Monday, October 13, 2014

Oven~Baked Refried Bean Dip

It's snack time!  Grab a bag of chips and dig in!

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2c plain yogurt
1 (16oz.) can refried beans
3 TBSP taco seasoning
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper sauce
2 TBSP green onions, chopped + a little extra for garnish
1c Cheddar cheese, shredded and divided

1.  Preheat oven to 350*

2.  In a medium size bowl, stir all ingredients together, reserving 1/2c cheese and the extra green onions.

3.  Add to prepared baking dish.  I used two smaller dishes but the recipe works just as well if you put it all in an 8x8.

4.  Top with the remaining cheese.

5.  Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vegan Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Fall is here!  Time for sweaters & boots, hot apple cider, and comfort food at it's best.  I've been making this family favorite every fall for several years now and it is always a big hit.  The recipe has evolved quite a bit from the first time I made this soup and I think it's better than ever now.

Hope you enjoy these classic flavors as much as we do!

1 pkg. Beyond Meat chicken strips
1 TBSP olive oil
salt, pepper, & garlic powder, to taste

6c vegetarian chicken broth
1 - 4oz. pkg. wild rice mix, with seasoning packet
3/4c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2c vegan butter
1/4c yellow onion, diced
1/2c carrots, diced
1/2c celery, chopped
1/2c white wine, optional
2c soy creamer


In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add chicken strips and cook until heated through, seasoning with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste.  Remove to a cutting board and shred.

In a large pot over medium high heat, bring the broth to a boil.  Add rice and seasoning packet included.  Cover and remove from heat.

In a small bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a medium-large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add onions, carrots, and celery, sautéing until slightly tender.  Stir in garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant.

Add white wine, if desired, and reduce heat to low.  

Gradually whisk in the flour mixture.

Pour in the creamer, a little at a time, whisking to maintain a smooth consistency.  Allow to simmer approximately 5 minutes to thicken, stirring occasionally.

Stir creamy mixture into the large pot with broth and rice.  Bring heat to medium and allow soup to heat through; 15-20 min.


 Served with biscuits for dipping - yum!





Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cinnamon Spice Applesauce (Slow Cooked and Sugar-Free)

Are you ready for the easiest applesauce you've ever made?  Break out the crock pot and let's get to it!

Let me just first say, even if you've been making applesauce with white or brown sugar forever, I promise, you absolutely will not miss it in this applesauce.  The apples have so much natural sweetness anyway.  I used Galas but don't see why any variety of apple wouldn't work here.

So, just use whatever you've got on hand and adjust spices to your personal preference.  Serve it hot; serve it cold - doesn't matter.  This recipe is super flexible!  Bonus: Your entire house will smell amazing!

Recipe can be scaled for whatever amount of apples you want to use without changing the cooking time.  I went with a small 1 lb. batch and it yielded approximately 1 1/2c.

1 lb, apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
1/3 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1.  Layer apple slices in the slow cooker.

2.  Sprinkle with spices.

3.  Set temperature on High and leave it alone for about 4 hours, checking progress periodically.

4.  Stir everything together and mash to desired consistency.  I like a chunkier applesauce so all it took was just a few times around in the pot with a spoon and it was ready.



Monday, October 6, 2014

White Wine Alfredo Sauce

My husband could probably eat fettuccine Alfredo every day of his life and I've experimented with various combinations over the years.  Most were tasty, some were so-so, but this one has emerged as the clear favorite:

4 TBSP butter
4 TBSP all-purpose flour
1c. heavy cream
1c. chicken flavored broth (Better Than Boullion makes a great veg version)
1c. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2c. Parmesan and Romano cheese, shredded
3 TBSP Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4c. white wine 
salt and pepper, to taste

1.  In a medium-size sauce pan, melt butter over low heat.

2.  Add flour.  Cook and stir with a whisk until well blended. (2-3 min.)

3.  Add cream and broth.  Stir to blend.

4.  Add remaining ingredients and continue stirring over low heat until cheeses are melted and sauce is a smooth consistency.


