Friday, December 30, 2011

Orange Butter Cookies

For wealth in the New Year. 
These cookies really made me think of the New Year when I was making them. It was as though oranges made me think of a new start or at least of January. Then it hit me why. In the building, I worked at in Arizona there would be bowls of oranges on desks for the calendar new year and the Chinese new year. I thought it was simply because oranges were the main fruit in season, until one day I asked. That is when I was informed that oranges are a symbol of wealth for the Chinese. I will be eating these cookies into the new year!

Orange Butter Cookies
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5/8 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
Zest from half a large navel orange
1 large egg
orange juice from half of orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 to 4 Tablespoons milk
2 drops vanilla extract
couple squeezes of orange juice
zest of half orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or slipmat. In a bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together. In a mixer, cream together the sugar, butter and orange zest at medium speed. Scrape down the sides of bowl frequently. Add egg and mix. Add vanilla extract and orange juice and mix. Stir in dry ingredients just until combined.
Scoop tablespoons of dough onto parchment, leaving more than 1 inch between cookies. Press each one down lightly with 2 fingers to flatten to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Leave any ridges and valleys on top of cookie intact, but smooth the edges.
Bake about 10-15 minutes. Cookies should be pale but baked all the way through. Cool on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack and cool before storing in airtight containers up to 1 week.
When ready to serve, make glaze: Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Peel orange, being careful to remove only outer orange zest, and cut into thin strips. Blanch in boiling water 1 minute; drain.
Sift powered sugar into a bowl. Whisk in milk a Tablespoons before. Whisk in more milk if needed to make mixture thin enough to spread. Add extract, juice, zest, and whisk to combine.

Place cookies on a rack and drizzle icing over each one (make sure there is some orange zest in each spoonful). Icing will settle into cookie crevices; let harden.

Adapted from New York Times

Friday, December 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Bon-Bons

Crunch in a chocolate shell
I remember a younger version of my brother and myself rolling the peanut butter mixture into balls. He would eat 1 of about every 5 that he rolled, and I would eat none. Normally it would be that other way around, as he doesn't like sweets. In this case, I was not a fan of peanut butter. This is that cookie or bon-bon that just simply reminds me of Christmas. This is the first time that I made it on my own instead of just rolling for my mom. They are a great last minute make to set out for Santa, a no-bake cookie or truffle.

Peanut Butter Bon-Bons
2 cups chunky or smooth peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
3 cups rice krispies
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons shortening or butter

Mix peanut butter, powdered sugar, and butter together and roll into small balls. Chill for 20 min- 1 hour in the fridge. Melt chocolate and shortening or butter over low heat, or in microwave for 15 second at a time until melted. Dip balls into chocolate mixture, covering completely. Lay on wax paper to cool completely. Move to fridge if needed to cool more. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Treats

The cookie tray is going to the dogs.
When making up Christmas cookies tray for friends and neighbors, I thought that I would add a little something for the woofs. Does anyone else give their pets Christmas gifts? We don't give Hayden anything big, just a bone and perhaps a toy. He always loves some treats though.
Hayden thinks that he should have a bite of our cookies so why not make something that is healthy and safe for him to eat. Due to the nutmeg in the cookies, I modified the spices to make it safe for dogs to eat. These would also make great fall treat but Hayden loves pumpkin anytime. Lip-licking good.

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Treats 
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 1/2-2 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Combine pumpkin, oil, water, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir well and gradually add oatmeal and flour in 1/2 cups until a stiff dough forms. (I used 1 1/2 cups in the dough and then about 1/2 additional when rolling out). Roll dough to 1/4″ thick and cut with cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 40 minutes. If using smaller cutters like pie crust cutters (like the little man) bake for about 25 minutes. Treats are done with they are a bit crisp and have darkened slightly in color.

Note: Do not make a double batch of dough. As treats bake the dough will become very stiff and hard to knead/roll.
This recipe makes enough treats to fill 2 LARGE cookie sheets full.

Adapted from It's the Dogs' Life

Monday, December 19, 2011

6 Days of Xmas Meal Plan

I am not one of those last minute shoppers. I am usually done by the beginning of November, beginning of December at the latest. So this week I plan on soaking in the wonder of the season. Also do some fun winter or Holiday activities. It has been really cold here, so my meals will include lots of soup this week for dinner, with this Monday Meal Plan.
Meatless Monday: Broccoli cheddar soup with sourdough bread (repeat)
Tuesday: Meatloaf with roasted cauliflower
Wednesday: Chicken and shrimp tacos with lots of toppings
Thursday: Sausage and lentil soup
Friday: Out to eat
Christmas Eve Saturday: Potato soup
Christmas Sunday: Brunch: Baked French toast and Pineapple
Dinner: Cornish hens, salad, stuffing, veggie

Happy Holidays! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Usually Found in a Cup Cake

A bread that will warm you up like a cup of tea. 

