Thursday, February 26, 2009

Authentic Beans and Rice

So the only reason I say these are authentic is because: once in New Haven me and my friend, who was from Brazil, took dinner to a woman who was from Mexico, and I made this recipe. Later she was surprised to hear that I had made the beans and rice, and not the Brazilian lady! Anyway, this is one of Mark's favorites, and every time I make it I am surprised again at how good plain old beans and rice can be.  It's just so good. We usually have it for the whole meal, but it makes a nice side to enchiladas and stuff- only you will end up just wanting the beans and rice. Make a lot, everyone will want seconds. Ok now that I've totally talked it up here goes:

Like most good dinners it starts with

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic sauteing in 
acouple Tbs. of olive oil.
cook a few minutes, add

1 chopped green bell pepper
1 Tbs. Oregano

cook till veggies are tender on  med. heat

two 15 oz. cans black beans
two Tbs. white vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 pkts.  Sazón Goya without Annatto. (This seasoning makes all the difference, find it with the Goya/mexican food products. Annatto is just a reddish coloring, will make the beans more red if you do use it.)
Let this simmer on low about half an hour get the flavors to come out.
In the mean time cook a pot of long grain rice. Spoon the beans over the rice, the rice will soak up all the sauce and taste sooo good.

*Even though this recipe seems heavy on the onions/ garlic/ bell pepper, it turns out pretty mild. Just rich flavor. My picky 4 year old eats it by the bowl full!
So there you have it.
Tastes great.
Healthy for you.
Cheap to make.

so a lot of people have been asking where to get this Goya seasoning. I found it at Wal-mart, it comes in a little flat, cardboard box in the Mexican food area, where the spices/ seasonings are. There are about 8 little foil packet inside. Turns out McCormick also does a version called Sazon, in a red box.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More Kitchen tips

If you are making a cake or brownie mix, start by adding the wet ingredients first, then the dry mix won't stick to the bottom of the bowl. (Polly taught me that one!)

If your mixer is splashing flour or liquid out of the bowl, hang a kitchen towel over it while it mixes. (I have to do this when I start mixing whipped cream and it splatters everywhere before it thickens.)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

sugar free banana bread

again, here i am. weeping and wailing the fact that i am still sugar free. it really isn't that bad, and i have discovered wonderful things, like how fruit is so much sweeter than i previously thought, and that i don't need ice cream to feel happy. however there is a light at the end of the's my newest find:

banana bread

1 cup crisco
2 cups splenda
4 eggs
6 bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons soda (dissolved)
4 cups flour
1 cup diet sprite ( i use those little half cans)
1 cup almonds (or other nut)

cream the crisco, splenda, eggs, vanilla. add the mushy bananas. dissolve the soda in a bit of water and add. add the diet sprite, and then add the flour. mix the nuts in last.

make sure you really grease up those bread pans. this is sticky stuff. for me, this made 2 bigger loafs and 2 smaller loafs. bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes, depending on the loaf size.

banana bread is my kids favorite. i usually fill a couple of loaf pans, then i will add chocolate chips to the rest of the batter for the kids. we treat it just like a yummy cookie. this recipe freezes really well, so if you have a lot of bananas, you can easily double it. i had about 12 black bananas that i pulled out of my freezer for just this occasion.

you can make this a full sugar recipe by using regular old white sugar and a cup of regular soda. it tastes the same. probably only better.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sinful Chocolate Mocha Trifle

I found this recipe on allrecipes a few years ago, and it has become a favorite! If you don't like mocha flavored things than it can be made without the instant coffee, but than it wouldn't be nearly as sinful!

1 large package brownie mix (or homemade)
1 3/4 cups cold milk
2 (3.3 ounce) packages instant white chocolate pudding mix (I've used vanilla too)
4 teaspoons instant coffee granules (I use decaf)
2 tablespoons warm water
2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
3 (1.4 ounce) bars chocolate covered toffee bars, chopped (Skor is my favorite!)

Prepare brownies according to directions. Bake and cool. Cut into 1 inch cubes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk and pudding mix until mixture begins to thicken. Dissolve coffee granules in water and stir into pudding mixture. Fold in whipped topping.
In a glass serving bowl, layer one-third of brownie cubes, one-third of pudding mixture and one-third of candy. Repeat layering until all ingredients are used. Chill 30 minutes in refrigerator before serving.


A recipe request to Star!

