Sunday, January 25, 2009

Potato Soup

We never make soup. I don't know why...I guess it just seems like we never have what we need on hand, or it just takes too long. Well I was determined to make some yesterday and decided potato soup would be a good choice since it didn't require any kind of meat - because I hadn't taken anything out to thaw. So I came across this recipe on All Recipes. I know, I know...instant potatoes?? Trust me...this was so good! We made a few minor changes, so below is our adaptation on the recipe. Enjoy!

2 potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped white onion

1 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups instant mashed potato flakes
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake potatoes for 1 hour, or until done. Set aside to cool. We baked our potatoes in the microwave because I just didn't feel like waiting that long. We used 3 medium sized potatoes, pricked them with a fork, added some water to the bottom of the dish and cooked them for about 10 minutes in the microwave.

Melt butter in a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Saute onions and celery until tender and golden brown. Stir in flour, and cook 5 minutes to make a roux. Pour in chicken stock and water. Add cornstarch and mashed potato flakes. Season with salt, pepper and basil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove the skin from the cooled potatoes, and discard. Dice the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes, and stir into soup, along with the half-and-half and parsley. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until thick. Spoon into bowls, and garnish with shredded cheese, bacon and chopped green onion.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spicy Shrimp Creole

Dinner was up to Jim tonight and he came across this recipe. Now I like spicy, but this was really spicy. I like spicy that has flavor and this was just H.O.T. Jim LOVED it. I would make this again, but maybe tone down the spicy a little and add all Red Hot sauce instead of Tabasco. Red Hot seems to have a little more flavor than Tabasco does. We served this over brown rice.

3 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups julienne celery
2 onions, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp. white sugar
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 (14.5 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 tbsp. hot pepper sauce - I used half Tabasco and half Red Hot sauce
2 pounds medium shrimp - peeled and deveined

Heat oil in a Dutch oven on medium heat. Saute celery, onions, red pepper and garlic in the Dutch oven until the onions are pearly white and the celery has begun to soften. Mix sugar, flour, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper into the Dutch oven. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce, both pieces of bay leaf, and hot sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Approximately 15 minutes before serving, add shrimp to the pot and stir well. If necessary, raise the temperature to medium-low to ensure the Creole is bubbling but not burning. Scoop out the bay leaf halves before serving. Serve when the shrimp is pink and thoroughly cooked.

Hershey's Best Brownies

OK, so who doesn't love brownies?? I was in the mood for them so I decided to peruse the Internet and see what delicious recipe I could find. Well wouldn't ya know it...Hershey's has a recipe :o) These were so good! And really easy to make too.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped nuts (optional) - I left these out

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Place butter in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 2 to 2-1/2 minutes or until melted. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with spoon after each addition. Add cocoa; beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat well. Stir in nuts, if desired. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Frost if desired. Cut into bars. About 36 brownies.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

This recipe was all the rave over on The Nest boards, so I figured I'd give it a try. Bonus is that you don't even have to think ahead since the recipe uses frozen chicken. Nice huh?

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, frozen - I used two HUGE ones
1 cup salsa - I used my favorite, Garden Fresh Salsa
1 package reduced sodium taco seasoning
1 can reduced fat cream of mushroom soup (condensed) or cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

Add chicken to slow cooker. Sprinkle taco seasoning over chicken. Mix salsa and soup together and then pour over the chicken. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. At this point after the chicken was cooked, I shredded it with a fork. Stir in sour cream until heated, then serve. We served it over some white rice.

I realize it doesn't look very appetizing, but it was delish! Leftovers were good too!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Springfield Chili

I love chili! I could seriously eat it everyday! Well today seemed like the perfect day for a nice, cozy bowl of chili. I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light. I added a dried chipotle pepper for a little smokiness and some heat and a little cayenne pepper for some more heat. Oh, and I got to use my dutch oven again! Score!

1 bacon slice, finely chopped - I used ham instead
2 1/4 cups finely chopped onion, divided (about 2 medium)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 (12-ounce) can beer (such as Budweiser)
3 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1 dried chipotle pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

Cook ham in a large Dutch oven over medium heat 5 minutes or until browned. Stir in 2 cups onion; cover and cook until onion is tender (about 5 minutes). Uncover and stir in garlic; cook for 1 minute.

