Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mushroom Soup

This is one of the best soups ever!  And that means a lot coming from me, since I'm quite a soup snob. :)  It is the perfect blend of flavors.  An absolute must try!  Enjoy!
Ingredients (this makes enough for 2 people):
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 Tbs butter
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-8 oz button mushrooms (or any variety you like), finely chopped
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1 bay leaf
-1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
-1 cup chicken stock
-1 Tbs flour
-2 Tbs water
-dash of nutmeg
-salt and pepper, to taste
-2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
-chopped chives, for garnish
Heat oil in large sauce pan.  Add butter and let melt.  Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.  Add the mushrooms, thyme, bay leaf and Worcestershire sauce.
Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the flour with the 2 Tbs water, until a smooth paste forms.  Add mixture to soup and stir constantly for a few minutes, until soup thickens.  
Season with nutmeg, salt and  pepper. Stir in the milk and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Remove bay leaf, ladle into bowl, garnish with chopped chives and enjoy!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Quick Shrimp Tortellini Toss

Quick and easy!  This is another tasty dish in under 30 minutes for one of those crazy busy nights.  Enjoy!
-9 oz refrigerated cheese tortellini
-1 cup frozen peas
-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
-12 oz shrimp, peeled, deveined, with tails removed
-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp dried thyme
Cook tortellini pasta according to package directions.  Add the frozen peas during the last minutes of cooking.  Drain.
Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs of the oil in a large skillet.  Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes or until shrimp is cooked through.
Add the drained pasta and peas.  Season with the salt, pepper and thyme.  Drizzle remaining oil.  Give it a good stir.  Serve and enjoy!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Devil's Food Cake with the Best Chocolate Frosting

One of my kids had a birthday last week.  He wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, and I knew just the cake I would make for him.  He LOVED it!  We all did and devoured it in less than two days!  Yes, we're that bad. :)  This cake is rich, moist and fluffy.  The frosting is seriously to die for!  There's also quite a bit of it, so be generous when you spread it between the cake layers.  Yum!  Enjoy!
For cake:
-1 cup buttermilk
-2 cups flour
-2 cups sugar
-2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 large eggs
-1 cup vegetable oil or sour cream (oil works better, but the sour cream makes a good substitute)
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 cup boiling water
-1 tsp baking soda
For frosting:
-1/2 cup butter
-2 Tbs vegetable shortening
-1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
-3 cups powdered sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat VERY well the bottom and sides of two round 9 inch pans.  I use the baking spray (the one with flour and oil).  Set aside.
In your mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, eggs, oil and vanilla.  Mix very well.
In a small bowl, mix the boiling water with baking soda.  Once nicely dissolved, pour into cake batter.  Mix well.  The batter should be very thin.  
Pour evenly into prepared pans.  Bake in preheated oven for about 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let it cool in the pans for about 10 minutes.  After that, carefully flip it over onto wire racks and let cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.
Melt the butter and shortening.  Pour into mixing bowl.  Add the cocoa powder and mix until smooth.  Let it cool for a couple of minutes.
Add the cream cheese and mix until smooth.  Stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Mix very well.
Put one cake layer onto serving plate.  Top with a generous portion of frosting and spread it evenly.  Cover with second cake layer.  Frost remaining cake.
Cut into slices and enjoy!  Refrigerate leftovers, if any. :)  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Orange Chicken

This is quick and delicious!  Yet another awesome, easy meal for a busy week night.  Enjoy!
-3 Tbs salted butter
-2 lbs chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, cut into bite-size pieces
-1 cup orange juice, pulp-free
-zest from 1 orange
-6 Tbs oyster sauce
-4 Tbs honey
-2 tsp ground ginger
-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Melt butter in large skillet.  Add chicken and cook until nice and crisp (you might need to work in batches).  Remove chicken with slotted spoon and let it drain on paper towels.
While chicken is cooking, mix remaining ingredients into a bowl.  Mix very well.
Once chicken is done and onto paper towels, add the sauce to the skillet where you cooked the chicken.  Give it a good stir to include all the goodness left by the chicken. 
Simmer the sauce until slightly thickened.
Return the chicken, toss to coat and cook for a couple more minutes.  
Serve on top of rice.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Roasted Jalapeno Soup

What a delight this soup is!  True food for the soul!  Just a heads-up: this recipe only makes enough for two people.  So double or triple it, if you are going to serve more.   Otherwise, expect an amazing blend of flavors from the roasted jalapenos, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms and other goodies.  Oh, and it is NOT spicy, despite all the jalapenos.  It has an amazing flavor and texture.  Enjoy!
-4 medium jalapenos, halved and seeded
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
-1 small onion, chopped
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-3 Tbs salted butter
-1/4 cup flour
-2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
-1/2 cup milk (2% or whole)
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 Roma tomato, chopped
-3 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Place each prepared jalapeno face down on the sheet. Roast in preheated oven for about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Chop and set aside.
Heat oil in saucepan.  Add the carrots, onion and garlic.  Cook for5 minutes.
Stir in the butter and cook until melted.  Sprinkle the flour and mix very well.
Add the chopped roasted jalapenos and broth.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in the milk and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to another boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until soup thickened.
Using an immersion blender or working in batches, process soup until smooth.
Add the chopped tomato and sliced mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Banana-Date-Walnut Cookies

