Saturday, January 30, 2010

Roasted Tomato Soup #15

Okay, here is tomato soup try 4!

The case:
2 lbs plum tomatoes
6 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
1/4 medium red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs oregano, remove leaves from stem
3-4 basil leaves
2 cups fat-free vegetable broth or fat-free chicken broth or water
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved or grated (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Wash and cut tomatoes, placing in a shallow baking dish cut side down.
3. Add onion pieces, garlic, oregano and basil to the pan.
4. Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Bake for 45 minutes.
7. Place roasted vegetables in food processor bowl or blender and begin puree. Slowly add broth or water until soup has desired consistency. Continue blending until smooth. An immersion blender also works very well. (If you warm the broth first, the soup will be hot without reheating.).
9. Serve garnished with cheese if desired.

I took what I loved about the tomato soups I've made and added them to this soup. Mostly that was Parmesan cheese and half and half to the soup. Instead of two cups broth I used 1 cup broth and 1 cup half and half. I was very surprised that I felt like I needed to add more spices to this. I added more salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder- plus I ended up adding an extra can of tomatoes. After all of this it tasted much better, but still wasn't anywhere near as good as the Neelys I made last week.

Cinnamon Rolls

This is something that I've made about 3-4 times before. I couldn't think of anything better to make on a cold snowy day. Just for the record I hate baking. When I cook I want to eat- the sooner the better- the less steps the better. I get sooo frustrated using yeast. Almost every time I have tried to use it something goes wrong, which is that it doesn't rise. The best trick I've picked up off the internet is to put the covered bowl in the oven with the oven light on. I guess it was so cold today that didn't even work. I had to put my oven on warm to get them to rise. Even though these took me all day to make, they were worth every minute. Delicious! I use a powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk icing, but the original recipe calls for a cream cheese icing.

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Dissolve yeast in warm milk in Kitchen Aid mixing bowl. Add eggs, butter, salt, and sugar. Slowly add flour while mixing with bread hook. Once combined allow to knead for 10 minutes. Cover and put in a warm area for one hour. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface(I use powdered sugar) In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

My frosting is 2 cups powdered sugar, 4-5 Tablespoons milk, and vanilla.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Learned something new today thanks to my mom's friend, Kelly Prince. I'll help educate you as well with her words: "Lori, chiffonade means to roll the basil leaves up in a tight little bundle and cut them in very narrow strips. They will unroll in neat little pieces."

Next time we'll know! Thanks!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Apricot Nectar Cake #14

One of our favorite cakes is a lemon supreme cake. It contains apricot nectar, which is an ingredient I'd never heard of before making that cake. The cake is fantastic- so moist and flavorful. I just happened to see this recipes online tonight and had all the ingredients to make it.

The case:
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup apricot nectar
1/3 cup hot water
2 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1 (3 ounce) package lemon flavored gelatin mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 10 inch tube or Bundt pan.
Mix the cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, and apricot nectar together. Dissolve the gelatin in the hot water and add to cake batter. Mix well and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 60 minutes. Invert cake onto a plate and cool for several minutes. Pour glaze over cake while it is still warm. To Make Glaze: Combine the confectioner's sugar and the lemon juice. Use immediately to pour over still warm cake.

The verdict:
I made this cake exactly as written, but I ended up using the entire box of confectioners sugar for the icing- it was WAY too runny. This cake was okay, maybe even good, but it was a little too mushy for my taste. Michael really liked it though.

Roasted Tomato Soup #13

Tomato Soup try 3. This is probably one of the more difficult recipes I have, simply because I'm using fresh ingredients. I've never roasted and peeled tomatoes before. I'm not sure what chiffonade basil leaves are, so I'm just using regular.

The case:
3 pounds, medium plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch sugar
3 tablespoons butter
4 shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons chiffonade fresh basil leaves


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange tomatoes, flesh side up, on 2 wire racks set on sheet trays. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, making sure they are well covered. Season with salt, pepper and sugar.

Roast in the middle rack of the oven until tomatoes are brown and tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly.

Melt butter in 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Saute the shallots for 2 minutes, and then mix in tomato paste for a few more minutes. Add chicken stock and cayenne. Add heavy cream and heat over low heat. Bring up to a boil then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel skins off tomatoes. Add the roasted tomatoes to the pan.

Puree with an immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish generously with fresh basil.

The ruling:
Several changes I made to this: Put chopped basil in the soup, used 1/2 regular minced onion instead of shallots, added 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and oregano. This soup was extremely good. I loved the texture! I have a recipe very similar to this, but with more spices. I can't wait to try it. I'm going to try a couple tomato soup recipes, but it is going to be hard to beat this one!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tomato Tortellini Soup #12

I'm calling this tomato soup weekend. I'm on a mission to find the best tomato soup. This came from this month's Taste of Home magazine.

