Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Mushrooms

The Menu:
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Mushrooms

The Original Recipe:
This was on Menu4Moms and it uses up the leftovers from the Roasted Sticky Chicken. DELICIOUS!! I love creamy soups. This really hit the spot on a cold night. It was so easy to make, too. I did change it, so my recipe follows.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Mushrooms

■2 cups shredded chicken (from freezer)

■2 cans chicken broth or 4 cups homemade broth*

■1 onion, chopped & sauteed (from freezer)

■1/2 cup wild rice blend

■8 oz. sliced mushrooms

■2 Tbsp. butter

■2 cans cream of mushroom soup

■1 cup milk

■1/4 cup cooking sherry (optional)

■Adobo seasoning

■4 tbsp. flour

Combine first 4 ingredients in slow cooker on high. Saute mushrooms in butter until tender. Add to slow cooker. Once soup is hot, add cream of mushroom soup, stirring until well blended. Season to taste with Adobo. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. One hour before serving, mix flour with 1/3 cup hot water until dissolved and add to soup to thicken. 30 minutes before serving, add milk and sherry

The Way I Made It My Own:
Oddly enough I wanted to do it on the stovetop. I made my own "cream of" soup and it was so creamy and good. Lot's of flavor!

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Baby Bella Mushrooms

■2 cups shredded chicken

■6 cups home made broth (from leftover sticky chicken)

■1 onion, chopped

■1 cup wild rice blend

■8 oz. sliced baby bella mushrooms

■2 Tbsp. butter

■1 cup flour

■3 cups milk

■1/4 cup cooking sherry (optional)

■Adobo seasoning (I used about 1 1/2 tsp.)

Combine flour and 1 cup milk, stirring until no lumps appear, set aside. Saute onion and mushrooms in butter until onions are translucent. Add chicken, broth and rice. Cover and cook for the directed time on rice. I used instant wild rice so mine cooked 5 minutes. Once rice is done, add flour mixture and the additional 2 cups of milk along with sherry, stirring until well blended. Season to taste with Adobo. Cook on medium until it bubbles and thickens then turn off and serve. YUM!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Fruit Salad

The Menu:
Winter Fruit Salad

The Original Recipe:
I was browsing Menus4Moms the other day and found a few recipes that looked good. I tried this out on the family and they really liked it. I used pecans instead (it's what I had), and I didn't have the grapes. It was still really good and light. Something to contrast all of those cookies. Ugh!!

Winter Fruit Salad

 2 oranges, sectioned and cut into bite sizes

 2 bananas, sliced

 1 cups seedless grapes, cut in half

 1 can pineapple chunks, drained (reserve juice)

 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

 2 tbsp brown sugar

 whipped cream, optional

Mix fruit and nuts together in a medium sized bowl. In separate small bowl, mix brown sugar and about 2 tbsp of the reserved pineapple juice. Pour brown sugar dressing over fruit and toss to coat. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired. Serve immediately.

Roast Sticky Chicken

The Menu:
Roast Sticky Chicken
(this picture is horrible, sorry, I ran out of daylight and well, it's blurry, but it tastes sooo good!)

The Original Recipe:
My friend April tried this recipe from Menus4Moms and her family loved it. I decided to make it last night, and WOW!! It tasted like I got a chicken out of the rotisserie from the store. It was so good and flavorful. I did the instructions as posted below. I will make this again. It was that good. I am going to use this to make the suggested Chicken with Wild Rice and Mushrooms (and use baby bella's per Aprils suggestion to make it better!)

Roast Sticky Chicken

■1 large chicken -- (roasting)

■1 cup onion -- chopped

■1/2 teaspoon black pepper

■1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

■1 teaspoon white pepper

■1 teaspoon thyme

■1 teaspoon onion powder

■1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

■2 teaspoons paprika

■4 teaspoons salt

In a small bowl, thoroughly combine all the spices (do not include the onion). Remove giblets from chicken, clean the cavity well and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mixture into the chicken, both inside and out, making sure it is evenly distributed and down deep into the skin. Place in a re-sealable plastic bag, seal and refrigerate overnight.

Wednesday Recipes

Notes for Wednesday:

1.After dinner, I like to tear the remaining chicken from the bone and boil the carcass and skin to create a nice broth for Friday's soup. I simmer it for an hour or two and then refrigerate the broth so I can skim off the fat in the morning before starting the soup.

2.Save 2 cups of the chicken for Friday's soup and freeze the rest for use next week.

