Sunday, June 5, 2011

Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups

It is getting warm over here. The sun is finally shining and warming things up and the rain is staying away for a while. It is quickly starting to feel like summer. It takes forever for spring to get here and in no time it is gone. A few things that are yummy and usually abundant this time of year though are green onions, lettuce and cilantro. These lettuce cups are perfect for this time of year as the cool days turn warm and the garden starts growing wonderful tasting veggies.

This recipe is for an appetizer version, but we just used bigger lettuce leaves and filled them up for a main dish meal. A side of homemade bread and the meal was complete.

Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups Betty Crocker 15 minute meals
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
4 medium green onions, diagonally sliced (1/4 cup)
1 can (8 oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped (I omitted since I didn't have these on hand)
1/2 cup spicy peanut sauce or make your own recipe here
1 T chopped fresh mint leaves (or cilantro)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
24 small Bibb lettuce leaves (I used Buttercrunch lettuce which has bigger leaves)
1/2 cup chopped roasted salted peanuts

In medium bowl, mix all ingredients except lettuce and peanuts. Spoon about 2 tablespoons (or more for a main dish) of chicken mixture onto each lettuce leaf. Sprinkle with peanuts.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Fresh asparagus from the farmer's market...yummy! We don't have a ton of asparagus growing here, but there was plenty to buy at the farmer's market this last weekend. It was hard to believe that summer is around the corner because Saturday at the market it was about 42 degrees and windy and rainy. Terrible weather, but the little girl and I buzzed through, got some asparagus and spinach and were on our way (we found some kolaches too-poppyseed, my favorite!).

I found this tasty recipe at which is a magazine we've been picking up more often lately. I had all the ingredients at home and I thought it would be a new way for me to use asparagus in the kitchen. It was really, really good!

Cream of Asparagus Soup
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut in 1" pieces (set tips aside)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 T. butter
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/2 cup light cream (I used 1/2 cup milk and 1 T butter)
1 1/2 T. flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp paprika
pepper to taste

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add onions and celery and saute over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add chicken stock and asparagus stalks. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 1/2 hour, until stalks are soft. Remove from heat and process in batches in blender; return to saucepan and set aside.

In a small pan, combine milk and asparagus tips. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tips are tender; remove from heat. Strain tips, reserving milk; set tips aside. Using a small whisk, combine flour with reserved milk to make a roux, whisking until there are no lumps. Return saucepan with blended asparagus to medium heat, and when steaming, add a small amount of asparagus mixture to the roux and mix well.

Gradually add tempered roux to saucepan, stirring constantly. Add cream, salt, paprika and pepper; blend well. Heat until soup thickens slightly, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add asparagus tips, heat another 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat. Serve immediately, topped with croutons or a dollop of sour cream.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Roasted Asparagus

We have already gotten our first harvest from the garden this year! I planted some asparagus plants 3 years ago and have been patiently waiting to harvest some (it's recommended to wait 3 years to harvest so they get established). When I checked it on Sunday there were a few stalks a couple inches tall, when I checked it yesterday those couple stacks had grown to over a foot tall and there were a number of other ones poking out of the ground. In total I only got a 1/4 of a pound of asparagus, but it was a yummy treat tonight with dinner. I am going to check for more tomorrow and probably buy some more at the farmers market. It's only around for a short time! If you are not a huge asparagus fan, I would try roasting it. It is so yummy with only a hint of the asparagus taste.

Roasted Asparagus
Asparagus stalks
olive oil
Wash and trim stalks. Place on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roll the stalks in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on thickness of stalks at 425 degrees, turning once. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

We went from 86 degrees yesterday to about 60 degrees right now, Wednesday night. It is cool and rainy and kind of feels like a fall night. The temperature is supposed to be in the 50s the next few days. This recipe for pumpkin streusel muffins fits right into the fall weather, but they would be really yummy even in the spring!

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 can pumpkin (15 oz or 2 cups homemade pumpkin puree)
1 egg
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Crumb topping:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 T butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the muffin ingredients together and pour into a greased muffin tin. Combine brown sugar, flour, ground cinnamon and butter to make the topping. Cut the topping together with a fork until it resembles a coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping on the top of the muffins before baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Summer's coming!

