Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Serving Up {Soup}: Creamy Curry Carrot Soup

This recipe is SO simple!  What a treat!  Simple AND delicious!  And with no chunks to threaten my children, I actually had three out of four of my kids willing to eat (and like) this soup.  The real fan of this soup, however, is my husband, who absolutely adores curry (although he might take issue with my using the word "adore").  I've made this soup twice in just the past couple of weeks and it doesn't disappoint!  I hope you agree.

(recipe from Blendtec Fresh Blends)

1 Tbs. olive oil
2 shallots, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, quartered
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
4-6 medium carrots, roughly chopped, approx. 2 cups
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbs. red curry paste
4 Tbs. mascarpone cheese
1 Tbs. chives, chopped (optional)

Heat oil in a deep saucepan.  Add shallots, garlic and salt and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add carrots and cook for an additional 10 minutes. 
Place chicken broth and curry paste in blender jar (this recipe was written for the Blendtec blender) and carefully add the cooked vegetables.  Secure blender lid and select "soup".  
Pour blended soup back into the deep saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Stir in 2 Tbs. mascarpone cheese into soup.  Serve soup and garnish with remaining mascarpone cheese and chives.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Serving Up {Cake}: Cherry Chocolate Cake

About four years ago, we were living in Las Vegas and we went to church with a young, childless couple.  He was our ever faithful home teacher - visiting us every month without fail.  She came over once a week to sit with my sleeping baby so that I could volunteer in my daughter's 1st grade class.  We really loved this couple.  For any number of reasons I decided to bake them a cake one day and I made them a Cherry Chocolate Cake that I happen to think is beyond delicious!  It isn't necessarily the most beautiful looking cake and they may have received it with a bit of skepticism - but any skepticism was quickly replaced with adoration.  He reported to me later that the night after I had given them this cake, he woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't stop thinking about the cake.  He finally decided to get up and go into the kitchen to eat some of it only to discover that his wife had already done the same thing and she had not even attempted to hide the evidence of her midnight cake indulgence.  I loved that they would share that story and I think about Nate and Nicole, without fail, every time that I make this cake.

A number of years prior to that experience I had been given a copy of the book "The Cake Mix Doctor" - basically a book of 150 different recipes that begin with a simple cake mix.  It is kind of a fun book, that I have still not come close to fully exploring.  Luckily, this recipe for Cherry Chocolate Cake was one of the very first recipes that I discovered, made and fell in love with.  Four ingredients for the cake, four ingredients for the frosting - you are only eight ingredients away from a wonderfully moist chocolate cake that has a delightful hint of cherry, only enhanced by the almond extract.  And unlike most cake-mix cakes, this cake actually tastes better (if that is possible) the day after.

(recipe from The Cake Mix Doctor)

1 pkg. plain devil's food cake mix (I use the triple fudge cake mix)
1 can (21-ounce) cherry pie filling
2 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract

chocolate glaze:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 13x9 baking pan by lightly spraying with oil spray.

Place the cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs and almond extract in a mixing bowl.  Blend on low speed for 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 2 additional minutes.  The batter will be thick.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread out completely.  Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake tests done.  Allow the cake to cool slightly.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, butter and milk and cook over medium-low heat until the butter melts and the mixture comes to a boil.  Allow to boil for one full minute, ensuring that the sugar is completely dissolved.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips until all the chips are melted and the glaze is smooth.  

Pour the glaze over the cake while it is still warm.  The glaze will be runny but will thicken as it cools.  Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting and serving.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Serving Up {Bread}: AMAZING breadsticks

I know that I shouldn't LOVE breadsticks as much as I love these - but I just can't help it.  They taste an awful lot like some breadsticks served at a well known Italian restaurant, except even better because they come from your very own oven, warm and delicious!

They also happen to make a perfect accompaniment to this lasagna, or to this soup, or to pretty much anything.  I made them three times last week!  There, I admit it, I have a breadstick problem.  The problem is that they are REALLY easy to make and REALLY good.  I dare you to make them and not develop the same problem :)

(recipe from Your Homebased Mom)
printable version

1/4 cup warm water
1 pkg. yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
2 Tbs. sugar
4 1/4 cup flour
2 Tbs. butter, softened
1 Tbs. salt
1 1/4 cup warm water

3 Tbs. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. oregano

Place 1/4 cup warm water in a mixing bowl, add sugar and yeast. Allow the yeast to proof for 5 minutes.  Add the flour, butter, salt and 1 1/4 cup water to the yeast mixture and mix until the dough has formed.  Add additional flour until the dough is soft and smooth and workable.