The Case:
1 pkg. 9 oz refrigerated cheese tortellini
2 cans tomato soup
2 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken)
2 cups milk
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (used nice and shredded myself)
Additional cheese for topping

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Meanwhile in a Dutch oven, combine soup, broth, milk, half and half, tomatoes, and seasonings. Heat through, stirring frequently. Drain tortellini; carefully add to soup. Stir in cheese. Sprinkle bowl with additional cheese if desired.

The Ruling:
This was good, but definitely more watered down than what I'm looking for. The tortellini was a good change, but not life changing. I doubled the cheese in this and that made it a lot better. Parmesan cheese is a necessity for my ultimate tomato soup, but I want something thicker than this in the long run. I think to get that I'm going to have to use with fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes and pulse them in blender or food processor.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cheesy Mexican Rice #11

I happened to have all the ingredients in my pantry to make this, and I thought it would be the perfect side dish to the chicken enchiladas!

The case:
* 2 cups cooked rice
* 1 (10 1/2 ounce) can cream of celery soup
* 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
* 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
* 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* extra shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1. Mix together first 8 ingredients.
2. Spoon mixture into a greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish.
3. Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.
4. Top with cheese.
5. Bake an additional 5 minutes.

The ruling:
I used brown rice- cooked it in the rice cooker I got for Christmas! I love that thing! If you cook rice a lot its a must! Instead of cream of celery I used cream of chicken. This was okay. Micheal liked it more than I did. It was a strange flavor- sorta spicy, tangy, and mushy. I probably won't make this again.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas #10

I love enchiladas and I love sour cream, so I am very excited to try this dish.

The case:
* 1 lb chicken breast, diced
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 8 (8 inch) flour tortillas, softened
* 1 1/2 cups grated Monterrey jack cheese or Mexican blend cheese, divided
* 1/4 cup butter
* 1/4 cup flour
* 1 (15 ounce) can chicken broth
* 1 cup sour cream
* 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies

1. In fry pan, cook chicken and onion together in oil over medium-high heat until chicken is just done.
2. Divide cooked chicken evenly between 8 tortillas; add 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese to each tortilla.
3. Roll enchiladas and place seam-side down in 9x13" baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with no-stick cooking spray.
4. Melt butter in a medium saucepan; stir in flour to make a roux; stir and cook until bubbly; gradually whisk in chicken broth then bring to boiling, stirring frequently.
5. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and green chilies; pour sauce evenly over enchiladas.
6. Top with remaining 3/4 cup cheese (baking dish may be double-wrapped and frozen at this point) and bake at 400° for 20 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce near edges of baking dish is bubbly.

The ruling:
I boiled the chicken and then sauteed it with Trader's Joes enchilada sauce and about 1/4 cup of minced onion. I think a can of Rotel would be a nice addition to the filling mixture. Next time I will add salt, white pepper, cayenne, and cumin to the roux. These enchiladas were so good! This will definitely become a regular at our house!

Smoothie #9

I love smoothies. When I lived in Knoxville I had them all the time as meals from Smoothie King. This is my first try at making one. I looked up a lot of recipes and made up my own version.

The case:
1 cup skim milk
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 banana cut up
8 oz vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup frozen mixed berries (added after drink was too runny)

The verdict:
This was very good. I will make it again, but it still isn't as good as Smoothie King. It satisfied my taste. It was just as good as Sonic's, but I will experiment more. I really want to come up with a strawberry kiwi smoothie. That was my favorite at Smoothie King!

Summer Salsa

This isn't a new recipe, but it is definitely one of my favorites. I use a whole squeezed lime and extra cilantro. This salsa tastes so fresh and is perfect with tortilla chips! It is even better the next day.

* 3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
* 1/2 cup quartered grape tomatoes
* 1 medium avocado, diced
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
* 2 teaspoons lime juice
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Toss avocados, tomatoes, corn, cilantro, lime juice and salt in a medium bowl.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cream Cheese Potato Soup #8 1-17-10

This is supposedly a top secret Panera recipe. I don't think I've ever had potato soup, or any other kind of soup, with cream cheese in it. It came from Recipezaar and had a lot of good ratings so I decided to try it.

The case:

* 4 cups chicken broth
* 4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
* 1/4 cup minced onion
* 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
* 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
* 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cut into chunks

1. Combine broth, potatoes, onion, and spices.
2. Boil on medium heat until potatoes are tender.
3. Smash a few of the potatoes to release their starch for thickening.
4. Reduce to low heat.
5. Add cream cheese.
6. Heat, stirring frequently, until cheese melts.

