Friday, October 29, 2010

Vegetable Soup

This is a recipe that my mom has made for years. Very yummy Fall soup!

1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
4-5 carrots, sliced
center of celery stalk with leaves, chopped
2 zucchini, diced
1 small head cauliflower, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes
pepper to taste
parsley flakes
basil flakes
2 T. chicken boullion granules (or two cubes)
6 cups water
2 cans green beans, drained

Simmer about 40 minutes

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chicken and Rice Soup

I have been wanting to eat nothing but soup lately - with the cool Autumn weather blowing in! So of course I've been on the internet looking for new recipes, and of course, making some of my old favorites. Tonight I made Chicken and Rice soup from my mother-in-law's website. It was very easy and very quick. It serves 8-10; I made the full recipe and put half of it in the freezer - so now we have another dinner just waiting for us. YUM! Here's the link.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

P.F. Chang's Lettuce Wraps

One of our favorite restaurants is P.F. Chang's. Eric took me to dinner there the night he proposed to me, so it's always been a special place to us. And you really can't go to P.F. Chang's without ordering the lettuce wraps. Well, Eric found this recipe online and has made them for me twice in the last couple weeks (he's so good to me). So, here's the link...enjoy!

PS...if you have not been to P.F. Chang's - go NOW! And if you order nothing but the lettuce wraps, I assure you it will be worth it!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chocolate Oatmeal Chippers

My sister-in-law sent me this recipe recently and we made them yesterday. YUMMY!!

Chocolate Oatmeal Chippers

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
2 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 (12 oz.) bag milk chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Put on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes at 350.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My friend Stefanie made these cookies for me last week and they were oh so delicious. The recipe I normally use, Mrs. Fields, calls for a whole pound of butter - which makes a truly delectable cookie, but that's a lot of butter - and butter is not cheap! So anyway, this recipe uses margarine, and it is fabulous! Enjoy!

It is Stefanie's mother-in-law, Nancy's recipe:

Nancy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Bake 375 for 10-12 mins.

Beat following ingredients until smooth:
3 cubes of margarine (room temp.)
2 c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Combine together then add:
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
4 ½ c. flour

Stir in:
3 c. chocolate chips

Soup's On!

It's not officially soup season yet, but I was craving this soup we made this summer when we were at the lake. It's super easy and of course, delicious.

Broccoli Cheese Chowder

Now, it does call for heavy cream, but you can substitute milk without any problem. And I add more potatoes to thicken it up a bit. Serve in a bread bowl or with French bread. Mmmmm!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Crock Pot Green Pepper Chicken

I posted this recipe a couple weeks ago and made it yesterday. I actually used a whole onion like it called for, which surprised even me, because I usually substitute onions with onion powder because I like the flavoring onions give, but not the texture. Well, I figured in the crock pot they would get nice and soft and it would be fine. And it was, but the onion flavor was a little too much for me. Eric really liked it - so it just depends on your personal taste for onions! We served it with rice and corn tortillas, but found that it was even better with tortilla chips. So next time I'll probably just use onion powder and I think I might consider shredding up the chicken more and actually using it as more of a dip. Anyway, definitely a keeper!

Crock Pot Tilapia

I posted a crock pot tilapia recipe here a couple weeks ago - made it last week and it was good. It was not as good as this recipe which I am not finding on my blog so I don't know if I ever posted it!! It was FABULOUS! But, the crock pot dish was good because I didn't have to use the stove, etc. Eric and the girls really liked it so that's always a good thing. It's definitely worth a shot if you like fish - or if you are like me and you are not a huge fan of fish - this is a good one to mask the fishy taste and smell! Enjoy!

Shepherd's Pie

I was going to make Shepherd's Pie in the crockpot today but I forgot to get it started early - so I found a different recipe here. It is not a crockpot recipe but it only requires use of the oven for about 15 minutes so it wasn't too bad. It was super easy and tasty. I added a little bit of garlic powder to my meat mixture too - very good. :-) Enjoy.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Blackberry Crumb Pie

We have 3 blackberry bushes in our back yard that produce super delicious blackberries every summer. There are usually too many for us to really just eat by themselves - so I've tried freezing them but then forget about them, they get frostbite, etc. Sooo, this year Eric suggested I make a pie. I thought, hmm, I've never really made pie before, and I really don't like fruit pies. Well, let me clarify: I love key lime pie, lemon meringue pie and other cream pies, but pies with chunks of fruit - blech...but I thought I'd give it a try anyway. So I found a recipe in my Southern Living cookbook that looked fabulous. I forgot to take a "before" picture, but here is the pie after we sliced into it. It. was. delicious.