Place the dough on a floured surface and cut into 16 even pieces.  Roll each piece into a 7-8 inch breadstick.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Cover with a cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, or place in a warm oven (preheat to 150 degrees and then turn OFF).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine topping ingredients.  Once breadsticks have risen, brush each breadstick with the butter mixture - using approximately 1/2 of the mixture.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Remove from oven and brush with the remaining butter mixture.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Serving Up {Pasta}: Classic Lasagna

One thing I know to be true, it is nearly impossible to photograph lasagna and have the photo look anything close to appetizing.  I get it.  But please stick with me past the photos and believe me that this is the lasagna recipe that you have been dying to make.

I have a total crush on Mel's Kitchen Cafe and this is just one more of her absolute, dead-on recipes that will make you have a crush on her too!  I have always thought that lasagna had to either have cottage cheese or ricotta cheese - not so!  This is a true Italian recipe and that gorgeous layer of white throughout the layers of noodles is not ricotta or cottage cheese - it is a creamy, luscious white sauce!  Brilliant!

I will admit that this recipe takes bit of time to put together - more of a "company is coming over" than a "I need to throw something together for the kids!".  You make a yummy red sauce, while that simmers you make a delicious white sauce and then you layer them both amongst noodles and cheeses.  YUM!  So worth the time and the dirty dishes...I promise I will wash your dishes for you if you don't think so :)

(recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)
printable version

Red Sauce
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. butter
4 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1/2 large onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained (my family prefers petite diced tomatoes)
2 tsp. Italian seasoning (or a mix of dried oregano and basil)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

White Sauce
3 cups milk (I always use whole milk)
5 Tbs. flour
4 Tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

9 lasagna noodles, boiled for half the time on the box (or use 12 of the no-boil noodles)
1 pound ground turkey (sausage is a yummy substitution)
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 dish.

In a large skillet, crumble and brown the ground turkey until no longer pink. Drain the grease and set aside.

In a medium saucepan head 2 tablespoons olive oil and one tablespoon butter; adding a pinch of salt and pepper. When the oil/butter is hot, add the garlic and stir constantly, cooking until the garlic is lightly browned.  Add the onion and mushrooms and continue cooking until all of the vegetables are soft and browned and the fluid has mostly cooked out. Remove from the heat.  Place the cooked vegetables in your blender and add the tomato sauce and the tomato paste.  Pulse until the vegetables are pureed and well combined with the tomato sauce/puree.  Return the tomato/vegetable mixture to the pot and add the diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring just to a boil and then reduce heat, cover and let the sauce sauce simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Right before using the red sauce in the lasagna, stir in the reserved ground turkey.

If using lasagna noodles that need to be boiled, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and boil the noodles for one-half of  the time suggested on the box.  Once cooked, drain the noodles, but do not rinse them.  Add just a dab of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together.
Skip this step if using no-boil noodles.

While the noodles boil and the red sauce is simmering, prepare the white sauce by melting the four tablespoons of butter in a saucepan.  When the butter has melted, add the flour and stir constantly to combine.  Allow the mixture to cook while stirring for a minute or two. Gradually add in the milk, whisking constantly. Add the salt and pepper. Slowly whisk the white sauce, ensuring it doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan, while cooking it over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until it has thickened significantly.

Prepare to layer the lasagna by combining the shredded cheese.
Make sure you have added the cooked ground turkey to the red sauce.
On the bottom of your lightly greased baking dish, place three boiled noodles (or four no-boil noodles), follow with 1/3 of the red sauce, 1/3 of the white sauce and 1/3 of the shredded cheese mixture.  Repeat the layers, in the same order, two more times.

Cover the lasagna with a greased piece of aluminum foil and bake in your preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and let the lasagna sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Serving Up {Appetizer}: Queso Fundido

At our house, when it comes to football, we follow college football not the NFL.  So our season is over, as are the bowl games and the snacks that go along with the bowl games.  But I do realize that for most people the Super Bowl is a pretty big football day, which means more snacks to be made.  If you are looking for some new snack recipes to try for the big game, might I suggest Peanut Butter Fritos, Caramel Clusters, or this recipe for Queso Fundido.