The ruling:
I only used a couple tablespoons of minced onion- felt like it ruined the last potato soup I tried to make. This soup is very spicy, but I really like it. I enjoyed the texture of having some of the potatoes smashed. My husband didn't like it, which shocked me. He said all he tastes is the cayenne pepper, and he normally loves spicy stuff. He didn't like having smashed potatoes in the soup- said it tasted gritty. I completely disagree though. I admit it isn't visually stimulating, but I'm not one to add food to a dish just to make it look pretty. I'm going to use the base of this soup and try it again tomorrow. I'm going to add more potatoes, a can of cheddar cheese soup, garlic powder, and use half the cayenne and white pepper. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Penne with Creamy Garlic Sauce #7 1-16-10

One of my favorite things is the world is pasta with cream sauce!

The case:

1 (1 lb) package penne rigate
2 tablespoons butter (I also add 2 tbsp olive oil)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup chicken or beef broth
3/4 cup milk or light cream
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated (I use more)

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, in small saucepan, melt butter; add garlic (I add the extra olive oil now).
3. Cook over medium heat 1 minute.
4. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
5. Stir in broth and milk or cream.
6. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce boils and thickens.
7. Add parsley, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese; stir until cheese is melted.
8. Toss hot pasta with sauce; serve immediately.

The ruling:
I put a lot more Parmesan than this called for. I also had cheaper cheese, so I'm sure this would be dynamite with better quality cheese. Nonetheless, this was still delicious! It was especially good with the balsamic juice from the chicken. A perfect quick side dish.

Balsamic Chicken #6 1-16-10

This is the first time I've ever used balsamic vinegar. My in-laws always use it on salads and there my favorite, but of course no store around here carries the good (expensive kind). So I finally bought some over Christmas while I was shopping in the big city!

The case:

* 4 chicken breast halves, bone in
* 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven 400 degrees.
2. Arrange the chicken bone side down in a 9-by-13 inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
3. Pour the vinegar over them and sprinkle evenly with the oil, oregano, salt and pepper.
4. Bake the chicken 20 minutes and baste with the vinegar juices.
5. Bake 20 minutes more (depending the size of breast) or until juices run clear.
6. Serve chicken with juices spooned over them.

The ruling:
I added minced garlic to the juice and then boiled the leftover juice in the pan with cornstarch to make a glaze to pour over chicken. The chicken was very tangy- and that's a good thing! I will make this again.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Pizza #5 1-12-10

Is it bad that I thought about this pizza all day? I know, but I just love buffalo chicken ranch pizza. And since this chicken is so good anyway, I just know this pizza is going to be awesome. I'm actually going to a friend's house for dinner and Bunco tonight. So, if its good I'll just have to restrain myself and just let this be an afternoon snack.

The case:
* 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cooked and cubed
* 2 tablespoons butter, melted
* 1 (2 ounce) bottle hot sauce
* 1 (8 ounce) bottle blue cheese salad dressing
* 1 (16 inch) prepared pizza crust
* 1 (8 ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
2. In a medium bowl combine the cubed chicken, melted butter and hot sauce. Mix well. Spread whole bottle of salad dressing over crust, then top with chicken mixture and sprinkle with shredded cheese.
3. Bake in preheated oven until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly, about 5 to 10 minutes. Let set a few minutes before slicing, and serve.

The ruling:
Made this with a refrigerated Pillsbury crust and put both cheddar and mozzarella cheese on it. My friend makes hers using both ranch and pizza sauce as the sauce, so I did half this way and half with just ranch. Next time I'll add more chicken, but besides that I love this pizza. It will be a new regular in our household. I definitely had to use restraint. I could've eaten the whole thing. It took me a while to decide which side I liked better. I honestly think I liked the variety of the half with just ranch and half with ranch and tomato sauce. But if I had to choose it would be just ranch. I told my husband to pick up another pizza crust on the way home tonight. I'll be making another one tomorrow when I can actually eat it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches #4 1-11-09

Okay, to be perfectly honest this isn't the first time I've had this recipe, but it is the first time I've made it, so it counts. To further iterate the point of how much I like cooking, food, and recipes, I started a recipe/cooking club with my friends. About once a month or so we choose a theme (ex: appetizers or slow cooker). The host gets the recipes and makes copies for everyone. We meet at the host's house and get to try the recipes and then have the recipes to go home with. I love it- any excuse to get together with my girlfriends, talk, and then eat. I had actually looked at this recipe many times on, but had never gotten around to trying it. My friend, Lindsey, made this recipe for our slow cooker get-together. I liked it so much, and knew my husband would love it, I made it 2 nights later!