First I made the crust using a recipe also in Southern Living:

Pastry Shell

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 tablespoon vinegar

Combine flour and sugar; add butter and vinegar, mixing well. Roll pastry out to fit a 9-inch pie pan. Lightly grease pie pan and press pastry into pan.

Now for the filling:

Blackberry Crumb Pie

1 cup sugar
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups fresh blackberries
1 unbaked 9-inch pastry shell (see above)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted

Combine first 4 ingredients; stir well. Place blackberries in unbaked pastry shell; sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over berries. Spread sour cream mixture over berries. Combine breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, and butter; sprinkle over top. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until center of pie is firm.

So, a couple things I learned: my crust got a little darker than I would have maybe I should have checked it before 45 minutes...but it was not burned and it still tasted great.

I doubled the crumb topping mixture. I put the first load on and it just didn't seem like enough so I loaded it up with another round!

Now, I said I don't like fruit pie - but this fruit pie...I love. The sour cream combined with the sugar makes an absolutely to-die-for creamy filling. Also, we served it cold which I think helped my enjoy it more (I reallllly don't like hot fruit). Anyway, a piece of this pie served with a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream = HEAVEN!
Oh, and I imagine that this would be good with any kind of fruit. The cookbook mentions blueberries specifically, but I suppose any fruit would be yummy.
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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Summer Cookin'

It is so hot here in Fresno - and to make matters worse, my kitchen is the hottest room in the house in the evening. So, I try to turn my oven on as little as possible. I did some searching on the internet for some crock pot recipes and there is a great site - The Crockpot Lady. She decided that for one year she would use her crockpot every single day and try different recipes every day! Sounds like insanity to me, but I'm grateful for her recipes! So, I've decided to share with you 4 of the recipes I'm going to be making over the next couple weeks. I have not tried them before, so I make no guarantees, but she does have a verdict on each one and says they're good! I'll post my own reviews after I make them. Enjoy!

Green Pepper Chicken

Coconut Red Beans and Rice

Foil Packet Tilapia

Shepherd's Pie

Monday, June 28, 2010

No-Bake Dessert

Yesterday Eric asked me to find a no-bake cookie recipe. We wanted dessert but did NOT want to turn the oven on - it is toooo hot! Sooo, I found a recipe for peanut butter bars - and the comment on it was "these taste just like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups". They had me at "Reese's". I looooove peanut butter so this was perfect! And let me just tell you - they really do taste just like Reese's. Make sure you have a nice tall glass of milk handy.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I have been wanting to make Gumbo since Easter when we watched The Princess and the Frog for the first time. It takes place in New Orleans and they talk about Gumbo a lot. Sounded good to me! I had only had it once before when I was in college - I had a roommate from Kentucky that made it for us. I remember liking it decided to hunt down a recipe and try it out myself. I found the recipe in the Southern Living cookbook (where else??) So here goes:

Ham, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

1 1/2 lbs ham, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 lbs smoked sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices
6 chicken thighs
1/4 cup plus 2 T. vegetable oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 package frozen okra (sliced)
2 quarts water
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1/2 t. dried whole thyme
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onion tops
Hot cooked rice

Brown each meat, one at a time, in oil in a large Dutch oven, removing to drain on paper towels.
Add flour to oil remaining in Dutch oven; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until roux is caramel-colored (10-15 minutes)
Add onion, garlic, green pepper and okra to roux; cook until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Gradually add water. Add ham, sausage, chicken, red pepper, thyme, and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Cool and skim fat from top. Remove bones from chicken; coarsely chop chicken and return to pot.
Bring gumbo to a boil; add green onion tops. Cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice. Yield: 12 cups.

**Okay, so I did personalize this just a bit. First and foremost - I halfed the recipe!!
** The original recipe didn't call for okra...I don't know about you but I LOVE okra and in my mind, gumbo is supposed to have okra! So, you decide.
**I used boneless skinless chicken that part about cooling the gumbo and removing the bones from the chicken, etc....I just skipped.
**I used 1/4 t. red pepper and Eric didn't think it was spicy had a kick to it but probably could have used more. So, if you like spicy...add a bit more.
**I started cooking around 3:00 in the afternoon...make sure you plan ahead if you wanna make this one!!

