Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Creamy Fire Roasted Tomato and Bacon Soup

This soup was a lovely calorific end to a year. I think my husband especially liked all the bacon flavor (and fat).

Creamy Fire Roasted Tomato and Bacon Soup
(an original by Jenny at Picky included)

12 strips of bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 Cup white onion, finely chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
¼ Cup flour
3 14 oz cans reduced sodium chicken broth
28 oz can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes (Del Monte worked great as well!)
10-12 fresh basil leaves with stem
Few pinches of salt to taste
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 Cup half and half or heavy cream

1. Place bacon pieces in a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Cook until browned and crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
2. Add onion, carrots, celery and pepper to hot bacon grease. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic for 1 minutes then stir in flour for another minute.
3. Slowly stir in chicken broth. Add tomatoes, basil leaves, salt, pepper and half of crumbled crisp bacon.
4. Remove basil leaves from soup and carefully transfer soup, in batches, to a blender and blend
until smooth. Pour back into pot and stir in heavy cream. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Top each bowl with remaining crumbled bacon pieces. Enjoy!

*Jayne's notes: I don't have fresh basil so instead I used a shake of dried. Also, we didn't include the serrano pepper and it was plenty spicy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

We made these for our Christmas plates. The good and bad of remaining home for Christmas instead of driving out of state to visit family is that you can procrastinate until the 23rd to make cookies and deliver them to friends. These cookies were really easy but they have such a cute appearance that a plate of these looks like you spent a lot of preparation time. One note about this recipe is that even before refrigerating the dough it is incredibly stiff! Dan came home while I was baking these and thought the cookies were burning but he was smelling the exhausted motor of my hand mixer.
Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
Pioneer Woman's Recipe (and photo)

2 sticks (1 cup) regular (salted) butter, slightly softened
1 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 squares almond bark or white baking chocolate (almond bark works best and is cheaper)
Large handful of red or green peppermints
Cream softened butter with powdered sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Add dry ingredients and mix together until dough comes together. Place plastic wrap on surface of dough and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Unwrap candies and place them in plastic bags. Beat with a mallet until finely crushed, leaving larger chunks if desired.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll cookie dough in walnut-sized pieces and place on a cookie sheet. Gently press balls flat with a plain, smooth surface. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, being careful not to burn. Cookies will remain the same general size and shape after they bake.
Remove from oven and place cookies on a cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely.
Place crushed candies in bowl. Melt almond bark and begin to dip cooled cookies, coating only half the cookie. Immediately sprinkle crushed peppermints over both sides of the almond bark. Gently set on parchment paper or other nonstick surface and allow to cool before serving.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Crispy Parmesan-Ranch Green Beans


(Photo coutesy of Picky Palate)

We ate these green beans last night, thanks to Picky Palate's recipe. The only words of advice I have regarding this recipe are first be sure to use fresh green beans. Second, I plan to increase the amount of salt/pepper and decrease the amount of bread crumbs next time. (The crumbs overpowered the ranch/parmesan flavors and made the beans a little too dry.) Below is Jenny's original recipe for you to play with as you like.

Crispy Parmesan Ranch Crusted Green Beans¾ Cup prepared Ranch Dressing
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ Cups panko bread crumbs
½ Cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ lb washed and trimmed fresh green beans

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Combine ranch dressing and egg together in a shallow dish. Combine panko, parmesan, salt and pepper in a separate shallow dish. Lightly dip beans into ranch dressing. Press into crumb mixture then place onto a parchment lined baking sheet (they’ll stick to the pan if not, even if sprayed with cooking spray). Do this process until all beans have been coated. Bake for 15 minutes or until crust is crispy and golden. Let cool for 3 minutes then serve.
4 servings

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Quick Fish Tacos & Homemade Tarter Sauce

We had fish tacos for dinner tonight. I don't think I have ever eaten a frozen fish stick in my life so I was wary about this recipe but Rachelle has awesome taste so I was trusting when she said this was 'dinner worthy'. We all really enjoyed this tasty treat, especially me because I had dinner ready and on the table in 10 minutes flat!!
Just a quick note: The homemade tarter sauce MAKES this meal! Substituting store-bought tarter just won't cut it. (Store-bought tarter + frozen fish = blah!)

Quick Fish Tacos and Homemade Tartar Sauce
an original recipe (and photo) by rachelle at fashionably foodie

12 fish sticks (Use a high quality fish for the best tacos. You'll regret it if you don't!)
12 corn tortillas
1 recipe homemade tartar sauce
shredded cabbage or lettuce

Preheat oven and start chopping cabbage or lettuce and halving limes. Warm tortillas in with a wet paper towel wrapped around them in the microwave. (These are best simply with warm tortillas, not fried.) Put fish sticks in the oven and mix up the tartar sauce. Serve tacos in shells with a layer of shredded cabbage or lettuce, a piece of fish, a big drizzle of sauce and a squeeze of lime.

Homemade Tartar Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sweet relish
2 Tablespoons ketchup (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Mix well.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Zuppa Toscana


Photo courtesy of Tuscan Recipes

Zuppa Toscana

Olive Garden's recipe adapted by Lori Hopkin

1 (16 oz) package of mild or spicy sausage
6 slices of bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 qt water
2 T chicken bouillon
2 medium potatoes cut into 1/4 in slices
2 cups of kale
1/8 - 1/4 crushed red pepper (optional)
1/3 cup of heavy cream

1. In a large cooking pot cook sausage over medium high heat until done. Remove from pan. Drain fat.
2. In same cooking pot, fry bacon until crisp; remove, drain; drain on paper towels crumble and set aside. Drain all but 1-tablespoon bacon fat from pot.
3. Add onions to same cooking pot and cook over medium heat until softened. Add garlic and cooked for 1 minute. Add the water, chicken base and potatoes. Bring to boiling, reduce heat and simmer, co0vered, for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
4. Return the cooked sausage and crumbled bacon to the pot. Add the kale and crushed red pepper, if using, and simmer for 4 minutes. Stir in the cream and cook until heated through, without boiling. Serving hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

*An easier option would be to substitute with 1-pound bulk Italian sausage; crumble and cook until done; drain fat, set aside and continue with recipe as directed.

Jayne's Notes: I love this soup but as you can see from the ingredients it isn't for the dieting crowd. We used to have a Girls' Night recipe club and Lori shared this yummy favorite with us. It is in fact very similar to Olive Garden's Tuscana. When making this recipe I usually add another quart of broth to thin the soup. Also, kale is chewier than spinach so I try to cut it into smaller pieces for the kids' sake (but not too small because it holds it's shape and looks pretty somewhat larger leafed).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Turkey Brine


Photo of PW's turkey -- ours was demolished before it's photo op

I know it's December but we're revisiting Thanksgiving in my house today. I bought a 16 lb turkey for $5 and my husband was excited until he saw the generic-brand label. Let me just say that you can purchase the cheapest turkey in the store and with this brine recipe it will taste great! (I originally typed 'amazing' but I wonder what a fresh turkey would taste like with this brine. Too bad I'll never know...) Since it's snowy yet not below freezing we put our brine/turkey in a large covered bucket and set it on our porch overnight. Luckily our bird didn't freeze by morning. This is to die for turkey brine!! I think we will brine our turkeys from now on. The meat was so tender and juicy it just fell off the bones. I get to eat leftovers!!
PW’s Homemade Turkey Brine (This is enough for a 20-lb turkey; you can decrease the quantity for a smaller bird.)
2 gallons water
2 cups apple juice
2 cups kosher salt (can decrease to 1 1/2 cups if you’re concerned about salt)
2 cups brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
5 bay leaves
3 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoons dried rosemary
Peel of 2 oranges (I just roughly slice off the orange part of the peel (not much white pith) with a sharp knife, then give it a rough chop to release all the citrus-y wonderfulness)
Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat immediately, cover, and allow mixture to come to room temperature. Cool mixture in the fridge until you’re ready.
To brine the turkey, remove turkey from wrapper, remove gross bags, and rinse thoroughly under cool water. Place the turkey into a plastic brining bag (available at many kitchen shops, maybe even stores like Target) OR a very large pot. Pour cool brine mixture over the top, adding extra cold water if you need more to cover. Seal bag or cover pot and allow turkey to brine in refrigerator for 8 to 18 hours before roasting.
Before roasting, remove turkey from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Pat dry. Discard brine.
PW's IMPORTANT BRINE NOTE: I forgot to mention that when you brine your turkey, the drippings are quite salty. For this reason, it is VERY important that you use a no-sodium (or low-sodium) chicken broth when you make the turkey gravy. Also, I often will cut the drippings with the giblet water to decrease the saltiness. Also, many frozen turkeys are injected with a sodium solution—it’s best NOT to brine these turkeys! Brining fresh turkeys is the way to go.
*Jayne's notes: We did brine a store bought, sodium injected turkey, but it tasted great being brined. Our gravy was salty so I will dilute it even more next time, although my husband liked it and he didn't think it was too salty.

Sweet Potatoes


My family eats their veggies. I'm not sure if my squash/sweet potato fancy began with my first child and making baby food for her. (By the way, I DON'T taste-test baby food. Dan to him about his crazy idea that he needs to taste Gerber's Turkey Tetrazini before feeding it to our baby. Yuck! Sorry Dan but I just had to add this little funny.) Anyhow, we like eating sweet potatoes for dinner served with a little butter and brown sugar, but we've never tasted any potato (sweet or not!) like these!! The potatoes were very creamy and the top streusel layer was crunchy, sugary, nutty, and just divine!

Pioneer Woman's Sweet Potatoes
4 medium sweet potatoes
1 c sugar
1 c milk
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1 t salt
1 c brown sugar
1 c pecans
1/2 c flour
3/4 stick butter (3/8 cup)

Wash the 4 sweet potatoes and bake them at 375 until fork tender, about 30 minutes. When they are finished cooking slice them open and scrape the flesh into a bowl. Add the sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla and salt. With a potato masher mash them just enough (you don't want them to be perfectly smooth).

In a separate bowl combine brown sugar, pecans, flour and softened (but not melted) butter. Mash with a fork or pastry cutter.

Spread sweet potato mixture in a baking dish and sprinkle the topping on. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

"If you think you don't like sweet potatoes,...think again!"
Quote and Photo courtesy of PioneerWoman



Photo Courtesy of PioneerWoman
Stuffing/Dressing has never been my favorite Thanksgiving dish until the past few years. I became a fan once I tasted Kneaders stuffing mix with it's huge asiago cheese bread cubes. It is to die for!! Since we didn't have access to Kneaders in Utah this year I found this 'next best' option on Pioneer Woman's site. I liked the unique combo of french bread and cornbread and the fact that they are larger cubes instead of small cubes that tend to turn to mush (almost like a dressing in the form of oatmeal...know what I mean?)

Pioneer Woman's Thanksgiving Stuffing (Delicious!!)
1 recipe of PW's cornbread (see below)
1 loaf somewhat crusty french bread
1 medium onion, diced
low sodium chicken broth (about 4 cups)
1/2 c butter
2 c celery, chopped
1/4 c fresh parsley
1/2 t dried basil
2-3 t fresh rosemary
1/2 t dried thyme

First chop cornbread and french bread into 1 inch cubes, spread on baking sheets and let dry for approx. 24 hours.

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add onion and celery, cooking until onions are almost translucent. Add 4 c chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add herbs and stir until combined.

Place all dried bread cubes in large mixing bowl and gradually add broth mixture, tossing lightly as you go. If the mixture is not quite moist enough add more broth and stir. Salt don't want to oversalt stuffing.

Either stuff the bird and bake according to directions or place in a baking dish and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

1 c yellow corn meal
1/2 c flour
1 t salt
1 c buttermilk
1/2 c milk
1 egg
1 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 c plus 2 T shortening

Preheat oven to 450. Heat shortening in iron skillet. Combine corn meal, flour baking powder and soda, and salt in mixing bowl. In separate bowl, combine buttermilk, milk and egg. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture and stir. Add 1/4 c melted shortening, stirring constantly. Pour into hot pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cupcake Pops


I was inspired by Bakerella to make these cupcake pops. Let me just say how yummy these are!! The outer chocolate shell kept the cake so very moist and yummy. I made some with lolli-pop sticks and some were too top heavy so I bagged them like truffles.

Here is Bakerella's simple yet satisfying recipe in my own words:

  1. Bake a cake per the cake mix directions. Let cool completely.
  2. Crumble the cake in a large mixing bowl one quarter at a time. Add a container of frosting (I used store-bought) to the desired consistency. Begin to roll the cake mixture into walnut-sized balls by scooping with a small cookie scoop. You'll need to wash your hands after every 5-10 cake balls because the cake begins to adhere more to your hands then the ball. Once your cookie sheet is filled with cake balls put them in the freezer for 20 minutes or until completely frozen.
  3. While these are freezing begin warming up your double boiler to melt the dipping chocolate. (I don't have a double boiler so a glass bowl resting in a saucepan with boiling water works great.) Remove the cakes from the freezer and carefully begin to dip them in the chocolate. I used both a fork to handle the cake as well as my lolli-pop sticks. If the cakes get too warm they will begin to crumble so just put them back in the freezer if this happens. Place newly dipped chocolate cakes on wax paper, decorate with sprinkles if desired (the chocolate hardens fast so be sure to remember to sprinkle these before it dries).

*Jayne's Notes: My cake was left to cool a little too long so I ended up using all of the frosting to moisten it but I don't think normally you need all of it. With too much frosting the cake balls get too sticky for handling. Also, if you decide to make these into lolli-pops then roll your cake balls small or else they will be too dense and heavy to stay on the stick.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ginger Chicken


*Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart

Ginger Chicken
Martha Stewart's original recipe

1 three-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick
matchsticks (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup sliced scallions

1. Soak ginger in cold water 10 minutes; drain.

2. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat; brown chicken in two batches, 6
to 8 minutes. Set aside.

