Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Party Favorite...

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the food. Especially the party food! Chex Mix, peanut brittle, chips, dips, spreads, cakes, cookies, deviled eggs... if its festive I love it!

Today our homeschool group is having a casual Christmas party at our weekly park day. Everyone will bring a little something to share with the rest. Usually, we bring lunches for our own so this is a treat. My contribution to our table came about from a number of ideas. Several years ago I made an Olive Cheese Ball(recipe is on an old computer somewhere) that was well received. I've also been craving those little cream cheese and walnut finger sandwiches and tortilla pinwheels. So, here is a combination of a few of my favorite things...

Lavash Pinwheels

1 pkg Joseph's lavash(I used 3.5 of the 4 sheets)
2 8oz blocks cream cheese, softened
1/3 of a stick of butter
1 cup sour cream
2 cups finely grated cheddar cheese(sharp or mild, your call)
1 small can of chopped black olives
1 3oz pkg real bacon bits
1/4 cup salsa, I use a local brand that tastes very fresh-not like the cooked Pace kind
1 tablespoon taco seasoning(I use a blend from Frontier Foods)
or few shakes of cumin, oregano, and chipotle powder.
few shakes of onion and garlic powder
4 scallions, finely sliced
1/2 cup, loosely packed, cilantro, finely chopped(measure before chopping)
1-2 tablespoons finely minced jalepeno or bell pepper(optional)

Mix cream cheese and butter together with a hand mixer or cut with a knife(my method) until well blended. Add shredded cheese, salsa, and powdery seasonings and continue to mix well. Stir in olives, scallions, bacon bits, and sour cream. Spread onto a lavash sheet, covering the whole thing, make sure to divide the filling by the number of sheets you have so you don't come up short. Starting at one of the long sides, roll up, taking care not to squeeze the filling out. Wrap in plastic wrap or foil and refridgerate for several hours. Using a serrated knife, cut into 1/2 inch slices and serve!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chicken Veggie Soup

The kids and I are a bit under the weather so I thought a good chicken soup would hit the spot. The more veggies the better, right?

Chicken Veggie Soup

2-3 bone/skinless chicken breasts

Cook chicken in water until cooked through, cool and cube.


1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 small turnip, chopped
1 bunch kale, torn into small bits and rinsed well
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, pressed, or a tsp garlic powder
seasonings of your choice, I used savory and a bit of greek seasoning
1 tsp chicken boullion paste or a cube
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup elbow pasta or rotini(or pasta of your choice)

Cook first 4 veggies in oil until soft. Add kale and a cup or so of water and spices. Add chicken and several more cups of water, maybe 7-9 total, to fill your pot up(I trust your judgement). Simmer about an hour, until the kale is tender, add pasta and cook til soft. Serve with parmesan cheese and crackers or a good bread.

This was soooo satisfying, perfect on a winter's night, and even better the second night!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Santa Fe Rice and Beans...

I cooked a whole pkg(2 pounds I think) of brown rice to use over the long weekend. Part of it went for my Broccoli Spinach Rice Casserole and the rest was meant for something greater.

Santa Fe Rice and Beans

1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1-2 jalepeno peppers, chopped very fine
1-2 carrots, chopped
1-2 celery stalks, chopped

Cook these in a little olive oil, broth, or water until tender.

3 cups frozen corn kernels
2 cans black beans, rinsed well and drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon broth paste
taco seasoning, mix of cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and oregano to taste
1 can of water
1 teaspoon salt
3-5 cups brown rice, cooked(leftover)

Add these things to pot, simmer about 30-40 minutes or so over low heat. Serve over crushed tortilla chips, grated cheese, and topped with sour cream. YUM!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Special Dilled Potatoes

I made this up three Thanksgivings ago and forgot about it. Sarah asked me this morning if I would make that delicious potato thing that tasted like ranch dip. I knew immediately what she was talking about. It is sooooo good!!

Special Dilled Potatoes(or Quick, let me throw something potatoe-y together!)

7 medium potatoes
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup cheese whiz*
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Wash potatoes and put in pot with water to cover. Boil them, in jackets, about 20 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool. Combine soup, cheese whiz, milk, sour cream, and spices. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel skins off and dice into 1/2 inch cubes(bigger won't be as tasty). Combine with sauce mixture in buttered baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 along side broccoli rice casserole, for about an hour, browning the top during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.

These are perfect for a buffet and go wonderfully with ham or turkey. I can't believe I only made them once. Must've been out of dill or something.

*or make your own.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cinci-Tex Chili

Being a Texas Southerner, I had never had occasion to eat Cincinnati Chili before now. I assumed it was kind of a combination of Italian spaghetti sauce and Texas-style chili, which sounded good but not all that intriguing. Sometimes I love it when I'm wrong!!

Last night Mark was running late, Ryan was at a friend's house and I had nothing going on for dinner. It was our homeschool group's park day and we'd been out of the house all day. We were all starving and the prospect of microwaved burritos, egg rolls, or baked potatoes was looming. Just last week I had cooked my last 10 pound roll of ground turkey from Fran's Fryers so I decided to thaw one out for a quick chili. Finding I had no canned beans(I know, right??) I carried on with my plans anyway. Being the slapdash cook that I am, I added many things that just sounded good. That's just how I roll. Sooooo, here's what I made....

Texas-Cinci Chili
1.5-2 pounds ground beef or turkey
1-2 onions(I cook mine with the meat so I didn't add more for this recipe)
2 cans diced tomatoes(the no-salt variety is what I use)
1 small can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons chili seasoning blend*
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4-1/2 each cinnamon, cloves, cumin, allspice or nutmeg, garlic powder, and oregano
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce(I'm not a big fan)
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper(optional, I like it hot)

Brown meat and onions together til meat is cooked through. Add tomato stuff and spices, start out with the lower amounts and add more if you want. If you are using allspice you may want to adjust or leave out the cloves and cinnamon. Simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile grate some sharp cheddar, boil up a pkg of spaghetti(we just used small elbows because I was out of long noodles) and chop some green onions. Serve hot chili over noodles and top with cheese and onions. Oh my Gawd this was good!!!

*I used a prepared blend, Chili Seasoning Mix, from Frontier but you can make this one or your own favorite blend.

So, this morning when I decided to search for Cincinnati Chili to see what I'd have to change, I happened upon recipes that were very similar to mine. Hmmmm.

Here are some that are making my mouth water for more! Enjoy!!

Cincinnati Chili from What's Cooking America.

Cincinnati Five Way Chili from Frontier Natural Products Co-op.

and Cincinnati Chili from Apartment Therapy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole(just like mom used to make-sort of)

Growing up, we usually had Thanksgiving with my grandparents in Oklahoma or at home with just us. My grandmother was an excellent cook and went all-out for Turkey Day. There was turkey and cornbread dressing(with nuts and green beans in hers-maybe a can of Veg-all even), mashed potatoes, rolls and so forth. These foods are so typical at Thanksgiving that I don't think they qualify as a family tradition but more of a national tradition.

Family traditions, to me at least, are the quirky things that make each family unique. Like playing toss the football in the yard, our annual walk to the back of my in-laws property(quite a trek these days since they don't tend to the land any more), chocolate pie, coconut pie, Millionaire pie, watching football from a pile of pillows in the floor, you know, that kind of stuff. Many of these things still happen in our family's harvest celebration but my very favorite is the Broccoli Rice Casserole. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it.

My parents live almost a thousand miles from us so we don't share Thanksgiving any more(they come to us for Christmas). SuperHub's mom cooked much like my grandmother did but she has Alzheimer's Disease and can't now. Since I never had to do the meal myself until recently, I still kind of struggle with it. Several years ago I had not been able to find frozen chopped broccoli ANYwhere so I used spinach as a substitute, which gave the casserole a more earthy flavor. The next year I discovered that I didn't have rice on hand when it was time to do my cooking but I did have a package of quinoa that I didn't quite know what to do with so...

Broccoli-Spinach Quinoa Casserole(makes a full 9x13 pan)

olive oil
1 bag frozen chopped broccoli
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
4 ribs celery, sliced
1 onion, sliced
8 oz cheese whiz(I use the great value brand from Walmart, but you can even make your own healthier version)

1-1.5 cups dry quinoa, rinsed well
about 3 cups water

Bring water and quinoa to boil, reduce heat and simmer til water is absorbed.

Cook onion and celery in olive oil until transluscent. Add greens, soups, and cheese product. Stir til well blended. Add quinoa and mix well. Pour into a buttered 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mexican Bulghur Stew

Today was our homeschool group's weekly park day and, as usual, we stayed later than we planned. All day long I had been thinking of the Homesick Texan's sweet potato biscuits and chorizo gravy and Big Red Kitchen's crustless quiche but I didn't have enough of the ingredients for either meal and I did NOT want to stop at the store after 5pm. Soooo, I went pantry diving! Came up with a handful of canned goods, a jalepeno chili and a bag of bulghur. Here's what came of it....

Or Can-Can Chili(but don't tell Amy because she doesn't like chili). Holy Smokes this is good!!!

1 cup medium bulghur
2 cups boiling water
1/2 teaspoon beef broth paste(I use Better than Boullion) or 1 beef cube
1 tablespoon olive oil or 2 tablespoons water
1 onion, chopped
1 jalepeno chili, seeded and chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste(no salt added)
1 can diced tomatoes(no salt added)
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can red beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2-1 teaspoon oregano
1/2-1 teaspoon cumin

Add bulghur to water and remove from heat. Meanwhile soften onion, jalepeno and garlic in a little oil or water. Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes and beans, then the spices. Add bulghur and the water it soaked in, if any is left. Add about a can of water, if you think its needed. Simmer, covered for about 20 minutes or so, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Serve with sour cream, grated cheese, cornbread, tortilla chips or whatever you usually eat with chili.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Spicy Spicy Chicken...

I wish I had time to make this tonight! Wednesdays are our busy nights so we usually grab a frozen eggroll or burrito or make a baked potato or something else simple. This doesn't take much time but we are literally out the door around 4pm and not back in til after 9pm. Thursdays aren't much better because of activities with our homeschool group. Soooo maybe Friday, and I promise to take a picture!

A melting pot of spicy flavors...

2 large bone/skinless chicken breasts, in 1-inch cubes
2 bone/skinless chicken thighs, in 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
couple glugs of olive oil
1/2-1 teaspoon of each of the following spices, adjust to your taste:
cumin, cayenne(about 1/4tsp of this one), dry mustard, curry, ginger, celery seed, garlic powder, onion powder and salt.
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 14 oz cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes with juice
1 14 oz can pineapple chunks in juice, with juice
1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped fine

Cook chicken and veggies in oil for 15 minutes. Add spices and cook 5 more minutes. Add soy sauce, tomatoes, and pineapple and simmer for 20 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. Throw in cilantro and simmer another 10 minutes or so. Serve over hot, buttered rice or grain of your choice.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sausage, Kale, and Bean Pasta

1 pound lean turkey breakfast sausage(or Italian with casings removed)
2 cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes with juice
1 (8oz) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 bunch kale, coursely chopped, large stems removed
garlic and onions to taste(powder or actual veggies)
dash of cayenne pepper(this makes it, in my opinion)
1 teaspoon savory spice
1 can beans(red or white), drained and rinsed
1 box rotini pasta
handfuls of cheddar cheese, grated

Brown sausage well. Stir in onions and garlic and cook til onion is tender. Add tomatoes, spices, and kale. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring now and then. Add beans to sausage and kale, continue simmering for another 15-20 minutes or so. Start pasta cooking. When the pasta is almost done, drain it well and add to sausage mixture. Stir well, cover and cook about 10 more minutes til pasta is tender. Serve in bowls with cheese. Yum!

Pumpkin Soup's On!

I sometimes(mostly) post my recipes with no pictures. This is because I suck at taking them. Right now in my life, with two teens and a 10-year-old(going on 30), all of whom are homeschoolers, a husband who works out of town, and the daily chaos that is, remembering to take pictures is also an issue.

As usual, all measurements are approximate. This soup kicks the butt of all previous soups I've ever made, LOL, it is *that* good!

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup with Chipotle and Cumin

1 pie pumpkin(about 3-4 pounds), roasted and peeled

1(or 2 if you've got more to feed) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/8 to 1/4th tsp chipotle powder(go easy, this stuff is powerful hot)

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1 onion, chopped and softened

1-2 garlic cloves, pressed and cooked with the onion

6-7 cups chicken or veggie broth(I use Better than Boullion paste)

Combine half the pumpkin, half the onion, garlic, spices, and half the beans in a blender. Add enough water to blend it well(this will be part of your water count, I used 4 cups but it will depend on your blender's size). Pour into a large pot or saucepan(3 quart). Blend remaining pumpkin with more broth but reserve the beans. Combine pumkin mixture, remaining beans and onions, and the leftover broth in saucepan/pot, and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Serve hot topped with a dollop of sour cream.

Let me know if you make this!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bob Talbert's White Chili

Go Here for the original recipe. I will include my variations here...

I boiled the chicken but almost any cooking method would work, grilling would give it a great flavor boost! Instead of canned broth, I used Better Than Boullion paste, drained and rinsed the beans, added a bigger can of green chilis, a dash of cayenne pepper, and about 2/3 cup cream cheese. It was very warm, spice-wise, but that just makes it better to me.

This was amazing and too easy for words!

By the way, this is my first post on my latest blog. I intend to comb my facebook older posts for the many recipes I've posted there, as well as my other two blogs, so you may see things you've seen before. (-: