Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hearty Pumpkin Muffins

My friend brought me one of these muffins on Monday, fresh out of the oven and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I couldn't stop thinking about it so I harassed her via texts until she finally gave me the recipe because they were THAT good. I made them this morning and they are even better than I remember, if that's possible. They are not dense and heavy, like typical pumpkin goodies can be. They are light and fluffy, yet still hearty enough to keep your tummy happy. I am so happy to share this recipe with the world wide web.

Hearty Pumpkin Muffins

Yield: About 36 muffins  Prep Time: 10 minutes  Bake Time: 20-25 minutes

1 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
5 eggs
2 (4-serving) boxes instant coconut cream pudding
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup walnuts (optional)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners or spray with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl or mixing stand, combine vegetable oil, sugar, pumpkin, eggs and pudding. Mix until well blended. Add the small bowl of dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix until the flour is fully incorporated. Fold in oats, walnuts and chocolate chips. Scoop mixture into muffin tins (about 2/3 full) and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes, then you can devour them ravenously, like I did.

Mmmmmm.... it's finally starting to feel like Fall around here!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Actually Easy Crock Pot Mexi-Chicken

The picture is not much to look at, but I only thought of photographing this delicious dish after I'd eaten some. For Father's Day, I'd totally planned on steaks but forgot to actually go to the store to buy them. So, yesterday morning, I frantically searched for a frozen chicken-in-the-crock pot recipe that had ingredients that were already in my pantry/fridge. It took a while but I finally found this awesome recipe. I just had to tweak it a little to account for the ingredients I didn't have. So I'm going to give you the recipe I actually used as opposed to the one that was actually required. It turned out great and was actually easy, not The Food Network easy.

4-5 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 can black beans

1 can Mexicorn

1/2 jar salsa

6-8 oz cream cheese

Put frozen chicken, drained black beans, drained mexicorn, and salsa in the crock pot.

Cook in the crock pot on low for 8 hours, or high for 4-5 hours. Until chicken is tender.

Add cream cheese (set on top) and let it sit 1/2 before serving.

I mixed it together before I served it.

All I know is you can't beat throwing frozen chicken, beans, corn and salsa in the crock pot before church. It's pretty much the recipe I've been searching for my entire life.

Try it. You'll love it.

P.S. For the actual recipe, you use a regular can of corn and full jar of salsa. That's it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

(Picture courtesy of Cooking Light)

I've been going through my magazines and picking out recipes that I'd like to try. I knew my parents were coming for dinner and my mom loves coconut, so I thought these would be a great dessert. They were enjoyed by all! Definitely use dark chocolate as suggested (I used a Lindt bar) because the sweetness of the coconut (and the brown sugar) makes them plenty sweet. Also, it doesn't make a ton (maybe 15?), which is probably good, since they're addictive!

1 cup flaked, sweetened coconut
4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1/2 tea baking powder
1/4 tea baking soda
1/8 tea salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tea vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Arrange coconut in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 3.5 minutes. Stir coconut and cook for an additional 3.5 minutes and then set aside to cool.
4. Weigh or lightly sppon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until blended.
5. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended.
6. Beat in vanilla and egg.
7. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined.
8. Stir in toasted coconut and chocolate.
9. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
10. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until bottoms of cookies just begin to brown.
11. Remove from pan, and cool completely on wire racks.

Chocolate Cherry Cookies

If you normally shy away from cherries, I'd try these anyway. I gave these to two people who said they normally don't like cherries but they both really enjoyed them! I got this recipe from the Cooking Light Magazine, so it'd actually relatively healthy...if you can keep yourself from eating the whole batch all by yourself. ;)

1.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/3 cup)
1.5 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1/3 cup)
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tea baking soda
1/2 tea salt
6 T. unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup dried cherries
1 tea vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk.
3. Melt butter in a small bowl on low in microwave (or on the stove, if you prefer).
4. Add brown sugar to butter and stir until smooth.
5. Add sugar mixture to flour mixture and beat with a mixer on medium speed until well blended.
6. Add cherries, vanilla, and egg: beat until combined.
7. Fold in chocolate.
8. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes (until edges brown).
10. Cool on pans 3 minutes or until almost firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Healthy Cookies

1 stick butter
3/4 cup apple sauce
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 salt
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups oat bran
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seed grain
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Add 1/4 cup white choc. chips and or semi sweet/ dark choc. chunks
1/2 cup dried cranberries mix both dry and wet ingredients together with chips/berries.
I do it with hands because it's easier- shape into golf ball size and bake at 350 for 12-15 min.

Pork Tenderloins with Onions & Apples

I had this first at my moms, and was suprised at how much I liked it. It's super simple and inexpensive.

Pork Tenderloins with Onion & Apples

Sherry Base:
1 c whipping cream
1/3 c. cream sherry
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. prepared horseradish
1 tsp salt
Combine in Bowl.

