Saturday, October 29, 2011

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

Here is another recipe that I found on Pinterest.  It originated on a cute blog called, "Stick a Fork in it."  We really liked the sauce and of course I love any meal that can be cooked in the crockpot.  
Chicken breasts or chicken tenders (I used frozen tenders)
1 small bottle of bbq sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder

*Place chicken in crockpot.  Mix up sauce with other ingredients and pour over chicken.  Cook on low for 3-5 hours depending on how big your chicken is.  I used about 12 chicken tenders and it was perfectly done in 3 hours.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nutella Fruit Dip

I found this recipe (is two ingredients considered a recipe?) on Pinterest.  I kind of feel like Pinterest is taking over the world.  What if Pinterest and Facebook got married?  They would be the richest couple that ever lived.  I'm not complaining, though, because Pinterest has opened up a whole new world of recipes to try and food pictures to drool over.  When I saw this fruit dip on there, I went right to my kitchen and whipped some up.  Then I got out an apple, some strawberries, and a banana and dipped like there was no tomorrow.  Then I got a spoon and ate the rest.  How can something so simple be so delicious?  Oh yeah...because it has Nutella in it.
Plain Greek yogurt (I like FAGE Total 0%)

*I didn't measure but I think I used about half as much Nutella as yogurt.  So maybe 1 cup yogurt and half a cup of Nutella.  Or maybe even a little less Nutella.  Just mix it up until you like it and then start dipping!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Homemade Italian Salad Dressing

Remember the days of Pampered Chef parties?  Do people still have those?  I haven't been to one in many years but I used to love those parties because you got to eat free food.  Plus, I really do love their kitchen tools.  Everything I bought from them back in the day is still in my kitchen and gets used regularly.  Anyway, one of the gadgets I have is a salad dressing mixer/container and it has recipes on the sides.  This Italian dressing recipe is one of them and I tried it on Sunday and loved it.
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. sugar
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. salt

*Mix or shake really well and serve over salad.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dark Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Ever since I ate that legendary cookie from the Levain Bakery in NYC, I haven't stopped thinking about dark chocolate and walnuts.
A food marriage that is sure to last.
I looked at a few different cookie recipes that I love and came up with this one.  It's practically healthy, minus the butter and brown sugar.  My husband and I loved them, but the kids were less than impressed.  They don't appreciate dark chocolate or walnuts yet, but I'm not giving up hope.
1 cup butter, softened to room temp
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour (I used hard white wheat flour)
2 cups oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 bag dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
1 cup walnuts, broken into small pieces

*Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Add chocolate chips and walnuts and mix to combine.  Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-11 minutes at 350.  I take mine out when they still look a little gooey and then I let them sit on the cookie sheet for 5 more minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Baked Potato Soup and Homemade Croutons

My mom gave me a bunch of red potatoes from her garden this year, and oh they are so good.  I have been trying to get creative with potato meals to make sure they all get used.  They were so good in this soup, but really you can use any potato in this soup.  I think the best part about this soup was the homemake croutons, cause you know, I gotta have my carbs.  My friend Kate made these croutons for a salad at play group and I haven't been able to stop thinking about them.  You must make these! 

Baked Potato Soup

4 good sized red potatoes baked and diced. I left the skin on mine (Bake these at 350 for an hour.  You will want to cover with foil so the skin doesn't get to crunchy.)
1/4 cup butter
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup flour
3 1/2 milk
1 14.5oz can chicken broth
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
5 strips bacon chopped
5 green onions chopped

You will want extra cheese, bacon, and green onions for garnish
Sour cream for garnish
Homemade croutons (recipe below)

Melt butter in large sauce pan, add garlic and saute for a min or so.  Stir in flour then slowly whisk in milk. Next, stir in your broth.  Continue stirring on medium heat until the soup starts to thicken and heats up but don't let it boil or the milk will curdle (if this does happen or if the soup is all all lumpy at this point just throw the soup in a blender and pulse until smooth).  Now add the cheese; when that is melted throw in the potatoes, bacon and green onions.  Let the soup simmer all the yummy flavors together for ten minutes. Serve and then top with more cheese, bacon, onions, sour cream and don't forget the amazing croutons.  This is not a low calorie food :)