3. In same skillet over medium heat, cook ginger, onion, and garlic,
stirring until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add soy sauce, vinegar, and
sugar; cook over high heat until thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Add chicken; stir
to warm. Remove from heat; stir in scallions.

Serve over Chinese noodles or steamed rice.

*Jayne's Notes: Warning to all you faint-of-heart at the sight of ginger. As you see from above, this has a lot of it. Soaking the ginger and then browning it with the onions does lower the intensity. I like authentic flavor packed Chinese food but if you want to give this recipe a try just decrease the amount. The recipe is worth trying so don't be scared off! My kiddos eat this happily with no complaints. Tonight I added about a quarter cup grated carrots. I liked the color the carrots added and it tasted good as well. Also, I'm always trying to sneak extra veggies into my kids' food and this worked just dandy! This dish is all meat so be sure to serve a veggie on the side. Tonight we served this on steamed rice with steamed cabbage on the side. Yum!

Apple Crumb Pie

Apple Crumb Pie

Pastry for single-crust 9-inch pie (I used our cookie crust recipe)
6 c. chopped, peeled, tart apples
2 T. butter, melted
2 T. sour cream
4 t. lemon juice
1/2 c. sugar
1 T. flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cold butter

Make crust (don’t bake). In large bowl combine all ingredients, except topping and put in crust. For topping, combine flour and sugar in bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over filling. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until filling is bubbly and apples are tender. Cool on wire rack.

*Jayne's Notes: This recipe is courtesy of Dan's sister Rebecca. I enjoyed this recipe especially because of the crumb topping. Apple pies to me are normally too doughy with a dough crust on top and bottom so I enjoyed this change.

Pecan Pie


(*Photo courtesty of PW)

I have never been a pecan pie girl; I prefer berry pies. I'm not sure if my dislike stems from not liking nuts as a child or because I don't think this pie looks particularly pretty. Either way, this has always been a pie I steer clear of...until this past Thanksgiving. We made this pecan pie recipe and I really enjoyed it!! Yum, yum, yum!!

PW’s Pecan Pie
1 unbaked pie crust
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup melted butter (regular, salted)
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping cup chopped pecans
Mix sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl. Pour chopped pecans in the bottom of the pie shell. Pour syrup mixture over the top. Bake pie at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, being careful not to burn pecans and crust.
Allow to cool for several hours or overnight. Serve in thin slivers.

Peanut Butter Ritz Treats


We're always looking for little treats to bribe our kiddos to eat their dinner. My girls are actually really good eaters but sometimes when you want them to eat their bell peppers you have to give a little encouragement. The other night we tried this fun treat. It was easy to make and tasty.

Instructions: (quoting Pioneer Woman...and this is her photo too!)
Spread peanut butter on the crackers, top each cracker with a marshmallow, and pop them in the oven under the broiler. How brown/black you want your marshmallows will determine how close to the cooking element you put the cookie sheet and how long you bake them.

Once they are cooked to your desired yummyness, just pop these gooey treats into your mouth and enjoy!
(P.S. I'm a sucker for melted PB so I enjoyed these as well!)

Ritz+pb+'shmellows = yummy for my tummy

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Rice Casserole

Here is another family favorite we've discovered thanks to pickypalate. I'm not a huge casserole person but I think the addition of bell peppers to this recipe makes it look prettier and adds more flavor compared to the average rice casserole dish. Check out the other recipes on her site...I do!! She has some terrific recipes that are easy and ingredient friendly. (Her photos are also top notch!) Thanks Jenny at Picky Palate!!

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Rice Casserole

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
½ lb diced ham
2 Cups cooked shredded chicken breast
4 Tablespoons butter
¼ Cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
14 oz can chicken broth
3 Cups cooked rice of choice (I used white long grain)
1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 Cup shredded mozzarella or swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat oil into a large 5 qt rimmed skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and bell pepper until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, ham and chicken. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Melt butter then stir in flour, salt and pepper until combined. Slowly stir in chicken broth until well combined. Stir in cooked rice then transfer to a 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cover the dish with foil the last 10 minutes for oozing cheese.

6-8 servings

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Milk Shakes


Here is a fun recipe for all of your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie leftovers!

Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes
an original recipe by rachelle, pictures are courtesy of yourhomebasedmom who also loved this yummy treat

2 cups vanilla ice cream
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 large slice pumpkin pie, chopped and frozen (freezing is optional for bigger chunks. also yum just mixed room temp.)

whipped cream and nutmeg, for serving

combine ice cream, milk and sugar in blender. mix. add in pumpkin pie, pulse to blend. put blender in the freezer for a half hour. when ready to serve, stir and scoop with a big spoon into mugs. serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Chicken Curry

Let me first say that we have been searching for a GOOD curry recipe for a long while. We have tried many recipes and not been satisfied...until today!! Finally a chicken curry you can trust. My kids had seconds of this dish! I think the secret to the sauce was making it from scratch without store bought curry concoctions.