These cookies don't look like much, but let me tell you that they are DELICIOUS!!!  I could not stop eating them!  It's such a perfect combination of flavors.  Absolutely delicious!  Enjoy!
-2 ripe bananas, mashed
-1 cup chopped dates
-2 cups quick rolled oats
-1/2 cup walnut chips
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line one cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
In a bowl, mix bananas, dates and oats.  Mix well.  Add the walnuts, salt and vanilla.  Mix.  Add the melted margarine and give it a good stir.
Using a spoon, scoop onto prepared sheet-you should have 12 cookies.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
Let cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes.  Remove onto plate until cooled completely.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pasta Skillet with Pork and Zucchini

This dish is super fast to put together (under 30 minutes) and it's absolutely delicious!  The flavors combine beautifully and the zucchini adds the bit of extra needed.  Really nice!  Enjoy!
-2 cups pasta (penne, rotini, etc)
-1 lb ground pork
-1 small onion, finely chopped
-1 (14.5 oz) can Italian style stewed tomatoes, do not drain
-1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
-2 tsp salt
-2 tsp pepper
-1 medium zucchini, cut into quarters, then sliced
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet.  Add the pork and onion, and cook until pork is no longer pink.
Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and pepper.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, the pasta should be ready now.  Drain and add to the skillet.  Stir in the zucchini.  Give it a good stir, cover and cook for 5 more minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Applesauce Spicy Barbecue Chicken

I love, love, love this simple, yet delicious dish!  It's quick to put together, simple and tastes very good.  I like to use Famous Dave's Devil's Spit bbq sauce, but any spicy one you like will do just fine.  Don't worry about too much spice as the applesauce and brown sugar tame it down nicely.  Enjoy!
-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-4 chicken thighs. skin-on, bone-in
-1 tsp pepper
-2/3 original applesauce
-2/3 cup spicy (I recommend Famous Dave's Devil's Spit) bbq sauce
-2 Tbs packed brown sugar
-1 tsp chili powder
Heat oil in large skillet.  Season chicken with pepper on both sides.  Add to hot oil and brown on both sides.
Meanwhile, stir in remaining ingredients. Pour over browned chicken.  Cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes longer, or until chicken is cooked through.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Lemon Poke Cake

This is very easy to put together and super delicious!  Not too sweet and with just the perfect balance of tartness from the lemon.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
-1 (16.5 oz) box white cake mix
-3 egg whites
-1 cup water
-1/4 cup original applesauce
-2 cups boiling water
-2 (3 oz each) packages lemon flavor gelatin
-1 (3.4 oz) package lemon flavored instant pudding and pie filling
-1 cup cold milk
-8 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a 9x13 baking pan with the baking cooking spray (the one with oil and flour).  Set aside.
Mix together the cake mix, egg whites, water and applesauce.  Mix well and pour into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for about 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let it cool completely in the pan.
Once cooled, poke the cake everywhere with a fork.
Mix the gelatin with the 2 cups of boiling water.  Pour over poked cake.  Refrigerate for 3 hours.
Whip the pudding mix with the cold milk.  Once nice and stiff, add the thawed whipped topping.  Mix very well.  Top the cake evenly with the pudding mixture.  Return to the fridge for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve.
Slice and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Jalapeno Popper Chili

Oh, what a bowl of goodness this is!  I could eat tons of this!  So creamy, packed with flavor and with a little kick to it!  Awesome!  Enjoy!
-1 lb dry white beans
-4 cups chicken broth
-1 onion, finely chopped or a handful of dehydrated onion
-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
-1 tsp chili powder
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1 tsp oregano
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1 (14 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
-1 cup frozen corn
-salt and pepper, to taste
-1.5 lbs chicken thighs, skinless, boneless, cut into chunks
-8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
-1/2 lb bacon, sliced and cooked until crisp (drained on paper towels)
Soak the beans over night.  Drain and place in slow cooker.  To them, add broth, onion, jalapenos, garlic, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes, tomatoes with juice and corn.  Season with salt and pepper.   Give a good stir, cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
Add the chicken, give it a stir and cook for 4 more hours on low.
Cut the cream cheese in pieces and add to chili.  Cover and cook on low for 10-15 minutes.  Add the bacon and stir really well, until the cream cheese is all melted.  Season with additional salt, if necessary.
Ladle into bowls and enjoy this goodness!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ham and Potato Casserole

This is nice comfort food.  It's simple and delicious.  Enjoy!
-olive oil flavored cooking spray
-3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
-2 tsp salt, divided
-2 tsp pepper, divided
-2 tsp smoked paprika, divided
-1 lb cubed cooked ham
-1 bell pepper, diced
-1 small onion, finely chopped
-2 cups shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese
-1 (2.25 oz) can sliced olives, drained
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Coat a 9x13 dish with olive oil flavored cooking spray.  On the bottom, layer half of the sliced potatoes.  Season with 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper and 1 tsp smoked paprika.  Top with half the ham, half of the bell pepper and half of the chopped onion.  Top with 1 cup of the cheese.  Layer with remaining ham, bell pepper and onion.  Top with remaining potato slices.  Season with remaining salt, pepper and paprika.  
Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.
Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.
Remove from the oven and top with the sliced olives. Serve and enjoy!


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