Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pesto Potato Soup

I usually have a weekly menu plan, but I've been feeling lazy lately. So when it came time to start supper, I started looking around for inspiration. I let the dog out in the backyard and noticed my basil, which looked like it needed pruning. Hmm. Maybe something with pesto?

Then I started rummaging around in the kitchen. A 10 lb bag of russet potatoes. Hmm. Maybe potato soup?

And then a really crazy idea hit me. Pesto. Potato. Soup.

Whoa. This could be epic.

I started crawling the web looking for a recipe to be my starting point, and found a few. Nothing looked quite right. So I started pulling together bits and pieces, and this is what I came up with.

3 strips of bacon, browned and crumbed
1 tbls butter
1 tbls olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 lb (about 5 medium) potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups milk
3 cups chicken broth
4 tbsp pesto (store bought or fresh)

1. Heat olive oil an butter in stock pot. Add onion and saute until tender.
2. Add milk, chicken broth, and potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.
3. Stir in pesto. Salt and pepper to taste.

This soup came together in a snap and was just what the doctor ordered for a cold, rainy day. This one will be showing up in my soup rotation!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pumpkin Scones

Fall is coming! All week, when we've sat out on the porch to have our morning coffee, we've needed fleece pants and sweatshirts. I love it! So when a dear friend came to town, I decided that pumpkin scones would be the perfect snack for our visit.

I modified the recipe a little bit so that they're super healthy! If you want to see the original version, head on over here. But be prepared. The original calls for a whopping 2 cups of sugar! That's more than most cookie recipes. Eek.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  • cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling the tops

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together all-purpose and whole wheat flours, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix in ginger, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.
  3. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your hands. Mix in applesauce, then slowly stir in sugar until well blended. Mix in the eggs and pumpkin.
  4. Separate dough into two balls. Form each ball into a circle, about 7 inches wide and about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut each round into 8 wedges and arrange on baking sheets with at least 1 inch between scones.
  5. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake in a preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove, and let cool on cookie sheets 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool.
These scones were excellent! They would be wonderful with raisins, I'm sure. Or even cranberries! I will be making them many times this season. They go great with hot chai!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fondue Party

I love fondue. There's just something about a big pot of cheese with bread to dip it in that gets me all excited. It's been years since our last fondue party, so we decided it was time for another one.

Here are some links to last night's fondue recipes!

From Emeril, Garlicky Cheese Fondue (we used sharp cheddar instead of Muenster and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 3/4 cup apple juice for the white wine)

From allrecipes.com, Cheesy Pizza Fondue

For dipping, we had:
Deep fried ravioli (which was great dipped in both sauces!)
Smoked sausage
Lightly boiled potatoes
Toasted French bread chunks
Toasted everything bagel slices

And of course, chocolate fondue for dessert (with marshmallows, pretzeles, bananas, strawberries, and shortbread cookies). Yum!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pineapple Muffins

Pineapple is such a summery fruit. And little Clara has a thing for fruit. We call her a fruit bat, which is only half true. She is also a pizza monster.

So we had a huge can of pineapple left over from Emily's wedding. Since I hate to waste anything, last night I started browsing for a recipe to use up the pineapple, and I found it: pineapple muffins!

The link above is the original recipe, below are the modifications I made. The muffins were awesome! I will definitely make them again!

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup white, 1 cup whole wheat for a healthier option)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16 ounce) can crushed pineapple
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease and flour muffin pans, or line with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together 2 cups flour, white sugar, baking powder and salt. Drain pineapple, reserving 1/4 cup juice. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the reserved juice, egg, milk, and 1/4 cup melted butter. Mix just until blended. Add half of the pineapple (about 1 cup) to the batter and fold in gently.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the cinnamon, brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/4 cup melted butter to make the topping.
  4. Spoon batter into muffin cups, then spoon pineapple over the batter and sprinkle with the cinnamon topping.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the crown of the muffin comes out clean.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wedding Recipes Part II: Peanut Butter Brownies

These peanut butter brownies were an undeniable hit. I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which has a lot of yummy-looking recipes.

