Friday, July 17, 2009

Baked Potato Soup...

For any of you who love baked potatoes (I know I do), this is the soup for you! Interestingly, for me - it's not even the potato that I love, it's the sour cream (addict), green onions, and bacon bits I looooove (oh AND the cheese....definitely can't forget the cheese...mmmm). Anyways, this recipe was taken from Brent's cousin, Devynn who also has a cooking blog - you can find it HERE. She tried it and said it was sooo good. It was kind of gloomy so I figured it was the perfect time to try it. It's been a while since I made soup so I was definitely in the mood for it. Here are the ingredients :)

5 medium potatoes, unpeeled and cut into small chunks
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup chicken bouillon
3 cups milk (I did 2 cups milk, 1 cup cream)
1/2 cup dehydrated onion flakes (I just diced a small onion)
1/2 cup crumbled bacon
2 cups shredded cheddar
diced green onion (I did about 4 stalks - just depends on how many people that are eating like them)
Sour Cream

Pierce the potatoes and cook in microwave for about 10 minutes (2-3 minute increments). Let cook and cut into small chunks. Put into crock pot and add water, chicken bouillon,milk (or milk and cream), and onion. Cook on high until potatoes are nice and easily mashed - use a potato masher. You can blend it too, but I just used a masher. Dish into bowls and top with bacon, cheddar cheese, and green onion. Oh and sour cream too of course!

I also served this with my orange/almond salad and a french loaf with butter. We fed 7 adults with this amount. It was *just* enough food....I contemplated making a second batch but then I'd have had so much leftover. Not that Brent would have minded - he's still talking about it. I'll probably make it again soon. It was a huge hit and soooo easy. I had it in the crock pot from 10am-5pm. Throw the stuff in and forget about it. Definitely a *make again* meal - perfect for those cool and rainy days, or the winter snow days when you just hunker in and watch videos all day!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Something new...

At 6pm I realized I had nothing planned for dinner - okay I knew well before then, but it suddently occurred to me I might want to *start* planning something. I found some chicken thighs in the freezer and set them out to thaw (I know it`s not recommended but we always thaw them in a sink of hot water anyways...we`ve never gotten sick, so we still do it) and tried to think of what to put on them. I wanted to do bbq sauce but wanted to make one from scratch. So, I went to my trusty source and looked up *bbq sauce*. And this beauty came sounded good and had great reviews, and except for a few, I had all the ingredients. So here it goes:

2 cups ketchup
1 bulb garlic (the whole bulb, not just a clove - I only used about 3/4 of a bulb as that's what I had in the cupboard)
1 cup water
2 Tbsp hot sauce (I did not use any)
1/4 cup honey (I melted it slightly so it would mix in better - no need to heat on the stove when it's going in the oven anyways)
2 Tbsp Molasses (I didn't have any but used some hot & spicy bbq sauce instead to compensate for this and the hot sauce)
2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt (did not add...still can't figure out why a recipe would need salt in addition to soy sauce??)
2 Tbsp cajun seasoning (didn't have)
1 pinch paprika
1 pinch crushed red peppers
1 pinch ground white pepper (don't have so just double black pepper)
1 pinch ground black pepper
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water (I actually used more like 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup butter (I chose not to add this as I didn't think it was necessary)

I mixed all the ingredients in a bowl and put a little on the bottom of the baking dish (so chicken wouldn't stick). Then I put the chicken in and topped with chopped peppers (yellow, red, and orange), celery, carrots, and white onions. Then poured the rest of the sauce over and baked for an hour at 350. Brent said it was *GREAT* (it always makes me smile when he says that about something I've made). We did plain rice tonight but it was perfect with the sauce. Definitely a meal we'll have again!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yellow Pepper Salsa

I don't love tomatoes...actually I don't even kind of like them. The taste, the smell *ugh* - it all just turns my stomach. Although, I do like everything made from them - tomato soup, salsa, ketchup, etc. Strange I thing I really can't do though is *fresh* salsa...for a long time I didn't even think I liked homemade canned salsa, but I had my auntie Glenda's once and loved it, then a co-workers about 6 years ago (recipe to come), and most recently this beauty - This recipe comes from my friend, Shelley. I am so excited she shared it with me - I honestly polish off a small jar in one sitting. But truthfully there isn't anything *bad* in it, so I don't ever feel guilty - added bonus!

**As a side note....if you wear contacts and have to take them out at some point afterwards, do yourself (and your eyes) a favor and take them out BEFORE you start this. *ouch* and yes, I learned that the hard way.**

2 cups chopped yellow peppers
2 cups chopped peeled tomatoes*
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
*peppers* see below
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup lime juice (I used lemon and it was great)
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp coarse pickling salt
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (*yuck* I do not put this in...I absolutely despite cilantro. lol)

In a larger pot, combine sweet peppers, tomatoe, garlic, onion, hot peppers, lime juice, vinegar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in cilantro (if you want your salsa ruined. hehe) and cook for 2 minutes. Ladle into hot jars and process for 20 minutes (I don't actually *process* the jars - I make sure lids are clean and put a small ring of water around top of jar and seal tightly. It will *pop* on it's own). Makes about 4 x 250ml jars.

