Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Potato-Cheddar Soup

Finally! A potato cheese soup I can love.
After my previous attempts left me pondering similes (like swallowing a cup of cement?), this version found my taste buds dancing and my ladle serving up seconds.
Best of all, you're likely to have all the ingredients you need already on hand.
2 T. oil
1 clove garlic, minced
4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 onions, peeled and sliced
2 c. chicken broth (I used 2 t. instant chicken bouillon mixed into 2 c. water)
1/2 t. salt
1 c. milk
2 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese
In large pan, heat oil. Cook garlic, potatoes, and onions for about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth and salt, bring to a boil, lower heat and cover for about 20 minutes. Vegetables should be well-cooked by then. Add milk. Heat through. Add cheese before serving and stir until melted (or nearly melted).
NOTE: Hop over to Tammy's Recipes for Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gold Rush Brownies

Here's another option for the "oh-no-the-bake-sale's-tomorrow-and-I-have-no-time-to-make-anything" dilemma. Just three ingredients.
Chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and graham cracker crumbs. You mix them together, plunk them in a 9" x 9" pan, bake for 25 minutes, and you're done.

2 c. crushed graham cracker crumbs
14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 c. chocolate chips
Combine all ingredients in bowl, stirring thoroughly. Spread in well-greased and floured 9" x 9" pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Makes about 20.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Ultimate Blog Party

Welcome to my happy little kitchen, where I love to bake killer garlic cheese rolls, steam salmon in my dishwasher, and creatively use up all those heaps of leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.

I started blogging about six months ago. It seemed like a great alternative to bombarding friends and family with recipe-filled emails.

I also hoped to be on the receiving end of tried and true favorites from other bloggers and food lovers. Thankfully, that part has worked out swimmingly. Through this blog I've discovered Molly's Outstanding Spinach Salad, DarcyLee's Molasses Oatmeal cookies, Jana's Fried Rice, and many other new favorites.

Happy sigh.

My biggest blogging challenge has been sticking to food. A part of me really wants to tell everyone that we had to put our 12-year-old yellow Lab down down two weeks ago. Or to show you the crazy quilt project I'm making from leftover fabric scraps. But I am valiantly trying to stick to topic, which means my best alternative is coming to visit you at your quilting, book-loving, home-loving blogs.

So welcome, I hope you'll stay and poke around a bit, and remember, anytime you come across a great recipe that's simple, fun, tasty, or chocolate-filled, I hope you'll think of me.

And share.

Sharing is good. We like sharing.
Note: To go see who's making all those merry noises at the blog party, check it out here. All kinds of prizes are being offered. March 27 is the end date.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Easy Chicken Drumsticks a l'Orange

Love those chicken drumsticks. They're inexpensive, quick to cook, and oh-so-tasty.

This recipe has exactly two ingredients: chicken drumsticks and orange marmalade. Three ingredients if you count aluminum foil. Four if you count salt.


Get out one or two baking sheets with sides and lay down some foil. Place on foil as many chicken drumsticks as you want (we made about 24, for a crowd). Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 475 degrees for 10 minutes. Brush with about 1/2 c. orange marmalade, and rotate pans. Roast for 10-15 more minutes, brushing with 1/2 c. more marmalade halfway through cooking. Once chicken is browned and cooked through, dig in.

This recipe is from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine, April, 2009 issue, which I get because my sweet, sweet friend Estella sent me a subscription. Thanks, Estella.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Battle of the Chocolate Sauce Recipes

Well I've got my favorite recipe for chocolate fondue (p. 123 in Queen of the Castle -- a great book, by the way :) ). And I've got my favorite thick chocolate sauce recipe to use in crepes (p. 301 in The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking -- another great book, by the way).
But I've been searching FOREVER for a stellar chocolate sauce that would be perfect for ice cream. Not too thick, not too gloppy, not too runny. A very Hershey's sauce. Is that too much to ask?
Apparently it was, because I've been looking for a very long time.
But glorioski. I believe I've finally found it. I've seen similar recipes on a few blogs, but this one came from a small cookbook I bought a few years ago from the Hearts at Home organization (called Recipes from the Heart).
(And sorry, my Weight Watchers friends. If you have a hankering for a chocolate fix, try this mostly-fruit-but-it-might-solve-a-chocolate-craving treat. )
Happy eating.
1 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. hot water
dash salt
2 t. vanilla (I up it to 1 T.)
Boil cocoa, sugar, water, and salt, stirring constantly. (You may want to do this over medium-high heat rather than high to avoid the chance of scorching.) Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over ice cream and slurp up the deliciousness. Pour remaining sauce in a jar and refrigerate.
Does anyone else have killer chocolate sauce recipes that the rest of us simply must try?
NOTE: Check out more great Works-for-Me-Wednesday ideas here.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cheesy Baked Cabbage

. . . as in, covered with cheese, not cheesy as in, of poor quality; shoddy; inadequate.
This recipe comes from a little spiral-bound cookbook I own called Shortcut Cooking: The Earth-Friendly Energy-Saving Cookbook by Favorite Recipes Press.
This is the perfect St. Patrick's Day side dish, if you've already got a wee bit 'o corned beef planned.
1 c. water
1 head cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
2 T. flour
2 T. sugar
salt & pepper to taste
3 T. butter
1 c. hot milk
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
In large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Put cabbage in the pan, cover, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. Drain. Place cabbage in baking dish. Sprinkle with mixture of flour, sugar, salt, and pepper. Dot the butter on top. Pour heated milk over, then top with grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serves 8. (I cut this recipe in half, to serve 4.)
NOTE: For more great St. Patrick's Day food ideas, check out the Ultimate Recipe Swap going on over at Life as Mom's blog.


Monday, March 9, 2009

10 Facts You May Not Know about Buying Seafood

Ann Kroeker is hosting a wonderfully practical carnival called Make-Do Mondays, where readers can link up their ideas on how they and their families are living out the slogan, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."
In honor of Make-Do Mondays, I thought I'd share a little wisdom I've been learning about buying fish.

You know. Seafood. To eat.

In my quest to find out if certain types of fish were currently in season, thus better buys, I went to my library and checked out The Complete Seafood Cookbook by Bettina Jenkins and Jane Brody's Good Seafood Book by Jane E. Brody with Richard Flaste.

Here are the 10 FISH AND SEAFOOD TIPS I learned:

1. "Like fruits and vegetables, fish caught in the wild have seasons, and they are least costly when the supply is greatest." (Jane Brody)

2. "However, what's in season varies from area to area, year to year, so you'd be wise to stay alert to local good buys on seasonal seafood." (Brody)

3. "Be flexible when purchasing fish . . . Always buy whatever is the best quality, instead of deciding on a type before you shop. Many different species can be adapted to the same basic recipes." (Bettina Jenkins)

4. "Unfortunately, many cooks stick to their tried-and-true species, paying high prices due to shortages while ignoring more inexpensive fish of comparable quality." (Jenkins)

5. "Some fish develop an ammonia smell when stored in plastic bags -- even in the refrigerator; simply run fish under cold water to remove." (Jenkins)

6. When purchasing fish steaks and fillets, avoid those that are sitting in a pool of liquid, which indicates poor freezing techniques. (Jenkins)

7. Fish should generally be consumed within two days of purchase. (Jenkins)

8. If you're not planning on eating the fish the day you buy it, transfer it out of the packaging and onto a plate (make sure to rinse first and dry if there's an ammonia smell). (Jenkins)

9. Buying frozen fish is often cheaper than buying fish that has not been frozen. (Brody)

10. Sometimes the "freshest" fish you'll find has been frozen on the boats within hours of being caught. So your freshest buy may actually be the pre-frozen variety. (Brody)
Who knew?
NOTE: Check out Works-for-me-Wednesday for some great tips and ideas.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Fruity Slush

This is a nice, healthy snack which can also serve as a side dish or dessert. Simple to make, you just whirl 4 ingredients in the blender, then pop into the freezer for a couple of hours to turn slushy. As an extra bonus, you get a great calcium boost from the nonfat dry-milk powder. Healthy and tasty. SCORE.

1 c. crushed pineapple, packed in its own juice
1/2 banana
1 T. frozen orange juice concentrate (I didn't have this, but used about 3 T. regular orange juice instead)
1/3 c. nonfat dry milk powder
Blend all ingredients in blender. Place mixture in plastic bowl and put in freezer for a couple hours, until slushy. (Two hours was perfect for mine. It sounds from the recipe like you can still eat it even if it gets really firm.)
NOTE: Go check out Ann Kroeker's Food on Fridays for more culinary deliciousness.