*If the sauce starts to get too thick, just thin it back out with a splash of wine or broth.

5.  Toss with pasta and serve warm.


Some people swear by Chardonnay for Alfredo sauces but I used a Sauvignon Blanc for this one 
and thought it was fabulous - Cheers!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Green Chile and Pepper Jack Egg Bake

This is officially my new favorite egg dish!

I had big plans to make it last weekend but... I don't know, something happened and it just didn't work out.  You know how these things go.  Days went by and I finally remembered I had bought the cheeses specifically for this so I should probably get on with making it.

And that is how we came to have "breakfast for dinner".  In order to make the meal not so breakfast-y  though I did throw together a side of black beans (butter, onion, garlic, cilantro - easy) and that rounded out the meal nicely.

Here's the super simple and oh, so yummy recipe:

6 eggs, beaten
1/2c pepper Jack cheese, shredded
1c cottage cheese
1/4c all-purpose flour
1/4c green chiles, chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, pepper Jack cheese, cottage cheese, and flour.

3.  Fold in the green chiles.

4.  Pour everything into a prepared 8x8 baking dish.

5.  Bake 1 hour, or until eggs are set.  Serve warm.


P.S.  The leftovers were great the next day.  
I spooned some into flour tortillas and devoured them for lunch!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cheesy Broccoli Twice Baked Potatoes

I love a big baked potato for dinner!   Aside from the classic-style buttered potato, BBQ vegetarian chicken had been my go-to favorite, until now.

Served these up with sides of Clean Out the Fridge Soup, here, for an easy and tasty dinner!

5 Russet potatoes
1c broccoli florets, chopped
3-4 TBSP butter
2 TBSP green onions, chopped
1 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
1c sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
paprika

1.  Preheat oven to 385* and bake potatoes approximately 1 hour, or until tender.  Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, sauté broccoli in 2-3 TBSP water until cooked through.  Drain and set aside.

2.  Slice length-wise across each potato and remove tops.  Scoop out insides, leaving enough potato that the skin holds its shape.

3.  In a medium mixing bowl, mash the scooped out potato with butter until it reaches your desired consistency.

4.  Stir in the green onions, parsley, Cheddar cheese, salt, and black pepper.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Spoon mixture back into the potato skins.

5.  Bake 15 minutes.  Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika and serve warm.













Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Late Summer Garden Minestrone

We're on the very edge of fall here and I've already been craving heartier soups and stews lately.  Farmers' markets are overflowing with okra, tomatoes, carrots.... add to that, my little backyard garden is bursting with herbs.

This soup creation is exactly what I was in the mood for on a recent cool and rainy day.  It is a minestrone in the classic sense that it's a vegetable soup with a little pasta thrown in for fun.  The ingredients are what's in-season here right now and I think could be easily adjusted to whatever you've got on hand.

2 TBSP olive oil
1/4c yellow onion, diced
3/4c okra, sliced 1/2"
1/4c celery, sliced
1/2c carrots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4c vegetable broth
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
3 large roma tomatoes, diced
3 TBSP fresh parsley
1 TBSP fresh oregano
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 TBSP fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme
3c fresh baby spinach, rough chopped 
1/2c ditalini pasta

1.  In a large pot, heat olive oil over Medium heat.

2.  Add onion, okra, celery, and carrots.  Saute 3-5 minutes.

3.  Add garlic and continue cooking another 1 minute.

4.  Add all remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to Low.

5.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Adjust seasoning to taste and serve warm.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Goat Cheese Quinoa with Spinach and Pine Nuts

It was one of those days when very little went according to plan and I was *this* close to letting the pizza man handle dinner...

but then I remembered the gorgeous okra and corn on the cob just bought two days ago at the farmers market.  I needed a dinner that incorporated both these purchases.