We really like this! Even Haylie ate her required number of bites without too much complaint. Although when I put her bowl in front of her she said "That looks gross." Okay - so it kind of did look gross. It turned a dark brown color as it cooked...not sure why. But the color did not affect the taste! YUM!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pan Fried Tilapia

So I've mentioned on here before how much I dislike fish. Tilapia is pretty much the only fish I have found that is tolerable - and even then sometimes it is still too fishy for me. Anyway, I found the BEST recipe today. I'm not sure if it was just an exceptionally good batch of fish I got, or if it was just the recipe that made it so good, but either way - YUM! And, as an added bonus - it took about 10 minutes to make! Just the way I like it!!!

Click here for the recipe.

I made rice (with chicken broth instead of plain water) and served the fish over rice with a side of green beans. Delicious!

Side Note: I told Haylie it was chicken because I knew she would wrinkle her nose and not touch it if she knew it was fish. So she ate it all - and she said she liked it. Then I told her it was fish and she goes "eeeew!!" So we had a little chat about how she needs to try things before deciding whether or not she likes it (a la Green Eggs and Ham). We'll see what happens next time I tell her we're having fish! Anna also ate hers all gone without batting an eye. :-D

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bean Soup

This is a soup that my mom made a lot when I was growing up and I love it. It is such a comfort food for me! Unfortunately, Eric is not fond of beans so I don't get to make this soup very often. But every once in a while I just do it anyway - and Eric is so good - he never complains. So here it is:

1/4 cup of each of the following:
black eyed peas
pinto beans
navy beans
small lima beans
great northern beans
butter beans or large limas
pearl barley
split green peas
red beans

Wash beans thoroughly, place in large container, cover with water and add 2 tablespoons salt. Soak overnight. In the morning, drain, add 2 quarts of water and about 1/2 lb ham or ham hocks. Bring to boil. Stir often. Simmer 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Then add:
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 large can tomatoes (29 oz)
juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer another 30 minutes. Serves 12 generously.

My variations:
Note the serving size - half the recipe for a smaller serving size.
I bought a bean mix in the bulk section at Winco - very cheap and it doesn't have all the same exact beans as the recipe but it's close enough - you can pretty much use whatever you want.
My mom always used ham hocks in the recipe - I prefer it with actual ham. I found a half ham on sale at Winco and for dinner last night we had ham and potatoes - then I packaged up the rest of the ham (3 meals worth) and put it in the freezer, I pulled off what was left on the bone and put it in my soup along with the bone. I'll pull the bone out when I am ready to serve the soup.
I use onion powder instead of an onion
This can also be done in the crock pot - soak the beans overnight - in the morning put them in the crock pot on high with the ham and water. After about 2 hours, turn down to low and add the other ingredients. I don't think it is possible to overcook - mine has been in the crockpot all afternoon and it looks and smells wonderful. We'll dish it up when Eric gets home.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Triple-Layer Chocolate Cake

Eric and I saw this cake on some show on PBS and Eric just HAD to have it. You'll probably think I'm crazy but I am not a big fan of chocolate cake. I would choose white cake over chocolate any day. But I gotta' admit - this cake was fabulous.

1 chocolate cake mix
1 package chocolate pudding mix
Fix cake and pudding according to directions on package. If you have two 8" round pans, use those for the cake mix. I used one deep 8" round. After the cake cools, you will cut each cake in half to make the layers. The best way to cut the layers is to use one of these:
This is a contraption that has a very thin piece of wire going across and that slices right through the cake to make your layers. If you do not have one of these a piece of thread or maybe even dental floss would work. A knife would probably work as well, but a little more difficult to get a straight cut, I think. I set each layer on a plate once it is cut.
Once the pudding is set, spread it generously on the bottom layer, place the next layer on top of that, then another layer of pudding, then another layer of cake. Spread pudding all over the cake as if you are frosting it - top and sides. The 4th layer of cake is going to be crumbled up and sprinkled on the top and sides of the cake.
Pour yourself a large glass of milk and enjoy!!!