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Blog Award

Thank you, DarcyLee, for blessing me with the Sisterhood Award. I am most pleased at not just winning an award but that I was even able to pick it up and post it here. Which may not sound like an advanced accomplishment to those who actually know what HTML is (and you know who you are) but for me, who is still not sure how to get my cell phone to vibrate and not ring, the capacity to receive this (and humbly thank the Academy) far exceeds my technological potential.

If you get a chance to visit DarcyLee, you'll be happy you did; she has some of the most amazing recipes on her blog. Her molasses oatmeal cookies won absolute raves from people I fed them to, as in, "These are the best oatmeal cookies I have EVER eaten!" So go check it out when you have a minute.

This award represents blogs that show great attitude and/or gratitude. I'd like to pass it on to:

Lisa at Elbows on Our Table, who posts with poignancy and creativity about family life

VK at The Life and Times of VK & the Hodgpeople, a new blogger who's the youngest looking grandma you'd ever want to see

and Sandra at Add Humor and Faith, who provides memorable glimpses (and cool black and white photos) of newly married bliss and treasured family members

So go visit these ladies, if you have a minute.

Now here's what you do when you receive this.
1. Display this award on your blog.
2. Leave a comment to those you gave it to, letting them know they have it.
3. Link back to the person who gave it to you.
4. Pass it on to 10 or fewer bloggers who you think demonstrate great attitude and/or gratitude.

OR, you don't have to do anything but bask in the glow of knowing someone out there appreciates you.

Thanks again, DarcyLee.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lemon Bread

This recipe came from an old Taste of Home magazine. It's called lemon bread, but you could also call it lemon cake and probably no one would put up a fuss.
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. grated lemon peel
1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/8 t. salt
1/2 c. milk
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 c. powdered sugar
In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, lemon juice, and lemon peel. In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to batter, alternately with milk. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean. Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over loaf while still warm.

Note: If you find yourself with an overabundance of lemons right now, you might want to try lemon curd, gingerbread with lemon sauce, hot spiced lemonade, lemon soup, frosted lemon ricotta cookies, or lemon honeyed fruit. You know. In case you have too many lemons. Or maybe that's just me.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Crockpot Chili Relleno

One of the hazards of blogging about food is being mid-bite at dinner and remembering, "Oh no! I forgot to take pictures!"
Because what's a recipe with no pictures?
Like a dog with no fur to pat, or a fire with no heat. Just not . . . quite . . . right.

So here, mid-bite, is dinner:
Crockpot Chili Relleno
Green salad with Romaine, roasted bell pepper strips from a jar, crumbled blue cheese, and Italian dressing
Tangerine sections
Excuse the fork.

This recipe (with a couple of changes) came from Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook by Dawn J. Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good, one of several crockpot cookbooks I own.

7-oz. can whole green chilies
1/2 lb. grated Cheddar cheese and 1/2 lb. grated Monterey Jack cheese (I used 4 - 5 c. of some mixed grated cheese I had in the freezer; it was mostly Cheddar but some Monterey Jack)
14 1/2-oz. can stewed tomatoes (I used a 28-oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes I wanted to use up)
4 eggs
2 T. flour
3/4 c. evaporated milk

Butter the bottom and sides of crockpot. Remove the green chilies from can, cut into strips, and place on bottom of pot. Cover with cheese, then add stewed tomatoes. In separate bowl, stir together eggs, flour, and evaporated milk. Pour on top. Cover. Cook on high 2 - 3 hours (I cooked mine on low for 5 hours).

This was tasty, and a bit different from most of the stew-type crockpot recipes. Now I'd love to hear about your crockpot favorites, either specific recipes or cookbooks you've had good luck with.

Note: For more great homemaking ideas, check out Works-for-Me-Wednesday.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Artichokes are Coming!

Isn't this the most beautiful artichoke patch you've ever seen?
This is in our back yard, thanks to the resident gardener (aka The Big Kahuna) and the Master Gardener (you can meet Him in the book of Genesis).
If last year is any indication, before long we will be swimming in artichokes.
Anyone have artichoke ideas to share with the rest of us?


What's in Season in March

. . . other than Irish soda bread, that is.
March is a great month to shop for:
Belgian endives
bell peppers
Chinese pea pods
new potatoes
Note: Photo is by Scott Constable

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