This recipe, Honey-Spiced Chai Cake, was given to me by a friend that moved to Arizona from New England. Once she learned that my favorite hot drink was a chai latte, she made me this cake. It has become one of my favorites! It is great for a breakfast treat or an after dinner taste. Usually I would make it as a bundt cake, but I wanted to make mini loaves to put on my trays for the neighbors. However I knew I had to make myself a normal size loaf because I couldn't give it all away!

Honey-Spiced Chai Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup brewed chai tea
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Grease bundt pan or 2 regular loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, tea, buttermilk, honey, butter, eggs and egg yolk. Beat 1 minute or until just blended. The mixture will be really wet/thin. Pour batter in prepared pan(s).

Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Remove from pan.

If desired, sprinkle top with powdered sugar. Or make a glaze with a 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 3 Tablespoons of water and pour over top. (Glaze will help to give the cake a bit more moisture)

      Friday, December 16, 2011

      Chocolate Butterscotch Blondies

       So chocolately won't believe its a real blondie.
      When I was younger I was allergic to chocolate. My mom would try to be far and get me white chocolate, but I was still thankful when I outgrew that allergy. Today I still can't eat a long amount of chocolate without getting stomach aches. These blondies have enough chocolate to get in that fix, but not over the top chocolate. I think they are a great addition to holiday cookie tray. Even if they are a bar, have to change it up sometimes. 

      Chocolate Butterscotch Blondies  
      2 cups all-purpose flour 
      2 cups packed light brown sugar 
      2 teaspoons baking powder 
      1/4 teaspoon salt 
      1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled 
      2 eggs 
      1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
      1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
      1/4 cup butterscotch chips
      4 Heath candy bars (1.4 ounces each), coarsely chopped or 1/2 cup Health baking pieces

      Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease a 13"x9" baking pan. 
      In a bowl, beat the butter, eggs and vanilla until smooth. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir wet into dry ingredients until combined (batter will be thick and hard to stir).
      Spread batter into prepped pan. Sprinkle with chocolate, butterscotch, and Heath pieces; press gently into batter.
      Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Watch carefully after 25 minutes if not done, as not to overcook. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

      Adopted from Taste of Home

      Wednesday, December 14, 2011

      Blackberry-Orange Coffee Cake

      This is a leave on the counter all day and let people slice and eat kind of cake.
      My great-grandma used to tell me stories of getting oranges in her stocking at Christmas. Such a change from my childhood days where my stocking was stuffed full or chocolate and toys. Oranges around Christmas always remind me of my great-grandma and how much an orange would make her smile on those cold North Dakota winters. I think that oranges much a lovely addition to a Christmas meal or dessert. Simply some zest and orange juice can add a bit of brightness to a bite. Orange season is here! I am not sure where fresh blackberries came from this time of year, however the ones I got said California. With the limited or high cost of fresh, frozen blackberries also work wonderfully in this cake. 
      Blackberry-Orange Coffee Cake

      ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
      zest from 1 navel orange
      3/4 cup sugar
      1 egg, room temperature
      1 tsp. vanilla
      2 cups flour
      2 tsp. baking powder
      1 tsp. kosher salt
      2 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen, chopped into pieces
      ½ cup buttermilk
      1 tablespoon sugar

      Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease 9-inch square or circle baking pan. In a large bowl, cream butter with orange zest and sugar until light and fluffy.
      Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. In a side bowl, toss the chopped blackberries with ¼ cup of flour. In yet another bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
      Add the flour mixture to the wet batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blackberries, but don't be afraid if the batter turns a bit purple.
      Spread batter evenly into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick to come out clean. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes, may take up to 10 or 15 more just depending.
      Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

      Adapted from Alexandra Cooks

      Monday, December 12, 2011

      Almost Christmas Meal Plan

      Another week is already here. I am having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year, which isn't like me at all. But at least we have another Monday Meal Plan. I mean if I make it though this week for dinner, then it is almost time to just celebrate and relax.
      Meatless Monday: Broccoli Cheddar with Sourdough bread
      Tuesday: Penne arrabbiata with sausage
      Wednesday: General Tso's chicken with rice and zucchini
      Thursday: Roast beef with roasted cauliflower
      Friday: Panini night (use up randoms in the fridge)
      Saturday: Tacos with hard shells and refried beans
      Sunday: Out to eat before another week
      Hayden just wants to wish a Merry Christmas! Even though there are still a couple weeks.