*To peel tomatoes - drop into boiling water until peel begins to crack. Run cold water over them (so your hands don't burn) and should come off easily*

*Peppers - **remember to take seeds of jalapenos out or salsa will be hot**
Mild - 3 jalapeno peppers and 1/4 cup green or red pepper (I use red)
Medium - 3 jalapeno peppers and 2 anaheim peppers
Hot - 3 jalapeno peppers, 2 anaheim peppers, and 1 habanero pepper

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 4 STARS (I say 5, but my husband again wasn't as excited as me...seriously - who asked him anyways. lol)

These make great little gifts at christmas or just because....tie a ribbon around the jar and place on a plate with some tortilla chips - wrap in cellophane if you'd like. So fun!

No time to make cream puffs?

Well, why not try to make the cream puff dessert. This recipe comes from my sister in's a huge family favorite as well as a favorite among our friends - or at least those lucky enough to have had it. LOL It's seriously just a big cream puff *casserole* that is soooo easy and quick. And a perfect end to any meal. It's delicious and full of flavor, but not heavy.

Same recipe as the cream puffs:

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter (or margarine)
1 cup flour
4 eggs

1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups cold milk
2 packages (small size) instant chocolate pudding mix**

1 carton of Cool Whip, thawed (real whipped cream is great too)
1/4 cup chocolate ice cream topping
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/3 cup chopped almonds (I don't put these on)

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour all at once; stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth. Spread in a greased baking dish (13x9). Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack (no you don't take the crust out of the dish...just place the dish on the wire rack - just in case you were wondering).
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl beat cream cheese, milk, and pudding mix until smooth and slightly thickened. Spread over puff crust and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Then cover with cool whip and drizzle with chocolate and caramel toppings, sprinkling with almonds. Store in fridge until ready to serve.

**Because I don't like chocolate pudding I make this with Vanilla instead and it is DIVINE!!! I drizzle it with just carmel/butterscotch as well. Usually when my husband makes this he does half chocolate and half vanilla (half the filling recipe for each kind). **


Cream Puffs...

There is nothing quite like a fresh homemade cream puff (they just don't taste the same the next day). And I love the way my mom makes them. I'll get to the puff part later, but the inside is where it's at! A spoonful of Vanilla instant pudding and one of fresh whipped cream, topped with a drizzle of the most delicious carmel/butterscotch sauce - it's President's choice Gourmet Butterscotch. It's in a glass jar with a red lid....I would have a photo if I could have tracked one down. They are definitely messy but delicious.

For the *puff* part:

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter (I've used margarine even though my recipe says not to use substitutes)
1 cup flour
4 eggs

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour all at once, stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth. Spoon into balls and place on baking sheet and put in oven at 400....I'd say about 20 minutes, but keep your eye on them. I can't actually remember how long it takes *oops*. Until golden brown though! Let cool....slice and fill shortly before serving.


Another Salad Dressing...

I've had this recipe for a while now, but rarely make it which is a real shame. The first time I had it was at a friend's wedding - I'm pretty sure it was the talk of the reception. The salad was soooo good - actually to be completely honest, the whole meal was just awesome. So, here you go:

1 cup olive oil (add at the end slowly while blending)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Raspberry Vinegar
1 Tbsp poppyseed
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt (I don't add the salt)
dash of pepper

Blend together all ingredients. For the salad use mixed greens, candied pecans, feta or gongonzala cheese, and 2 pears. Strawberries also work fabulously!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 4 STARS (not 5 because my husband wasn't as crazy about it as me...he prefers the orange almond salad dressing found here - also found there is how to sugar/candy the pecans)

Ah Caramel!

My mother's carmel popcorn recipe is the best I have EVER tasted....I don't actually *love* carmel popcorn, or I didn't think I did. But then I realized it was because it's usually hard....but soft and gooey....carmel popcorn is an absolute weakness. Thank heavens she only makes it a few times a year....

2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 can eagle brand milk
1 cup corn syrup
1/2-1tsp vanilla
sprinkle of salt
4-5 batches of popcorn

Cook first 4 ingredients until almost a soft ball. Add vanilla and salt (my mom salts the popcorn too...I don't though). Pour over popcorn and mix together. OH. MY. WORD. My mom also adds almonds or pecans or something sometimes too, but we always request it without....personal preference I guess :)


**on this note - if you haven't ever tried the popcorn puffs carmel recipe on the back, you MUST!!! It is sooooo good and highly addictive. **

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Yep - from scratch! I LOVE this soup - so does Brent. And I always get excited when I feel like the weather permits a nice hot soup for lunch. I remember the first time I made this soup I had to do it three times before I got it right (I misunderstood part of the recipe and it had disastrous results. LOL).....but boy was it worth it.

You will need:

1 lb mushrooms

1/2 cup butter/margarine

1 tsp lemon juice

1 small onion, sliced

1/2 cup flour

3 1/2 cups chicken broth (liquid)

1 tsp salt (I don't put this in...chicken broth already takes care of the salt in my opinion)

1/4 tsp pepper

1 cup evaporated milk (1 can)

Remove and trim mushroom stems and set aside. Slice caps thinly. Melt butter over medium heat - cook mushrooms and lemon juice until tender, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium low. Remove mushrooms. Cook onions and stems in remaining butter until tender. Blend in flour (sprinkle), add milk and broth and continue stirring until thickened. Blend in blender and return to pan. Add mushrooms (that you set aside before), salt (I don't), and pepper. Do not boil.


Perfect for those rainy or snowy *housebound* days.