Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Eve Open House 2011

As many of you know, we host an open house on Christmas Eve.  We've been doing it for a few years now.  This year was another blessed evening.  I was so blessed by those that came, and hope they were too.  This is the Menu:

Olive Plate
Fruit Plate


Assorted Christmas Treats  (see the bottom of this post for a photo)

Sparkling Jubilee
Hot Cocoa Bar

The recipe's that are posted should be highlighted.  If they aren't, just hover your mouse over, and you should be able to click to the recipe.  

In case you are wondering "Sparkling Jubilee" is 1 bottle of White Grape juice,  and 1 2 liter 7-Up in a punch bowl.  I add fresh cranberries and fresh mint to garnish.  I just thought it needed a fun and festive name.  :-)

Christmas cheese plate

This was fun and easy to do.  Just a more festive way to serve cheese and crackers.

Candy Cane Punch

This is almost dessert rather than punch.  It was sooooo good!  I mean, I thought it would be good, but it was way better than I expected.  I was going for festive, and it was, along with deliciousness!
I found the recipe on Pinterest, and it's actually from Taste of Home.  My guests at the open house loved it!  My only regret... no picture!!  I was bummed.  But, you can see a photo of it here.

2 jars (10 ounces each) strawberry jelly
2 liters lemon-lime soda, divided
2 quarts peppermint stick ice cream
Miniature candy canes, optional

In a large saucepan, melt jelly with 2 cups soda. Chill the jelly mixture and remaining soda. Just before serving, place 6 cups ice cream in a punch bowl. Gently stir in jelly mixture. Add remaining soda. Add remaining ice cream by scoopfuls. Garnish with candy canes if desired. Yield: 3-1/2 quarts.

Sparkling Cranberry Brie Bites

These are delicious!  And almost too pretty to eat.  The recipe comes from Yummy Mummy.  I love how in her post she compared them to her sparkly shoes.  So creative!  I adapted it a little.  Instead of cranberry chutney or relish, I used jellied cranberry sauce and warmed it a little so it would be thinner.

Sugared Cranberries

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup good maple syrup
1 cup granulated sugar

Rinse cranberries and place in a medium bowl. Heat syrup in a small sauce pan just until warm. Pour over cranberries when syrup is warm, not hot, or cranberries may pop. Cool, cover, and let soak in the refrigerator overnight.
Drain cranberries in a colander. Place sugar in a large bowl or baking dish. Add cranberries in 2 batches and roll around until lightly coated in sugar. Place on a baking sheet until dry, about 1 hour.

16 crackers
8 oz Brie cheese
cranberry chutney or cranberry relish (I used cranberry sauce)
fresh mint for garnish

Assemble crackers with one slice of brie, a light layer of cranberry chutney, and 4 or 5 sugared cranberries. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Pies

This appetizer is a great seasonal one.  How I love pumpkin!  And I love goat cheese... so of course they're great together!  This was definitely a more tedious appetizer to do, but I felt it was worth the work.  :-)
I found it on Give Me Flour.

For the Dough:
2 cups of flour
1 1/3 stick of unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1 egg beaten
3 tbs heavy cream or yogurt (more if needed)

1. Place flour, salt and butter in a big bowl. Work with your fingertips or with a pastry blender ‘til the mixture resembles coarse meal. You want to keep some visible pieces of butter

2. Beat together egg and 3 tbsp of cream. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients.

3. Using your fingertips, mix them smoothly by making circular movements. Don’t knead the dough.

4. Keep mixing. The dough should get together quickly and if it doesn’t happen, add one more tbsp of cream.

5. Don’t worry about spots, visible pieces of butter and stripes of cream; they are a good sign. Press to form a ball, cover with plastic film and keep on the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

IMPORTANT: You can keep this dough on freezer for about a month. Just place it on the fridge and let it defrost overnight before using.

For the filling:
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 small onion chopped
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tbs fresh sage chopped
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 oz goat cheese

Sauté chopped onions and garlic in olive oil. Add all ingredients, (except cheese) mix well and let it cool completely before using.

Preheat oven to 350F˚.

Place dough in a floured surface and roll it out into a 1/8 inch thin layer. Using a 4 inch round cookie cutter cut the dough into circles. Place the pumpkin filling in the center of the circle, place a piece of cheese on top and fold the dough over into a semicircle. (I had goat cheese in log form, so I crumbled it to place on top) Crimp down the edges and arrange in a baking sheet. Keep doing the same process until the whole dough is gone. It makes approximately 24 pies.

Brush with eggwash, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 30 minutes or until golden in color.

Caprese Salad on a stick

I love Caprese salad!  This was a great appetizer, of course I couldn't only eat one.  :-)

1 pt grape tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella balls
Fresh basil

For the dressing:
Balsamic Vinegar
1 clove garlic

Depending on the size of your basil leaves, you may be able to use 1 basil leaf per "stick".  For me, I had to cut some of mine into large pieces.  All you do is thread the tomato, cheese, and basil on a toothpick.  Easy peasy!  I laid them all out on a plate and drizzled the dressing across them.  If you can't find mozzarella balls, you can use any type of fresh mozzarella.  I bought mine in the log form and cut it into cubes.  It worked just as well.

Crush 1 clove of garlic and put it in your dressing bottle.  Then pour in your oil and vinegar and shake it up.  I use about 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.  If you like it less tangy, use less vinegar.

Sweet Potato Cakes with Black Bean Salsa

I haven't thought to make my Sweet Potatoes with a little mexican flair before.  These were really tasty!  I adapted this recipe from Lisa is cooking.

For the cakes:
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 green onions, both white and green parts, finely chopped
4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-6 tablespoons butter

-Steam the sweet potato chunks for 15-20 minutes until completely tender, and then transfer to a colander and allow to drain until dry. 
- Once very dry, place sweet potato chunks in a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher to break up chunks. Add flour and finely chopped green onions, and mix with your hands to form a smooth batter. Using your hands here is best so that it doesn’t become over mixed. In a food processor, the sweet potato mixture could quickly become gummy. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Once the mixture is smooth, and the flour and green onions are mixed in, you’re ready to fry. Note: the mixture should be sticky but not wet, so more flour may be needed.
- In a non-stick skillet, heat two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and two tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Form round, flat cakes from about two tablespoons of batter per cake, and fry four or five at a time for three minutes per side until golden. Transfer finished cakes to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain and cool. Add more oil and butter to pan between batches as needed, and continue frying a few cakes at a time until all are ready for their toppings.

For the black bean salsa:
1 16 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained, or 1 cup dried beans, prepared
1 small can mild green chilies, chopped**
1 small, yellow bell pepper, small diced
¼ cup finely minced red onion¼ cup cilantro leaves, choppedJuice of 1 lime
¼ teaspoon salt
Sour Cream for serving

-Combine all salsa ingredients (except sour cream) in a small bowl and stir to combine.  Salsa can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

-Top each cake with sour cream and black bean salsa and serve.

**If you like heat, use a chopped chile in adobe sauce instead of the mild green chilis.  This will really kick it up!

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle

MMMM!  How can you go wrong with Peanut butter and chocolate.  This was fab!  It comes from How Sweet it is.

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Trifle

1 batch of your favorite brownies, boxed or from scratch, cooled and cut into cubes
1 large box (5-ounce) of instant chocolate pudding, prepared and chilled (this will most likely call for 3 cups of milk, nothing else)
1 bag of peanut butter cups, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
3-4 tablespoons granulated sugar, depending on your desired level of sweetness
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
1 cup of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
8 ounces of whipped cream cheese, at room temperature

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat heavy cream and sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to an separate bowl and stick in the fridge until ready to use. I did not even clean the bowl of my electric mixer and just began mixing the peanut butter mixture.

Add the peanut butter and cream cheese to the bowl and beat at medium speed, scraping down the sides a few times until mixture is creamy. Add in powdered sugar and mix until combined, then mix in 2 tablespoons of milk. Remove the whipped cream from the fridge and add 1 cup of it to the peanut butter, folding it in until the mixture turns lighter in color and is mostly combined.

Grab your trifle dish and begin to layer your ingredients however you’d like. I did a layer of brownies, then pudding, then a handful of chopped peanut butter cups, peanut butter, whipped cream, and so on. I repeated it until I got to the top, then piped the remaining whipped cream on top and sprinkled the candy on. You really can’t go wrong with layering – just use a long spoon to serve!