3.Make a large salad tonight and save half for Friday night. Add croutons, bacon bits, sunflower seeds, and any other "crunchies" as well as salad dressing just before serving each night.

Roast Sticky Chicken

■1 large chicken, prepared on Tuesday-- (roasting)

■1 cup onion -- chopped

You should have prepared your chicken last night with the recipe listed on Tuesday. When ready to roast chicken, stuff cavity with onions, and place in a shallow baking pan. Roast, uncovered, at 250° F for 5 hours. After the first hour, baste chicken occasionally (every half hour or so) with pan juices. (It may take awhile to have pan juices) The pan juices will start to caramelize on the bottom of pan and the chicken will turn golden brown. If the chicken contains a pop-up thermometer, ignore it. Let chicken rest about 10 minutes before carving.

NB: Food safety guidelines do not recommend baking chicken at a temperature this low. Please understand that it is safer to bake chicken at 350° and you may wish to use this safer temperature for less time. Also, I use a roasting bag to prepare this chicken. It cuts down the mess and tastes moist and wonderful.

This recipe was originally created by Mimi Hiller of Mimi's Cyber Kitchen, and this version was actually an adaptation written by Lynn Nelson

Friday, December 24, 2010

Stuffed French Toast

The Menu:
Stuffed French Toast

The Original Recipe:
I was given this recipe from a friend of my mom. I haven't made it yet, but it will be our breakfast on Christmas morning, so I thought I would share. I don't think you could go wrong with this dish at all. I have made other dishes similar, but the addition of the cream cheese to this has intrigued me. I cannot wait for breakfast in the morning. Merry Christmas Everyone!!


8-12 slices bread, cubed, without crust

1-1/2 packages cream cheese, softened

1 dozen eggs

2 cups milk

1/3 cup maple syrup

• Cube bread and put into 9 x 13” dish.

• Cube cheese and put over bread cubes

• Beat eggs, and add milk & syrup

• Pour mixture over bread and cream cheese cubes.

• Cover with plastic wrap

• Refrigerate overnight

• Next morning, bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until done

• Serve with syrup or fruit

• Variations: Use diet bread, lite cream cheese, 1% milk,

Egg beaters, light syrup

The Verdict:
Well, I hadn't had the chance to eat today. I woke up at 2 am with the lovely stomach flu on Christmas Day. My poor 5 year old did as well.  However, the rest of the family said they loved this. I used 14 slices of bread and only 9 eggs, and it apparently turned out wonderful. I couldn't get a picture, nor could I be in the same room as the lovely smell coming from it. What a day!

***I made this dish recently for a church breakfast, and it was delicious!! I recommend using some syrup or thin out some jam to pour over top! YUM! It was really good! I would make it again!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sausage Lentil Soup (Crockpot)

The Menu:
Sausage Lentil Soup

The Original Recipe:
I am not sure where I found this recipe at. I thought is sounded good, and I could use up some of my leftover ingredients for a Christmas gift that I made this year. This soup is great and fast. None of us could stop eating it, and the leftovers were just as good if not more flavorful.

Sausage Lentil Soup

 1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced

 1 lb. (about 2 cups) dried lentils, rinsed and drained

 1 cup ham, diced

 1 medium onion, chopped

 1 small green pepper, chopped

 1 medium carrot, chopped

 2 garlic cloves, minced

 1/2 Tsp thyme

 1/4 Tsp pepper

 1/4 Tsp cumin

 1 bay leaf

 2 cans (14.5 oz. each) beef broth

 2 cans (14.5 oz. each) chicken broth

 2 cups spinach, coarsely chopped

Combine all ingredients except for the spinach in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours or until lentils are tender. Add spinach and cover. Let stand 5-10 minutes or until spinach wilts. Remove and discard bay leaf

The Way I Made It My Own:
I changed a few things to use up some ingredients I had in my cupboards.
Sausage Lentil Soup

 1 lb. Hot Sausage, cooked and crumbled

1 lb. (about 2 cups) dried lentils, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup dried green peas

 1 medium onion, chopped

1 small green pepper, chopped

 3 medium carrots, chopped

 2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 Tsp thyme

 1/4 Tsp pepper

 1/4 Tsp cumin

 1 bay leaf

 2 cans (14.5 oz. each) beef broth

 2 cans (14.5 oz. each) chicken broth

 2 cups spinach, coarsely chopped (I used frozen)

Combine all ingredients except for the spinach in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours or until lentils are tender. Add spinach and cover. Let stand 5-10 minutes or until spinach wilts. Remove and discard bay leaf

Apple Cider Caramels--SUCCESS!

