Sunday, February 21, 2010

Creamy Tomato-Basil Soup

I love this soup! It's so yummy and easy, and the kids don't fight us eating it. The recipe calls for canned tomatoes, but we have substituted fresh tomatoes in the summer or frozen tomatoes in the winter. Did you know that if you core and freeze whole tomatoes, the skin falls right off when you are ready to use them?

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • EVOO
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil

  1. In a large stock pot, saute onion over medium heat in oil until soft and translucent.
  2. Add salt, pepper, dried basil, and flour. Cook for a few minutes.
  3. Whisk in chicken broth to flour mixture until mixed thoroughly.
  4. Add tomatoes and stir. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in baking soda and sugar. (The baking soda (base) will react with the tomatoes (acid) and foam up like a elementary school science experiment. The kids LOVE watching this part, and it's a great opportunity for an impromptu science lesson.)
  6. Reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Add half-and-half and fresh basil.
  8. Stir and simmer for at least 5 minutes. Turn heat to low until ready to serve.

My family likes to add Goldfish crackers for the kids, or shredded cheese for the adults.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sausage-Broccoli Puff

I got this recipe from a cookbook handed down to me by my grandmother-in-law. My grandmothers have both passed away, but Grandma Pete's memory lives on in my kitchen, thanks to her Broccoli-Cheese Soup. Not having my grandmas makes me that more appreciative of my grandmothers-in-law and their recipes!

Back to the recipe. It's super-easy, looks fancy, and makes a light, fluffy crust that the kids (and Jay) fight over.

Sausage-Broccoli Puff

  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms, or 1 small can of mushroom stems and pieces (optiona)
  • 1 small onion, sliced into rings
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound bulk pork sausage
  • 3 cups frozen chopped broccoli
  • 1/3 cup uncooked instant rice, or 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Place butter in a glass 9-in. pie plate; place in a 400° oven for 2-3 minutes or until butter is melted. Remove from the oven.
  2. In a bowl, whisk milk, flour, eggs and salt until smooth; pour into hot pie plate.
  3. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until puffed and golden.
  4. Meanwhile, in a skillet, saute mushrooms and onion in butter until tender; remove and set aside.
  5. In the same skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.
  6. Stir in broccoli and rice. Cook until tender. (If using cooked rice, cook the broccoli tender before adding the rice.)
  7. Stir in mushroom mixture and cheese. Cover and keep warm.
  8. When pancake is removed from oven, immediately spoon filling into center and serve.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Parmesan Chicken for Valentine's Da

For our Valentine's Day lunch, we had Parmesan Chicken, garlic green beans, and lemon-butter fried potatoes. YUM! The chicken recipe comes from my good friend, Cydnee:

Baked Parmesan Chicken
4-6 chicken tenders, boneless and skinless
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

  1. Mix together mayo, cheese and garlic powder.
  2. Spread mayo mixture over each chicken tender. Then coat with bread crumbs.
  3. Place on a greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
To make it an extra special day for Katie, we let her have full rein on decorating the dining room table. I gave her a book that showed the "proper" way to set a table and off she went. It was complete with a white tablecloth, red ribbon, roses, and candles, a chocolate heart for each of us and small Valentine's gift from the girls' V-day stash. It was lovely and, more importantly, made my HGTV-girl so proud of herself! I'll try to post pictures later.

Pink Pancakes for Valentine's Day

I love making Valentine's Day special for my girls. Jay and I aren't the romantic-type but we do appreciate good food and the time it takes to make a really good meal. So, instead of heading out to a restaurant and throwing down $30, I had planned some nice meals today, starting with Pink Pancakes.

One of the purchases that stopped this year, in my attempt to cut down our grocery bill, was Bisquik. That stuff is expensive, especially when you have as many big pancake eaters as we do! We have three pancake recipes we use, but the one below is the easiest and probably my favorite. The strawberries are a special-occasion-only addition.

Pink Pancakes

2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar (brown or white)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tub frozen strawberries, thawed

  1. Beat eggs in medium bowl until fluffy.
  2. Add in remaining ingredients, except strawberries. Mix until smooth.
  3. Pour in the juice from the strawberries. Don't worry if one or two strawberries falls in. Mix until just blended.
  4. Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat.
  5. Pour about 1/2 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook until it is fluffy, bubbles appear in the batter, and the edges just start to turn golden. Then flip and cook until edges are just turning golden brown.
  6. Serve with remaining strawberries and optional syrup and whipped cream.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Most of the time, I cherish the time we have with our kids. I listen to all the sweet old ladies who tell me to enjoy my beautiful family, because they grow up too fast. I know the time will pass quicker than I want it to...most of the time. But there are a few insignificant things that I will enjoy when the girls are older. One of those things: 4-alarm chili. Of course, by then, I probably won't be able to hand the hot stuff like I do know. Such is the irony of life!

Anywho, below is my chili recipe. If you have small kids or a wimpy tongue, skip the ingredients in red. If you are adventurous and think Hot Sauce adds flavor, not heat, then go for it!


1 pound ground beef
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 jalapeno peppers, cored and seeded (unless you like it hot; then keep the seeds)
1 Anaheim pepper, cored and seeded
3 cayenne peppers, whole (stem and all, just throw it in)
6-8 shakes of Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 cans chili beans
1 can red beans
1 can diced tomatoes or Ro-Tel

  • Add the onions and ground beef to a skillet. Stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, and half the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook on medium-high heat until meat in brown and onion is translucent.
  • To a crockpot, add all other ingredients, including remaining spices. Stir in the beef-onion mixture.
  • Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  • Remove cayenne peppers, or give them to the guy who claims there is nothing too hot for him. :)
  • Serve with saltines, cheddar cheese, and hot sauce. (Jay adds ketchup to his, but I consider that a major party-foul!)
Don't worry if it seems like this makes too much for your family. You can turn the leftovers into chili dogs or Frito Pie...two meals, 1 day of cooking!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Super Bowl Spread

I am anxiously awaiting tomorrow night's Super Bowl. Not only is my boy Peyton in THE game with his fellow Colts, but we get to watch it at our friends' house, where the kids will have space to freely run about and we'll enjoy the company as much as the game and commercials. It's a potluck, and our contributions will be:

  • Cheese-stuffed crescent rolls, which are just cubed cheese cooked inside refrigerator crescent rolls;
  • Spinach-artichoke dip, made by mixing cream cheese with a jar mix from Clay Gourmet. (I'm feeling too lazy to make the from-scratch version, as yummy as it may be;
  • Homemade salsa and chips. With all the tomatoes and peppers growing around this place, I only got one batch of salsa put away this year. I saved a jar just for Super Bowl.
  • Cream-cheese covered with jalapeno jelly, served with Triscuits. I think we're actually required to bring this to every potluck. It's probably in the Jay's Jellies by laws, or something.

So, what are YOU serving up for Super Bowl? And, do you have any great, easy chicken hot wing recipes? Preferably one that doesn't require deep-frying?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Beef Stew

Thank you, Paula Dean, for the fabulous stew that is even better as leftovers!