      Monday, December 5, 2011

      Meals, Meal plan

      Really, I am trying to get back on track with things. I still think I should be on vacation or something. It is the season of so much baking! But today I have a meal plan to share, because we need to be prepared  this week for dinner, here is my Monday Meal Plan.
      Meatless Monday: Broccoli Alfredo

      Tuesday: Balsamic-garlic pork with potatoes
      Wednesday: Sesame ginger chicken with rice and zucchini
      Thursday: Out with friends
      Friday: Beef fajitas with peppers and refried beans
      Saturday: Roasted chicken and veggies
      Sunday: Whatever we can throw together, or leftovers

      Friday, November 25, 2011

      Coconut Kissed Macaroons

      Kissed by the sun. 
      Seven days on a Caribbean cruise was a great vacation. We spent a lot of time in the beaches, snorkeling and soaking in the rays. We returned with sun kissed skin and wanting more sweets! These cookies reminded us just of what we had experienced. Sun-kissed and great favors. 
      Coconut Kissed Macaroons  
      1/3 cup butter, softened 
      3 ounces cream cheese, softened 
      3/4 cup sugar 
      1 egg yolk 
      1 teaspoon almond extract
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract   
      1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
      2 teaspoons baking powder 
      1/2 teaspoon salt 
      3 cups flaked coconut, divided 
      48 milk chocolate kisses
      In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and extracts. Gradually add flour, baking powder and salt to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in 2 cups coconut. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour-if needed until dough is easy to handle.
      Roll into balls and roll in the remaining coconut. Place balls on ungreased baking sheets.
      Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Once out of the oven, press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Cool on pan for 2-3 minutes or until chocolate is softened. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. 
      Slight Change from Taste of Home 

      Wednesday, November 23, 2011

      White Bean Turkey Green Chili

      A warm and spicy way to get rid of leftover turkey.
      I always buy a turkey that is way to big for the amount of people I am feeding. This year, 4 people and an 11.5 pound turkey. So I am planning for too many leftovers where just sandwiches will get too boring. This chili is a great way to use up the turkey in a flavorful way, so you don't feel like you are having Thanksgiving again. Also it doesn't take a lot of time to just throw together, so after cooking all day you can have an easy meal in the next day or so after. 

      White Bean Turkey Green Chili
      2 Tablespoons olive oil
      1 small onion, chopped
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
      1 jar (16 ounce or so) salsa verde
      1 (7 ounce) can diced green chiles
      1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
      1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
      1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
      1 cup frozen corn
      1 pound or whatever you want to throw in turkey, cooked and shredded 
      1 (15 ounce) can white beans
      1 pinch salt and black pepper to taste

      In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic until soft. 
      Stir in broth, salsa, chilies, and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add corn, turkey, and beans; simmer at least 10 minutes (I let simmer all afternoon). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

      Adapted from All Recipes

      Monday, November 21, 2011

      Thanksgiving Week Meal Plan

      I am acting like I am still on vacation. I hardy cook, if it isn't just to throw something in the pan. I can't even believe it is Thanksgiving this week. I have to cook it, so in a way of getting back in the swing of things this week for dinner, here is my Monday Meal Plan.
      Meatless Monday: Spaghetti with marinara sauce
      Tuesday: Chicken enchiladas 
      Wednesday: Spicy Pork with bok choy
      Thursday: Turkey with all the fixings
      Friday: Turkey pot pie
      Saturday: Out to eat for a turkey break
      Sunday: Turkey white bean chili

      Here is a great big fish that came after me in the water on our trip. There was a lot of things to see in the clear water just off the shore of all the Caribbean islands we visited. I have a yummy cookie to share with you to bring back our trip memories. 

      Monday, October 31, 2011

      Veggie Noodle Soup

      A Meatless Monday soup for a cold day.
      From my meal plans, you can tell that I try to have a meatless meal a week. My husband is a big meat eater, so just one day a week helps us out in many different ways. I like the challenge of finding new meatless meals (slacking lately) that don't have "fake meats" in them. I am always trying to make meatless meals that are packed with veggies. This veggie noodle soup is just that, a meatless meal with tons of veggies and other real ingredients. The noodles help to add some feeling to make it a bit more than just veggies in broth. It can also be meatless replacement for my Sausage and Tortellini Soup. 

      Veggie Noodle Soup
      Adapted from ButterflyFood 
      1 tbsp olive oil
      1 small onion, chopped
      2 cloves of garlic, minced
      3 stalks of celery, chopped
      4 carrots, chopped
      1 tbsp fresh basil
      salt and fresh ground pepper
      2 cans (14oz) of diced tomatoes
      4 cups (2 cans) vegetable broth
      3 cups water
      1 1/2 cups (dry) of pasta (your choice)
      1 small zucchini, chopped
      1 small green bell pepper, chopped
      Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat, add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, basil and salt and pepper and cook until just soft. Add the tomatoes and let warm for a couple of minutes. Add water and broth, bring just to a boil then turn down to a simmer for 15 minutes. Add the pasta, zucchini, and bell pepper and cook for another 8-10 min or until all tender. Serves 4-6.

