Monday, March 31, 2008

Taco Soup

I'm not sure what your weather has been like, but it is still pretty chilly here. So I'm still making a lot of soup--I love it! I'm sure you all have a taco soup recipe and they're pretty much all the same, but just in case you've never tried it, here goes one. I like my food spicy, so I added cilantro, garlic, and some salsa verde to my soup. You can top with sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips if desired. Also, as in all recipes ground turkey can be substituted without affecting the flavor too much for a lighter alternative.

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) can black beans, with liquid
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans with liquid
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, with liquid
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
3-4 cups water
2 (14.5 ounce) cans peeled and diced tomatoes
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chile peppers (opt.)
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix


In a medium skillet, cook the ground beef until browned over medium heat. Drain, and set aside.

Place the ground beef, onion, chili beans, kidney beans, corn, tomato sauce, water, diced tomatoes, green chile peppers and taco seasoning mix in a slow cooker or in a pan on the stove if short on time.

Mix to blend, and cook on Low setting for 8 hours or until flavors are blended and soup is warm.

Peppery Bean Salad

This is probably my personal all-time favorite recipe. Whenever I smell it I start salivating like Pavlov's dog. The smell of onions, tomatos, avocados and beans is heavenly! I personally LOVE beans and put them on/in everything. My kids really like them too and always love this salad even though it is a bit spicy. Beans are a wonderful source of fiber and protein and are low in fat and calories--the perfect food. (Your body eventually gets used to the extra fiber :)) Enjoy!

1 can chick peas (garbonzo beans)
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 can kidney beans
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
2 tomatoes, chopped finely
1 green pepper (opt.)
2 avocados, chopped

Open cans and rinse under cold water. Shake off excess water, add veggies.

1 t. cumin
1 T. ketchup
2 T. olive oil
1 T. white wine/cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground pepper
5 drops of hot pepper sauce

Mix together and pour over bean mixture; chill for an hour to allow flavors to mix.

HINT: Add avocados right before serving because they become mushy. They're still delicious, just brown after refrigerated in the bean mix.

Pineapple Chicken

This basically tastes like a lighter sweet and sour chicken. It is super good and SO easy. My mother-in-law doubles this for a big crowd and it goes a long way. I like to add big chunks of green peppers and onions into it for color and taste. Yesterday I happened to have a fresh pineapple too, so I used that in place of canned and it was beautiful. As far as the call for russian dressing--I've only ever seen one size (8 oz). I cooked mine at 250 for like 2 1/2 hours because I had other things going on and it worked out fine. I bet you could even pour it into the crockpot and cook on low for 3+ hours.

6 chicken breasts (+/-)
salt and pepper to taste
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1 (about 16 oz) jar of apricot preserves
1 bottle russian dressing
1 can chunk pineapple

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; place breasts in pan and season with salt and pepper according to taste.

Mix ingredients and pour on top. Bake uncovered 30-45 minutes. Serve over rice.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Baked Ziti

This is one of those recipes that is so easy you think, "Why didn't I think of that?" I'm sure that a lot of your families are like mine--they love anything with pasta and red sauce. All my boys will usually eat a few servings of anything "spaghetti-ish." This is nice because it is a little different than your traditional spaghetti meal. I just used whatever cheese was in the fridge when I made this (swiss and monterey jack--odd combo, I know) and it still tasted fabulous.

1 lb. ziti pasta (you can use penne or rigatoni too)
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 (26 oz) jars of spaghetti sauce
6 oz. provolone, sliced
1 1/2 c. sour cream
6 oz. mozzarella, shredded
2 T. parmesean

1. Bring a lightly salted water to boil in a pan. Add ziti pasta and cool until al dente (it means to the bite--slightly firm), about 8 mins; drain.

2. In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add sauce and simmer about 15 mins (if time).

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9x13 pan. Layer: 1/2 ziti, all of provolone, sour cream, 1/2 sauce, remaining ziti, mozzarella, and rest of sauce. Top with parmesean.

4. Bake 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Garlic Cheese Bread

This recipe was made frequently by my mom growing up, so there aren't too many specific measurements. Just play with the ingredients until you get your favorite mix. It is always loved by guests. It goes great with spaghetti, lasagna, etc.

1 loaf of french bread, halved
shredded cheese as desired
1/4-1/3 cup of butter/margarine
1 (8 oz) cream cheese
basil/italian seasonings
garlic salt/powder

Put margarine and cream cheese in a microwave safe dish and cook until soft enough to mix. After mixing, spread on each half of french bread. Lightly season with those listed above (or whatever sounds good to you) and top with cheese. Bake at 450 OR broil until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Corn Bread

Get ready, this is so easy you might miss it! :) My sister taught me this trick. It goes great with chili, tortilla soup...anything with a little kick.

Make a jiffy box of cornbread as directed
add a 1/3 c. of sugar to the mix

Preheat oven to 400 degrees as directed on the box. Put about 1 T. of butter/margarine in the baking dish to melt in the preheated oven. Then when the butter is melted and the oven warmed, pour the mix in the pan and bake as directed.

SO EASY and 100x better than the normal. I always get asked how to make cornbread and they always seem so unimpressed after I tell them how I made it. :)


I make this chili about once/month, sometimes less. It is so yummy and goes a long way. The nice thing is you can adjust the flavor to your preference, so if you like spicy chili, you might add some jalapeno peppers, cilantro, etc. If you don't like any spice, you might take out some of the cumin and chili powder. As it is, it's the right amount of flavor for most everyone. Also, sometimes if I've made a roast I'll use the leftovers in place of the ground beef and it is awesome. This makes a lot, so you can either half the recipe or freeze the leftovers for another day.

2 lbs. ground beef
2 onions, chopped
8 oz. sliced mushrooms (opt)
1/2 green pepper, chopped (opt)
29 oz. can whole or diced tomatoes
29 oz. can tomato sauce
30 oz. can chili beans
15 oz. can kidney beans
2 tsp. cumin
4 tsp. chili powder

Brown beef and onions (and mushrooms and grn. pepper); drain fat. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 20 mins. Top with sour cream, cheese, onions, etc--to your preference.

Crockpot: Cook hamburger and onions (and peppers) until cooked through and soft. Then put in crockpot with remaining ingredients and cook as long as needed.

Famous Restaurant Pancakes

I don't want to get sued, so I'm just going to say that these taste the same as a famous pancake restaurant. They're so good. I usually half this recipe too. Let us all know if you try them and any adjustments you make.

1 1/4 c. flour
1 egg
1 1/4 c. Buttermilk (1 1/4 c. milk with 1 tsp. vinegar--let sit for a few minutes)
1/4 c. sugar
pinch of salt
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 c. oil

Mix together. Flip pancakes over when bubbles appear. Cook on medium-low.

Oh Boy Waffles

I always make my pancakes and waffles from scratch--it's really almost as simple as a mix and tastes great. I usually half this recipe when it's just our small family.

2 1/4 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 1/2 T. sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. oil

Just mix ingredients together and pour onto griddle.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mint Chocolate Brownies

I just made my brownie recipe (double batch--see "The Best Brownies" recipe below) in a 9x13 and then added the green topping (first part of recipe) on top and then poured the chocolate mixture on (second part of recipe). You can use brownie mix too. I think next time I might reduce the mint mixture because it was pretty thick, but oh so yummy!

1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk, or as needed
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
6 drops green food coloring

1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


To make the middle layer, beat 1/2 cup of butter with confectioners' sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add milk as needed to get a spreadable consistency. Stir in the peppermint extract and green food coloring. Spread this over the cooled pan of brownies. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or freeze if in a rush).

In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips with the butter until melted. Stir every 20 seconds until chocolate is smooth. Stir in vanilla and then pour over the chilled brownies and quickly spread to cover the surface. Cool again until firm, about 10 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

I left out the chocolate chips since I'm not a big fan of them in ice cream. I think next time I might add crushed up oreos though. It is super yummy just by itself. I like that it doesn't have raw eggs in it. Also, out of every ice cream recipe I've tried, this one freezes the best. Even after two days, it still scoops up so effortlessly. Easier than storebought even! I will use this as my base from now on and try other flavors.


2 cups 2% milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 drops green food coloring (optional)
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips


1. In a large bowl, stir together the milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and peppermint extract until the sugar has dissolved. Color to your liking with the green food coloring.

2. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. After about 10 minutes into the freezing, add the chocolate chips. After the ice cream has thickened, about 30 minutes later, spoon into a container, and freeze for 2 hours.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Banana Crumb Muffins

These are delicious and so easy. They take about 30 minutes to make and bake, so not too bad. The main problem is I can't stop eating them! :) Also, whenever you try a recipe, post a comment and let us know if you liked it or not, and if you made any changes. This is supposed to be a community forum.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Best Brownies

I got this recipe from a friend when I lived in Italy and it has been my favorite brownie recipe ever since. In fact, I don't really care for brownies much except for these. They take just as long as mixing a box of brownies up. Although I haven't made them in awhile, Chad was surprised I hadn't posted them on here yet. They taste even better the next day, if you have any left!


1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. cocoa
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt

Cream butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Then add flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Put in greased 9x9 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 mins.

Cream Cheese Chicken

I've seen several versions of this recipe, but this one is fastest and easiest; plus it doesn't have butter in it like the others do. My mother-in-law gave me this one.

2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 8oz cream cheese
1 envelope of Good Seasons Italian Dressing (sometimes I use ranch packets instead)
6 to 8 chicken breasts

Empty 1 can of soup into crockpot. Place chicken in pot, then slice cream cheese over top. Add additional can of soup and sprinkle dry dressing mix over top. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low all day. Serve over rice.

Pasta E Fagioli

This soup is so delicious, and although it looks like a lot of ingredients (and work) it really isn't too bad. I can whip this up in an hour--cooking time and all. It tastes so delicious with homemade rolls. On the kidney beans...I usually just either pick red or white since one can has two cups in it. Also, it isn't super important to be exact on any of the ingredients. It always turns out no matter what. If I don't buy fresh parsley I use dry too.


1 1/2 teaspoon oil
1 pound ground beef
7 ounces carrot -- slivered or chopped
6 ounces onion -- chopped
7 ounces celery -- diced
24 ounces tomatoes, canned -- diced
1 cup red kidney beans
1 cup white kidney beans
44 ounces beef stock
1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley -- chopped
3/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
24 ounces spaghetti sauce
4 ounces dry pasta shell macaroni


Saute beef in oil until beef starts to brown. Add onions, carrots, celery and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 min. Drain and rinse beans and add to pot. Also add beef stock, oregano, pepper, Tabasco, spaghetti sauce and noodles . Simmer until celery and carrots are tender, about 45 min.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Molten Chocolate Cakes

My cousin Cami had this recipe from Kraft Foods on her website and I made it 3 times in 5 days after I saw it. It is awesome! It can easily be halved for just two people. You have to eat it right away, so don't plan on making these early. These are SO super easy and to die for!

Molten Chocolate Cakes
4 squares Baker's semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/2 c. butter
1 c. powdered sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 T. flour
1/2 c. cool whip

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter four 3/4-cup custard cups or souffle dishes. Place on a baking sheet. (I use a mini-bundt pan)
2. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until butter is melted. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar until well blended. Blend in eggs and egg yolks with wire whisk. Stir in flour. Divide batter among prepared custard cups.
3. Bake 13-14 mins. (10 mins in mini-bundt pan; YOU MUST NOT OVERCOOK) or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 min (important). Carefully run small knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto dessert dishes. Serve immediately, topped with whipped topping.

Spinach Salad

This is a terrific spinach salad with a spicy and sweet taste. Sometimes I half the dressing because it makes so much and I don't like it to be soggy.

Spinach Salad

1 head lettuce (I use romaine)
1 bunch spinach
3/4 lb. grated swiss cheese
1 red onion, sliced
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled (I sometimes use the Hormel in a bag bacon from Costco)

3/4 T. poppy seed
1/3 C. white vinegar
3/4 c. oil
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. grated onion
3/4 t. salt
2 tsp. prepared mustard

Toss together lettuce, spinach, cheese, onion, and bacon. Mix together rest of dressing ingredients and pour over spinach.

Chicken Pot Pie

This is THE BEST I've ever had.

Chicken Pot Pie--Ready in about 1 hour 15 mins.

1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts--cubed
1 c. sliced carrots
1 c. frozen green peas
1/2 c. sliced celery
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. chopped onion
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 t. celery seed
2 c. chicken broth
1 c. milk
2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts.

1. Preheat oven to 390 degrees
2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for about 15 mins. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.
3. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter clear. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. Press one pie crust in a deep-dish pie pan and baste with egg whites (to keep from getting mushy). Then place chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 mins before serving.

Fruit Pizza

This is a super easy version of fruit pizza. I'm not super excited about the cream cheese part, but it's not bad and I seem to always have the ingredients on hand. I usually like kiwi, strawberries, and bananas for toppings. Raspberries and blueberries are great when they're in season and not too expensive.

Fruit Pizza--Ready in 1 hour'ish

1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. cream of tartar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese
1/2 c. white sugar
2 t. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter & 3/4 c. sugar until smooth. Mix in egg. Combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Press dough into an ungreased pizza pan.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes OR until lightly browned. Cool.
4. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 c. sugar and vanilla until light. Spread on cooled crust.
5. Arrange desired fruit on top of filling, and chill.

Pork Barbacoa

This is a recipe that feeds 6-8 people and is easily adjusted. I usually warm my tortillas on a pan before serving them. Items I include to put in the burrito are: rice, black beans, monterey jack cheese, green onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. Feel free to experiment. The sauce combined with the pork in the burrito is amazing. I personally enjoy sans tortilla--salad style.

Pork Barbacoa:

4 lb. pork roast
1 c. salsa
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. 7-up

Cook in a crock pot on low for eight hours. Shred pork before serving.

Cilantro Lime Tomatilla:

1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
1 T. Salsa verde
1/8 t. Tabasco
1/3 bunch of cilantro
2 cloves of garlic
3/4 c. mayo
3/4 c. sour cream
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 lime, zest and juice

Blend ingredients in blender until smooth.