Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Balsamic Black Bean Salsa

*Serves 6-8 as an appetizer

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained well
½ medium onion finely diced (about 1/3 cup)
½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 (7 oz.) can salsa verde (I used Mrs. Renfro's brand)
Juice of 1 lime
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the salsa marinate for a few hours (or overnight before serving). Drain most of the liquid from the salsa before serving. Serve with tortilla chips.

My Favorite Sugar Cookies

from My Kitchen Cafe (

*Note: the baking temperature for this recipe may seem high but I believe it is one of the keys to success. The cookies still remain soft and light because they bake for such a short time (and they keep their shape really well!).

*Makes 2-3 dozen sugar cookies (about 2-3 inch size)

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened to cool room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla extract, almond extract and lemon zest; mix. Add two cups flour, baking powder and salt. Mix. Add remaining flour and mix just until flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and soft.

The dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or it can be rolled out right away. Dust a counter with powdered sugar or flour and roll the dough to desired thickness (I prefer my cookies on the thick side so I roll my dough out to about 1/4-inch, maybe even slightly thicker than that). Cut the dough into shapes. Place the cookies on a lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes. The cookies won't appear browned on top (or on bottom) when they are done baking so don't let them overbake! I find 7 1/2 minutes is about perfect but if they are even lightly browned on bottom, I decrease the time by 30 seconds. I like them super soft with not even a hint of browned edges or bottom. This way they literally melt in my mouth.

Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack before frosting. The baked cookies (unfrosted) can be stored in a tupperware or ziploc bag in the freezer for up to a month. I also often freeze 1/2 of the sugar cookie dough when I don't have time or don't want to roll it out and cut shapes. I wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then stick it in a freezer-safe ziploc bag and freeze it for up to a month. I take it out the night before I want to roll it out and store it in the refrigerator to thaw (for about 12-15 hours). About 30 minutes before I want to use it, I let it sit on the counter to soften a bit and then I roll it out and cut out the cookies.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

*Note: the key to success here is using really soft cream cheese and beating it with the powdered sugar until no lumps remain.

*Makes about 4 cups of frosting

1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. Mix until very smooth and light and no lumps remain. In a separate bowl, beat the cream to stiff peaks. Add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture. Mix until well combined and smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Cream Cheese Chicken and Vegetable Soup

from My Kitchen Cafe (

2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup diced carrots (about 2 regular carrots or a handful of baby carrots)
3 cups chicken broth
2-3 potatoes, peeled and finely diced (I like to leave the peels on red potatoes, if using them)
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons flour
1 (8 oz. package) regular or light cream cheese
2-3 (about 1 pound) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced

In a large pot, melt the butter and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Saute, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes, until the veggies are slightly tender and the onions are translucent. Add the chicken broth and potatoes. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. In a liquid measuring cup, vigorously whisk the flour and milk together until smooth. Whisk the mixture into the soup, stirring quickly, and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until the soup begins to thicken slightly. Stir often to ensure the soup doesn't burn. Soften the cream cheese in the microwave until it is very soft/melty. I usually place the unwrapped cream cheese on a plate and microwave it for one minute at 30% power. I like it really, really soft so it doesn't leave lumps in the soup. Add the cream cheese to the soup in small tablespoon-size pieces. Let the pieces sit in the soup and warm through then whisk or stir the soup until the cream cheese melts and mixes in well. Add the cooked chicken and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Egg Rolls

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb finely chopped pork or chicken
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 head cabbage, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 egg
1 lb package egg roll wraps
vegetable oil for frying

To make the filling, first coat the bottom of a large frying pan with oil. Add the meat and cook thoroughly. Add garlic and ginger. Stir to coat the meat. Add cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and soy sauce. Stir-fry until cabbage is soft (10-15 minutes). Remove pan from heat.

Crack egg into a bowl and beat with a fork. Add approximately 3 tbsp cold water and mix well to form an egg wash.

Lay one egg roll wrap on a plate with a point facing toward you. Place two heaping spoonfuls of the filling near the center of the wrap.

Begin wrapping egg roll by folding up the bottom corner.

Fold over the two sides.

Roll the egg roll upwards once.