Blizzard Bars

These were super easy to make and super delicious!  They are from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  
12 ounces chocolate chips, semisweet, bittersweet or milk chocolate
1/2 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
3 cups crisp rice cereal (like Rice Krispies)
2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup chocolate chips or M&M’s
Garnish: mini marshmallows and additional M&M’s
Lightly grease an 8X8- or 9X9-inch baking pan and set aside.
In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips for one minute. Stir. Then continue to microwave in 30 second increments until the chips are completely melted. Stir in the peanut butter until combined. Let the mixture cool slightly, about five minutes. Add the rice cereal, marshmallows and chocolate chips and/or M&M’s. Fold together with a rubber spatula until well combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Press additional marshmallows and M&M’s into the top of the bars, if desired. Let the bars cool and set for 5-6 hours until they are firm and no longer gooey and melty. These bars take a lot longer to set up than the Avalanche Bars, in fact, when I made them, I kept pressing on the top wondering if they would ever set up. Sure enough, after a long enough rest, I finally cut into them (even though they still felt soft on top) and they were gloriously decadent and messy. Once the bars are firm and set, cut into squares and serve.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Hi Friends,
There is no chicken dinner post here, but my son often says this phrase when someone wins something, so I couldn't resist.

So, the winner of the Calendar Giveway is:

Thanks to everyone for entering the contest!

Blessings to you,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bean soup

If you haven't entered my giveaway yet, there is still time!  The details are here

This recipe comes from a room mate I had years ago.  At the time I had no interest in cooking like I do now.  She was an excellent cook and I had her write this recipe down for me.  I've kept it all this time.  It's probably been at least 13 yrs. or so.  It's a classic tasting dish.  I hope you enjoy it.

1 lb dried Great Northern Beans (or navy or other white bean)
1 medium onion finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 tsp sugar
2 carrots
1 ham shank
salt and pepper to taste

If you're preparing ahead of time, rinse your beans, cover them with about 3 inches of water and soak them overnight.  If you don't plan that far ahead, still rinse the beans, place them in a large pot and cover with about 3 inches of water.  Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.

Add the rest of the ingredients and let the soup simmer, covered, about 3 hours or until the beans are tender.  You may need to add more water, but I never have.  Once it's finished, remove the shank and pull off all the ham and add back to the soup.  The ham should fall right off of it.  You can add additional ham if you like.  For me, it just depends on how much actually was left on the ham bone.  In this case, I bought a spiral cut ham and used the shank from that.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Give Away!!!

Hi friends!  This week, I am giving away my custom-created calendar.  Have you got your 2012 calendar yet?  Or would you like this one??  It has a recipe for each month.

To enter this giveaway, all you need to do is add a comment in the comment section of this blog of your favorite Christmas tradition.  Extra entries for:

  • becoming a follower
  • subscribing to email updates
  • posting about this giveaway on your blog
  • posting on fb about this giveaway
  • tweet about this post
Contest starts today, December 20 and ends Friday December 23 at 6pm.  Good Luck!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

SRC: Pesto Pecan Chicken

This month for the Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog Apron Strings.  The authors of this blog are Donna and Anne, a mother daughter duo who have an awesome story.  I have to admit, I was a little scared when I first saw their blog.  Anne was on the Food Network, and Donna has written several cookbooks!  Yikes!  I thought, these ladies are way beyond me.  But, after browsing a bit, I realized what an honor to cook something off of this blog!  They have lots of awesome recipes and I chose one that is extremely simple but most flavorful. Yes, they are way beyond me in their skills, but I'm so happy they are willing to blog and share their talents with the world.  D and A... You women are an inspiration in many ways.

So, I chose pesto pecan Chicken.  My husband re-named it Pesto Pecan Pollo, just get 3 P's in there.  But this recipe is 3 ingredients!  Yes, just 3 and it was incredibly delicious!

4 oz jar pesto
3/4 cup pecans finely chopped
4 chicken breasts

The only adjustment I made was to use home made pesto, because I had made some this fall and froze it.  I love when I have stuff already on hand.  Also a couple of my chicken breasts were quite thick, so I fillet'd (I do not know how to spell fillet in past tense) them, and actually got 6 pieces of chicken.  Or, as Apron Strings recommends, you could pound them between 2 pieces of wax paper to thin them out.

Preheat the oven to 425.

Season your chicken with salt and pepper.  Salt and pepper don't actually count as ingredients.  Spread a thick layer of pesto sauce on each chicken breast.

Then top them with the pecans, and press them down a bit.