The Original Post : Apple Cider Caramels

I finally decided to give the recipe one more (or 3) try. I did everything per instructions. It still didn't work out for me and was gooey. I scraped everything off of the parchment paper into the pot, boiled to hardball stage, poured it back in the prepared dish and let it sit. It didn't work. Again, I scraped it back off of the parchment paper, boiled it to hardball stage, poured it back into the prepared dish and let it sit. Once again, it didn't work. It almost did. I could at least cut it, but then it would just blob out onto the paper and not hold its form. So I did the above process again, letting it simmer at the hardball stage for 5 minutes and FINALLY... we have caramels!! My only thought is that there is to much liquid in this recipe that it needs to boil for awhile at a low temp to hardball stage. This is the only thing I can think of. Though I didn't get caramels the first time out doing it again, I did get caramels. My husband is very proud of me for my patience and persistence with this recipe. The end result is delicious!

Spicy Italian Chicken

The Menu:
Spicy Italian Chicken

The Original Recipe:
I found this on my favorite cooking site; Babycenter. I was confused about all the juice in the crockpot, and whether I should thicken it, or what I was going to do with it. I thought about adding cream cheese to it to melt and serve it over rice(which would of been delicious). However,  I decided to just add in 1 cup of instant rice to the crockpot, covered and turned it on warm for a few minutes to let the rice absorb. I turned off the crockpot, and it was done. An all in one dish ready to serve. I used fresh veggies, and I added some chicken broth powder for even more flavor.

Spicy Italian Chicken


1/2 cup Italian dressing

1 cup white wine

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp cayenne

1 tbsp Italian dressing mix

1 lb chicken breasts

1 cup sliced carrots*

1 bag frozen broccoli*

*can use a bag of frozen mixed veggies instead

Combine ingredients through cayenne in slow cooker. Add chicken and coat. Add carrots top. Cook on low 4-5 hours. Add broccoli for last hour.
Cooks Notes: I added 1 cup instant white rice the last 10 minutes before eating.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Apple Cider Caramels (or not?)

The Menu:
Apple Cider Caramels
(for my Success in making these click here)

(Ok, so we are starting off good. This is the cream, reduced cider and spices)

(Here you see the sugars and cream, stirring to the first temperature) 

(Now you see everything incoorperated, stirring to that 248 degrees) 

(Looking good. Nice and thick. I think it's gonna work.) 

(The final Product. Oh I am so ashamed. What a gooey mess. As you can see, the tops look nice and thick, but to try and cut and package, now that is where it get's messy) 

(Ah, yes, the final product. At least it tastes delicious and will be a great compliment to vanilla Ice cream!)
The Original Recipe:
Well, I don't normally post my flops, but when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right? My husband (he is more of the baker/candy maker in the family) and I attempted to make these Apple Cider Caramels. They look easy enough, and we have made caramels before with great success. So, why not? They would be a great addition to some Christmas gifts I am giving this year. Well, then again, maybe not. These were a total flop. We made a double batch the first time. After deciding it wasn't turning out right, I decided to make a single batch to see if I could at least get some caramels out of it (thinking it was the doubling that messed up the first batch). Well, I know we did everything right. Both times. The times must be off on this recipe. It has to be. Right? I mean, it tastes phenomenal, and I kept digging into it with a spoon (oh, treadmill how I need you right now!).

Now don't laugh at me, the great (not) baker that I am, I decided, well, maybe if I heat the oven to 260 (hard ball stage on the candy thermometer), then I can throw it in the oven in the pan and bake it to that temp. until bubbly for at least another 20 minutes. So, I did. Yep, I sure did. It didn't work. Is there any reason why it should have? It got thicker, but the underside of it stayed gooey. Yummy, but gooey. So, after being in the refrigerator until the evening (praying it would thicken to caramels), I tried it again. yep, not only did I do this once, but twice. Yes, I am the great baker (again. not.). Gee, wonder why it didn't work the second time?

So, back to the beginning, when life gives you lemons... I made it in to Caramel Apple Cider Sauce for Ice Cream. Yum! I just scooped it out of the pan into my small canning jars, heated it until bubbly in the microwave and plopped on the lids and listened for the seal to go "POP" and voila, Caramel Apple Cider Ice Cream Topping.