Oh, and there's that partial bag of spinach I need to use or lose... and that goat cheese I bought with no real plan for its use (I love the stuff and can't help myself sometimes) ... this meal was clearly meant to come together.

Paired with oven-roasted okra and corn on the cob with Old Bay seasoned butter, this was an easy, and delicious, dinner:


1c quinoa, cooked according to pkg. directions
1 TBSP olive oil
3 TBSP pine nuts, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2c spinach leaves, rough chopped
2 TBSP goat cheese, crumbled

1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

2.  Add pine nuts and garlic, cooking 1 - 2 minutes, until lightly toasted.

3.  Add cooked quinoa and spinach, cooking and stirring occasionally until quinoa is heated through and spinach is wilted.

4.  Remove from heat and fold in cheese.

5.  Garnish with additional 1 TBSP pine nuts and serve warm.



Yields 2 generous portions.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Julia Child's Cream of Spinach Soup

The first female celebrity chef would have been 102 today so it's fitting to showcase this simple but decadent soup.

My husband has been fighting a cold bug for the last few days and I thought a nice, hot soup would soothe his sore throat.  Why spinach?  Honestly, I had a bag of spinach I needed to use fairly soon or lose forever.

I opened Mastering the Art of French Cooking to page 43 where I found a recipe for Potage Creme d'Epinards (Cream of Spinach Soup) described in the book as, "...a lovely soup, and perfect for an important dinner."  Sounded good to me so I decided to give it a try and the resulting soup was a definite winner!

Side note: I love the way this recipe is written..."enrichment butter," "off heat" etc. - so charming.

Here's Mrs. Child's exact recipe, in case you don't have the book:


1/3 cup minced green onions, or yellow onions
3 Tbsp butter
3-4 packed cups of fresh spinach cut into chiffonade (thin slices)
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp flour (I used 5 Tbsp total for a thicker soup, your preference)
5 1/2 cups boiling white stock or chicken broth
2 eggs yolks
1/2 cup whipping cream
1-2 Tbsp butter


1. Cook the onions slowly in the butter in a covered saucepan for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender and translucent but not browned.

2. Stir in spinach and salt, cover, and cook slowly for about 5 minutes or until the leaves are tender and wilted.

3. Sprinkle in the flour and stir over moderate heat for 3 minutes.

4. Off heat, beat in the boiling stock. Simmer for 5 minutes. *If not to be served immediately, set aside uncovered. Reheat to simmer before proceeding.

5. Blend the yolks and cream in the mixing bowl. Beat a cupful of hot soup into them by driblets. Gradually beat in the rest of the soup in a thin stream. Return soup to saucepan and stir over moderate heat for a minute or two to peach the egg yolks, but do not bring the soup to a simmer. Off heat, stir in the enrichment butter a tablespoon at a time.



I made the usual vegetarian and vegan substitutes for all but the egg yolks:
                

This recipe is not complicated but I still had lots of help.  My littlest chef-in-training takes her job very seriously.  :)

                  


Serve hot with garlic bread.



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Spicy and Savory Thousand Island Dressing

Trust me, once you make this for yourself, you won't ever want to go back to that sugary sweet stuff in a bottle!  It's super easy to throw together and absolutely perfect for Reuben sandwiches.

1/2c mayonnaise (I use Vegenaise)
1/4c ketchup
1 TBSP dill pickle relish
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. mustard seed
1/2 tsp chili powder


1.  Stir everything together in a small mixing bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.


Good stuff!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Meatless Muffuletta

I love muffulettas!  There is just something about the briny olives and cheesy combo that I find dangerously addicting.

The original plan with this recipe was to try adding a little fresh oregano but when I went to the garden, I discovered someone had eaten every bit of what used to be a rather large plant - all the way down to the ground!  Herbs are disappearing like crazy this year and we haven't caught the culprit yet.  So, no oregano, but still delicious.


