Monday, January 26, 2009

Baked Potato Soup & Apple Crisp

Baked Potato Soup and Apple Crisp are two of the dishes I took to Kelly when she had her baby. I made mini bread loaves to serve the soup in (soup-in-a-loaf style). By request, here are the recipes:

(Yield: 5-6 servings)
2 large baking potatoes
6 Tbs thinly sliced green onion (about 3)
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour
2 tsp snipped fresh dill or 1/4 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 cups milk
1 1/4 cups shredded American cheese
4 slices of bacon, crisp-cooked, drained,and crumbled

  1. Bake potatoes at 425 degrees for 40-60 minutes (or until tender). Scoop out white portion of each potato. Break up any large pieces. Discard skins.
  2. In a large saucepan cook 3 Tbs of the green onion in butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in flour, dill, salt, and pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir for 12-15 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Add the potato and 1 cup of the cheese. Stir until cheese melts
  3. Top each serving with the remaining cheese, green onion, and the bacon.
NOTE: I'm kind of a salt addict and I didn't feel like this recipe called for enough salt. If you are like me, you will need more salt! Also, I ended up needing to add more flour/corn starch to thicken mine up, so you may need to do that as well.
4 medium apples (I prefer Granny Smith)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cram, if desired
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 8x8 inch pan.
  2. Spread apples in pan. Mix remaining ingredients except cream and sprinkle over apples.
  3. Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender.
  4. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
NOTE: If you like your apple crisp a little "gooier" you can use a can of apple pie filling instead of fresh apples.

Fun and Simple Project for the Kids

So I've been thinking about making a puppet theater or something for my son. I didn't want to spend a lot of money or time on the project though. That and I didn't want anything too big because it would either be destroyed or take up too much room anyways.
When I came across this idea I knew it was something I could do.  Go check out how to make your own Cereal Box Theater.
Don't have any puppets for your theater? Have your kids draw their own on card stock then cut them out and glue them to Popsicle sticks. Or you could just print out some animal pictures on card stock to do the same thing with. Here are some cute one's to try by Lotta Bruhn. These are stickers but they would work perfectly.
I'll post a picture when I finally make it.

P.F. Chang's Lettuce Wraps

A friend called this morning to ask for my P.F. Chang's Lettuce Wraps recipe. It's a perfect recipe for today's celebrations! I've tried this recipe myself and while it is a bit of work it is absolutely worth it for those special occasions. You can get the recipe for yourself here.

Some changes I made:
  1. I used apple cider instead of the dry sherry.
  2. To make it just like P.F. Chang's get ground chicken (or turkey). That way it's really tiny bits.
  3. I used 1/4 tsp dried ginger instead of fresh.
  4. Those cellophane noodles are so fun to cook, but make sure you put enough oil in the pan to cover them when you place them in, break it up into small sections and be ready to pull it out quickly. It's so cool to watch it puff up, but too long in the oil and it burns.
By the way - if you're wondering how I knew what to replace sherry with, it's not that I have a clue at all. It's all about my  resources. This one is a list of nonalcoholic substitutes for wines, spirits and liqueurs. I wasn't really sure how I stood on alcohol in cooking until I did the research and found charts showing how little actually burned off. I'm not trying to make up anyone's mind on this, just properly inform you that it doesn't all burn off!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Decadent Brownie Pudding Cake

Do you want to savor rich ooey gooey chocolately goodness without all of the fat?I thought you would all appreciate this one:

Brownie Pudding Cake
1 cup flour 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups boiling water
Lots of yummy half fat ice cream (or for my case I use Breyer's fat-free vanilla yogurt. It is heavenly and practically guilt free!)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8x2 baking pan; set aside. In a medium bowl stir together the flour, granulated sugar, the 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, the baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk, applesauce, and vanilla. If desired, add walnuts.
2. Pour batter into baking pan. In a small bowl stir together the brown sugar the the 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Stir in the boiling water. Slowly pour brown sugar mixture over batter.
3. Bake for 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 30 minutes. Serve warm. Spoon cake into dessert bowls; spoon pudding from the bottom of the pan over cake. Add ice cream.

Wow. It is 11 am and I am ready for dessert already! Enjoy!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Humanitarian Project: Hygiene Kits

Hello Ladies I am so excited to do a humanitarian project for our next Simply Doing Something. I've been looking at the Church website to look at some of the things the church sends to those in need. I thought for ease of a project we could complete in one night I would like to put together Hygiene Kits. However, If you are feeling extra crafty the church website has all sorts of cute things to do from blankets and booties to folder games and we can send everything together.

