Monday, February 27, 2012

Harvest Time Zucchini Soup

We always make this delicious soup at the end of the harvest, when the weather starts to get too cold for the garden.  It also freezes well, which makes it fabulous all through the winter months.
Harvest Time Zucchini Soup
Recipe from Lyn H. Denna

4 c. chicken broth
6 small zucchini, diced
1 onion, diced
5 carrots, diced
2 potatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce 
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 can evaporated milk
hand full cilantro leaves, chopped

In a large pot, combine all ingredients except milk.
Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, puree to desired consistency.
Add milk and heat through.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Granola Bars

These chewy snacks are somewhere in-between a granola bar and a cookie.  They have an amazingly soft and chewy texture, with the perfect combination of apples and cinnamon.
They make a great addition to breakfast, or a satisfying snack.  Seriously. Scrumptious.

Apple Cinnamon Granola Bars
Recipe modified from Taste of Home

1/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp. wheat germ
2 Tbsp. honey
2 c. regular oats
1 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. dehydrated apple slices, chopped

Beat butter and brown sugar until crumbly.
Add egg and beat well.
Add wheat germ and honey and beat until smooth.

In a small bowl, combine the oats, flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.
Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just blended.
Fold in apples.

Wet hands slightly and press into a greased 11x7" baking dish.
Bake at 350 for 18 minutes, or until set and edges are lightly browned.
Cool 10 minutes in baking dish, and then move to a wire rack.
Cut while still warm, and press sides of each piece together to keep from crumbling when cooled completely.
Store in an airtight container.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Toasted Almonds

Toasting almonds brings out the natural oils in the nuts, resulting in a deeper color and a richer flavor.
I like to toast them in large batches, throw them in a ziplock bag, and place them in the freezer.  That way I have them ready to use whenever, and don't have to take the time to do small amounts for each recipe needed.
Toasted Almonds
Set oven to 350.
Spread almonds on an ungreased cookie sheet, in a single layer.
Put in oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring occassionally, until lightly toasted.
Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Butternut Squash and White Bean Soup

This hearty soup is packed with flavor.  The autumn spices add a great touch to the butternut squash, and the bacon puts this over the top.
(Although there is hardly any red pepper, it was much spicier than I anticipated.  If you are serving to your kiddo's, I'd omit the heat altogether).

Butternut Squash and White Bean Soup
Recipe modified from Goodrich Goodies

6 slices bacon (I love turkey)
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 c. peeled and chopped butternut squash
2 cans chicken broth
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can evaporated milk

Cook bacon until crisp; crumble and set aside.
In a large saucepan, using 2 Tbsp of bacon drippings, saute the onion and celery until onion is translucent.
Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
Add sqash, cooking for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add chicken broth, cumin, red pepper, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, salt, pepper and beans.
Bring to a boil.
Add evaporated milk and heat through.
Sprinkle each serving with bacon.

**If Freezing:
Place cooled soup in ziplock freezer bags or containers and freeze for up to 3 months.
Squash will be more tender after frozen.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sausage Stuffed Manicotti

This is a great 'make ahead' meal (or freezer meal) that comes together quickly.  The best part is you don't have to worry about pre-cooking the shells!
It does have to bake for an hour though, so keep that in mind.
Another great thing is these actually have some sustenance to them, rather than your average 'cheese overloaded' stuffed shell.
Sausage Stuffed Manicotti
1/4 c. onion, diced
1/2 lb. sausage
1 can flavored tomatoes
16oz. cottage cheese
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
1 can green chilies
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. garlic
salt and pepper
8oz. pkg. (14 count) manicotti noodles
1-2 c. spaghetti sauce
1/2 - 1 c. mozzarella cheese

Cook onions and sausage in a skillet until sausage is cooked through and onions are translucent.
Set aside to cool.
Combine cottage cheese, parmesan, green chilies and seasonings in a bowl.
Add sausage and onion mixture and stir to combine.

Pour canned tomatoes into a greased 9x13" pan.
Stuff uncooked shells with cheese and sausage mixture; packing as firmly as possible.
Place stuffed shells on tomatoes.
Spread a large spoonful of spaghetti sauce over each shell.

Cover tightly with foil.
Bake at 375 for 50 minutes.
Uncover and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
Return and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until cheese has melted and turned golden brown.

**If freezing:
Assemble stuffed shells on top of tomatoes.  Top with spaghetti sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella.  Freeze.  Increase cooking time 10-15 minutes.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Samoas Bars

These are a lot more involved than your average dessert, but the results are pretty fabulous!  A shortbread cookie is topped with toasted coconut and caramel, then dipped and drizzled with chocolate.
Very similar to the girl scout cookie, these bars are a good make at home substitute.
Samoas Bars
Recipe and photo from Baking Bites

Shortbread Cookie Base:
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream together the sugar and butter.
Beat in egg and vanilla.
Gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand (dough does not need to come together.
Press into a greased 9x13" pan.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned.
Cool completely while you make the topping.

Coconut Caramel Topping:
3 c. shredded coconut
12 oz. chewy caramels
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. milk

Toast coconut in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes on a baking sheet, stirring every 5 minutes, until golden.
Cool, stirring occasionally.
Unwrap caramels and place in microwave safe bowl with milk and salt.
Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until caramels are melted.
When smooth, fold in toasted coconut and stir to coat evenly.
Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base, spreading into an even layer.
Sit aside until cool completely.

Chocolate base and drizzle:
10 oz. chocolate

When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or pizza cutter.
Once cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl.
Heat in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth.
Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on wax paper.
Transfer all remaining chocolate (or more if necessary) into a piping bag and drizzle bars to finish.
Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sour Cream Chicken and Gravy

My mom would make this all the time growing up.  It is probably the simplest recipe I have.  Extremely easy, very good.
Sour Cream Chicken and Gravy
Recipe from Sandy Bishop

4-8 chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can milk
1/2 c. chopped onions
1 1/2 - 2 c. sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Season chicken with salt and pepper.
In an electric frying pan, cook chicken until almost done.
Combine soup, milk, and onions and pour over chicken.
Continue cooking until chicken is done.
Turn off heat and stir in sour cream.
Serve with mashed potatoes.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Streusel Topped Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are perfectly moist and delicious - not overly sweet like some muffins can be.

Streusel Topped Blueberry Muffins
Recipe from Our Best Bites

1 3/4 c. flour
2 3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg
3/4 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. applesauce
1 c. blueberries
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
Streusel Topping:
1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter

In a small bowl combine blueberries with the 1 Tbsp. of flour and sugar; stir to coat.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk slightly.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients.
Stir until just moistened.
Gently fold in the flour/sugar coated blueberries.
Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups.

Combine the streusel ingredients together and cut butter into it using a fork.
Sprinkle evenly over muffin batter in cups.
Press down slightly with flat end of a spoon.

Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes.