. Add to soup pot and simmer 10 minutes. 

Helpful Hints
Make your own tortilla strips by cutting corn tortillas into strips and baking in a 400 degree oven until crisp.  Store in a tupperware container for several weeks.
A dollop of sour cream goes a loooooong way.  It's okay to skip the cheese.
This recipe can be easily adapted for the crockpot.  Thaw chicken breasts over-night in the fridge.  Cut into large chunks and throw in the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients (except the sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips).  Cook on low all day. 

Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Muffins
One box of Jiffy corn muffin mix.
1/8 cup chopped jalapeno
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Make mix as directed on back of box (with the egg and milk).  Stir in jalapeno and cheese.  Bake as directed

Helpful Hints
Some people are purists and insist on using real corn meal and making the muffins from scratch (which I often do), however, it's much easier to use the box mix, especially in a time crunch.
Many recipes call for jalapenos, but it's way too hard to roast them and chop them.  Keep a jar of sliced jalapeno rings in the fridge for every day use.  So much easier.
Be sure to spray the muffin tin before adding the mix, otherwise they won't come out easily (I use the small muffin tins).

Cucumber Salad
Peel and slice cucumbers (however many desired)
1/4 sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp dill
1/4 tsp season salt
1 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
1/8 cup white sugar

Put the cucumbers in a colander and salt.  Leave in sink for 30 minutes, allowing the natural water inside the cucumber to drain out.  Rinse.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl add the rest of the ingredients.  Gently stir the cucumber slices into the dressing mix.  Refrigerate.

Helpful Hints
The cucumber slices can be as thick or thin as you like them.  Although, if they are very thick they should be cut in half, otherwise they are too difficult to eat.  Also, they don't have to be peeled, or they can be peeled in stripes.  Whatever you like.
The seasonings can be adjusted for personal taste.
If you don't have time to salt and drain the cucumbers that's okay.  It really only helps the dressing adhere better, but this step can be skipped.


November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for my family, who loves me. I'm thankful for my friends, who inspire me. I'm thankful for S., who is so wonderful in so many ways. I have a lot to be thankful for, and I want to wish you all a HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

November 23, 2010

Simple family suppers....

Family meals don't have to be elaborate. I've blogged before about how the actual act of sitting at the table is more important than the food itself.  But, of course we like what we eat to be tasty and visually appealing.  One of my favorite food network stars is Giada De Laurentiis.  She makes everything she cooks look easy (although we really know it's not).  I love Italian food, absolutely love it! So when I run across one of her recipes set on *easy* my brain starts whirring and the pots come out.  I think I went looking for one of her creations today because the December issue of Food Network Magazine (FNM) came in the mail, and of course she's featured. This simple family supper was paired with an old vine zin from Bogle (one of my favorites).  I meant to steam some broccoli, but I got caught up in last Sunday's episode of the Amazing Race and forgot.  Oh well, there are tomatoes in the recipe so that counts as the veggie :-)

Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

  • 1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Helpful Hints
Buttering the bottom of the pan is not necessary.  Just use Pam or other spray oil.
I used small elbow macaroni instead of pastina (very similar).  Any small pasta works.
It's much easier to cook the chicken breast whole before cutting.


November 17, 2010

Checking out other blogs

I'm always interested in what other people are cooking and eating.  Analyzing dinners, trying to decipher what the food says about the person/family.  Raley's and Bel Air put out this nifty little magazine called "Something Extra".  Love it!  The new issue highlights recipes from FB friends and other food blogs.  Really a great way to see what's going on in the world of everyday eating.

If you follow a great blog, or know of an interesting website, let us know.  We love investigating and learning new stuff!!


btw-The countdown begins.  The two sisters will share one kitchen for 5 days in December.  Should be fun and exciting.  Stay tuned!

November 13, 2010

Relaxing just a bit!

I have these good intentions to add to this blog more regularly, in fact, I take pictures constantly, just don't know why the follow through isn't there.  My theory is that because I've been so busy the last two years I have just reached the stopping point.  From point A to Z in less then 60 seconds.  No yellow here, just red.

Not complaining though. I'm really enjoying being around Joe and the kids.  There is even more time to connect with friends.  The last two weeks we've had "happy hour" on Thursday before our family dinner times.  What a great group of ladies!  This was taken at Cathy's house.


November 9, 2010

16-Bean Soup

We're quickly coming upon the end of the year, so I'm in the process of cleaning out my cupboard, trying to use those things which have been sitting for months or even a year. Who doesn't like to start fresh January 1st?

I had in my cupboard a bag of 16 assorted beans. To it, I added 2 stalks of celery, the rest of a bag of baby carrots (equaling about 1 large carrot), 1 small onion, 1 pre-cooked ham steak diced into cubes, 3 cups of Swanson's chicken broth (a must-have!), and 3 cups of water. I put it in my crock pot on high for 4 hours on Sunday, and the resulting 16-bean soup was DELICOUS! The best part? There was enough that I will have lunches for the week.

Beans really are a super food. They're nutritious, delicious, and super filling.

Funny story: S. offered to clean up the dishes Sunday night. He asked, "What do I do with the soup?" to which I responded, "Oh, just put it in the fridge." I awakened the next morning to find the entire crock pot in the fridge--cord and all (not just the crockery part with the lid). It made me giggle. Hey, I'm not complaining. Find a man who offers to clean up the dishes, and you've found gold.


November 7, 2010

What is it about rainy days?

Cold, wet days make me want to bake.  The smell of cinnamon, and the yeasty scent of bread dough, co-mingle, giving my  home a pre-Christmas happy feel.  There is nothing like the ambiance created by baked goods.  I'm reminded of the driveway we had growing up.  One long road, banded by birch trees, their limbs bare of leaves and weighed down by snow accumulation.  It's a magical scene in my mind, although I don't recall my mom baking a lot.  I just like to think of that setting, mainly because it's the classic winter scene. In any case, I do like to bake on a winter's day.  It's cozy.

Monkey Bread

One loaf frozen bread dough, thawed. Allow to rise.
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 white sugar
2T cinnamon

Coat the inside of a bunt pan with shortening.  As the bread dough thaws let it rise.  Using scissors, cut the dough into 1 inch pieces.  Between each cut dip the scissors into hot water, making it easier to cut through the dough.  Roll the pieces in melted butter.  Combine the sugars and cinnamon.  Roll the buttery dough pieces in the sugar mixture and layer in bunt pan. Let rise an hour or two.  Bake in a 350 oven, checking after 30 minutes.  The inside doesn't bake as fast as the outside so an additional 10 minutes may be needed, unless you like doughy bread.

Helpful Hints
If using a two part bunt pan make sure you put a cookie sheet underneath, otherwise the butter/sugar mixture will run all over your oven, burning and sticking.

I've heard some recipes call for putting the sugar mixture in a plastic bag and coating the pieces that way.  I don't like to use resources like that.  It's far easier to clean a bowl than to create the plastic used for gallon bags.  Also, it's better for our environment when we don't use disposable plastic.


November 2, 2010


I think I could eat bruschetta every day for a year and not tire of it. Here's how I make it:

1 quart heirloom tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 Tbs garlic, minced
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
Salt, to taste

Give it about 6 pulses it in the food processor, until the mixture has a lumpy consistency. Spread it on toasts prepared beforehand. I slice a baguette, coat the slices with olive oil, and then bake them at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. 


November 1, 2010

Family dinner?

I love reading Julie's posts about creating family meals, and I thought yesterday's post was particularly relevant: It's not about the meal, it's about the family.

That said, what kind of a meal do you prepare if you're only cooking for one? What do you do when you leave work at 7:30 in order to make it home for How I Met Your Mother at 8:00?

A Hot Pocket and a glass of Dibon Cava:

And, yes, it was delicious.