      Thursday, October 27, 2011

      Spiced Chai Concentrate

      Nothing says Fall, like a hot Chai Latte! 
      The one thing that I love in the fall is a Chai Latte. Milk and chai tea. The best chai lattes are made from a concentrate. I often make chai lattes at home because for the cost for the cost of one at a coffee shop, you can get a box of concentrate. However I made this concentrate, and like it better than the boxed store bought. It has a great spice to it and a lot of flavor. A bonus is it has less sugar.

      Spiced Chai Concentrate
      Slight change from A Wooden Nest
      4 1/2 cups water
      1 stick cinnamon
      1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped
      7 whole cardamom pods
      2 whole star anise pods
      10 whole cloves
      1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
      1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
      1 teaspoon orange zest
      10 bags of black tea (like English Breakfast)
      1/4 cup brown sugar
      4 Tablespoon honey
      2 Tablespoon vanilla

      Add the spices in a big pot, add the water. Bring the water to a boil, and remove from heat. Add all the tea bags, and allow the mixture to steep for 15 minutes.
      Strain the mixture into a 4-cup glass measuring cup or large bowl, discarding the spices and tea bags. Add the sugar, honey and the vanilla, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the mixture into a jar and store in the refrigerator.

      To serve, mix 1 part concentrate with 1 part milk (like 1/2 a cup concentrate and 1/2 cup milk). Heat for a warm beverage, if over the stove use a whisk to "froth" the milk, or in the microwave. Just pour over ice for a cold Chai Latte. 

      Monday, October 24, 2011

      Short Week Meal Plan

      This week I am checking out after Thursday. So this will be a short Monday Meal Plan. I am always thankful for weeks are short. This week for dinner will also be using up junk in the fridge.

      Meatless Monday: Breakfast for dinner: Pancakes and fruit
      Tuesday: Carne Asada and corn on the cob
      Wednesday: Chicken Fajitas, refried beans
      Thursday: Leftovers, what ever can be found in the fridge

      Next Monday is Halloween! My little woof has his face on a pumpkin to celebrate. I will be sharing a Meatless Monday soup next week, so be ready for it!

      Friday, October 21, 2011

      Chicken, Broccoli and Biscuits

      A reminder of a cold weather birthday, with a hot meal.
      On birthdays, my mom would let us request what meal we wanted for dinner. The meal I almost always picked was Chicken, Broccoli and Biscuits. It was my favorite meal. Having a birthday when the weather was cold was also great for this meal, since it is so warm and comforting plus cooking in the oven heats up the whole house. This year I will be having turkey on my birthday, so I had to have my old stand by before it arrives.

      Chicken, Broccoli, and Biscuits
      1 pound chicken legs and/or thighs
      1/2 cup flour
      1 pound broccoli florets
      1 package refrigerated biscuits
      1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
      1 can of milk
      View full recipePreheat oven at 350 degrees F.
      Slightly cover chicken (skin or no skin, your preference) with flour. Put into a 9“ by 13” pan and bake until chicken is just about finished, juices are almost clear.
      While chicken is baking, stream broccoli to just tender.
      In a medium bowl, whisk together cream of soup and milk. Move chicken to one side of pan, put broccoli next to it (1/3 of pan). Cover chicken, broccoli and the remaining of empty pan with the soup/milk mixture. Put the biscuits on top of the soup mixture in the remaining 1/3 of pan.
      Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, around 15 minutes or according to package direction.

      Tuesday, October 18, 2011

      First Stop on the Fruit Highway: Pettingill's

      I am a bit late in the season, but I wanted to share a stop I have been making this summer.
      Not far north of Ogden on Highway 89, is a local fruit stand- Pettingill's Fruit Farm. It is the first fruit stand on the "Fruit Highway". The orchards surround the stand and you can often see farm hands out picking the peaches, apples, or plums. Must of the time there is a trailer completely full with bushels for you to pick from. From now until the end of their season (Halloween) you can pick from pumpkins, apples, and probably a few other items.

      I mostly pick up fruit from Pettingill's even though they also have some veggies. I got a half flat of raspberries early in the season. I ate as many as I froze. Also their peaches and apples taste like you are eating them straight from the tree. Most people have bushels of fruit in the carts, however by the pound is also available. One thing that I pretty sure on due to the quality of their fruit is that they spray the fruit. That would mean that although local, there is a lack of organic.
      There are also some fruits like limes and lemons that you can pick up there, just note they are not from the orchards next to the stand.

