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Saturday, December 7, 2013

2013 holiday menu



Well, the holiday season is upon us, and it sure came in with a blast!  We enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving in Omaha with my sister, who, by the way, made a fabulous turkey.  I'll be featuring that recipe soon - it's too good not to share!  Then, we brought my little sis back with us for a week of fun in Texas, only to have it end with what locals are affectionately calling "Icemageddon 2013"!

It's nuts outside!  We had 3.5 inches of sleet on Thursday/Friday, and the weather station says we're going to get more freezing drizzle tonight.  Being holed up at home has given me plenty of time to think about what we'll be eating for the next few weeks and to wish that I had been prepared before the ice hit.

I've decided it's time I start back up with menu posts again.  Like I used to do, I'll just list the recipes that are on my "short list" for the month.  As I post each recipe, I'll link it up to the menu post.  There's no guarantee that I'll make all of them or even post all of the ones I make - only our favorites make it to the blog!  (But, I can tell you now...the Christmas Cremes pictured below are definitely some of our favorites!)



Breakfasts
Blueberry French Toast
Tijuana Dump Breakfast

Breads
Barley Quick Bread
Cheddar Chive Biscuits

Side Dishes
Honey Thyme Roasted Carrots
Cheese Tidbits
Granny's Cornbread Dressing
Country Creamed Corn
Pan Fried Okra

Main Dishes
Homemade Hamburger Helper
Turkey in a Bag
Sloppy Joes
Chicken and Noodles
Beans and Cornbread
Turkey Pot Pie
Chicken Spaghetti

Desserts
Sweet Potato Pie with Marshmallow Meringue
Mississippi Mud Cake

Gifts for Giving
Christmas Sandwich Cookies
Christmas Jam

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

chicken fajita chowder


I am so, so, so, so excited that fall finally seems to be in the air!  We actually had to bust out our coats this week, and we finally turned the heater on!  Of course, it was back up in the 70s today (we do live near Dallas, after all), but the cool weather this past week felt refreshing.

Fall weather puts me in the "mood".  I start baking pies, listening to Christmas music, and wearing my cozy socks again.  I also start eating soup...lots and lots of soup.


I featured this chicken fajita chowder on my review of Everyday Simple Suppers, and so many people asked for the recipe that I thought I'd indulge them.  :)

Random note - Everyday Simple Suppers would make a great Christmas gift for the cook in your life...just sayin'!


This soup is delicious and sure to warm you up when fall weather hits!  We like it topped with cheddar cheese and sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt).  Chock full of beans, veggies, and chicken, it was delicious!


Chicken Fajita Chowder
from Gooseberry Patch's Everyday Simple Suppers
3 T. flour
1.4-oz package fajita or taco seasoning mix, divided
4 chicken breasts, cubed
3 T. oil
1 onion, chopped
1 t. garlic, minced
15 1/4-oz. can sweet corn and diced peppers, drained
15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
14 1/2-oz can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
4.5-oz can chopped green chiles
3 cups water
1 cup instant brown rice, uncooked
10 3/4-oz. can nacho cheese soup
1 1/4 cup water

Combine flour and 2 tablespoons seasoning mix in a large plastic zipping bag; add chicken.  Seal bag and shake to coat.  Saute chicken in hot oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat about 5 minutes, until golden, stirring often.  Reduce heat to medium-high.  Add onion and garlic; saute 5 minutes.  Stir in remaining seasoning mix, corn, beans, tomatoes, chiles, 3 cups water, and rice; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 5 minutes.  Add soup and 1 1/4 cups water; stir until thoroughly heated.  Sprinkle with desired toppings; garnish with fresh cilantro.  Serves 8 to 12.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

slow cooker toasted pecans and pumpkin seeds


Did you know that you could toast nuts and pumpkin seeds in your slow cooker?  I didn't!  Well, that is, until I tried it.  It's now my favorite method - they always end up toasted evenly with lots of flavor, and if I forget them for a while, they don't get burned!

So here's how you do it...


Pour your desired amount of nuts or seeds into your slow cooker.  Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil (enough to lightly coat everything when you stir it) and some seasonings.  When I'm making nuts, I like salt, pepper, chili powder, and oregano.  When I toast pumpkin seeds, I stick with just salt.

Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 15 minutes, just to get everything nice and warm.  Then, take the lid off and continue cooking on high for a few hours (usually about 2), stirring occasionally, until everything is toasted to perfection.  I try to stir every half hour or so, but like I said...because the slow cooker is slow, you most likely won't burn anything if you accidentally let it go longer than that.

This is the perfect low maintenance way to create the perfect party appetizer!



Slow Cooker Toasted Pecans and Pumpkin Seeds
  • 2-4 cups pecans, pumpkin seeds, or other nut
  • 2-3 T. olive oil
  • seasonings (salt, pepper, chili powder, oregano)

Place all ingredients into a slow cooker and stir.  Cover and cook on high for 15 minutes; stir.  Uncover and continue cooking on high, stirring occasionally, until nuts or seeds are toasted to your liking (about 2 hours).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

molasses baked beans


It's finally starting to cool off here in Texas, and that gets me excited for warm and filling meals.  Inspired by Gooseberry Patch's latest, Hometown Harvest (see here for chance to win a copy!), I transformed their recipe for molasses baked beans from a side dish into a main entree.

It. Was. Fabulous.


There are a few secrets to these baked beans that make them unlike any other I've ever tried.  First...the molasses.  Rich, creamy and dark, these molasses pack the perfect amount of spicy sweetness into these beans. 


Second, this recipe calls for a clove-studded onion.  I had never heard of such a thing!  I have stuck cloves in ham...in oranges...but in an onion?  Never!

Yet, it was amazing.  The clove added the perfect flavoring, and sticking the whole cloves into an onion allowed for an even more complex taste with easy removal after everything was done cooking.  What a showstopper of a technique!


So what made my beans different from those in Hometown Harvest?  I simply added some smoked sausage.  We are a "meat and potatoes" family, so I wanted to add a bit of something extra to turn these delightful beans into a main dish.  It worked!


You should give these a try today.  And while you're at it, make some cornbread to go with them!




Molasses Baked Beans
adapted from Gooseberry Patch's Hometown Harvest
  • 2 16oz. packages dried navy beans
  • 1/2 lb. salt pork, cut into strips
  • 1 cup molasses, divided
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 T. dry mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 whole onion
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 lb. kielbasa or smoked sausage, sliced

Cover beans with water in a large pot; soak for 2 to 3 hours.  Drain beans, reserving liquid; place beans in a slow cooker.  Add salt pork, 3/4 cup molasses, brown sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, and chopped onions.  Stud whole onion with cloves; add to slow cooker.  Add sausage.  Pour in enough of reserved liquid to fill half full; stir. Cover and cook on high setting for 4 to 5 hours, or on low setting for 8 to 9 hours, until beans are tender.  After several hours, if a darker color is desired, stir in remaining molasses; continue cooking as directed.  Remove clove-studded onion and salt pork before serving.  Serves 8.

Friday, October 18, 2013

cabbage medley


I've never been a huge cabbage eater, but I decided to start.  Not only is it one of the most inexpensive veggies in the produce section, but it's chock full of good stuff.  According to this site, it's got many antioxidants that help protect against cancer and reduce LDL cholesterol.  It's an awesome source of vitamin C, vitamin B-5, vitamin B-1, and vitamin B-6.  It's also a good source of potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.  And all this for only 25 calories per 100 grams!

Of course, in order to incorporate cabbage into my diet, I have to add bacon...ha!  I diced up just a few slices and browned them until crispy.


Then I layered sliced onion, diced celery, and chunks of cabbage into the skillet.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the top and pour two cups of warm water over that.  Finally, dot with 4 pats of butter.


The cooking is easy!  You put the lid on and boil the whole thing for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat but don't move the skillet.  Then stir the veggies, replace the lid, and just let it stand for 20 minutes!


This cabbage medley is a nutritious and delicious side dish for just about any meal!


Cabbage Medley
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 small cabbage, cut into chunks
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into pats

Brown bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy.  Layer remaining ingredients over the bacon in the order listed above.  Cover and boil for 10 minutes; turn off heat.  Stir vegetables, replace the lid, and let stand on burner for an additional 20 minutes.  Serves 6.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

hometown harvest - review and giveaway


Oooooh, Gooseberry Patch has done it again!  I am so excited to be sharing their latest cookbook with you - after taking a short break from blogging (technology issues...ugh), what a perfect subject for my first post back. :)

(Be sure to scroll down below to enter the giveaway to win your own copy!)