Hi Star, can I request a recipe from you? At Kate's bb shower, you made some kind of really yummy chocolate and toffee layered trifle dessert. Oh it was so good, do you remember? Was it you that made it? If it was, would you post the recipe for me? Thanks!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Today's kitchen tip:

Noodles, spaghetti and other starches won't boil over if you rub the inside of the pot with vegetable oil.

*I read this somewhere, someone try this and tell me if it really works!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cookies and Cobbler

Here are a couple of recipes I made this week.

This first recipe is from a friend of mine in the Fairborn Ward.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup shortening

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs (beaten)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups oatmeal (not quick oats)

12 oz bag chocolate chips (or 10 oz bag mini M&Ms)

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together shortening and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Add flour, soda, salt, oats, chips and nuts. Stir until dry ingredients are just incorporated, but no more.

Place dough on cookie sheet in 1-inch balls (slightly flattened). (Twelve cookies will fit on a large cookie sheet.) Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. They don’t brown up like normal chocolate chip cookies, so keep your eye on them!

The second recipe is one my mom had in her recipe box which is credited to Martha, her sister (and aunt to half the contributors on this blog!) It is super-sweet, so you don't need to serve large pieces.

Martha’s Blueberry Cobbler

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

1 pkg. frozen blueberries

1 Tbsp margarine

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup melted butter

Mix cornstarch, water and sugar with fruit. Cook till clear and slightly thick, add butter and lemon juice. Pour into a good deep dish. Sift dry ingredients, add milk and butter together; beat smooth. Spoon over fruit. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp nutmeg over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min. Serve with whipped cream.

Friday, February 13, 2009

sugar free sugar cookies

i know, it's a blatant disrespect of desserts and all things cookie. let me explain my dilemma:

my husband works at a job. he has the insurance. the insurance company is full of hippies who are trying to help us be "more healthy". in order to do that, they offer us this " premium rebate". a sweet $200. the husband did it last year, and we found out that for this year, i could do it too. what it involves is masochistic and sadistic challenges that include altering what you consume to be in line with "healthy alternatives".

now, the insurance people are mean. the first challenge included the words "cut out dessert" and "refined sugar". my two favorite things. so i've been coming up with alternative ways to help calm the sweet tooth monster.

since it is valentines day, and you simply cannot have a valentines day without sugar cookies, i found an alternative.

sugar free sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting

1 cup of splenda
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

the recipe that i use, just says to dump all this together. which sort of makes it lumpy. i like to cream the liquid and eggs and add the dry. i don't know if it makes much of a difference. it just makes me feel powerful and smart.

i know it is against reason, or tradition, but do not chill this dough. something quirky happens and the dough won't roll out well. i know, weird. i once used the splenda in frosting, and it was the same thing. it was really weird and stringy after i chilled it. so don't do it.

you roll this dough out to 1/3" thick. these are yummy soft sugar cookies. it totally depends on how thick you want them. i like them thick and puffy, but my sister in law, who's recipe this came from, really likes them thin. it's up to you.

cut them in your favorite shapes...bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes. again depending on how thick you rolled them.

cream cheese frosting

this is where the sugar free stuff became tricky. most of the stuff i could find online called for half splenda and half sugar. so i nixed that. i love a challenge. so i did a hybrid of a couple i found.

1 package cream cheese (warm to room temperature)
1/4 to 1/2 cup of butter ( depending on your taste. i used 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 teaspoons of agave nectar

it makes a really rich frosting, so you only need a bit. the agave nectar is so sweet, it almost tastes like corn syrup. and make sure you do refrigerate these cookies.

warning: unlike regular refined sugar, splenda will make you sick,if you eat too many. as in the-next-day-don't-wanna-leave-the-bathroom sick. i know it wasn't true when your parents told you when you were a kid, but it's so true now. so these cookies are really made to share, or at least not to eat the entire batch in one sitting. i promise. trust me.

Darn Good Sugar Cookies

Ok while we're deciding what to post next, I will post my sugar cookie recipe. These cookies are melt-in-your-mouth butter-licious!  Don't leave yourself unattended with these cookies, or you might eat the whole batch! (Not that I would ever, uh-well, I only had like four...) So anyway,  here's the recipe:

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar 
tsp vanilla
beat these ingredients on high till fluffy and white
1 egg 
3 Tbs milk
beat well
 stir in:
 3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
mix well

Refigerate the dough for 1 hour, otherwise it's too floppy and sticky. Roll out on floured surface, (I use wax paper), cut with cookie cutters. Alternatively, you could roll the dough into a log and slice it. Don't make your cookies too thin or they'll be crispy. Bake at 400º for 8-9 min. They should still be white- if they are golden they are overcooked. Let them cool a few minutes, finish with a can of frosting and sprinkles. Now go and give some to your neighbors before you are overcome with temptation!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Some super soups!

