Chicken and Dumplings

This is a recipe from The Pioneer Woman, so you know it has to be delicious :-). I couldn't resist trying this one, especially when I saw that I happened to have the exact apple cider in my fridge that she pictured. The ENTIRE family loved this meal...from my husband down to my 1 1/2 year old. I was thrilled that the dumplings actually cooked and held together in a "dumpling" shape :-).

* 2 Tablespoons Butter
* 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
* ½ cups All-purpose Flour
* 1 whole Chicken, Cut Into Pieces (cut Up Fryer)
* Salt And Pepper
* ½ cups Finely Diced Carrots
* ½ cups Finely Diced Celery
* 1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
* ½ teaspoons Ground Thyme
* ¼ teaspoons Turmeric
* 6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
* ½ cups Apple Cider
* ½ cups Heavy Cream
* Dumplings:
* 1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
* ½ cups Yellow Cornmeal
* 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Baking Powder
* 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
* 1-½ cup Half-and-half
* 2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley (optional)
* Salt As Needed

Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then dredge both sides in flour.
Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat. In two batches, brown chicken on both sides and remove to a clean plate.
In the same pot, add diced onion, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir in ground thyme and turmeric, then pour in chicken broth and apple cider. Stir to combine, then add browned chicken. Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
While chicken is simmering, make the dough for the dumplings: sift together all dry ingredients, then add half-and-half, stirring gently to combine. Set aside.
Remove chicken from pot and set aside on a plate. Use two forks to remove chicken from the bone. Shred, then add chicken to the pot. Pour heavy cream into the pot and stir to combine.
rop tablespoons of dumpling dough into the simmering pot. Add minced parsley if using. Cover pot halfway and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Check seasonings; add salt if needed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Christmas and the New Year

After a delicious Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas morning brunch, I'm ready to ring in a healthier new year. It's super cliche I know, but I've really got to get this show on the road! Preston was born over 1 1/2 years ago now and I feel like I have still not gotten back into my healthy eating and working out habits. So, no more excuses, it's time to get to business. I know I feel better in more ways than one when I am treating my body well so I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to be on the lookout for more healthy recipes to add to our menus!
But in the mean time, here is our traditional holiday meal line-up...

Christmas Eve Dinner
Prime Rib and Grandfather's Creamy Horseradish Sauce
Mashed Potatoes w/ Gravy
Yorkshire Pudding (my grandma did little individual ones this year and they were the best ever!)
Creamed Corn
24 Hour Salad (my contribution)
Mom's Rolls
We had Pecan and Pumpkin Pies with Ice Cream for dessert
(I need to get some of the recipes! Since I'm never in charge of making the other items I don't worry about them, but I know I'll want them eventually)

Christmas Morning Brunch 
(this menu varies each year, but it always delicious!!!)
Southwestern Quiche
Mom's Overnight Egg Bake
Grandma's Eggs
Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
Hot Chocolate with toppings
Gingerbread Waffles with homemade Buttermilk Syrup 
(my mom made these and they were to DIE for...seriously one of the best things I've ever tasted!)

Brownie Covered Oreos

My mom actually made these and then shared some with us, but they were SOOO good and festive I had to share them! She found the recipe on Picky Palate...You HAVE to try them!

1 Brownie mix (or use your own brownie recipe)
1 package Oreos, I used the Holiday ones
White chocolate, melted for drizzle, or Wilton White frosting pen works great
White nonpariels Sprinkles

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare brownie batter according to package directions. Leave in mixing bowl. Dip Oreos in brownie batter then place in bottom of cupcake tins that have been generously sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until brownies are cooked through (doesn’t take long). As soon as you remove, take a plastic knife and run along edges, (this is VERY important so you get the cookie out with brownies not stuck to pan :)
2. Let cool for 5 minutes, remove drizzle with melted white chocolate or the Wilton White icing pen, sprinkle with nonpariels and EAT! Enjoy :)
Makes entire package of Oreos

Country Chicken with Gravy

Sometimes I'm just in the mood for some classic comfort food and this totally hit the spot! I saw the recipe in an old Taste of Home magazine and was excited that a "fried" chicken and gravy recipe was nearly gluten free. I traded out the flour for cornstarch and served it up with Baked Parmesan Broccoli and mashed red potatoes and it was SO good. I LOVED the gravy most of all and next time I'll make some extra of it.

* 3/4 cup crushed cornflakes
* 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
* 1/2 teaspoon paprika
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 2 tablespoons fat-free evaporated milk
* 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
* 2 teaspoons canola oil
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (I used cornstarch)
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
* 1/4 cup condensed chicken broth, undiluted (I wasn't sure if this was different than a normal can of broth so I threw in a little chicken bouillon just in case :-)
* 1 teaspoon sherry or additional condensed chicken broth
* 2 tablespoons minced chives

* In a shallow bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Place milk in another shallow bowl. Dip chicken in milk, then roll in cornflake mixture.
* In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chicken in oil over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 170°.
* Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in the flour, pepper and salt until smooth. Gradually stir in the milk, broth and sherry. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in chives. Serve with chicken. Yield: 4 servings.

Baked Parmesan Broccoli

I LOVE broccoli and was excited to try this new way to make it. It was very good and I'm sure it's even better with the bread crumbs on top giving it some crunch! (recipe from taste of home magazine)

* 4 bunches broccoli, cut into florets
* 6 tablespoons butter, divided
* 1 small onion, finely chopped
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used cornstarch)
* 2 cups 2% milk
* 1 egg yolk, beaten
* 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon pepper
* 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I left off to keep it gluten-free)

* Place half of broccoli in a steamer basket; place in a large saucepan over 1 in. of water. Bring to a boil; cover and steam for 3-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish; repeat with remaining broccoli.
* Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add onion; cook and stir until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
* Stir in flour until blended; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolk; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Cook and stir 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat; stir in the cheese, salt and pepper.
* Pour over broccoli. In a small skillet, cook bread crumbs in remaining butter until golden brown; sprinkle over the top.
* Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 15-18 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 12 servings (3/4 cup each).

Enchilada Suiza Mexican Lasagna

This is a Rachael Ray recipe and overall it was delicious. My only complaint was that mine turned out with too much lime flavor. I don't know if I had really juicy limes or what, but next time I will only use 1. I used corn tortillas to keep it gluten free and left out the hominy. I loved the combination of swiss and monterey jack cheese was especially good!

* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
* 2 pounds ground chicken or turkey breast (I used 2 cans of chicken)
* 1 tablespoon ground cumin
* 1 tablespoon ground coriander
* Salt and pepper
* One 15-ounce can hominy, rinsed (I left this out)
* 1 red onion, chopped (I used white)
* 2 jalapeño or serrano chiles, chopped (I used jalapeno)
* 3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
* 12 large or 14 small tomatillos, peeled and coarsely chopped
* 1/3 cup cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves (a generous handful)
* 2 avocados
* Grated peel and juice of 2 limes (I will just use 1 lime next time)
* 1 tablespoon honey
* One 11-ounce package flour tortillas (I used corn)
* 1/2 pound monterey jack cheese, shredded
* 1/2 pound Swiss cheese, shredded
* 1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream

1. Preheat the broiler or the oven to 400°. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, crumbling the meat, and the cumin and coriander; season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the hominy and cook for about 3 minutes more.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon EVOO, 1 turn of the pan. Add the onion, chiles and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Using a food processor, process the tomatillos and cilantro until almost smooth, then stir into the onion mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. Rinse out the food processor bowl. Add the avocados, lime peel and lime juice; puree, then season with salt. Stir the avocado mixture into the tomatillo sauce. Stir in the honey.
4. In a dry skillet, or over an open flame, cook the tortillas until charred. In a bowl, combine the monterey jack and Swiss cheeses. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, layer some sauce, tortillas, meat, cheese, tortillas and so on, ending with a layer of cheese. Broil until browned and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Pass the crème fraîche at the table.

Wild Rice Hot Dish

I saw this recipe on My Kitchen Cafe and have been excited to try it because I LOVE wild rice! It was really good and very filling despite the fact that I hardly put any meat in it. The leftovers were really good for lunch the next day too :-)!

1 cup wild rice (I bought 2 boxes of RiceaRoni wild rice mix and measured out 1 cup of rice)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I only used 3/4 lb)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups chicken, beef or vegetable broth (I used beef)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup sliced almonds

In a small bowl, cover the wild rice with cold water and let it soak for 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish. (I didn't do this since I was using the boxed kind)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large non-stick skillet (12-inch) over medium heat, brown the ground beef with the salt and pepper until no longer pink. Drain the grease from the meat. Transfer the meat to a paper-towel lined plate and wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Return the skillet to the stovetop and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Cook, until the onions are translucent and the most of the liquid has evaporated from the mushrooms, about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to combine. Continue stirring and cook the mixture for about 1 minute over medium heat until it is cooked and golden.
Slowly pour in the broth and milk and whisk to incorporate. Add the seasoning salt, pepper, parsley, thyme and paprika and bay leaf. Stir to combine.
Drain the wild rice. Stir it in to the sauce with the browned hamburger. Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased 9X13-inch baking dish.
Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the almonds and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the almonds are golden and toasted and the rice is tender. Serve immediately.

Green Bean Casserole

This recipe is from the always delicious Pioneer Woman. She posted this recipe right before Thanksgiving and I was dying to try it! It just looked SOOO much better than the traditional thanksgiving beans (which I don't love) and it is. In fact I ate it as my main meal by putting it on top of rice. It isn't super healthy of course, because most of PW's recipes are not super healthy, but definitely super tasty :-)! Definitely try this one...maybe when you are having people over for dinner so you won't eat all the leftovers like me!

* 2 pounds Fresh Green Beans, Ends Cut Off
* 4 slices Bacon, Cut Into 1/4 Inch Pieces
* 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
* ½ whole Large Onion, Chopped
* 4 Tablespoons Butter
* 4 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
* 2-½ cups Whole Milk (I used 1 1/2 cups 1% milk)
* ½ cups Half-and-half (I used 1 1/2 cups cream)
* 1-½ teaspoon Salt, More To Taste
* Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
* ⅛ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
* 1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
* 1 jar (4 Ounce) Sliced Pimentoes, Drained
* Extra Milk For Thinning If Necessary
* 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs

Cut green beans in half if you like pieces to be a little smaller.
Blanch the green beans: drop them into lightly salted boiling water and allow green beans to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain beans once they’re cool and set aside.
Add bacon pieces to a skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon for two minutes, then add diced onion and garlic and continue cooking for 3 to 5 minutes, or until bacon is done (but not crisp) and onions are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a separate skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into the pan and whisk immediately to evenly mix it into the butter. Cook for a minute or two, then pour in milk and half and half. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, while sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne then add the grated cheddar. Stir while cheese melts. Turn off heat.
Add pimentos to pan, then add bacon/onion mixture. Stir to combine. Pour over green beans and stir gently to combine. Pour into a baking dish and top with panko crumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and panko crumbs are golden.

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

with Herbed Smashed Potatoes and Buttered Peas with Shallots
This recipe from Cooking Light's December 2010 issue was a delicious comfort food meal! I just made my normal mashed potatoes and since we aren't big fans of peas over here, I used green beans instead and it was delicious. We ate leftovers tonight and I must say the mushroom sauce was my favorite part...delicious!!!

* 1/3 cup grated onion, divided
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 pound ground sirloin
* Cooking spray
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
* 1/3 cup dry red wine (I used beef broth)
* 1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (I used cornstarch)
* 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1. Combine 1/4 cup onion, pepper, salt, garlic, and beef. Shape into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) patties. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned.
2. Melt butter in pan. Add mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in wine and remaining onion; cook 2 minutes. Combine broth and flour; add to pan, and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until thick. Add patties and vinegar to pan; cook 2 minutes.

Herbed Smashed Potatoes*
Boil 1 pound new potatoes 10 minutes or until tender; drain. Mash with a potato masher. Add 1/3 cup half-and-half, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon mixed herbs, and 3/8 teaspoon salt.

Buttered Peas with Shallots**
Cook 2 cups frozen green peas. Saute 1 sliced shallt in 1 tablespoon butter and 2 teaspoons olive oil for 3 minutes. Stir in peas and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

White Bean Soup

Hooray! I'm back to taking my own pictures again :-)!
This recipe is from my Southern Living Easy Week Night Favorites cookbook, a present from my mom long ago (and it is full of good recipes). This was super easy to make, flavorful and my kids actually ate at least some of it was a victory in my book. I think I will rinse the beans next time and add some vegetable broth to make up for the loss of that liquid because I have a weird aversion to keeping the liquid in a bean can (I'm weird :-). It was definitely perfect for our colder nights last week!

-1 (16 oz) can navy beans, undrained
-1 (15 oz) can Great Northern beans, undrained
-1 cup water
-2 large carrots, scraped and diced
-1/4 c butter or margarine, melted
-1 c chopped cooked ham or 1 ham hock (I diced some ham lunch meat)
-1/3 c chopped green onions
-1 bay leaf

-Combine beans in a large saucepan; mash slightly with a potato masher or back of a large spoon.
-Stir in water, and cook over low heat until thoroughly heated.
-Cook carrot in butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until tender.
-Add carrot, ham, green onions, and bay leaf to bean mixture.
-Cook over low heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Mexican Chicken-Hominy Soup with Cumin-Lime Tortilla Chips

I am hoping to get back to taking pictures of my food again next week, but I can't post a recipe without a picture so this pic (and recipe) is courtesy of Cooking Light. I thought this soup was super good and the chips were a nice addition (although just using regular tortilla chips would work too). I switched the hominy for corn and it was a huge hit! Oh, and I added avocado on top...because avocado makes everything better :-).

* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 3/4 cups chopped onion (I used some red and some white)
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
* 2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
* 1 (15.5-ounce) can hominy, rinsed and drained (I used 1 c frozen corn instead)
* 1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
* 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
* 4 lime wedges

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes.
Stir in garlic and jalapeño; sauté 1 minute.
Add chicken, black pepper, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
Stir in hominy; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes.
Ladle about 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with 2 tablespoons radishes and 1 1/2 teaspoons cilantro.
Serve with lime wedges. (and avocado!)

Bean Taquitos with Cucumber Salsa

(picture and recipe from Rachael Ray)
I hate the time change for many reasons, just one of which is the fact that it is almost always dark when dinner is ready and I want to take a picture of our meal. The picture I took of these little taquitos did not look appetizing and I didn't want that to deter you from trying them, so I'm using the one from Rachael's magazine. My children ALL devoured these! They ate more of them than I did! So, needless to say I will be making them again and again. I did not try the salsa because I just didn't have time, so if you do, let me know how it is!

Ingredients: (only the last 3 are for the taquitos!)
* 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
* 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
* 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
* 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
* Grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon
* Salt and pepper
* 3/4 cup sour cream
* 12 small corn tortillas
* One 16-ounce can spicy refried beans
* 1 1/2 cups grated pepper jack cheese

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the cucumber, garlic and parsley. Stir in 2 teaspoons olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir the lemon peel into the sour cream.
2. Heat a large skillet over low heat. Soften each tortilla in the skillet for about 15 seconds on each side. Place the tortillas on a work surface and spread each with 2 tablespoons refried beans; sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons cheese. Roll up the tortillas to resemble cigars.
3. Using the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Working in 3 batches and using the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, fry the taquitos, turning, until crisp and browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve the taquitos with the lemony sour cream and cucumber salsa.

Chorizo and Fried Egg Sandwiches

Do I really need to say anything about that sandwich?! It was delicious!!! An awesome combination of flavors and a great break from our standard dinner. The girls even ate the egg on theirs (and they are weird about eggs lately). I ate mine on ricecakes and still loved it :-)! Oh, and This recipe is one from Rachael Ray.

* 1 avocado, peeled and chopped
* 1 large tomato, chopped
* 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
* 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* Juice of 1/2 lime
* Salt and pepper
* 12 ounces fresh chorizo, divided into 4 patties
* 4 eggs
* 4 ciabatta or french-style rolls, split and toasted

1. In a medium bowl, combine the avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and the lime juice; season with salt.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the sausage patties, turning once, for 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet, then fry the eggs; season with salt and pepper.
3. Divide the avocado salad among the roll bottoms. Layer with the sausage patties, fried eggs and the roll tops; serve at once.

Cranberry Pear Tossed Salad

I went looking on All Recipes for a new salad to make for my girls' night dinner and this is the one I went with. I really liked the dressing and thought it was a great compliment to the rest of our meal!

* 1/3 cup apricot nectar
* 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
* 1/3 cup canola oil
* 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon pepper
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
* 12 cups torn mixed salad greens
* 3 medium pears, sliced
* 1/2 cup dried cranberries
* 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

1. For dressing, in a bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients; set aside. In a heavy skillet, melt sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add walnuts; stir to coat. Remove from the heat.
2. In a large salad bowl, combine greens, pears and cranberries. Drizzle with dressing. Add nuts and blue cheese; toss.

Cheese Cake Sheet Cake

This dessert, which I found on Taste Buds, looked too good not to try. It was absolutely delish...moist and spongy with a great glaze frosting. Not to mention easy enough that I didn't mess it up :-)!

1 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I actually used 1/3 fat cream cheese, because that's what was in my fridge and it still was wonderful!)
2 1/4 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups cake flour

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, cheese, and sugar for 3 minutes on high speed. Add vanilla then one egg at a time mixing well after each egg. Add flour and mix well. Pour batter into a greased 13 x 18 inch pan. Bake at 325° for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Frost immediately with glaze.

Chocolate Glaze:

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a medium sauce pan combine sugar and milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 3 minutes. Do not stir! After three minutes add chocolate and butter and stir until blended. Pour and spread over cake. Place in freezer for 45 minutes.

Baked Ham in Dijon Cream Sauce

So, when it came time to figure out what to do with my ham for my girls' night dinner I went to Hormel's website first and when I saw this I thought it sounded absolutely delish! I think this sauce got more rave reviews that night than anything else and it was seriously so easy!!!

* 2 tablespoons butter
* 4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices Ham (I used 8)
* 2 cups whipping cream
* 3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

1. Heat oven to 375ºF.
2. In ovenproof skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add ham; brown lightly on both sides. Remove ham to plate.
3. Add cream to skillet; whisk to release any browned bits from bottom of skillet. Whisk in mustard. Return ham to skillet. Bring to a boil.
4. Bake 20 minutes. If cream does not thicken, return to stove and gently boil 5 minutes or until thickened.
(I browned the ham in a skillet, and then placed them in a big baking dish. I whisked the cream and mustard together and then poured over the ham to bake it.)

Girls' Night with Foodbuzz and Hormel

This weekend I hosted a girls' night out dinner. Through Foodbuzz and Hormel I was given the opportunity to try out Hormel's new Cure 81 Ham and it was the perfect excuse to throw a little party. I had never cooked ham in my life, so I was a little nervous, but since the Cure 81 ham was already cooked it was super easy. I even found some of my recipes right off Hormel's website! Who knew :-)?
Here is the menu I planned, followed by the appetizer recipes (and the rest to come soon).

Brie Bites
Bacon and Blue Cheese Crostini
Devils on Horseback
Main Course:
Baked Ham with Dijon Cream Sauce
Individual Potato Gratins (which I made in one big 9x13 dish instead)

Brie Bites 
 (recipe from Big Red Kitchen)
Fill each mini fillo cup (found in freezer section) with a tiny cube of brie, a spoonful of blueberry fruit spread (I used a baby spoon), and top with a pecan half. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until cheese has softened and pecan is toasted. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Devils on Horseback 
(recipe also from Big Red Kitchen)
Wrap dried apricot halves with cooked bacon slices and secure with a toothpick. This is usually done with prunes but the texture of the apricots in this dish is fantastic. 
(I used Hormel's pre-cooked bacon, all I had to do was heat it up in the microwave...these were the easiest appetizer ever!)
Bacon and Blue Cheese Crostini 
(recipe from Hormel)
* 24 garlic crostini
* 1/2 cup crumbled Danish blue cheese
* 1 (2.1-ounce) package Hormel® Fully Cooked Bacon, coarsely chopped 
(I actually used their crumbled bacon, which meant NO prep!)
1. Heat broiler to 500ºF.
2. Top each crostini with 1 teaspoon cheese and generous pinch bacon; place on baking sheet. Broil 6 inches from heat source 5 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned and bacon is hot.

Orange Beef with Cilantro Rice

This is a Rachael Ray recipe that I finally got around to making tonight. I haven't been in much of a cooking mood lately so we've been relying on easy, old favorites. This was a fun new flavor to add in the mix though!

* Grated peel of 1 orange and juice of 2 oranges
* 2-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
* 1 pound skirt steak, thinly sliced on the diagonal and slices halved crosswise
* 1-1/2 cups long-grain white rice
* 1 bunch scallions, white parts thinly sliced and green parts cut into 1-inch-long pieces
* 1 tablespoon brown sugar
* 2/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
* Salt

1. Place the orange peel and juice in a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil and the soy sauce and vinegar. Add the steak and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, bring the rice and 1 3/4 cups water to a boil. Cover; simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and keep warm.
3. In a wok or large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. Using tongs, transfer the meat from the marinade to the wok and cook, turning once, for 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate.
4. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and the scallions to the wok and cook over medium heat, stirring, until wilted, 2 minutes. Transfer to the beef. Pour the marinade into the wok and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and reduce by half. Whisk in the sugar and return the steak and scallions to the wok; turn to coat.
5. Stir the cilantro into the rice; season with salt. Mound some rice and beef onto each plate.

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Pot Pie

I love a good old fashioned comfort meal every now and then and this definitely fit the bill! I made 3 pot pies (I added extra of each ingredient to have extra filling), one for us and two to take to people, so it was a good thing it turned out so yummy :-), but I knew the Pioneer Woman wouldn't let me down! I only wished we'd had more leftovers!

3 celery stalks
3 medium carrots, peeled
1 large yellow onion
4 T butter
1/2 c frozen peas
2 c cooked chicken (I used canned chicken)
1 c all-purpose flour
2 c chicken broth
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/4 c white wine, optional (I did use white cooking wine)
1 c heavy cream
1 t ground thyme
1 t kosher salt, or more to taste
black pepper to taste
1/2 recipe Perfect Pie Crust

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Finely dice celery, carrots and onions.
- Melt butter in a large pot or dutch oven over med heat. Add the onion, carrots, cleery and peas. Saute until the vegetables start to turn translucent, a couple of minutes.
- Add chicken and sprinkle the flour evenly over and stir to combine Cook e for a couple minutes, stirring gently.
- Pour in chicken broth, stirring constantly. Stir in teh bouillon cube and wine. The flour will combine with the chicken to create a gravy.
- Pour in the cream and stir. Allow the mixture to cook over low heat, thickening gradually. Season with the thyme, salt, and pepper. Remove from teh heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
- Pour the chicken mixture into a deep pie pan or small casserole dish.
- Roll out the crust so that it's 1 inch larger that the pan. Place the crust on top of chicken mixture and cut small slits in the top. Press the crust gently into the sides of the dish to seal.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pie Crust

I made the Pioneer Woman's version of chicken pot pie this week from her cookbook, but it's not posted on her website, which means I can't just copy and paste it :-). So, here's the pie crust recipe and I'll get around to the really good part later tonight or tomorrow. I am challenged as a baker and thought the pie crust turned out pretty tasty. It took me a little while to be able to roll it out and lift on top of my pie without it ripping, but eventually I succeeded. I divided this batch into thirds to top 3 pies (because in the book she says it makes think crusts and you can), but I think next time I would just use it for 2 so I have a little more to work with at the edges. It was tasty and I'm sure just as good as the bottom of a sweet pie as well!


* 1-½ cup Crisco (vegetable Shortening)
* 3 cups All-purpose Flour
* 1 whole Egg
* 5 Tablespoons Cold Water
* 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
* 1 teaspoon Salt


In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Separate the dough into thirds. Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)

When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan.

With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.

Cowboy Campfire Soup

This is a recipe a picked up at one of our grocery stores, HEB. They always have great taste-testers around and at lunch and dinner time a little cook giving out samples along with recipes trying to get you to buy some of their jarred products. It was actually morning when I picked this up, but we needed salsa anyway and they were buy one get one free, so I decided to give this recipe a try. It was really good and really hearty. I love the chipotle flavor the salsa gave it, but you could use any jar of your favorite salsa in it's place!

1 1/2 lg. ground beef
1 medium yellow onion diced
3 cloves minced garlic
1 jar TOTP Campfire Corn Salsa (16 oz - a tomato based salsa with corn and chipotle peppers in it)
3 cans beef broth
1 can Rotel tomatoes (I used lime and cilantro flavor because that's what was in our pantry)
1 can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 large baking potato, peeled and diced into small cubes
1/3 c cilantro and diced green onions

Brown meat with onions and garlic in a large soup pot.
Add all ingredients except cilantro and green onion.
Simmer soup 15-20 minutes.
Top with cilantro, green onions and chips if desired.

And the Winner...

Well, the odds were in your favor :-), but winner, selected by was comment #4...
Katie who said,
"My heart belongs to spinach, strawberry, chicken, feta, toasted almond, red onion, salad with poppy seed dressing. Of course I am always the only one in my family who will eat it and so it doesn't get made a ton...but oh so yummy"

Congratulations Katie :-)!!!
Please email me your address and I will send the coupons your way!

(and I am finally caught up on life...I'll post a recipe tomorrow)

Greek Salad (and a Giveaway!)

My sister Kayley posted this recipe and then brought it to a family dinner and it was AWESOME!!! I tend to get stuck in a salad rut, making the same thing over and over and this has been a great salad to throw in the mix.


* Romanine lettuce (chopped) - 6 cups
* Tomatoes (chopped) - 3 cups
* Red onion (chopped) - 1 cup
* Cucumber (chopped) - 1/2 cup
* Green pepper (chopped) - 1/2 cup
* Feta cheese (crumbled) - 3 oz
* Olives - 16 to 20
* Olive oil - 3 tbsp
* Fresh dill (chopped) - 3 tbsp
* Fresh parsley (chopped) - 1/4 cup
* Lemon juice - 1 tbsp
* Garlic (minced) - 1 clove
* Oregano - 1/2 tsp
* Salt - 1/4 tsp

1. Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, parsley, dill, garlic, and salt.
2. Mix the lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, green pepper well.
3. Add the dressing to the salad mix and top off with feta cheese and olives.

 And on to the GIVEAWAY!!! (my first one!)
When I made the salad it was SUPER easy because I used a bag of Fresh Express romaine hearts...all cleaned and chopped up and ready to go! 
Through Food Buzz and Fresh Express, I was given the opportunity to try out some of their new bagged salads. The good news is they are awesome (the Asian salad kit has been my personal favorite) and the great news is that they gave me coupons to share with you!
One lucky reader will win 5 coupons, each good for a FREE bag of Fresh Express!
To enter, follow my blog through Blogger or Networked Blogs (Facebook) and leave a comment here telling me how you are following me AND your favorite salad you prefer strawberries, feta and spinach or a classic caesar?
I'm always looking for new ways to spruce up my salad and can't wait to see your ideas!
One winner will be selected at random at 9pm CT Wednesday, October 27th.
Good luck :-)!

Beef Kebabs with Roasted Green Beans and Almonds

This is another Rachael Ray recipe and my favorite was the green beans...I LOVED them! I think roasting pretty much anything makes it delicious! The meatballs were good, but mine turned out a little dry, which could have been my own fault. We served the meat and beans with rice and soy sauce and I thought it was a great, and pretty healthy, little dinner. The added bonus was that the girls thought the meat was extra good since it was on a stick :-).

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 c chopped flat leaf parsley
1 T finely chopped garlic
1 t smoked paprika
salt and pepper
1 1/4 lb. green beans
1 1/2 T EVOO
2 T sliced almonds
1/2 lemon, cut into 4 wedges

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl crumble the beef and mix in the parsley, garlic, paprika, 1 t salt and 1/2 t pepper. Form into sixteen 1 1/4-in balls and thread onto 4 skewers.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the green beans with the olive oil and 1/4 t each salt and pepper; spread out in a single layer. Roast for 10 min. then stir in the almonds and roast until the green beans are lightly browned and the almonds are toasted, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat a grill pan to med-high. Grill the meatballs, turning , until just cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Serve with the green beans and lemon wedges.
(I cooked mine in the oven over a grill type pan that still allowed the fat to drip off)

Chicken Salad Piccata

This recipe is another hit from my Rachael Ray magazine. It was flavorful and light but still filling. The chicken was the highlight of the dish, absolutely delicious! I suggest tossing the green beans and potatoes in the sauce right away so they absorb the flavor while you make the chicken (I did them first so I could use the same pan to cook the chicken in and have less dishes to clean up afterwards). I added garlic salt, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to the final product. I can't wait to eat leftovers for lunch today :-)!!!

* 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
* 1/2 pound green beans, halved crosswise
* 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped capers
* 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
* Grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon
* Salt and pepper
* 1 large egg
* 1/4 cup flour
* Two 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, lightly pounded
* 1/4 cup chicken broth

1. In a large saucepan, add the potatoes and enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and cook until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Drain in the colander with the potatoes; let cool slightly.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon capers, 3 tablespoons parsley, the lemon peel and half of the lemon juice. Add the potatoes and beans and toss; season with salt and pepper.
3. In a shallow bowl, beat the egg. In another shallow bowl, season the flour with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Coat the chicken breasts with the seasoned flour, then dip in the egg, allowing any excess to drip off, and coat with the flour again, shaking off the excess. Add to the skillet and cook, turning once, until golden, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into strips.
4. Add the chicken broth to the skillet; cook over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon capers, 1 tablespoon parsley and lemon juice. Top the salad with the chicken and drizzle with the pan sauce.

Candy Corn Cupcakes

These were super cute and sooo tasty! In fact, I had 3 little plates of them ready to take to friends and they were so good, that I only delivered one of the plates and we ate the rest! I'll have to make more to deliver :-). This recipe was with some Kroger coupons I got in the mail last month.
1 box plain white cake mix
1 c regular sour cream (I used light)
1/3 c vegetable oil (I used canola)
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
2 eggs
food coloring (yellow and orange...we made our own orange)
whipped topping (I bought a tub of whipped white frosting)
candy corn to top them

-Preheat oven to temperature on your cupcake mix box (I think mine was 350 degrees).
-Combine cake mix, sour cream, vegetable oil, milk and eggs in a large bowl. Mix according to package directions.
-Divide batter evenly into 2 separate bowl. Color half of the batter with a few drops of orange food coloring (I just used yellow and red until I like the color it was). Color the other half with yellow food coloring.
-Place cupcake liners into cupcake tins. Fill each cupcake liner with 1/4 cup yellow batter and then top with orange batter until the liner is 1/2 full (I always overfill, but they turned out still,just didn't make as many).
-Bake according to package directions.
-Cool cupcakes completely, frost and top with a piece of candy corn.

Nuevo Cubano

YUM! These were sooo good! I saw these in my Cooking Light magazine this summer and have been really excited to give them a try. What a great twist on a grilled cheese sandwich! The leftover beans have been equally as delicious in quesadillas for lunch too :-)!

* 4 whole-wheat sub rolls, cut in half lengthwise (I just used our regular whole wheat bread)
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1/4 pound thinly sliced reduced-sodium deli ham
* 1 peeled mango or 2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced (I thought the ones with mango were better!)
* 1/4 pound thinly sliced provolone cheese
* 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1. Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell; reserve torn bread for another use.
2. Combine cilantro, lime juice, chili powder, garlic, and black beans in a food processor; process until almost smooth and spreadable, adding a few drops of water, if necessary. Spread bean mixture evenly on bottom halves of the prepared rolls. Layer rolls evenly with ham, mango or tomatoes, and provolone cheese; replace top halves of rolls.
3. (I used our George Foreman grill) Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add 2 sandwiches to pan; place a cast-iron or other heavy skillet on top of sandwiches; press gently. Cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until sandwiches are golden brown (leave cast-iron skillet on sandwiches while they cook). Remove sandwiches from pan; repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 2 sandwiches.

Creamy Tomato Soup

Even though the weather has warmed back up in Houston, it still feels like fall in my heart :-) and I was ready for some soup. This is a recipe I had saved from an old issue of Taste of Home and it was super easy and super flavorful. It was a little thicker than I would have preferred, so next time I will use two cans of tomatoes to thin it out and bump up the tomato flavor (which is what I am putting below). Overall it was great though and my kids even ate most of their bowls!

2 cups milk (I used 2%)
2 cans diced tomatoes (14 1/2 oz), undrained (I used garlic and onion flavor)
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese (I used 1/3 fat)
1/4 c coarsely shopped fresh basil (I skipped)
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender; cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a large saucepan; heat through.

Bean Burritos

I didn't make these exactly as described on My Kitchen Cafe, but it was a great base recipe to give me some inspiration for a meatless meal this week. I was especially excited because Preston actually loved them and I have not been able to get him to eat ANYTHING lately. Definitely a crowd pleaser for us!

1 cup brown or white rice (or 2 cups already cooked rice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeno, seeds and membrane removed, finely diced (can substitute 1 can of green chiles)
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cans (15 oz. each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
1 (10 oz) package frozen corn or 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
6 green onions, white and green parts finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

16 burrito-sized (10-inch) flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Cook rice; set aside. Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and golden, being careful not to let the garlic burn. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add one can of beans and mash gently in the pan (a potato masher or fork works great here). Add the second can of beans and the water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10-12 minutes, being careful not to let the mixture stick to the bottom of the pot. Add corn; cook to heat through, 2-3 minutes. Stir in onion and garlic powders. Remove from heat; stir in green onions and cooked rice.

Heat tortillas in microwave for about 30-45 seconds or until all are warmed through.

Fill each tortilla with about 2/3 cup bean and rice mixture and 1/4 cup cheese on one side of tortilla. Fold, and hold in sides. Starting from filled end, holding sides in as you work, tightly roll into a bundle. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down, and prepare remaining burritos. (I pressed ours in the George Foreman grill to make them crispy on the outside)

French Toast Casserole

This recipe came along with some coupons from one of my favorite local grocery stores, Kroger. In their description they say it is "perfect for Easter" so I've been hanging on to it for awhile :-). I decided to make it for our breakfast this General Conference Sunday and it was a HUGE hit with the family. I have been doing a lot better at sticking to my gluten-free diet, so I only tried a little bite, but the kids and Mike ate ALL the rest of the 9x13 pan. That definitely says something about how good it is!!! I really loved that you make it they day before you will be serving it and then just pop it in the oven the next day.

2 t butter, softened
8 slices white bread, cut in 1-inch cubes
7 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup (I used our cheap sugar-free syrup)
4 T granulated sugar, divided
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t cardamom (I didn't have this)
1/2 c toasted pecans, chopped
maple syrup, for serving

Grease a 9x13 baking dish with butter and fill the dish with bread cubes, distributing evenly.
In large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, maple syrup, 2 T sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.
Pour this mixture over the bread cubes, and press down over the surface of the casserole with a spatula to help the bread soak up the liquid.
Sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and place the casserole, still covered with foil, in the oven for 30 minutes.
Uncover, and bake an additional 30-35 minutes, until the casserole if puffy and brown.
Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing into squares and topping with the chopped pecans and warmed maple syrup.
Refrigerate all leftovers.

4 Packet Roast

There is nothing like a roast easy and so delicious! I saw this one recently on The Sister's Cafe and I had to try it. It was unbelievably flavorful and the gravy it made while cooking...YUMMY!!!

1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 packet brown gravy mix
1 packet Italian salad dressing mix
1 packet onion soup mix
1 roast of choice
1/2-3/4 cup of water
assorted veggies if desired (I threw in some baby carrots)

Place roast in crockpot.  Arrange vegetables around the roast if being used.  Sprinkle the mix packets over the roast.  Pour water around the roast.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Jr. Sloppy Joes

Although my sweet potato wedges were a bust (they were smooshy, not crisp at all), these little guys from Taste Buds were awesome! Super easy, super tasty and super kid-pleasing. Sometimes it's nice to go back to a classic meal that is familiar for a change and these definitely hit the spot!

1 lb extra lean ground beef
minced onion
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tsp mustard
1/3 cup brown sugar (you can add less) (I used 1/4 c)
small rolls or hamburger buns

Brown ground beef and onions and drain off excess fat. Add remaining ingredients and cook over low heat about 10 min. Serve on hamburger buns or mini-rolls.

Coconut-Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa

This was a recipe I had saved to try from an old issue of Rachael Ray's magazine. I loved the combination of flavors (and colors) and thought it was perfect served with some chicken rice. It was a great end of summer meal :-)!

1/2 pound frozen mango, thawed and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups) (I used 1 large fresh mango)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
Four 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a shallow bowl, beat the egg with 1 teaspoon water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place the coconut in another shallow bowl. Dip the chicken in the egg, then in the coconut. Press to coat.
In large, ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until cooked through, about 12 minutes. Serve the chicken with the mango salsa.

Green Chili Curry

I took this recipe from Jamie's Cookbook (and she got it from My Kitchen Cafe). I was in the mood for some curry and this was one of the easiest ones I've ever made. It had some spice to it, which my husband appreciate, and I always love the creaminess the coconut milk gives. It was great, especially served over Jasmine rice! (and yes, I served it with asparagus...doesn't really go together, but it was on sale and I love it! :-)

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, sliced into 1/2" strips (I am running low on chicken breasts, so I just used 1 can chicken and it worked fine)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (I used light)
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp Garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup couscous, cooked according to package directions (I used jasmine rice instead)
2 tbsp cilantro leaves (chopped)

Season both sides of chicken with salt and black pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes per side until golden brown. In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut milk, green chilies, curry powder, garam masala, and cumin. Add mixture to chicken and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and sauce reduces slightly. The sauce will be quite runny. To thicken it up a bit, I mixed one teaspoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water and added it to the sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes to thicken. Serve chicken and green curry sauce over couscous and garnish with cilantro.

Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana

(this pic courtesy of Favorite Family Recipes, it's much better than the one I took!)
I have only eaten at Olive Garden a handful of times and have never tried this soup there so although I can't vouch for how similar it is to the orginal, I can tell you it is DELICIOUS! When I saw the recipe on Favorite Family Recipes The ingredients sounded intriguing and I am always up for a new soup recipe. I'm so glad I tried it! I loved it and even my husband, who is a soup skeptic, loved it.

3 cans (14oz) Chicken Broth
2 cups whipping cream (I used 1 cup cream, 1 cup whole milk)
red pepper flakes (to taste) (I left out since I used spicy sausage)
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 small onion, diced, sauteed
1/2 pkg. bacon (cooked and crumbled)
4-5 cups chopped kale
3 to 4 potatoes scrubbed and cut into slices or small chunks (skins left on) (I used red onions)
1 lb Johnsonville mild Italian sausage (shaped into small rounds, browned, and put on paper towels to de-grease... or if you are in a rush, just brown the sausage like you would ground beef). (I used 2 small links spicy Italian sausage)

Put everything together in a large crockpot and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. (they suggested not putting the potatoes in until the last 40-60 minutes, but I put mine in at the beginning and was glad I did...they took awhile to cook)

Lemon Zucchini Mini Muffins

When I saw these little guys on My Favorites I was excited to try them. I have never made my own zucchini bread, muffins, etc. but they were one of my favorite treats growing up. These were super kiddos LOVE them!

(I doubled the recipe for the batter, but not the icing)
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup finely shredded zucchini (I used my food processor)
lemon zest from 2 lemons plus lemon juice from one of them
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Lemon Glaze:
2 cups confectioner's sugar
2+Tbsp lemon juice (I had to use WAY more than that to get my icing creamy)

In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, zucchini and lemon zest. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Drop by Tbsp into mini muffin pan. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
For glaze, combine sugar and enough lemon juice to achieve a thin spreading consistency. Spread drizzle over cooled muffins.

Ham and Sweet Potato Hash

I haven't tried any recipes from My Kitchen Cafe in awhile but when she posted this one recently it definitely called out to me :-)! It was sooo good! I loved the addition of sweet potatoes and the chipotle flavor definitely gave it that special something. A perfect breakfast for dinner! Next time I'll be sure to have some Monterey Jack cheese on hand to sprinkle on top....YUM!!!

3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
3 tablespoons heavy cream
10 ounces thinly sliced deli ham, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 large eggs (I used 5)

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a tight-fitting microwave-safe lid and microwave for about 6 minutes, until the potatoes are tender but not overcooked – they’ll cook a bit more in the skillet later. Stir the potatoes halfway through cooking. Drain the potatoes of any excess liquid and set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is hot and rippling. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the chipotle and cook for about 30 seconds.

Stir in the drained potatoes and the cream. Using the back of a spatula, pack the potatoes into the pan, pressing them into a somewhat even layer. Let the potatoes cook without stirring them for about 2 minutes so they can start to get nicely browned. Flip the potato hash mixture, one portion at a time, and lightly repack into the skillet to let the potatoes brown on the other side. Continue this flipping process every few minutes until the potatoes are nicely browned, about 8-10 minutes.

Stir in the ham and lightly repack the hash into the skillet. Using a large spoon, make 6 shallow divots about 2 inches wide in the surface of the potato mixture. Crack one egg into each indentation. Season with salt and pepper and then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the skillet. Let the mixture cook until the eggs are set to your liking, about 5-7 minutes. Serve.

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Cream Sauce

When I saw this recipe on Fabulously Delicious (originally from Cooking with Paula Deen), I knew I had to try them...because I can never turn down an enchilada recipe. With my new found love of tomatillos I just knew they would be delicious and it helped that Kirsten had given them such a great review too. They were much simpler to make than the roasted tomatillo enchiladas I love so much, but still had TONS of great flavor. LOVED them!!!

3 cups chopped cooked chicken (I used 2 cans chicken)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 fat)
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream (I used light)
1 (8-ounce) package Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (I used a mexican mix of cheddar and pepper jack)
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
24 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Tomatillo Cream Sauce (recipe follows)
1 (8-ounce) package Colby and Monterey Jack cheese blend, shredded
Sliced green onions (optional)

Tomatillo Cream Sauce*
1 (28 oz.) can of tomatillos, drained
1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth
1 (4 oz) can of chopped green chiles
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
*I didn't find canned tomatillos at my grocery store, so for the sauce I used 24 oz. salsa verde, 1 cup heavy cream, and a little bit of chicken broth to thin it out a little bit.

In a large skillet, combine tomatillos, chicken broth, chilies, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour mixture into a blender or food processor, and pulse mixture several times until smooth. Return to skillet; stir in cream and cook over low heat for two more minutes.

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 13x9-inch baking dishes.
2. In a large bowl, combine chicken and next 8 ingredients. Spoon 2 tablespoons chicken mixture down center of each tortilla. Fold sides over, enclosing filling. Place filled tortillas, in a single layer, seam side down, in prepared baking dishes. (I debated over whether to fry the tortillas to soften them first or not, but decided not to since it makes them waaay worse for you. I just heated them in a paper towel in the microwave to soften them and they still turned out so yummy)
3. Spoon Tomatillo Cream Sauce evenly over enchiladas. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with sliced green onions, if desired.

Curried Chicken Cacciatore

Whenever I find out about a new food blog, I always have to browse around for a little bit. I found this recipe while browsing Mommie Cooks and couldn't wait to try it...I like chicken cacciatore and I LOVE curry. The dinner was definitely delicious, my only complaint was not tasting the curry quite enough, so next time I will be more generous when adding curry to the tomatoes! Overall a hit!

1 Whole Chicken Cut into its Respective Pieces (I used 3 boneless, skinless breasts...because that's all I use :-)
1 Cup of Flour
1 tsp of Salt
1/4 tsp of Pepper
1Tbsp + 1/2 tsp of Curry (I will definitely use more next time)
1 28 Oz Can of Tomatoes
1/2 Cup of Red Wine
1 Tbsp of Fresh Basil (or 1 tsp of Dry)
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Onion, Chopped
1/2 Cup of Chicken Broth
2 Green Peppers

Mix your flour, 1 Tbsp of the curry, 1/2 tsp of the salt, and the pepper together in a bowl.
Dredge the chicken in the flour and throw it in a large sauce pan with a couple tablespoons of oil heated up on medium high.
Let the chicken cook on all sides for a minute or two each side to get them crispy and yummy on the outside.
To the slow cooker add in your tomatoes, red wine, fresh basil, garlic, onion, chicken broth, peppers, 1/2 tsp of the curry and 1/2 tsp of the salt. Mix it all up good.
Now grab your chicken and set it on top of your tomato mixture.
Put on the lid, turn the heat on low and let it cook for the next 6 to 8 hours.

Macadamia Fudge Torte

My friend brought this for dessert to our girls' night last week and it was sooo good. I didn't get a great picture of it though so you'll have to trust me that it was delicious...especially served with vanilla ice cream and the caramel sauce on top! I think I need to make something with macadamia nuts soon, they were my favorite part of the dessert!

1/3c low-fat sweetened condensed milk
1/2c semisweet chocolate chips

1pkg. pudding-included devil's food cake mix
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup oil (I used canola)
1 (16oz) can pears in light syrup, drained
2 eggs
1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts
2 tsp water

1 jar caramel ice cream topping
1/3cup milk (I used skim)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 or 10 inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. In small saucepan, combine filling ingredients. Cook over medium-low heat until chocolate is melted, stirring occasionally.
2. In large bowl, combine cake mix, cinnamon and oil; blend at low speed for 20-30 seconds or until crumbly. (Mixture will be dry).
3. Blend pears until smooth in blender or food processor.
4. In another large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of the cake mixture, pureed pears and eggs; beat at low speed until moistened. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Spread batter evenly in sprayed pan. Drop filling the spoonfuls over batter. Stir nuts and water into remaining cake mixture. Sprinkle over filling.
5. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in the center. Cool 10 minutes. Remove sides of pan. Cool 1 1/2 hours or until completely cooled.
6. In small saucepan, combine sauce ingredients. Cook over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes or until well blended, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, spoon 2 tbs warm sauce onto plate. Top with torte and garnish with ice cream, if desired.

Mexican Chicken with Jalapeno Popper Sauce

This recipe originally comes from Mommie Cooks, but I saw a link to it on Cassie Craves. This sauce is sooo good, I LOVED it! I would eat anything with it...seriously. So, try it, you won't regret it :-)!!!

3 Chicken Breasts
A Sprinkle of Cumin per Breast
A Sprinkle of Chili Powder per Breast
A Sprinkle of Salt per Breast
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
3 Jalapenos, Seeded and Chopped
8 Oz. of Cream Cheese
2 Cups of Chicken Broth
3 Slices of Bacon
3/4 Cup of Shredded Cheddar or Colby Jack
1 Tbsp of Fresh Cilantro, chopped + more for garnish

Fry bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towel-lined plate.
Sprinkle chicken with seasonings while the bacon crisps. Add the chicken to the hot bacon fat in the skillet. Cook chicken, turning every few minutes, until juices run clear and no longer pink. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
Add chopped jalapenos to the skillet and cook for a couple of minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute more, until fragrant.
Add chicken broth, deglazing pan. Bring to a boil.
Add cream cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Add in shredded cheese and bacon, stirring until the cheese in melted. Turn off heat and stir in cilantro.
Serve chicken on a bed of Mexican or Taco rice (I made cilantro lime rice) and topped with sauce. Garnish with additional cilantro if desired.

Rice Meatballs

Using rice to make meatballs? It sounded gluten free already, so I couldn't pass up this recipe from Melissa's Bargain Blog! Although Ella was confused as to why we were having meatballs with rice instead of noodles the whole family liked them. I think you could even make them and cook them in spaghetti sauce instead and then serve them with noodles as an easy gluten-free meatball alternative!

1 cup uncooked minute rice
1 lb ground beef
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 t. grated onion
1 t. salt
1/8 t marjoram
dash pepper
2 1/2 cups tomato juice (or two 8 oz cans tomato sauce mixed with 1/2 cup water)
1/2 t sugar

Combine rice and all other ingredients except tomato juice and sugar. Form balls and arrange in skillet. Pour tomato juice & sugar over meatballs. Bring to boil. Reduce heat & simmer uncovered 15 minutes.

Harvest Salad

This was my other contribution to our Labor Day BBQ. I loved the combination of flavors from the ingredients...nothing like a good green salad! (and it's from All Recipes)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 bunch spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red raspberry jam (with seeds)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup walnut oil freshly ground (I used olive oil)
black pepper to taste
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Arrange walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in oven for 5 minutes, or until nuts begin to brown.
In a large bowl, toss together the spinach, walnuts, cranberries, blue cheese, tomatoes, avocado, and red onion.
In a small bowl, whisk together jam, vinegar, walnut oil, pepper, and salt. Pour over the salad just before serving, and toss to coat.

Potato Salad

I found this recipe on All Recipes (submitted by cheftini) and I've decided this is going to be "my" potato salad recipe :-). I loved it! It has enough of the core potato salad ingredients that it gives you that classic potato salad taste I love, but also enough variation to give that little something special to set it apart.

6 eggs
10 red potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup ranch dressing (I used light, it helps, right :-)?!)
1/3 cup dill pickle relish
2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I used kosher salt)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1 onion, chopped (very finely)
1/4 cup pepperoncini

Place the eggs into a saucepan in a single layer and fill with water to cover the eggs by 1 inch. Cover the saucepan and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 15 minutes. Pour out the hot water; cool the eggs under cold running water in the sink. Peel and chop the cooled eggs.
Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and refrigerate until cold. Peel and cube once cold.
Stir together the mayonnaise, ranch dressing, relish, mustard, salt, pepper, paprika, and celery seed in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, potatoes, onion, pepperoncini, and olives; stir until evenly mixed. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. (I made it the night before to make it even better!)