The case:
* 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
* 1 (17.5 fluid ounce) bottle buffalo wing sauce, divided
* 1/2 (1 ounce) package dry ranch salad dressing mix
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 6 hoagie rolls, split lengthwise

1. Place the chicken breasts into a slow cooker, and pour in 3/4 of the wing sauce and the ranch dressing mix. Cover, and cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours.
2. Once the chicken has cooked, add the butter, and shred the meat finely with two forks. Pile the meat onto the hoagie rolls, and splash with the remaining buffalo wing sauce to serve.

The ruling:
We ate this with provolone cheese, bakery made buns, and ranch dressing. Delicious!!! If you like buffalo wings, you'll love this. I'm making a buffalo chicken pizza with the leftovers tomorrow. I'll post!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Garlic Panko Chicken Strips #3 1-9-10

I am always on the lookout for quick, simple chicken dishes. I have actually already eaten supper tonight, but had these chicken tenders in the fridge that really needed to be used, so this is Michael's supper! I had bought them to make earlier in the week, but since I was sick never got around to it. I love the light crispiness of panko bread crumbs.

The case:
* 5 tablespoons butter
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 3/4 cup panko
* 1/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)
* salt and pepper
* 1 1/4-1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat; as butter starts to melt, add minced garlic into the saucepan.
2. Once butter has melted, remove from heat and pour garlic butter mixture into a low flat dish, like a soup plate or pie pan.
3. In another low, flat dish, combine panko, parmesan, and parsley if using (some kids don't like green bits in their food, so feel free to leave out); add salt and pepper to suit your tastes.
4. Preheat oven to 400F; have ready a baking pan that's been lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
5.Remove chicken tenderloin from breasts and leave whole, then cut breasts crosswise into strips.
6.Roll chicken pieces into garlic butter, then completely dredge in panko mixture; place on prepared baking pan.
7.Should you have any panko mixture left over when you are done, sprinkle over chicken strips; should you have any melted butter left over, pour over chicken.
8. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is just cooked through.

The ruling:
I cooked them the full 20 minutes and flipped them over halfway, besides that followed recipe exactly. I really liked the flavor of these. I ate them with Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Mustard. My only concern was the breading was falling off. I will definitely make these again, but probably bake them longer for a crispier bite. I think it would also help to pour more butter over the top. (I didn't have much left)

No Bean Chili #2 1-9-10

I love chili, but in general hate beans. Black beans are okay cooked the right way. (Lots of lime juice and cilantro) I really do enjoy a bowl of chili on a cold day, but mine is always extremely picked through. I saw this no bean chili recipe at and new I had to give it a try.

The case:
* 1 pound ground beef
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 2 tablespoons chili powder
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
* 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
* 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1. Crumble the ground beef into a stock pot or large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook stirring frequently until beef is evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.
2. Season with chili powder, oregano, cumin and hot sauce. Stir in the tomatoes and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 1 hour - or longer if you have time. Stir occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom.

The ruling:
I used all the ingredients as posted. Then, after viewing other chili recipes added a can of green chilies(I minced in food processor along with onion at beginning), one small can tomato sauce, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, a little brown sugar, and paprika. I served with sour cream, shredded cheese, and Fritos! Does it get any better? This was delicious! I love Frito pies but hate beans! This has saved me! :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Potato Soup #1 1-8-09

I've been sick all week so I haven't gotten to start on my "resolution" yet- any of them, but I am officially trying my cousin Melanie's potato soup tonight. I made a cookbook for my family members for Christmas and this was one of the recipes in it.

The case:
- Small onion
- 8 medium potatoes; cut into bite sized chunks
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- 2 jars Ragu double cheese sauce
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sour cream

1. In a large soup pot, cook onions in bacon grease. Add chunked potatoes in pot and cover with water. Add salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Cook until potatoes are done.
2. Add cheese mixture to potatoes and cook until flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes on low heat; stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Serve with bacon bits and chives.

The ruling:
This soup initially had a strong oniony flavor, so I added a packet of ranch seasonings to tone it down. Well then it just tasted rancy oniony. Plus I think I put too much water in it to begin with so all in all it ended up a bit runny.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Personal Challenge

What's the point in having a blog if you don't have some sort of challenge? Some goal to work towards? Well I do have a job and a life so I can't do any of this 365 days a year stuff, finish an entire cookbook, or any of that. So my own personal food challenge is to cook 100 new recipes this year. I have oodles of cookbooks, recipes clipped from magazines, and recipes saved in "boxes" on my favorite cooking sites. I was going to try to make a list of recipes I "had" to try for every month or so, but that just isn't my style. I have to be in the mood to cook what I cook. I never know what is going to soup good, until the day it sounds good. So, 100 new recipes by December 31st! Let the games begin!