4 pork tenderloin
2 Tbsp. butter
Seasoned salt
2 large onions
2 large apples (Golden Delicious are suggested- but I have used others)

Paint tenderloins with Sherry Baste and season tenderloins with seasoning salt and pepper. Preheat oven at 425. Roast tenderloins until done, about 35 minutes (take out when meat thermometer reaches 150)

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and apples and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft. Add sherry baste and bring to a boil. (This can be done ahead of time and reheated).

Slice meat on the diagonal and serve with apple & onion sauce.
Serve with potatoes or rice.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cream of Potato Soup

This soup has been a staple in my family for as long as I can remember. My grandma and mom used to make it for us to soothe an upset stomach or counter an oncoming cold. Now I make it as the ultimate comfort food. It's nothing like all of the Loaded Baked Potato soups out there. It's simple, quick and incredibly delicious. Enjoy!

Cream of Potato Soup

5-6 medium Russett potatoes, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup heavy cream, Half & Half or whole milk
1 Tbsp. butter
Garlic Salt
Onion Salt
Lemon Pepper
Mashed Potato Flakes (optional)

Place potatoes, celery and onions in a large pot and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the potatoes are tender enough to mash, about 20 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and mash the potatoes with a potato masher. At this point, if the soup seems too runny, you can either add mashed potato flakes or return the pot to low heat and let the soup thicken. I usually let it thicken for another 5-10 minutes over med-low heat. Turn the heat to low and add the cream, butter, salts and lemon pepper. All of this is done to taste, so keep tasting until it's just right!

Serve warm with bread and butter. You feel better already, don't you?

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Sauce

These enchiladas remind me of my Arizona home. The sauce is not red enchilada sauce, rather a mixture of taco and tomato sauces. It's a delicious combination and a simple meal to throw together. Serve it up with this Spanish Rice and lots of sour cream and guacamole. You won't want to miss out on this favorite of ours!

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Sauce
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2-1/2 to 3 cups grated cheese (Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, Cheddar all work great)
24 corn tortillas
1-2 cups vegetable oil
2 small cans tomato sauce
1 bottle La Victoria Red Taco Sauce (I know this is sold in Utah and Arizona. It is a tomato-based taco sauce, not a chunky salsa in any way. One bottle is 15 ounces, and I prefer the mild flavor.)

1. Boil chicken breasts with celery, carrots, and onion for 30 minutes, or until chicken is done.
2. Take chicken out of broth and put on a plate to cool. Do not discard broth, reserve at least 2 cups of it for later.
3. While chicken is cooling, fill sauce pot up with 1 inch of oil and heat. Dip one corn tortilla in the oil at a time, softening it by submerging it for only a few seconds. You still want it pliable and definitely NOT crispy. Drain softened tortillas on paper towels.
4. In a medium bowl, mix the 2 cans of tomato sauce with the entire bottle of taco sauce. Combine well and set aside.
5. Begin shredding chicken into small pieces, getting rid of any fat, veins or gristle.
6. Put freshly shredded chicken in a large mixing bowl and combine with 2 cups of the grated cheese. Add 1 cup (or more) of the reserved broth to the chicken/cheese mixture and mix well. The mixture should be held together well but not soupy.
7. Preaheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
8. Spoon a little bit of chicken/cheese mixture into a tortilla. Roll up the tortilla and place it in the pan, edge down so the tortillas stay closed. Continue until the pan is full. If you have extra chicken/cheese, you can quickly make more tortillas or save it for tacos some other time!
9. Once the pan is full of enchiladas, pour the sauce over the tortillas, making sure to cover well.
10. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese over the enchiladas and bake for 30 minutes, uncovered. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, cilantro and/or Spanish Rice for a complete meal.

This recipe can easily be halved, or you can make the full meal and freeze half of it before baking.

Spanish Rice

This is my very favorite version of Spanish Rice. It can stand on its own as a main meal or serve as a side to any Mexican dish. The flavor is unique and better than any restaurant rice that's out there!

Spanish Rice

4-5 slices of bacon, uncooked
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup long grain white rice, uncooked
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
2 cups water

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until just before it turns crispy. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Do not drain the grease! Over med-high heat, add the rice, bell pepper and onion to the bacon grease and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the tomato sauce, water, and bacon (crumbled or cut) and bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and cover. Simmer 20-25 minutes over low heat until rice is done. 

We love to eat this with shredded cheese on top and sour cream on the side, or with Red Chicken Enchiladas. Delicious!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Marinated Cherry Tomato Salad

I have an over abundance of cherry tomatoes in my garden this year, so I decided to give this recipe a whirl. It was extra delicious and I loved every last drop.

4 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
3 tablespoons cider vinegar (I used pear infused vinegar, which added a really yummy flavor, but used what you have.)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar

In a small bowl or cup measure and mix together oil, vinegar, herbs, salt and sugar.
Pour dressing over cherry tomatoes in a serving dish and gently stir to coat. Chill for at least 2 hours. Gently stir from bottom to top, coating all tomatoes, before serving. Enjoy!