Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tastes like Lasagna Soup

Norris' school had a soup luncheon as their staff Christmas celebration and at the last minute he realized he needed to bring soup. I was not in the store going mood and looked through the cabinets for something I could put together and realized I had most of the ingredients for the lasagna soup idea I've seen floating around the web. I really liked this, but not so much as leftovers because the noodles were soggy. This would be a great soup for a get together when it will all be eaten OR leave the cooked noodles out until you are ready to reheat and add them then. The flavor really reminded me of lasagna and I can imagine that if you follow the instructions about topping with cheese and broiling it, you would have pretty much a lasagna replica, but done in much less time than lasagna! Check out the recipe link for her broiling and garlic crostini suggestions!
This is how I sent it: soup in crockpot, cooked noodles in bag to add just before serving, and shredded mozzarella on the side for topping.

Tastes like Lasagna Soup

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes (I left these out)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups broken lasagna noodles
  • 1 (5-ounce) package grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook meat, onion, bell pepper, and garlic over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until cooked. Drain well.
Stir in thyme, brown sugar, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add noodles, and simmer until noodles are tender. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Skillet Barbecue Chicken Pasta

I feel like I should lead off by saying that Norris loved this stuff! I really liked it too, so it's definitely a winner!
One skillet, quick prep, and loved by all = something that will be in our regular rotation.
 I added a little extra barbecue sauce and sprinkled a little extra cheese plus jalapenos on top because I like them on everything. I know I botched Prevention RD's nutrition facts by adding the extras, and it was good the way the recipe was written, but I just love jalapenos too much and was okay with a few extra calories from the bbq sauce and cheese!

Skillet BBQ Chicken Pasta

Pumpkin Bean Soup

As much as I've always loved pumpkin, I haven't had it in savory dishes but a few times. I have seen recipes for  pumpkin soup for a long time now, but was nervous to try it since in my mind, pumpkin goes with spices and sugar. Since I do love to try new things and old things in new ways, I decided to try this. It had some familiar flavors like peppers, onions, beans, corn, and tomatoes, but just a hint of pumpkin. Like the pureed carrots in my favorite cream of carrot soup, the pumpkin really thickened this soup without adding cream or flour (making it healthier) plus packs a lot of great nutrition. Don't worry, this does not taste at all like pumpkin pie!! Give it a try. It reheats wonderfully for lunches all week!

Pumpkin Bean Soup
from allrecipes via Taking back my twenties
Makes 4 large servings (I would call it 5)

2 tsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped (I used green)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups chicken broth
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the bell pepper and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic and cumin and cook, stirring, for an additional 2 minutes. Pour in the pumpkin puree, black beans, corn, chicken broth, tomato sauce, and 1 teaspoon cilantro; season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a gentle boil; reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.Adjust seasonings according to your taste preferences.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fruitcake Fudge

Another Gram and Granddad special! I think Granddad would eat fudge every day if he could:)
When I was little (actually, I was never really "little" since I was 5'2" in 4th grade,, so let's say "younger":), my uncle Steve owned a store called the Fudge Factory. Gram and Granddad would let me help work the cash register, which I remember thinking was so cool. They would pour the fudge out on those giant marble tables and it was a thing of wonder as a kid. I'm sure now somebody would complain about child labor if they saw me back there, but I'm so glad I have those memories!
Here is a new fudge flavor. I love the idea of dried cherries, pistachios, and apricots all in one place. Gram says the sour cream adds just enough balance to the sweetness of the fudge and has just enough of a taste to make someone wonder what it is, but definitely not taste the sour cream. Plus, it's pretty colors! This would look beautiful on a holiday sweets tray. Grandma, maybe we should add this to our holiday treats list????

White Fruitcake Fudge
(from a magazine or newspaper...we were looking at it over Thanksgiving break!)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pistachios 
3/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins (used dried cherries)
2  cups sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter
12 oz. white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 7 oz. jar marshmallow creme

!.  In a bowl combine walnuts, apricots, cherries. Reserve 1/4 cup.  
   Line a 9 X 13 baking pan with foil; extend foil over edges of pan. 
  Butter the foil.
2.  Butter sides of a heavy 3 quart pan.  In pan combine sugar, sour cream
  and butter.  Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils.
  Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan.  Reduce heat to medium - low; 
  Continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring occasionally, until
  thermometer registers 236 degreesF  (18 to 20 minutes)
  Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil.
3. Remove pan from heat.  Stir in chocolate and marshmallow creme. 
   Continue stirring until chocolate is melted and mixture is combined. 
   Stir in fruit  and nut mixture.  Immediately spread fudge evenly in prepared pan.  
   Top with the reserved 1/4 cup fruit and nut mixture.  Chill fudge until firm. 
   Use foil to lift fudge out of pan.  Cut fudge into squares.  Store in refrigerator. 
   Makes. about 3 pounds or 117 one-inch pieces.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Almond Toffee

Gram and Granddad (my grandparents on my dad's side) are always trying out new recipes, especially sweet ones around the holidays! I'll share a couple of the most recent ones they have sent me. I always wish I had these treats already made and sitting on my counter! :) I love love love toffee, so I was really excited to see this recipe! They even put the toffee on a Santa plate to photograph it:) The journalism teacher in Granddad was definitely coming out for this shot!

from Better Homes & Gardens

(click the words "almond toffee" to go check out the 5-ingredient recipe!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!... food crafting

We made a different kind of "turkey dinner" in class today. The kids had a great time making them and they turned out so cute!!

I got the idea from the internet and changed up some of the suggestions. What we used:
sliced almonds for the turkey
caramel ice cream topping for gravy
white icing for mashed potatoes
yellow food coloring gel tube for butter
round sprinkles for peas/corn/cranberries (cranberries not on this one)
the sprinkles that come on the top of the funfetti icing canister are multi colored and shaped, so they picked the orange discs out of there to make sliced carrots
yellow cupcake with a little icing "glue" to glue one of those super cheap cookies on (which worked perfectly size and structure-wise!), then icing for the plate to get the food to stick.

These were a hit! They would be fun at the kids' or adults' table:)
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pumpkin Cranberry Apple Baked Oatmeal

Mmm..fall in a dish, available every morning! Remember, I look for everything to use pumpkin in, and in my head, a baked oatmeal with pumpkin, cranberry, and apple in it sounded good. Behold the power of Google--typed in "my idea" and a whole bunch of other people already had "my idea"!! If you try this and you like sweet oatmeal, you'll want to add in more sugar. I like to sprinkle this with cinnamon and a touch of sugar or honey in the morning after reheating. The fresh cranberries are much more tart than dried would be, so follow your preference there, too. This is a healthy way to start a cool fall day!

Pumpkin Cranberry Apple Baked Oatmeal
adapted from My Kitchen Addiction

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup fresh cranberries or 1/2 cup dried cranberries (chop up your fresh if you use them--but be warned, they'll be super tart!! I had fresh on hand this time but will switch to dried next time)
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup apple, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped (didn't use this, but it sounds good!)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a square 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.
Combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.
Combine milk, pumpkin, butter, and egg and stir well. Add apple and cranberries. Pour into oat mixture and stir to combine.
Pour into baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Skinny Crockpot Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

This recipe was another winner for Soup Sunday (and operation fill the lunchbox)! I loved the smell of it while I was cooking and the lemon zest gives it just a hit of something that makes you curious of the smell and the taste but is the perfect element of flavor in the soup! Even though the recipe calls for just 3/4 cup of wild rice, it seems like there is so much by the time this is done cooking and it's a great filling soup. Plus, it's "skinny"!! That really means it's from a Weight Watcher's blog, but it's really good and you'd never know it's a "skinny" version!

oops, I thought I had another ugly picture of soup to share with you, but I'll share this ugly one instead:) This is Norris doing his "we're taking a picture in the garage and this is embarrassing and someone is going to drive by and see us doing this" awkward laugh and me taking a self pic in the garage. Fun K-State season, even with this weekend's loss!

