Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

Well, I have been very sick this week. My husband got it first (and he is almost over it) and then he passed it to me and our son. It's the kind of cold that doesn't start out too badly...but it gets worse each day...before it gets better.

So, I had my very worst day yesterday. My poor son is pretty miserable too. Any of you out there who have kids know that when kids are sick, they can't sleep...and when kids can't can't sleep either! You really have no option in the matter!

As a result, when I got up yesterday morning, I felt like death. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was make dinner for everyone--but people still have to eat--even when they're sick. So, I scoured my mind to see if there was something easy I could throw together.

I remembered that a few months back, I had purchased some of those pre-made frozen slow cooker dinners as emergency meals. I had bought a beef stew dinner and a chicken and dumplings dinner. I had already made the beef stew one (I was unimpressed. It was so small that I had to add a bunch of potatoes so that it would feed everyone and I thought it was way too salty). But I still had the chicken and dumplings dinner in the freezer.

So, I pulled out the "Banquet Crock Pot Classics Chicken and Dumplings" from the freezer. The size on the package says that it is 41.5 oz (or 2 lbs. 9.5 oz). However, as I mentioned before, these are very small and don't feed very many people. I would venture to say that you'd be hard pressed to feed two full-grown men with one of those packaged dinners.

I had been wanting to use it up for awhile and I figured that I could just throw some other things into the slow cooker to "beef it up" and fill it out so that it would feed 5 adults and one toddler (in fact, it made enough for leftovers too).

The result? Surprisingly delicious. EVERYONE raved about it. I, myself, found it quite tasty. Plus, since it was so easy, I think it's a keeper! Try it out if you get a chance (or if you're too sick to care how dinner turns I was!). Besides, chicken soup is one of the best things when you have a cold!

10/5/10 Note: Banquet Crockpot Classics are no longer available in any of the supermarkets in the state in which I live! So, I created another version of this recipe that omits the pre-packaged crockpot base. It is found below the first recipe.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumpling Soup (see revised version below)


1 Banquet Crock Pot Classics--Chicken and Dumplings (41.5 oz pkg. aka 2 lbs. 9.5 oz)
1 (2.5 lb) bag frozen chicken breasts (or about 6 medium chicken breasts)
2 cups water
3 cups baby carrots
1 can (15 oz) corn, drained
1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup, condensed
1 cup milk
1 tsp. thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste


Put a slow cooker liner into your slow cooker, if desired. Place frozen chicken breasts into slow cooker. Open the Banquet Crock Pot Classics--Chicken and Dumplings. Place the packet of dumplings back in the freezer (as directed on the package instructions). Pour the chicken and vegetable mixture from the package into the slow cooker. Thaw the sauce packet under running water (as directed on the package instructions) and pour into the slow cooker. Put baby carrots into the slow cooker on top of the other ingredients.

Cover, and cook on low for 6 hours.

Pour the drained corn into the slow cooker. Stir together the cream of chicken soup, milk, thyme, and salt and pepper. Pour into the slow cooker and mix all the ingredients together. Shred the chicken breasts with two forks (you don't have to remove the chicken from the slow cooker to do this). Open the packet of dumplings (that were earlier placed back in the freezer) and pour those in the slow cooker.

Cover, and cook on high for 30-60 minutes (or until dumplings are hot and the soup is thick and bubbly).

Source: The kind folks at Banquet and my own desperation!

Note: If you don't like the packaged dumplings, you could always easily make your own using Bisquick (there is a recipe for dumplings on the box that only calls for Bisquick and water).

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumpling Soup (Revised Version)

(pictured above)


1 (2.5 lb) bag frozen chicken breasts (or about 6 medium chicken breasts)
2 cups chicken broth (about 1 can)
3 cups baby carrots
1 cup sliced celery
2 cans (10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup, condensed
1 Tbsp each fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp each dried)
1 can (15 oz) corn, drained
1 can (15 oz) creamed corn
1 cup milk
3 Tbsp flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups Bisquick mix
1/2 cup water


Put a slow cooker liner into your slow cooker, if desired. Place frozen chicken breasts into slow cooker. Pour chicken broth into slow cooker. Put baby carrots and celery top of the chicken. Pour the cream of chicken soup on top of the chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle the chopped herbs on top. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Cover, and cook on low for 6 hours.

Shred the chicken breasts with two forks (you don't have to remove the chicken from the slow cooker to do this). Pour the drained corn and the creamed corn into the slow cooker. Whisk the flour and milk together and pour into the slow cooker. Increase heat to high in order to thicken the soup.

Meanwhile, mix Bisquick and water together and spoon dollops of mixture on top of soup in slow cooker.

Cover, and cook on high for 30-60 minutes (or until dumplings are cooked and the soup is thick and bubbly). You can speed up the cooking process of the dumplings by pushing them under the soup slightly to immerse them a little.

Source: First, the kind folks at Banquet and my own desperation...and later my own creativity after a product was pulled off the market! I swear, I've got to stop falling in love with certain products. Unless they've been around for years already, a lot of the new products I take a liking to tend to be discontinued!

Notes: If the soup isn't brothy enough for you, simply add more water, chicken broth, or milk until you have the consistency that you like.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Recipes Tried & True, One Old One New

My family has varied tastes. Because of that, one of my great triumphs is to find a recipe that all of them like. If I find one that everyone raves about, then I feel I have hit one out of the park. I think it's that adrenalin high that keeps me searching for the newest, the best, the greatest recipe.

Here are two that have been hits, one that we've been making for a while and it's become a standby. The other I tried just Sunday and everyone liked it. Score 1 for the mom!

Slow Cooker Smoky Chipotle Soft Tacos

Prep Time: 30 Min
Start to Finish: 6 hr 30 minutes
Makes: 18 tacos (probably not....these go fast if you pile on the meat)


3 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1 large sweet onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 Anaheim Chile, chopped (1/3 cup or more)
3/4 c. chili sauce (not ketchup or salsa)
1/2 c. mole sauce (from a 9 oz. container, found in the Mexican or Latino portion of your supermarket)
3 T. chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (from 7 oz. can--save the remainder for another recipe, found in the Mexican or Latino portion of your supermarket)
1 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
18 6 " flour tortillas
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (8 oz.)
3 medium tomatoes, chopped (1 1/2 c.)
Toppings as desired: sour cream, cilantro, black olives


In 12" skillet, cook beef, onion and Anaheim chile over medium heat about 15" minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown. Drain.

In 3-4 qt. slow cooker, mix beef mixture, chili sauce, mole sauce, chipotle chiles, cumin and salt. Add at least 1 c. water.

Cover and cook on low for 6 - 7 hours. This will need to be stirred during cooking or it will burn and stick to the sides of the crock pot.

To serve, spoon 1/3 c. beef mixture into each tortilla, top with cheese, tomatoes and other toppings as desired.

Source: Betty Crocker website. You can find it here.

Notes: This is very freezer friendly. Simply freeze cooled meat mixture in a freezer friendly container (don't forget to label and date it!). When ready to use, defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat in the microwave.

This one was tried just Sunday, but everyone really, really liked it.

Buffalo Chicken and Potatoes


1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" strips
1/3 c. buffalo wing sauce
6 c. frozen (thawed) southern style hash brown potatoes
1 c. ranch or blue cheese dressing (we used ranch)
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 can. condensed cream of celery soup
1/2 c. corn flake crumbs
2 T. butter or margarine, melted
1/4 c. chopped green onions


Heat oven to 350 degrees (375 for high altitude). Spray a 13x9 in baking dish.

In medium bowl, stir together chicken strips and wing sauce.

In a large bowl, stir together potatoes, dressing, cheese and soup (add 1/4 c. water for high altitude). Spoon into baking dish. Place chicken strips in a single layer over potato mixture.

Stir together crumbs and butter. Sprinkle in baking dish.

Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes; uncover and bake 20-25 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. Sprinkle with green onions.

Serve with additional ranch or blue cheese dressing, if desired.

Source: Betty Crocker website. You can find it here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chicken Casserole--Two Ways

These two recipes are very similar--in fact, they are almost identical, but the few changes make the recipes different enough to be completely different meals.

I love these recipes because they are fast and soooo easy to make. They are also the kind of casseroles that even picky eaters like. In fact, I made one of them during my son's second nap today!

The first is Easy Chicken Pot Pie and the second is Chicken Stuffing Bake. They are perfect comfort food meals. I mean, who doesn't like chicken pot pie? Also, the chicken stuffing bake is somewhat reminiscent of Thanksgiving dinner.

They are also both freezer friendly. Make as directed (in a freezer friendly aluminum or casserole dish), then allow to cool. Cover with aluminum foil (don't forget to label and date it!). When ready to use, defrost in fridge overnight or place covered frozen casserole in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes or until it is hot and bubbly and browned on the top. Adjust the cooking times accordingly depending on whether you cook it from frozen or defrosted.

I hope you like them! 

Easy Chicken Pot Pie 


2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans)
2 cups cut-up cooked chicken
2 cans (10 ¾ oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups Original Bisquick mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs


Heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix vegetables, chicken, and cream of chicken soup in a bowl. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Spread in an ungreased 9x13 pan.

In a medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients until blended. Pour over chicken mixture and spread to the edge of the pan to cover the chicken mixture completely.

Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Serves 8

Source: Betty Crocker website.You can find it here.

Notes: This is one of my standby recipes. It is easy to have all of the ingredients on hand, and it is very kid friendly.

I usually add a little salt and pepper to the Bisquick mixture as well as to the chicken mixture as well.

Chicken Stuffing Bake


2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans)
2 cups cut-up cooked chicken
2 cans (10 ¾ oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup
Salt and pepper to taste
2 (6 oz) pkgs. Stovetop Stuffing (chicken flavored)
3 1/3 cups hot water


Heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix vegetables, chicken, and cream of mushroom soup in a bowl. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Spread in an ungreased 9x13 pan.

In a medium bowl, stir Stovetop Stuffing and hot water until stuffing is moist. Pour over chicken mixture and spread to the edge of the pan to cover the chicken mixture completely.

Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until stuffing is crispy and chicken/vegetable/soup mixture is hot and bubbly.

Serves 8

Source: This one is kind of my own concoction--a composite of the Betty Crocker chicken pot pie recipe, a recipe found on the Kraft website, (view that recipe here: and a recipe found on the Campbell's website (view that recipe here:

Note: for these two recipes, I prefer to poach my chicken and then cut it up. But you could cook it in a slow cooker and cut or shred it, or you could use a store-bought rotisserie chicken and cut or shred that chicken. These recipes also work perfectly with a side salad. Nothing else is needed to make a full meal!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Theme Nights--French Edition

My side of the family has been doing a Sunday theme night once a month where we choose a cuisine from around the world to focus on. For March, our theme was Irish cooking in honor of St. Patrick's Day. In February, our theme was French cooking in honor of Valentine's Day (because, as you know, French is "the international know...LOVE, the language of love"--Better off Dead).

We discovered a number of fun recipes. We had some savory crepes for dinner, with some lovely French side dishes and some melt-in-your-mouth cream puffs for dessert.

I must note, however, that home-made crepes (while heavenly) take FOREVER to make. So, we opted for the pre-made crepes that can be bought in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. They aren't quite as good, but they're still good enough and they save a ton of time!

I hope you like our French night recipes!

Chicken, Mushroom, and Olive Crepes



Note: If you don't have time to make your own crepes, you can find pre-made crepes in the refrigerated section of the supermarket.

1 1/4 cups flour
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter


1 cup cream of mushroom soup
1 can (4 oz) sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
1/4 cup stuffed green olives, chopped, optional


1 cup cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, grated


For crepes, blend batter and chill for one hour. Brush skillet with butter and cook crepes, 2 tablespoons of batter for each. Reserve cooked crepes.

Combine all ingredients for filling. Use 1 tablespoon filling for each crepe, fold in thirds and place in pan, seam side down.

For topping, combine all ingredients; cover crepes. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Makes 10-12 servings.

Nutrition information: 275 calories, 16 g fat, 788 mg sodium, 107 mg cholesterol.

Source: Deseret News recipe, submitted by Patty Howells.

Sausage-Filled Crepes

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes


1 pound ground pork sausage
1 small onion, diced
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Sliced tomato


3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt



Cook sausage and onion in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink; drain well. Return sausage to skillet; add 1 cup Cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and marjoram, stirring until cheeses melt.

Spoon 3 tablespoons filling down center of each crepe.

Roll up, and place, seam side down, in a lightly greased 13x9 inch baking dish.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Stir together sour cream and butter; spoon over crepes. Bake 5 more minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup Cheddar cheese and parsley. Serve with sliced tomato.

Note: Crepes may be assembled and frozen. To reheat, let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature. Bake, covered, at 350 for 40 minutes. Proceed as direction.

Makes 6-8 servings.


Beat first 3 ingredients (eggs, milk, and vegegtable oil) at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Gradually add flour and salt, beating until smooth. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Coat bottom of a 7-inch nonstick skillet with melted butter; place skillet over medium heat until hot.

Pour 3 tablespoons batter into skillet; quickly tilt in all directions so batter covers bottom of skillet.

Cook 1 minute or until crepe can be shaken loose from skillet. Turn crepe over, and cook about 30 seconds. Place on a dish towel to cool. Repeat procedure with remaining batter. Stack crepes between sheets of wax paper.

Makes 12 (7 inch) crepes.

Source: website. It is a Southern Living recipe from their November 1998 magazine issue.

Cauliflower Gratin

Prep time: 5 minutes.
Cook time: 50 minutes.

Notes by the author (Rebecca Franklin): This recipe makes extra Bechamel sauce, which is perfect for drizzling on steamed vegetables.

Creamy and comforting, this cauliflower gratin recipe features a classic Bechamel sauce punched up by just a little bit of fresh thyme. This gratin is a classic at Provencal tables, and is often served for the traditional meatless Christmas Eve dinner, gros souper.


1 large (3 pound) head of fresh cauliflower, cut into florets
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/3 cups grated Gruyere cheese
1/3 cup dry, seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish and set it aside. Steam the cauliflower in a large pot of boiling water fitted with a steamer basket for 5-7 minutes, until the florets are just tender. Rinse them in cold water, drain, and arrange them in a single layer in the buttered dish.

in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour until it forms a smooth paste. Continue whisking, cook for about 2 minutes, and then gradually - 1/3 cup at a time - add the milk. Continue whisking an dcook until the sauce is completely heated through, smooth, and thickened. Remove from the heat and season with salt, thyme, and nutmet.

Pour 2 cups of the Bechamel sauce over the steamed cauliflower and gently toss the florets to make sure they are thoroughly coated with the sauce. Bake the gratin, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Stir together the grated Gruyere cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle them over the gratin. Bake it for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the gratin is hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted and browned. Sprinkle the surface of the baked gratin with the ground pepper and serve hot.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Source:, French Food webpage, Author: Rebecca Franklin.

Lemon Parsley Risoni

Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes


2 cups cooked risoni (substitute orzo pasta, if you can't find risoni)
3 tablespoons mustard vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


Toss all of the ingredients together and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Variation: Add 6 ounces of canned tuna, drained, a 1 additional tablespoon of mustard vinaigrette to the salad.

Makes 4 servings.

Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette

Prep time: 5 minutes


1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
1 1/4 teaspoons fresh tarragon, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 small garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil


Put all ingredients in a glass jar, seal with a lid, and shake until ingredients are well incorporated. Refrigerate leftover.

Makes 4 servings.

Source:, French Food webpage, Author: Rebecca Franklin.

Cream Puffs (Pate a Choux)


1 cup hot water
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sifted flour
4 eggs
Pastry cream (recipe follows)


bring water, butter, sugar, and salt to a rolling boil. Add 1 cup sifted flour all at once.

Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture leaves sides of pan and forms a smooth ball. Remove from heat. Quickly beat in eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.

Continue beating until mixture is thick and smooth. Dough may be shaped and baked at once, or wrapped in waxed paper and stored in refrigerator overnight.

Force dough through a pastry bag or drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake large puffs at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake 20-25 minutes longer or until golden in color.

Bake small puffs at 450 degrees F 10 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees F and bake 5 minutes longer, or until golden in color.

Remove to rack and cool.

Cut off tops and fill shells with pastry cream. Replace tops and sprinkle with sifted confectioners' sugar.

French Pastry Cream


1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sifted flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold milk
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Scald 1 1/2 cups milk and set aside.

Sift together flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup cold milk, stirring well.

Gradually stir in scalded milk. Wash double boiler top to remove scum. Return mixture to double boiler top and place over direct heat. Stirring gently and constantly, bring milk mixture rapidly to boiling over direct heat and cook for 2 minutes.

Place over simmering water. Cover and cook about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Vigorously stir about 3 tablespoons of this hot mixture into the slightly beaten egg yolks.

Immediately blend into mixture in double boiler. Cook over simmering water for 3-5 minutes. Stir slowly to keep mixture cooking evenly. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Cover and cool. Chill in refrigerator.

Makes about 2 cups of pastry cream.

Variation: Follow the recipe above and...

Saint-Honore Cream

Follow recipe. Soften 1 tablespoon (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Dissolve in completed, hot French Pastry Cream, stirring constantly. Cool completely. Beat 6 egg whites until frothy and gradually add 3 tablespoons sugar, beating well after each addition; beat until rounded peaks are formed. Fold beaten egg whites into cooled cream. Use to fill cream Puffs.

Makes about 5 cups Saint-Honore Cream.

Whoa...Did those cream puff fillings seem a little overwhelming? If so, try this much simpler cream puff filling...

Chantilly Cream (Basically Whipped Cream)


1 cup chilled whipping cream
3 tablespoons sifted confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Beat whipping cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters. Beat until cream stands in peaks when beater is slowly lifted upright.

Fold or beat confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract into whipped cream with final few strokes until blended.

Still too complicated?

You can simply use prepared vanilla pudding or vanilla ice cream as the filling for your cream puffs.

Source for cream puffs, French pastry cream, Saint-Honore cream, and Chantilly cream: These recipes were found in a very old cookbook that my mother had. It is called "The French Cookbook" compiled by Staff Home Economists Culinary Arts Institute, directed by Melanie de Proft. It is copyrighted 1955 by Book Production Industries, Inc.

I know! You're asking "What is her mother, who was born in 1958, doing with a cookbook that is older than she is?" The answer: "I have no idea, but I'm glad because those cream puffs were awesome!"

Monday, March 22, 2010

Irish Feasting Continued...


I already posted our family's recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage and a recipe for Irish Soda Bread on March 17th (I made them for my family and in-laws).

We celebrated St. Patrick's Day on Sunday night with my side of the family. We again had our Corned Beef recipe (with its Red Currant Mustard Sauce, of course--it is essential!). But we tried some different side dishes. We found wonderful recipes for Colcannon, Irish Soda Bread, Irish Potato Candy (which doesn't actually contain potatoes--it just looks like mini potatoes), and Irish Cream Bundt Cake. I'm also including another potato candy recipe called Potato Pinwheels (this recipe DOES contain potatoes). We tried it last year and it is very yummy!

So, I hope you enjoy these recipes. Let the Irish Feasting continue!

Colcannon Potatoes

Makes 12-16 servings
Prep: 10 min.
Cook: 35 min.


2 pounds cabbage, shredded
2 cups water
4 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 cups milk
1 cup chopped green onions
Salt and coarsely ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup butter, melted
Crumbled cooked bacon and minced fresh parsley


In a large saucepan, bring cabbage and water to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving cooking liquid. Keep cabbage warm.

Place cooking liquid and potatoes in a large saucepan, add enough additional water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 15-17 minutes or until tender. Drain and keep warm.

In a small saucepan, bring milk and onions to a boil; remove from the heat. In a large bowl, mash potatoes. Add milk mixture; beat until blended. Beat in the cabbage, salt and pepper. Drizzle with the melted butter, bacon, and parsley.

Source: Taste of Home. You can find it here.

Irish Soda Bread

20 servings
Prep: 20 min.
Bake: 40 min.


4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted


In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Combine buttermilk and egg; add to the crumb mixture. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 5-6 times.

Divide dough in half; shape into two balls. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Pat each ball into a 6-in. round loaf. Using a sharp knife, cut a 4-in. cross about 1/4 in. deep on top of each loaf. Brush with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.

Yield: 2 loaves.

Nutrition information: 1 serving (1 piece) equals 165 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 14 mg cholesterol, 174 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein.

Source: Taste of Home website. You can find it here.

Notes: This was contributed to Taste of Home by Anne Flanagan, Laguna Hills, California "This recipe came all the way from Tipperary, Ireland, where my great-grandmother lived. I have eaten Irish Soda Bread in New York, Philadelphi, and Los Angeles, but none compare with what my grandmother made for St. Patrick's Day."

Irish Potato Candy


1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon


In a medium bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners' sugar; beat until smooth. Using your hands, if necessary, mix in the coconut. Roll into balls or potato shapes, and roll in the cinnamon. Place onto a cookie sheet and chill to set. If desired, roll potatoes in cinnamon again for darker color.

Servings: 60

Nutrition information: 59 calories, 2.3 g fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 20 mg sodium, 9.7 g carbs, 0.4 g fiber, 0.3 g protein.

Source: contributed by SAUNDRA. You can find it here.

Irish Cream Bundt Cake


1 cup chopped pecans
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup Irish Cream flavored liquid coffee creamer or Irish Cream flavored Italian Soda syrup
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup Irish Cream flavored liquid coffee creamer or Irish Cream flavored Italian Soda syrup


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over bottom of pan.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in eggs, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup oil, and 3/4 cup Irish cream flavoring of choice. Beat for 5 minutes at high speed. Pour batter over nuts in pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto the serving dish. Prick top and sides of cake. Spoon some of the glaze over top and brush onto sides of cake. Allow glaze to absorb and repeat until all the glaze is used up.

To make the glaze: In a saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup water, and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup Irish cream flavoring of choice.

12 servings.

Nutrition information: 527 calories, 23.6 g fat, 92 mg cholesterol, 477 mg sodium, 67.2 g carbs, 0.5 g fiber, 4.1 g protein.

Source: contributed by Sue Haser. You can find it here.

Notes: We used Irish Cream coffee creamer. This is really good. The glaze can be a little tricky to make, but even if you screw it up (which I have done), it still tastes great!

Potato Pinwheels

By Elizabeth LaBau, Guide

These sweet-and-salty treats have a surprising ingredient: mashed potatoes!


1 medium potato, cooked and peeled
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter


Cut the peeled and cooked potato into eights and place in a stand mixer. Beat until mashed, then blend in vanilla extract. (This can be done by hand using a fork or potato masher if you don’t have a mixer.)

Mix in the powdered sugar in batches until thick and incorporated. Add coconut last and mix until well-blended.

Form candy into two equal balls and wrap in cling wrap. Refrigerate for an hour to firm up.

Spread waxed paper on your counter or table and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Roll the candy, one ball at a time, to form an 8-inch square on the waxed paper. Spread each square with peanut butter, covering the entire surface.

Roll the candy into a tight spiral like a jelly roll. Wrap each roll in waxed paper and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until firm enough to cut.

Slice the logs into ½ inch slices and serve. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Source:, Elizabeth LaBau's webpage (she specializes in candy). You can find it here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chicken Chili--Slow Cooker Style!

I love slow cookers. I love the ease of preparation and clean up. The main reason I love slow cookers these days is because I have a one year old little boy who HATES it when I cook. He feels left out because he knows something is going on up there on the counter and stove and he gets frustrated that he can't see what is happening. My husband is getting his MBA in business right now, so he is gone a lot of nights. As a result, he can't watch my little guy while I cook. We live with his parents, and I cook three nights a week for my in-laws.

So, I find myself doing dinner preparation around my son's naptimes. Slow cooker dinners are perfect for this because I can put everything in the slow cooker at about 10 a.m. when he goes down for his first nap.

I know it's getting warmer, so it's not really soup or chili weather anymore, but I discovered two very good chicken chili recipes this past winter that I would like to share.

Oh, and before I share the recipes, let me just say that if you have never used Reynold's Slow Cooker Liners, you SHOULD! They are great. They make clean up soooo much easier. Previously, the drawback to slow cookers was that it would be easy dinner prep, but then you would have a crusty, juicy slow cooker to clean up. The great thing about these liners is that you just pull them out and throw them away. You only really have to wipe out your slow cooker--if even that.

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Chili (pictured above)


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 medium onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 medium yellow or green bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cans (14.5 oz each) stewed Mexican-style tomatoes (or stewed tomatoes with garlic and onion), undrained
2 cans (15-16 oz each) chili beans in sauce (mild, medium, or hot, to your taste), undrained
1 can (10 ounces) enchilada sauce
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


Spray 4-5 quart slow cooker with cooking spray (or use a Reynold's Slow Cooker Liner). Mix all ingredients except sour cream and cilantro in slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low heat setting 7-8 hours.

Stir mixture to break up chicken. Top each serving with sour cream and cilantro.

Makes 6 servings (1 2/3 cups per serving)

Nutrition information: Calories: 370, Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 65mg, Sodium: 1690mg; Carbohydrate: 38g, Dietary Fiber: 8g, Sugars: 14g, Protein: 30g. Exchanges: 2 starch, 0 other carbohydrate, 2 vegetable, 3 very lean meat.

Source: Betty Crocker website. You can find it here.

Notes: I found that only 1 lb. of chicken thighs wasn't quite enough. I added an entire 2.5 lb. bag of frozen boneless, skinless chicken thighs and it was just right! I also added a second bell pepper to make the soup go a little farther too. I also added a little shredded cheddar cheese too, because what chili isn't great with a little cheese on top? But if you want to save the calories, this chili is still fantastic without the cheese.

Slow Cooker Red and White Chili


1Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner
6 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey
2 cans (15.5 oz. each) navy beans, drained
1 cup chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon each salt and cayenne pepper


Open slow cooker liner and place it inside a 5- to 6 1/2 -quart slow cooker bowl. Fit liner snugly against the bottom and sides of bowl; pull top of liner over rim of bowl.

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker liner; stir gently to mix. Place lid on slow cooker.

Cook on LOW for 6 to 7 hours OR on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours until hot and sauce thickens slightly.

Carefully remove lid to allow steam to escape. Serve food directly from slow cooker liner. Do not lift or transport liner with food inside. Cool slow cooker completely; remove liner and toss.

Number of Servings: 6-8

Source: I originally found this recipe in the insert of free recipes provided when you buy a box of Reynold's Slow Cooker Liners. They have more recipes on their website. You can find the recipe here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Drink! Drink!


As you can tell by the three posts today, we are indeed a foodie family. I'm here to share with you two drinks....not the kind you may be thinking of, rather the kind you can serve your Grandmother.

On a nice summer's day serve this up and you will have everyone eating out of your hand or sipping out of your palm, as it were.


Strawberry Lemonade
8 Servings (I triple or even more)
Cool: About 1 hour
Stand: About 1 hour

1 1/2 c. sugar
4 c. water
2 c. strawberries, hulled
1 T. finely shredded lemon peel
1 c. fresh lemon juice (4 - 5 lemons)

In a small saucepan combine 1 cup of the sugar and 1 cup of the water; cook and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.

In a blender combine remaining 3 c. water, 1/2 c. sugar, and the strawberries; process until smooth. Transfer to a 2-quart pitcher; add cooled syrup, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Fill pitcher with crushed ice. Makes 8, 8-oz. servings.

Make ahead tip: Prepare lemonade but do not add ice. Cover and chill up to 8 hours. Add ice and serve.

For something very classy (via Martha Stewart) serve the following (a favorite among all who have tried it).


Vanilla Egg Cream (There's no egg and no cream in it. Go figure the name.)

Makes 1.
2 T. Vanilla Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
4 oz. whole milk
4 oz. cold seltzer

In a tall glass mix together vanilla simple syrup, milk, and seltzer; stir well to combine. Serve immediately.

Vanilla Simple Syrup
Makes 1 1/2 c.

1 c. sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.

Bring sugar and 1 c. water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Let cool completely. Stir in vanilla extract. Store in refrigerator.

Source: Martha Stewart website. You can find it here.

Notes: We discovered that different kinds of seltzer made for more or less bubbles. Either way (bubbly or not), this drink is delicious!


Above: My drink was not so bubbly.



Above: My sister made it another day with a different kind of seltzer and hers was much more bubbly.


Above: Experiment to see what kind of seltzer you prefer.

Bring on the carbs! Carbs fill you up and keep you full!

First of all, let me say that I have never agreed with the anti-carb dieting craze. I could NEVER give up my pasta, bread, grains, and potatoes! The whole point of eating is that if you go overboard on ANYTHING, it is bad for you. We need to live by the old adage "moderation in all things."

As for eating pasta in moderation, to me, that is eating at its finest!

These are two of the easiest pasta recipes I have come across. They are also very inexpensive (the first recipe is especially cost-efficient if you grow your own grape tomatoes during the summer). They both feature bacon--which is fun because you don't usually associate bacon as being paired with pasta. But trust me, it works and it is delicious!

Bacon-Tomato Linguine


8 oz. uncooked linguine
2 tsps. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (2.5 oz) pkg. cooked bacon pieces (such as Hormel)
1 1/3 cup grape tomatoes, halved
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup (1 oz) pre-shredded fresh Parmesan cheese


Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add onion; saute 2 minutes. Add bacon; saute 2 minutes. Add tomato, garlic and oregano; saute 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

Add pasta, reserved pasta water, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 3 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese.

4 servings (1 1/4 cup). 7 Weight Watchers points per serving.

My notes: I usually use a whole pound of pasta as opposed to only 8 oz. It just makes more and I make sure to follow the 1 1/4 cup serving size).

Source: Cooking Light, from the Superfast cookbook.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves 4 Prep time: 30 minutes Total time: 30 minutes

A carbonara sauce is typically made with bacon, eggs, and cheese. We've added a little half-and-half for a silky texture.


1 pound spaghetti
8 ounces bacon (8 slices), cut 1 inch thick crosswise
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
½ cup half-and-half


Set a large pot of water to boil (for pasta). In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 12 minutes; transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Salt boiling water generously; add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, and half-and-half. Set aside.

Drain pasta, leaving some water clinging to it. Working quickly, add hot pasta to egg mixture. Add bacon; season with salt and pepper, and toss all to combine (heat from pasta will cook eggs). Serve immediately, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese.

Per serving: 397 calories; 7.8 grams fat; 18.9 grams protein; 64.9 grams carbohydrates; 11.1 grams fiber

My Notes: I usually lighten this pasta up a little bit. I often use egg substitute, and fat free half and half or milk (2%, 1%, and Skim all work just fine!). Also, I think that the serving size listed here is massive. Unless you are ONLY having pasta for dinner, you should rarely eat a 1/4 pound of it! (Though it would totally be easy to eat that much at one sitting because it's so yummy) If you follow the serving size for the Bacon-Tomato Linguine above (1 1/4 cups of pasta per serving) and also serve a side salad (and perhaps some bread), you'll find that this dinner will fill you up nicely.

Source: Martha Stewart, Everyday Food (I first saw this recipe on the PBS Everyday Food cooking show). You can find it here.

Garlic Bread Wedges


Pita Bread or Flat Bread
Chef Tom's Garlic Spread or your own mixture of butter, garlic salt/powder, and Italian seasoning
Mozzarella Cheese


The garlic bread wedges pictured here are simply pita bread spread with a butter/garlic mixture and sprinkled with mozzarella cheese. Toast in a 400 degree oven for about 7-10 minutes and voila! Yummy garlic bread for a side dish!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here is our family's tried and true (and super easy) recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage.

I'm also including a recipe for Irish Soda Bread that I tried today. It was very easy and quite tasty. I chose this particular recipe because I had all of the ingredients in my pantry already.

Corned Beef & Cabbage with Red Currant-Mustard Sauce

Note: Corned beef brisket needs a long, slow simmer to get it tender. Put it in the slow cooker first thing in the morning. But the cabbage, potatoes and carrots will turn mushy if they've been cooked all day. They can be microwaved in 15 or 20 minutes just before dinner is served.


2 1/2 to 3 pound boneless corned beef brisket
Corned beef seasoning packet (or 1 tsp whole black peppercorns and 1 bay leaf)
3 ribs celery, cut into 3 inch lengths
2 medium onions, cut lengthwise into quarters
3 1/2 cups water
1 pound green cabbage, cut into 3 inch wedges
1 pound red potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
6-8 small carrots, tops trimmed, or 4 medium carrots, cut crosswise into thirds
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsps. butter, melted
chopped parsley


Place celery and onions in 4 1/2-51/2 quart slow cooker; top with corned beef brisket. Add corned beef seasoning packet, if included, and 3 1/2 cups water. Cover and cook on high 7 hours, or on low 9-10 hours, or until brisket is fork-tender. Remove brisket; set aside. Discard cooking liquid, celery, and onions.

Place cabbage, potatoes and carrots in 2 1/2 quart microwave safe casserole dish; add 1/2 cup water. Cover and microwave on high 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, stirring once. Drain vegetables; add butter and salt and pepper as desired; toss to coat.

Carve brisket diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Serve with vegetables and red Currant-Mustard Sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Red Currant-Mustard Sauce:


12 ounces Red Currant Jelly
3 Tbsps. Coarse grain Dijon-style mustard


Place 12 ounces of red currant jelly in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high 1-2 minutes or until smooth, stirring once. Whisk in 3 Tbsps. coarse-grain Dijon-style mustard. Cover and microwave on high 30 seconds.

Or, you can melt the jelly in a pan on the stove over medium heat. Once the jelly is melted, stir in the mustard.

Source: This recipe was found in the recipe section of the Deseret News years ago. The clipping that I have doesn't include the name of the person who created the recipe.

Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread


4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an "X" into the top of the loaf.

Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.

We topped ours with honey-butter.

Source: submitted by MP Welty