1c kalamata olives
1c green olives
3 cloves garlic
1/2c fresh basil
1/4c olive oil
4 slices provolone
4 slices mozzarella
medium size Italian bread round

1.  In a food processor, add kalamata olives, green olives, garlic cloves, fresh basil, and olive oil.  Chop to a chunky texture.  Refrigerate for an hour or two, or until ready to use (within 24 hours).

2.  Slice Italian round lengthwise and layer alternating olive salad and cheeses.

3.  Place in a 350° oven for a few minutes; just enough to soften the cheese.  Cut into quarters and serve.

                    



The olive salad is also yummy for snacking with crackers!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Make the Perfect Shirley Temple

I don't think there's a girl out there who doesn't love Shirley Temples.  This classic kids' cocktail has been my older daughter's favorite restaurant treat for years.  Just a few nights ago, we wanted to go out for dinner and gave her the honor of choosing the restaurant.  She immediately chose a place nearby that we all know and love and while waiting for our table, I asked her why she chose this place.  Her response - "They make the best Shirley Temples!"

What?!  Really?!  Okay, they make a darn good margarita, too, but that's beside the point.  Such a thing has never been my basis for choosing where I want to eat my evening meal.  Right then and there I decided it was time to show this girl how simple it is to recreate her favorite restaurant drink at home.

She was amazed how easy it was and I was happy when she declared my Shirley Temple concoction, "way better than the ones at the restaurant!"  Psst... It's all about the cherry juice/Sprite ratio which will vary by glass size.  So easy:

1 bottle Sprite
1 jar maraschino cherries, with juice

1.  Fill glass with ice (we like the slushiness of crushed).

2.  Pour in the Sprite and 1-2 TBSP cherry juice.

3.  Top with cherries and serve.


Sit back and let the little ones praise your talent.  
They'll think you're a master mixologist!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Classic Coleslaw

To me, coleslaw is a perfect addition to any summertime cookout and was delicious paired with our BBQ Baked Beans last week.  What I like about this one is that the cabbage retains just the right amount of crunch and flavor because it's not drenched in dressing.   I can't stand a soggy coleslaw!

I usually opt for coleslaw mix in a bag because I like the blend of colors.  It's important for my food to be pretty.  :)  Sometimes I also stir in chilled apple chunks for a little something extra just before serving - yum!

3/4c mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
14oz. pkg. coleslaw mix

1.  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except coleslaw mix.  Stir until well blended.

2.  Add coleslaw mix and toss to coat.

3.  Refrigerate until chilled.
                      


Friday, July 25, 2014

BBQ Baked Beans

I have used this recipe for baked beans every summer for the last several years.  Okay, not this *exact* recipe; the previous one included meat.  We've now had this vegetarian version twice and, as always, it's delicious!

2 (15 oz.) cans baked beans
1/2c brown sugar, packed
1/4c yellow onion, chopped
1/2c ketchup
1 TBSP yellow mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. red wine vinegar

1.  Preheat oven to 350*

2.  In a medium bowl, stir all ingredients until well blended.  Pour into an 8x8 baking dish.

3.  Bake 1 hr, uncovered, until sauce is thickened.

               

Saturday, July 5, 2014

4th of July Flag Toast and Watermelon Stars

4th of July food has historically been all about lunch around here, with leftovers available for grazing throughout the remainder of the day.  This year, we switched things up a bit by going out for lunch and saving the big All-American feast for dinner.  But first, my daughter and I threw together this super cute and easy breakfast:

sliced bread
cream cheese
strawberries
blueberries

1.  Toast the bread and allow to cool a minute or two.

2.  Spread with cream cheese.

3.  Add blueberries and strawberries to represent stars and stripes.


                             

For the Watermelon Stars, a cookie cutter makes preparation quick and easy.  I use this one twice a year - Christmas and 4th of July!


                                       

                                       




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