Skinny Crockpot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
slightly adapted from Let's Get Cooking

1 cup finely diced carrots
1/2 onion, finely diced
3/4 cup uncooked wild rice (this is expensive to buy a box/bag of, so check out the bulk bins!)
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
zest of one lemon
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
50 oz chicken broth

Combine all ingredients in a 4 1/2 qt crockpot. Cook on low for 7 hours or high for 3 hours. Remove chicken, shred with fork, and return to crockpot. Remove bay leaves and serve.
Serves 6

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pizza Focaccia

This would be great party food for adults or kids. It has such a quick rise time and the dough comes together so easily that you could have it all made and just pop in the oven or let kids make the dough and top with their favorite toppings and bake while the party's going on. Cut it into breadsticks and it makes the perfect appetizer; add a side and it makes a great dinner!
Norris claims there is not enough cheese for amount of bread, but I think it's perfect and took the leftovers to school where the kids agreed with me. I haven't made focaccia in a while and need to get back to making the Blitz Bread focaccia--that made some killer paninis!
I loved this a quicker alternative to pizza and with a side of roasted asparagus, this made a great dinner (despite the fact that it was already dark at 6:30 when we ate...depressing!!).

Pizza Focaccia
from Macaroni and Cheesecake

(I didn't change anything besides the toppings and using my own sauce, so I'm just linking there!)
Tip: focaccia dough is stickier than cinnamon roll dough, so don't be alarmed by that fact!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin Tops: Lightened Up

Yes, still putting pumpkin everywhere I can. I used to have a pumpkin face mask from BBW that I looooved. Wish they still made that!
The original recipe calls these cookies, but Nikki had the right idea of changing the title to muffin tops. Pumpkin makes things so moist that they could be called really moist, cakey cookies, or muffin tops. Muffin tops is much more appealing, and with my lightened up version, they won't give you a muffin top!:)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin Tops
adapted from Pennies on a Platter

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 egg
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Splenda
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 F.
Combine flours, soda, salt, and spices.
Cream the eggs and sugar/Splenda. Add oil, applesauce, pumpkin, and vanilla and beat until blended. Stir in flour just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop by ice cream scoop (1/4 cup size) onto Silpat lined baking sheets, about two inches apart. Bake for about 16 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Store in airtight container for up to 4 days.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta

If you like macaroni and cheese and buffalo wings, this one is for you. We both really enjoyed this and will like it even more next time when I use the mild wing sauce instead of the hot sauce. Despite the sweat beads forming from eating this with spicy sauce, we both went back for more and polished off the leftovers, which is a sign of something great in our house. You can prep this a day or two before and just bake when ready!

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta
very slightly adapted from Prevention RD
Serves 6 generous portions

13.25 oz whole wheat pasta (that's the box size they sell at my market)
1 lb skinless boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp buffalo wing sauce, divided
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup feta or Gorgonzola cheese
Nicole suggested topping with green onions and cilantro, which I think would be excellent!

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cook pasta according to package directions.
Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat, then whisk in flour to form a roux. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and turn heat down to low. Simmer while stirring until milk thickens slightly. Stir in cheeses until smooth. Stir in 1/3 cup wing sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Spray a 9x13 with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine pasta, sauce, and chicken, then pour into baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown, top with feta and bake another five minutes. Drizzle with remaining wing sauce and top with other garnishes if using.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"The Best Vegetable Soup"

Still on the soup kick. I have been trying to kick a sickness or allergies, whatever this is, and soup and spicy foods are especially great for that. This reheats wonderfully and even freezes well, so I made enough for this week plus 2 more servings and in a couple weeks I'll have a week of a different soup every day for, my life is exciting, huh??
This is called "The Best Vegetable Soup" so I'm sticking with the name. And for the taste and nutrition information balance, I'd say this is definitely a contender for best vegetable soup. I think I still like the Quick Fall Minestrone the best, but this is also tasty and a great way to get your veggies on!

The Best Vegetable Soup
adapted from Prevention RD
Serves 6

1/2 tsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 dried bay leaf
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
32 oz fat free low sodium chicken broth
14 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large russet potato, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen green beans
5 oz condensed tomato soup
5 oz water
1/4 lemon, juiced

Saute onion in oil over medium heat for five minutes or until softened. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add red pepper flakes, thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaf and cook another minute.
Add stock, canned tomatoes, and juices to pot and bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover pot. Simmer 15 minutes.
Add carrots, celery, and squash. Simmer another 12 minutes.
Add corn and green beans and simmer another 10 minutes.
Add soup, water, and lemon juice, heat through, season to taste, and serve.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Caramel Apple Sticky Buns

Yum!!!I loved these so much. I think I liked them better the day after I made them after the caramel had a chance to set up and get thick like icing instead of glaze. I'll be making them again and adding walnuts...that would just take these over the top. 
 I used my regular cinnamon roll dough and followed her instructions for the rest, so I'll just link to her site for the recipe. Try these out this fall--be sure you have someone to share them with!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Slow Cooker Mexican Pot Roast

