Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cheesy Ham and Potato Soup

I bought a big ham last weekend and it has provided at least four dinners for us! I have particularly enjoyed using some for this wonderful soup fully of creamy goodness. Perfect recipe for your leftover holiday ham and a winner with the children.

3 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup water
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp. flour
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped ham

In a large pot, add the 1st 7 ingredients and simmer until potatoes are tender.
In a separate bowl, mix flour and milk. Add to soup and cook until thickened.
Stir in cheese and ham and simmer until melted.

Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles have been a holiday tradition in my family for a long time. These are simple yet delicious and addicting! They are wonderful with a cup of hot tea and a friend :)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar (found in spice section of your grocer)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine 1st 4 ingredients in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla. Stir well. Add flour mixture and stir until soft dough forms.

Roll into 1 inch balls and roll in mixture of 2 Tbsp. sugar/1 tsp. cinnamon. Place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake 9-11 minutes and remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

*the ones pictured above were done using my cookie press*

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Grandma's Pumpkin Bread

My dear friend Laura has used this recipe from her grandma since was a Southern Living recipe that is just delicious. She makes it every fall and came over to my house this week to make a big batch. My kids LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I poured the batter into my stoneware mini loaf pan, my mini muffin pan (the greatest size for toddlers!) and my stoneware crock. We have eaten on it all week and I still have four mini loaves in my freezer! Enjoy!

2 sticks butter, softened
3 eggs
2 3/4 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used white wheat flour)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups packed pumpkin (about 1 and 1/2 cans)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup pecans

Mix and bake at 325 for 1 hour (for a loaf pan). For mini loaf pans, about 30 minutes or so. Just use a cake tester to check! Mini muffins take little time at all.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Simple Granola

This is from the More-with-Less Cookbook and I have some baking in the oven right now! I had all of the ingredients on hand and am hoping this will be a simpler way to have our daily granola with out purchasing it in the store.

Preheat oven to 250.

Combine in a large mixing bowl:
2 cups whole wheat flour
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup coconut
1 cup wheat germ

Blend together separately:
1/2 cup water
1 cup oil
1 cup coconut
1 cup honey or corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. salt

Add blended liquids to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Spread out on 2 greased cookie sheets and bake 1 hour or until dry and golden.
Store in covered containers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Simple Marinara Sauce

I think that I got this recipe from the Flylady website years ago. It is so easy and delicious for a simple meatless tomato sauce...tonight we will have it over spinach fettuccine.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

Heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add tomatoes and all the spices. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Much cheaper than buying a jar of sauce and it tastes more "fresh" to me too!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Derby Pie

This has been a family holiday staple for many many years and as of late it has made its way into the every day's too good to wait for! My daughter and I made two yesterday afternoon in about 5 minutes. Enjoy this sweet treat any time of the year!

This is the "real" recipe and in parentheses is how I now make it in order to be a wee bit healthier.

2 frozen flaky pie crusts
3 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar (organic cane sugar)
3/4 cup flour (whole wheat pastry flour)
3/4 cup melted butter (organic)
1/2 tsp. vanilla (organic)
1 1/2 cups chocolate morsels
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Mix well and pour into pie crusts. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream. Makes 2. Freezes beautifully!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lentil and Brown Rice Soup

I don't usually associate soup with summer. But when my cupboards were seemingly bare and dinnertime was upon us, I stumbled upon this recipe which included all the things that I regularly keep on hand. It is delicious, freezes well, and very simple and hearty.

5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups lentils, rinsed
3 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped (1/2 cup)
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/3 tsp. dried basil
1 cup long grain brown rice
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring all ingredients to a boil (except salt and pepper). Reduce heat; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 45-55 minutes or until lentils and rice are tender. Remove bay leaf and discard. Add salt and pepper. Serves 8-10.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ode to the Omelet

Omelets are wonderful way for a woman to get her protein, calcium, and even all the goods in green leafies for either breakfast or lunch! I am no omelet expert at all but this is what I have been eating lately and thought I would share the energy with you!

2-3 eggs, whisked with a little water
Shredded cheese (cheddar, colby jack, mozzarella, parmesan)
Garlic salt
Baby Spinach

Pour into a small saute pan over medium heat and let sit until edges get firm. I sprinkle a handful of whatever grated cheese I have on hand on one side of the eggs along with a sprinkling of garlic salt and a small handful of baby spinach! Use a flat spatula to gently fold 1/2 of the eggs on top of the other half (does that make sense?!) I also tilt the pan towards the spatula while I do it so that the egg slides onto the spatula. Let cook for a few minutes on lower heat and then flip and let a cook just a little longer so that there is some light browning.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summer Smoothies

My children and I love just love all the fresh summer berries and can't get enough! For breakfast, pull out the blender and make easy, tasty, and healthy smoothies for the whole family.
Here is what we drank this morning:

1 cup organic plain yogurt
1 cup organic milk
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 of a banana
A little bit of sugar, honey, or raw agave nectar to taste!

