Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kid-friendly "Apple Cheddar Soup"

Apple Cheddar Soup
(from Better Homes and Gardens magazine)

  • 1/2 c. finely chopped onion
  • 1 T. butter
  • 2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced (I left my skin on my red potatoes)
  • 2 c. apple cider
  • 1 t. fresh thyme or 1/2 t. dried thyme
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 medium cooking apple, peeled, chopped
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1. In large saucepan cook onion in hot butter over medium heat until tender.  Stir in potatoes, cider, thyme, salt and pepper.  Bring to boiling, reduce heat.
2.  Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Add chopped apple; simmer, covered, 5 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  In small bowl combine flour and milk; stir into soup.   Cook and stir until bubbly.  Slowly add cheese, whisking until cheese is melted.
Makes 4-6 side dish servings.

This was a little sweet, which makes it kid-friendly.  I liked this flavor too!  Try it as a side with grilled cheese.

Mulligatawny Soup- serious GOODNESS

Mulligatawny Soup
adapted from
serves 2 adults

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. curry powder (you can take this down a little if you'd prefer)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup white rice
  • 1/3 c. golden raisins
  • chicken, pre-cooked and shredded (I used about 1 breast)
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup half & half


  1. Saute onions, celery, carrot, and butter in a large soup pot. Add flour and curry, and cook 5 more minutes. Add chicken stock, mix well, and bring to a boil. Simmer about 1/2 hour.
  2. Add apple, rice, raisins, chicken, salt, pepper, and thyme. Simmer 15-20 minutes, or until rice is done.
  3. Right before serving, add half & half.

Ok, I know there are people out there that just don't do the curry thing.  But wow- if you were even a little bit tempted- this soup is amazing!  Savory, a little sweet, a little spicy- warm, comforting and is a recipe I am so happy I found!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A fun, fast chicken pot pie

Easy Chicken Pot Pie
(adapted from

  • 5-6 thawed boneless skinless chicken tenderloins, or 2-3 large breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded
  • 1 bag of thawed California Blend Veggies or any preferred vegetables
  • 1 can of Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cube butter
  • 1 pkg Cheese Garlic Bisquick

Pour your thawed bag of veggies into a bowl and mix with the can of cream of chicken. Add your diced cooked chicken and mix everything together.
Bread Topping:
Mix contents of Bisquick, butter and milk together.Spray your round baking dish with pam, pour your veggies, cream of chicken, and diced chicken mixture into bowl. Pour your Bisquick mixture over the top spread evenly.
Bake 370 for 45-55 min. or until the top is golden brown.

This was delicious and so fast to make.  I really liked the cheese-garlic Bisquick; it added a nice flavor to the dish.  Next time I'll throw in some diced cooked potatoes with the Cali veggie blend.

Vanilla Mousse Cheesecake

Vanilla Mousse Cheesecake
(from, picture as well)

40 Nilla Wafers, crushed (about 1-1/2 cups)  OR use your favorite pie crust- graham cracker or oreo
3 Tbsp.  butter or margarine, melted
4 pkg. (8 oz. each)  cream cheese, softened, divided
1 cup  sugar, divided
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vanilla, divided
3   eggs
1 tub (8 oz.) Whipped Topping, thawed
Heat oven to 325ºF.
Mix wafer crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.
Beat 3 pkg. cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp. vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.
Bake 50 to 55 min. or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool completely in pan.
Beat remaining cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in COOL WHIP; spread over cheesecake. Refrigerate 4 hours. Remove rim of pan before serving cheesecake
I halved the recipe for our family.  Quick, easy, and delicious!

Bulking up your tacos with that little baggie of meat...

Grandma Hope's Taco Filling
  • 6 lbs. lean ground beef, browned and drained
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 potatoes, peeled and grated (use hashbrowns if you'd like)
  • 6 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 pint ketchup
  • 1- 46 oz. can tomato juice
  • 3 packages taco seasoning (season to taste)

In a very large pot or electric skillet, brown ground beef and drain off fat. Add peppers, onions, potatoes and carrots. Stir until combined. Add in ketchup, tomato juice & taco seasoning. 

Simmer for about 3 hours, or until veggies are tender. Makes enough for a very large crowd, or for placing in tupperware containers and freezing until needed. Perfect for tacos, nachos, taco salads, etc.

This was really tasty, actually.  I had a little bag of meat, what- 1/2 lb or something?, and after all the potatoes and stuff were added there was actually a lot of taco meat!  Awesome.  This is great for big family dinners or reunions and stuff.  The potatoes bulk it up, the carrots are hidden tasty veggies, though I do recommend you grate them rather than chop them because they'll disappear better if they're grated.  The potatoes disappear, though you can taste them just a little.  I didn't have tomato juice, so I used crushed tomatoes and some water.  I also pretty much halved and halved again this recipe for my family. You just kind of eyeball it.  Also- to save time, because for sure I did not plan for 3 hours of simmering time, I nuked the potatoes and carrots in the microwave to soften them (don't overcook the potatoes) and then combined them with the cooked beef and onions.  The kids liked these tacos.  I made sure not to make them too spicy.  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Some spice in your fajitas

Cinnamon Lime Fajitas

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno peppers (optional)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 12 (6 inch) corn tortillas, warmed


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Place potatoes in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with about 1/2 the oil, and season with salt. Bake 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, season chicken with cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Arrange in a separate baking dish, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Cool and shred.
  4. Heat remaining oil in a skillet over medium heat, and saute onion and garlic until tender. Mix in shredded chicken, jalapeno, and lime juice. Cook until heated through.
  5. Serve the chicken and potatoes in warmed tortillas.