Bake in the oven loosely covered for 15 min.  Then remove the foil and bake the remaining 15 minutes.  Starting out with the chicken covered will help the pecans to not get too dark or over done.  Depending on the size of your chicken, you may not need the full 30 minutes, just make sure you check it.

This dish was sooooo good!  We loved it!  Thanks Apron Strings!  Be sure to check out their blog for lots more great recipes.  Also, if you'd like more info on the Secret Recipe Club, go here for more info.  Plus you will find tons and tons of great blogs and fabulous food on there!  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Almost Merry Christmas to you!  Thanks to my faithful bloggy friends for stopping by.
You would think this time of year I would be cooking up a storm!  I love holiday cooking/baking, and, I just haven't done that much yet!  My kids are now on vacation and we are planning to do some fun things in the kitchen this week.  Also, our annual Christmas Eve open House is quickly approaching.  So, I'll be plenty busy getting ready for that.
Here's what I'm hoping to bring to the table this year:
  • Caprese salad on a stick
  • Sweet potato cakes with black bean salsa
  • Pumpkin and goat cheese pies
  • Apricot bacon wraps (this is always the hit of the party, I have to make it)
  • Sparkling cranberry brie crackers
  • Chocolate covered pretzel rods
  • Christmas tree cheese plate
  • Olive wreath
  • Pretzel bites
  • Sundried tomato, basil and cheese dip
I need a few desserts, I just haven't decided yet.  

Of course, all recipe's will be posted with pictures.  Make sure you stop by tomorrow for Secret Recipe Club reveal day!  See whose blog I got to cook from!  I was impressed... so maybe you will be too.  :-)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Slow Cooker Sunday: French Dip Sandwiches

This recipe is adapted from baking bites.  I saw it on Pinterest, where lately I have been seeing lots of great recipes.

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
approx 3 1/2 lbs beef chuck roast
16-oz. beef broth (1 1/2 cans)
1 10.5-oz. can condensed French onion soup
6-oz red wine
3 cloves crushed garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
4-6 French rolls
sliced provolone cheese, optional
Trim excess fat off of beef roast and season meat all over with salt and pepper.
Pour beef broth, condensed French onion soup, red wine and garlic into slow cooker and place beef roast into liquid.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Slow cookers have different time intervals that you can select, so work with your cooker. Depending on how the settings on your slow cooker work, the time will vary. Since this is cooking in liquid, you don’t have to worry about the meat drying out.
Take beef out and rest it, covered with aluminum foil, for about 15 minutes. Slice beef and return to slow cooker on low or very low for 30 minutes.
Lightly toast the bread and evenly distribute cheese between rolls, if using. Divide beef onto rolls and spoon the beef juice* into ramekins or other small bowls and eat everything while it is hot. Serve each sandwich with its own dip.
Seves 4-6.

I really like french dip sandwiches, but I've never attempted to make it.  We LOVED this recipe!  It was so good, my son even asked for seconds.  
*Note: If there is excess fat in your au jus, simply pour it from the slow cooker into a large measuring cup and let it stand for about 5 minutes so the fat separates. Skim it off, then pour the juice into serving cups.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Butternut Squash Risotto

I'm very excited to be apart of The Secret Recipe Club.  I saw it on another blog and it peaked my interest, so I checked it out.  Basically, you are assigned someone else's blog, and you cook/bake one of their recipes and blog about it on your own blog.  In turn, someone is choosing something off your blog too.  How fun!  So, the blog I was assigned Cookin' with Moxie.  Jamie has alot of great recipes, and she's italian so it was fun to browse and take in her knowledge.  I finally landed on the Butternut Squash Risotto with Spinach and Mushrooms, but I know I'll be back to try some other recipes too!

Now, I'm not a mushroom fan, I never really have been.  So, when I made this dish, I actually substituted roasted chicken for the mushrooms.  But, if you like mushrooms, be my guest to make the dish that way.
The only other change I made, was I used chicken broth instead of vegetable broth, because that's just what I had on hand.
Here is the original recipe:

2 – 2 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into half-inch pieces
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
Salt and Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
16 oz white button mushrooms, sliced and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces  (I omitted)
5-6 cups vegetable broth (if you run out, substitute hot water)
5 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 oz fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and drizzle with 2 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. On the baking sheet, toss the butternut squash with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Roast until tender and lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tbsp butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until their water nearly evaporates, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking until tender, about 3 more minutes. Set aside.  (I skipped this step and already had cooked chicken)
Heat the vegetable (I used chicken) broth (it does not have to boil) in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft but not browned. 

Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. 

Add the rice and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until all the grains are slick and slightly opaque. Add the wine and simmer until almost completely absorbed.

Add two ladles full of broth to the risotto and bring to a simmer. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Keep the risotto at a steady simmer, stirring continuously until the broth has evaporated almost completely. Add one ladle full of broth, stir until it is nearly evaporated, then add another ladle full. Continue simmering and stirring, adding broth as necessary, for about 25-30 minutes or until the rice is creamy and cooked through, but still firm to the bite. When the risotto is on its last ladle full of broth, add the spinach (this will wilt down considerably). Stir until spinach is just wilted. Add the roasted squash and mushrooms (I skipped the mushrooms and added chicken). Add 3 1/2 tbsp of butter and Parmesan cheese; stir to combine. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6 big-eaters as a main-course.
The thing with Risotto is patience.  You have to literally stand by it the whole time it is cooking, it needs a little attention.  And, it is well worth it!  This was a really yummy Risotto.  My whole family loved it!
Be sure to check out Jamie's Blog atCookin' with Moxie.  And if you love to cook and try recipes, you should visit The Secret Recipe Club.  Even if you aren't interested in doing it, there are tons and tons of awesome food blogs on this site!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Slow Cooker Sunday: BBQ Pork Burritos with chopped salad

This recipe was inspired and adapted from one of Food and wine Magazine's cookbooks.

I found 3 of these cookbooks at a garage sale!  what a great find!  I changed this 'quick' from scratch meal to a slow cooker one.  It turned out GREAT!

2 lbs pork roast
1 bottle of bbq sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp cumin
Tortillas (I used whole wheat)
Cheese for topping

Put roast in the crock pot.  My meat was actually left over from another pork roast that I had split.  I intended to do pork steaks with it, but changed my mind.  So, my meat was sliced.  It really doesn't matter, but I think it cooked quicker being sliced.

Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper.

Pour the bottle of bbq sauce on top so the meat is covered. Sprinkle the thyme and cumin on top.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Mine was finished in about 6 hours, but it won't hurt it to go longer.

Once the meat is cooked, grab a couple forks and shred it, or cut it into small pieces.  Roll it up in a tortilla and sprinkle some cheese on top.  Place under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

I served this atop a chopped salad.  Make your salad with whatever you like.  I cut my Romaine lettuce into small strips.  I added diced tomato, green pepper, and avocado along with a couple of lime wedges.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Cake Pops

There's always so many desserts at thanksgiving dinner.  I really only want a bite of each one, rather than a whole piece.  That's one of the reasons I like cake pops.  I know there's super creative people out there that make amazingly decorated cake pops.  And, I'm just not one of them.  But, these are festive and easy to do.

There's 2 ways to make cake pops.  The first way I learned, is here.  The other way is to use the "Babycakes Cake Pop Maker".  I decided to invest.  We've had fun making cake pops and donut holes with this!

So, for these pops I used a pumpkin cake recipe.  Honestly, I have no idea which one.  I found it off the internet, so I'm not listing it because I don't even have it.  Any cake recipe or cake mix will do.  You squirt the batter in the little holes of the pop maker, close the lid, and 3 minutes later, they're done!  And perfectly round.  :-)  
Then I dipped them in chocolate that I melted slowly on my stove top with about a tsp of vegetable oil.  Once dipped I placed them in my handy dandy holder, that my husband made me (there is a holder that comes with the pop maker too), placed a candy corn on top, and put them in the fridge for setting.

Fun and Festive.  Oh, and they taste good too!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

This is another great recipe that I got from the "Apples of Gold" Study that I did and have talked about before.  Again, not sure whose recipe it was, so if you're out there, let me know!

I top these enchiladas off with enchilada sauce.  It's a great sauce that can be used on lots of Mexican dishes.  I found this great site, Cooking Mexican Recipes, that has authentic mexican recipes.  Rockin' Robin is definitely that--Rockin'!  She was very helpful when I contacted her with questions, and her site has these awesome videos!  You know exactly what your dish should look like.

2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken**
1/2 cup onion
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbs butter
1 can chopped green chilies
1 cup or so of black beans
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup cheddar cheese, plus more for topping.