Homemade Croutons
Half a loaf french bread (even better if it is a day or two old)
2 T melted butter
2 T olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
1/4-1/2 tsp. garlic salt

Preheat oven to 425.  Cut up the bread into little crouton sized squares and put them into a large bowl.  Mix the butter and oil together.  Now the fun part, with your hands toss the garlic with the bread.  Once you feel like the garlic is evenly dispersed pour the oil/butter mixture over bread while you toss with the other hand.  Then do the same thing with the garlic salt (do 1/4 to 1/2 tsp to taste).  After the bread is evenly coated with all of its goodness, spread it out on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.  You'll wanna keep a close eye on them as they will burn fast.

Costco Pesto Sandwich

I named this the Costco sandwich because I bought all of the ingredients at Costco.  If you don't live by a Costco, you can still find these ingredients at most grocery stores.  Good pesto is hard to find, but it's also easy to make.  Don't you just love the smell of Pesto?  I can't get enough of it.  It's right up there with baby lotion and new car smell.
I really love hot sandwiches...especially when they involve pesto and melted mozzarella.  I made these for lunch one day and then dinner the next day.
Torta sandwich rolls
roma tomatoes, sliced
BelGioioso fresh mozzarella
Kirkland fresh basil pesto
Tellicherry pepper

*Cut sandwich rolls in half and lay on a cookie sheet.  Spread pesto generously on each side.  Put a layer of tomatoes and then grind pepper over them.  Slice off some mozzarella and layer over tomatoes. Broil in oven until cheese is melted and bread is toasty.  You can do all open-faced sandwiches or use the other half of the roll on top.  Serve while nice and hot.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Paula Deen's Pumpkin Bars

Chances are that you already have a favorite pumpkin bar recipe.  And chances are that it's a lot like this one.  They're all pretty similar, give or take a few measurements.  But in case you are still searching for your favorite, here is the one I like the best.  Just the right amount of everything and the frosting that came straight from Heaven.  I wish Paula Deen was my next door neighbor.
4 eggs
1  2/3 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

*Beat the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy.  Then add dry ingredients and mix on low speed until batter is smooth.  Spread on a cookie sheet (with one-inch sides) and bake for about 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool completely before frosting.

8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temp.
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temp.
1 box (16 oz.) powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt
little bit of milk if needed

*Beat cream cheese and butter until really smooth.  Slowly add powdered sugar, then vanilla and a dash of salt.  If it's too thick, add a little milk until it looks spreadable.  Spread evenly over cooled pumpkin sheet cake and then cut into bars.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

 I got this recipe from my beautiful friend, Diane.  Probably the nicest person I've ever met!  If you ever feel down about yourself, just hang out with Diane for 1 minute and she'll give you 50 compliments.  So nice.  She brought this soup to a church function and everyone was raving about it.  I got the recipe from her and made it last week.  Definitely a keeper in my recipe book!!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 cup carrot, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 fresh diced garlic clove
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 (15 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can tomatoes, diced   
1 (10 ounce) can Rotel tomatoes & chilies, diced
1 (1 1/4-1 1/2 ounce) packet taco seasoning, low sodium, no msg
1 (10 count) package corn tortillas     (broken or cut into small pieces)
2 chicken breasts, diced
1 cup milk
12 ounces monterey jack cheese or 12 ounces Mexican blend cheese, shredded
corn tortilla chips, broken into small pieces

Put all ingredients, except corn tortillas, milk, cheese and chips, in crockpot.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. One hour before serving, add corn tortillas, milk and cheese to soup.  Stir.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Eating in NYC

BC and Me with Rupert at the Hello Deli in NYC

We are back from our New York trip and I am still dreaming about the amazing week we had there.
We spent two days in Palmyra, three days in Albany and two days in New York City.
I loved all of it and can't wait to go back!  Now onto the food...