When we walked into the house for FCA last week, we were greeted with the smell of dinner cooking. Our host was proud of what his wife was making and showed us into the kitchen where he lifted the crockpot lid (don't tell his wife!! I think it was pretty close to done though) and revealed a Mexican pot roast topped with Monterey jack cheese, jalapenos, and tomato sauce. That sounded so good to me, but I knew my husband wouldn't go for thos toppings and I'd have to top it on my own. I searched for a recipe (hers was from a church cookbook) and found one I could adapt..I wanted to be sure the meat still tasted like the Mexican dish I was going for and knew I could just top it with the good stuff myself. This meat was really good, but I accidentally poured too much water over it so I know it would be better without so much water. You could make burritos or tacos out of it, but I served it with sour cream rice and kind of mixed them together and it was excellent that way! Especially considering I don't normally care for roast, I really enjoyed this!

Charley's Slow Cooker Mexican Style Meat
from All Recipes

1 (4 lb) rump or chuck roast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups diced green chile pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
5 oz bottle hot pepper sauce
1 tsp garlic powder

Trim meat of excess fat, then rub with spices. Place in crockpot and sprinkle onion over meat. Pour pepper sauce over the meat, then add enough water to cover 1/3 of the meat.
Cook on low for ~8-9 hours, then shred meat and cook on low another hour.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mexican Sour Cream Rice

Oh man, this stuff was good! (Dad, I always think of you when I say "oh man"!!)
I like that you can adapt this recipe to whatever you have on hand and whatever flavors you like. I would have LOVED it with roasted jalapeno peppers, but my husband wouldn't have appreciated that at all, so I had to settle for topping it with jalapenos. This is something I was actually excited to eat leftovers of.
When I was making the sour cream mixture in the beginning, it reminded me almost exactly of the dip Norris likes to make for tailgating and parties. It does taste pretty great! It's basically his dip mixed with cooked rice and baked. Add in some cooked chicken and dinner's ready!

Mexican Sour Cream Rice
from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

3/4 cup uncooked white rice
3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups light sour cream
6 oz light cream cheese, softened
1 c shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
(OR instead of the seasonings, you could use a packet of taco seasoning if that's more convenient for you)
2 jalapenos, roasted then chopped
2 c frozen corn
1/2 can black beans

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a square or 9x13 casserole dish.
Bring broth to a boil, stir in rice, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until broth is absorbed. Meanwhile, combine sour cream, cream cheese, seasnonings, corn, black beans, and 3/4 cup of cheese.
After rice is cooked, stir it into the sour cream mixture. Pour into greased pan and top with remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until liquid is semi-absorbed and it looks creamy, but not runny. OR if you bake this in a 9x13, bake for 30 minutes covered.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Orange Pumpkin Loaf

I said I'm on a mission to try every pumpkin flavored product on the market...I think I'm also on a mission to try every pumpkin baked good recipe. I searched "pumpkin" on and came up with a giant list, but many of them were variations of the same....pumpkin bread, bars, rolls, and cookies. I wanted something different but still a little pumpkin-y. And I'm not quite ready to try pumpkin soup because I just can't get in the groove for that...if anyone's tried and liked it, please let me know!
This recipe intrigued me because it includes an entire orange (peel and all) in its ingredient list. The orange gives the bread a nice bright flavor, the dried cranberries a little tang, and the pumpkin contributes a little flavor and a lot of moisture. I really loved this!! I got a little gunshy with the whole orange and wound up leaving out one chunk of orange peel. I was afraid it would be bitter, but it wasn't at all. You could zest the whole orange and then use the entire inside just to be sure if you wanted. I froze half and can't wait to pull it out again and will definitely be making this again! I healthified the recipe, but the link to all recipes below brings you to the original if you want to try it the unadapted way.
Orange Pumpkin Loaf
adapted from all recipes

1 large orange
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Splenda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
 1 egg
2 egg whites
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup water
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.
Cut orange into wedges and remove seeds. Place entire orange in a food processor and pulse until pureed.
Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in pumpkin, water, and ground orange.
In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.
Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined, careful not to overmix.
Stir in dried cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chicken Potato Chowder

This soup was very similar to a corn and bacon chowder I have made before, but more hearty and filling and enough to satisfy my husband for a meal. It rained all day here (thankfully! we needed it!) and it seemed like a perfect day for soup. I love soup and all the fall foods...I think I am on a mission to seek out every pumpkin flavored product on the market. There are so many new ones this year!
Served with garlic bread, this was a super filling comfort food meal that both of us really enjoyed. I hope you do, too!

Chicken Potato Chowder
adapted from Joelen's Culinary Adventures

6 slices bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
30 oz chicken broth
2 large potatoes, diced
4 cups frozen corn
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
2 cups fat free half and half
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheese and green onions to garnish

Cook bacon until crispy in a large stock pot. Remove bacon to paper towel lined plate and remove all but 2 tbsp bacon fat from the pan.
Saute the garlic in the bacon fat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add potato and broth to the pot, cover, and simmer 10 minutes.
Add chicken and thyme, cover, and simmer about 20 minutes or until chicken and potatoes are cooked.
Stir in corn and half and half and simmer another 5 minutes or until half and half is heated. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper (don't forget you're adding bacon in so don't salt it too much!).
Garnish with cheese, bacon, and green onions.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Good stuff

As much as I like homemade ice cream, I haven't been able to find a way to make a low fat version of it that turns out really great. Ice cream was on sale this week so I picked up a new flavor and it's GOOD! You would never guess it's fat free and lower cal. It's a little like butter pecan and definitely worth the $3.50 I paid for it!
Blue Bunny Fat Free Caramel Toffee Crunch

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vegetarian Chili

I recently learned from our chili cookoff champion friend that real chili, the kind that you can win the main event for at those contests, just has the meat and sauce. That sounds pretty boring to me! I like veggies, beans, and all sorts of other things in my chili. If you are a chili purist, this recipe will definitely not pass your test, but for everyone else, try this soon! This is another meal that I made on a Sunday and ate for lunch all week. This filled me up far past the end of the school day. If I were making it for dinner, it would be perfect with some cornbread on the side!

"The Best Vegetarian Chili in the world" (as named by the recipe author!)
adapted from All Recipes
makes 6 (1 1/2 cup) servings

1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 medium onion, chopped
 1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz can chopped green chile peppers, drained
34 oz crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 cup frozen corn
15 oz garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
~1/2-1 cup stock or water
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion to pan and saute for one minute. Add seasonings (except for chili powder) and saute until onion is tender. Add veggies and green chiles and cook until heated through, about three minutes. Add tomatoes to pot and simmer five minutes. Add chili powder, beans, and corn. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add stock or water as necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

If you have allergies or a cold, I suggest you make this soon. What a way to introduce a recipe....
The reason I suggest it is because it's a really good meal and has a great spice factor that will clear you right up. This is a Cooking Light recipe that you can change up however you like. Add in your favorite veggies, serve it over brown rice, rice noodles, however you like. I thought it was great with steamed broccoli...a little sauce on the broccoli was so good!

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce
adapted from Cooking Light

1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce
2 tbsp canola oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
baby corn
water chestnuts
snap peas
1 carrot, julienned

Pat shrimp dry and toss with cornstarch.
Whisk together orange juice, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, and Sriracha.
Heat oil over medium high heat. Add ginger and garlic and stir fry for fifteen seconds. Add shrimp and stir fry another three minutes. Add veggies and juice mixture and cook another two minutes or until sauce thickens, shrimp is done, and veggies are crisp-tender.
Serve over rice, noodles, or more veggies.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken

Today I was telling my dogs (yes, I like to talk to them sometimes because then I’m not talking to myself at least, right??) that it feels like something has to drop in order to keep my life together. Exercise, school, class, volunteering, cooking, what will it be? I know they aren’t all essential to life, but they make me feel complete. After we talked it out (okay, they panted and waited for me to throw them a treat), I realized I can’t let anything go. I need to plan things out better, but I also need to learn to ask for help or say no sometimes. I am getting better about saying no, but asking for help isn’t exactly in my nature. I have said before that I definitely earned my nickname “mom” in college. I am a total nurturer and need to learn to be nurtured sometimes.

And hey, I must have a few minutes if I’m here writing. I should probably be doing something else, but I do what I want! Not really, but it’s fun to say!

Oh, and those pumpkin snickerdoodles? I liked them so much (and so did my husband and my students) that I went home and made a full batch the next night to another day of rave reviews. Seriously good stuff!

Anyway, back in the kitchen today. Well, I turned my crockpot on in the kitchen this morning anyway. We’ve been eating a lot of turkey tacos and other fallback foods and still haven’t resorted to eating out yet, so I’m proud of that! Meal variety is low, but we are still eating at home which I like.

A Year of Slow Cooking will probably be a great resource again for me this fall and winter. I have enjoyed many crockpot meals from this blog in the past, but may be relying on this awesome kitchen tool even more in the coming months. This honey garlic chicken turned out awesome and went perfectly with golden sweet cornbread and some veggies. Quick and easy dinner ready in the time it takes to throw things in a crockpot or as the author said, put everything in the freezer and just throw it in some morning and there is no think time in the morning! (especially helpful on days you realize at 6:30 AM that you have a meeting at 7:10…)

Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken

no picture....didn't even think about it in the rush I was in to get dinner on the table then get to FCA!

4 chicken thighs

3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 cup soy sauce (La Choy or Tamari wheat-free are gluten free)

1/2 cup ketchup

1/3 cup honey

Combine ingredients in 4 quart slow cooker. Cook on low for 10 hours.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Since I opened a can of pumpkin, I decided I needed to make something else with it. Yes, needed:)

Annie recently posted pumpkin snickerdoodles, which sounded like a perfect treat. So glad I opened that pumpkin and needed to use it because these were some of my favorite cookies of all time. They are SOOOOO good!I didn't change a thing except for to make only half the recipe, so here's the link!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Monday, September 26, 2011

Quick Fall Minestrone

It's officially fall, which means it's officially soup season again for this girl! With the cooler temperatures comes all things fall food, which makes me really excited since I love soups and pumpkin everything. As I've said before, I like to make a batch of soup on Sundays and have it for lunch every day. Yes, it sounds boring, but I make something I really like and it's easy, homemade, and healthier than many other options. Here is the short list of other soups I like that reheat well throughout the week:
Hearty Tomato Soup
Southwestern Chicken and White Bean Soup
Corn and Bacon Chowder
Spicy Poblano and Corn Soup
Pan Roasted Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
Taco Soup
Black Bean Salsa Chili
Loaded Potato Soup
Turkey Chili Taco Soup
Black Bean Soup
Roasted Vegetable Soup
Creamy Potato Soup with Ham

This minestrone is from Cooking Light. I changed it a lot based on what I had and what looked good at the store, so here is my adapted version. Mmmm....fall!!

Quick Fall Minestrone
adapted from Cooking Light

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken broth
1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
1 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
2 small baking potatoes, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup uncooked orzo
16 oz white beans, drained and rinsed
topping: croutons and Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes, until soft. Add broth, potatoes, carrots, oregano, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add zucchini and squash and simmer another 3 minutes. Add orzo, beans, and spinach and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

Pumpkin is back! Pumpkin is back!
Well, it never really went away in my house because I hoarded a few cans at the end of last fall to have for this year just in case it was difficult to find again. But, it's back at the front of my mind in everything from candles to soap to food. I just love the scent and the flavor. Here are a few of my favorite pumpkin recipes:

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Ice Cream
Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies
Pumpkin Chiffon Cake
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Pumpkin Pie Bars
Pumpkin Dip
Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

I have wanted to try pumpkin oatmeal for a loooong time now and for some reason am just finally getting to it. I used my favorite standby baked oatmeal recipe (remember, I'm boring and make all my breakfasts and lunches on Sunday and reheat oatmeal every morning and soup every lunch for a week!) as a base and here is my adapted recipe. If you love pumpkin, this is perfect for you--pumpkin for breakfast (and healthy!)!
**I should have originally added--this is not super sweet and therefore does not taste like pumpkin pie. It has pumpkin flavor, but you can amp up the sweet factor with more brown sugar, honey, whatever you like. I was trying to get a semi healthy start to the day by not adding in lots of sugar:)

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

2 cups uncooked oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
4 egg whites
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups skim milk
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Spray a square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and preheat oven to 375 F.
Combine oats, baking powder, brown sugar, and pie spice.
In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, egg whites, and skim milk.
Stir wet and dry ingredients together, transfer to baking dish, and bake for 20 minutes.