Friday, December 30, 2011

Creme Brulee

  Mike and I made creme brulee last week.  It was so delicious!  For those of you (like me) who have never had it before, it's basically a really great custard with a paper-thin layer of sugar.  It was remarkably easy, and so creamy and decadent.  Those little black bits?  Little vanilla beans.  I got such a kick out of using a real vanilla bean.  I may be a big dork, but it was fun. :)  Plus the vanilla flavor was out of this world!
  Sorry I can't include the recipe, but it's an America's Test Kitchen recipe that you can find in their Baking Basics DVD or I'm sure in one of their books.  The only change I would make is the sugar for the top.  They call for demerara sugar, but we preferred regular old white sugar.
  I totally recommend trying it, especially since we have Valentine's Day coming up!  What a fancy little dessert for the little sweeties in your life.  :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Potato, Potah-to

I love fall and winter for many reasons, but one of them is that it is SOUP weather.  I love it.  This soup is so easy, with so few ingredients that it is definitely a go-to recipe in our house.  Plus, it's really delicious.  The toppings can be changed.  This time we just added salt, pepper, and some grilled onions.  It was awesome.  Enjoy the cool weather!

Potato Soup
3 cups fat free milk (or any kind is fine)
1 can condensed cream of potato soup
2 c. frozen Southern-style hash browns
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese (cheddar is the best but you can use other kinds, too)
green onions

Mix milk and soup in large saucepan.  Stir in hashbrowns.  Bring to boil on high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer 10 minutes stirring constantly.  Top with cheese, bacon and onions.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pea Soup and Genius Husbands

Stick to your ribs soup.  Warm you up soup.  So good.

Split Pea Soup

1 lb split peas
 garlic powder
Mrs. Dash
2 Bay Leaves
2 chicken bouillon
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced
small ham chunks

1.  Rinse peas.  In large pot, place 12 c water, peas, ham, onion, seasonings, and bouillon.  (I didn't have bouillon so I just subsitituted chicken broth - 8 c. chicken broth, 4 c. water but it could have had more water I think and been fine.) Bring to simmer - cook uncovered 1 1/2 hours.  Stir every 15-20 minutes or so.
2.  Add carrots and cook continuing simmering another 2 1/2 hours.  Keep stirring.
3.  Remove bay leaves.  Serve as is or blend in blender or with immersion blender.

Tilt your head to the right. 
That is genius right there. 
No, not me.  I can't figure out why blogger isn't putting this picture up right.  It's driving me bonkers.

My husband is the genius.  We kept losing our cups.  We'd set it down and then forget which was ours.  So he just put some soap dishes up above the sink and voila!  We always know which cup is ours!  He also put two up for sponges, etc and a bracket for a washcloth to clean up the kiddos.  The paintbrush isn't usually there.  :)  It is so nice to have everything clean and organized around the sink. 
Thanks sweetie!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mummy Dogs

Mummy Dogs are definitely going to be a Halloween tradition around here.  Andrew loved the mustard eyes.  I'm not a huge hot dog fan but for some reason these are soooo much better.  Just wrap strips of cresent dough around hot dogs cut in half.  Bake according to dough instructions and add mustard or ketchup eyes.  Yeah, it's basically pigs in a blanket, only with a much less gross name. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mushroom, Onion, and Chicken Pasta

I didn't used to be a mushroom fan. Turns out, if you use cruddy mushrooms, they don't taste good. And canned mushrooms.....*shudder*.
This is a variation on a Rachel Ray recipe, and it is super super good. The original recipe calls for orzo pasta and more meat than we normally eat in stuff. We use a bigger noodle and add a dash of salt. Hope you like it!
Mushroom, Onion, and Chicken Orzo Pasta
1. Heat water to boil. Salt and add orzo pasta.
2. Preheat skillet to med-high heat. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Season chicken breasts as desired (we just grill ours without any seasonings). Cook chicken. Remove from heat. Cover with foil on plate.
3. Add 2 tbsp butter to skillet and add mushrooms. Cook until brown. Add 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tbsp. dried thyme, and 1-2 onions (as desired). Cook until onions wilt.
4. Add 2 tbsp. flour. Whisk in 1 1/2 c chicken broth, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, and 3 tbsp. heavy whipping cream.
5 Simmer until thickened. Add chicken and orzo pasta. Add 1/4 c. fresh parsley.
6. Serve.
7. Eat.
8. No, seriously. Stop reading this recipe and go eat!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fridge Help

