Friday, September 27, 2013

Veggie-Packed Minestrone Soup

I love when the weather gets a little cooler, because I can bust out my soup recipes that have been gathering dust! This is a new recipe to us, but it is going to get used a lot this fall and winter...and spring (because that's how long we have some form of cooler weather in the Pacific Northwest!). Anyway, this has tons of vegetables and beans, and was also fantastic to feed our 11 month old, because she could pick up almost everything really easily! Our 2 year old and baby ate seconds and thirds! Plus, I really like hearty soups (I don't like to drink my dinner), and this is perfect!

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup frozen french cut green beans (I recommend cutting these in half or thirds; every other ingredient is
      bite-sized, so the green beans were kind of awkward to eat.)
2 15-oz cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 15-oz cans white beans
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained (I pulse them in a blender a few times so there aren't chunks)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
32 oz (4 cups) vegetable or chicken broth
3 cups hot water
1/2-1 cup ditalini or other small pasta
4 cups loosely packed spinach leaves
2-3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley, or 1 tablespoon dried parsley

Heat a large stock pot to medium high heat. Add olive oil to coat bottom of pan. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Saute 4-5 minutes, until onions start to look translucent. Add zucchini and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes longer, stirring until garlic is fragrant. Add green beans, kidney and white beans, tomatoes, and seasonings, and stir to combine. Add broth and water and bring soup to a simmer. Cover pot and simmer on low for 20-25 minutes, until carrots and celery are tender. Add pasta and cook until pasta is soft, 8-10 minutes. Add additional broth or water if you feel it is not your preferred consistency. Remove pot from heat and stir in spinach and parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 8 (1.5 cup) servings.

{Kudos to!}

Slow-Cooker Kalua Pork

Ahhhhh so yummy, and, with only three ingredients, it really couldn't be simpler! We ate it on Hawaiian rolls, as suggested on the website, and -Trust Me- it was fantastic!

1 2.5-3.5 lb boneless pork shoulder (butt) roast
1/2-1 tablespoon salt (the author recommends pink or smoked Hawaiian sea salt, but I don't know where to find it.)
1 Tablespoon Hickory-flavored liquid smoke

Rinse the roast and pat it dry. Pierce the entire roast with a fork. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon liquid smoke over the whole roast, the sprinkle with 1/2-1 tablespoon salt. Rub the salt into the roast, then place the roast in the slow-cooker on low for 8-10 hours, or until it shreds easily with a fork. Shred roast, discarding any large pieces of fat. Reserve cooking liquid if desired to keep meat moist. (Ours was very moist without the extra liquid.)

Yield: About 16 roll sandwiches-worth.

{Kudos to!}

Brown Rice (Boiled)

It took a little while, but I have finally been successful switching our family over to whole grain pasta! I slowly upped the ratio of regular : whole grain pasta, and now I can do all whole grain and nobody flinches. Next on my list is switching to more brown rice, and this recipe is simple and delicious!

1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice
3 quarts water (NOT 3 cups!)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp vinegar or citrus juice

Fill a large pot with 3 quarts of water (again NOT 3 cups!) and add the salt. Bring to a boil. When the the water is boiling, add the rice and cook uncovered for 22-25 minutes, or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer.
If you are adding it to a salad, stir fry, etc, you will want to dump the rice onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, drizzle with citrus juice, and toss to combine.

Yield: about 3 cups.

{Kudos to!}

Friday, September 20, 2013

Honey Dijon Pork Chops

Simple and delicious. What more could you want? My 4 yr old, 2 yr old, and 10 month old even ate this "chicken" right up! Oh, and we liked this enough I made it twice in one week, and still didn't get a picture the first eight or ten times I made it!

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4-6 boneless pork chops

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 x 13' Pyrex dish.
2. Mix Dijon, honey, garlic, and pepper. Arrange pork in prepared dish and pour mustard mixture over pork.
3. Bake pork in preheated oven until pork is slightly pink in the center, about 45 minutes, or 145 degrees with a meat thermometer.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Energizing Granola

This is my new favorite breakfast! It's healthy, easy to change up, and simple to make!

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower kernels
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons ground flax-seed
1/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 Tablespoon canola oil
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup dried cranberries or blueberries
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried banana chips

1. In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. In a small saucepan, combine the water, honey, molasses, and oil. Heat for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until heated through. Remove from heat; stir in the vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Pour over oat mixture; stir to coat.
2. Transfer to a 15 x 10 x 1 in baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring every 10 mins. Cool completely. Stir in dried fruits. Store in an airtight container.

{Kudos to Taste of Home magazine!}

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mini Elephant Ears

We had fun making this with our girls, and then we devoured them!

1 package (17.3 oz) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. On a lightly floured surface, roll one sheet of puff pastry into an 11 x 8 in rectangle. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle half of mixture over pastry.
2. Working from the short sides, roll up dough jelly-roll style toward the center. With a sharp knife, cut roll into 1/2-in slices. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets or spray pans with cooking spray. Repeat with remaining pastry and sugar mixture.
3. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks.

Yield: About 2 1/2 dozen.

{Kudos to Taste of Home magazine!}

Sesame Noodles

A wonderful friend of mine gave me the link to this recipe, and I could seriously eat them several times a week! Plus, it's SO easy and can be paired with lots of great chicken, beef, or pork recipes!

4 Tablespoons soy sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 Tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon hot chili oil (optional)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 small can of mushrooms, chopped (optional)
3-4 green onions, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
1 16oz package Capellini noodles (or thin spaghetti noodles)

1. Cook pasta according to directions on package.
2. While the pasta is cooking, mix soy sauce, oils, sugars, and peanut butter together. 
3. When the pasta is done cooking, drain, return to pot, and immediately mix in the sauce. Add mushrooms and sesame seeds. Sprinkle with green onions when ready to serve.

Yield: 6-8 servings

{Kudos to!}

Super Easy and Delicious Taco Soup

Taco soup is one of those things I can't photograph well...but how can you lose with these ingredients?

This is a great, simple recipe that uses mostly canned ingredients and would feed a large crowd! I don't like chunks of tomatoes in my food, so I blended the tomatoes and salsa.

2 lbs ground beef
1 cup water
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
1 can (16 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (16 oz) chili beans, undrained
1 can (15 1/4 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (14 1/2 oz) stewed tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 cup salsa
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 can (2 1/4 oz) sliced, ripe olives, drained
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips (optional)

Cook ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in water, beans, corn, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa, taco seasoning, and olives.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 mins. Garnish with cheese. Serve with chips.

Yield: About 9 servings.

{Kudos to Taste of Home 2011 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes cookbook!}

Monday, August 19, 2013

Egg Substitute

****Check out my new blog for step-by-step pics of this recipe!

OH MY this is a lifesaver!!! When we found out my 4 year old has a dairy and egg intolerance, I mentally threw baking out the window. I couldn't see myself spending time baking something that I knew she would just watch us eat. BUT this is a simple, quick, healthy solution! I tried it in our favorite zucchini bread recipe, and it was SO good! My husband even thought it tasted BETTER! NOTE: This makes the substitute equivalent of ONE egg.

1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
2-3 Tablespoons water

Bring water to a boil, then add flax seeds and simmer for about 5 minutes or until a thick, egg-like consistence has been reached. Let cool before using in a recipe (about 10 minutes).

{Kudos to!}

Lazy Day Stew

I've been wanting to try freezer meals for a long time, but I knew we didn't have the room to store them. ~Enter our brand new, used freezer!!~ Now we have tons of room, and I'm hoping to post lots more freezer meal ideas! This is a great one to start with- my husband said it was the best homemade stew he has had, and I agree! NOTE: This recipe makes TWO meals!

4 lbs cubed stewing beef (I HIGHLY recommend Costco's)
4 cups baby carrots
4 cups baby red potatoes, cut in half
2 medium onions, chopped
10 oz package dried beans (optional- I added a can of kidney beans, but we really couldn't tell they were there. Your call.)
2 cups celery, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 15 oz can tomato sauce (1/2 in each bag)
2 cups beef broth (or beef bouillon with respective amounts of water)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar

Split everything into two one-gallon freezer bags, shake, and seal. Label and put in freezer. Instructions for bag: Cook on low 8 hours (I cook it on high 2 hours, then low for 4).

{Big Kudos to my friend, Lauri's, blog- check it out!!}

Baked Teriyaki Chicken

My husband made this last night, and we had it with this coconut rice and pineapple- we were one happy family!

1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
12 skinless chicken thighs or 4-6 chicken breasts

1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, cold water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and pepper. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.
2. Preheat oven to 425. Place chicken pieces in a lightly greased 13 x 9" baking dish. Brush chicken with sauce. Turn pieces over and brush again.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. Turn pieces over, and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Brush with sauce every 10 minutes during cooking.


Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice

***Check out my new blog for pics of this fantastic rice!

Far too often we enjoy our meal so much that we forget to take a picture until it's gone. Such is the case with this rice. Sorry. You can rest a little easier knowing that it really just looks like rice.

2 cups white or jasmine rice
1 (14-oz) can coconut milk
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
Splash of white vinegar
2-3 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup chopped green onions (we sometimes omit this, depending on what we're having with it.)
Black pepper to taste

Combine rice, coconut milk, water, salt, vinegar, and sugar in a saucepan, stirring often, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and cover for 20 minutes of until most of the liquid is absorbed. Allow to stand 5 minutes. Add chopped green onions, black pepper (if desired), and additional salt if necessary. Serve immediately.

{Kudos to Our Best Bites cookbook!}

Super Easy Oven-Roasted Potatoes

Seriously, it doesn't get much easier than this!

2 lbs potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces (I use red potatoes)
1 1-oz package onion soup mix
1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil

Preheat oven to 450. Mix ingredients in a gallon Ziploc, then dump into a 13 x 9" Pyrex that has been WELL-SPRAYED with cooking spray. (That part will save you lots of soaking and scrubbing after you have demolished the potatoes!). Bake for 40-60 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

{Kudos to the Lipton soup box}

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chip-Crusted Fish Fillets

My mom made this for us a few months ago, and we have made it a handful of times since. It's simple and delicious, which is really the best compliments a dinner can have!

4 fresh or frozen skinless tilapia, grouper, ocean perch, cod or haddock fillets
nonstick cooking spray
2/3 cup honey mustard salad dressing (or make your own- 2/3 cup mustard with about a tablespoon or two honey.  Add a tbsp vinegar and stir together)
4 cups potato chips crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 

1. Thaw fish if frozen.  Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.  Spray pan with a good coating of cooking spray.  Glass pans work great.
2. Brush both sides of fish with honey mustard.  Combine chips in shallow dish (I used a pie pan) and add thyme.  Coat fish on both sides with chip mixture and place in prepared pan.  (I put any extra chips over the fish just for a more crunchy coating.)
3. Bake uncovered at 450 degrees for about 16 to 20 minutes depending on thickness of fish. A good rule of thumb is to bake 10 minutes per inch thickness. Fish should be totally white all the way through, and flake off easily with a fork.  

Chocolate Meringue Stars

I have this awesome cookbook, The Taste of Home Baking Book, and I wanted to make some treats for some friends in my ward, so my husband picked a couple and we started baking. I'll just say that none of these made it out the door! We loved them, and my girls wouldn't stop asking for "the chocolate ones." We didn't even dip them in chocolate! They are really fun to make, melt in your mouth, and they're very light. I especially like that they are chocolate, instead of the the classic white (whatever flavor that is!).

3 egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa

3 squares (1 oz each) semisweet chocolate
1 Tablespoon shortening

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and vanilla on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, about 2 Tablespoons at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in cocoa.
2. Insert a #8b large open star tip into a pastry or plastic bag; fill half full with meringue. (See tips below) Pipe stars, about 1 1/4 inch diameter, or drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 300 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned (which we thought was a strange thing to say, because they ARE light brown...). Remove from paper; cool on wire racks.
3. In a heavy saucepan or microwave, melt chocolate and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip the cookies halfway with glaze; place on waxed paper until set.

Piping tips: 
-Insert a decorating tip that has a large opening into a pastry bag or heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. (If using a plastic bag, first cut a small hole in the corner of the bag.)
-Fill the bag about half full with meringue. Smooth the meringue down toward the decorating tip to remove any air bubbles that could cause breaks in the design when piping. Twist the top of the bag shut.
-Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Hold the pastry bag straight up and position the tip about 1/8 to 1/4 inch above the baking sheet. Hold the tip with one hand and squeeze the pastry bag with the other. Stop squeezing before you life up the decorating tip.