Sunday, December 9, 2012

Creamy Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup.

Today marks the first "measurable" snow fall of the season.  It's a day that brings such joy to some and such heartache to others.  No matter where your feelings of snow land, everyone loves soup.  Especially on days like today.  And especially with Christmas Radio playing on Pandora.  Oh.  And fresh bread.  Everyone loves fresh bread with hot soup.  Mmmm.  Can't.wait.for.supper!

Though, I am embarrassed to admit how long I've wanted to make this soup.  I got close once; buying some half and half.  Said half and half was dumped down the drain due to expiration.  (Ugh!  I hate being wasteful.)  Promise yourself right now that you will not wait long to make this; it's too good to wait and this is coming from someone who normally does not like creamy soups.

Creamy Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup
1 quart diced tomatoes (including juice) (could get away with 28 ounces if buying your tomatoes)
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced potatoes
1 can sweet corn (drained)
1 tablespoon dried onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
1 1/2 cup half&half (slightly warmed)

Place tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, corn, onion, oregano, basil, pepper, salt, chicken broth, and bay leave into a soup pot.  Simmer 3 hours or until vegetables are soft.

Prepare a roux by melting the butter in a saucepan then adding the flour.  Stir for 5 minutes.  Slowly add 3 cups of soup to the roux (one cup at a time) - stirring in between until roux/soup mixture is smooth.  Add roux/soup mixture to the pot of soup.  Stir completely.  Add half&half and Parmesan cheese.  Stir.  Allow to sit for 20 minutes and serve.

I think this soup would be equally delicious with some shrimp added.  I had been thinking about adding it all afternoon, but opted not to because I wasn't sure what my husband would think.  Turns out he mentioned it while eating it for supper tonight.  Next time I'll defiantly give it a try; if you try it out first, let us know what you think!

I apologize for not including a picture, but trying to capture a good image of soup is hard for this amateur!  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chicken & Spinach Pasta Bake.

We appreciated ALL tasty food, help with housework and baby, calls, and visits we received from family and friend's after baby's arrival.  Everyone was so kind and thoughtful.  THANK YOU!

One of the meals we received was this Chicken & Spinach Pasta Bake.  Because we raise our own beef, I don't cook with a lot of chicken and appreciated the change of pace as did my husband.  So much, in fact, that he was the one to want this recipe and so much that I've already made the dish and am adding the ingredients to my shopping list.  Thank you, Kara, for the delicious meal and the recipe so we can enjoy this over and over again.

Chicken & Spinach Pasta Bake
Recipe Slightly Adapted from Kara

8 ounce medium sized pasta (prepared according to package directions)
1 tablespoon garlic infused olive oil
1 medium onion (chopped and caramelized with oil)
10-ounces fresh or frozen spinach (roughly chopped)
3 cups chicken breast (cooked & cubed)
1 14-ounce can of Italian style tomatoes
1 8-ounce container of chive & onion cream cheese
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

Combine all ingredients (except mozzarella cheese) and mix well.  Spread evenly in a 9x13 baking dish.  Top with mozzarella cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly browned.  

You can easily prepare as indicated and then split this in half - freezing one for a later date or sharing with a friend.  Vegetarians in your home?  Skip the chicken and serve on the side!  This comes together quick, is easy, and is super tasty - perfect for any night of the week!  

And sorry for the crummy picture.  We were starving by the time I thought to take a picture!! :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer Vegetable Tian.

Browsing the "Food & Drink" category on Pinterest has someone replaced my browsing of cooking and baking blogs.  It's just so easy to pop unto the Pinterest App vs firing up my computer.  Either way, actually making the foods that I find on blogs, pinterest, cookbooks, and magazines is key.

I had so much interest in this recipe that I made it the same day I found it.  Both because it looked easy yet delicious and because it allowed me to use some summer bounty.

Summer Vegetable Tian.
(Adapted from Budget Bytes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 teaspoons garlic (minced)
2 cups zucchini (sliced thin)
2 cups new potatoes (sliced thin)
2 cups roma  (or other variety) tomatoes (sliced thin)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese (shredded)

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil.  Spread evenly in the bottom of a shallow baking dish.  Layer zucchini, potatoes, and tomatoes upright throughout the baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with thyme, salt, and pepper.  Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and take off the foil.  Sprinkle evenly with cheeses.  Return to the oven for 20 more minutes.  Remove from the oven, allow to cook slightly, and enjoy.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Cake.

