Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Ahh soup, the ultimate meal in my opinion. Last week I had the flu, hence no updates. What am I Super Woman? So now that I'm on the mend and in need of some replenishing, soup fits the bill to a T providing healthy vegetables & lots of fluids. Last night I made the chicken noodle. Here are a few of my favorite soup recipes.


1/4 cup oil

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup diced carrots
3/4 cup zucchini, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

8 cups veggie or chicken broth

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. thyme

1/4 tsp. basil

1/2 cup uncooked macaroni (I precook to make it ready faster when I'm in a hurry)

16 oz. can chopped tomatoes (I also add tomato paste as well - I love tomatoes!)

16 oz. can beans (kidney beans, navy beans are best)

10 oz. package frozen spinach

Saute onions, celery, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic in oil for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, oregano, thyme and basil. Bring to boil an simmer for 5 minutes. Add macaroni and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Add tomatoes, beans, spinach and veggies and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Allow soup to stand 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and Italian bread.

Chicken Noodle Soup

4 carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 medium or 1 small onion, diced

4 cups water
4-5 tsp bullion
3 cups diced, uncooked chicken breasts
2 tsp parsley
2 cups desired noodles
minced garlic, optional
salt and pepper

In a medium, saute onion, carrots, and celery until almost cooked through. Add the bullion and water and bring to a boil adding the chicken and noodles. Follow the directions on the package of noodles to determine how long to boil the soup. Add the garlic the last few minutes of cooking. Sprinkle with parsley, salt and pepper to your desired taste.

Beef and Barley Soup

4 cups water
2 beef bullion cubes
1 medium potato, cubed
1 medium onion, cubed
2 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried garlic powder
1/2 pound boneless beef cut into cubes
1 cup quick cooking barley
cracked pepper to taste

3/4 cup peas

In large pot add water, beef bullion cubes (dissolved in a small amount of the water, heated in separate cup), and all the ingredients except the barley. Cook approximately 30 minutes at a minimum heat, or until meat is fully cooked and potatoes are soft. Add the quick cooking barley and cook another 15 minutes. Before serving, add peas. Serve hot. Add salt to taste. A very easy shortcut would be to use beef stock instead of making your own. Omit water and bullion in this situation.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Grilled Chicken variations

To grill chicken is simple, whether you're doing it inside on a grill pan or George Foreman (love these by the way!), or outside of a traditional grill. If outside, put down a layer of foil and punch holes in it. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken and place over medium heat for 3 minutes on each side. Then reduce the heat to low and cook about 10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. If you don't have a good meat thermometer check the juices of the chicken. If it is clear, it's done. Remove from grill and let rest 5 minutes before cutting

In our house, warm weather is all about grilling. In fact I might venture to say we grill TOO much if that is possible. My favorite things to grill is chicken because it is so versatile and light. Usually I will grill a few extra chicken breasts at a time for use later in the week. Here are two very simple and delicious recipes we made for dinner last night with grilled chicken.

I call this "Garbage Can" Salad because I usually dump everything but the kitchen sink on top of it, anything from green onions to peas, ham, and various cheeses. Here is what I made last night.

"Garbage Can" Salad with warm Grilled Chicken

Bibb lettuce
Red leaf lettuce
1 large carrot, chopped or shredded
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese
garlic butter croutons
1 grilled chicken breast, cut into strips
desired amount of dressing

I really should call this entry "His & Hers Chicken" because this shows the different personalities of chicken I think, and those who eat it. I err on the lighter side of things, whereas my husband likes things slightly heavier. This sandwich was a huge hit with him as you can see.

Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

1 grilled chicken breast
2 tbsp pasta sauce
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
whole wheat hoagie style bun

Silence (when your mouth is too full to speak...) is the best compliment

Other options for grill chicken: Quesadillas, Chicken Pot Pie, a Hawaiian pizza

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Today is my daughter Olive's first birthday and I wanted to make something special for her. I flipped through many many recipes when trying to decide what to make for her first real taste of sugary yumminess (that I know of... I'm throwing a suspicious look in the direction of Grandpa). Perhaps we are a bit strict in this department, who knows, but we try to eat as much organic, healthy, fresh foods that are made at home that we can afford. We feel it is especially important to try to do this for our children. So while birthdays are certainly a time to celebrate, a healthy spin is welcomed if there is one. I based this recipe from one by Martha Stewart of all people and all I'm going to say is uhh... this cake didn't make it to see the light of tomorrow's day! I must admit that this recipe particularly strikes my fancy, as they say, because it allows me to do two of my three favorite things in cooking - zesting and making frosting! (my third being chopping onions). I am officially putting my Jenny-guarantee on this recipe for enjoyment.

Baby Carrot Cake

4 medium carrots, grated
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
shortening and flour for cake pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two standard sized cake pans. Set aside

Grate the carrots using a box grater or food processor if you have one. Measure 2 cups of carrots and place in medium mixing bowl. Add raisins, walnuts, applesauce, zest and juice from the lemon and toss together.

With your mixer, pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. With motor running, pour in oil and eggs; process until smooth, scraping sides. Add carrot mixture; pulse. Pour into pans; bake about 40 minutes, until tester inserted in middle comes out clean.

