Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fire-Roasted Tomato Soup

If you want to go a step above opening a can of Campbell's tomato soup, this is your recipe.  It takes only slightly longer to prepare and is much creamier and tastier.  I like to serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches.
Note that it didn't all quite fit in my blender, so either do it in two batches or just use an immersion blender.

Fire-Roasted Tomato Soup

2 (28oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (or Italian diced tomatoes)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

seasoned croutons

1.  Process all ingredients (except croutons) in a blender until smooth and pour into a large saucepan or use an immersion blender in the saucepan.
2.  Cook over medium heat 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  (Do not boil.)

top individual servings with seasoned croutons.  (I like the Texas Toast Cheese & Garlic ones.)

source:  emeals

Asian Pork Noodle Soup

This is so flavorful and warm.  The whole family was happy to eat it all up.

Asian Pork Noodle Soup

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 3-4 lb bone-in boston butt pork roast, well trimmed (a smaller, 2-3 lb boneless roast would work as well.)
2 (32 oz.) cartons low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and stems
3 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger (I often use prepared, jarred minced ginger or ginger paste instead.)
1 tsp garlic-chili sauce
1 tsp ground coriander
8 oz.  rice noodles (or rice vermicelli)  If you cant find either of those just use a packet of ramen noodles, (without seasoning packet).
optional topings:  Basil leaves, cilantro leaves, lime wedges, and garlic-chili sauce. (I found the lime wedges to be the best addition.)

1.  Heat oil in a large skillet over med-high heat;  add roast, and brown on all sides.
2.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Add broth, onion, cilantro, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, chili sauce, and coriander.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or until pork is tender.
3.  Remove pork from cooker; shred with two forks, discarding fat and bone.  Strain cooking liquid from cooker discarding solids.
4. Return strained liquid to cooker along with roast, 2 cups water, and rice noodles.  Cook on high another 20-30 minutes or until noodles are tender.
Serve with desired toppings.

source: emeals

Meatball and Orzo Soup

I'm a HUGE fan of soup, but it is sometimes hard to find one which garners as much enthusiasm with the kids as it does with me.  This one comes close.  It's also extremely easy to make and comes together quickly. And if you use turkey meatballs it's quite healthy as well.

Meatball and Orzo Soup

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
2 carrots,finely diced
1 1/2 tsp.minced garlic
32 oz. reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup water
15 oz.  petite-diced tomatoes, with their liquid  (I will also sometimes use Italian or Fire-Roasted tomatoes for an extra boost of flavor.)
1 lb. pre made meatballs or turkey meatballs (I like the Italian Meatballs at Aldi the best.)
1/2 cup ditalini noodles or orzo
3 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
dash of crushed red pepper, optional (I leave this out for the kids, as they don't like the heat.)

1. In a largestockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. When it is hot add the onions, carrots and garlic, and sauté them until they onions and carrots are tender, about 5 minutes.
2.  Add the broth, water, and tomatoes, cover it, and bring it to a boil. Add the meatballs and orzo, and stir frequently for a minute or two so the noodles don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Add crushed red pepper, if using.  Simmer the soup for 15 minutes, partially covered, stirring occasionally.
3.  Stir in the spinach and let it wilt for one minute. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, and serve it immediately.

As with many soups, I like to serve it with my perfect Bread Machine Dinner Rolls.

source:  Mom Made Foods

Smothered Sweet Pork Burritos

This is another case when Pinterest just WORKS.  It is a crowd pleaser, but I warn you they make a TON!  The original recipe says it will all fit in a 9x13 pan, but in my experience it makes enough for two pans.  I usually make one and then take one to a friend, or make the whole thing if I'm feeding a crowd.  Thus, I've altered the recipe to add a bit more sauce and cheese and tortillas to accommodate 2 pans.   You can compare with the original if you like, but this is about how it works out for me.  I also sometimes just use regular sized tortillas instead of burrito sized if that's what I have on hand, it just makes smaller burritos, which is fine because they are kiddo sized.   I also just use regular rice instead of the cilantro-lime rice in the interest of time and simplicity, but the cilantro-lime rice does add a nice boost of extra flavor if you are so inclined.

Smothered Sweet Pork Burritos

2 1/2 pounds pork roast like pork shoulder or Boston butt roast  (not pork loin)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon oil
1-2 teaspoons liquid smoke  (ok, I have never used this so I'll place it firmly in the OPTIONAL camp, but I wanted to include it just in case you are a person who likes the flavor of liquid smoke.  I don't.)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
3 cups green enchilada sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Dash of hot sauce (optional)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
12 ounces Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese (or a combination), grated
10-12 whole wheat or white flour tortillas, burrito-size
1 cup rice

1.  Trim any excess fat pockets from the pork roast (it's ok to leave a bit here and there just trim the large pieces off). Cut the pork into 2-3 large pieces. Season each piece on all sides with salt and pepper.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil until rippling and hot. Add all the pieces of pork and brown on each side, 2-3 minutes total. Transfer the pork to the insert of a 5-6 quart slow cooker.
3.  Add the liquid smoke, if using  and 1/2 cup water. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8 hours.
4.  While the pork is cooking, prepare the rice.  (Or the cilantro-lime rice.)
5.  Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred into bite-sized pieces (discarding the bone, if needed, or any large pieces of fat). In a large bowl, toss the shredded pork with the brown sugar, 1/2 cup of the green sauce, chili powder, salt and pepper (add more salt and pepper to taste if needed). Add the hot sauce, if using.
6.  Stir in the beans, rice and cilantro to the pork mixture.
7.  Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish (or TWO) with cooking spray and spread about 1/2 - 3/4 cup of the green sauce on the bottom.
8.  Warm the tortillas lightly in a skillet or in the microwave. Scoop about 1/2 cup of the meat mixture into each tortilla and sprinkle with a bit of cheese (you'll want to leave some cheese for the top of all the burritos before they bake). Roll up burrito style (folding the ends in and rolling).
Place the burritos seam-side down in the prepared baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the burritos and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
9.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until heated through and the top is bubbly and slightly golden. Serve immediately.

source:  Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, December 15, 2014

Basic Bread/Cinnamon Bread/Whole Wheat Bread

This is my friend Laura's bread recipe.  I'm going to just copy and paste it here exactly the way she gave it to me because it's perfect.

It is a large recipe as it makes 3 loaves.  I don't have a KitchenAid mixer (yet) so to make it work in my 11 cup food processor I made the following changes:
I cut the recipe in half and processed them separately then combined the dough to rise and still got 3 loaves, or just did half and either had 2 small loaves or 1 large one.
In the food processor I added nearly all the flour (3 cups if doing a half batch) right away.  Otherwise the food processor gets gummed up.  Then add wet ingredients slowly while processing until it forms a ball.  Usually I'll need to add about another 1/2 a cup of flour here to make it the right consistency.  Your mileage may vary.

I do the glaze differently too. I do a 1/4 c. melted butter and 1 tsp vanilla to 2 c. powdered sugar.  If it needs to be thinned I add a T of milk or 2.

Otherwise I follow the recipe.

Basic Bread recipe

2 cups warm water
2 tbs yeast
1/3 cup sugar or honey
Let proof 5-10 minutes

Add to yeast mixture
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs- beaten
1 tbs salt
4 cups flour
*to make cinnamon rolls, add 2/3 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream and 1 extra egg
Mix till smooth

Add 2-3 cups of flour till the dough forms a ball and pulls clean from the side of the bowl.
Leave in the mixer bowl and cover with plastic wrap or towel. Let rise till double-1-2 hours depending on the room temp.

When doubled, turn mixer on and kneed dough for 5-10 seconds.

For basic sandwich bread:
Turn out dough onto floured surface and divide into 3 equal parts. Form into loafs. Let rise till double in greased bread pans. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Butter the top while hot for extra flavor and calories.

*Flour grains can be adjusted for unique results as long as they total a minimum of 6 cups. For example: 3 cups white flour, 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup ground flax seed.

Cinnamon loafs:
Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into 3 parts. Using one part at a time, roll out dough till it measures about 12"x18". Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of brown sugar and dust evenly with 3tbs cinnamon.  Starting with the long edge roll dough to form a long tube. Twist each end of the tube till the middle twists onto its self and doubles over. Place in greased bread pan and let rise till double. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from pans promptly to cool.  Butter the top while hot.  Frost when cool.

Cinnamon rolls:
Divide dough into 2 equal balls. Using one at a time, roll out till it measures about 8"x12".  Sprinkle surface with 1 cup brown sugar and 2-3 tbs cinnamon. Starting at the long edge, roll into a tube. Cut the tube into 2" rounds. Place in a greased 9"x13" pan and let rise till double. Bake at 350 for 17-20 minutes. Butter when hot. Frost when cool.

2 cups powered sugar
1 tbs vanilla

Mix till smooth and adjust to desired consistency.

Pizza crust or focaccia:
Eliminate the egg from the dough mixture and use olive oil in place if vegetable oil. Let rise once and divide in half. Roll out and add desired  toppings. Skip the second rise and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. This is defiantly a soft crust pizza, but that's the way my kids like it.

This is my go to whole wheat recipe. I cut it in half because a full recipe is too much for my mixer. Halfing the recipe make 2 nice sized sandwich loafs. 

Whole Wheat Bread

Grind 9 cups of wheat (hard red, hard white, or combination) This will grind into about 14 cups of flour 
3 T. yeast
5 cups warm water
¼ cup sugar
Combine; let sit for about 10 minutes. 
8 cups wheat flour
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup honey
2 T. salt
½ cup vital wheat gluten*
2 T. dough enhancer** (optional; will increase shelf life) 
Mix for a minute or two. (I use my Kitchen Aide mixer, but you can use electric beaters)
Then add about 5 ½ cups more wheat flour, or until it leaves sides of mixing bowl.  If mixing by hand, add enough so it’s not too sticky.  Knead for about 7-10 minutes
Shape into 4 - 5 loaves.  Put in greased pans.
Place in cold oven to rise for about 45- 60 minutes.  Leaving pans in the oven, turn oven on to 350. 
Start timing and bake for 30 minutes. For easiest slicing, cool completely.

Source:  Laura S.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Update:  If you've tried these before and they didn't turn out well, there's a reason for that.  I left off an ingredient.  Baking powder!  Without it they turn out really flat.  My husband made them once off of this blog and I insisted he must have read the recipe wrong because they were just off.  After checking it out this morning I realized the baking powder was missing.  It's corrected now, so happy cooking!

I did a post about waffles a few days ago, so it follows that pancakes should make an appearance too.  Again, these are done by scratch, but take just a few minutes.  I double this recipe for my brood of 6, which gives us some left over.

If you have don't have a griddle or griddle pan, I highly recommend this double burner reversible griddle.  It makes making pancakes super fast.

I'm including some variations at the bottom as well. 


1 egg
1 c. flour
3/4 c. milk (I usually add about another 2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. (level) baking powder
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. salt
cooking spray or butter

1. Preheat griddle or skillet.  Spray with cooking spray or grease with butter, if necessary.
2.  Beat egg with whisk;  Add all other ingredients;  Beat until smooth.
3.  Pour 1/4 cup batter onto griddle or pan;  Cook until top is bubbly and edges are dry, then turn and cook till edges are cooked. 

Variation 1: Buttermilk
This is my favorite way to eat them, but I don't always keep buttermilk on hand.
Substitute 1 c. buttermilk for the 3/4 milk.
Decrease baking powder to 1 tsp.
Add 1/2 tsp baking soda.

Variation 2:  Add-ins
Add in 1/2 cup mashed or chopped bannana, apple, berries or chocolate chips.

Variation 3:  Pumpkin Pie Pancakes
Using the above recipe (or a mix, if you are so inclined) add about 1/2 c.canned pumpkin (I use about 1/2 a can when I double the above recipe) and 1/4-1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice according to taste.  Serve with chopped nuts and whipped cream--trust me!

source:  Betty Crocker's Cookbook

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cheesesteak Sandwiches

My husband likes this sandwich so much that this is the meal he chose for Father's Day this year.  I must admit that the first time I made it did not go well.  It tasted great, but I hadn't thoroughly read the sidebar on the cookbook.  If I had, I would have realized that the best way to slice the meat thinly was to freeze it for about 2 hours and then slice it thinly using my food processor and its slicing blade.  Instead I tried to slice it with a knife, unfrozen, and ended up with something that was like eating fajitas on a sandwich.  Still tasty though.
If you can remember to put the meat in the freezer 2 hours early, this really is a quick prep.  Also, make sure you use quality hoagie rolls.  A hot dog bun will not do at all.  As for the meat, it is less important which cut you use, since you are going to slice it really, really thin.

Cheesesteak Sandwiches

1 lb. boneless steak, sliced very thinly (see above)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
salt & pepper
hot sauce/Tabasco
sliced provolone cheese
4-6 Hoagie rolls

1.  Melt butter in large skillet over med-high heat.  Add steak, stirring constantly.
2.  When meat is halfway browned, add onions and peppers.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce.  Continue stirring until meat is cooked thoroughly and onions and peppers are tender.
3. Spoon meat filling into sliced rolls.  Top with provolone cheese.  Place under the broiler on a baking sheet for 1-2 minutes to lightly toast the bread and melt the cheese.
Serve immediately.

source:  Our Best Bites Cookbook