The picture is from Smitten Kitchen as well. As it happened, I was too busy baking to snap photos!

Peanut Butter Brownies

Adapted from Butterwood Desserts, West Falls, New York via Gourmet, October 2007 (recipe via Smitten Kitchen)

Makes 32 brownies, more or less, depending on how you cut them

For brownies

2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional, taste the batter first and see if you think it needs salt)

For ganache
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 ounces)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

Make brownies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in middle. Butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan, then line bottom of pan with parchment paper and butter parchment.

Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, then add peanut butter and beat until incorporated. Beat in whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Reduce mixer sped to low, then mix in flour until just combined.

Mix in chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) then spread batter in baking pan, smoothing top. (It will be thick, almost like cookie batter.)

Bake until brownies are deep golden, puffed on top and a wooden pick inserted in center come out with some crumbs adhering, 40 to 45 minutes.

Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Make ganache: Put chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) in a heatproof bowl.

Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan, then pour over chocolate chips and let mixture stand for one minute.

Gently whisk in butter until it is incorporated, chocolate is melted, and a smooth mixture forms.

Spread ganache on cooled brownies and let stand until set, about 15 minutes.

Brownies keep in one layer in an airtight container three days, and we hope much longer if hidden waaay in the back of the freezer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wedding Recipes Part I: Mint Brownies

I promised everyone that I would post the recipes from Emily and Robert's wedding reception, and I'm just now getting around to it. Rather than post everything at once, I thought I'd break it up a bit. Today's recipe: Mint Brownies. Watch out. There's a lot of butter in here!

Chocolate Mint Brownies – (Recipe for 1 1/2 times is in parenthesis)

Whisk together:
1 c. melted butter (1 ½ c.)
½ c. cocoa powder (3/4 c.)

And then add:
2 c. sugar (3 c.)
4 eggs beaten (6)
1 tsp. vanilla (1 ½ tsp.)
½ tsp. salt (3/4 tsp.)

Mix well and then add:

1 ½ c. sifted flour (2 ¼ c.)

Stir in by hand. Do not over mix.

Pour into 9×13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. If making 1 1/2 recipe pour into Baker’s Half Sheet (large cookie sheet.) Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes. Cool for a few minutes and then place in freezer for 20 minutes.

While brownies are in the freezer make first layer of topping.

Mint frosting:
½ c. butter softened (3/4 c.)
2 Tbsp. milk (3 Tbsp.)
2 c. powdered sugar (3 c.)
1 tsp. peppermint extract ( 1 ½ tsp.)
green food coloring

Mix thoroughly. Evenly frost brownies and put back in freezer for 20 minutes. Make chocolate ganache top layer.

Chocolate Ganache Topping:
½ c. butter (3/4 c.)
1 ½ c. good semi sweet chocolate chips (2 ¼ c.)

Melt and whisk together. (I melt them together in a Pyrex measuring bowl in the microwave for one minute. Be careful not to overheat. It won’t look melted but once whisked it is.) Drizzle warm chocolate over brownies and spread smooth with a spatula. Put back in freezer for another 20 minutes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homemade Tortillas

Several months ago, I started making homemade tortillas. Maybe that was a big mistake. These tortillas are soft, delicious, and have pretty much spoiled me. Taco night is no longer a mess-free affair at the Shull house, since it now involves getting out the rolling pin and flouring up the counter.