**Great tip for shredding chicken, is to put it in your Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle, while its still hot.  Turn it on low and your chicken is shredded in about 30 sec.  Found that in Pinterest, works like a charm!

Sautee' the onion and garlic in butter.  Add the rest of the ingredients.

Place about 1 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan

I put the mixture on one side of the tortilla, roll once, fold sides over, and roll the rest of the way, then place seam side down.

Top with the sauce and cheese. Bake at 350 until warmed throughout.

Makes about 12.

Enchilada Sauce

This recipe is adapted from Rockin' Robin over at cooking mexican recipes.  Robin grew up in a Mexican Restaurant. Okay, probably not literally, but you get the point.  Visit her site to learn more about her.  I was wondering if this sauce would be too spicy (as in hot) for my little ones and contacted Robin.  She got back with me within the same day and was very helpful.  This sauce definitely has alot of flavor!  I did think it was a bit too much for my kids, but I've made the adjustments here for our liking.  You can check out the original recipe at Robin's site, and you should.  She has a video on making this sauce, and lots of tips about mexican cooking in general.  And you know I love Mexican!  A special thanks to Rockin' Robin for all you do!  Make sure you leave her a comment telling her I sent you!  Okay, on to the recipe:

2 cups Chicken Broth
2 Tbs Chile Powder  (use 1/4 cup if you like lots of flavor)
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 pinch of ground cinnamon (less than 1/16 of a tsp)
a little less than 1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbs plus 1/4 tsp flour
3 tbs vegetable oil

In a 2 quart sauce pan add the oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, lower the heat to low and add the flour.

Mix with a wire whisk for about 1 to 2 minutes stirring constantly. You want to see a little bubble going on. Then add the chile powder and whisk in till fully mixed.

Slowly pour in the 2 cups chicken broth. Turn the heat up to medium again and stir till fully mixed.
Add the cumin, garlic powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar (the sugar is a little secret to eliminate any bitter taste from the chile powder) stirring after each addition. Bring to a boil as you continue to stir.
Once boiling, stir and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat, this enchilada sauce recipe is done.

You will notice that as this sauce sits it will form a "skin" on the surface. This is normal and in fact the longer the sauce sits the thicker this skin becomes. All you have to do is peel the skin off and throw it away.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ipod cake

Here is the cake I made for my son's birthday party.  I attempted my own fondant.  It actually went pretty well.  Thanks Torie for all the tips and decorating tools.  Also, thanks to my awesome husband who helped knead it and pretty  much rolled it out.  (I think he was having fun).

If your interested in trying to make your own fondant, you can find a recipe and directions at make it and love it.  Great Tutorials on this site!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Slow Cooker Sunday: Cranberry Pork Roast

This is a recipe I got from one of the wonderful ladies that facilitated the "Apples of Gold" bible study at my church.  This is a wonderful study and included time to prepare food and eat together.   It is one of my fondest memories.  I wish I knew which lady it was as I like to give credit, so if you're out there reading this, please let me know!  The women were kind enough to type up all the recipes we had over the course of the 6 week study.

2 1/2-3 lb. Boneless, rolled pork roast
16 oz of jellied cranberry sauce (I made my own, the recipe is here, or you can use canned)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbs cornstarch
2 Tbs water
1 tsp salt

Place roast in crock pot.  Combine cranberry sauce, sugar, cranberry juice, mustard, and cloves.  Pour over roast.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until meat is tender.

Remove roast and keep warm.  Skim fat from juices.  Measure 2 cups, adding water if necessary.  Pour into saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat.  Combine cornstarch and cold water to make a paste. Stir into gravy.  Cook and stir until thickened.  Season with salt and serve with sliced pork.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Jellied Cranberry Sauce

This is so easy!  I was making a recipe that called for it and I just decided, why not make my own?  So, I found a great recipe on

This recipe makes 1 16oz jar of sauce.  So, if you need more, adjust accordingly.

1 12oz bag cranberries
3/4 cup cranberry juice
1 cup of sugar

1.  Wash your cranberries and discard any that are not ripe.  Your looking for a deep rich red, that's a ripe berry.

2.  Bring the juice to a boil (you can use water, but juice gives more flavor).  Add your cranberries and let them cook about 5-10 minutes stirring once or twice.  Mine only took 5 over medium heat.  You will hear them popping as they cook.  Once about half of the cranberries are popped and the sauce feels mushy, it's done.

