Friday, March 30, 2012

Mexican Potato Soup

I was at home one day this week and it was cool outside after the rain and I wanted needed a quick lunch but I didn't want a sandwich.

I saw a chicken tortilla soup recipe on-line and thought about that, but I didn't have all of the stuff.

Soup sounded good, though, so I improvised!

This is what I came up with.  A vegetarian spicy Mexican soup.

The next day, the Mr. took the left-overs to work for his lunch and he shared with his secretary.

They both liked it -- so I think I'll keep it!  What's great about this recipe is the flexibility!  If you want more potatoes, add it!  If you don't like black beans, leave them out!  If you prefer red enchilada sauce over green, make the substitution!  You can't go wrong!

Mexican Potato Soup

1/2 onion, chopped
1 TBSP oil
3 tsp. chopped garlic
1 can rotel tomatoes, undrained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can green enchilada sauce
2 cans chicken broth
1 can green chilies
1 cup southern style hash browns
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 avocado, chopped
corn chips, crushed

In a large sauce pan, saute the onion until tender.  Add the garlic and stir, careful not to burn.  Add the rotel, drained black beans, enchilada sauce, chicken broth, green chilies, hash browns, cumin, chili powder, and salt.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes to blend flavors.  If you wish, you can throw all of the ingredients into a crock pot and heat on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve hot soup topped with chopped avocado and crushed corn chips, if desired.

**The Mr.'s secretary topped her grilled hamburger patty with the soup and said it was "delicious!"  She also thinks it would be great to smoother a grilled chicken breast with this  -- and a bit of shredded monterey jack cheese (the cheese part is my suggestion!).  She didn't say, but I'm guessing she drained a bit of the soup broth before putting it over her meat.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Apple Barn Julep Drink

In Tennessee there is a GREAT restaurant called The Apple Barn.

Everything there is delicious.


Once you order, the waitress brings this little cup of cold drink.

Emphasis is on little.

Because I want a big cup of this cold drink.

I want the entire pitcher of this drink on my little table.

I want to be hooked up intravenously to this drink.

I bought The Apple Barn Cookbook because it had the recipe for this drink . . .
this was way before smart-phones. . .

where I could take the book in a corner and act like I was totally interested in the book
and be all "consumed" with the incredible recipes, all the while, trying to get my smart-phone camera out so that I could snap a picture of the single recipe that I wanted,  then decided that I really didn't need the recipe book . . .

Not that I would have done that; I'm just saying I have the whole recipe book for this one recipe!

Apple Barn Julep

1 quart apple juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice

Pour everything into a pitcher, mix well and chill. 

Serve to the friends you really like . . .keep the rest for yourself.

Sweet and Crunchy Pretzels

Pretzels are a great snack to have.

They're so user friendly:  you can eat them plain, dip them, or transform them!

I've given you a recipe for a spicy pretzel but here's a treat for a sweet pretzel.

It's easy as can be and even your kids can help you make this snack.

I have seen variations of this recipe in Midwest Living, Taste of Home, and other easy-to-do recipe books.

Sweet and Crunchy Pretzels

1 (16 oz) bag pretzels (twists, butter squares, nuggets, sticks . . .whatever you prefer!)
⅔ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pour pretzels into a roasting pan. In a medium sized bowl mix together vegetable oil, cinnamon and sugar. Pour over pretzels and stir to coat. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, removing twice to stir.

Allow to cool before serving (although, the warm sugary pretzel sure is tasty -- wink, wink!)

Store in a ziplock bag.

**Once you've finished your bag of pretzels, any of the cinnamon/sugar mixture that remains in your bag, can be mixed into softened butter for a cinnamon/sugar spread to use on toast.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Marshmallow Popcorn

Marshmallow popcorn -- so yummy!
Follow my directions of "remove unpopped kernel" as it
makes your treat more treat-y!

At my house, we really do love popcorn.

Sometimes we eat a lot of popcorn;
as in everyday we eat popcorn.

Then, there are times that we don't eat any popcorn.

Until we find a recipe like this one.

This makes you want to eat popcorn every day.

Maybe twice a day!

If you love caramel popcorn -- then feast your lips on this easy to make treat!

It's so easy to make, it's almost dangerous!

Here's the good news . . . or maybe it's bad news . . .

This is a "fix and eat" kind of treat.  It's not good left over --
so for whatever that's worth --
go make yourself a "I gotta eat it now" popcorn treat!

Marshmallow Popcorn

1 bag of microwavable popcorn, popped (regular size)
5 TBSP butter
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/3 cup brown sugar

Pop the popcorn.  Once cooled, pick out the unpopped kernels.  Place the good popcorn in a large bowl.

Place the butter, brown sugar, and marshmallows in a medium sized bowl.  Heat in microwave, stopping to stir ingredients until it is melted, smooth, and stirs together easily.

Pour hot mixture over the popcorn and stir to coat.

Let cool just a smidge before digging in!

Be sure to share with someone that you love!

**To triple the recipe:  3 bags of popcorn, 2 sticks of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 1 bag of marshmallows.  Proceed as directed.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Chocolate Magic Shell

Image from the Internet
I have always liked chocolate dipped cones.


On a Summer day, there is no doubt, they are messy.

But they're great.

There's an art to eating a chocolate dipped cone.

First, you bite the very top off of the chocolate.

This allows you to suck some of the soft-serve ice cream from the inside of the chocolate shell.

But you have to be careful or the chocolate shell will crack and some will fall in on itself, and the other bits will fall onto the ground.

Those pieces on the ground are gone forever.

And that's sad.

But once you have removed just the right amount of soft-serve ice cream, you then bit the chocolate shell again, being careful to only get a small amount.

Then you suck more ice cream out.

You continue this pattern . . .

Very quickly.

Because it's a hot day and everybody knows that the chocolate is not a strong fortified shell and there's always at least one tiny hole.

A small place where the chocolate didn't set up right on the soft-serve ice cream.

It's from there where the ice cream leak starts.

Then you have to lick that spot.

Then the ice cream starts melting from the point of which the chocolate shell and cone meet -- where there is no tight seal -- it's from there the ice cream can start melting all over your hands and you have to lick very quick.

There are only 2 things that can possibly make this ice cream adventure "better:"
  1.  and that's to be either driving the car
  1. you thought it would be fun to buy your small cherub their own chocolate dipped ice cream cone, while you had one too, on a VERY hot summer day.  Your cherub clearly doesn't understand the science of eating the chocolate dipped ice cream cone you have to "save" their ice cream cone by eating it and sucking the melted soft-serve ice cream, yet offering them bites so they feel like it's their treat and telling them how to eat the cone, all the while taking care of your very own ice cream cone.  And after all your work, they don't appreciate the experience you've given to them . . .after all, you've eaten 2 chocolate dipped ice cream cones, for the sake of an adventure!

WOW!  That was cathartic!

Here's how to make your very own chocolate for a dipped cone!

Chocolate Magic Shell

1/2 cup Coconut oil, solid
1 1/4 Chocolate chips

Place the coconut oil and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.

Melt the ingredients, stopping periodically to stir the ingredients together.  The oil will melt faster than the chips, but give short bursts of microwave time, stirring thoroughly between heatings.  The heat from the oil will melt the chips.  Do not "over heat" the mixture.  Spend more time stirring than heating!  You don't want to ruin your mixture.

Pour the cooled melted mixture into a microwave safe container.  I used a Wilton squeeze bottle.

Store chocolate in the refrigerator.  Because it's similar to "magic shell" it will harden when it's cold.

When you are ready to serve, simple heat the bottle in the microwave, just a bit, to return the chocolate to it's original pourable state.  Again, do not over-heat or it will ruin the chocolate.

Squeeze over ice cream and it will harden . . .or pour the melted chocolate into a bowl where you can dunk an ice cream cone and create your own chocolate dipped cone!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Green Chili Rice Casserole

image from the internet

Yesterday we had lunch with some friends at their house.

It was a great time and fantastic food!

My friend served some delish Mexican food and I begged her for the recipes!

She shared with me.

I share with you.

You'll be happy!

Today, I give you the Green Chili Rice recipe.

You can't go wrong with this stuff!

Hurry up and make it, you'll be happy you did!

Green Chili Rice Casserole

4 cups of cooked white rice, instant rice is great
2 (4oz.) cans diced green chilies
3/4 pound Monterey Jack cheese, (1 1/2 bags if using pre-shredded)
2 cups sour cream
1/2-3/4 tsp. seasoning salt to taste (I use Lawry's)
chives and cheese to top
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Pour into a 9X13 greased baking dish. 
Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes or until thoroughly hot.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pumpkin Waffles

My oldest cherub loves pumpkin . . .

  . . .bread
 . . . cookies
 . . . pie
 . . . and waffles!

It works out really well that the Mr. found pumpkin on sale at the store the other day for about $0.25 a can! 

Honestly, that's what the Mr. goes to the store for . . .sale items!

Now that I have 10 cans of pumpkin in my cabinets and it's not anywhere near Fall, I'm searching the recipes for delicious recipes that we'll enjoy in the Spring!

I found this recipe on the internet and made some small changes to it and we all thought they were delicious waffles!

On a wonderful Spring Saturday morning, you may want to serve these delicious Fall pumpkin waffles to your family!

Pumpkin Waffles

1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. King Arthur Pumpkin flavoring
2 large eggs, seperated
1 cup whole milk
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and warm

Prepare the waffle iron as per the directions.

Combine brown sugar, cornstarch, flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk to blend.

Separate eggs: place the whites in a small bowl.  Whip until stiff peaks form. 

To the egg yolks add the pumpkin, butter, pumpkin flavoring, and milk. Whisk to blend.  Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix them together until just combined.

Gently add the whipped egg whites into the mixture.   Gently fold them in until no white remain, but do not over fold.

Laddle the correct amount into the waffle iron and cook until desired doneness.

Keep in oven on low setting to keep warm until all the waffles have been cooked.

Serve with butter, syrup, or apple butter.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Holy Guacamole!

OH!  I heart guacamole!

Fresh guacamole!

It's so fresh and simple and yummy!

It's one of the easiest things to make!

If you order it out -- it can cost a you a small mariachi band!

But there's no need in that!

The ingredients are inexpensive and the taste will make you say, "Ole!"


2 ripe avocados
1/4 of a small onion, diced
1/2-1 lime
pinch of salt
cilantro, if desired

Halve the avocados, remove pit and scoop the pulp into a bowl.  Squeeze the juice of 1/2-1 lime over the avocado.  Using your fork, smash the avocado to desired consistency. 

Add in the diced onion, the pinch of salt, and cilantro.  Stir to incorporate all the ingredients.

Stick the avocado seed in the middle of your guacamole to help prevent the prized possession from turning brown.


**We like 1 whole lime in our guacamole.  Also, I use the cilantro in a bottle, so I put just a teensy  squirt (maybe 1/2 tsp.) in the recipe to add a smidge of zip, but not a distinct cilantro taste.
Gourmet Garden Cilantro

Saturday, March 10, 2012

This is Great!

Not too much to say here, except this little product is great!

Before Christmas, I told my husband, and I quote, "I want to create a little cami -- using just a small piece of material, that would Velcro onto the bra straps and would be an easy fit under too-low cut shirts."

It wasn't a week later, I was in a store and saw that someone must have heard my idea . . .and beat me to the punch!  Because there it was -- all packaged up, exactly what I was saying was a necessary invention!

I asked for a package for Christmas.

Didn't get it.

It's now March and I stopped by Walgreens on the way to Bible Study to get myself a package!

I needed it desperately!

It's so amazing how easy these work -- I put on my new "belongings" at the stoplight!

Pretty amazing!

My girl cherub say the "little" things on my dresser and said, "What's that?"  When I told her, she said, "Well, huh!  That's pretty clever . . .they need those for little girls!"

I bought the basic package:  black, white, and beige.

There you go -- not much else to say!

$10.00 for the package, I think it's a great deal!

**Again, I am not being paid by this company, or any of it's representatives to say good things!  This is totally my unsolicited opinion!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Coffee Flavoring from King Arthur

Coffee Flavor - 1 oz.
Image from King Arthur website

I have said it before.

I love King Arthur products.

I have to thank Benjamin , his mom, and Ms. Gladys. . .
they spoiled me to the finer things of King Arthur.

Now, I'm a convert.

Tried and true!

For Christmas, I asked for a bunch of different
King Arthur flavorings.

Sad, but true.

Even better, I got them!

How cheap is that --
I took the catalogue, circled the flavorings my heart desired, left a note for the Mr., highlighting when the "free shipping dates" were and viola!  Got myself some flavorings!

One of the flavors I wanted was the Coffee.
It's not an extract, but rather a flavoring.

"What's the difference?" you say.
"I don't know!"  I reply!

The website says "Flavorings," so I don't want
to mislead.

But truthfully, I'd say extract!

The coffee, though, is great!

I've added it to many things chocolate and even a caramel frosting.

Next will be ice cream.

Doesn't that sound good?  With maybe some chocolate chunks?

I love the low mellow-ness of the flavor.

It's not all "in your face coffee flavor."
It's just a depth.