Hometown Harvest is a delicious read.  It's chock full of hearty recipes, inspiring tips, and fall memories!  The chapter titles in and of themselves make my mouth water.  "Hometown Pancake Breakfast" features sumptuous recipes like Autumn Apple WafflesHarvest Hot White Chocolate, Quinoa Breakfast Bake, and Cranberry-Eggnog Monkey Bread.  I can't wait to try Miss Kelli's Corn Cakes and Skinny Pumpkin Soup from "Church Social Soup Supper" as well as Bacon & Cheddar Peroghies and Spiced Holiday Ham from "Thanksgiving Dinner to Remember."

"Game Day Get-Together" contains recipes like Yummy Meatball Sliders, Hot Buttered Cider, and my own recipe, Roasted Vegetable Tart!  Finally, I'm drooling just thinking about the Nutmeg Dessert Sauce and Sweet Potato Cheesecake Pie in "Pumpkin Patch Sweets" and the Molasses Baked Beans and Old-Time Sage Dressing from "Slow-Cooker Potluck Pleasers."

Here's a few recipes we've tried so far, and our thoughts on them!


Most Elegant
Signe's Cinnamon Chip Scones

We don't eat scones often, but I really don't know why...they are so easy to make!  These scones are simply elegant and a perfect accompaniment to coffee or hot cocoa.  My toddler discovered her sweet tooth on these. :)  If you want to transform breakfast into a really special affair, be sure to put these on the menu!

Most Addicting
Buttery Onion Pretzels

Okay, so these pretzels are pretty amazing!  I've made them as the recipe says (with French Onion Soup mix) as well as with taco mix, and I just love them!  I took a whole pound of pretzels to my Bible study thinking that I'd be taking home plenty of leftovers...there were none left by the end of the night!  Beware - if you make these, you won't be able to stop eating them!


Most Comforting
Fried Corn Chowder with Beer Bread

My husband and I both agree, this meal is simply comforting!  When it's cool outside, there's nothing I want more than a creamy soup and a thick slice of bread.  The soup and bread both come together quickly with excellent flavor.  They are sure to warm you from head to toes!

Most Hearty and Filling
Gramma's Beef Barley Soup

I've been looking for a hearty beef stew, and I've found it!  This not only tastes delicious, but a small cup will fill you up for the night.  I love the texture of the barley and the flavors of all of the veggies.  This is one I'll be making again, especially as the nights turn cooler.

As always, we have picked our favorite of the above recipes to share with you below... :)



The Fried Corn Chowder and Beer Bread!  We just loved this recipe so much.  And lucky for you, it's actually two recipes in one!  We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.  And be sure to scroll down below to enter the giveaway to win your own copy of Hometown Harvest!

Fried Corn Chowder
  • 3 T. butter, divided
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 2 T. dried, minced onion
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 T. flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. pepper

Melt one tablespoon butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Add corn; cook, stirring often, until tender.  Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a separate large saucepan.  Add onion and cook until lightly golden, stirring often.  Add potatoes and hot water.  Simmer until potatoes are tender.  Drain half of the liquid.  In a bowl, add flour to milk; whisk until no lumps are visible.  Add salt and pepper.  Stir flour mixture into hot potato mixture; blend well and stir in corn.  Simmer until flavors are blended, about 10 minutes.  Serve hot with Beer Bread.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Beer Bread
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 12 oz. can beer or non-alcoholic beer
  • 2 T. butter, melted

In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add beer; mix well.  Pour into a greased 9"x5" loaf pan.  Drizzle butter on top.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 to 50 minutes, until golden.  Slice while still warm.  Makes one loaf.
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Monday, September 9, 2013

hearty oat loaf


If there's one thing I love, it's bread. :)

Bread has the ability to turn a meager meal into a big one, freshen up your whole home, and add an air of warmth and love to any mealtime.  


This particular bread has been a favorite of mine for several years.  I first discovered it in Taste of Home's Light and Tasty magazines.  The heartiness and beauty of the bread caught my eye, and then I noticed just how healthy it was!  I've been making it...and loving it...ever since.  If Cookie Bandit comes home to a loaf, he does a jig and a cheer.  We're kinda food nerds like that. :)

This bread is an easy fix and perfect alongside soup, salad, or any main dish.  You simply must try it...the sooner the better!


Hearty Oat Loaf
from Taste of Home's Light and Tasty 2003
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T. oats, divided
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 3 T. canola oil

In a large bowl, combine the flours, 1/2 cup oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In another bowl, combine the egg, milk, and oil; stir into dry ingredients until just moistened.  Spread batter into an 8 or 9-inch round baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Sprinkle with remaining oats.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.  Serve warm.  Makes 10 servings.

Nutrition (1 slice): 229 calories, 6 g. fat, 1 g. saturated fat, 22 mg. cholesterol, 272 mg. sodium, 38 g. carbohydrates, 3 g. fiber, 7 g. protein.

Click here to add this recipe to your Taste of Home recipe box. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

everyday simple suppers | review and giveaway

 

I've been a little M.I.A. lately (when did the end of summer get so busy?!), but I'm excited to announce that I've got another Gooseberry Patch giveaway for you!  Everyday Simple Suppers is a fabulous book.  It's not one of their traditional spiral bound, but it's full of pictures of the recipes that they feature.  This is great news for those of you who like to see a picture of the food you are getting ready to make.  There's 260 recipes, each with its own picture!

The book contains 8 delicious chapters: One-Dish Wonders, Farmers' Market Favorites, Sizzling Skillet Suppers, Pronto Pizza and Pasta, Speedy Sandwiches and Salads, Breakfast Anytime, Super Simple Sides, and Short and Sweet Desserts.  I've already bookmarked tons of recipes that I'll be making, including Chicken Cordon Bleu, Stuffed Artichoke Chicken, Potato Puff Casserole, and Florence's Meatball Surprise.  There are a lot of delicious-looking slow cooker recipes as well, like Best-Ever Slow-Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos, Lillian's Slow-Cooker Beef Stew, and Slow-Cooker Tortellini Harvest Soup.  We are huge fans of big breakfasts, so Nutty Maple Waffles and Mountaintop Bacon will be appearing on my table soon.  And who could resist the Peanut Butter Bars and Easy Cherry Cobbler?

As usual, we've picked a few recipes and given each a reward.  I just love this part of my review!


Most Filling
Chicken Fajita Chowder from the chapter One-Dish Wonders
This fajita chowder comes with an impressive list of ingredients, but it takes surprisingly little time and energy to put together.  Full of corn and beans, it's also amazingly filling.  Seriously.  This bowl is all I needed to feel totally satisfied after dinner.  We really enjoyed this soup, and it feeds a crowd!
Most Deceivingly Healthy
Granny's Overnight Pancakes from the chapter Breakfast Anytime
I was intrigued by these pancakes because of the overnight factor - I've never heard of anything like it!  Well, folks, they are delicious.  You soak oats in buttermilk the night before, and then in the morning you add the remaining ingredients.  They not only include oats but also whole wheat flour.  I added some flax seed in for some more fibrous fun!  They were incredibly healthy with all of those whole grains, but my family would never know. :)
Most Unique
Fried Pecan Okra from the chapter Super Simple Sides
We are okra LOVERS in this house.  Pan-fried okra is pretty much a staple here, so I knew that I had to try this recipe.  It's unique, not only because you fry whole okra, but also because the batter contains ground pecans.  I thought the pecans added a unique dimension to the flavor.  It was a bit hard to get the batter to stick to the okra, but I loved it anyway!
Quickest Sweet Fix
Snowballs from the chapter Short and Sweet Desserts

These little balls of chocolate have stolen my heart.  They took just minutes to make - no baking required!  Next time my sweet tooth rears its ugly head, I'll be whipping these babies up.  Is there anything better than chocolate?

It was hard to pick a favorite recipe to share with you in this post, but we ended up settling on the dessert...not surprisingly!  We hope you enjoy these treats as much as we did, and be sure to enter the giveaway below to win your own copy of this book!


Snowballs
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Combine chocolate chips and milk in a double boiler; heat over hot water until chocolate melts.  (Kristin's note: if you don't have a double boiler, just place a large bowl over the top of a saucepan...see example below.)  Stir to blend well.  Remove from heat; stir in powdered sugar and nuts.  Cool slightly.  Form into one-inch balls; roll in coconut.  Makes about 2 dozen.

PS - this is my homemade "double boiler."


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