Using a pastry brush, paint a thin layer of the egg wash on the egg roll. This will help to seal the roll so it doesn't come unwrapped.

Fold the last corner down.

Heat the oil to a medium high heat. Place egg roll in oil and fry until wrap is golden brown. Flip with tongs. Fry second side until golden brown. Place cooked egg roll on a paper towel to drain off excess oil.

Serve egg rolls with fried rice or sweet and sour sauce.

This recipe makes approximately enough filling for a 1 lb package of wraps. Egg rolls can be frozen for later use. After wrapping egg rolls, freeze on a tray until hard, then place in freezer bags. Thaw before frying.

Be careful with egg roll wraps! The dough is fragile and must stay cool to prevent drying and cracking.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Asian Chicken Wraps

I did use the coleslaw mix that you buy in the bag and it worked great. This was really good. I took it to a ward potluck and it was a big hit.

from My Kitchen Cafe (
*Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 (about 1 1/2 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin, 1/2-inch, strips
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces cups sliced white button mushrooms
3 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 cups sliced cabbage or coleslaw mix
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

4-6 soft wrap breads or flour tortillas, slightly warmed

For the chicken, mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add the chicken strips and mix to thoroughly coat the chicken. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring often until it is cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

For the vegetables, heat the oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the green onions and the garlic, and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the coleslaw mix or cabbage and soy sauce. Add the chicken. Cook, stirring often, until the coleslaw is slightly wilted but still has a bit of crunch, and the mixture is heated through, about 3 minutes. Stir in the hoisin sauce. Serve immediately, rolling up the mixture in soft wrap bread or flour tortillas.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar
almond bark

1. Mix first four ingredients. Form into small balls. Chill until easy to work with.
2. Melt the almond bark. Dip the peanut butter balls into the chocolate, leaving a small circle at the top uncovered.
3. Let them sit until chocolate has set.

Chile-rubbed Pork with Corn Salsa

3 lbs pork tenderloin or pork loin
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tsp chili powder
1 cup corn kernels
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, seeded and finely chopped
juice from 1 lime
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Rub pork with oil, then season with salt, pepper, and chili powder. In a large frying pan, brown all sides of pork in oil, about 5 minutes all together. Reserve drippings from frying pan. Put pork in crock pot on low for 8-10 hours. You can roast it in the oven, but not really sure about temperatures and time.

In the drippings, make the salsa over medium heat by frying the corn in the drippings for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the onion, tomato, lime juice, and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the pork with the corn salsa.

Buttons and Bowknots

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten

1. Mix all ingredients. Knead on lightly floured board 15-20 times. Roll out 1/2" thick.
2. Cut with doughnut cutter (or use a biscuit cutter and a bottlecap). To make Bowknots, twist ring into figure 8. Place centers (buttons) and Bowknots on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes.
3. Immediately after baking, dip each into melted butter and then roll in sugar.

Copycat Cafe Rio Tomatillo Dressing

1 package Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Mix
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tomatillos (peeled and washed)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp lime juice
1 small jalapeno, seeds removed

Mix ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipe

Trevor wants me to say that this tastes more like Costa Vida, and since he's sitting right here and being annoying, there you go.

3.5 lbs pork roast
8 0z bottle taco sauce
1 Tbsp cumin
1 cup brown sugar
1 can Coke (not diet)--caffeine free works fine if it bothers you

Cook pork in a crock pot on low for 6 hours (cover roast 1/2 with water). Take out some of the water, leaving about 1/2 an inch at the bottom. Shred pork. Mix ingredients in a bowl and add to pork 3 hours before it you want it to be done.

Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken Recipe

5 lbs chicken breast, boneless, skinless
1 small bottle zesty Italian dressing
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients in a large crock pot. Cook on high for 5-7 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Reserve a small amount of juice and pour over shredded chicken. Keep warm.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

2 Tbsp butter
2 chicken breasts
3 cloves garlic
1-2 Tbsp Cajun Seasoning, depending on tastes (see below)
4 bell peppers, any or all colors
8 oz mushrooms
8 oz heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1. Cut the chicken in cubes/stripes and saute in butter until brown.
2. Add garlic, green onion, and Cajun seasoning. Mix together.
3. Add bell peppers and mushrooms. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until mushrooms are soft.
4. Add heavy cream. Heat up and simmer for 2 minutes.
5. Stir in cheese and serve over pasta (I prefer penne, but anything would work.)

Trevor would like me to add the 2 Tbsp of the Cajun seasoning makes is spicy enough for tears, but I like it. Just make sure to have lots of milk with your meal and probably some bread!

Cajun Seasoning:
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp dry thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chewy Soft Pretzels**

I found this recipe on The instructions seem long and complicated at first sight, but they were actually pretty easy. I didn't have kosher salt, so I sprinkled mine with cinnamon and sugar after brushing them with butter. (The ones in the picture just have butter on them.) They were a great Sunday afternoon snack.

Makes 8 pretzels

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup (7-8 ounces) warm water*

1/2 cup (4 ounces) warm water
2 Tbs baking soda
Coarse salt (optional)
3 Tbs butter, melted

Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl and beat until well combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it is soft, smooth, and quite slack. Lightly flour the dough and place it in a plastic bag; close the bag, leaving room for the dough to expand, and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Prepare two baking sheets by spraying them with oil spray, or lining them with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 70 g, or 2 1/2 ounces, each). Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, combine the 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda, and place it in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Make sure the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved; if it isn't, it will make the pretzels splotchy.

Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28-30 inches long), and twist each rope into a pretzel. Dip each pretzel in the baking soda wash (this will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color), and place them on the baking sheets. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Bake the pretzels for 8-9 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Only bake one baking sheet at a time and let the other rest while the first is in the oven.

Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you have used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that is what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste. Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave.

*Use the greater amount in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 thin sliced smoked ham
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 cups crushed frosted flakes

Place one chicken breast in a plastic bag. Using the flat side of a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin, pound chicken until about 1/2 inch thick. Repeat with all four breasts.

Lay one chicken breast on a piece of plastic wrap. Layer Swiss cheese, then ham. Roll up the chicken, then wrap in the plastic wrap. Repeat with all four breasts. Refrigerate one hour. This will help the chicken retain its shape.

Bring chicken to room temperature.

Pour flour into a bowl. In another bowl, beat egg with milk to make an egg wash. Place crushed frosted flakes in another bowl. Unwrap chicken. Cover in flour, then egg wash, then roll in frosted flakes. Place in a greased baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until juices run clear.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No Fail Pie Crust

4 cups flour
1 3/4 cups shortening
1Tbsp sugar (I use more)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 egg

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. In separate dish, mix water, vinegar, and egg. Combine mixtures. Chill 15 minutes. Roll into thin circle, place in pie pan, prick with fork, and bake at 425 degrees till light brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Chicken Pot Pie

1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. chopped onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 c. chicken broth
2/3 c. milk
2 c. cut up cooked chicken (2-3 chicken breasts)
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen peas and carrots
2-3 baker's potatoes

Pie Crust:
4 cups flour
1 3/4 cups shortening
1Tbsp sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 egg

Peel and boil potatoes. Allow to cool. Dice. Boil chicken until cooked through. Allow to cool. Dice or shred. In saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Blend in flour, onion, and seasonings. Cook, stirring, until mixture is bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in chicken broth and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil; stir 1 minute. Gently stir in chicken, frozen vegetables, and potatoes. Set aside.

Prepare pie crust: Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. In separate dish, mix water, vinegar, and egg. Combine mixtures. Chill 15 minutes

Roll out half of the pie crust into a 13 inch square. Place in a greased 9x9 pan. Trim edges. Add prepared filling. Roll out second half of dough. Place on top of filling, crimping edges. Cut slits to allow steam to escape. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Vegetable Curry**

A really easy curry recipe for the "adventurers" out there. Curry isn't 'hot spicy', just really flavorful. I thought it was delicious. I will post the recipe how I found it online (with measurement conversions since is was from the UK), then I will tell you what we did different.

4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs curry powder
2 medium waxy potatoes, roughly chopped into about 8 pieces
2 14 oz cans coconut milk
1 14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets
3 tomatoes, cut into eighths
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp caster (superfine) sugar

1. Pound or puree the garlic, ginger and pepper to a rough paste. Heat the oil in a wok, add the paste and fry for a few minutes over medium heat. Stir in the curry powder and potatoes. Add the coconut milk and chickpeas and simmer for 8-10 minutes.

2. When the potato is just about tender, add the cauliflower. Cook for 5 more minutes, then add the tomato wedges, green onions, soy sauce, salt and sugar. Cook for another 5 minutes or so. Serve over steamed rice or crispy flat-bread. Garnish with cilantro.

*I used my small food processor to make the first three ingredients into a paste. In order to get it to blend together right I just added the oil to the paste. I cooked the whole thing in my dutch oven pot because we don't have a wok. I substituted 1 pound of cooked chicken for the chickpeas. This wasn't because I don't like chickpeas, I just wanted to use chicken. I just used 1 tsp regular granulated sugar instead of the superfine sugar.*

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Copycat California Pizza Kitchen Spinach Artichoke Dip

This is the Dip that we had at Natalie's baby shower.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup diced white or yellow onion
1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 crumbled chicken bouillon cubes
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
12 oz frozen spinach, defrosted, drained and chopped
6 oz artichoke bottoms, drained and cut into slices (I like to use hearts instead of bottoms and use the whole can which is 8 oz)
1 cup finely shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 tsp Tabasco sauce (optional)

1. In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil and butter over medium heat. When butter has melted, add onion and cook until wilted, 3-4 minutes.
2. Stir in garlic and cook 2-3 min longer, stopping before onion and garlic start to brown.
3. Sprinkle the flour over and continue cooking, stirring continuously, until mixture is golden blond, about 10-15 min. Slowly add the stock, whisking continuously until it is smoothly incorporated.
4. When mixture begins to simmer, stir in the cream. Return to simmer. Remove from heat and add the Parmesan, bouillon cubes, lemon juice and sugar. Stir until thoroughly blended.
5. Add the sour cream, spinach, artichokes, Monterey Jack, and Tabasco sauce. Stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined and the cheese is melted.
6. Serve immediately OR you can refrigerate and warm back up in the oven in a oven safe dish. (About 350 degrees for 30-45 min, stirring about midway.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Loaded Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cookies

I am the treat girl for FHE tomorrow so I decided to try a new cookie recipe. I was hesitant because of all the ingredients and the chocolate cookie dough (I tend to think brownies when I want lots of chocolate) but these cookies were yummy and soft. The peanut butter in the dough tones down the chocolate. Everyone loves them--we didn't make it until tomorrow before we tried them so we get the "treat" twice!

from Cookie Madness and and My Kitchen Cafe

Makes about 36 cookies.

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup Reese’s Pieces
1 package mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, cut into halves and frozen (the original recipe says to freeze the cups and then cut them into halves but I had major issues with this – when I froze them whole and then tried to cut them, it was a disaster – the mini cups broke into a million pieces, so my suggestion would be to gently cut them into halves and THEN freeze them)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together the butter, peanut butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, and baking soda; stir into the peanut butter mixture. Mix in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and Reese’s Pieces (this is best done by hand so the shells of the Reese’s Pieces don’t get broken).

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silpat liner. Push one peanut butter cup half into the center of each ball of dough. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool for 1 or 2 minutes on sheet before removing, or they will fall apart.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Once again, this recipe is from My Kitchen Cafe. I don't make a lot of casserole type dishes, but I thought this one was yummy! I even used my canned chicken because I forgot to get some out of the freezer, and it was great.

*Make-Ahead Tip: I made the entire casserole the morning before I wanted to serve it and stored it in the fridge all day. It cooked up beautifully. The original recipe recommends making the topping and cheese sauce and then refrigerating them in separate bowls for up to 1 day. To reheat and assemble, poke several vent holes in the plastic wrap covering the sauce and microwave it for about 3 to 5 minutes, until it is hot. Cook the potatoes and assemble and bake according to the recipe directions.

*Serves 6 to 8

4 slices white sandwich bread, torn into quarters (I used a long forgotten bread bowl tucked in the back of the freezer - thawed it in the microwave before using)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

3 pounds russet potatoes (about 4-5 medium), peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream or milk
6 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded, about 2 cups
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat and sliced thinly
9 ounces deli ham, chopped

For the topping, process the bread and butter in a food processor until coarsely ground. Set aside.