      Parking can be a bit tight at Pettingill's because it truly is right off the road. It can be tricky to also get back on the road. However there is usually at least 1 spot you can find.

      Pettingill's also has a Shake Shop within the stand. It is currently closed for the season, but during its time provides multiple fresh favors of shakes and tables to enjoy them at. They use Farr's Ice Cream as the base. I haven't even eaten a shake, but envied those eating them on my mid-day stops. The Shake Shop is something unique to Pettingill's. I believe I remember seeing hot dogs on the menu when it was open.
      Not only is there farm fresh fruit, but you can find local Utah honey. This honey can be found in many favors and sizes. Also Pettingill's has their own section of canned items. I can't tell you what exactly you will find there but I am sure it is some good stuff.

      You can find Pettingill's Fruit Farm at 8815 S Hwy 89, Willard, UT. If you would like to know what will be in season when you visit, Like them on Facebook. Visit Pettingill's until Halloween this 2011 season. 

      (Note on photos: used my iPhone and I didn't ask staff for permission:). )  

      Monday, October 17, 2011

      Another Fall Meal Plan

      This weekend was a fall weekend for me! We went apple picking and to a side of the road pumpkin patch. Eating apples right off the trees is something that I really enjoy, even on a 70 degree day that doesn't always feel like fall. Across the road was an honor system pumpkin patch, where you could pick your pumpkin off the vine and put the money in a box. I selected 2 pumpkins to carve.
      Sometimes skipping Halloween for a vacation has it benefits, like not having to buy candy or costumes plus think about Halloween parties. The parts I miss are carving pumpkins and eating the treats. Anyway around it, I still got my pumpkin this year, I may carve it or not. At least I don't miss out on the fall activities just because I will be skipping Halloween.

      Hopefully there will be some apple treats soon, but for now I still have this week for dinner, will my  Monday Meal Plan.
      Monday: Chicken Pot Pie (repeat from last week)
      Tuesday: Beef stir fry (bell pepper, zucchini, green onions, anything else left in fridge)
      Wednesday: Chicken Lime Tacos with a side of refired beans
      Meatless Thursday: Veggie Soup
      Friday: Pork in some sort
      Saturday: Out to eat
      Sunday: Breakfast for dinner

      Friday, October 14, 2011

      Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats

      Peanut butter that doesn't stick on roof of the mouth.
      One of the funniest things is watching a dog that has peanut butter on the roof of its mouth. Now Hayden is much to danty of a dog for that too happen too. He drinks water from the corner of the bowl, so he doesn't slop it all over when finished. He savors the licks of peanut butter of the beaters when I made these treats. (Gross yes, dishwasher after) Even though Hayden prances, he is still a rough and tumble dog. He loves to chase ANYTHING that runs from him, you know-rabbits, birds, lizards (in AZ), cows, deer, and even a moose. So these treats are good for dogs in your purse or the dogs in the field.

      Peanut Butter Doggie Treats
      2 cups whole wheat flour                            
      1 Tablespoon baking powder
      1 cup peanut butter (Chunky or smooth)
      1 cup milk (doesn't matter the %)
      1 Tablespoon honey
      2 Tablespoons peanuts, smashed (if using smooth pb and want a bit of a crunch)

      Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
      In a large bowl, mix peanut butter, milk, and honey until well combined. Add in peanuts if using. Add in flour and baking powder, mix well.
      Lightly flour a surface, place dough down on it and knead.
      Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter (doesn't always have to be a dog bone) to cut out shapes. Place on a greased cookie sheet-or with a slip-mat, or parchment paper. They don't spread, so it is okay t place them close together but give them a bit of breathing space.
      Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
      Cool completely on a rack before giving to woofer, or storing in an airtight container.

      Wednesday, October 12, 2011

      Sausage & Tortellini Soup Recipe

      Chicken Lips and  Lizard Hips
      When we have family events, my aunt will often make this Sausage and Tortellini Soup. It fills you up, warms your bones, and can feed a crowd. I emailed to ask for the recipe I received this response.
      "Oh, when I was a little kid I never liked to eat, Mama'd put things on my plate, I'd dump them on her feet, But then one day she made this soup, I ate it all in bed, I asked her what she put in it, and this is want she said.
      Chicken lips and lizard hips and alligator eyes, Monkey legs and buzzard eggs and salamander thighs,
      Rabbit ears and camel rears and tasty toe-nail pies, Stir them all together, it's Mama's Soup Surprise."

      My family is so clever. 