3.  Crush and Strain the berries.  You can use a food mill, or simply place in a seive and crush with the bottom of a jar.

4.  Return the strained berries to the pan and heat until boiling.  Once boiling, add the sugar and let it boil at a full boil for 1 minute.

Now, if you're a canner, at this point you could start that process.

5.  Place into a container, or in a mold if you're doing this for the holidays and want it to be decorative, and place in the fridge.  It will set up in a couple of hours.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Hi friends!
My blog is currently undergoing a bit of re-constructing.  Please be patient, I know it's a little hard to read at the moment, but I am working on it and hope to have it resolved very quickly!  Thank you so much for stopping by!!!


Slow Clooker Sundays: Peanut Chicken

I found this recipe on Pinterest.  Have you heard of Pinterest?  Watch out, it's addicting!  If you're not 
familiar with it, it's basically on online way to organize anything, such as thoughts, lists, ideas, you name 
it.  I find lots of food inspiration there as well as many other things.  But, on to the recipe.  This is an 
asian type dish, and I have adapted the recipe a little.  You can find the original recipe here.  You'll 
notice I changed the name and that is because I really can't call this 'hot and spicy' like the recipe name
says because I omitted the heat.  I wanted my kids to eat it.  :-)  And they did!  Like all slow cooker
meals, this one is easy peasy!  Enjoy!

  2medium onions, cut into thin wedges
  1 1/2cups sliced carrot (3 medium)
  1small red sweet pepper, cut into bite-size strips
pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  3/4cup chicken broth
  3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  1/2teaspoon finely shredded lime peel
  2tablespoons lime juice
  2tablespoons soy sauce
  2tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  1tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  4 garlic, minced
cup unsweetened coconut milk
  1cup frozen peas
  Hot cooked rice
  Chopped peanuts (optional)
  Snipped fresh cilantro (optional)

In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, place onions, carrot, and sweet pepper. Top with chicken. In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, peanut butter, lime peel, lime juice, soy sauce, tapioca, ginger, curry paste, and garlic until smooth. Pour over all in cooker.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in coconut milk and peas. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Serve chicken mixture over hot cooked rice. If desired, sprinkle each serving with chopped peanuts and cilantro. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Squash Soup in Pumpkin Bowls

Hello bloggy friends!  I am so excited today to have my FIRST GUEST POST!  Please welcome my friend Rebecca.  Rebecca and I met in person a couple of times, but most of our friendship has grown over facebook.  I know, kind of crazy.  It was there we discovered our shared passion for cooking, lounging by the pool and ice cream. Unfortunately we live in different states, so this is as close as it comes to cooking together, but I'll take it!   WELCOME REBECCA!!

Thank you Chellie for inviting me as a guest on your cooking blog! I have had a passion for artful cooking for many years now and it is an honor to come along side of you.
This season I endulged in a very fun and festive recipe -squash soup - served in baked pumpkin shells.  My guests were delighted at their appearance as they were served individually with croutons floating atop.  The taste is delicate, creamy, and somewhat smoky if you add the bacon or ham.  We all rated the dinner a success!  I hope you all will enjoy it for yourselves!

For the bowls: 4 small pumpkins
2 teaspoons sugar
kosher salt

For the soup: 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 small onion - chopped
kosher salt
2 pounds of butternut squash
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
freshly ground pepper
5 cups water

For the toppings:
pumpkin seeds
paprika or chili powder
crisp prosciutto, ham or bacon
fried onions
fresh sage or parsley leaves

1. Make the bowls. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a paring knife -cut a large circle around the stem of each pumpkin. Remove the lid and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Sprinkle the inside of each with 1/2 teaspoon each sugar and salt. Place the pumpkins and lids on a baking sheet; roast until tender - 20-25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile make the soup: Cut the squashes in halves, scooping our seeds and fibers. Cook in microwave until tender. While squash is cooling - Melt the 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Add fresh or dried thyme - a pinch. Increase the heat and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Scoop out cooked squash and add to pot along with 1 teaspoon sugar and cook, stirring, until glazed, 3-4 minutes. Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes.

Working in batches - transfer the soup to a blender, crack the lid on occasion to let the steam escape. Puree until smooth. Pour batches into large bowl -until finishing pureeing entire batch. Transfer back to saucepan. Stir in heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper, to desired taste. Ladle soup to individual soup bowls. Add topping as desired.

Again, thank you Chellie for your invitiation!  I believe our next venture should be an online version for our guests to view! The idea of us both together in the kitchen, cooking up something wonderful to share with our viewing guests, sounds exciting and fun!  Maybe Hollywood will discover us and we will be televised with our own cooking show - two blondes in the kitchen together - what a stir that would make.....

Thank YOU Rebecca for sharing your artful cooking with us!  What an honor to have you as a guest.

Be sure to stop by and say hi to Rebecca on her blog:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Slow Cooker Sunday: White Chicken Chili

Welcome to Slow Cooker Sundays!  It is fall, and fall is chili season.  Please enjoy this re-post from awhile back.  This recipe is so easy and so tasty!  Thanks for stopping by!

This is an awesome easy chili recipe passed on to me from "Mom Dyk". Mom Dyk is my husbands 2nd mom so to speak. When he moved here from the other side of the state and became friends with Scott, she sort of took him in too. He doesn't have any family in the area, so he ate Sunday dinners there, and holidays, etc. Once we met, she let me into the circle too. :-) I love this recipe because you really just put it all together and let it go in the crock pot. I now call this "award winning" because it recently won a chili cook-off! I really couldn't believe it. If I was trying to win, I would have done some super special chili with a secret ingredient, but it was a fundraiser for the Porch Steps, which is a clothing closet at our church. We were raising money to buy winter coats and accessories. Everyone got to eat lots of chili, and then pay to vote for the winner. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.

2 lbs chicken cooked and cut into bite sized pieces or shredded
48 oz great northern beans
16 oz salsa (mild, med. or hot--your choice)
2 tsp cumin
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
4 oz can of chopped green chilis
1/2-1 lb of cheese. (I like to use a blend, but whatever your favorite is)
oregano (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Put it all in the crock pot and let it go! You can start it in the morning before work and cook it on low. Or, start it later in the day and put it on high to get it simmering.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mexican 5 layer Dip

This awesome dip comes from "Clean Eating" Magazine.  A great magazine that features healthy and delicious recipe's.  Everything I've tried from it has always been full of flavor, but also packed with nutrients and low calories.  I'm not really one to count calories, but I do care very much about what I put into my body and caring for it.

The recipe is written just like the magazine, but I did make one change.  I added a clove of fresh garlic, crushed, to the beans in the food processor.

5.  Sprinkle cheese evenly over beans.  Dollop scoops of avocado mixx

1 cup dried pinto beans
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (if you want less heat, use 1)
3/4 packed cup of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, divided
juice of 2 limes, divided
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus additional to taste, divided
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
6 oz reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated (I used regular, I don't like to skimp on cheese)
1 1/2 cups reduced fat sour cream

1. Rinse beans in a colander, discarding any debris or small stones.  Place in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover beans.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 2 minutes.  Turn off heat and let beans rest for 1 hour.  Drain beans in a colander and rinse.  Return to saucepan and add enough water to cover by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low to maintain a steady simmer.  Cover and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until beans are very tender.  REserve about 2/3 cup cooking liquid, drain beans and set aside to cool.  (I cook my beans in a pressure cooker so this step is much faster, but if you don't have one, this is the next best method--unless you use canned, but dried are much better for you)

2.  In a medium bowl, combine tomates, onion, jalapenos and about 2/3 of the cilantro.  Squeeze juice of 1 lime over tomato mixture and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

3.  In a food processor or blender, combine avocados, remaining cilantro and remaining juice of 1 lime.  Puree until slightly chunky.  Season with salt and pepper.

4.  Place beans and 1/3 cup reserved cooking liquid in a food processor (or use a powerful blender or mash by hand with a potato masher).  Process until you have a slightly chunky puree, adding additional cooking liquid, 1 tbs at a time, as needed to reach desired consistency.  Add 1/2 tsp salt and pepper.  Pulse several times to combine.  Transfer beans to your serving dish or bowl and spread into an even layer.

5.  Sprinkle cheese evenly over beans.  Dollop scoops of avocado mixture over cheese and use a spatula to spread into a thin layer.  Dollop scoops of sour cream over avocado and spread into a thin layer.  With a slotted spoon, spread tomato mixture evenly over sour cream.  Serve immediately or cover and chill for up to 4 hours.  Serve with tortilla chips.