I like it!

Get yourself a bottle to see if you like it too!

Tell them Karen sent you . . .
they won't care, but wouldn't that be funny?

Disclaimer:  It might surprise you, but I receive nothing from King Arthur to say nice things about their products.  Nothing.  Zilch.  Nada. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Grilled Cheese with Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Strawberry Preserves

Images taken from internet:
I really do like grilled cheese sandwiches.

But the clincher is this:  it has to be good!

Not any 'ol grilled cheese sandwich will do.

I think my mom made me a persnickety grilled cheese eater when I was a little girl.

My mom would grill the sandwich for my lunch.

The problem was this:  I wasn't eating it at home!

I was eating at school!

In an "effort" to keep it warm, she'd wrap the sandwich in foil.

That didn't do anything except make for a soggy-ish cold grilled cheese sandwich.

Now that I'm older, there are two things I do:  eat my grilled cheese hot . . .and I don't send grilled cheese sandwiches with my cherubs to school! 

No matter how tempting it may be!

Last night, we were running errands right up until dinner time. 

I had no dinner plans.

That makes for some fussy family members!

I sent my youngest cherub off to dance with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I made the rest of us grilled cheese sandwiches!

But with a twist!

Here it is!

Grilled Cheese with Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Strawberry Preserves

For 4 sandwiches you'll need:

8 slices of bread of your choice
Butter, for the bread
Cheddar cheese, sliced
Strawberry preserves
1/2 of onion, thinly sliced
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP sugar
1-2 TBSP balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in the pan; add the thinly sliced onion and sprinkle with the sugar.  Cook over medium heat until the onions are caramel in color.  Stirring often to allow for even cooking.  Add the balsamic vinegar and stir until well mixed.  Remove from heat.

Butter one side of each piece of bread.  Place in pan over medium heat.  Top with desired amount of sliced cheddar cheese. 

Butter another piece of bread.  Flip over and spread some strawberry preserves and a nice schemer of the onion mix.  Place on top of the cheese, with butter facing up!

Grill until bread is golden and cheese is melted.

It's so gourmet -- you're gonna impress yourself!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Frozen Fruit Salad

I remember my mom making this salad when I was a small girl.

She hasn't made it in a L.O.N.G. time.

And neither have I.

But I made it early this week;  and it's good.

I should make it more often!

It makes a large amount, so it's great for taking along to a gathering.

But if you're not going to a gathering anytime soon, still make it.

Freeze it in 2 different containers . . .one for now and one for later!

Mom's Frozen Fruit Salad

6 bananas, sliced
1/2 cup lemon juice (can be bottled if you prefer)
1 1/2 cups sugar*
20 oz can of crushed pineapple
8 oz jar maraschino cherries, chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped, if desired
1 pt. sour cream
12 oz container cool whip, thawed

Place banana slices in a large bowl and pour in lemon juice.  Toss to coat.  Add the sugar, pineapple, chopped cherries and the pecans, if you're using them, and the sour cream.  Stir to mix.   Add in the cool whip and just enough cherry juice to get the desired pink color that you prefer.  Stir gently, just until incorporated.  You do not want to "deflate" the cool whip.

Place in freezer until ready to use.  I like to serve it like soft-serve ice cream -- able to hold shape, but easy enough to scoop out of the bowl!

**I used 3/4 cup of sugar and didn't feel that anything was missing.
**This is a great recipe to use fat free or low fat ingredients, if you prefer.  You could also substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Orange-Glazed Tea Rolls

You're going to be amazed with these little gems!

Serve them to your friends and they're going to be amazed by your culinary talent.

I'm guessing you could go into your kitchen and whip these little treats up in a matter of minutes because these are "normal" ingredients.

Don't you love "normal?" 

Me too!

These sweet bites are great beside a salad or served at a luncheon or shower.

Orange-Glazed Tea Rolls

1- 8oz package refrigerated crescent rolls
1 TBSP butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Orange Glaze (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375.

Unroll crescent roll dough onto lightly floured board.  Press perforations to seal.  Brush dough with the melted butter. 

Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough.

Roll up, jellyroll fashion, starting at the long side.  Cut into 1 inch thick slices.

Place slices, cut side up, in a lightly greased mini muffin pan.  1 slice per mini cup.

Bake at 375 for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pans immediately and drizzle with the glaze.

Orange Glaze

2/3 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 TBSP frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed and undiluted
2 tsp. water

Combine all the glaze ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.

This makes 12 delightful bites.