      Sausage & Tortellini Soup
      Adapted from my Aunt April, originally from a unknown cookbook
      1 pound Italian Sausage (hot or mild)
      2 cloves of garlic, minced
      1 cup onion, chopped
      1/2 cup celery 
      6 cups (3 cans) beef broth
      2 cups (1 can) water
      1/2 cup dry red wine or cooking wine
      1 can diced tomatoes, drained
      1 cup tomato sauce
      1 cup carrots, sliced
      1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
      3 basil leaves, chopped (optional if have)
      8 oz cheese tortellini (my aunt uses fresh, I use frozen-cheaper)
      1 1/2 cups small zucchini, sliced
      1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
      Parmesan cheese for serving bowls

      Brown the sausage in a large stockpot. Remove and drain the grease except for 1 Tablespoon of drippings. Saute onions, garlic and celery in drippings until tender.
      Add beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, tomato sauce, carrots, basil, Italian seasoning, and sausage into pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
      Skim fat off the top of soup. Can't get it all, but getting the bigger bubbles is good.
      Stir in zucchini, tortellini, and bell pepper. Simmer uncovered 30-40 minutes until tortellini and zucchini are tender. 

      Monday, October 10, 2011

      Eat Each Night at Home Plan

      Yesterday and this morning I have been canning tomatoes. It is my first time to ever can anything and and I feel like I am getting the hang of it now that my 4th batch of jars in the pot finishing up. I used directions from Food In Jars and Pick Your Own. It was a pretty simple process, even with my ghetto set up, because I didn't have exactly what I needed. However my jars are sealed tight and ready to feed us all winter long.

      Even though I don't know if my canning of tomatoes will save us any money, or if it was simply one thing I wanted to try (being so popular here in Utah). I do know that eating at home saves us a bit of money. So I need to keep on top of the meal plan for this week and get in the kitchen and cook the meals.

      Here is my  Monday Meal Plan so we have this week for dinner, and put the bit of extra we save in the pocket. 
      Meatless Monday: Broccoli Cheddar soup with sourdough bread (I can't get enough of this soup!)
      Tuesday: Sausage and tortellini soup (yep 2 nights of soup)
      Wednesday: Grilled chicken sandwich topped with tomatoes (from last week)
      Thursday: Mongolian beef with zucchini and rice
      Friday: Chicken pot pie
      Saturday:  Pulled pork sandwiches with green beans and mashed potatoes
      Sunday: Southwest chicken with corn on the cob

      Monday, October 3, 2011

      First October Meal Plan

      I am a bit late with this Monday Meal Plan but we are still going to need something his week for dinner, so here it is.
      Monday: Leftovers, leftovers
      Tuesday: Grilled chicken sandwiches topped with tomatoes and pasta salad
      Wednesday: Burgers with corn on the cob
      Thursday: Sesame ginger chicken with rice and zucchini
      Meatless Friday: Smoky black bean and rice stoup
      Saturday: Football Fiesta! Chicken tortilla soup, quesadillas, chips and salsa.
      Sunday: Out to eat before another week

      Wednesday, September 28, 2011

      Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

      Colors of fall in soft cookies.
      Usually my first pumpkin baked good of fall is pumpkin bread. However I was feeling a bit more like cookies, after making some for the dog! I had to give half of this batch to some friends because they are easy to eat at least 3 in a sitting. Having them sit on the counter means that they disappear in hours. Hayden woof thought when we were eating these that we were eating his and we should share. However we never did because of the chocolate chips! These are quick and easy cookies as they are just dropped onto the cookie sheet, or rolling into ball or cutting out. Quick to make and go quickly!

      Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies
      Changed from

      1 teaspoon baking soda
      1 teaspoon milk
      1 cup pumpkin puree
      3/4 cup sugar 
      1/2 cup canola oil 
      1 egg 
      2 cup all purpose flour 
      2 teaspoon baking powder
      1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
      1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
      1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
      1 teaspoon vanilla

      Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
      In a tiny teeny ball, dissolve baking soda in milk; set aside for now.
      In a large bowl add pumpkin, sugar, oil, and egg; combine until well blended.
      Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda/milk mix to pumpkin mixture, stirring to  mix wet and dry ingredients completely together to form a soft dough. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla.
      Spoon onto cookie sheet, slip mat, parchment paper, or ungreased sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until done. Edges will be slightly brown where the cookie hits the sheet.

      Monday, September 26, 2011

      First week of fall meal plan

      On the last meal plan and many previous week, I had roasted chicken on my plan. I finally pulled out the chicken out of the freezer one night! I prepped all my veggies, my butter with herbs plus had the chicken all defrosted. I went to dump the chicken in the pan, and it came out in a lot of different parts, not the whole chicken I was expecting. Roasted chicken wings anyone? I opted out and made grilled pizza. Now I just need to use up the potatoes I have for this chicken I thought I had.