Cool in pans on rack for 20 minutes. Remove; cool completely before adding frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz
cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup cup butter
2 or 3 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter, milk, and vanilla with your mixer on low speed until it is smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. I have learned the hard/messy way not to add too much powdered sugar and once. Talk about a sugary cloud! Anyways, beat this on low speed until it is smooth again.

This recipe makes enough to frost a two layer 8 or 9 inch cake or one 13 x 9 inch sheet cake generously. Be sure to store these cakes in the fridge as the cream cheese frosting will spoil otherwise!

Jenny's Note: I made three teensy cakes in 6x2 pans because this was for a baby. Also Olive is wild about strawberries so that is why I added them to her cake. Personally, I wouldn't add them but when it's your birthday why not get the cake you want?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Early this year I swore to myself that I would attempt, nay! perfect a roasted chicken. This was my first crack at it but I must say I consider it a smashing success. Really, roasting a chicken seems a little "out there" to me but I was shocked at how simple and delicious it was. This recipe has a very low degree of difficulty but will fool all of your dinner guests when you put it on a platter! Nothing says "home" and "comfort" like a warm roasted chicken with delicious root vegetables.

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

1 whole chicken, 3-5 lbs (note: I highly recommend an organic bird!) salt
freshly ground pepper
2 cloves of garlic

1/2 lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp thyme or rosemary

4 carrots, peeled and quartered

1 large onion, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Wash the bird inside and out with cold water, then pat it dry with paper towels. Remove any innards that may have come with it before washing. Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken and set aside.

Chop onion and quarter the carrots, arranging them around the outside of a roasting pan (proportionate to the size of the bird you chose), leaving room for the chicken to be placed in the center.

Place peeled (or minced, whichever you prefer) garlic, half of the lemon, and your chosen herbs into the cavity of the chicken. Then place the bird into the middle of the roasting pan and drizzle the olive oil all over it. Season with salt and pepper.

Place pan in the center of the oven and roast for 20 minutes before turning down the heat to 350 degrees and roasting for another 60 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads between 170 and 175 degrees. Upon removing the chicken from the oven, allow it to rest for about 5 minutes to let the juices redistribute before carving.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

S'more Pie

One thing my family and I enjoy doing is camping during the warm months of the year. I think we could all agree that the best part of camping is s'mores right? Bring home some of that ooey gooey-ness with this pie.

S'more pie

16 graham squares, finely crushed (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup milk
8 oz cool whip
4 bars of milk chocolate, chopped and divided

First make the pie crust my mixing the graham crumbs, butter, and sugar together and pressing the mixture onto the bottom of a 9- inch pie plate. Set this aside.

Mix the marshmallows and milk in a pot on the oven and heat on low, stirring constantly, until the mallows have melted. Refrigerate this about 40 minutes or until it has completely cool.

Gently stir cool whip and 3/4 of the chocolate into the marshmallow mixture then spoon this into the crust, topping it all with the remaining chocolate.

Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wake Up Casserole

I don't know about you but on the weekends I enjoy special breakfasts that involve a little more time and effort. Heaven knows that I'm not about to break out the eggs Benedict on a Monday morning after being awakened every few hours by a teething baby the previous night. My go-to weekend breakfast casserole is based on one from my creative mother in law and it is as easy as it is delicious! In fact I make this nearly every Christmas for brunch.

Wake Up Casserole

2 1/2 cups shredded potatoes
5 eggs
8 oz of your preferred cheese
1 cup milk
4-5 pieces of bacon OR 3-4 oz sausage
dash of salt

If you want to skip a step, you can purchase store bought shredded hash browns. Otherwise, skin and shred two potatoes then squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can from them using paper towels. Place them into a skillet with some hot oil and fry them for to desired crispiness adding salt and pepper to your liking. Place shredded potatoes in a single layer in a grease pie pan or 9 x 9 casserole dish. Crisp bacon or brown sausage and crumble. Mix that with eggs, milk, salt, & cheese and pour that over the potatoes. You could easily add your favorite vegetables here for a healthy boost - shredded carrot, red or green pepper, green onion, etc. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover and cook an additional 15 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Potato Croquettes

This recipe is directly from one of my favorite cookbooks, Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros. To me, these are sort of like comfort food with a twist as they are composed of meat and potatoes. These are a real crowd pleaser, even for my toddler who can be a finicky eater.


4 potatoes
3/4 lb ground beef
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tsp salt
about 1 cup bread crumbs
about 6 tbsp olive oil
desired amount of parsley

Put a pan of salt water on to boil & add the unpeeled potatoes to it. Boil, covered for about 20 minutes or until they are soft and completely cooked through. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain the potatoes and when they are cool enough to handle, peel them. In a wide bowl, mash them well. Add the beef, egg, cheese, salt, and mix thoroughly with your hands.

Roll the mixture into small walnut sized balls, then flatten slightly into an oval shape. Put the bread crumbs onto a plate and pat the croquettes into it to coat both sides. Drizzle about 2 1/2 tbsp of olive oil into a large baking pan, spreading it around with the back of a spoon. Pack the croquettes like tight little soldiers on the pan and drizzle a few more tablespoons of oil.

Put the pan in the oven and bake the croquettes about 30 minutes, or until the underside is golden and crispy. Turn them over and bake for another 10 minutes or longer if necessary.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a scattering of salt if you think they need it.

Makes about 40 croquettes.