Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ultimate Potato Soup

Can you tell the weather has gotten cold here?!  It's a week of soups and slow cooker meals for us.  There is nothing better than coming home to dinner hot and done after a long day at work. This is a little different than the one I posted several years ago that I got at the winery in Temecula, and it's actually our go to for potato soup!  I typically double this recipe for our family of 6.


  • 1 lb bacon, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 c chicken stock, or enough to cover potatoes
  • 3 TBS butter
  • 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cook the bacon over medium heat until done. Remove bacon from pan, and set aside. Drain off all but 1/4 cup of the bacon grease.
  2. In the bacon grease remaining in the pan, saute the celery and onion until onion begins to turn clear. Add the garlic, and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cubed potatoes, and toss to coat. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Return the bacon to the pan, and add enough chicken stock to just cover the potatoes. Cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender.
  3. In a separate pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Cook stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream, tarragon and cilantro. Bring the cream mixture to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir the cream mixture into the potato mixture. Puree about 1/2 the soup, and return to the pan. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Nothing is better on a cold day then a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup!  I usually use the left over chicken from a rotisserie chicken to make mine.  I love the flavor that it adds to the broth.  I have a rotisserie at home, so that makes it easy.  If you don't, and you don't want to spend the money on a pre-cooked one, you can certainly buy a whole chicken and add seasonings to it while it's cooking.

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 c chopped celery
  • 1/4 c chopped carrots
  • 1/4 c chopped onion
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 8 oz egg noodles
  • 12 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 TBS dried parsley
  1. In a skillet, saute the celery and onions.  Set aside
  2. In a large stock pot, add the chicken to the 12 c water (or more - the water should completely cover the chicken) and boil until the meat is falling off the bone.  If you are using a whole, uncooked chicken**, make sure to remove the gizzards before boiling.
  3. De-bone the chicken, leaving the meat and broth in the stock pot.
  4. Add carrots, onions, celery, marjoram, black pepper, bay leaf, and parsley. You may find that you need to add more water to your stock if your chicken boiled down too much.  Simmer for 30 minutes. You may want to skim the skin off at this point as well if you missed some in the de-boning.  
  5. Add noodles, and simmer for 10 more minutes.

**For an uncooked chicken, you will want to season your broth while cooking the chicken.  I typically add some kosher salt, garlic pepper, and quartered onion.  I do not leave the onion remains in the soup, since I have them sauteed with the celery, but it makes the broth taste better.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Hungarian Goulash


  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 2 TBS paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 lb chuck roast(cube meat if not using a slow cooker)
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt 


  1. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook onions in oil until soft, stirring frequently. Remove onions and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine paprika, 2 tsp salt and pepper. Coat beef cubes in spice mixture, and cook in onion pot until brown on all sides. Return the onions to the pot, and pour in tomato paste, water, garlic and the remaining 1 tsp salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until meat is tender.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Because I felt like baking today!!


  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c flaked coconut
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg and coconut extract; mix well and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix lightly.  Add flour mix slowly to the creamed mixture. Mix until just combined
  3. Stir in chocolate chips and coconut.
  4. Drop by rounded TBS onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Stir Fried Beef, Broccoli & Sweet Potatos

I found this recipe on Epicurious and had to share!

  • 1/4 c water
  • 3 TBS (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 TBS oyster sauce
  • 1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 lb. flank steak, cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 1/2 TBS cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 TBS Asian sesame oil, divided
  • 4 c broccoli florets (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 8-ounce sweet potato, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 2 tsp chopped peeled fresh ginger
  1. Stir first 4 ingredients in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Set sauce aside. Place beef in large bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add cornstarch and toss to coat.
  2. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large wok over high heat. Add beef mixture; stir-fry until no longer pink outside, about 3 minutes. Transfer beef mixture to medium bowl. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet. Add broccoli, yam, and ginger. Toss to coat; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add sauce. Cover, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add beef mixture. Toss until sauce coats beef, about 1 minute. Serve.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mulled-Cider Cranberry Sauce

This year, I'm making a slightly different cranberry sauce for the holidays. Yummy!


  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 1 TBS finely grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 c apple cider
  • 1/3 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 firm apple (I use McIntosh, but Roma would work well too), peeled, cored, and finely diced
  1. Put all ingredients in a medium size heavy saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until cranberries soften and pop and sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.  
  2. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  The sauce will thicken more as it chills.

Texas Chili

Texans apparently like to put their own stamp on everything they do, including chili.  Here's an easy meal that simmers well in the slow cooker all day and is great for chilly evenings!

  • 2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, minced
  • 3 (15 oz) cans pinto beans
  • 2 (28 oz) cans Rotel tomatoes
  • 4 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 TBS jalapeno peppers, minced (optional)
  • 1/4 c chili powder
  • 1tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1TBS cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic pepper
  1. Cook and stir the beef, onion, and bell pepper in a large pot over medium heat until the beef is brown and onion and pepper are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain grease from beef.  Place in slow cooker.
  2. Add to the slower cooker the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, jalapenos (if using), chili powder, red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt, and garlic powder. Set slow cooker on low and simmer for 6-8 hours.  The longer you simmer, the more flavor you will get.  Sometimes I simmer up to 10 hours!

Spiced Cider Doughnuts

I got these from the William and Sonoma web site and they are SO yummy.  I love cold weather cooking!


  • 1 c apple cider
  • 3 1/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 TBS. cold unsalted butter, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 2 lg eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Canola oil for deep-frying
  • 1 1/2 c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the cider to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely. In a bowl, sift together the 3 1/4 cups flour, the granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the butter. Using a handheld mixer on low speed, beat until the mixture forms fine crumbs. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, 1/4 cup of the reduced cider and the vanilla until combined. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute, adding up to 1/4 cup more flour if needed. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and pat it out to a layer 1/2 inch thick. Freeze until slightly firm, 15 minutes. 
  2. Heat a deep-fryer to 350°F or pour oil to a depth of at least 3 inches into a heavy, deep saucepan and heat over high heat to 350°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Set a large wire rack on another rimmed baking sheet and place near the stove. Return the dough to the work surface. Using a doughnut cutter 3 inches in diameter, and dipping the cutter into flour before each cut, cut out as many doughnuts as possible, pressing straight down and lifting straight up. Transfer the doughnuts and the holes to the parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Gather up the scraps and repeat rolling and cutting. 
  3. Using a metal spatula, carefully lower a few of the doughnuts into the hot oil, being sure not to crowd the pan. Deep-fry the doughnuts, turning them once at the halfway point, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a wire skimmer, transfer to the rack to drain. Repeat until all of the doughnuts have been fried, then add the doughnut holes to the oil and deep-fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool.
  4. To make the glaze, in a small saucepan, bring the remaining 1/4 cup reduced cider to a boil over high heat. Add the confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat. Holding each doughnut or doughnut hole by its edges, briefly dip it, smooth side down, into the glaze, letting the excess drip back into the saucepan. Place on the wire rack, glazed side up, and let stand until the glaze is set, about 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 1 dozen doughnuts and 1 dozen holes.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake

Because I love almost anything made with pumpkin puree and who doesn't love chocolate?!


  • 1 stick of butter, softened (8 TBS)
  • 1 1/4 c eggs
  • 3 lg eggs
  • 1 c canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 c miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 8 inch square baking pan; line with parchment paper
  2. Whisk together butter, sugar, eggs, pumpkin puree and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  Add to butter mixture.  Add half flour, then milk, then remaining flour, stirring until just incorporated.  Do not over mix!  Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, making sure to scrape sides for all batter.  Bake for 55 -60 minutes until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center come out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then invert onto the rack.  Immediately turn right side up onto another rack to cool completely.  Cut into 9 squares and serve.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sweet Mustard Chicken Wings

So it's football season, and we've been testing some wing recipes for variety.  My youngest is NOT a chicken lover.  As soon as he finds out we're having chicken, he announces how tired he is and that he just wants to go to bed (where did this kid come from?!).  However, he LOVED these wings tonight!  I guarantee, you can't eat just one....

  • 4 lb chicken wings, separated at joints, tips discarded
  • salt to taste
  • 3 TBS Dijon mustard
  • 3 TBS prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1 TBS cider vinegar
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp hot pepper sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; coat the aluminum foil with cooking spray.
  2. Arrange the wings on the prepared baking sheet so they do not touch; season with salt.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and crispy on top, about 20 minutes. Flip the wings with tongs and cook until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 20 minutes more.
  4. Stir together the Dijon mustard, yellow mustard, honey, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and hot sauce in large mixing bowl. Add the wings to the bowl and toss with a spatula to coat evenly. Allow to sit for about five minutes and toss again to re-coat. Transfer to a plate to serve.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Chicken Marrakesh

Looking for something with a little international flair?  Try this great Moroccan style chicken!  Another crockpot meal for an easy meal too.


  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  1. Place the onion, garlic, carrots, sweet potatoes, garbanzo beans, and chicken breast pieces into a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, parsley, and salt, and sprinkle over the chicken and vegetables. Pour in the tomatoes, and stir to combine.
  2. Cover the cooker, set to low, and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened, 6 to 8 hours.

Ropa Vieja

This recipe is a crockpot recipe, but can easily be slow cooked in an oven for the same great flavor.  This has great flavor and is so tender!


  • 2 lb. beef chuck roast
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into wedges
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into wedges
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
  • 6 oz. tomato paste - about half a can
  • 1/2 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • pepper to taste
  1. Pierce the beef roast to tenderize it and let the flavors in, and place it into a slow cooker with the garlic, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, yellow onions and sweet onions. Stir in the tomato paste and red wine vinegar. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and ground black pepper.
  2. Cover, and cook on Low until the beef is tender, 7 to 8 hours. Remove beef, and shred into long strands using two forks. Return the meat to the slow cooker and combine with the vegetables.
  3. Cook on Low until the meat and vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Cake

My friend Tenecia at work (hi Tenecia!!) found some frosting recipes she liked, but noted that there was not a single 'cake' recipe.  As some of my bloggers are aware, my husband hates traditional cake.  But I do cake too!!

OK, so clearly this cake can be used for any occasion.  But we just happen to have a LOT of birthdays in my house, and somewhere along the way, this is what my family started asking for.  When my brother was little, it was the only cake he would eat (he's 28 now!).  So I've been making this for a long time!!


  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract**
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 3 c. cake flour**
  • 4 egg whites, beaten stiff with a dash of salt
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy, adding extract as you go. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add the milk and stir until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Measure the baking powder into the flour.  Add to butter, sugar and milk mixture and stir until smooth (if you are using an electric mixer, you should have a few air bubbles).  Fold in the egg whites.  Don't beat the batter after the whites have been folded in.
  3. For a traditional birthday cake, bake in three 8 or 9 inch layer cake pans.  For a sheet cake, us a 9 x 13 inch pan.  
  4. Grease and flour the pan and pour the cake batter in.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes at 350 (325 if your oven runs hot - like mine!).  Test by sticking a knife of toothpick into the middle of the cake.  If it comes out clean, the cake is done.
**almond extract was the preference in my house growing up, so I still make it this way today.  You can use vanilla if you prefer.  I like cake flour because it's lighter and silkier.  If you have regular flour, that will work too, just remember to NOT over beat your mixture or you will end up with a heavy brick for a cake.  Of course if that's what you like....

Monday, July 04, 2011

Tomato with Shrimp and Basil

Perfect for hot summer days, this is a light and tasty dish!  If you have tomatoes fresh from your garden, this is a great way to use some up.  Fresh basil is very important for this dish, so don't cut corners with dried.


  • 4 c. (3/4 inch) cubed whole wheat French bread baguette
  • 5 c. ripe tomato wedges (about 4 large)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 c small basil leaves
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Place bread cubes on a baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or until crisp and golden brown, turning cubes once.
  3. Combine tomatoes and 1/4 tsp salt in a large bowl.  Sprinkle shrimp with remaining black pepper and salt.  Heat olive oil, red pepper, and garlic in a large non-stick pan over low heat; cook 5 minutes or until warm and fragrant.  
  4. Increase heat to medium high.  Add shrimp to pan; saute 2 minutes or until shirmp are done, stirring frequently. Stir in lemon juice.  
  5. Add bread, shrimp mixture, and basil to tomatoes; toss gently to coat.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos

Ahem.  I am ashamed to admit I have not posted since October.  How did that happen?!?!  But I'm back, and with an amazingly awesome appetizer!  My kids (yes, the picky ones!) could not get enough of these!!  I already plan to go back to the market tomorrow for more jalapenos.  Enjoy!!


  • 2 slices bacon
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c. shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c. minced green onions
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 14 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • cooking spray
  • 2 TBS chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small tomato, chopped and seeded
  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat
  2. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels.  Crumble bacon.  Combine crumbled bacon, cheeses, green onions, lime juice, kosher salt and garlic in a bowl.  Stir to combine.
  3. Divide cheese evenly and fill the pepper halves.
  4. Place peppers, cheese side up, on grill rack or grill grate coated with cooking spray.  Cover and grill peppers for 8 minutes or until bottoms of peppers are charred and cheese mixture is lightly browned.  Place the peppers on a serving platter
  5. Sprinkle with cilantro and tomato.