Unfortunately I don't remember the site I got this recipe from. I copied the recipe over a month ago but put off making it figuring I would be disappointed once again. Now that it's been so long I don't remember who to praise for this delicious dish.

Chicken Curry with Tomatoes

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
4 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup water
2 pounds boneless chicken, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Steamed basmati rice, for serving

1. In a Dutch oven or enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil, then add the onion and cook until nicely browned around the edges, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne and black pepper and stir for 1 minute. Add the salt, tomato and water and cook over medium- low heat, stirring constantly, until the tomato is softened. Add the chicken and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
2. Add the coconut milk and simmer, partially covered, for another 15 minutes, or until the gravy thickens and the chicken is cooked. Add the cinnamon and cloves and simmer another minute.
3. Remove the chicken from the heat and garnish with the cilantro. Serve with steamed basmati rice.

*Jayne's notes: I liked the addition of tomatoes in this recipe. It gave a slightly sweet flavor. I had to add a bit of salt to my dish once on my plate because I thought it a little bland. Next time I think I'll add more salt and cayenne (just a touch...not too much to prevent the kiddos from liking the dish). Lastly, I personally LOVE cilantro so I really enjoyed (lots of) this garnish.

Sunday, November 23, 2008



We really enjoyed this recipe. My kids even asked for seconds! We served this over egg noodles but now that I know how much we like the sauce next time we'll be serving it like the Austrians over spaetzle. (Spaetzle is a pasta made with a cool 'spaetzle maker' which we just happen to own!)


(Featured on Perry's Plate from Smitten Kitchen (adapted from Gourmet, 1994). Photo courtesy of Perry's Plate...she's a better food photographer than me.)

5 slices bacon, chopped
3 pounds boneless chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 T vegetable oil
4 medium onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons paprika (preferably Hungarian sweet)
1 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. red-wine vinegar
1/4 c. tomato paste
5 c. beef broth
1 to 5 cups water (use the former to make a stew, the latter to make a soup)
1 teaspoon salt
2 red bell peppers, chopped fine

In a 6-8 qt dutch oven or saucepan, cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Leave the bacon fat in the saucepan and add beef, browning in small batches over high heat and transferring it as browned with slotted spoon to bowl. (Doesn't have to be cooked all the way through.)

Reduce heat to moderate and add oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden. Stir in paprika, caraway seeds, and flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in vinegar and tomato paste and cook, whisking, 1 minute. (Mixture will be very thick.) Stir in broth, water, salt, bell peppers, bacon, and browned beef and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer soup, covered, stirring occasionally, 60 to 75 minutes.

Season soup with salt and pepper. Soup may be made 3 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before chilling, covered. Reheat soup, thinning with water if desired. Serve over egg noodles, potatoes or gnocci. (Or go all-out Austrian and make some spaetzle!) Serves 12.

**Jayne's Notes: I halved this recipe. I didn't have Hungarian sweet paprika so my dish included just plain generic brand paprika and I went light on the onions and slightly heavier on the bacon (Dan likes bacon and 3 strips in a 'halved' recipe just didn't cut it for him). Also, don't be afraid to use caraway seeds. I'm not a fan of rye bread but a little shake of these seeds seemed to make a positive difference. Lastly, we started making this after a late church meeting on Sunday so we definitely did not have the patience to simmer for an hour. I think in the end it simmered for 30 minutes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

OREO Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies
(courtesy of picky palate)

1 stick softened butter
6 T sugar
6 T brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
8 broken Oreo cookies
1 c chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars until well combined. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
2. Place dry ingredients in bowl and stir to combine. Slowly add dry to wet ingredients, then stir in oreos and chocolate chips until just combined. Scoop onto cookie sheet and bake 7-9 minutes or until cooked but still soft. Let cool 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

*Jayne's notes: This recipe only makes 1 dozen cookies. Also, this cookie needs to be altered for high altitude as our cookies turned out a little flat but still REALLY tasty.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Moroccan Chicken

Moroccan Chicken

Courtesy of Martha Stewart (I don't have a picture of this favorite but Martha has a lovely video on her site.)