Homemade Tortillas
2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup white, 1 cup whole wheat)
1-½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup lukewarm milk

  1. Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
  2. Add vegetable oil to the lukewarm milk and mix together.
  3. Gradually add the milk to the flour mixture, and using clean hands, work it into a gooey dough.
  4. Turn dough out onto a surface dusted with flour and knead until the dough is no longer sticky.
  5. Return the dough to the bowl and let sit for about 20 minutes.
  6. Divide dough into 8 balls of equal size, cover them. Let sit for another twenty minutes.
  7. Roll the balls out one at a time to about a 7 inch circle. (I have a pastry mat with a nice little circle that shows me a 7-inch circle. $2 at Wal-Mart!)
  8. Cook in a preheated skillet (I use a cast iron). Flip after 30 seconds (the dough should be bubbly, kind of like a pancake) and cook the other side for about 20-30 seconds. Do this with all of the dough.
It's just that easy! I've gotten in the groove of this. I roll out a tortilla, place it in the pan, and while that one's cooking, I roll out another one. The timing works out great, and it gives me something to do other than stare at the cooking tortilla.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

CrockPot Orange Chicken (and a secret)

I haven't forgotten about this blog. And I have been cooking! I just haven't had time to post much lately. Hopefully over the summer I'll be able to get some new recipes on here. Especially since I'll be heading up the food for a wedding reception. We'll be doing lots of tasting in the coming weeks.

This recipe has a lot going for it, since it's quick, easy, and cheap. Did I mention yummy? Even Allen, who isn't the world's biggest fan of cooked fruit, thought it was great.

Now for the secret. Those of you who know me know that I've recently become slightly addicted to couponing. What you may not know is that I keep a spreadsheet of my grocery savings. Yes. What a nerd. (This spreadsheet doesn't include Walgreen's spending or milk. Maybe next year I'll try to be more comprehensive.) The bottom line is this: we budget $200 a month for groceries, and I stay within that budget. Meals like this one help me do that! We're also "part-time vegetarians" and eat several meatless meals each week. This week's meatless nights included lentils tacos, which are amazing. I'll try to post the recipe sometime soon, because it is one of our standard meals now.

But on to the orange chicken!

4 chicken drumsticks, skin removed* (I forgot to remove the skin. Oops)
4 chicken thighs, skin removed*
1 cup green and red bell pepper strips
1/2 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup prepared orange juice
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon light molasses
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
11 ounces can mandarin oranges
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup frozen peas

*Or use 4 chicken leg quarters


(Ideal slow-cooker size: 5- to 6-quart)

Place chicken in slow cooker. Top with pepper strips. Combine broth, juice, ketchup, soy sauce, molasses, mustard, and garlic salt. Pour over chicken. Cover. Cook on low 5-6 hours.

Measure out 1 cup of cooking sauce from the crock pot. Put in saucepan and bring to boil. Drain oranges, reserving 1 Tbsp. juice. Stir cornstarch into reserved juice. Add to boiling sauce in pan. Add peas to sauce and cook, stirring 2-3 minutes until sauce thickens and peas are warm. Stir in oranges.

Arrange chicken pieces on platter of cooked white rice or lo mein noodles. Pour orange sauce over chicken and rice or noodles. If you want to get fancy, you can chop a few green onions and throw them on top.

This dish is great the next day. When I was putting away the leftovers, I pulled all the meat off the bones and combined the meat and sauce. Allen liked it better this way!

Monday, March 7, 2011

CrockPot Cacciatore with Spaghetti Squash

Have you ever cooked a spaghetti squash? It has to be one of the coolest vegetables EVER!

Check it out! How cool is that? I first tried spaghetti squash about a year ago, when I was dealing with gestational diabetes and trying desperately to find something that I could eat that wouldn't make my blood sugar do crazy things.

That night, it wasn't that great. I didn't let the squash cook long enough, so it ended up being kinda crunchy. Ew.

But I decided to give it another shot. Y'know. Cause I'm fair like that.

So I made chicken cacciatore! In the crock pot! With spaghetti squash!

1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 cups cooked chicken
1 bell pepper, seeded and sliced into chunks
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 spaghetti squash

1. Poke a few holes in the spaghetti squash and microwave for about 3 minutes to soften it up a bit. You can try cutting it in half without this, but it may necessitate a trip to the emergency room because you sliced your arm off. These suckers are hard to get into. So just nuke it for a few minutes, and then slice it in half with ease!

2. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down in a dish with 1/4 cup water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 8-10 minutes, or until squash is tender.

3. ALLOW THE SQUASH TO COOL. Cause it's really hot at this point. Then, use a fork to scoop out the flesh into spaghetti-like strands! (This is the most fun part of the whole recipe).

4. Add chicken, squash, tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, garlic, and spices to the crock pot. Cook on high 4 hours or low 6-8.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

World's Tastiest Sausage Balls

I have always loved sausage balls. What's not to love? Biscuit? Good! Sausage? Good! Cheese? Good! Put them together and you've got one tasty little finger food. But Sunday afternoon as I was whipping up a batch, I took a lesson from Remy (you know, the rat from Ratatouille) and started getting fancy with the spices. What I came up with was nothing other than the best sausage ball I've ever eaten.

I wasn't writing it down, so I hope I can remember what went in there!

Let's see...

I know that I used:

2 cups flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoon shortening

Mix with a fork/pastry blender/your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. (It's just a homemade substitute for Bisquick, but produces a lighter, fluffier sausage ball)

Then I added:

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoons dried onions
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon powdered chicken bouillon

Mixed together well. Then I used my hands to work in:

1 lb sausage
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated, not the sprinkly stuff)

Formed into walnut sized balls and baked at 350 for approximately 15 minutes (until lightly browned).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

CrockPot Carnitas

This recipe gets a thumbs up from my sweet hubby. I think he'd be ok if we ate this 4 out of 5 nights of the week (with the fifth night being homemade pizza). That's fine with me, because I love making carnitas! For those of you who haven't had them before, carnitas is just cooked, seasoned pork. Think of it like a pork taco!

Recipes don't get much easier than this.

2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground corriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (this is NOT optional--trust me, it makes the dish!)
1 (3 to 4lb) Boston Butt pork roast
2-3 bay leaves
salt to taste (1-2 tsp should do fine)

Now for the directions:

1. Put meat in the crockpot and rub seasonings in.

2. Cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 7-8 hours. (Note: you're just wanting to cook it till it's falling apart tender. Some crock pots cook more quickly than others do, so the cooking times are approximate).

3. When done, shred the meat and serve with tortillas, sour cream, cheese, and your choice of hot sauce!

See? I told you it was easy!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cranberry Walnut Bars

If you've read any of my other posts, you know that I like to tinker with recipes. A substitution here, an addition there, it's all part of the fun!

Today's recipe is one that requires no tinkering, mostly because I made it myself. That's right, folks! My very own creation! Of course, the inspiration came from other places.

My lovely friend served us this amazing pie last year. I have a thing for cranberries--more than a passing interest, but less than an obsession--and her pie was my first experience with cranberries in a pie. What a revelation!

So this morning when I started trying to think of something snacky to take to game night, I remembered the pie. Since pie is typically not a finger food, I decided that a little experiment was in order. Could I turn a pie into a finger food?

For the crust, I decided to do standard bar cookie base.

For the cookie base:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together. Then, using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into pieces

until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

3 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Work with your hands until the dough begins to stick together. Press into a 13x9 pan, lined with greased foil, and bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes (just until the middle begins to firm up).

Take out the pan, but leave the oven on. Now make the filling!

For the filling:
3 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup walnuts
3/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix together and dump on the crust, spreading everything out evenly.

Last step is to make the topping.

For the topping:
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
6 tbs flour

Mix together and drizzle over the crust.

Bake at 375 for 50 minutes or so, until the topping begins to brown. Remove from oven and cool in the pan. When completely cool, lift the bars out and cut into squares with a sharp knife.

These cookies are amazing. The crust is crumbly and flaky. The topping is phenomenal. Best of all, you'll only get one bowl dirty (well, one bowl plus the pan you bake them in). Try them! You won't be disappointed.