My adaptation to save time:
Throw some chicken in the crockpot; sprinkle a little salt, pepper, diced onion, garlic powder and cinnamon on there.  When done, add a couple potatoes (peeled and cubed) you've nuked in the microwave.  Drain juice from crockpot, add lime juice and more salt/pepper/cinnamon to taste.  Serve in tortillas with cheese, sour cream, and lettuce.  I like ketchup; you might like salsa.  

Try something new- these aren't over the wrong edge with cinnamon!  If you're scared just scale back as much as you need to.  The potato adds a nice flavor and texture.    

Over cheeseball season?

The Best Cheeseball
*Makes 4 cheeseballs
  • 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped for rolling

Place finely chopped pecans in a shallow dish and set aside. In a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), mix the cream cheese until smooth. Add the cheddar cheese and mix until just combined. Lightly sprinkle all the seasonings and sauces over the cheese mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
With lightly greased hands, portion the cheese mixture into four pieces and roll each section into a round ball. Coat in pecans. The easiest way to do this is to hold the cheeseball in one hand and scoop up the pecans and press them onto the cheeseball with the other, turning the cheeseball as you go and letting the excess pecans fall back into the dish (this also helps the pecans to go a little further). Cover each cheeseball in saran wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
I halved this recipe.  It was easy to make and delicious.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Have I really not posted this apple syrup recipe?

Apple Cider Syrup
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 2 c. apple cider
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. butter
In a saucepan, combine first four ingredients.  Stir in cider and lemon juice.  Cook and stir until boiling.  Boil for one minute, remove from heat and add butter.  Serve over pancakes, waffles, or french toast.

This is delicious!  My mom's famous recipe, maybe minus a little sugar and butter?  Anyway, it's a definite winner and a nice change from maple.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A fast hot fudge cake using yellow cake mix

Hot Fudge and Vanilla Cake Bars
  • 1 white cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
Mix the above together.  Pour 2/3 of mixture into greased 9x13 pan.  Preheat oven to 350.  Now combine:
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (I used fat-free)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips ( I used half semi, half milk- it doesn't matter)
  • 2 T. butter
Combine in a glass or microwavable-safe bowl and cook for 1 minute.  Stir until mixture is all melted and combined.  Pour over cake batter mixture, then top with remaining dough, placing it evenly (or unevenly, like me) over the top.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the jiggle in the middle is mostly absent.  A little hot-fudginess never hurt anyone, right? 

We like it served with ice cream.  

So easy and a bit different- a quick snack or lunch!

English Muffin Wowza
  • 1 English Muffin, toasted
  • 1 slice American cheese or Cheddar
  • Strawberry Jam
As soon as the English muffin is perfectly toasted (make it crisp!), throw that cheese on one side.
Spread the jam on the other, preferably strawberry freezer jam, which tastes most fresh!
Put them together and EAT.

When I was a youngun', my mom would make a loaf of white bread.  Warm out of the oven she would put homemade apricot jam on it and top it with "orange cheese".  I can't remember if she did strawberry, but that is what I do because strawberry freezer jam is a staple at our house.  So if you like to pair your cheese with apples (good!) or other sweet things to get that savory/sweet thing going on, then you should give this a try.  Most of my kids like it too!  

Pepperoncini Beef- crock pot

Pepperoncini Beef

  • 1 (3 pound) beef chuck roast
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar pepperoncini


  1. Make small cuts in roast, and insert garlic slices in cuts. Place roast in the slow cooker, and pour the entire contents of the jar of pepperoncini, including liquid, over meat.
  2. Cover, and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours.

We enjoyed this beef.  It wasn't too spicy, but it had a definite pepperoncini taste, if you're familiar with those yellow peppers you can put on your sandwich at Subway!  I love 'em.  Anyway, I added sliced onions to the crockpot and we served these in rolls.  

Dulce de Leche- 1 ingredient in the crock pot!

Dulce de Leche, or caramel dipping sauce
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
Remove paper label from can.  Don't open can. Place in crock pot, then fill crock pot with enough water to cover the can.  Cook on low for 6-8 hrs.  

This is obviously super-easy, and who would have thought the sweetened condensed milk would turn into a perfect caramel dip?  I did read somewhere that there could be a danger of cans bursting, but that is usually with the stovetop method.  By cooking on low in the crock pot and keeping an eye on it you should be fine, right?  Well- mine worked great.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Maple and Brown Sugar Ham

Maple Brown Sugar Ham in the Slow Cooker
  • 7-8 pound bone-in spiral-cut ham
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (I used regular)
  • 1/2 cup all natural maple syrup (yes, please use pure maple syrup and not pancake syrup)
  • 2 cups pineapple juice

Use a 6-7 quart slow cooker. Unwrap the ham and discard flavor packet. Place the ham into the slow cooker stoneware, flat-side down. Rub brown sugar on all sides. Pour on maple syrup and pineapple juice. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. An hour before serving, baste ham with the collected juices from the bottom of the slow cooker. When cooking is done, remove carefully and let it rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before carving.
Delicious!!  I used a 5 qt slow cooker and I had to split the ham in some places to fit but it was okay.  I also realized my ham was already cooked, but I put it in the crock pot anyway to warm it up and give it good flavor.  It was great!  I cooked it on low for 5 hours.  Tastes great with a mustard sauce as an accent flavor. I love you ham!