Blend and enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sisterchicks Chicken Salad

As the weather begins to warm, I begin to keep this wonderful chicken salad on hand to share with special friends at the spur-of-the-moment. My good friend Kristen and I loved to eat chicken salad when we "lived life together" with our small children in Kentucky. Since then I have come to the place of always sharing chicken salad in my home with special girlfriends. This recipe is one that I got from my pastor's wife many years back and have always always enjoyed it.

4 cups cooked, cubed chicken breasts
1 cup seedless red grapes
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup mayo
2 Tbsp. Dannon Vanilla Yogurt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Mix all together and chill.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Popcorn Possibilities

I have fond memories of my mother having a Stir Crazy popcorn popper. When I was young, we would go watch church league basketball each Tuesday, and before we would leave for the games, my mom would pop bunches and bunches of corn, bag it in garbage bags, and we would share it with everyone sitting around us. This is my most vivid memory of learning the joy of sharing and the happiness it gave me to bless others with something as simple as popcorn. And it always made me so proud of my mom that she was blessing others with something simple from her kitchen.

So when I found this popcorn popper 9 years ago at a yard sale (for only $1.50!), I snatched it up. Number 1 reason was because I just love popcorn and was sick of the microwaved stuff. And the deeper reason was because of the warm memories it kindled of childhood and I wanted to create special kitchen memories with my little ones.

The Stir Crazy has brought us countless yummy bowls of popcorn as we watch movies, sit around the table talking, or for a snack-on-the-go for our nature walks. Forget the overpriced, greasy microwave stuff! This only takes corn kernels and a bit of oil and kids think watching it pop is the best entertainment. Popcorn is our usual afternoon snack...sometimes with just a sprinkling of salt and sometimes with melted butter. Others I know like to use seasoning salt or even brown sugar. I have always loved tossing in some plain M&M's :)

You can still buy these poppers at your local Target, Walmart, etc. Or you can do it the old fashioned way and do it in a pot on the stove. In either case, popcorn is a wonderfully easy nutritious snack that almost everyone loves.

And now there are tons of websites that offer great recipes to give popcorn an interesting, new spin. This "adult popcorn" looks delicious and I can see my children loving this recipe for cinnamon crunch popcorn. And who would have thought curried popcorn might be yummy?

The popcorn possibilities are endless. This is a new way to be creative with an old favorite and to make some warm fuzzies. Grab the kids, the spices and have some fun poppin' today!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Black Bean and Salsa Chicken

I saw my friend Stephanie this morning and she reminded me of a wonderfully simple recipe in which I always keep the ingredients on hand for a quick go-to dinner.

1 jar of your fave salsa
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexi-blend cheese
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Place chicken in baking dish and cover with salsa and beans. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over top and let bake another 5 minutes. Moist, yummy chicken!! You could even serve it with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

I serve it with rice and corn on the cob.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Honey Ginger Grilled Salmon

This is an easy grilled salmon marinade that we have enjoyed many times. I just love salmon so much and love to try new ways of fixing it. Salmon is so fabulous for your health and you can read here why that is so! I serve this dish with grilled asparagus and baked sweet potatoes.

1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1 green onion, sliced thin
1 1/2 lbs salmon fillets

In a gallon Ziploc, combine first six ingredients; mix well. Place salmon in bag and seal tightly. Turn bag gently to distribute marinade.

Refrigerate 15-30 minutes and turn bag occasionally. (I also put this together and freeze the salmon in the marinade. It thaws nicely in the frig the day you want to use it.)

Grill salmon over medium heat for 12-15 minutes per inch of thickness. Brush with marinade up until the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Discard leftover marinade!

Serves 4

Friday, March 16, 2007

Freezer Cooking Revisited

It is that time again for Leslie and I to spend our St. Patrick's Saturday filling the freezer. Being able to pull out a tasty meal from the freezer has been a big blessing especially since I have had a sinus infection, allergies and general fatigue.