 I meant to do that. :o)

Apple Cider Caramels

Recipe adapted by Our Best Bites from America's Dairy Farmers

2 c. high-quality apple cider (like Simply Apple)

1 c. heavy cream or whipping cream, divided

1 tsp. ground cinnamon*

Pinch nutmeg*

1/4 tsp. allspice*

1 1/2 c. sugar

1/3 c. light corn syrup

1 stick (1/2 c.) real butter, cubed

*If you'd rather, you can use 1 tsp. apple pie or pumpkin pie spice + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon instead of the full teaspoon of cinnamon plus the nutmeg and allspice.

Pour cider into a medium saucepan and boil on high for about 20 minutes or until the cider is reduced to 1/3 c. (keep a glass or silicone measuring cup handy so you can pour it out and back in again if you need to). Set aside to cool.

Line an 8" square pan with parchment paper, making sure to leave about 1" hanging over the edges for easy removal. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In a small bowl, combine 2/3 c. cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and reduced apple cider. Set aside.

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, 1/3 c. whipping cream + enough water to reach the 1/2 c. line on the measuring cup, and corn syrup. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Insert the candy thermometer and simmer until the syrup reaches 234 degrees.

Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Add the cubed butter and stir until the cream and butter are fully incorporated. Return the pan to heat and re-insert the candy thermometer. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature reaches 248 degrees.

Remove from heat and pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let the mixture cool completely at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Cut the caramels into 1/2" squares and wrap each caramel in wax paper. Store in an airtight container or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks

Friday, December 10, 2010

Peanut Butter Bon Bons

The Menu:
Peanut Butter Bon Bons

The Original Recipe:
This is the recipe the local grade school uses for their Peanut Butter Bon Bons. They are delish and a favorite of the kids. I have to say though, I have started using natural peanut butter and a butter flavored margarine (no cholesterol, etc.) in a lot of these cookies I have been making lately. My stepsiser has been over 2x this week and combined we have made about 40 dozen cookies!!

Peanut Butter Bon Bons

2 lbs. powdered sugar
3 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 lbs. chocolate chips, semi-sweet (24 oz.)

Mix the powder sugar, peanut butter and butter together until Incorporated. You can place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes until chilled. Melt chocolate in microwave until smooth. Dip tops of peanut butter bon bons into chocolate. Place in fridge to cool.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Peanut Butter Blossoms

The Menu:
Peanut Butter Blossoms

The Original Recipe:
I am pretty sure a friend of mine gave me this recipe a long time ago. My stepsister and I made at least 30 dozen cookies yesterday. Among them were these Peanut Butter Blossoms. Tis' the season for baking cookies! They turned out really well. They are one of my boys favorite cookies.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

4 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

(Hershey Kisses or Mini Peanut Butter Cups)

Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Add eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour, soda, and salt. Mix well. Roll into balls, roll balls in sugar. Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and press a chocolate kiss or mini peanut butter cup into center of each cookie. Cool on wire racks.

Chex Muddy Buddies a.k.a. Dog Chow a.k.a. Trash Mix

The Menu:
Chex Muddy Buddies a.k.a. Dog Chow a.k.a. Trash Mix

The Original Recipe:
This recipe is on the back of the Chex boxes. It is super simple to make. I have never made them before tonight, so I wasn't aware of how easy it really was. While sampling a few of these I could imagine adding in peanuts and some pretzels to the mix. I think it would just give it that salty/sweet fulfillment and make it a great snack.

Chex Muddy Buddies

9 cups Rice Chex®, Corn Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.

2. In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.

3. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Home Made Christmas Present #4 (edible)

The Menu:
 Herbal Seasoned Salt

The Original Recipe:
I saw this while browsing around for another way to make a home made gifts for Christmas. I didn't save the recipe, but I made my own and it is as follows... Now, you can adjust to what you think you would like in your seasoned salt. Like I said, I got this as an idea, and I ran with it in my own way as to what I have still alive in my herbal garden outside...

Herbal Seasoned  Salt

24 oz. Kosher Salt
10 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bunch sage (tear the leaves off, and I would say you would have about 1/2 cup uncut)
4 sprigs rosemarry
1 small bunch  parsley(I tore off about a small handfull)

Remove all leaves from stalks. In food processor, add salt, thyme, sage, rosemarry and parsley, blend until incoorperated and herbs are processed as fine as the salt. Place in a large flat container and let air dry overnight (or longer until it's completely dry.). Store in sealed jars until ready to use.

Oh! and a bonus, here are the tags I used to decorate the jars: