Dec 22, 2008

Date-Nut Bread

I love dates. To me they are nature's candy. Far better I would say than any cheap chocolate. I have a few recipes for dates, but because it is the holidays I will give you this yummy bread recipe. You must use nuts, I am sorry all you non-nut people. Otherwise it would be too sweet. If you have a mini-loaf pan, these make great gifts (wrap in plastic wrap, use tape to secure the bottom, and tie a beautiful bow on top with a name card). I bought a mini-loaf pan at Target a few years ago that I really like because it fits all of the batter for a singe loaf recipe. Try this sweet breakfast bread next time instead of banana bread. You might be surprised!

Date-Nut Bread
1 cup of boiling water
2 TBS butter
8 oz pitted dates, chopped
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup brown or dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Combine hot water, dates, and butter in a large bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes. Stir in egg.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
Add dry ingredients to wet. Add nuts. Mix until combined. Pour into 1 greased loaf pan, or 4 greased mini-loaf pans. Cook at 325 for 1 hour 15 minutes for large loaf and about 20-25 minutes for mini-loaves. Use a toothpick to test for doneness (if it is still a little undercooked in the middle, that is OK. Just allow it to cool in the pan longer and it will continue to bake). Allow to cool 10 minutes in pan. Turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for easiest slicing.
Butter or cream cheese compliments this bread nicely.

Dec 18, 2008

Diabetics coming for Christmas dinner? Fear not...

So my good friend Sharee has a Christmas dilemma... She has two diabetic relatives coming for Christmas dinner. What in the world do you make for dessert? Well here with me today is Betty Crocker who publishes a wonderful book called the Diabetes Cookbook ;^) Here are three recipe ideas to serve to those who might be counting carbs and sugar.

Fruit and Nut Topped Pound Cake
*I like this one because you could have other toppings for the sugar eaters - toffee, chopped chocolate, whipped cream, toasted coconut, Carmel sauce, etc.
14 servings (less if you are eating less controlled portions)

1 package (10.75 oz) frozen pound cake loaf, cut into fourteen 1/2" slices (well, for us sugar eaters, maybe a 1" piece is more like it :^)
2/3 cup soft cream cheese with strawberries, raspberries, OR pineapple
1 can (11 oz) mandarin oranges, well drained
1 1/2 cups bite-sized pieces assorted fresh fruit (kiwifruit, strawberry, raspberry,pear, apple)
1/2 cups reduced fat (or regular if you ask me) chocolate syrup
1/2 cup sliced almonds or toasted coconut

1. Set oven control to broil. Place pound cake slices on rack in broiler pan. Broil with tops 4 to 5 inches from heat 3-5 minutes, turning once, until light golden brown.

2. Spread each slice with about 2 tsp cream cheese. Top with orange segments and desired fresh fruit. Drizzle with syrup and sprinkle with almonds or coconut.

Food Exchange:
1 starch
1/2 fruit
2 fat
21-25g Carbs

Baked Custard with Fresh Raspberry Sauce
6 servings

3 eggs, slightly beaten (room temperature - you don't want scrambled eggs)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt
2 1/2 cups very warm milk (about 120 degrees)
ground nutmeg
Fresh Raspberry Sauce (below)

1. Heat oven to 350. Mix egg, sugar, vanilla and salt in medium bowl. Gradually stir in milk (be careful not to scramble your eggs). Pour into six 6oz custard cups. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

2. Place cups in rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches, on oven rack. Pour very hot water into pan to within 1/2 inch of tops of cups.

3. Bake about 45 minutes or until knife inserted halfway (or toothpick) between center and edge comes out clean. Remove cups from water. Cool about 30 minutes. Unmold and serve warm with Fresh Raspberry Sauce. Store covered in refrigerator.

Fresh Raspberry Sauce

1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) raspberries
1TSP water
1TSP sugar

Place all ingredients into a food processor. Cover and process until smooth. Press through sieve to remove seeds if desired.

Food Exchange:
1 skim milk
1/2 fruit
1 fat
21-25g Carbs

Key Lime Bars
36 bars

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (20 squares) (put them in a sealed plastic bag and crush)
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup Key lime juice or regular lime juice
1 Tablespoon grated lime peel
Additional lime peel if desired

1. Heat oven to 350. Grease bottom and sides of square pan, 9X9X2 inches, with shortening. Mix cracker crumbs, butter and sugar thoroughly with fork. Press evenly in pan. Refrigerate while preparing cream cheese mixture.

2. Beat cream cheese in small bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in milk until smooth. Beat in lime juice and lime peel. Spread over layer in pan.

3. Bake about 35 minutes or until center is set. Cool 30 minutes. Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 3 hours until chilled. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 6 rows. Garnish with additional lime peel. Store covered in refrigerator.

1/2 starch, 1/2 fruit, 1 fat
11-20 g carbs

Dec 15, 2008

Melt in your mouth Oatmeal Raisin (or Crasin) Cookies

These are very, very yummy. They are chewy and crunchy. Eric and I experimented with many recipes until we found (or created - we can't remember) this one. A note on vegetable shortening: someone once told me that she noticed a difference in her baking when she used store brand shortening as opposed to Crisco. We buy butter flavored Crisco. I would love to hear from anyone who has had a similar experience - either liking or disliking store brands. I would do the test myself, but having 4 dozen cookies hanging around my house would pose a very dangerous threat of rapid expansion to my hips, thighs, and buttocks :^) We used cherry Crazins this time and loved the change up! Also, if using raisins, use golden raisins if possible. They are more pump and juicy. Enjoy!

Oatmeal Raisin (or Crazin) Cookies

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp milk
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups Oatmeal (whole rolled oats are best)
2 cups raisins (golden are best) or Crazins (dried cranberries)

Preheat oven to 350
Yield: about 3 dozen

Beat shortening and sugars until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, and milk. Mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to other mixture. Stir in oatmeal and raisins.

Bake on parchment lined cookie sheets for about 10 minutes. They should be starting to brown around the edges, but still be pale in over all color. Remove from oven and let them cool on the cookie tray for a few minutes. Then transfer them to a cooling rack. Wait until they are at least cool enough not to burn your mouth - and eat.

Dec 10, 2008

The BEST Sugar Cookies

This one I can take no credit for. I got it recently from my friend Kate's recipe blog (MUCH more professional than my blog). I made them for a party last weekend and they really made the yummiest sugar cookies I've had - and I have tired a LOT of recipes. So here they are! Check out her blog for more amazing tips on decorating

Sugar Cookies

1 C real butter (no substitutions!)
1 C sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t almond extract (you could use vanilla too)
3 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. Add in eggs and extract and mix to incorporate.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined.

Shape the dough into 2 flat disks and wrap in waxed paper and place in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours. The longer the better, and don't you cheat. If you want your cookies to hold their shape well, the dough needs to be really chilled. If you're in a hurry, immediately roll dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper and place on a flat surface in the fridge. It will chill super fast and be ready to go in no time.

When you're ready to roll out dough lightly sprinkle flour onto your work surface and roll out dough with a rolling pin.

Alright now, cut out those cookies. Thick or thin, however you like it...

Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes. The baking time really depends on how you like them. I like them really soft so I really under-bake them. In my oven, about 8 minutes does it. However if you're making large cookies, or ones with small parts or heavy frosting, you might want to be careful because they might break when they're super soft.About 8 minutes will get you a really soft cookie, a few minutes longer (when they start to just brown around the edges) and you'll get just a little crispiness around the edges and then a soft center, bake even longer (and roll thinner) and you'll get a crispy cookie. Any way you do it, they'll taste good. Remove onto cooling racks when you're done and let cool completely. I honestly think these even taste better the second day.Frost any way you like. If I'm making sugar cookies merely for the purpose of eating them, then my preference is a big swirl of almond cream cheese butter cream, hands down.

Rae Note: I found for the thickness I like -about 3/8 an inch - 11 minutes was perfect for a soft, but slightly crisp cookie. yuuummm

Dec 4, 2008

White-Out Chex Mix

There will be parties from here until New Years, and I don't know about you but I am very excited. This is a recipe that I am sure have m-a-n-y variations (feel free to post yours in the comment section). The name was "White Trash" which - fine - but really that just did not sound appealing to me. So I changed the name. So call it what you will, but this is a very yummy party treat. I got this one from a neighbor. It is one of those things I have always wanted the recipe for, but haven't made yet! So when it says 3 packages white chocolate, I'm not entirely sure what that is for all of those who like to know EXACTLY what to buy. My guess is three packages of white chocolate that you would find by the baking chocolate, above the chocolate chips. It is better to have too much chocolate than not enough.

3 cups rice chex mix
3 cups corn chex mix
3 cups cashews
3 cups pretzels
1 1LB bag M&Ms or Reeses Pieces
3 Packages white chocolate

1. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler. Think LOW heat.
2. Put all dry ingredients in a large bowl
3. Drizzle chocolate over dry mix
4. Mix until well coated
5. Spread out on waxed paper and let it harden
6. Break into pieces and store in bag... or eat it!

Dec 2, 2008

Cranberry Citrus Bread

This recipe is fabulous! Sarah brought it over for Thanksgiving and I have gradually eaten the whole loaf... With the help of Noel of course.

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cups orange juice or lemon juice
2 TBS shortening
1 TBS grated orange peel
1 egg, well beaten
1 1/2 cups cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease loaf pan.

1. Mix together four, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl
2. Stir in OJ or lemon juice, shortening, orange peel, and egg. Mix until well blended.
3. Stir in cranberries and nuts
4. Spread into pan
5. Bake for 55 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean
6. Cool on a rack 15 minutes
7. Remove from pan and cool completely
8. Wrap and store overnight

Of course who can really wait until it's cooled over night? Chrissy and I always thought this was some sort of test - how much self restraint do you REALLY have? Chrissy, the kids, and I always ate the Zucchini Bread while the butter could still melt on the bread... Yummmmm

Nov 17, 2008


My apologies for my long drought of postings. I have been reading lots and lots of books in my spare time - or sleeping - in preparation for our second child. But I could not miss an opportunity to talk about my favorite holiday - THANKSGIVING. I consider myself a pretty relaxed person when it comes to most things. However, with Thanksgiving, I am as annal as they get. I even have a "Thanksgiving Plan" that is currently 8-9 pages of who is coming, what they are bringing, the menu, all the recipes (so they are in one location), the shopping list (and when to purchase what items), and lastly a play-by-play of Thanksgiving Eve and Day to make sure all the food hits the table hot and ready, the linens are pressed, and the Macy's Day Parade is on the TV. Crazy, I know; what can I say. So I thought I would share with you some of my "Thanksgiving Plan." I like traditional and I like fattening. We only (in theory) eat like this once a year; there won't be any plan string beans on my table - sorry. Nothing against string beans, I like them very much, but Thanksgiving is special and string beans are ordinary. :^) So here it goes....


Turkey (12-16 LBS)

Green bean casserole (13X9)
Sweet potato bake mallow and Grandma’s Harris'(13X9)
Strawberry Jell-o Pudding Salad
Mashed white potatoes
Dinner rolls

Cranberry sauce 1 can jelly 1 home made

Desert (I would die for a pecan pie... or a chocolate-pecan pie but Eric hates pecans and I don't want to eat the whole leftover pie myself)
Pumpkin pie
Apple pie
Whipped cream


Pre-dinner Munchies
Fruit (oranges)
Spiced nuts

THE Turkey

Good Eats Roast Turkey

1 (14 to 16 pound) young turkey (make sure it isn't already brined; i.e. not already injected with saline solution)
For the brine:

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 TBS allspice berries (may omit)
1/2 TBS candied ginger (may omit)
1 gallon iced water

For the aromatics: (that is what goes in the cavity of the bird)

1 red apple sliced
1/2 onion sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage

Canola oil

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.
A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.
Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage (tongs). Tuck back wings under the bird and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil. Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes (Put the legs in first). Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil (make a triangle and do a pre-fitting before you put it in the oven to avoid burning yourself), insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

So you may ask, why brine? I will tell you. What happens when meat sits in a brine is that the cell walls begin to defuse their liquid in a desire to come to an equilibrium with the more dense, salted water. Well, as liquid is exchanged, salt is brought evenly into the meat of the turkey. This makes for a very moist and very tasty bird.

Green Bean Casserole
compliments of Campbell's

1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup OR Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup 1/2 cup milk 1 tsp. soy sauce Dash ground black pepper 4 cups cooked cut green beans 1 1/3 cups French's® French Fried Onions


MIX soup, milk, soy, black pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in 1 1/2-qt. casserole.
BAKE at 350°F. for 25 min. or until hot.
STIR . Sprinkle with remaining onions. Bake 5 min.

TIP: Use 1 bag (16 to 20 oz.) frozen green beans, 2 pkg. (9 oz. each) frozen green beans, 2 cans (about 16 oz. each) green beans or about 1 1/2 lb. fresh green beans for this recipe.

Jello Pudding Salad (should double for a large party)
Compliments of Martin Davis and Jell-o Brand

1 (4oz) package jello strawberry
1 (4 oz) package jello tapioca pudding
1 (4 oz) package cook-n-serve vanilla pudding
1 – 2 cups strawberries, cut up
3 cups water
½ 8oz container of cool whip

Put water, jello, and puddings into medium sauce pan. Mix with sire whisk, stirring constantly over high heat until boiling. Continue boiling for 5+ minutes. Take off heat and pour into a bowl. Add fruit. Let chill over night. When ready to serve, fold in ½ 8oz container of cool whip.

Whipped Sweet Potato Bake (Eric's Favorite)
Compliments of

3 cans (15 oz. each) sweet potatoes, drained
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
24 JET-PUFFED Marshmallows (about 3 cups)

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Beat sweet potatoes, butter, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.

SPOON into lightly greased 1-1/2-qt. baking dish; top with the marshmallows.

BAKE 15 to 20 min. or until sweet potato mixture is heated through and marshmallows are lightly browned.

Grandma Harris' Sweet Potato Bake (Rachael's favorite)

3 cups (24oz) sweet potatoes, drained
1 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
2 lightly beaten eggs
1/3 stick butter, melted
½ cup sweet milk
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a greased baking dish.

Prepare topping by mixing:
1/3 stick bitter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Cover potato mixture in topping.
Bake 35 minutes at 350

I will leave the stuffing and mashed white potatoes up to you. Sarah Gagnon is bringing the stuffing this year and I hear it is going to be fantastic! If I can get her secret from her, I will post at a later date. For mashed potatoes, peel and cube your potatoes. Boil them until they are just tender, about 20 minutes. Then I like to throw mine in my mixer and mix butter, cream, salt and pepper in. Yum yum.

Oct 16, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies/Muffins/Bread

There is nothing that says autumn like pumpkin. These cookies - or you can make them into muffins or bread - are moist, but not too moist like a lot of recipes I have tried. This weekend my sister-in-law and I made them in Wilton's Halloween muffin tins and then frosted the outline of the design on the top - pumpkins, leaves, spiders, webs. They were SOO cute!

2 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup shortening
2 eggs, well beaten
1 large can (30oz I think) Libby's Pumpkin PIE mix (not just pumpkin)
1/4 tsp baking soda
4 cups flour
2 TBS baking powder
1 12oz bag chocolate chips
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt

Heat oven to 375

Cream shortening and sugar together with a mixer. Add eggs; mix until combined. Mix pumpkin until combined. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, soda, powder, salt and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients slowly to wet mixture. Mix until incorporated. Add vanilla, mix. Add chocolate chips, and mix with a spoon or slowly in a mixer.

On an ungreased cookie sheet, drop 1-ish TBS size balls of dough, leaving space for expansion. Bake 10-12 minutes, checking to make sure they are done. You don't want to under cook these.

MUFFINS: Grease muffin tin. Fill 3/4 full with filling. Baking time will increase, but I am not sure how long exactly. Try 15-20 minutes, checking to make sure they are done. Go longer if necessary.

BREAD: Grease bread pan. Pour batter into pan and bake for about an hour (would be my guess). Check for doneness with toothpick.

You could also admit the chocolate chips and have a very yummy pumpkin mixture to which the possibilities are endless (think cream cheese frosting - YUM)

Oct 15, 2008

Mexican Lasagna - NOT a taco in a pan

I don't generally care for lasagna that goes below the border, however, this one is pretty tasty. I have added some additions noted below in bold that I haven't tried yet, but I think would be yummy. Give it a try and let me know.

1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14oz) can dice crushed tomatoes
1 (16oz) can refried beans
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 clove finely minced garlic
1 (4oz) can chopped green chilies
2 cup corn, canned or frozen
2 scallions, minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
8 corn tortillas
1 1/2 - 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 - 1 cup cheddar cheese
sour cream, optional

options to mix it up - Enchilada Sauce and shredded chicken

Oven 400

In a large bowl, mix together beans, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, chilies, corn, scallions, cumin and oregano.

Spray with non-stick cooking spray a square 2 quart baking dish. Place two tortillas down (or however many will fit to cover the bottom). Spread with a thin layer of refried beans. Spread 1/3 of the bean mixture over tortillas. Sprinkle with 1/3 of Monterey Jack cheese. Repeat layering twice more - it helps to put the refried beans on the tortillas before you put them on the casserole. For the last layer, put tortillas to top, sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Option to mix things up - add in shredded chicken to bean mixture and cover prepared casserole in enchilada sauce - probably only 1/2 a 15 oz can.

Bake 30-40 minutes until hot through-out.

Product Review: Great Value Brand Premium, All Natural Ice Cream

So I had a hankering for Cookies and Cream ice cream lately. After finding only lite - no thank you - locally, I ventured to Walmart to see what they had. The only brand that carried Cookies and Cream was Walmart brand. I am not a fan of their cheap-cheap ice cream, but they had a new brand of Premium, all natural ice creams out. So we tried it and the results are in: 5 Stars. Very yummy - did not taste like imitation flavoring like their cheaper variety, and although a little bit more expensive, still cheaper than name brand. Very good Walmart.

Sep 23, 2008

Canning Your Crop

Since I am right in the middle of doing so, I thought I would write a little something about canning. There is really nothing to be afraid of when it comes to canning. I am going to talk about what I am currently canning and that is spaghetti sauce and apple sauce. We had a plethora of tomatoes this year, and access to Dave and Chrissy's apple trees. So we have been slicing, dicing, boiling, and pouring over the last week. It is labor intensive, but very rewarding. The best book I have is BALL BLUE BOOK OF PRESERVING. I bought it for $5 at the Utah Agricultural Extension Office in Provo. They have LOTS of great information there. Your city might too - you can always check your city building. If you are in Provo, the Mending Shed in Orem (state st on the way to Walmart) is FABULOUS. Oh and apples are nice because if you live in apple country, you can usually get "drops" for very inexpensive (think .40 a LB) which makes it affordable even if you don't have an apple tree.

What you need to can
jars that are clean and sanitary
lids, the rings can be used again, but the top part that actually seals the can must be new
High Acid foods use a method called hot water bath. The pot is large and there is a rack that fits inside to hold the cans.
funnel with a wide mouth
blender, food processor, or food mill
food thermometer
stock pot
produce and ingredients


2 1/2 - 3 1/2 LBS apples per quart; a mix of types of apples is best but whatever you have works
Cinnamon stick (optional)
Nutmeg (optional)

Scrub apples in soapy water. Peel, core, and chop your apples and put them in the stock pot (may I say an apple peeler, corer, slicer makes this so easy). If you want pink apple sauce, you can leave on the skins of clean, mildly blemished, red apples. But for me, my apples are pretty wild so I removed the skin to remove the blemishes. Turn on the heat to low. Add sugar to taste (2-4 TBS should be fine, but it depends on the apples too. I like brown sugar, but it doesn't matter). If making cinnamon applesauce, add 1-2 cinnamon sticks and some nutmeg (go easy on the nutmeg - it is strong and you can always add more but you can't take it away). Place the lid on and stir occasionally, making sure the apples don't burn on the bottom. It will eventually turn to mush. At this point, let it cool a little bit as to not burn yourself. Then place in a blender, food processor, or food mill and blend until smooth. Follow canning directions at the bottom of this post.

Spaghetti Sauce
So the specific recipe for this uses 45 pounds of tomatoes! So I will tell you what I did since, well, if you have that many tomatoes you probably know how to can.

10 LBS tomatoes (this was 1.5 plastic shopping bags of tomatoes for me)
1 onion chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
seasoning - basil, oregano, bay leaves, whatever you like, to taste.
a little sugar - 1 tsp
salt pepper

Basically you are just making a yummy homemade spaghetti sauce. Don't get too caught up in what should go in - make it so you like it.

Wash tomatoes (hope this is a no brainer). Cut off both ends (stock and bloom) and cut into quarters. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil in a large stock pot on medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, and everything else. Cover and let simmer about 20-30minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool enough to put into a blender, food processor, or food mill. If the tomato seeds bother you, strain to remove. They don't bother me enough to bother with straining, but to each his own. Place back in the stock pot and simmer until it is reduced by half. Follow canning directions to follow EXCEPT place 1 Tbs for pints and 2 Tbs for quarts of lemon juice in the jars before you fill them.

Canning your product
You want your jars to be warm/hot. I usually dunk mine in hot water and let them dry next to my work station on a clean cloth. The lids (the part that seals) needs to be SIMMERED NOT BOILED (low heat) for 10 minutes - then keep them in the warm water until ready for use. This helps the seal do it's thing. The rings that hold on the top need to also be clean.

Fill your hot water bath half way and set on the stove as high as your heat can go (you want them to be at least 180 by the time you put your jars in, and 212 to process). For me with my low BTU stove, I used two burners.

Remember - hot liquid into hot jars. We don't want anything growing in there. So use your funnel to fill the jar to the 1 inch mark, which is right where the ring part of the lid ends when it is on (the jars usually have a ring around the neck) or you can just measure down from the top before you pour.

Put the two piece top on the jar, making sure the ring of the jar is clear of food particles.

When you have all your jars filled, place them in the hot water bath (they have a utensil that works great for this to keep you far from the hot water). The water needs to cover by 1-2 inches. If needed, pour more boiling water in to cover. The water needs to come to a boil (specifically 212 degrees) to process. Don't start counting until it hits this mark! When they are done, let them cook 5 minutes in the pot. Then take them out and let them rest for 12-14 hours. The lids should seal down so that they don't bubble on the top when pressed down.

Processing times: tomato sauce 35 minutes for pints, 40 minutes for quarts (don't forget your lemon juice!). Applesauce is 20 minutes for both size jars.

Now go take a nap, you deserve it.

Sep 18, 2008

BBQ Chicken Pizza... on the Grill?

So I decided to do this post because Tuesday night Eric came home and I wanted to make a nice dinner. Well, one problem I faced was that our oven was (is) broken. It broils, it boils, but it doesn't bake. So until we decide to either fix the dinosaur or find a new one, creative cooking is on the loose!

BBQ Chicken Pizza on the Grill

1 breast chicken, cut into small strips
1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove of garlic
1-2 cups shredded Colbt & Monterey Jack cheese
Bulls Eye (or your favorite) Hickory BBQ sauce
1 pre-made pizza dough ball (you can find these is the supper market - they are wonderful to have on hand!)
olive oil
tin foil

On your stove top (we'll get to the grill in a minute, be patient!) heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a skillet. Add chicken strips. Cook until start to brown - 3-4 minutes depending on their size - and flip. Add in red onion and garlic. Cook until they begin to caramelize (that is, turn a little brown). This can take a little bit, maybe 10 minutes, depending on how much liquid came out of the onions and chicken. When the mixture is done, turn it out onto a plate and cover with plastic, or a lid of whatever (to keep the bug off when you are outside).

Take out your pizza dough. Dust it with flour on both sides. Take into account how big your grill is. You might want to shape the dough into more of a rectangle, or two small circles. Keep in mind you are going to have to flip the dough on the grill. A tip on shaping your dough - warm or room temp is better than cold. An easy way I have learned to stretch the dough is to put your fists together and in front of you (like put up your dukes!) with the dough resting on top (where your rings sit). Rock and pull your fists outward to stretch the dough, rotating as you go. The dough should not be sticky. Add more flour if it is. Place your dough on a cookie sheet to bring outside.

Take to the grill the dough, chicken/onion mixture, BBQ sauce, olive oil, tin foil, large spatula, and brushes or spoons to spread sauce & oil. Heat the grill to medium or medium high heat (depending on the SHEER POWER of your grill :^) Brush the dough with olive oil. Place that side down on the grill. Close the grill for a few minutes. Open, brush top with oil, and flip. Acting quickly, spread a layer of BBQ sauce, chicken/onion mixture, and cheese. FYI if your crust is thin it will cook VERY quickly.

Close grill for a few minutes. Open again and check on the bottom. For me and my little grill, the dough cooks very quickly, so I will often slip some foil under the dough to prevent burning while the cheese continues to melt. Grill marks are good, charred is bad.