Is it weird that I want my fridge organized? So I need help. The bottom right hand side is Aaron's so that's no problem, but it's the rest of the fridge that needs help. Anyone have a great system?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gooey Butter Cookies

These. Are. Amazing.
Word to the wise, as hard as it may be, wait until these are completely cooled, cold even. Now, I'm one of those people who don't like warm desserts. Warm apple pie? No way. Put that puppy in the fridge. I'tm not even going to get started on the saddness that is...gulp...HOT fudge on ice cream. But even my husband, who loves warm cookies, agreed that these needed to be cool.  Cold, they are addictive, incredible, delicious, buttery....amazing!

Gooey Butter Cookies

1/2 c butter, softened
1 egg
1 butter yellow cake mix
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c powdered sugar

Beat butter, cheese, egg, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Blend in cake mix. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Drop by teaspoonful balls of batter into powdered sugar and mix to coat. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Makes 4 dozen.

*I made them a bit bigger and still just cooked for 13 minutes or so. Don't overcook these!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Another Cobb

I made another Cobb salad the other day. This time it was a Southwestern Cobb salad. It has Romaine lettuce, Monterey Jack cheese, frozen (thawed) corn, black beans (be sure to drain and rinse), red onion, red bell pepper (the recipe called for green, but these were cheaper believe it or not. Not to mention better) bacon, celery, and avocado (the recipe didn't call for it on the salad. It called for it in the dressing, but this was easier.) The dressing was supposed to be 1/2 an avocado mixed with 1 c. buttermilk and hot sauce to taste. I mixed Ranch dressing with a bit of avocado and a few splashes of hot sauce. It was so good. Gotta love a good salad!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chicken Salad-Stuffed Avocado

This stuff is so awesome! I may or may not have made this recipe 3 times this week....So yeah, I did. The first night I made it with some tomato bruschetta. Try it. It is amazing!
Chicken Salad-Stuffed Avocado
1 Hass Avocado
1 c. Diced poached chicken (I used grilled chicken)
2 tbsp. minced celery
1/2 shallot, minced (I used some red onion)
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp creme fraiche (I used Greek yogurt)
2 tbsp sliced almonds
pinch of Harvest Eating House Seasoning*
1. Cut avocado in half. Remove pit and discard.
2. Cut a small slice off back of each avocado shell, so they will sit level to be bowls. Scoop out each half of the avocado & chop it into small pieces.
3. Combine avocado, chicken, celery, shallot, mustard, creme fraiche, almonds, and seasoning in mixing bowl. Fold carefully.
4. To serve, scoop large portions of salad into each empty avocado half.
---Harvest Eating House Seasoning - *2 tbsp salt, 1 1/2 tbsp pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tbsp oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/4 tsp cumin
---I don't know if my avocados were just on the small side or what, but less than half of the stuff
fit into the avocado shells. It was amazing eaten with crackers!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Summer to Fall