Each hygiene kit needs:

2 combs
4 toothbrushes
1 tube of toothpaste
2 bars of soap
2 handtowels

My goal is to make 30 hygiene kits.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Creamy Artichoke Chicken

Go HERE to find the yummy recipe I made for Kelly. If you like artichoke's and mushrooms you'll love this!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Heavenly Split Pea Soup

This is one of my all time favorite recipes. We eat eat it once a week. Seriously. Just ask my husband. I hope you all enjoy it as much as....ahem....we do. 

Split Pea Soup

•       2 cups chopped onion
•       2 cups chopped carrot
•       2 cups finely chopped celery
•       1 tsp minced garlic
•       2 cups green split peas
•       8 cups fat-free chicken broth
•       1 1/2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning blend (I use the ham seasoning
that comes inside the split pea package)
•       1 teaspoon salt

1.      In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook onion, carrot,
celery and garlic, green split peas, broth, seasoning and salt. Cover,
bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook about 1 hour, stirring

Make this tonight. You won't regret it!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Zuppa Toscana

Love Olive Garden? Have you had their delicious Zuppa Toscana? Link over and get the recipe.

One of my friends shared this with me, and I just have to share it with the rest of you! I made it but with a slight variation. 

I'm not a huge sausage fan so instead of the sausage I used 1lb ground turkey with 1-2 Tbsp Paprika and 2 tsp garlic powder mixed in. Also - I just used Whipping Cream (not heavy) and halved the amount called for. It really didn't need so much to taste amazing.

I've recently discovered that the bacon bits expand a little too much for my taste by the next day. (As in you will find large fat chunks in the soup.) My recommendation on that is to eitherPublish Post use your own cooked and crumbled bacon or to use bacon bits on the side and not actually in the soup.

Bon Appetit!

A New Blog for a New Year

Almost a year ago I began a girls night out group for mothers that I was acquainted with. Some of them I had known for a few months, while others were brand new to the area. I don't think they are all aware of the reasons I became motivated to actually plan something so I thought my explanation should be the first post.
In 2007 I became a Mother. It was the most wonderful, joyful thing and I had wanted to be a Mom my whole life. While I was well prepared I was still not ready for the overwhelming responsibility. Motherhood is work. My husband and I graduated from university around the time of our little boy's birth and shortly after that we found ourselves in a new town, with a new job, in a newly purchased house.

My husband made friends faster than I did, and he had people to talk to at work. I made friends slowly. I was so busy just trying to get our house in order, keep up with our son, and finish one last independent study class. I was stressed, I was also sick, I needed adult conversations more frequently than I got them, and I desperately missed my friends. In December we discovered the source of my ailments and I had an emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder. It had been a long year for me. I loved being a Mom but I was worn out. I needed an outlet, something fun to look forward to to get me through the long days. I moped about, complained about the lack of things going on, and wished I had something fun to do once in a while.
Finally, during one of those "Whoa is me" moments - I received the most blatant smack in the face possible. I was told that all my problems were my own fault. If I wanted friends, activities, or anything else I was the one who should be pro-active and do something about it.

That day was not when I decided to start a Girls Night Out, but it was where my resolution to solve my own problems began. After a few trials and errors a monthly activity was born "Simply Doing Something". Why was it named that? The name has 2 distinct meanings for me:

1. It's the message I want everyone to learn from this. We all need to strive to do and not wish for to get anywhere in life. It's not about waiting around, hoping for friends, hoping for fun (or whatever it is that you are wishing to have happen). It's about getting out there and doing all that you need to in order to achieve your desires.
2. This group is for my friends, not just me. It's about doing something we each want to do. That's why it's not just a Girls Night Out - it's more than that. It's that we all get a chance to Do Something, even if it's as Simple as get out of the house and talk.

Looking back over all that has taken place since our first activity in March 2008 I am amazed at how much more Simply Doing Something has become. I have made awesome friendships, had some incredible experiences, and learned so many things about myself. One of those being - the weak can be made strong. (All I can say is many of you would never believe I am the most disorganized procrastinator out there and yet somehow things come together every month to make for a wonderful evening.)

So to each and every one of my beautiful friends - here's to another exciting year together!