Yum yum. You could do this with any kind of pizza you want really. Once you get the hang of it, you'll love it (I burned my first crust, don't get discouraged - it can scrape off ;^)

I will also post a link to my friend's blog where she did a Cooking 101 on Grilled Pizza with pictures that might help too.

Sep 13, 2008

Rachael's Chicken and Vegetable Soup

This soup is so yummy. I eat a bit of Progresso, but when I am in the mood for a soul soothing soup that doesn't take me all day, this is what I make. My ULTRA picky nieces and nephew even like it (but of course without the noodles... Which was funny because I thought that would be the only thing they would eat the first time I made it for them).

Rachael's Chicken and Vegetable Soup
(serves 4)

1 breast of chicken, cut into 3 large chunks
6 cups chicken broth (I use bullion cubes because they are inexpensive. my favorite bullion is the BJ's Whole Sale brand, which of course you buy at BJ's. you could also use canned broth)
1 can cream of chicken OR celery soup
1 10oz bag frozen veggies, your choice. mixed veggies are nice, or just peas and carrots
your choice of seasoning if you want - like a bay leaf (which you take out before you eat remember), dried parsley, pepper

In a 5QT stock pot (larger if you are doubling it), place your broth. Turn the heat to medium to medium high. You are looking for a low boil. Place your chicken chunks in the low-boiling broth. Let them cook until they are cooked through (about 7-8 minutes depending on the size of your chunks). Check to make sure there isn't any more pink, but try to not over cook them. Take them out and let them cool on a plate.

Add cream of chicken or celery soup. Whisk to incorporate.

Add in your frozen veggies. Your mixture of course will be cooled, and it will take a little bit for it to return to the low boil.

So in the mean time, shred the chicken chunks, being careful not to burn yourself if the chicken is still hot. Your hands are the best tool for this. You will notice that the chicken will pull apart along the grain of the meat. This is what you want. On a side note, I once asked Eric to shred my chicken for me while I was making the sauce for BBQ chicken sandwiches (which will come later). He used two forks and it ended up being the consistency of meat-sawdust. So again, make sure your pieces are decent sizes, not shredded to a pulp. If this seems to intimidating to some, you can always just use a knife and cut the meat into smaller chunks.

Add your chicken back to the pot. Add whatever seasoning you want. At this point you can do one of two things. You can put the top on the pot and let it simmer and blend for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Or you can eat it if everyone is hungry NOW.

I personally like my soup with a nice buttered roll to dip. Or served over mashed potatoes which makes it creamy and delicious. Or you can cook your favorite noodles to add in for chicken-noodle soup.

I hope you will try to make your own soup if you never have. I promise it isn't hard, only hard to mess up! Soups are very forgiving. And even though I like canned soups when I'm in the mood 5 minutes before lunch, but really there is NOTHING like homemade soup. Did I mention this can take less than an hour to make? So really, this is an easy, healthy, and quick dinner everyone will enjoy on a cool fall or winter day.

Sep 9, 2008

Beginner’s Sheppard's Pie

This is a whip-together Rachael recipe that is very simple. It doesn't even really need a recipe. Once you make it a time or two, you can whip it up with whatever you have on hand - most veggies work, different flavored potatoes (garlic and herb was good)- you get the idea. Believe me, anyone can make this.

Sheppard's Pie

1 LBS ground beef
1 package instant potato (Idaho Potatoes are good)(I sometimes use more - it depends on what you like)
1 10oz bag of frozen veggies, your choice (peas, carrots, corn, green beans, a mix)
OR 1-2 cans veggies (how thick you veggie layer is a personal preference. I personally like it just thick enough to cover the beef)

Preheat oven to 350. Brown beef in large skillet. While the meat is cooking, microwave veggies according to package directions. Make potatoes according to directions. Drain the beef when all the pink is gone and all the beef is cooked through. Place drained beef in a 8X8 pan. Top with veggies, then potatoes. Bake 20-30minutes until hot. Turn oven up to broil for a few minutes to slightly brown the top (if desired).

Sep 8, 2008

To My Fledgling Foodie Readers

For those of you who are beginning cooks or those of you who don’t view yourself as being able to make toast without burning it, you have come to the right place. Thanks to my friend Kate and her comment on Face Book, I have decided to add this section for all of those who are like her and look at a frying pan like a flying saucer.

1. Read the WHOLE recipe carefully before you start.
Sometimes I’ll even read it through a few times to get it in my mind what I need to be doing. You can make almost ANY recipe, I promise, if you trust the recipe.

2. Do your prep work before you fire the flame.
Before you start heating up your oil (if applicable), make sure your ingredients are chopped and or ready near by, and have your utensils ready. If you have cans that need to be opened, open them. What you want to avoid is: needing to do two things at once – i.e: your chicken is cooking quicker than you thought and you need to add the liquid but alas the can isn’t open yet! AHHH stress! You see?

3. If you have a question, ASK.
Ask me by leaving a post or an email ( or look online. Yahoo/Google are great resources. So are some great web site I have links to on the blog.

4. Don’t be intimidated by a long list of ingredients or instructions.
For example, the Lady’s and Son’s Lasagna post looks really hard. The list of ingredients is long, and it takes a long time to make. However, it really is simple. You don’t need any special skills to put it all together. It is a really fun dish to make with a friend, loved one, or significant other because you can do the work together (it is labor intensive – that means it take a long time to make, it doesn’t mean it is difficult :^).

5. Be confident.
Even really great cooks make things that taste awful sometimes. Or recipes don’t always taste as good as they look. Once you get comfortable with some basics, you’ll take off – trust me!

I have decided I will post a few more very simple recipes that will also teach techniques needed for basic cooking. I hope you all enjoy!

Quick Chicken Cacciatore

This is a Pampered Chef recipe, but I had a request for some deliciously simple recipes and this is one of my favorites. Once you get the hang of it, you can switch it up to make it your own (I use fresh breaded chicken now). But for beginners, this is pretty easy.

Quick Chicken Cacciatore

1 package (10.5 oz) frozen breaded chicken breast (Tyson is a good brand to try or even if you have chicken nuggets strips in the freezer)
1 medium green bell pepper
4 oz mushrooms, sliced (we leave these out because Eric doesn't like mushrooms)
1 small onion, shopped (about 3/4 cup but don't stress over exactness)
8 oz (1/2 1LB package) linguine
2 cans (14 1/2 oz each) Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 garlic cloves, pressed (or chopped, or you can use pre-chopped garlic you get at the grocery store)
Grated Parmesan Cheese

1. To partially thaw chicken patties, follow package microwave heating directions (safety) except microwave on HIGH 1 minutes only. Cut chicken patties into 3/4 inch strips and bell peppers into thin strips. Slice mushrooms. Chop onion.

2. Cook linguine according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.

3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly spray with olive oil. Add chicken patty strips; cook 5 minutes, turning frequently with spatula.

4. Add tomatoes, bell pepper, mushrooms, onion and garlic. Bring to a boil; cover. Reduce heat; simmer 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Serve over hot linguine. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Menu Suggestion
Serve this one-dish meal with refrigerated garlic bread sticks.

How I make this recipe

Instead of bothering with breaded chicken, I cut up 1 large breast into strips. I place them in a hot pot with some olive oil (about 1-2 TBS over med-high heat) and let them get a little brown. I then add the onions, let them cook a minute, add the garlic, let it get slightly brown, and then add the rest of the ingredients (peppers, tomatoes). I will add a little bit of water (about 1/2 can that used to hold the tomatoes), and about 1/2 cup bread crumbs (seasoned bread crumbs are nice because you don't have to add any Italian Seasoning). Believe me, the bread crumb taste adds a wonderful flavor. I then let it simmer for an hour or more (I learned that because I prefer to cook it longer, my breadcrumbs fell off my chicken anyway, that is how I came up with this method). It becomes more sauce like, and less chunky, but I like it that way! I also add Italian spice blend - BUT ONLY - if I use plain bread crumbs and non-seasoned tomatoes. Stir it often to make sure nothing sticks and burns on the bottom. Enjoy over your linguine. Oh and by the way, your house will smell so delicious!

Sep 6, 2008

Late Summer Special - Tomatoes

This recipe is a no brainer. It isn't so much the recipe I wanted to share, but my favorite late summer sandwich. Home grown tomatoes make amazing tomato sandwiches (or BLTs, Eric's favorite). Our tomato crop was plentiful this year, despite the late start (June 10th or so). We had an abundance of rain this year which caused some of my plants to rot in some spots. But it also meant I only had to water my plants twice this whole summer! Thank you Mother Nature.

If you have never tasted a tomato that turned ripe on the vine, you are in for a treat. Store bought tomatoes have no taste really. They are picked green and ripen while shipping. DO NOT try to make a sandwich from those - you will be sorely disappointed. If you have the room, try planting a tomato plant or two next summer. You can really be low maintenance (like myself) and still enjoy red deliciousness come late summer.

There are so many different kinds. In 2007 I planted an heirloom variety that did not produce a lot of fruit, but when it did oh my! They were almost purple the red was so dark. Yum. This year we planted just regular Big Boys I believe. They are pretty good, but others are better. We were limited because of our late start. I do suggest when you plant your tomatoes, bury them until you see only a few inches left sticking out of the ground. This ensures VERY deep roots, which means you'll get fruit earlier in the season. I also suggest planting in early May, depending on your location. In the "Nor-East" we aren't usually free from frost until then, which is what you want to be careful of. If a late frost threatens your green beauties, cover them in plastic for the night. So I hope you were inspired to plant a tomato plant next year. And for the grand finally...

The Simple Summer Tomato Sandwich

Two pieces of toasted whole wheat bread (the real stuff - no colored white bread here)
1 tomato sliced thickly
MAYO a-plenty (or Miracle Whip I guess... If you like that sort of thing)

Generously spread Mayo on toast. Top with as much tomato as you think you can politely get into your mouth. Enjoy... Yum...
Oh yes, repeat every day at lunch until you can't look at a tomato until next year's crop.

Aug 21, 2008

Creamy Chicken Stir-Fry

I enjoy this stir-fry because I think it has a nice flavor. I find when I buy the packets of stir-fry mixes at the grocery store they are so-so. I must say, this is one of the only reasons I have Miracle Whip in my fridge. It is fast, simple, and healthy (for the most part). The original recipe can be found on Kraft Foods recipe web site.

2 tsp. olive oil
1 large chicken breast, cut into chunks
1/4 cup Miracle Whip Dressing
2 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups hot cooked instant white rice

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly brown on both sides - don't over cook (about 2 minutes per side). Add garlic and let it cook for a minute or two. Add frozen vegetables (I personally like the California Mix). Cover and let simmer about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. The veggies should give off enough water to steam themselves, but you might need to add a few table spoons if it looks like it might burn - just don't over do it. Mix dressing and soy sauce, add to pot and stir until well combined. You might need to let it simmer to thicken the sauce a little bit. Serve over rice.

Aug 16, 2008

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

This is a GREAT inexpensive, healthy, and delicious recipe. The first time I had these was after Noel was born. My good friend Tisha Hunt brought them over for us. The variation I make is what she made for us. The original recipe calls for barley instead of lentils and rice (see below). I usually have lentils and rice, so that is what I use. But if you have barley, give it a try! It doesn't take too long to make if you can plan a little - cooking your rice and your lentils at the same time - even earlier in the day if you wanted. From there it is a snap to go together.

Vegetarian Stuffed PeppersMakes: 4 Peppers; serves 4

2 large or 4 small green or red bell peppers (I find it actually makes 5 small peppers)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
15oz can diced tomatoes (or 1½ cups chopped tomatoes)
2 tsp dried parsley (or ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley)
2 cups cooked green lentils (about 1/2 LBS of lentils - follow cooking directions on the bag)
1 cup cooked brown rice (about 1/2 cup dried rice - follow cooking directions on the box)
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
2. If using large peppers, cut them in half through the stem, discard seeds and pith; or, if using small peppers, cut off the top with the stem, then remove seeds and pith. Blanch in boiling water 4 minutes; drain.
3. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic; cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and parsley. Cook, stirring until tomatoes are softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lentils, rice, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Spoon the mixture into each of the prepared pepper shells. Top with mozzarella cheese or serve with sour cream when they're done.
4. Bake 20 minutes or until filling is heated through.

The original recipe calls for ¼ cup snipped fresh dill along with the parsley and 3 cups cooked barley instead of the rice and lentils. So mix it up one day if you want to! I don't care for dill so that is why I leave it out. If you like it, add it in! Or leave out the rice and do 3 cups lentils - it is up to you.

