Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Greek Dip

I found a recipe for a feta dip and added a few ingredients to make it a Greek-style dip. It called for Greek seasoning, and since I don't like to buy seasonings I won't use for multiple things (or use in a timely fashion) I figured a different way to season -- and it was perfect. Serve this with a baguette or crackers.

3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 green onions, sliced
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled (get the block that you have to crumble - much better and more moist than the kind already crumbled!)
~1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved (I just added until it looked like enough!)
1 medium cucumber, or 2 mini cucumbers, diced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
salt & pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Mix everything together and enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Autumn Sausage Bake

This was delicious and smelled fantastic while baking. My whole family loved it! Next time I'm going to use twice as much sausage for my family.

1 sweet onion
1 medium sweet potato, peeled
1 medium Idaho potato
1/2 lb broccoli crown, cut into florets
2 medium apples, cored
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried rosemary
12-oz pkg smoked sausage, cut into fourths

Preheat oven to 400. Cut onion, potatoes, and apples into 1-inch chunks. Place with broccoli in a 9x13 baking dish. Add olive oil and herbs, then season with salt and pepper. Toss until well-coated. Nestle sausage into casserole dish. Bake 45 minutes; stir and flip sausage halfway through. Slice sausage into thin medallions and add back to the dish to serve.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Penne in Chicken-Bacon Blush Sauce

This combo is fantastic! My entire family raved about it and just about everyone had seconds. It was delicious as is, but next time I might bake it with extra cheese on top. Yum!

1 lb penne, cooked according to pkg directions
1 lb bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1.5 lbs chicken breast, cut into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper, to taste
15-oz can diced tomatoes, some liquid drained out
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp Frank's hot sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mozzarella cheese

In a large pot, cook the bacon until it starts rendering some fat. Drain off some of the grease, Add the onion, chicken, garlic, and season with salt & pepper. Cook until chicken is no longer pink. Add tomatoes, basil, and hot sauce. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in sour cream. Add the sauce to the pasta, then add mozzarella cheese.

To freeze: Put in foil pan and cover with press-n-seal/foil. After thawing, or mostly thawing, bake in 350 oven until warmed through (35-45 min).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Orange Cranberry Pork Roast My whole family scarfed down almost the entire 4 lbs of pork loin! Not to mention it smelled absolutely wonderful as it cooked - my house smelled like autumn!

3-4 lbs pork roast (loin, butt, shoulder)
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
zest and juice of one orange
salt & pepper, to taste

Put the pork in the crockpot and season with salt & pepper. Cover with cranberries and diced onion. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, mustard, and orange zest/juice; pour over top of pork. Cook on high for 6-8 hours.

To freeze: Put everything in a gallon freezer bag. Thaw in refrigerator before cooking.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Creamy Hot Cocoa

When the weather turns cold, my family and I love hot cocoa. Nothing is better than some homemade, and this was super easy to make. I tripled the original recipe I found (as well as cut back on the sugar). The amount was perfect for a small crowd (supposed to serve 12).

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 pinches of salt
1 cup boiling water
10-1/2 cups milk
2-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine the cocoa, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Heat the cup of water in the microwave until it starts to boil, then blend in with the cocoa mixture. Bring this to an easy boil while you stir; simmer and stir for two minutes (don't let it scorch!). Stir in the milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Add some cream or milk to cool down, or see my recipe for homemade flavored whipped cream!

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Whipped Cream

I had a similar whipped cream when I bought a gourmet hot chocolate, and I figured I could make it myself at home. I googled a few recipes, combined them to get what I thought would work best for flavor, and it was perfect and DELICIOUS! Super yum on the homemade hot cocoa. :) It'd also be delicious topping homemade apple or pecan pie.

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whip the cream until soft peaks start to appear. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Continue whipping to stiff peaks.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Turkey, Kale, & White Bean Soup

I love to eat soups and stews when the weather turns cold. This one was delicious and so easy to throw together! You could also substitute leftover (shredded) Thanksgiving turkey, or even shredded turkey breast any time of the year.

1 lb ground turkey
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and halved/quartered
2 cans cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1 Italian dressing pouch
salt & pepper, to taste
~3 cups kale, chopped
8 cups chicken broth

Combine all the ingredients in the crockpot, crumbling the ground turkey a bit, and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.

To Freeze: Combine all but the chicken broth in a gallon freezer bag, adding the turkey last so it is first to go into the crock pot. Thaw, or mostly thaw, before cooking.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Beef, Mushroom, & Barley Stew

The weather turns cold, I make stew. This one is super hearty, warm, and delicious. The beef was super tender after slow cooking all day in the crock pot. You can also make it vegetarian by leaving out the beef - it would still be super delicious. Easy to throw together, and would be great to freeze as well!

1-1/2 lbs stew beef, cubed
1 onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
2 carrots, peeled & diced
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup uncooked barley
8 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper, to taste

Put everything into the crock pot and season with salt & pepper. Cook for 8 hours on LOW.

To freeze: Put everything but the stock in a gallon freezer bag. Thaw, or mostly thaw, before cooking.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

These were SO good! I seriously had to give myself a chat about overeating at dinner, because I just wanted to keep eating more of this chicken! Even though it looks and tastes like it took some time to make, this is seriously easy to put together. The original instructions said to grill, but I chose to bake to better contain the cheesy goodness inside the chicken. I also found it easier to just slit the chicken and slather the insides rather than trying to "stuff" them.

6 chicken breasts
1/2 pkg of garlic-and-herb soft cheese (need 3-3.5 oz)
1/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Put nonstick cooking spray in a 9x13 baking dish.

Mix together cheese, peppers, and basil. Slit each chicken almost in half and put cheese mixture inside. Drizzle chicken with olive oil and season with salt & pepper.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked.

**To freeze: Cover with press-n-seal and foil (or flash freeze each chicken breast and place in gallon freezer bag). Thaw in fridge and bake as directed above.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cheesy Broccoli Chicken Foil Packets

This was a meal everyone in my family enjoyed, and it was easy to make (and even easier to clean up!). It had such great flavor! I was anticipating the stuffing to take over flavor-wise, but with bacon, broccoli, and ranch so many flavors stood out. My oldest didn't even know there was ranch in it until I told him, so use it even if someone isn't a fan. It just adds great flavor. And of course bacon... it makes everything delicious. :)

1 package chicken-flavor stuffing mix
1-1/4 cup water
6 boneless chicken breast halves (these need to be on the smaller side)
3 cups broccoli florets (I used a small bag frozen florets)
1-1/2 cups cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon, crumbled
6 tbsp ranch dressing
salt & pepper, to taste

Spray six large sheets of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Combine stuffing mix with water. Spoon some stuffing centered onto each foil sheet. Top it with a chicken breast, seasoned with salt & pepper. Top with 1/2 cup broccoli florets. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese and one slice crumbled bacon. Drizzle with 1 tbsp ranch dressing. Bring up the sides and close up foil packet, leaving room for air circulation.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes.

**To freeze: Freeze each packet separately, then put into gallon freezer bags. Thaw in fridge and follow baking directions above.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lentil Stew with Bacon

This is one of my favorite stew recipes - easy to make, delicious, and freezes well. I got it from The Scramble, a meal-planning service for which I test recipes. I made it for a friend once and he told me that it was so delicious it knocked his socks off!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, thinly sliced
5-6 stalks celery, thinly sliced
8 oz bacon, cut into thin strips
1 bay leaf
1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed and drained
4 cups water or chicken/veg broth
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/ tsp pepper (or to taste)
2 tbsp red wine (optional)

In a medium to large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, bacon, and bay leaf and saute them, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent.

Add the lentils and the water/broth and bring it to a low boil. Cover and simmer it, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender.

Add the salt, pepper, and wine, and simmer it uncovered for about 5 more minutes. Take out the bay leaf and serve.

(If freezing, let it cool and then put in large freezer bag. Lay flat to freeze.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sausage Tortellini Soup

This has become a household favorite! Easy to throw together and freezes wonderfully. We love to eat it with some fresh bread.

2 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, chopped
3/4 lb Italian sausage, browned and drained
2 T fresh basil, minced (or 2 t dried)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced (or 1/3 cup dried)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t black pepper
8 cups beef broth
9-oz package cheese tortellini
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, torn

In a stockpot, saute bacon and onion until cooked/softened. Add cooked sausage, basil, parsley, garlic, cayenne pepper, and black pepper; stir then add beef broth. Bring to a boil and add tortellini. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add spinach and stir to wilt in.

If freezing, let it cool then place in freezer bag; lay flat to freeze. When ready to eat, thaw the soup and reheat on the stove (but do not boil).

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Chicken Marsala

This is such an easy dish to make and so delicious! I serve it with either angel hair pasta or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise (to make 6 thinner pieces)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup flour
salt & pepper
8-oz package of mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup chicken broth

Mix some salt & pepper into the flour in a shallow bowl. Dredge the chicken in the flour then saute in the olive oil, about 3 minutes per side (until browned). Place chicken in a 9x13 baking dish. Melt the butter in the same pan and saute mushrooms for 3-4 minutes. Add the Marsala wine and chicken broth and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Pour the sauce and mushrooms over the chicken.* Bake uncovered at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

*You can freeze the dish at this point. Thaw completely and bake as directed above.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Slow Cooker Beef & Mushrooms

This was easy to make and delicious! My whole family gobbled this up, served over some egg noodles and alongside broccoli. If time is short, don't worry about browning the meat and mushrooms first - just throw it all into the crockpot and start cooking. :)

2 tsp olive oil
2 lbs lean stewing beef, cubed
10 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 envelope dry onion soup mix

1. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
2. Season the beef with salt and pepper then brown it in the skillet. Place beef in the slow cooker.
3. Brown the mushrooms in the same skillet and add them to the slow cooker.
4. Add the red wine to the skillet and stir up any browned bits. Stir in the mushroom soup and onion soup mix until blended, then add to the slow cooker. Stir everything to combine.
5. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.