For the filling, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, making sure the oven rack is in the middle. Place the potatoes, 6 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are partially cooked, about 2 minutes (don't overcook because they will continue to cook in the oven!). Carefully drain potatoes, or remove them with a slotted spoon, and transfer them to a bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until the onions are softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute (this helps cook out the flour taste in the roux). Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and the cream or milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking often, until slightly thickened (if using milk instead of cream, you may have to cook longer for it to thicken up a bit). Off the heat, whisk in the Swiss cheese, Dijon, and cayenne pepper until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

Toss the potatoes with half of the sauce and spread into the bottom of a lightly greased 9X13-inch baking pan. Layer alternating pieces of the chicken and ham over the potatoes, overlapping as needed. This is not a scientific procedure, just make sure that the chicken is in a single layer (not on top of each other) so that it cooks thoroughly. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the chicken and sprinkle with the bread crumb topping. Bake until the chicken is cooked through and the casserole is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes (add about 5-7 additional minutes onto the baking time if baking it after it has chilled in the refrigerator for more than a couple of hours). Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Aunt Ethel Glenn's Peanut Butter Cookies

I have fond memories of Aunt Ethel. This recipe appeared in the old blue Kimberly Ward Cookbook. I have been making these for many years. We love them. Sometimes I put chocolate chips in them.

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup peanut butter
3 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups chocolate chips (optional)

Cream butter. Add vanilla and sugars gradually, creaming well. Beat in eggs mixing thoroughly. Add peanut butter and mix well. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and stir into mixture. Can add chocolate chips at this point.

Roll into small balls and place on cookie sheet. Flatten with tines of fork that has been dipped in hot water.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Makes 5 dozen.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Divine Breadsticks

My family LOVES these. It is from My Kitchen Cafe. The second time I made them I just pulled off pieces and rolled them between my hands to make a rope and it worked just fine.

1 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted (for the baking sheet)

Mix all ingredients (except melted butter) in a large bowl or electric mixer and knead for three minutes. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread melted butter onto an 11X17-inch baking sheet. Roll out the breadstick dough about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick and cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Twist slightly if desired and place about 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with garlic salt, herbs of your choice and Parmesan cheese. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees until golden brown.

Zucchini Coconut Loaf

I found this on We had several zucchini to use from our "bountiful baskets" so I went searching for recipes. I loved this! I did use craisins instead of currants.

1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup currants

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
2. In small pan boil one cup water. Add currants or raisins, and boil for two minutes. Drain.
3. In mixing bowl beat egg, oil, and sugar. Stir in zucchini and vanilla.
4. In another bowl, measure flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut, walnuts, and currants or raisins. Stir to combine thoroughly. Pour all at once over batter in mixing bowl. Stir to moisten. Turn into greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn out on rack. Cool and wrap.

Lemon Tea Bread

Cherise actually gave me this recipe. She told me that when she last made it the texture was a little crumbly so I adapted for our higher altitude with good results. This is heavenly!

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 C butter
1 1/4 C sugar minus 2 T
2 large eggs
2 1/4 C flour
1 T baking powder minus 1/2 tsp
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C milk plus 2 T
2 tsp lemon rind
2/3 C chopped blanched almonds or macadamia nuts, optional

2/3 C powdered sugar
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp lemon rind

Beat cream cheese and butter at high speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Mix after each addition. Stir in 2 teaspoons lemon rind and nuts. Pour batter into three greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Combine remaining 1 tsp lemon rind, powedered sugar, lemon juice, stirring well. Spoon glaze over warm loaves. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Sweet and Chunky Chicken Salad

I made this for a dinner at Braswell's and also for a sisters' lunch at my home. I always double it, and I use a pint of the chicken that I canned.

1 (10 ounce) can chunk chicken, drained
2 T mayonnaise
1/8 C chopped dill pickle
1/8 cup chopped onion
2 T sunflower seeds
1/4 C dried cranberries

Mix until well blended and chicken chunks are broken up.