The menu for tomorrow is as follows:
  • Basic Muffin Mix
  • Two Derby Pies
  • Basic Spaghetti Sauce
  • 2 sets of hamburger patties/buns
  • 2 Poppyseed Chicken casseroles
  • 2 Caribbean Steaks
  • Honey Ginger Salmon
  • Fish with Cilantro and Lime
  • Lemon Grilled Fish
  • Flank Steak in marinade
  • 2 Sesame Chicken
  • 2 Mexican Beef and Bean Wraps
Mike is going to do some of buying at Sam's Club for me this afternoon and the rest I will purchase at Publix. Everything will be put into Freezer Quart and Gallon bags. We are going to start at 10 am and hope to finish by 4 pm with weary feet but full freezers.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mexican Beef and Bean Wraps

These are so healthy and delicious!

1/3 lb. lean ground beef
1/3 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
2/3 cup chunky salsa
1 16 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2/3 cup cilantro, chopped
Whole grain tortillas

Combine beef and oatmeal. Brown in skillet over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Remove and drain. Add beans, spinach, spices, and salsa to the pan. Heat through. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and cilantro. Place in warmed tortillas and enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Lasagna Presto

This is a great recipe that I received from a friend. It's easy to double for when you have company and I serve it with garlic bread and a Caesar Salad.

8 oz egg noodles
1 lb. ricotta cheese
1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg (use only 1 egg when doubling)
15 1/2 oz. jar spaghetti sauce (extra is good)
1/2. lb. ground beef
Salt and Pepper to taste

Brown beef and add the sauce. Cook noodles according to package directions and drain. Combine noodles, ricotta, mozzarella (reserve 1/2 cup for topping), parmesan, egg, salt and pepper.
Spread a little sauce on bottom of greased 2 qt. casserole. Put half of noodle mixture over sauce, repeat with remaining sauce and noodles, ending with sauce. Top with mozzarella.
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. (Bake for 40 min. if doubled)

You can double this in a 9x13 pan. Also you can add sausage or mushrooms.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Spinach Tortellini Soup

This is a tasty, simple recipe that you can quickly put together for a filling meal.

2 cans chicken broth
2 cans diced Italian tomatoes
1 pkg. (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach
1 bag frozen cheese tortellini
Oregano to taste

Simmer for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Wonderful with garlic bread.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Baked Oatmeal

This is a delicious recipe that all of my children love!

1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar, honey or maple syrup (I prefer maple syrup)
2 eggs
3 cups oatmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup milk

Mix oil, sugar, and eggs with mixer until yellow and glossy. Add remaining ingredients and beat on medium until well blended. Add optional ingredients such as apples and raisins.
Bake at 400 for 30 minutes in 9x13 pan.
Serve warm with milk, brown sugar , raisins, or dates if desired!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat
4 basil leaves
1 Tbsp. oil

Drizzle oil on one side of each breast and lay basil leaf on top of oiled side.

In small bowl combine:

1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/3 tsp. rosemary
1/3 tsp. oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Spoon equal amounts of this filling on top of each basil leaf. Carefully roll the edges of the chicken breast around the filling and secure with toothpick. Place seam side down in baking dish. Drizzle with a little more oil and bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sesame Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. ginger, fresh or powdered
sliced green onions, optional

Mix all together (make a double batch and freeze the second one!), marinate for a few hours and then broil for 10-15 minutes, turning once!
Serve with steamed broccoli and brown rice.

Monday, February 12, 2007

2 weeks of meals

On Saturday my sister Leslie and I prepared 2 weeks worth of meals for our freezers! It took about 5 hours (we both think it would have been less if we had planned a bit better), but it is an amazing sight for hungry eyes to find all that beautifully prepared food! We made burger patties and froze them along with some buns, beef and bean burritos, stuffed chicken breasts, sesame chicken, caribbean steak, crockpot barbeque chicken, crockpot beef and peppers, poppy seed chicken, meatloaf, and chicken scallopini. Most of these were simply freezing the meat along with a marinade...when I defrost, it will either be grilled, put in the crockpot or baked.

These are very easy meals that will be accompanied by fresh vegetables and salads. If any of these recipes interest you...just comment. We froze everything in gallon ziploc bags FLAT so that everything stacked neatly on top of each other. We labeled each bag with a sharpie with instructions on how to cook the meal.

Grab a buddy, schedule a Saturday, and fill your freezers full of food!

Friday, February 9, 2007

Delicious Living

I picked up Delicious Living magazine from my local health food store and found an interesting article about how Japanese people keep their weight and eating under control.

"Japanese women have the greatest longevity on Earth and the lowest obesity levels in the developed world. You may think it's all in our genes, but when Japanese people shift to unhealthy foods and too-big portions, they get fat, just like I did. What's our secret to staying slender? Fresh seasonal foods prepared in the healthiest, simplest ways and served in modest portions on beautiful dishes--a style of celebrating food that lets the natural beauty and flavor of the ingredients shine through"

So not only does simple cooking, buying produce local, and basic beauty bring me kitchen happiness, it also means a healthier, celebratory lifestyle. All year long, the Japanese "eat with their eyes" not only their mouths. "We take time to enjoy the natural goodness and beauty of the food".