Aug 15, 2008

Cheesy Funeral Potatoes

This recipe is good, but I know a better one... It is just getting my source to give it up (Natalie Larsen)! But in the mean time, this one is tasty and I have had a few requests for it. Why is it called funeral potatoes you ask? In Utah, when there is a big event like a funeral, the Relief Society women are asked to provide the luncheon for the family. When looking up the recipe, you will often find it called "Mormon Funeral Potatoes." Not because Mormons have a corner on the market, but because it became a tradition, along with ham and green beans. There are as many recipes for it as you could imagine! It makes a nice big side - and can be easily doubled or tripled... It is just right for feeding a crowd without going over the budget. It is high in calories so watch your portions! And feel free to bring it to your next church function - you might start a new trend!

Funeral Potatoes
Presented by Becky Low
on February 04, 2002

· 6 cups diced potatoes*(If you use fresh potatoes, you have to cook the dish for at least an hour)
· 1 can (10 ¾ oz.) cond. cream chicken soup
· 1/2 soup can milk
· 1 cup sour cream
· 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
· 1/4 cup grated onion (optional) **
· salt and pepper to taste
· 3 tablespoons butter, melted
· 3/4 cup corn flake crumbs (I personally like more flakes, but you don't need more butter)

Thaw frozen potatoes if using (see *note below). Place potatoes in a 2-3 quart casserole dish or a 9x13 pan.

Combine soup, milk, sour cream, cheese, and onion (see **note below) and salt and pepper to taste. If a saucier dish is desired or using raw potatoes, add 2-3 tablespoons additional milk. Mix well. Spread sauce over potatoes.

Melt butter and combine with corn flake crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs over casserole. Bake uncovered at 350 F for 30-45 minutes if you are using frozen or cooked fresh potatoes or until hot and bubbly throughout. Cook at least 1 hour if using uncooked, fresh potatoes; cover tightly with foil and remove for the last 20-30 minutes to crisp the top.

* Use approximately 6-8 peeled, and diced fresh potatoes; or approximately 2 pounds frozen, southern style, diced hash browns (not shredded). ** Use 1 tablespoon dried onion or saute 1/4 cup fresh chopped onion in 1 tablespoon butter until transparent.
Recipe serves approximately 8.

Aug 12, 2008

Not yo' mama's Taco Soup

This is another one from Chrisy's family collection. I don't know what is so special about this recipe. I can tell you that I've given it the above title because we have had NUMEROUS guests tell us after, "When you said Taco Soup was for dinner I though 'Oh Great.' My mom used to make taco soup and it was never very good. But this was fantastic!" I am not joking! So even if your memories of Taco Soup leave you wanting (or gagging), give it another try with this super easy, super yummy recipe. (I even made it this time to show you pictures! Mostly because my brother was coming to visit and I knew it would feed the "human garbage disposal" as we so delicately call him)


1 LB Ground Beef
1 pouch Taco Seasoning
1 can kidney beans
1 can of corn
1 can of diced tomatoes (pre-seasoned OK)
1 large jar of tomato sauce (I always use our left over spaghetti sauce)
1 cup of water or more as needed
sour cream
tortilla chips

Brown your ground beef and drain the fat. Add taco seasoning to meet according to package directions.

Add remaining ingredients (NOT cheese, sour cream, or tortillas). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let it cook, covered, a few hours, stirring occasionally, adding water if necessary. You can also do this in a crock pot. It will take longer to cook - 4-5 hours. For me, I just do it on the stove because I have to brown the beef anyway - why make more dishes for myself?
I have to get a final picture and I will. I was so hungry and it smelt so good, I forgot :^)
Top with cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese you like) and/or sour cream and eat with tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Jul 31, 2008

The Joys of Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those foods that is just so good, and there are as many recipes as there are cooks. I am going to share three of my favorites today. To start, I have to tell you about a recipe book my first grade class made. The teacher sent home a paper requesting our favorite recipes. Many delicious items came back (and I do quote) - "Mandy's Favorite Chocolate Mint Snow-Top Cookies, Morgan's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies," and " Kim's Favorite Pumpkin Spice Cake," etc, etc. You get the idea - chocolate, peanut butter, spice; a treat for all seasons. So what did little Rachael Harris say her favorite recipe was? Lasagna. Yup. And I am not even Italian.

So to start....

Rachael's Favorite Lasagna (at least in 1st grade)

2 15 oz. part skim Ricotta cheese
1 12oz part skim mozzarella cheese
8oz provolone cheese
1 egg
1 pkg. lasagna noodles
1 recipe for Italian tomato sauce (homemade or bottled)

Grate hard cheese and combine with Ricotta and egg. Boil water in a large pot, cook noodles and drain. Pour small amount of sauce into a 9X13 pan. Starting with noodles, layer with cheese. Pour remaining sauce over layers and back at 350 for 45 minutes.

For another version of this, see

And there you have it - simplicity at it's finest. As you get older you are more willing to try more adventurous food. I personally would call this next lasagna adventurous. It takes a while to prepare and it is definitely more difficult than the above. However, it is Eric's favorite. It is a recipe by PAULA DEEN, who I love. I can't find which cookbook it is from (I have them all), but I have it printed from 4 years ago when it aired on food network. So here it is, lasagna 2...

Eric's Favorite Lady and Son's Lasagna (Paula Deen original)

2 cups canned, diced tomatoes
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 1/2 tsp The Lady's House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 bay leaves (never leave out bay leaves!)

1 1/2 Lbs ground beef
6 to 9 Long strip lasagna noodles
12 oz cottage cheese, mixed with 1 beaten egg and 1/2 cup Parmesan
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
1 cup Swiss cheese, grated
2 cups cheddar, grated
1 8oz pkg cream cheese
1 cup mozzarella, grated

To make the sauce, in a stockpot, combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, onions, peppers, garlic, parsley, seasoning mixtures, sugar, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Crumble the ground beef in a saucepan. Cook until no pink remains, then drain off the fat. Add the ground beef to the stockpot. Simmer for another 20 minutes. While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Remove bay leave.