The weather has turned cool, and I am so glad! I love fall, and all that comes with it. To bid it farewell, we made a summery meal that was really and truely fresh and delicious!
Pasta Primavera
8 oz rotini pasta
1/4 c olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, sliced
1/3 c freshly grated Parmesan
1 small yellow squash, sliced
1 c broccoli florets
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (I used 1/4)
1 1/2 c shrimp (I substituted chicken)
1/2 c halved grape tomatoes
1.) Prepare pasta according to pasta directions. Drain and place in large serving bowl.
2.) Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add carrot, squash, broccoli, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Cook, sitrring constantly, for 5 minutes longer or until crisp-tender.
3.) Stir in shrimp (or any other meat) and tomatoes and cook 3 minutes, or until heated through. Pour over the pasta and sprinkle with cheese.
To welcome in the fall, I made White Chicken Chili. This stuff is quite literally FABulous.
White Chicken Chili Soup
1-2 lbs cooked chicken breast
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp oil
2 cans Great Northern beans, drained
1 can chicken broth (about 2 cups)
1-2 cans green chilies (chopped and drained)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 c whipping cream
1 c sour cream
Saute onion and garlic in oil and combine with cooked shredded chicken, beans, chicken broth, green chilis, salt, cumin, oregano, and pepper. After ingredients have simmered 30 minutes, stir in whipping cream and sour cream.
It's even better as leftovers, so don't worry about making it ahead of time!

Friday, September 16, 2011

When At First You Don't Succeed...

This picture is of an Eggplant Napoleon. Beautiful, flavorful, interesting, full of veggies. This is NOT what I made yesterday. The recipe said "Eggplant Napoleon" but what I got was.........nasty. I mean, really bad. The kid had filled himself up with applesauce, but at this point, we were starving.
We knew the old adage, however. "When at first you don't succeed...."So we tried, tried, again. We made a peanut sauce with noodles. Yum, right? Wrong. So very, very wrong. Again, nasty.
So we made up our own adage. When you have failed twice in a row, run dear, run dear. To Subway you must go. So we did. You can't win 'em all. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup and Grilled Onion and Cheese Sandwiches

Heck. Yes. I'm not a big fan of squash on the whole, so I was a little skeptical of this recipe. Let me tell you, however, that it is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Not difficult, packed with good-for-you-stuff, and incredibly tasty. There are some very bold, very diverse flavors in there that you will LOVE.
And seriously, how have I never thought to put grilled onions on a grilled cheese sandwich?! It was to die for. So delicious!

Butternut Squash Soup

2 large butternut squash, about 5 lbs.
1/4 c canola oil (I used olive oil)
3 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves (I used pre-minced garlic)
1 small serrano chili (Mine went missing so I used some smoked Chipotle tabasco sauce and a dash of red pepper flakes.)
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 qt (about 6 cups) chicken stock, plus extra if needed
Black pepper to taste
5 tbsp creme fraiche (I used a dollop of Greek yogurt, but really you don't need any of it...))

1. Peel squash. Cut in half, scoop out the seeds with a spoon and cut flesh into 2" cubes.
2. Heat large pot over medium-high heat and drizzle oil. Add onions and saute until lightly browned, about 5 min. Add celery, carrots, garlic and chile. Saute until veggies caramelize, 10-12 min.
3. Add squash, cook 10 minutes. Add potatoes and salt, then cover with stock. Let soup simmer over medium heat 40-45 minutes until veggies are very soft. Puree soup until smooth (I used an immersion blender and it worked well. Just be careful not to let it splash, no matter what you use.)
4. Return to pot, check to make sure it is smooth and thick, but not as thick as baby food. Check seasoning. Keep warm over very low heat until ready to serve.
5. Garnish with creme fraiche and serve.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Blog?

When I was a kid, and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wasn't sure what to say. If you know me, you know that I am not one who doesn't have anything to say. This was true especially when I was a kid. I would answer with a wide range of occupations, some of which were: teacher, author, checker at K-mart, opera singer....yes, I was focused.
The honest truth is, there is only one thing I have ever wanted to be. A stay-at-home wife and mom. Not only have I always respected and idealized my mom, but it's just perfect for my temperment and interests. Teaching my kids at home, organizing and cleaning my home, decorating my home, cooking, etc. Some of those things I'm good at. Some of those things are a work in progress. (Some of them a serious work in progress!)
My journey to becoming a self-proclaimed domestic dork is the purpose of this blog. Feel free to follow me on my quest, and any tips are MORE than welcome! :)