Thank you everyone who posted their scrumptious soup recipes! It's been fun to try things I don't normally cook and get out of my "what-do-we-have-for-dinner-ok-spaghetti-again" routine. If you still have a soup recipe to share, please post it. 
Also, the labels are very helpful to find a specific recipe, but I think we have to keep it pretty basic or there will be too many of them. As in, just use "dessert" instead of "lemon ginger pistachio seven layer bars."
 Question: Does anyone want to suggest another category to collect a type of recipe? Or just whatever you feel like sharing? I'll leave it up to you, recipe readers!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hearty Italian Chicken Chowder

As for a favorite's a repeat of one I included on "my blog" months ago. But, it's worth repeating to readers here. Definately one of those add-whatever-you've-got-around soups!
Great for today's Utah snow.
(a.k.a. "cheesy spoon soup")

1/4 C. Zesty Italian Dressing
1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken, chopped bite-size
1 can Stewed Tomatoes
1 C. Chicken Broth
1 Medium Zucchini, chopped
1/2 C. Elbow Macaroni, uncooked
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 C. shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1) HEAT Dressing in large saucepan on medium heat. 2)Add Chicken; cook 3 minutes, stirring once.3) Add tomatoes, broth, zucchini, macaroni, and basil. Bring to boil on High heat.4) Reduce heat to Medium; simmer 8 minutes or until macaroni is tender.5) Sprinkle with cheese when served.

Easy Manicotti & Rolls

A few from my favorite section of the recipe box: Pasta and Bread!

Manicotti w/ Three Cheeses
This recipe is frequently requested. It has become a comfort food around here that is super easy to prepare. The ingredients are common and simple to pull together. (I often half the recipe)

12 Manicotti Shells
4 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
8 ounces Cream Cheese
1 jar Marinara Sauce
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

1-Mix 3 Cups Mozzarella with Cream Cheese
2-Stuff each Manicotti (already cooked in boiling water)
3-Place in greased 9x13 baking dish
4-Spread Marinara Sauce over manicotti
5-Sprinkle remaining mozzarella over the top
6-Bake 15 @ 350
7-Take out and Sprinkle Parmesan on top
8-Bake for 10 minutes longer

Sour Cream Yeast Rolls
Hadn't made rolls that called for sour cream before. Figured if it made it into the latest edition of Taste of Home, it'd prove good. Not only good, but easy!

2 1/2 to 3 cups Flour
2 Tbls Sugar
1 Pkg (2 1/4tsp) Yeast
1 tsp Salt
1 Cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup Water
3 Tbls Butter, divided
1 Egg

In large bowl, combine 1 and 1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. In a small saucepan, heat the sour cream, water and 2 Tbls butter; add to dry ingredients. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Add egg and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 more minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Divide into 12 pieces. Shape each into a ball. Place in a greased baking pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 min.

Bake @ 375 for 25 minutes, until golden brown. Melt remaining Tbls butter; brush over rolls. Remove from pan to a wire rack...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tuscan Soup


I finally got around to posting one of the soup recipes we like. I must give credit to for the picture. They used escarole, but I used spinach.

Tuscan Soup

1 small onion, chopped

1 small carrot, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth

1 cup water

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 can (15 to 16 ounces) white kidney or great northern beans, rinsed and drained

2/3 cup uncooked small spiral pasta

3 cups thinly sliced fresh escarole or spinach

In a 2-qt. saucepan, saute onion and carrot in oil until onion is tender. Add the broth, water, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Stir in beans and pasta; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add escarole; heat through. Yield: 4 servings.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

funeral potatoes...

i know there a lot of recipes out there for this, but this is the one i get asked for all the time. i don't know exactly WHY these are called funeral potatoes. possibly from the fact that if you eat them often enough, you either have been to too many funerals, or you might be trying to up your cholesterol.

funeral potatoes
sometimes called party perfect potatoes. a mormon household staple. a relief society president's best friend.

what you need:
frozen hash browns. i use the walmart brand ( i know, major shock) and i think it's a little over a pound. lets face it, it's so much easier to use the frozen kind, rather than making your own. but if you must, 6-7 boiled potatoes will do the trick. just skin 'em and shred them.

butter. a stick will do. more if you like it greasy. less if you're on a diet. it's not a deal breaker, use what you are comfy with. i like to use real butter, but you can use margarine. in fact the actual recipe card i have calls for margarine. but with the all the butter/margarine hoopla, i just started using real butter, and i really can't go back.

cheese. usually chedder, but whatever floats your boat. i buy the big bags from sam's club. i don't use the whole thing. a couple of cups do the trick. some for the inside and some for the topping later.

can o' cream o' chicken. i know. i know. but really, it is the easiest way. and i'm all about easy. one can does the trick.

a cup of sour cream. (my one kid calls it whip cream, so that is what we call it here. but really, it's not) you can use plain yogurt if you wanna be healthy. although, you do know that these are not ever going to be healthy. i find the yogurt makes them a little tangy, and really soupy. so if you do use yogurt, use about 3/4 cup, instead of a full cup.

there is some optional stuff, like corn flakes for the top, or minced onion, or diced ham. really, you can do a lot with this.

so what you do:
i take the still frozen hash browns and dump them in a 9"x13" pan. and then i add a hand full or two, depending on how you like it, of cheese and mix around. nice and even. this is where you can add some diced ham, if you are feeling up to it. or the minced onion. or whatever you have lying around.

over on the stove, i combine the butter, the soup, and the sour cream. i like to melt the butter and mix all the creamy stuff up. i also try not to burn it, so i keep the temperature pretty low. i just cook it until it is melted and mixed together.

pour the soupy stuff over the frozen taters and mix. i usually top it with some cheese. if you want to use the corn flakes, now would be the time.

i cover mine with foil for the first 20 or so minutes at 350, just so i know it's heated through. and then uncover it and let it go for another 15-20 minutes, depending on how it's looking, at 400. they should be nice and bubbly and tan and ready for consumption.

easy-peasy lemon-squeezy

funny enough, i had the hardest time trying to figure out if potato had an "e" in it. i didn't want everyone to think i was the next dan quayle for spelling a silly word wrong. so yes, it does have an "e" but only if you are using a lot of potatoes. otherwise keep your "e" to yourself.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

White Chili

1 T. olive oil
2 med. onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chilies
4 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped or shredded
2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
3 (15 oz.) cans white beans (DO NOT DRAIN)
5 c. chicken broth
3 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese

In a small frying pan, heat oil and add onions and garlic. Saute' until the onions are tender. Add the 2 cans of diced green chilies and heat through. Add the cumin, cayenne, and oregano and simmer for 5 minutes or so to blend flavors. In a large soup pot, add undrained beans, chicken broth and chicken and heat. Add the onion mixture and heat throughout. Add the cheese and heat until all of the cheese melts. Serve in bowls and, if desired, top with tortilla chips, more cheese, tomatoes, and guacamole.

This is so stinkin good!!! Homemade corn tortilla chips are really good to top it with. To make the chips, cut some yellow corn tortillas into stips (like cafe rio chips on their salads). Then put them in a frying pan into already hot olive oil. Fry them til they are crispy. Put onto paper towells, salt with kosher salt and put them into the chili with guacamole and tomatoes. SOOOO good!!!


Sorry Hailey - I couldn't decide which soup recipe to add. I'm adding my kids' favorite soup and my own new favorite (which the kids don't like). Neither one are really Fix-it-and-forget-it, recipes, though.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup (The kids' soup)
1 qt. water
2 c. diced potatoes
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 c. diced onion
20 oz. frozen broccoli, chopped or 1 bunch fresh broccoli
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 lb. Velveeta or American cheese

Mix water, potatoes, bouillon, onion and broccoli together. Cook until done, about 20-30 minutes. Add soup and cheese. Simmer 15 minutes.

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup (My soup)

2 large sweet potato(es) 2 cup canned chicken broth, divided
1 Tbsp margarine 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground ginger 1 cup evaporated milk
1 Tbsp chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Pierce potatoes in several places with a fork. Bake for 45 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool. When cool, remove and discard skin; chop potatoes.Combine sweet potatoes and 3/4 cup of broth in a blender or food processor; blend or process until smooth, about 1 minute. Set potato mixture aside.
Melt margarine in a medium-size saucepan; stir in flour and ginger, and then add milk. Cook, stirring, until slightly thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Cook 1 minute more and then stir in sweet potato mixture and remaining 1 1/4 cups of broth. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes more. Pour into 4 serving bowls and sprinkle each with 3/4 teaspoon of pecans. Yields about 1 cup per serving.