Preheat oven to 350

To assemble lasagna, place a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9X13X2 dish. Layer 1/3 of each, noodles, cottage cheese mixture, Gruyere, Swiss, and cheddar cheeses. Pinch off small pieces of cream cheese and dot over other cheeses. Add another layer of sauce. Repeat layering 2-3 times ending with sauce. This may be covered and refrigerated at this point. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and top with mozzarella and continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Note: If lasagna has been refrigerated, bake for 40 minutes total.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Few! Did you get all that? Next and last is a lasagna that is a little off the beaten trail. It is my adult favorite. This is what is great about lasagna, there are so many combinations to choose from! This is a recipe from my mom. I remember having it growing up and I have always loved it. In fact, I plan to make it Monday night. It is one of the only ways I will eat a green olive.

White Sauce Chicken Lasagna
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
green olives, chopped (to taste but do add them even if you don't think you like green olives - TRUST ME they add amazing favor)
1 cup of cottage cheese
1-2 breasts shredded chicken (a quick way is to chop the chicken into smaller pieces, boil the it for a few minutes, let it cool, and then shred it up)
Lasagna noodles

Combine everything but chicken and noodles. Layer in a 9X13 pan sauce, chicken, noodles, ending with sauce on top.

So you might have found yourself wondering - cottage cheese or Ricotta? I personally love the creamy texture and flavor of Ricotta. Others simply hate the stuff (hard to believe I know). At the end of the day, it is a personal choice. But I can bet with a good lasagna, you can fool even an avid Ricotta cheese hater (I speak from experience). Enjoy!

Jul 26, 2008

The magic of Puff Pastry

Puff Pastry is one of my favorite things to work with. It can make almost anything seem more difficult than it really is. You can find Puff Pastry in your local grocery store by the frozen fruits and pies. Make sure you don't confuse Phyllo Dough for Puff Pastry - they are NOT the same. Keep some in your freezer and you can whip up a delicious dinner or lunch in no time. Below I will share two of my favorite Puff Pastry recipes (more to come later I assure you).

Creamy Spinach and Chicken Puff

I loved this growing up. I have adapted it slightly to make it a little more delicious.

1 large chicken breast, filleted (sliced length wise to prevent it from being too thick)
1 10oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
1 pkg cream cheese
1 sheet of Puff Pastry

Serves 4
Prepare your pastry sheet according to the package directions (usually it has to thaw for a time). On a lightly floured surface, roll out your pastry dough to make it slightly larger and to smooth the bumps it has from being folded. Try to keep it in a rectangle shape. Next, mix well the drained spinach with the cream cheese. Set aside. Take your filleted chicken pieces and lay them down the center of your dough, the long way, so that they only slightly over lap in the middle. Then cover chicken with creamy spinach mixture. Fold up the sides of your dough over the mixture so that they over lap. Press to seal (can use a little water too). It should look like a long tube. Pinch down the short ends to prevent anything from spilling out. Carefully transfer (could do this before assembling too) onto a baking sheet. I usually use stoneware for this. I have heard to lay it seam side down, but if it isn't sealed well, you could have a mess on your hands. I just leave the seam up. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or more. What you are looking for is a good rise and puff from your pastry. If it hasn't puffed, give it more time.

Ham and Cheese Puff

This recipe was one I could have sworn I saw in Kraftfoods Magazine. But I looked all over their site and couldn't find it. So I put together what I thought the general idea was, and came up with a pretty good lunch or appetizer.

1 Puff Pastry sheet
Sliced ham from the deli
chive and onion cream cheese
Dijon mustard (optional)

Serves 2-3 for lunch or more for an appetizer
As above, prepare your pastry according to directions (usually has to thaw). On a slightly floured surface, roll out your dough to lengthen (keep rectangle shape) and work out most of the creases. Spread with a layer of cream cheese. Top with ham slices. Make sure to leave an edge all around your pastry. You then could spread a very thin layer of Dijon mustard over the ham, if you know everyone eating likes mustard. You could use regular mustard too if you prefer. I usually leave it plain and then put mustard on myself later in case someone doesn't like it. So now roll up the dough tightly, making it one long log. Cut the ends off. Then slice 1-2 inches wide down the whole roll. They should look like pin wheels. Place on a cookie sheet to bake. Bake 400 degrees for about 30 or more minutes. These won't puff as much as the above recipe, but they will puff a little. Look for the pastry to be cooked and crisp. Serve with a fruit salad and mustard to dip!

Jul 25, 2008

The Simplest Sweet and Sour Meatballs

On to the strangest two ingredients you would ever have thought to put together - or never thought to put together. I actually thought my sister-in-law had gone a little nuts when I saw chili sauce in her pantry. Her kids won't even eat tomato sauce let alone anything even CLOSE to chili sauce. I truly thought the stress of the past year had finally gotten to her and she just bought whatever she could at the grocery store. Oh no, there is logic to the madness. So here is the Sweet and Sour Meatball recipe I got from her, who got it from her mom, who got it from???? Well it is one of those.

1 12oz jar of CHILI SAUCE (look in the salad dressing isle)
1 16oz of GRAPE JELLY
1 2lb bag of meatballs

Combine chili sauce and jelly in either a pot on the stove or a slow cooker. Melt the two together, stirring frequently (slow cooker on high). Add meatballs. If cooking in a slow cooker, let them simmer on LOW all day if you can. They are the best this way. But you don't have to do this. You can cook them on the stove (covered) on low to med-low until the meatballs are heated all the way through. I serve over rice for dinner, but I also just EAT THEM because they are so good. You choose.

Easiest Chicken and Broccoli Bake

This recipe is fabulous! So many of these type of recipes call for ingredients like sour cream, cream cheese, or cream. Not this one. I am not trying to say it isn't LOADED with calories, but maybe a few less than the usual. I have found this is quick to make and almost everyone loves it (even those who have sworn off casseroles). I keep the ingredients on hand so I can through it together in a pinch any time. It is great for feeding a crowd!
This Chicken and Broccoli Bake is a Rachael Original, so please give credit where credit is due :^)

1 breast of chicken, cut into about 1-2 inch chunks
1/2 bag of broccoli (16oz bag) thawed and water drained. don't stress over this. Use as much broccoli as you want.
1 can cream of chicken condensed soup
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 sleeve of butter crackers
1 stick of butter

In a 9x9 (For a 9x13 double the recipe) casserole dish place the chicken in the bottom. Cover with a layer of broccoli. In a separate bowl, mix soup and cheese. Spread over top of chicken and broccoli. Melt butter in a microwave safe dish. Crush crackers (in the sleeve is the easiest - kids like to have this job). Mix crackers and butter. Sprinkle on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until it bubbles and the chicken is cooked through. Yum! Serves 2-4.