      Here is this week for dinner, with this Monday Meal Plan.
      Meatless Monday: Baked ziti with zucchini minus meat
      Tuesday: French Dips with green beans
      Wednesday: Chicken strips with smashed red potatoes
      Thursday: Chili verde
      Friday: Kung pao chicken with rice
      Saturday: Out to eat
      Sunday: Chicken, broccoli, and biscuits

      Friday, September 23, 2011

      Caramel Apple Cookies

      First day of Fall, needs a fall treat.
      These little caramel apple cookies are perfect for the first day of fall. I have made these cookies for multiple occasions, and always leave with an empty plate. These won't even get stuck in your teeth, but a much simpler way to eat a caramel apple than on a stick. Since I have embraced fall already, the first day needs a treat to ring in the best season! So put on a sweater, take a walk in the crisp morning air, and bake these caramel apple cookies.

      Caramel Apple Cookies
      Big thanks to Craft Mag and GoodLifeEats

      1 cup butter
      1 cup brown sugar
      1 cup white sugar
      2 eggs, room temp.
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      2 cups all purpose flour
      2 3/4 cups old fashion oats (not quick-cooking oatmeal)
      1 teaspoon baking powder
      1 teaspoon baking soda
      12 oz (1 bag) caramel baking bits
      2 cups granny smith apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces

      In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs. Beat until combined.
      Measure oatmeal into a food processor or blender, and pulse until ground finely. Stir in the oatmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until combined. Set aside.
      Using a mixer, stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined. Stir in the caramel bits and apples. Save a few of pieces the apple and the caramel for dotting on top of the rolled cookie dough balls.
      Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour. Roll the cookie dough into golf ball-sized balls. Bake on a parchment paper-lined or slipmat baking sheet in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F, for 10-12 minutes. The sheet should be placed on the upper middle rack. Cool on the pan for 4 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
       Note: Dough is best the day of. In time the apples add extra moisture to the dough, causing a wider spread on the baked cookies. Alternatively, you can pre-roll the dough into balls and freeze if you aren't using it all the first day. Place the dough balls on a cookie sheet until solid, and then transfer to a labeled sealable freezer bag. Use within one month. Simply add an extra couple minutes to the baking time since the dough is frozen.

      Monday, September 19, 2011

      Use up what we have Meal Plan

      We are trying to save a few bucks to help with our upcoming vacation. So this week, all meals will be made at home, using up what we have in the house. I did make a trip to the farmer's market on Saturday, so we have the fresh produce and I will get a bit more if we need some fruits or veggies. There are a lot of soups slowing making their way into my meal plans. I move the soup around to the raining days or when the days are cooler than the others.

      Here is this week for dinner, with this Monday Meal Plan.
      Meatless Monday: Simple salads with hard boiled egg
      Tuesday: Spaghetti and meatballs
      Wednesday: Chicken with Wild Rice Soup
      Thursday: Tacos with refried beans 
      Friday: Roasted chicken with potatoes & carrots (I keep putting this meal off) 
      Saturday: Chicken enchiladas (repeat! cause we went to the Mexican market grill.. yumm)
      Sunday: Search the fridge and hope something is left!

      Saturday, September 17, 2011

      Pumpkin Dog Drops

      A drop for the dogs.
      I finally admit that it is fall, with the crisp morning and nights! I LOVE it! My little woof loves the fall, too! He spends his days laying out on the deck soaking in the cooler temperatures or carrying his football around the yard. Hayden also really enjoys pumpkin! So in order to give him a little taste of fall, I made him these pumpkin drops. I don't want him to feel left out from the fall baking. 
      These little drops were sitting on the counter when my husband got home from work. When he had his mouth full entering the family room, I just laughed. He gave me a confused look. I told him that was nice that Hayden was sharing his treats. The response "Well they aren't half bad, lucky little guy!" Hayden enjoys them too, he was staring them down when I was trying to photograph them outside.

      Pumpkin Dog Drops
      1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
      1/2 cup pumpkin puree
      1 Tablespoon brown sugar
      1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
      4 Tablespoons butter (can leave out but keeps really moist)
      1 whole egg
      1/2 cup buttermilk

      Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put a silicon slip-mat or parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
      In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cut in butter.
      In a medium bowl, beat egg with buttermilk and pumpkin. Combine with flour mixture, mix until well combined. Stir until a soft dough forms.
      Drop tablespoons of dough unto cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, edges will be slightly golden. Let cool and then have the woof perform a trick.

      Thursday, September 15, 2011

      Sausage, Peppers and Potatoes

      One dish makes this meal a fall favorite.
      When I saw the potatoes and bell peppers at the farmers' market, I knew what it was time to make. The hardest part of sausage, peppers and potatoes it cutting the vegetables to put in the pan. I don't remember where I first saw this recipe but has adapted to fit our taste over the years. Plus it is so easy for a week night to throw oven!