As far as I can tell Queso Fundido means "melted cheese" so there are plenty of variations on this recipe.  This particular recipe comes together quickly and tastes delicious so it is the one that I have kept around for many years.  Once prepared, serve immediately with warm bread or with cut vegetables.  Delicious!


1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. Tabasco green pepper sauce
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped

In a shallow oven safe dish, combine shredded cheese, garlic and tabasco sauce - gently stir to combine.  Place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted.  Remove and stir gently.
Top with chopped tomato, cilantro and additional tabasco sauce (if desired).
Serve with warm bread or fresh vegetables.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Serving Up {Cookies}: Snickerdoodle Blondies

My kids love to make snickerdoodles with my mom and they do so nearly every time that they have a chance to visit her.  As a result, my kids have become a bit obsessed with all things "snickerdoodle" - we have tried many variations (snickerdoodles with cinnamon chips, ice cream sandwiches made with snickerdoodles, snickerdoodle muffins, etc.) and my kids can't pass up the word snickerdoodle without pausing to take notice.

This snickerdoodle obsession played out in our favor last month when my son asked if we could make cookies together one afternoon.  I handed over the pile of recipes "to try" and he immediately pulled out this recipe for Snickerdoodle Blondies and our decision was made.

While I will say that I don't think that they really tasted all that much like a true snickerdoodle, they were mind-blowing delicious - as in the entire pan was gone in less than 24 hours.  How embarrassing is that?  And that is after I had put most of them in the freezer to get them "out of sight, out of mind".
Seriously, yummmo!

(recipe from Your Homebased Mom)
printable version

2 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla
1 cup cinnamon chips

2 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

Glaze: (optional)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper or nonstick spray.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cream of tartar and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer for 3-5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and then add the vanilla. Keep beating until mixture is smooth.
Stir in flour mixture until well blended. If using cinnamon chips, stir them in now.
The batter will be thick. Spread it evenly into the prepared pan.
Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl; sprinkle evenly on top of batter.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Remove from the oven and let the pan cool completely.
If you’re adding the glaze, whisk the glaze ingredients in a medium bowl and drizzle onto the bars in a decorative fashion. Let glaze set before cutting the cookies into bars.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Serving Up {Bread}: Herbed Rolls

Nothing goes better with all the soup recipes that I have been posting than freshly baked bread. Whether it is corn bread or french bread or polenta bread - warm bread just goes perfectly with a hot bowl of soup. These rolls make the perfect accompaniment to just about any meal and because they are super easy (and super yummy) they are served frequently at our home. My son refers to them by asking, "are we having my favorite rolls?" There you go - a raving review from a nine year old!

Play with the seasonings all you'd like. While we generally stick with an italian blend, I have used a dill blend (pampered chef) when serving them alongside fish, and you could also easily use a garlic mix and have a garlic bread knockoff.  Yum!

(recipe adapted from Your Homebased Mom)
printable version

Frozen dinner rolls (I use/prefer Rhodes)
Butter, melted
Parmesan cheese, shredded
Italian Seasoning
Dried parsley

Place the mayo, the butter and the shredded Parmesan each in separate bowls.
Take a frozen dinner roll, dip the top half first in the mayo, dip second in the melted butter and then dip third into the grated Parmesan.  Place in a greased baking pan (8x8 or 13x9 depending on the number of rolls you are making).  Repeat these steps with the remaining frozen rolls.
When all the rolls are in the pan, sprinkle the tops with Italian seasoning and dried parsley (or any other preferred herb combination).  Cover with plastic wrap and all the rolls to rise based on the frozen rolls directions - usually 4-5 hours at my house.  Bake according to directions on the package.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Serving Up {Soup}: Italian Pasta Soup with Sausage

As much as I love soup, and I could eat it all winter long, I do get resistance from most of my kids most of the time when I announce "soup" as what's for dinner.  Why is that?  At least my younger ones will try it, and generally love it, yet they have amnesia set in over night and the next time I serve soup they have another soup-induced meltdown.  My older ones are the ones I don't get...if they like every individual ingredient in the soup, how is it that you combine them in a bowl and it all becomes inedible?  That doesn't seem to happen when we go to the self-serve yogurt shop - they combine all kinds of atrocities in a bowl there and declare it a masterpiece!