I had a list of places that I really wanted to eat at in NYC and we made it to almost all of them.  We also hit a few places that were not on the list because we were hungry and lost.  My husband knows that I am serious about food and did his best to find everything using his phone and a map, even though neither one of us had ever been there.  

Breakfast:  Starbucks
*We broke our rule of not eating anywhere that we can eat here, as soon as we got off the train.  We were so hungry and had no idea what we were doing so we walked into Starbucks and got some breakfast sandwiches.  They were ok.
Lunch:  Shake Shack
*Amazing burgers and delicious custard.  Well worth the long line we waited in.  I highly recommend eating there.
Dinner:  Mesa Grill
*This is Bobby Flay's restaurant and the food was really good.  The prices were high, so we shared, but we loved all of our food.  My favorite thing was some corn that we had as a side-dish.  It had all kinds of amazing things in it.
Breakfast:  Toasties
*This wasn't on our list but we saw it while we were walking and it looked so good.  Really clean and modern inside with lots of fresh ingredients and a yummy menu.  The food was delish and I would definitely go back there. 
Snack: Magnolia Bakery
*We ordered banana pudding because a lady in line recommended it and I am not kidding you when I say it was life-changing.  Best thing I ate the whole trip.  Please go there and get that.  We also got some cheesecake and it was super tasty.  Such a cute bakery, too.
Another snack: Levain Bakery
*We had to try their huge cookies and man were we glad we did. Hot chocolate chip cookies with walnuts.  Melt in your mouth.
Lunch: Hot dog stand in Central Park
* I was still full from our "snacks" but BC tried a hot dog and said it wasn't that great.  Nothing special.
Dinner: Bella Vita Pizza
*We really wanted to try pizza from Lombardi's but never found it so we tried this place and it was good but not great.  I have had lots of pizza here in Arizona that I liked better.
Dessert: Pinkberry
*My favorite yogurt place because of their original tart.  It's the best.  I really wish we had one here.  

So that is what we ate in NYC.  So many places to try and so little time!  I still want to try Serendipity's, Lombardi's, Pret A Manger, Chopt'd, Cafe Habana and The Donut Plant.  What are your favorite places in NYC?  Do tell!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Kiss Cookies

 I love the Fall.  I love pumpkin.  I love pumpkin spice Hershey Kisses.  And I loved these cookies!  I couldn't wait to get my hands on these kisses this year!  I knew they would make their appearance come October, so I waited patiently and hurried to Target to buy some as soon as I could.  Last year, I made pumpkin cookies with the pumpkin spice kisses.  This year, I wanted to try something different.  My friend, Stephanie, had the idea of adding them to your basic oatmeal cookie with a few spices thrown in.  Genius!  I used my favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe as the base.  I think these are the perfect fall treat!!

Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 bag of Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses, quartered

Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Pour in spices then oatmeal and flour.  Mix then add chocolate chips and kisses.  Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes.  Cool on cooling wrack. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Here in AZ we are pretending it is getting to be fall (last week 75 degrees, this week 92--go figure). However, I do love it when it gets a little cooler so we can have soup; my favorite. There is something about a steaming hot bowl of soup and some good crusty bread that just makes me feel safe and secure.

I got this recipe from my dear friend, Mary who is a fabulous cook and most of the time she makes her own chicken stock! This recipe makes a lot and for those with smaller families, you can certainly 1/2 the recipe.

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups carrots, peeled and cut into diagonal slices
4 cups celery, diced small
1-2 T. Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
4 quarts of chicken broth
16 ounces cheese tortellini (packaged in the refrigerator section at the store)
4-5 cups cooked shredded chicken
2-3 T. chicken bullion granules (or **Better Than Bullion)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, Italian seasoning and the bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes until vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken broth and add the bullion. Bring the liquid to a boil. Add more bullion ahnd Italian seasoning if you like. Add the tortellini and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve in bowls sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

**I use Better Than Bullion instead of cubes or granules. It has a better, more rich flavor--probably due to the fact it has some of the fat from chicken in it. Sounds gross--but really makes soups and stews taste good!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sour Cream Beef Enchiladas

 First things first.  Please don't stop looking at this blog because of this gross picture.  It's obvious that I have a lot to learn about food photography, and believe me, it's on my to-do list.
Also, I am in New York at Holly's house and tomorrow morning I am taking a train with BC to New York City and I can't remember the last time I was this excited about going somewhere. 
Not to sound dramatic, but I've pretty much been dreaming of going to NYC my whole life.
I have a long list of places I want to eat and only two days to hit them wish me luck.
Now about the enchiladas.  They were really easy and really good.  It was fun to try a different spin on the traditional beef enchiladas that we usually eat.

1 medium onion
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 (16 oz.) container sour cream
1 (10 oz.)  can hot enchilada sauce
1 (10 oz.) can mild enchilada sauce
1 cup frozen white corn
12 corn tortillas
sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

*Brown ground beef with onion.  Add sour cream and corn.  Mix well while heating over medium heat.  Add half the can of hot enchilada sauce.  Stir to combine.  Warm up tortillas.  Spoon some meat mixture into each tortilla.  Top with a little cheese.  Roll up and place in a 9x13 pan.  When the pan is full, mix the remaining enchilada sauces and pour over top.  Cover with cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Friday, October 7, 2011


We vacationed in San Diego a few weeks ago with my brother and his wife. My brother's best friend of 20 years and his wife came along too--and were we lucky because his wife is the MOST FABULOUS COOK (thanks Marty)! She brought this delicious bread with her and we made it twice on the trip! It is so delicious and the easiest bread I have ever made! So easy--we made it on vacation. It has a sweet flavor and is delicious as toast or peanut butter sandwiches. I have used brown sugar instead of white sugar also.

5 c. Lukewarm water
1 c. Sugar
2 1/2 T. Yeast

Stir together with a wisk. Let stand for 20 min.

10 c. Flour
1 1/2 t. salt

Place flour in large bowl. Make a well in center. Pour yeast mixture in well. Mix until all flour is combined. Will be lumpy. Let stand for 20 min.

Dump dough on heavily floured counter. Knead about 10 times. Dough is very sticky. Form into 3 regular loaves or 4 smaller loaves. Place in greased loaf pans and let raise for 20 min. Bake at 350 for 40-45 min.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Bars

A new girl, named Stephanie, moved into our branch, which is always exciting!  And what's even more exciting is that she loves to bake AND has a recipe blog!  I know, too good to be true.  About a week ago, she sent me a text saying she had made cupcakes for a business dinner(she's legit) and had some leftovers and asked if I wanted them.  Please, I would take leftover cupcake crumbs.  She even gave them to me in a cute cupcake box!  She made vanilla and turtle and they were SOOO good!  Those cupcakes didn't stand a chance in our house.  Anyways, you will have to check out her recipe blog.  I got these peanut butter cup bars from her and they were finger lickin' good!!

Peanut Butter Cup Bars

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup chocolate chips

Melt butter in saucepan on stove.  When melted, remove from heat and mix in powdered sugar.  Stir until smooth.  Add peanut butter and crumbs and mix well.  Pour into an 8x8 pan lined with foil and greased.  Melt chocolate chips and pour over peanut butter base.  Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes until chocolate has hardened.  Cut and serve.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cinnamon Muffins

Dessert for breakfast you ask? YES! Worth it? YES!
These sweet and delicious muffins are from my husband's family and have become a Conference tradition in our house. Get a big glass of milk or water ready before you eat them because they are super sweet and rich, but that cinnamon taste is soooo good. Don't forget the sauce- its the best part!!

1/2 Cup butter
3/4 Cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 Cup flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 Cup milk

1/2 Cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 Cup milk
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
2 Tbsp butter

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs; combine dry ingredients and gently blend into creamed mixture. Stir in milk. Spoon into lightly greased or paper-lined muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
For sauce, combine sugar and cinnamon, then add all other ingredients. Cook on stove until thickened. Serve over top of warm muffins. Makes 1 dozen.
(I keep the burner on low or med-low. I don't let the sauce boil. Once you stir it on the stove for 5-10 minutes and take it off, the sauce will thicken as it cools)

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