Serves 4

  • 2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 8 chicken legs, skin removed
  • 1/2 cup homemade or canned low-sodium chicken stock
  • Cooked couscous, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine carrots, chickpeas, onion, raisins, ginger, garlic, thyme, lemon zest, and olive oil; toss to coat.
  2. In a separate large bowl, stir together 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon. Add chicken legs, and toss to coat.
  3. Have ready four 12-by-17-inch sheets of parchment. Lay a sheet of the parchment paper on a work surface. Place 1/4 vegetable mixture in center of sheet; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle 2 tablespoons chicken stock over vegetables. Center 2 chicken legs over vegetables.
  4. To seal packet, bring edges of parchment together, and make a 1-inch fold, and crease. Make another 1/2-inch fold in the same direction, and crease to form a seam. Working with the edges of a short end, fold in towards center to meet, creating a triangle (as if wrapping a gift). Fold point under a few times, and press to seal; repeat with other side. Repeat with remaining ingredients and remaining 3 sheets of parchment.
  5. Transfer packets to a baking sheet. Bake until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. To serve, carefully cut open each packet with kitchen shears. Remove chicken and vegetables, and serve over couscous.
*Jayne's Notes: This recipe calls for parchment paper cooking. As a busy mother of three I found it's easiest to put the entire recipe mixture in a covered oven-proof casserole dish. The end result is a little soupy but we've found the broth soaks nicely into the couscous. Yummy! I must say thank you to my sophisticated New Yorker friend for life (since we've known each other since Girl Scouts) Jessica for introducing this delicious recipe to me! She has more spare time on her hands to watch Food Network or Martha so I'm glad she shares her yummy finds with me!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Halloween Mummy Munchies

I know it's a little late to post a Halloween treat but these were so much fun to make and eat so I thought I would share anyway.

Breadstick Mummy Dogs

1 roll/pkg Pillsbury Breadstick dough (12 count)
12 hot dogs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Unroll all 12 breadsticks from package. Cut each into 3 equal strips. Take 3 strips, one at a time and wrap around 1 hot dog starting from the top of the hot dog. (Each hot dog has 3 thin breadstick strips around it). Leave a small space towards the top of the hotdog to make mustard eyes. Continue wrapping all dogs then place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

2. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes. Use mustard or ketchup for the eyes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Menu planner with grocery list

I found this website that I'm so excited to try! It's called Simplify Supper and you can either use their monthly menu plan or create your own. Either way, it automatically creates a grocery list. How cool is that? The other reason I'm excited about this site is that it has FAMILY friendly meal ideas. Yay! Maybe this might help my frazzled grocery shopping trips!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blackberry Cobbler

*Photo courtesy of

Ree at Pioneer Woman has THE BEST recipes! Here is another of our family favorites we've found on her site. (She makes a second blackberry cobbler that I haven't yet tried so give it a whirl if you feel adventurous.)

Blackberry Cobbler
6 c fresh or frozen blackberries
1/2 c plus 4 T sugar
1 T lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 c flour
1/4 t salt
1 T baking powder
1/4 c vegetable shortening
4 T butter
1 egg
1/2 c milk
ice cream (optional, but oh so highly recommended!)

Preheat oven to 425. Combine blackberries, 1/2 c sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine, pour into baking dish and set aside.

In a separate bowl, pour flour, salt, baking powder, and 1 T sugar. Add shortening and butter and work mixture together with a pastry blender until the mixture is coarse. Measure 1/2 c milk, add an egg and mix together. Pour into flour mixture, stirring as you go. Mixture should be smooth and not dry but not overly sticky.

Take clumps of dough and place them on top of the blackberries. Lightly flatten dough with your fingertips. Sprinkle with 2-3 T sugar and bake until golden for 30 minutes. Berry juice will be slightly thin but don't be afraid. It will gradually soak into the cobbler topping.

*Jayne's notes: I forgot to add the lemon when I made this and it still tasted heavenly.

Monday, October 27, 2008

German Pancakes and Warm Peach Butter Sauce

PhotobucketJayne's Notes: Home-grown and bottled peaches are like GOLD in our house! They are divine! I made this with a quart of these delicious peaches and it was ohhhh so good!! If you're on a diet, don't continue reading. Run away, far away! This is not light on calories but it tastes so good!!
Warm Peach Butter Sauce
1 pint peaches
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter in a small saucepan. blend peaches in blender and add into butter. add sugar and salt. stir and bring to a boil. simmer until sauce thickens. stir in vanilla. serve warm with whipped cream.

German Pancakes
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Mix the eggs, milk, flour and salt until smooth. Pour the melted butter into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish; add the batter. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.

(This is German pancakes recipe I found online. I'm sure it's very similar to mine as there isn't a whole lot of room to make changes with this simple recipe.)

Pioneer Woman's Crispy Yogurt Chicken


Crispy Yogurt Chicken

Chicken legs
2 c plain, unflavored yogurt
2-3 cloves garlic
juice of one lemon
2 c Panko Bread Crumbs

Begin by throwing 2 cups of plain yogurt into a mixing bowl. Peel and mince a couple of cloves of garlic and put in yogurt. Next chop up a small amount of fresh parsley and add it to the yogurt. To this add the juice of one lemon. Mix together to combine.

Rinse your chicken and pat it dry. Then give it a nice sprinkling of salt.

In another bowl place the bread crumbs. Give them a sprinkling of salt too and then a bit of a stir.

Butter a baking dish. With a pair of tongs place the chicken, one piece at a time into the yogurt mixture. Turn it over thoroughly to coat. Then roll the chicken in the bread crumbs. Cover each piece thoroughly with bread crumbs and place it in baking dish.

Finally, place a slice of butter over the large part of each chicken piece. Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking. When the chicken is nice and golden, remove from the oven and enjoy!

Jayne's notes: This wasn't as crispy as I would have liked but that may be because I added the last of my corn flakes to the bread crumb mixture. Or it might be because I didn't use 'Panko' crumbs. I'm not sure what they're like, but I just had generic crumbs in my cupboard. I also used a shake of garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. All in all we give this a thumbs up. It was very tasty! Thanks, PW!

Milk-free Chocolate Frosting

We were making brownies this weekend and didn't have enough powdered sugar. This was a yummy alternate recipe that doesn't call for any powdered sugar or milk (my daughter is lactose intolerant). It was surprisingly yummy with a fudgy taste and texture.

Chocolate Frosting

1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons corn starch
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: Mix sugars, cornstarch, salt, and cocoa in a medium sauce pan. Whisk in the water. Heat over medium until it gets thick and starts to boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes. (Make sure you don't boil too long, or it will set like taffy.) Remove from heat and stir in oil and vanilla. Cool and spread on cooled cake.

Makes: enough frosting for 1 cake
Preparation time: 10 min.

Monday, October 20, 2008

BYU Mint Brownies

These bring back a lot of childhood memories. Whenever we visited the BYU campus with my family (almost every summer) my dad would have to buy a BYU mint brownie. (He bought the brownies while we girls bought the fist-sized jaw breakers.) The other day I received this recipe in my BYU alumni email. Yummy to my tummy!!

BYU Mint Brownies

PREP AND COOK: 90 min. COOL: 1 hr.

1 c. margarine
1/2 c. cocoa
2 Tbsp. honey
4 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. chopped walnuts
12 oz. chocolate icing (Use your own icing recipe)

5 Tbsp. margarine
dash of salt
3 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 1/3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. mint extract
1-2 drops green food coloring

1. Melt margarine and mix in cocoa. Allow to cool. Add honey, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add nuts. Pour batter into a greased 9-by-13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool.
2. Prepare mint icing: Soften margarine. Add salt, corn syrup, and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Add mint extract and food coloring. Mix. Add milk gradually until the consistency is a little thinner than cake frosting.
3. Spread mint icing over brownies. Place brownies in the freezer for a short time to stiffen the icing. Remove from the freezer and carefully add a layer of chocolate icing.

Copyright © 2008. Brigham Young University Alumni Association. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Southwestern Chicken and Barley Soup

PhotobucketOkay, so you all may have your doubts about eating a BARLEY soup as did I. But honestly you don't even know it's in there unless you look carefully at what you're spooning into your mouth. This soup tastes great! I wasn't tempted to make it at first but since I have two pounds of Pearl Barley that have sat in my cupboard for a year I figured I would give it a try. I wasn't disappointed. Taste of Home rates it a 5 star recipe and so do I!

Southwestern Chicken and Barley Soup
(Taste of Home original recipe)

1 c chopped onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 T oil
3 c water
1 15-oz can whole kernel corn, drained
1 15-oz can kidney or black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz can tomato sauce (or two small ones)
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 14.5-oz can chicken broth
1/2 c pearl barley (uncooked)
1 4-oz can chopped green chilies, drained
1 T chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
3 c shredded or cubed cooked chicken
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
juice from 1 small lime or 1/2 large lime (about 2-3 T)
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese

In a large soup pot (4-5 qts) saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add the next 10 ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes.

Stir in the chicken and cook for 15 more minutes or until barley is tender. Stir in cilantro and lime just before serving.

To serve, ladle into bowls and top with sour cream and shredded cheese.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Chocolate Zucchini Bread


Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Original recipe from

1 1/2 cups shredded raw zucchini (about 1/2 pound)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup safflower or canola oil
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven. Grease (or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray) a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Set aside.

Grate the zucchini, using a medium sized grater. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, and ground allspice. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the oil, sugars, eggs, and vanilla extract until well blended (about 2 minutes). Fold in the grated zucchini. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely.