I was having this discussion with my SIL and asking her whether her kids were any different.  From what she said, they aren't.  She did tell me that she tries to limit the "brothiness" of soups when she can and keep the ingredients identifiable.  I went home that very night and came up with this child friendly recipe - a tweaking combination of multiple recipes.  The result, if I do say so myself, was delicious!  To heck with the kids.  This is one recipe that I hope they don't eat - all the more for me!

printable version

1 pkg. Jimmy Dean Sage sausage
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
48 ounces chicken stock (I use Better Than Boullion Chicken Base from Costco - love it!)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
3 cups uncooked flat pasta (I used orecchiette but bow-tie would be similar)

In a large pot, brown the sausage over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Remove the sausage from the pot and drain the oil, leaving 2 Tbs. of the drippings in the pan. To the drippings add the onion and garlic and cook until tender.
Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, basil, thyme and sausage. Bring to a boil. Add the uncooked pasta; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 18-20 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Serving Up {Soup}: Baked Potato Soup

This recipe for baked potato soup really does taste like a delightful soup version of a baked potato because you actually use potatoes that have been baked in the recipe.  No boiled potatoes in this recipe!  The result is a very thick, creamy and hearty meal.  Top (generously) with shredded cheese and crumbled bacon and you are set.  Absolutely delicious!

(recipe from Karen S.)
printable version

1 cube butter
1 medium onions, diced
1/2 quart half & half
1/2 cup flour
32-ounce chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. basil
2 pounds baked potatoes, cooled and crumbled

Shredded cheese & crumbled bacon (for serving)

In a large pot, melt the butter and add the onions, sauteing until translucent. Add the flour and stir until there are no lumps. Gradually add the half & half and the chicken broth, stirring until it thickens. Add the spices and potatoes.
To serve, garnish with shredded cheese and crumbled bacon.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Serving Up {Soup}: Coconut Curry Soup

I know that I have mentioned before my family's love of all things curry.  It stems from my husband living in the West Indies for two years while he served a mission for the LDS church.  I consider his taste for curry to be authentic and so he gets the final vote whenever I make a curry dish as to whether we keep the recipe or ditch the recipe.

This soup comes from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, one of my very favorite food blogs, not to mention the source of our family's favorite curry dish of all time (here).  I love to find new curry dishes to surprise my husband with and it is all the better when the end product tastes as good as this one.  The verdict - my husband gave it an "absolutely" when asked whether we keep the recipe or not.

I had already filed it away to make again...soon!

(recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)
printable version

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
salt and pepper
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 Tbs. fish sauce
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1/2 Tbs. curry powder
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro

3-4 cups cooked rice (for serving)

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the onion and red pepper and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, fish sauce, cayenne pepper, brown sugar and curry powder. Stir all to combine. Bring the soup to a gentle boil and reduce heat to simmer, cooking for an additional 10-15 minutes. Stir in lime juice and cilantro.
Serve the soup by ladling the soup over a scoop of rice and garnish with additional cilantro if desired.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Serving Up {Soup}: Beef and Barley Stew

Happy 2012!

It is good to be back. I didn't intend to go dark for over 2 weeks, but Christmas got the best of me. I guess all those food bloggers that posted throughout the Christmas break went into it better prepared than me :)

After my overload of cookie posts in the month of December, I am excited to post some yummy, hearty stews and soups. That is what I really crave this time of year and most of the soups that I make on a regular basis come together really quickly! I try to brown hamburger and sausage the day that I buy it, then I stick it in the freezer, which allows me to truly "throw" a soup together with very little effort on my part.  Perfect for the busy dinner hour.

This first soup is remarkably easy, yet it tastes so yummy! I have been making this Beef and Barley Stew since I got married and have never tired of it.  Serve it with some delicious corn bread and it is simply perfect for a day when you need to get warmed up from the inside out, which for me is most days!

printable version

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 1/2 cup carrots, sliced
1 46-ounce V-8 juice (can use tomato juice but V-8 has more flavor)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup medium pearl barley
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
frozen corn (optional)

Brown ground beef with the onion and celery until beef is cooked through and the vegetables are soft. Drain the fat. Stir in the carrots, vegetable juice, water, barley and spices. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer - cover and allow to simmer for 50-60 minutes or until the barley and carrots are tender.
If adding frozen corn, add it just the last five minutes before serving.