I love this time of year! The weather is warming up, trees are turning green, the grass is growing and it's time to plant yummy veggies in the garden. I have big aspirations for the garden this year and have planted 4 kinds of potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, garlic, spinach, kohlrabi and beans so far along with a handful of herbs. Strawberries are growing in a container on the front deck and I have tomato plants in our living room almost 2 feet tall already! I'm excited for all the yummy food we'll be harvesting throughout the summer as long as we can keep the weeds under control!

Our chickens are getting bigger every day and Ryan is working on getting the coop constructed so we can get those hens outside! This is a pic from when they were still in the basement coop and just getting their feathers. They look like full grown birds now!

Lentil Salad with Basil Dressing

Soup was supposed to be on the menu for tonight. Mother Nature decided that is should be 87 degrees here today and I decided it was not a good day for soup. Instead we grilled out burgers and I made this lentil salad as a side. We do enjoy lentils in our house, they are easy to make, filling and full of protein. This salad was fresh and yummy and perfect with our grilled burgers! Healthy too!

Lentil Salad with Basil Dressing From Cooking with Healthyroads

4 cups water
1 cup dried red lentils (I used green)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced tomatoes (omitted since I didn't have any)
1 T. cilantro
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 T olive oil
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a saucepan, place 4 cups of water, lentils and cumin; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender. Drain and allow to cool.

Combine 1/2 cup water and cornstarch in a small saucepan; stirring with a whisk until the cornstarch dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook and additional minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool. Stir in vinegar and remaining ingredients. Cover and chill.

In a large bowl, add cold lentils, onions, carrots, tomatoes and cilantro and mix together. Pour dressing over salad and combine together.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring chickens!

This is the latest adventure that we're working on. We picked up a dozen chickens 2 weeks ago and have been enjoying watching them grow and all their crazy antics. I never knew chickens were so playful! We are taking our next step toward having our own small homestead (and being more Amish like!) We're going to try and keep some to lay eggs year round and butcher a handful for meat in a few months. Cheers to a new adventure!

Sunday, March 6, 2011


This is what Ryan and I would love to do someday...this couple and their kids bought a 40 acre Amish farm, off-grid and are farming it and living the simple life and blogging about it. I would love to do this someday, with electricity though!

They are having a give away for canning lids. Go here for more info: Maple Valley Farms.

Peanut Butter Biscuits for man's best friend

I am trying to make more from scratch this year, including dog biscuits for our pups. We go through a lot of dog treats since we have 3 of them and I try to buy more natural treats at the store to avoid giving them lots of preservatives and artificial coloring, etc. I feel our dogs deserve that :) I found this recipe in Country Wisdom and Know how and it was very easy to make and the dogs really seemed to enjoy them. The peanut butter with essential fatty acids should help your dog feel energized and give them a nice, shiny coat.

This recipe made a ton and I used a medium size dog bone cookie cutter. If you use something smaller you'll be set with dog treats for the year! Freeze excess biscuits for up to 3 months.

Peanut Butter Biscuits From Country Wisdom and Know How
4 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups quick cooking oats
2 1/2 c. warm water
1/2 cup all natural peanut butter (no sugar or salt added)
1/4 cup carob chips (find at health food store...I omitted since I didn't have any and the dogs loved them anyway. Make sure to NOT use chocolate chips since dogs are allergic to them)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until it is firm. If too sticky, add warm water, 1 T at a time, while continuing to knead. Roll the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with the cookie cutter of your choice. Transfer biscuits to a baking sheet. Bake the biscuits for 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the biscuits stand in the oven until hard, 1 to 2 hours.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Creamy Pasta and Sausage

This dish was so easy to make and it tasted like something you'd get at Olive Garden. It takes little time to make and is very yummy...with a little zip to it!

Creamy Pasta and Sausage From The 'Hood magazine
1 lb sausage, casings removed (or bulk sausage)
4 c dry penne pasta
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 1/2 c. half and half
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese

Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic during the last minute. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions on the box. Drain the pasta and set aside. Turn the heat down to medium/low. Add the tomatoes, half and half and red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to the skillet. Add the pasta and stir until thoroughly mixed and heated through.

Manwich Sloppy Joes

Looking back and seeing that I only posted about 2 recipes this year I realized I have to get in gear and add some more of the yummy things I'm cooking up in my kitchen. Since a lot of my time is now taken up by my little one (she's a joy!) I have been looking for dishes that are relatively simple to throw together and don't take too long to cook. I have a lot less time at night to get dinner together, but I still don't care to reach for boxed or processed food. It happens once in a while, but mainly I've been finding some pretty easy recipes that have been turning out pretty tasty. If all else fails and I have no energy or plan for dinner, I have pizza dough in the freezer and can whip up some kind of pizza pretty quickly!

Ryan actually made this sloppy joe recipe one night. Since he has Mondays off, he has taken to cooking a little more. Usually I find the recipe and often it is something made in the crockpot, but it is really helpful nonetheless. This is the mock Manwich recipe which tastes great!

Manwich Sloppy Joes
8 oz tomato sauce
1 c. ketchup
1 T. minced onion
1 T. green pepper, diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp chili powder

Mix in bowl. Brown 1 pound of ground beef. Drain the meat and add the sauce. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Dijon-Crusted Fish

I made this when my parents were here the other week. It was fast to put together and very tasty!

Dijon-Crusted Fish From Taste of Home Healthy Cooking

3 T mayo
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 T lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp horseradish
4 tilapia fillets
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tsp butter, melted

In a small bowl, combine the mayo, 1 T Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, mustard and horseradish. Place fillets on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Spread mayo mixture evenly over fillets. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, butter and remaining Parmesan cheese; sprinkle over fillets. Bake at 425 degrees for 13-18 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Whip Chocolate Dip

A co-worker of mine made this last week for a pot luck we had a work and wow it was good. It sounded really easy to put together and it hits the chocolate spot for sure. I made this for the Super Bowl get together we're going to (Go Packers!) and it would be fantastic for Valentine's day as well.

Whip Chocolate Dip
large container cool whip, thawed
1 bag of semisweet chocolate chips
cinnamon to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
rum extract to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
strawberries and angel food cake cut in bite size pieces for dipping

Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Fold in the thawed cool whip and add the cinnamon and rum extract. Stir well. To serve, dip in strawberries and angel food pieces. Yummy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza Casserole

I actually happened to have all these ingredients on hand and decided to try Pepperoni Pizza Casserole for dinner last night. It was so good! We really like pizza in this house and this was a different take on regular pizza, using noodles for the "crust". It makes a good amount so we had lots of leftovers for lunch today. It smells like pizza, kind of looks like pizza and tastes like pizza. What a great comfort food!

Pepperoni Pizza Casserole From Sparks from the Fire

1 1/2 lbs ground beef or bulk sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 lb pepperoni, sliced
8 oz. mushrooms and juice
4-6 oz noodles, cooked
10 1/4 oz can pizza sauce
1 can tomato soup
1/2 can of water

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brown meat; drain. Add onion, salt, pepper and mushrooms. Simmer 3 min. Combine pizza sauce, tomato soup, water and green pepper in separate bowl. Put 1/2 the noodles on the bottom of a greased 2 qt casserole dish. Top with 1/2 the sauce mixture, then 1/2 the meat mixture and half the cheese. Put a layer of pepperoni on top of cheese; repeat layers. Bake for 45 minutes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Southwestern Chicken-Barley Soup

We had some good friends over the other week and were fortunate that their quick visit turned into a longer visit with more time to catch up with each other (thanks to the blizzard we were in the middle of). I made this for dinner one night and it was delish! Very simple to put together too, even after having to boil a frozen solid chunk of chicken for the soup (thanks microwave for not working!). We ate this with some yummy grilled cheese sandwiches. The perfect meal during not so perfect weather.

Southwestern Chicken-Barley Soup From The Ultimate Soup Cookbook
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
1/2 cup medium pearl barley
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chiles, drained
1 T chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
3 cups cubed cooked chicken

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 4 minutes or until tender. Add 3 cups water, corn, beans, tomato sauce, tomatoes, broth, barley, chiles, chili powder, and cumin. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, 45 minutes. Stir in chicken and cook 15 minutes or until chicken is heated through and barley is tender.