Makes one - 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf.

Jayne's Notes: There are few fruit bread recipes that I enjoy. Usually the common banana bread turns out dry and overcooked in my opinion so I was hesitant when my husband offered to find a recipe and bake this to use up our enormous zucchini. But I must say that this was so moist and delicious and most definitely a recipe I would recommend!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

'Flavor-full' Chicken Quesadillas

**This recipe is from the Food Network show Quick Fix Meals. These quesadillas are absolutely delicious! Don't be afraid to use the red onions or artichokes. I went light on the amounts of these because I too was nervous but you can hardly taste them in the final product. Also, I couldn't find the roasted red peppers so I just grilled a few red bell peppers myself. YUM!!

Cooking spray
2 cooked chicken breast halves
8 (6 to 8-inch) flour tortillas
1/2 cup chopped red onions
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced roasted red peppers (from water-packed jar)
1/2 cup sliced artichokes (from water-packed can or jar)
1/4 cup shredded Monterey jack or pepper jack cheese, for each quesadilla

Coat a large skillet or griddle with cooking spray. Set pan over medium heat to preheat. Using a fork, pull chicken meat in shreds.

Arrange tortillas on a flat surface. Top 1 side of each tortilla with an equal amount of chicken, mushrooms, red peppers, and artichokes. Top vegetables with shredded cheese. Fold over tortillas, making a half moon. Place quesadillas in (or on) prepared pan and cook 3 minutes per side, until golden brown and cheese melts.

Zucchini Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting


Adapted from Taste of Home by Nat on Perrys' Plate (this is her dishes are not this pretty)

**These taste like spice cakes. Very yummy!

Zucchini Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting

3 eggs
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 c. shredded zucchini

Caramel Frosting: (this makes a lot so adjust per your needs)
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioners' sugar

Beat eggs, sugar, oil, orange juice and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; add to the egg mixture and mix well. Add zucchini and mix well.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

For frosting, combine brown sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Cool to lukewarm. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes. Yield: 1 1/2 to 2 dozen.

Cheese-Stuffed Southwest Turkey Burgers


Originally from Cooking Pleasures magazine Apr/May 08, recipe found on Perrys' Plate. I LOVE her recipe blog!! (Nat's photo, not mine)

Cheese-Stuffed Southwest Turkey Burgers

8 oz ground turkey breast
1 c shredded zucchini
2/3 c bread crumbs
1/3 c finely chopped onion
3 T taco or enchilada sauce, divided
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
4 T shredded cheese
4 hamburger rolls, split

Heat grill to med-high heat. Drain zucchini in colander and dry slightly with paper towel. Combine turkey, zucchini, bread crumbs, onion, 1 T of sauce, egg white, cumin and salt in a large bowl. Shape half of mixture into 4 patties, 1/4-inch thick. Place 1 T cheese in center of each patty. Shape remaining turkey mixture into 4 patties, 1/4-inch thick and place on top of cheese-topped patties. Press edges to seal while shaping.

Grill, covered, about 10 minutes or until no longer pink in the center and cooked through, turning and brushing with remaining taco sauce halfway through cooking.

Toast rolls during last minute of cooking. Assemble burgers. Makes 4.

Honey-Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders

I ate this on top of a salad and it was divine!

Honey-Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders
*recipe courtesy of the Pleasure Cooker

boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 1/4 cups finely crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400. Sprinkle salt and pepper over chicken. Combine honey, mustard, paprika and garlic in a small bowl. Combine cornflakes and pecans in a shallow dish. Brush both sides of chicken with honey mixture; dredge in cornflake mixture. Place chicken on a foiled baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cook at 400 for 15 minutes or until done.

Jayne's Notes: I combined the salt/pepper in the honey mixture so I could move a little quicker (and touch less raw chicken). Also, I crushed the cornflakes and pecans together in my mini food processor.

Penne with Sausage and Pumpkin Cream Sauce

PhotobucketPenne with Sausage and Pumpkin Cream Sauce

4 oz penne pasta
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
about 2T chopped fresh sage
2 links cooked chicken sausage, sliced
1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese (1% milk fat)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup nonfat milk
5oz baby spinach
parmesan cheese, optional
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook gently for about 1-2 minutes, until softened and beginning to caramelize. Add garlic, sage, and chicken sausage; continue to saute. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. In a blender, combine combine pumpkin, cottage cheese, and milk. Blend until no lumps are present. Add to sausage mixture in skillet and continue to cook over low heat. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drain pasta and return to pot over low heat. Add sausage mixture and baby spinach, and toss together until the spinach is wilted. Serve with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Jayne's Notes: I've seen other recipes that use cream with the pumpkin and this was comparably delicious but lower calorie.
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