Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

Who doesn't love chicken noodle soup!?  This soup is our family's favorite. 

2 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 TBS flour
8 cups chicken stock (64 ounces)
1 bay leaf
Dash hot sauce (Tabasco)
Dash Worcestershire sauce
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, uncooked, cubed into bite-size pieces or
   2+ cups chicken breasts from a rotisserie chicken
8 ounces egg noodles, about 2 cups

Add any or all of the following:
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley (or you may use dill instead of parsley)
Sliced mushrooms
8 oz frozen peas
Kale (I usually add either peas or kale, not both)

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Add the onion, celery and carrots and saute until soft, about 4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Stir in the chopped garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute more.  Whisk in the flour and stir frequently until it coats the vegetables and makes a paste.  Cook until it reaches a pale blonde color, about 2 minutes.  Gradually whisk in the chicken stock, making sure there are no lumps.  Add the bay leaf, hot sauce and Worcestershire and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Let the soup simmer for 15 minutes to thicken and develop the flavors.

Reduce the heat and add the chicken and the noodles.  Do not boil the chicken or it will become tough.  Add the parsley, mushrooms, peas or kale and simmer gently for 10 more minutes. 

Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if needed.  Ladle into bowls and serve. 

Source: modified recipe from Pat and Gina Neely (TV Food Network)


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Colorado Chili

I received this recipe from a co-worker several years ago.  It's a Mexican chili with a bit of a kick.  This is great served with a dollop of sour cream on top.

1 TBS vegetable oil or olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (4 oz) can diced jalapeno peppers (optional if you want it hot)
1 (4oz ) can chopped green chili peppers (these are not hot)
3 tsp ground cumin (only put in 1 1/2 tsp and add more to taste)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional if you want it hot)
1 (14.5 oz) can beef broth (add 2 cans of broth if chili is too thick)
6 oz water
5 oz Tequila (see note)
5 oz Red wine (see note)
3 cups cooked sirloin beef (see note)
3 (15 oz) cans white kidney beans, drained  (Cannellini beans)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Slowly cook and stir the onion until tender.  Mix in the garlic, jalapeno, green chili peppers, cumin, oregano and cayenne.  Continue to cook and stir the mixture until tender, about 3 minutes.  Mix in the beef broth, tequila, wine, water, cooked beef and beans.  Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Note: The recipe calls for Tequila and red wine, however, I use an additional can of beef broth instead.

Note: To cook the Sirloin, I use a 2 1/2  lb sirloin beef tip roast.  Cut into 3/4" cubes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss lightly in flour to coat.  Place in skillet on stove top and brown in 1 TBS oil on med-high heat.  Place sirloin, 1 sliced onion and 1 cup beef broth in crock pot.  Cook on Low 8 hours til tender.  I found that about 6 cups of raw meat cubes cooks down to about 4 cups of meat.  I saved the meat gravy and onions for another use.

Serves 6-8


Friday, January 20, 2012

Cappuccino Muffins & Espresso Spread

I received my fifteen minutes of fame with this muffin recipe.  Taste of Home Magazine held a muffin contest and my recipe was picked as the Grand Prize winner out of over 4,300 recipes.  The prize I received was a Kitchen Aid Mixer and Food Processor.  My muffin recipe was featured in the October/November 1999 magazine as well as in several other cookbooks published by Taste of Home. 

A wonderful flavor of coffee with a hint of chocolate is a great combination in these muffins.  The spread tastes good on bagels, too.

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 TBS instant coffee granules
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  In another bowl, stir milk and coffee granules until coffee is dissolved.  Add cooled butter, egg and vanilla; mix well. Immediately, stir this mixture into the dry ingredients just until moistened (do not over-beat).  Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.  Bake at 375 degrees for 17 minutes or until muffins test done.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. 

Espresso Spread:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tsp instant coffee granules (or instant espresso powder)
2 TBS sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a food processor or blender, combine the spread ingredients; cover and process until well blended.  If you prefer more coffee flavor, you may add another 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of coffee granules, however, also add a little more sugar as well.  

Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate.  To serve, let stand 10 minutes at room temperature to soften. 

Note: The spread is not meant to be frosted on top of each muffin like a cupcake, but rather spread lightly onto each muffin at the time of serving.  I prefer my muffin warmed so the spread slightly melts.   

Makes about 15 regular size muffins 


Thursday, January 12, 2012

French Onion Soup

I served this soup with a Caesar Salad....a great combination.  You may want to make this the day before you plan to serve it because I found that it tasted better the next day.  Obviously, don't add the toast and cheese until you are ready to serve.

2 TBS butter
1 TBS oil
3 large white onions, thinly sliced (slice pole-to-pole so the onions don't get stringy)
1 tsp brown sugar 
1 TBS flour
2 - 10oz cans condensed beef consomme (broth would be fine as well)
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
8 slices French bread
3 oz Gruyere cheese, grated (or Swiss)
salt and pepper  (I did not add any salt as I felt the soup is salty enough...taste first!)
1 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, to garnish

Heat the butter and oil in a large pan over low heat.  Add the onions and brown sugar and cook gently, stirring occasionally for at least 30 minutes or until the onions start to turn golden brown and caramelize.  Depending on the variety, you may need to cook them longer. 

Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for a further 2 minutes.  Pour in the consomme and stir in two cans of water, then add the Worcestershire sauce.  Season with salt and pepper, cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and simmer gently for a further 25-30 minutes.

Preheat the broiler and just before you are ready to serve, place the toast on a baking sheet and toast the bread lightly on both sides.  Top the bread with the grated cheese.  Broil the toast until the cheese has melted and is bubbling and golden.

Ladle the soup into soup bowls.  Place a slice of cheesy bread on top of each bowl of soup and sprinkle with the chopped fresh parsley to garnish.   Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Source:  1001 Recipes


Caesar Salad

My favorite salad is a Caesar Salad.  I never knew it originated in Mexico.  Caesar Cardini invented the recipe at his restaurant in 1924 when a 4th of July rush depleted his kitchen supply.  He made do with what he had and came up the Caesar Salad.  The recipe below is from a restaurant in Tijuana, Caesar's Restaurant Bar, however, not from the restaurant where it was originally invented. 

2 large eggs
2 TBS mayonnaise
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp steak sauce (I omitted)
1 tsp bottled hot sauce
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup corn oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Romaine lettuce, leave separated
1/4 cup grated cotija or Parmesan cheese

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the eggs and boil for 5 minutes (no longer than 5 minutes).  Remove the eggs from the water and set aside until cool enough to handle, about 7 minutes. 

Peel the eggs and cut in half.  Spoon the yolks, which will still be very soft, into a blender; reserve the whites for another use.  Add the mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, hot sauce and vinegar.  Pulse until blended.  With the machine running, drizzle in the oil and process until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  The dressing will be thick but will thin out once mixed with the salad.

Put the lettuce and cheese in a large salad bowl.  Add the dressing and gently toss to coat.  Serve immediately.  I prefer to serve in individual bowls and serve the dressing on the side.  May serve with croutons (recipe below).

I'm not fond of purchased salad croutons so I came up with this recipe..


5 slices stale bread, remove the crusts 
3 TBS butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp dried parsley

Place bread in oven for a couple minutes to slightly dry out if your bread is too fresh.
Melt the butter.  Add garlic powder, garlic salt and parsley. Brush lightly onto both sides of bread.

Place into a 350 degree oven for 6-10 minutes until lightly browned and toasted.  Watch carefully as these burn rather quickly.  Cut bread into cubes.  Let cool.

Serves 4

Source: Mexican Made Easy - Marcela Valladolid


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Apricot Oat Bars

So very moist and delicious.  These can be served for dessert or as a breakfast bar.  This would also be good made with different preserves such as cherry preserves with dried cherries and pecans.  Blueberry jam or cranberry sauce would be good, too.

Vegetable oil cooking spray

1 (13-ounce) jar apricot jam or preserves (about 1 1/4 cups) 
8 dried apricots, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1/3 cup)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 packed cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (* I would use a little less butter next time)
1 egg, at room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 metal baking pan with vegetable oil cooking spray. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with vegetable oil cooking spray and set aside.

Filling: In a small bowl, mix together the jam and the apricots. Set aside.

Crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Stir in the oats and walnuts. Add the butter, egg and vanilla and stir until incorporated.

Using a fork or clean fingers, lightly press half of the crust mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Using a spatula, spread the filling over the crust leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the pan. Cover the filling with the remaining crust mixture and gently press to flatten. Bake until light golden, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 1 hour. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Makes 24 bars

Source:  Giada De Laurentiis - Food Network


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Pizza Bagels

6 mini bagels, split
3 TBS butter, melted
1 tsp onion powder
1 TBS Frank's RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce (or more to taste)
8 oz cooked chicken, diced small
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400.  Place mini bagel halves, crust side down, in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

Combine butter, onion powder and buffalo wing sauce in a mixing bowl; stir well. Add chicken and stir to combine.

Top each bagel half with an equal amount of the chicken mixture.  Sprinkle crumbled blue cheese over chicken and then top with mozzarella cheese.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until bagel bottoms are browned and crispy, and cheese is melted.  Serve hot.

Serves 6

Source:  Hot Recipes in Cool Dishes - Tara McConnell


Snack Mix

You can add any type of crackers or snacks to this mix.  Be creative.

4 cups Bugles
4 cups pretzels
4 cups Cheetos
4 cups oyster crackers
4 cups Fritos
4 cups Gold Fish crackers
4 cups Crispix cereal
1 1/2 cups Orville Redenbacher's Buttery Flavored Popcorn Oil
2 pkgs (1 oz each) Ranch Mix

In a 2 cup measuring bowl, combine oil and Ranch mix.  In a very large container, combine all snack ingredients and mix well.  Add oil mixture and stir every 30 minutes for 4 hours.  Let mixture sit in an airtight container for 24 hours before serving.  Give the mixture a stir every so often during the 24 hours. 

**You can certainly make a 1/4 or 1/2 of this recipe.  The full recipe does make a lot!


Artichoke Dip

This is my favorite artichoke dip.  The Gorgonzola cheese adds a delicious flavor, but it does not overpower the dip.

5 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, well drained, chopped
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (2 oz) Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup (2 oz) freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tsp lemon juice

Heat oven to 350.  Spray an 8" baking dish (or glass pie plate) with cooking spray. 

Chop bacon into small pieces and place in a medium bowl.  To bacon in bowl, add remaining ingredients; mix well.  Spread mixture in prepared baking dish.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Stir dip; bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until dip is bubbly around edges.

Serve warm dip with petite toasts or crackers.

Makes 2 cups

Source:  Pillsbury Holiday Appetizers & Desserts


Baked Onion Dip

If you make this dip for a party, I recommend doubling the recipe.  It is so addicting.

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, onion, Parmesan cheese and garlic salt; stir in Swiss cheese.  Spoon into a one quart baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, at 325 for 40 minutes.  Serve with crackers.

Makes 2 cups

Source:  Best of Country Appetizers



I make this biscotti every Christmas.  It is delicious dunked in a cup of coffee or tea.

4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, toasted
Chocolate Chips, melted

In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar and brown sugar.  Beat at medium speed until very well mixed (1-2 minutes).  Continue beating, adding eggs one at a time and almond extract, until smooth (1 minute).  By hand, stir in almonds.  Gently stir in flour mixture just until dough is blended.

Cover and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.  Divide dough into quarters.  On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 12" x 1 1/2" log.  Place each log on a lightly greased (or parchment lined) cookie sheet about 3" apart.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until logs begin to crack.  Cool logs for 15-20 minutes.

Reduce oven to 300.  With a serrated knife, cut each log diagonally into 3/8" to 1/2" slices.  Lay slices, cut side down, on cookie sheet.  Bake, turning once, for 10-15 minutes or until crisp and lightly golden brown on both sides.  Place on cooling racks; cool completely.

Dip the top of each cookie into melted chocolate chips.

Makes approx. 4 dozen cookies