I am really surprised I haven't posted this recipe previously.  I suppose it probably has something to do with the fact that it is consumed in such a short period of time or that it is made during a busy time of the year - both of which make for difficult picture-taking.  Though I cheated on the picture taking anyway...iPhone pictures will have to do.  There's a baby on the way and the regular camera is already packed!!

This year's garden makes me sad, but considering it's been 10 degrees hotter than usual nearly every day since July 1st combined with being 9 months pregnant - I'll take whatever I can and call it good.  Thanks to the farmer's market and my mother-in-law, I've been able to enjoy some fresh produce - namely zucchini (which I can't get enough of!!).

The first thing I made with this year's zucchini: Zucchini Casserole. It's AMAZING!

The second thing I made with this year's zucchini:

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
(Adapted from Church Cookbook)
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup oil
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 sour milk (add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to regular milk)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter, oil, and sugar.  Add eggs, vanilla and milk - mix well.  Add baking soda, powder, salt, flour, and cocoa - mixing until well combined (mixture will be thick).  Stir in zucchini and pour into a greased 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Bake for 45-60 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

The top layer of this cake is my favorite part.  My husband may or may not open the cake pan to find a piece of cake waiting for him with the top eaten off :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Freezer Meals.

I need to come up with a list of freezer meals to start preparing for once the babe arrives.  I feel like this would be easier if I were having a fall or winter baby.  I don't "cook" a lot in summer the way it...I can't imagine wanting to turn the stove on...granted the meals will be nice come fall.

Please leave a comment with your favorite freezer meal or the name of a website/blog with ideas on said topic.  In return, I'll attempt to post a new recipe soon.  It's a favorite made by grandma and using lettuce straight from the garden.  Yum!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars.

Long time, no post.  I blame it on the pregnancy.  Although I did suddenly get the urge to have the baby's room painted (thanks mom & cousin!!)  and I did make a pan of lasagna last week for us and one pan for a friend.  Things might be turning.  Might.

I hope this dangerously delicious and simple bar recipe makes up for my absence.  My sister made these (thanks to my well supplied pantry) and dropped a few off.  Good thing she didn't bring anymore.  Even better thing I didn't make them myself.  They.are.that.good.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars.
(Recipe from Heidi)
1 1/2 cup chocolate graham crackers (crushed)
2 sticks of butter (melted and kept seperate)
2 1/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups powdered sugar
dash of vanilla
1 bag chocolate chips (melted)

Combine graham crackers and 1 stick of butter.  Press onto the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Combine remaining stick of butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar.  Slowly beat in powdered sugar and vanilla.  Spread over crust.  Refrigerate or freeze to firm up.  Top evenly with melted chocolate chips and return to refrigerator or freezer to harden chocolate.  Cut and divulge.

These may be difficult to cut.  The chocolate topping may crack.  The peanut butter filling may want to sneak out the sides.  Do not let this stop you from making and serving them!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pasta with Sausage Drenched in Creamy Tomato Sauce.

Have I mentioned that my husband loves to grill out?  He enjoys grilling out so much that he does so year round.  This may seem "normal" to some, but considering that we live in Wisconsin, this is a pretty significant feat.

How about that he loves leftovers?  So much that he would be most happy with one of us making a large meal once per week and eating it for lunch and dinner for the remainder of the week.  That being the case, when he grills out, he easily grills for 10 people when our family consists of 2.

This past weekend I convinced him to limit what he was putting on the grill and strategically selected a couple different meats that I had other plans for....and that's where this recipe comes into play!  
Pasta with Sausage Drenched in Creamy Tomato Sauce.
(Recipe by Me)
1 pound pasta (cavatappi is my favorite)
1 large can of your favorite pasta sauce (about 27 ounces)
2 6-ounce containers of plain Greek yogurt
3 Italian sausages cut into bite size pieces (also know as leftover bratwursts)
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese

Prepare pasta according to package instructions.  At the same time, heat pasta sauce then add yogurt, sausage, and Parmesan cheese and mix until combined.  Combine pasta with sauce and place in an oven save dish.  Top with mozzarella cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted and just beginning to brown.

And this is where I will tell you how much I am loving Greek yogurt.  I've never been a fan of creamy sauces or alfredo because of the extra calories that came with it.  Using Greek yogurt is such a healthier option than heavy cream and tastes delicious!!

How else are you using Greek yogurt in your cooking or baking?  I just bought a large tub of the plain stuff!

...and I apologize for the terrible photo, but the baby was hungry...or maybe it was just me...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip.

I love chocolate chip cookie dough, but will only eat it in ice cream.  I figure in that form it has to be "egg free" or somehow safe of the creepy crawly things that mother's tell their children about so that they don't eat raw dough.

Did I mention that I'm going to be a mother?  It's true.  First baby on the way!  And I will blame my lack of posting the last 4 months on that.  I hope that my posting will get better before it gets worse.  Stay with me though! 

Back to talking about chocolate chip cookie dough.  The thought of it sounded so good this weekend and it just so happened that I was going to a 2-year old's birthday party.  I'm not sure that the 2-year old actually had any of the dip, but the adults did.  And then my husband and I devoured the leftovers.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip.
(Recipe from Add a Pinch)
1/2 cup butter
1 8-ounce cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips
1 cup toffee bits

Beat butter and cream cheese.  Add remaining ingredients until well combined.  Serve with graham crackers.

Yes, you read the recipe right.  It's that easy and tastes just like I remember "the real thing" tasting during my childhood.  Just be careful.  Before you know it, you will have eaten more than your share in a single sitting :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Make Any Pizza Crust Better.

My husband and I have had a Valentine's tradition since we began dating.  And I love it!  We spend the evening in pajamas, create a homemade pizza, eat too much, and the lay around the rest of the night.  I can't think of a better way to celebrate our love!

And speaking of tonight's version of Valentine's pizza...we went ahead and made a good crust better.  All you need to do is add teaspoon of italian seasoning when mixing up the crust!

So tasty!

Happy Valentine's Day, my friends!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cheesey Potatoes.

I think my hiatus from the kitchen and blogging is over.  I still can't believe that I can count on one hand the number of times I've been in the kitchen cooking or baking anything real since...ummm...mid-November?!?  Yikes!  It's been a while and I've missed it!!  I missed it so much that I made my husband breakfast the Saturday and Sunday.  He's pretty lucky (at least he was over the weekend)!!

The other night I cooked up a pork tenderloin.  It was good, but the real reason I cooked it was to to use the leftovers to make some pulled pork sandwiches...with any luck that recipe will be coming to you later this week.  Back to the topic at hand though: cheesey potatoes.  They seemed like the perfect accompaniment to said sandwiches.

The cheesey potato recipe I usually use serves a crowd...perfect for parties.  But that night I just wanted something for the two of us and maybe enough leftovers for a couple meals (though it turns out we ate this as leftovers for more than a couple meals later...mixing up the rest of the meal was key to making it work for 4 days!!)  I remembered a recipe I had pinned and decided to go with it.  People state the recipe is just like Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole...since I have never been to a Cracker Barrel and had not expectations on taste I decided to change the recipe up to incorporate the ingredients I had on hand and was most hungry for...

Cheesey Potatoes.
(Adapted from Easy Restaurant Recipes)

1 bag frozen shredded potatoes (the bag I used was just under 2 lbs.)
8 ounce container of sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom with roasted garlic soup (I've only seen this made by Campbell's)
1 stick of butter (melted) (you could get away with 1/2 or 3/4 stick to save room for dessert) :)
1 tablespoon dried onions
2 cups cheddar cheese (grated)

Grease the bottom of a 9x13 pan and add shredded potatoes - distributing evenly.  Salt/pepper potatoes to your liking (I prefer heavy on the pepper, light on the salt).  In a separate bowl combine sour cream, cream of mushroom, butter, and dried onions.  Spread evenly over the top of the potatoes.  Top with cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven, cool slightly, and enjoy.

And now that I'm hopefully back to regular postings, I'll work on my photo skills again.  I'm just glad to be cooking and blogging again!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Returning Soon!

I dislike that I haven't posted in soooo long, but truth be had..I've done very little cooking or baking of late.  I consider myself fortunate to have completed my Christmas baking.  And, yes, I baked too much again this year, but doubt I'll ever learn.

On that note, I foresee returning to the kitchen very soon.  And am excited to share new recipes with you.  Thanks for sticking with me!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Fantasy Fudge

Can't wait to share this recipe with you guys! This is by far my favorite fudge. Ever.
We make a double or triple batch every year during my family's annual cookie baking day. Last year I screwed up and put milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet. BIG mistake!
Hope you all enjoy!

3 C. Sugar                                                       3/4 C. butter
12 oz pkg semi sweet chocolate chips              1 tsp vanilla
1- 7 oz. jar marshmallow creme

Combine sugar, butter and milk in saucepan, bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate chips until melted. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla, stir until well blended, pour into greased 13x9 pan.

Happy New Year! Thank you Holly for asking me back!