Increase heat to medium-high; add ground beef to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add beer; cook until liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup (about 7 minutes). Stir in chili powder and next 7 ingredients (through tomato sauce). Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until mixture thickens. Stir in beans; cook 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

We topped our chili with some shredded mozzarella cheese (normally I like to use cheddar, but this was all we had, and hey...cheese is cheese) and sour cream. We like to eat our chili with some tortilla chips too.

Hershey's Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Honey Cinnamon Frosting

Usually when it comes to making cakes and cupcakes I head straight for the much easier that way. Well today I wanted to try and actually make cupcakes without the box! I found this recipe and it seemed easy enough. It only makes 12 cupcakes, but that's plenty for just me and Jim...I don't plan on sharing these :o) The frosting recipe I found came from Good Things Catered. I know it might sound like a strange combination, but it's fantastic! My cupcakes did deflate a little when I pulled them out of the oven, but nothing a little frosting can't hide. They're yummy!

4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
6 tbsp. Hershey's Cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1 large egg, lightly beaten, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup boiling water

Place rack in center of oven and heat to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with 12 paper liners; set aside. In a large bowl, combine cocoa, sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add butter, milk, egg, and vanilla. Using a hand-held electric mixer on medium speed, beat for two minutes. Add boiling water and beat to combine (batter will be thin). Divide batter evenly between cupcake liners. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Honey Cinnamon Frosting
Everyday Food

1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. honey
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat confectioners' sugar, unsalted butter, honey, and ground cinnamon until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes

Braised Chicken with Lemon & Green Olives

So another fantastic gift we got for Christmas was a 5-quart Dutch Oven. I'm in love with this thing. I've been looking for recipes specifically so I can use my new toy. One of my favorite food blogs to get ideas from is Good Things Catered. I saw this fantastic recipe and just had to try it! I didn't have the amount of chicken pieces it called for, and only used 2 HUGE bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. I left all the ingredients the same though just to make sure it turned out. It was great...and such unique flavorings. Enjoy!

8 mixed chicken pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup Chardonnay
30 green olives - I used 15 BIG ones, but in half
1 lemon, sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp. sifted flour

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large braiser over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until almost smoking. Working in batches, brown the chicken on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 seconds; do not allow it to burn. Add the Chardonnay wine reduction and cook, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom, about 2 minutes. Add the olives, lemon slices and bay leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is very tender, about 1 1⁄2 hours.Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Here's another picture once I remembered to put the parsley on

I served it with some roasted potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika and crushed red pepper flakes on them.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Herb and Crumb Topped Tilapia

I found this recipe in my Women's Health magazine a long time ago and we finally decided to make it. Actually...I but together a binder of all of the recipes I've clipped over the months and I divided it up into sections. So tonight we wanted fish, so I flipped to the fish section and lookie there...a tilapia recipe. Plus we had all the ingredients which is saying a lot since we haven't been grocery shopping in about a month...the cupboards are lookin' kind of bare. So anyway...onto the recipe.

4 tbsp. bread crumbs
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 5-oz. tilapia filets (we used 2 large ones)
4 lemon wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a small baking pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, oregano, garlic, and salt to taste. Drizzle half of oil over tilapia. Rub to coat. Sprinkle on bread crumb mixture. Rub to coat evenly. Place in baking pan. Drizzle with remaining oil. Bake until tilapia is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Serve with lemon.

German Potato Pancakes

Once again I was at a loss what to make for dinner. We had some leftovers in the fridge but I just wasn't feelin' it. I hadn't taken any type of meat or chicken out to defrost, so it was pasta or something else. I decided to go with something else. I have no idea what made me decide to make Potato Pancakes but I'm glad I did. They were delish! I served them up with some applesauce and sour cream. Mmmm, mmmm good!

2 eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 medium potatoes, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup vegetable oil

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Mix in potatoes and onion. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In batches, drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the potato mixture into the skillet. Press to flatten. Cook about 3 minutes on each side, until browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels.