Monday, September 26, 2011

Campbells Easy Enchiladas



I found this recipe in my Campbell's cookbook. They called it a taco bake but I really think it is more like enchiladas. It is the fastest way I know to make beef enchiladas and my family loves it. You use tomato soup in the sauce instead of tomato sauce. It makes it just a little sweeter than regular enchiladas. I also like how the chunky salsa makes it seem like there are a lot of yummy veggies in it (like peppers, tomatoes and onions) without taking the time to chop up the veggies like I do in my regular enchiladas. Everything is soft and chewy and easy for kids to cut and eat themselves. I've made a few changes from the original recipe...of coarse! Mostly just adding some extra tortillas and mixing in some kidney beans.

Campbell's Easy Enchiladas (a.k.a. Campbell's taco bake)
1 1b. ground beef
8 flour tortillas (ripped into 2 in. pieces)
1 cup salsa
1 can tomato soup
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (divided)
1 can kidney beans (drained and rinsed) -optional

Cook beef in a large skillet. Add all remaining ingredients except for 1/2 cup of the cheese. Place tortilla mixture in a 9x13 pan. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly! See...super easy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chicken Corn Chowder


I love corn chowder! I've tried a few different recipes for it but I think this is my favorite! It started out as another recipe from my Garfield cookbook but I added carrots and chicken for good measure :) I also added more potato and took out some corn...etc etc etc. So basically I kept the spices and changed most of the rest. This soup is very hearty and filling! I like to serve it with potato rolls. I usually make the soup on the stove and then stick it in a crock-pot all day until I'm ready to serve dinner. It also freezes great*! With the weather getting colder I'm excited to start into soup season!

Chicken Corn Chowder
2 T. vegetable oil
2 medium potatoes (chopped into 1 in. pieces)
1/2 onion (chopped)
4 carrots (chopped)
2 stalks celery (chopped)
1/4 tsp. red cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. rosemary
2 cloves garlic (minced)
6 cups chicken broth or stock
2 cups heavy cream
2 cans corn (drained)
2 cups cooked chicken (diced or shredded)

In a large stock pot heat vegetable oil. Add diced potatoes, onion, carrots and celery. Cook about 10 min. over medium heat until veggies (especially potatoes) are softened. Add cayenne, cumin, rosemary and garlic. Cook about 2 minutes or until garlic is fragrant. Add chicken broth or stock and bring to a boil. Cook another 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add cream, corn and cooked chicken. Cook 5 minutes until corn is tender and chicken is heated through. Serve right then or place in crock-pot on warm until ready to eat! Enjoy!

*If you are using frozen soup you made earlier...you may want to add 1 cup milk or cream and 1 cup chicken broth to keep it from being too thick!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How To Make a Table Runner


So, I wanted a new table runner but I couldn't find any I was that thrilled with. On average the table runners I saw were about $20-$25 dollars, so I thought I can totally make a table runner cheaper than that! Well, after buying fabric and thread for the table runner my cost came out to about 20 dollars (which wasn't as big of a saving as I thought). BUT, the reason the fabric cost so much is that I had to buy 3 yards worth so that it would run the length of the table. That meant that I had a lot of fabric left over because I only used about half the width of the fabric. So I think I have enough fabric and thread leftover to make place mats too. I haven't done that yet...but when I do that will save a ton of money. So basically for the price of buying a table runner I was able to buy the supplies to make a table runner and matching place mats.

So, I hadn't made a table runner before but after looking at how they were sewn in the store I figured it was probably a lot like sewing a pillow and after watching a few how to videos online I decided to do it that way!

Making a Table Runner:

1) Measure you table length. (Don't forget to add length if you want it to hang over the end of your table. I added 6 inches to each end of mine)

2) Decide how thick you'd like your table runner. I wanted mine to be 14 inches. So I measured the fabric at 15 inches allowing for a 1/2 edge on each side for stitching it together.

3) Make sure your fabric is clean and well ironed. You want the fabric to be totally wrinkle free so that you can cut it straight.

4) Using a rotary cutter and quilting mat, cut out two strips of you fabric at the measurements you've already calculated. ( I cut out one strip using the measurements on my cutting board. Then I pinned that strip to the rest of my fabric and cut out the other strip around it. That way I knew both of my strips were exactly the same.)

5) If it's not already pinned. Pin your strips together (with the patterned side of the fabric on the inside) You are going to sew it inside out and then flip it much like you would a pillow. So on one of the ends choose about 5 inches that you will leave unsewn so you can flip it. When you decide where to leave the opening place double pins there in order to remind yourself not to sew it shut.

6) Using a sewing machine, stitch the two pieces together leaving about 1/2 inch around the outside. For nice square corners: Stitch a side all the way from end to end. Then backtrack a half inch. Then lift the presser foot while leaving the needle poked through the fabric. Pivot your fabric 90 degrees and begin sewing the next side. Do this for each corner.)

7) When you are finished sewing the two pieces together (except for the 5 in. opening) Turn your table runner right side out.

8) Iron your table runner to flatten. Pay close attention to the seams and make sure to iron them straight. Use tweezers if needed to pull the corners out straight.

9) When your table runner is ironed flat and straight, find your 5 inch opening. Using a small stitch on your machine finish your table runner by sewing the opening closed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Malibu Chicken


So I'm not sure this is technically even a recipe! It is so easy and we have it all the time. It is kind of a lazy man's chicken cordon bleu :-) I usually have all the ingredients on hand and my kids love it because it has a dipping sauce. Dipping sauces are fun and fancy and make a meal delicious according to my kids :-)

I'm not sure why we call it Malibu chicken. I guess somewhere along the way I must have had something similar by that name. Plus it sounds fancier than ham and cheese on chicken...which is really all it is! Give it a try!

Malibu Chicken:
6 frozen breaded chicken breasts (or tenderloins)
12 pieces thin sliced ham
6 slices Swiss cheese

Special Sauce:
1/2 cup mayo
3 T. mustard

Cook frozen chicken according to package directions. Top with ham and Swiss and continue cooking until ham is heated and cheese is melted (about 5 min.). In a small bowl combine mayo and mustard. Serve sauce on the side as a dip for the chicken...a little goes a long way!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Review: These Is My Words

I loved this book! It was full of action and an amazing love story! I had a hard time putting it down at times and at the end I cried so much that my 3 year old kept asking me what's wrong. I don't know if I've ever cried like that at the end of a book.

I think what made the book so great was that the main character was as amazing as her love interest. It seems like in a lot of books with love stories that I usually feel like the heroine doesn't live up to the character of her true love. And that really bothers me sometimes. A lot of books make me feel like the man is so amazing and I'm confused why he even loves the heroine at all.

Not so with "These is my Words". I think that is what made the story more realistic for me. She was an independent woman but not so independent that she's opposed to men helping her and loving her. I found it interesting that she was a hard worker who liked running her own business but she also wanted to be married and be a mother. I think most women have both desires within them and I like to read about a character who does too. I think a lot of authors think their characters have to be one way or the other and that is why I have a hard time relating to the heroine a lot of times.

Sarah is a hard working person who gives much thought and attention to those around her. We get to see her in many situations (as a mother, daughter, friend, wife, etc.) and she is always trying to navigate her life and better herself. She doesn't just sit around waiting for Jack to come take care of her but she still needs him around. I thought it was fun to watch all the stages of their marriage and parenting journey and see myself and my husband in them. I thought it was a realistic love story because it was very passionate at times and quieter at others. It showed a pretty good portrait of what love looks like in all its stages. It wasn't idealistic or perfect or a larger than life romance. So well written!

I also liked the diary entry format. It was the perfect combination of story-telling and her inner thoughts. I loved how the author at times would give a daily description of things and then months or year would pass at others. That is how life is usually lived. Sometimes things happen all at once and sometimes they are spread out. This made the book really move along for me. Since I am still in the new mother phase of life I guess I related best to that part of the book and felt sad as she moved into the next stage and her kiddos got bigger...life really moves fast! Just another way that author plays with our emotions!

The supporting characters are great too. I laughed as much as I cried at some of the happenings and interactions between characters. I wish I could meet Sarah and her whole family. I'm sure we'd get a long great. Except for the fact that I'm in love with her husband, Captain Eliot! Right? Oh come on, you know you are too!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bisquick and Sausage Breakfast Casserole



I got this recipe from my sister-in-law Beth when Alex and I were first married! She'd been married a few years by that point and so she could show me the ropes of being a good cook :-) I was pregnant with my first and in my first year of teaching and I was still picking up take-out on my way home everyday! Which is also why I gained a million pounds during my pregnancy! But I digress! The point is, this was a really yummy recipe and a great break from take-out!

I made the pictured casserole for a brunch for my sister's bridal shower. You make it the night before so it is a great thing for early activities or special events when you aren't going to have a lot of time to cook the day of. I also make it for dinner sometimes because I can put it together in the morning and then I just have to bake it when dinner time rolls around. I usually just serve it with a fruit salad of sorts and it makes a really kid friendly dinner. Hope it works out for you too!

Bisquick Sausage Breakfast Casserole
1 lb. bulk pork sausage
1 cup Bisquick
1 cup shredded cheese
6 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups milk
1 tsp. dried mustard (so, I have used regular mustard in a pinch and it tasted just the same. So don't go buy a whole thing of spice just for 1 tsp!)
1/2 tsp. oregano
Salsa or green chile (optional toppings)

Cook meat. Mix with other ingredients. Pour into a 9x13 in. casserole dish. Refrigerate 4-24 hours. Bake at 350 for 1 hr. Top with salsa or green chile if desired!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake


I made this a few months ago for my husband's birthday! Truth be told I make it for his birthday, anniversary, Valentine's Day, etc! It is his favorite and usually the one he asks for. The only cake that even comes close in his book is the chocolate cream cake. They are both super chocolatey so you can see how the choice would be difficult :-)

Anyway, I found this recipe back for our first Valentine's day together (back before we were married and I was still trying to win him over with cooking). It always turns out super moist and delicious! And as far as cake goes it is pretty quick since you just make a chocolate glaze and pour it over the top instead of frosting it.

I like to eat it warm and melty so I heat my piece for a few seconds, but Alex says it is better cold. You'll have to try it and decide for yourselves!

Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake

Cake:
1 package dark chocolate cake mix (devil's food works too)
1 small package instant milk chocolate pudding mix
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
2 eggs
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
cocoa powder for dusting

Glaze:
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
(In the picture I also melted some white chocolate and drizzled it on the cake as well)

Dust regular sized bundt pan with cocoa. (I usually use shortening to have the cocoa stick) Combine cake ingredients (except chocolate chips) and mix until smooth. Add chocolate chips. Pour mixture into prepared bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 50-60 min. or until toothpick can be inserted and removed clean.

For Glaze: Combine cream and bittersweet chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. Allow chocolate to melt completely. Cool mixture for 4-5 minutes to thicken . Drizzle over cake. Drizzle with white chocolate too, if desired! Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Southwestern Chicken Pasta



I bought some chipotle seasoning from Pampered Chef during my pregnancy and so now that I'm cooking again I've been itching to use it! But for what?

After much debating I decided to use some as a rub for grilled chicken. (I'm a little addicted to using the grill right now!) I hadn't used a lot of rubs so I was surprised to find out how easy it was and how great it made the chicken taste! But then the question became what can I use this delicious chicken for? And that's when I remembered the southwestern pasta that I used to get at Red Robin. So I decided to recreate it the best I could from memory. I was a little nervous making up my own recipe since I was feeding more than just my family but luckily it turned out yummy! I mean with chicken, pasta, and veggies how wrong can you go really?

Just a quick note...since I was making this for a larger group of people the recipe makes a large pot full. It can be easily halved and still probably be enough to feed a family! Give it a try!

Southwestern Chicken Pasta
3 chicken breasts
3 T. chipotle rub (I used the Pampered Chef variety but I'm sure they have similar things in the spice aisle of a grocery store)
3 T. olive oil (divided)
1 1b. penne pasta
1 red bell pepper (diced)
1 yellow bell pepper (diced)
1/2 cup minced red onion
1 jar alfredo sauce (I used Classico brand roasted garlic alfredo)
1/2 cup minced black olives
2 roma tomatoes (diced)
Sour cream (to top)
Tortilla strips (to top)

Wash chicken and dry thoroughly. Brush with 1 T. olive oil and sprinkle with chipotle rub mix. Grill until fully cooked through. Slice and set aside.

Begin cooking pasta in a large pot of boiling water.

Meanwhile, in another pot, saute bell peppers and onions in 2 T. olive oil until softened. Add Alfredo sauce, cooked penne and grilled chicken. Heat through. Mix in olives and tomato just before serving. Top with sour cream and tortilla strips if desired.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Homemade Tortillas


Well I wanted to have fish tacos but Alex isn't a huge fan of fish. So I decided to jazz it up a bit by making homemade tortillas. I found a recipe for them in one of my Taste of Home magazines and away we went!

They were really soft and chewy but they took a LONG time to make. The recipe said they would take about 30 min. start to finish which was about right. And 30 minutes wouldn't be too bad for dinner making except we were eating more than just tortillas! Definitely not something I would do every time I needed a tortilla but it did make the tacos even yummier! Also, it's nice to know that I have all the ingredients in my pantry if I were ever in need of a tortilla and there were none in the fridge :-) You know...a tortilla emergency!

But actually it is a nice thing for food storage. I try to keep a 3 month supply of meals on hand and tortillas are definitely featured in my menu. So by using 4 food storage items I could make my own. Plus the recipe said that they will keep in the freezer for up to a month!

I think these would be especially yummy as part of a mock Cafe Rio salad. So I might try them again next time I make Cafe Rio Pork. Anyway, hope you enjoy!

Flour Tortillas
2 cups flour (just FYI: I probably used another 2 cups keeping my counter floured while rolling them out)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup water
3 T. oil
cooking spray

Stir all ingredients (except the cooking spray) in a large bowl. Turn dough onto floured surface and kneed 5 to 6 times. (The dough was really sticky...so like I said before I used a lot more flour while kneading and rolling the tortillas). Divide dough into 8 balls (apx. 1 1/2 inches round). On a well floured surface roll balls into 7 in. tortillas.

Coat frying pan with cooking spray and cook tortillas about 1 min. on each side or until slightly browned. (Just another side note...I found that cooking these were a lot like making pancakes...they seemed to cook better as I went and took less time as the skillet got to the right temperature). Keep tortillas warm until ready to serve! Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tangy Broccoli Salad


This recipe comes from the kitchen of Alex's Aunt Julie...passed on to the kitchen of Alex's sister Beth...and finally passed on to Alex's wife's kitchen...me! I've had a few variations of this recipe but this one is just the right blend of ingredients. My 5 year old loves this salad.

Also, my dad has been learning to cook some different recipes and this was one that he wanted me to show him. So this batch of broccoli salad was made by a guest chef...my dad!

Tangy Broccoli Salad
5 cups chopped broccoli (I get the crowns so that there isn't as much stalk)
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 cup sunflower seeds (I used honey roasted...but any kind would work)
10 slices cooked bacon-crumbled (I use the pre-cooked kind you can do in the microwave)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (the recipe really calls for raisins but my kids like craisins better)
1 cup Miracle Whip
2 T. sugar
3 T. apple cider vinegar

Place broccoli, red onion, sunflower seeds, bacon, and dried cranberry in a large bowl. In a small bowl combine miracle whip, sugar, and cider vinegar. Pour dressing mixture over broccoli mixture and toss all ingredients until well coated. Chill. Refrigerate until ready to serve.



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bacon and Bleu Potatoes


Found this one in my Garfield cookbook again! I never look at the recipe anymore, so I'm not sure if these are the original measurements or if I have just made up my own over time! But I love bleu cheese and this recipe uses plenty of it! Roasted potatoes, 2 kinds of cheese, and bacon...how can you go wrong?

Bacon and Bleu Potatoes
4 large potatoes
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles
1/2 cup sharp cheddar (shredded)
1/2 cup cooked bacon pieces

Preheat oven to 425. Wash potatoes and cut into 1 in. pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place potatoes in a 9x13 pan. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until potato pieces are fork tender and slightly browned. Top with both cheeses and bacon pieces. Bake an additional 5 min or until bleu cheese is hot and bubbly!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Calabacitas



This is a pretty frequent side to most New Mexican entrees. After having them a few different ways at a few different restaurant I was pretty sure I could try making them at home. I have roasted them in the oven several times but finally tried them out on the grill and I love them that way! This recipe will work with either cooking method, the only difference is how you cut the veggies! It's a very easy and healthy side dish!

Calabacitas
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/4 cup onion (chopped)
3* zucchini
3* yellow squash
1 can corn (drained) 
1/4 cup chopped green chile (I use frozen but canned is fine)
salt and pepper to taste 
grated cheddar (optional)

*I am basing the number of veggies on the fact that they are super small here. If you are lucky enough to live in a part of the world where you can buy normal sized produce you may not need as many!

Saute garlic and onion in olive oil on low. Meanwhile, wash well and cut up zucchini and squash. (If grilling, cut into 1 in. bite sized pieces. If baking, slice into pieces about 1/2 in. thick.) Place veggies into a large bowl. Drain corn and green chilies and add to veggies. Toss with olive oil mixture until veggies are well coated. Salt and pepper to taste. Grill in grill basket until veggies are tender and edges slightly blackened. Or bake at 350 until veggies are tender and slightly browned. A lot of places serve them topped with cheese. I think they are yummy all by themselves but my girls and husband usually like a little cheese on theirs! It's up to you!