Here's to eating healthy, modest portions on beautiful dishes and taking the time to savor and admire the beauty of your meal!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Making Your Table Pretty

It doesn't take much to create a pleasing centerpiece. I laid out an eyelet tablecloth I found at a garage sale for 50 cents and filled an enamelware pot with Granny Smith apples.
A basket filled with pinecones is nice for the winter. I love bowls full of lemons and limes. I also love bringing nature inside and cut some greenery or small branches and put them in a hurricane vase. Or put some "flower money" in your food budget and pick up a pretty bouquet from your grocery store. White pillar candles always add warmth and beauty and can be bought regularly and inexpensively and placed in hurricane vases. Your family will appreciate the extra small touches you take to make the dinner table inviting, warm, and pretty. And you may then linger longer as you eat and enjoy some wonderful conversation and memories.
Here's to a pretty table...simply!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Groovy Guacamole

One of God's most wonderful creations is the avocado. I started this love affair about 10 something years ago. Not only are they rich in potassium, vitamin A, folate and good fat that lowers cholesterol, avocados are DELICIOUS and wonderful in wraps, on sandwiches, and my perennial fave, guacamole.

I belong to a fruit and vegetable Coop and get my avocados for only 50 cents. I allow them to ripen on my counter for a few days, and then I put the ones I haven't used yet in the frig. They can keep several weeks in there without spoiling!

Here's an easy guacamole that I make almost daily:

2 ripened avocados
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 fresh lime, squeezed
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed

Here is a link to the health benefits of avocados.
And for those of you with babies, they make the perfect first baby food!! Just mash and serve!

Key West Style Cuban Marinade

This is my new favorite marinade that I find at my local grocery store Publix. It is Nellie and Joe's Key West Style Cuban Marinade with lime juice, orange juice, canola oil, onion, garlic, oregano, salt, habanero peppers and spices. It is delicious to use to marinate chicken, grill and slice for fajitas. We are going to grill some tonight with red peppers and onions and then top on a whole grain tortilla with cheese, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. OH BABY! I am salivating just thinking about it!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

This recipe is for use in your bread machine!
Add the ingredients in this order and then use the dough setting on your machine.

1 cup water, room temperature
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

Wipes Solution

If you choose to stop using disposable wipes for your baby, you can begin to simply use baby washcloths as wipes or cut up old flannel receiving blankets and sew 2 squares together to make a nice soft wipe. There are also many places you can buy cutie wipes online. This is a wipes solution you can make to keep in a squirt bottle to spray your cloth wipe before using OR keep it in an old wipes container with your cloths soaking in it.

1/8 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. Baby shampoo
4 drops tea tree oil
8 drops lavender essential oil
3 cups water

You can find the oils in any natural health food store. Tea tree has anti-microbial and antibacterial properties and lavender gives a wonderful soothing scent!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 1/3 stick butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
12 oz. chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar...add the rest!
Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

Friday, February 2, 2007

I love sharing food

I started this recipe blog as a place to share recipes with one another and to inspire each other to cook loving meals for our families. Everything is so fast food and junky these days and I love living a simpler schedule so that I can cook healthy, tasty meals for family and friends. I want my children to have memories of being with me in the kitchen and having the safety of routine dinner times together around the table. I read a book recently called "The Surprising Power of Family Meals: How Eating Together Makes us Stronger, Healthier, and Happier" by Miriam Weinstein. It shows the wonderful impact regular meals together make on all of us.

Although I try to eat organic and what I deem to be healthy, I still love me some comfort foods and Southern-style cooking. So you will see a variety of recipes on here that we simply enjoy.

I also want to chronicle my sister Leslie and my adventures in once-a-month cooking...also known as Freezer cooking. We are trying to get our shed wired for electricity so that we can buy a used chest freezer. Until then I will use our humble freezer space and Leslie has some space in her extra frig in her garage. Our next cook day is on February 10th and we are attempting to make 2 weeks worth of meals for our freezers.

And I may even share all my failed attempts at bread baking! I would love to get a sourdough starter and bread going so we shall see how that pans out. Forgive the pun :)

We'll just see where this blog goes, but I will mainly be using it to post recipes that we enjoy. I also have many thoughts about dining vs. eating and how to make mealtimes meaningful, beautiful, and fun. I also want to jump into the world of simple entertaining and de-myth how hard it is to most people to open up their home. Hospitality should be simple!

Happy Happy Dining Adventures with your Friends and Family!