      Sausage, Peppers, and Potatoes
      1 to 1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage (mild or hot depending on taste)
      2 bell peppers (any colors), cut into inch pieces
      6 medium size red potatoes, or Yukon gold, cut into about the same size, quartered
      2 cloves garlic, smashed or chopped
      1/2 medium onion, cut into inch pieces
      2 Tablespoon olive oil 
      salt and pepper 

      Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
      In a casserole or baking dish, drizzle the olive oil on the bottom of the pan. Combine the potatoes, peppers, onion and garlic. Place the sausage, whole or cut into pieces depending on time, over the top of the veggies. (Having the sausage on top helps the grease to keep the vegetables moist). Season with salt and pepper. 
      Bake in oven, until potatoes are fork tender and sausage is brown and cooked through.

      Monday, September 12, 2011

      Monday Meal Plan

      Last week went really fast! I wasn't ready for this meal plan, so this week has some pretty easy meals.
      Here is this week for dinner, with this Monday Meal Plan.

      Meatless Monday: Broccoli Cheddar soup with sourdough bread
      Tuesday: Sausage, potatoes, and peppers (left from last week)
      Wednesday: Meatball subs
      Thursday: Southwest chicken with corn on the cob
      Friday: Out to eat
      Saturday: Something tasty with farmer's market finds.
      Sunday:Chicken enchiladas stuffed with peppers and chicken

      Saturday, September 10, 2011

      Mom's Crock-pot Chili

      For when the days are chili. 
      Even though everyone else in Utah thinks it is fall already, I don't. I believe the temperatures are going to come back to warm. However when rainy, cloudy days are on the forecast, I will take it to make a fall meal. This chili is one that my mom has made since I can remember. We would come home to a crock-pot warming our dinner. There isn't a magic ingredient or a long prep time so this chili is really nice to throw in and go.

      Mom's Crock-pot Chili
      1½ lb. ground beef
      1 medium onion, chopped
      1 clove garlic minced
      1¼ cup tomato juice
      1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
      1 (1 lb) can diced tomatoes
      2 tablespoon chili con carne seasoning
      1 teaspoon salt
      ½ teaspoon oregano
      1 (15 oz) can chili beans in chili gravy

      Cook ground beef, onion and garlic in large skillet until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain off excess fat.
      Stir in remaining ingredients except beans. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, or pour into crock pot along with beans and heat 3 to 4 hours on low.
      Serve with bowls of shredded cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, sour cream, crushed red pepper, cruets of white vinegar and catchup. Guest can add one or all to make this dish exactly right.

      Tuesday, September 6, 2011

      falling into meal plan

      I am a day late with this meal plan after a Sunday night camping trip. We finally made our way up to Bear Lake. It was such a beautiful large, beautiful lake. We also visited the Paris Ice Caves which were amazing. Such a sight to see ice and snow in a cave, after a warm summer.
      Trying not to have an out to eat day this week, so meals for each day  this week for dinner. It might be a day late but it is still my Monday Meal Plan.

      Tuesday: Chili
      Meatless Wednesday: Black Bean quesadillas 
      Thursday: Chicken Soulvaki topped with garden full of tomatoes
      Friday: Grilled Pizza plus salads
      Saturday: Garlic Pork with green beans
      Sunday: Sausage, peppers and potatoes

      Thursday, September 1, 2011

      S'mores Bar

      When you crave the campfire treat, but the fire won't start!
      I love camping. Mostly because it means eating more s'mores that I really should. These little bars make it possible to enjoy the graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow treat at any time. Perfect for picnics, potlucks and even camping, when you can't have a fire. They still give the gooey marshmallow, melted chocolate with a little crunch. I may be misleading because fingers will still get sticky and marshmallow will cover the corners of your mouth. When I was at my parents house, I made these little bars and they were gone in a night. No one could stop snacking on them! This batch I took to the family get together because my dad kept asking for s'more!

      S'mores Cookie Bar 
      Slight change from Allyou Magazine
      2 cups all-purpose flour 
      2 cups graham cracker crumbs 
      1 teaspoon baking powder 
      1/4 teaspoon salt 
      16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
      1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar 
      2 large eggs, beaten 
      2 cups marshmallow fluff, or melted marshmallows 
      2 cups milk-chocolate chips or semi-sweet

      - Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides. Mist foil with cooking spray.
      - In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs until well combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly beat flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt into butter mixture. Divide dough in half. Press half of dough into pan until dough is uniform and flat. Spread with marshmallow topping and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Scatter remaining dough over in clumps. Don't worry about covering the top; marshmallow and chocolate chips should peek through. If desired, add additional chocolate chips and mini marshmallows once the top crust is in place.
      - Bake until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Place pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Remove from pan, peel off foil and cut into bars.