Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Italian Soup

Here is another soup for you to enjoy! Once again, it contains Italian sausage (am I sensing a theme here?), but no pasta this time. I made it last night and it was a surprisingly satisfying meal coupled with Golden Dinner Rolls (made with butter instead of shortening). The photo above is not the greatest representation, but I do the best I can with my camera and light conditions. I urge you to try this recipe. You won't be disappointed.

And if you're wondering what julienne means, here's a photo:

Kinda like thin sticks? (Or you can dice 'em).

And I'm putting 2-3 cans of beans, because I made this with 2 cans but I think it could use one more can if you are like me and like a lot of beans. If not, the 2 cans are plenty.

adapted from Italian Sausage Soup on

1 lb. mild Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano (Italian style)
4 cups (32 oz) beef broth
3 carrots, shredded
2-3 (14.5 oz) cans great northern beans, undrained
2 zucchini, julienned
1 (9 oz) package chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, brown sausage with garlic, drain any fat. Stir in tomatoes, beef broth, and carrots, and season with salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in beans (with liquid) and zucchini. Cover and simmer another 15 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

Remove from heat and stir in spinach. Cover and allow heat from soup to cook spinach. Soup is ready to serve after 5 minutes. Great garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Butterscotch Blondies

These are sooo good. And sooo bad for you. These are the kind of treats that you only make when you have to bring treats to a party or potluck or whatever. Otherwise, you'll eat them all yourself. And that would be bad. Very, very bad.

But it would feel sooo right.

(And if you are going to eat one, try to get an edge piece because the edges get uber-chewy and delicious.)

adapted from Disappearing Marshmallow Brownies on

1 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.

Combine butterscotch chips and butter in microwave-safe bowl. Melt in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add in flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold in mini chocolate chips and marshmallows. Pour batter into baking dish and spread evenly.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool and cut into squares. Store in airtight container.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Slow Cooker Swiss Steak

My mom used to make this in a skillet on the stove. About a year ago I decided to try it in the slow cooker and it worked out great. I thought I was so clever until I saw the idea on this past week. I wasn't as original as I thought. We always served this over white rice, but it would be just as good with mashed potatoes.


2 lbs. round steak, trimmed and cut into individual serving sizes
1 tsp. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1 small onion cut into 1/2-inch wedges
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup beef broth
1 Tbsp. cornstarch + 1 1/2 Tbsp. water (to thicken sauce)

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Brown steak on both sides and place in bottom of slow cooker. Reduce heat of skillet to low and add beef broth. Simmer for 2 minutes then pour over steak. Layer onions, celery, and tomatoes over steak, cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 6 hours.

Remove steak pieces to plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour sauce and vegetables into a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Whisk in cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes. Serve over steak.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grilled Cajun Chicken

This has intense flavor and packs a punch. You've been warned, ha ha. I think these would be fantastic cold and cut in strips to top a salad.

I recommend using California-style lemon pepper if you have it.

adapted from Cajun Chicken on

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp. lemon pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients in a gallon-size Ziploc bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to med-high heat. Grill breasts for 6-8 minutes on each side or until done.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes With Caramel Frosting

Oh my goodness are these yummy! Perfect for fall bake sales or potlucks. Don't be intimidated by the frosting. It's really very easy to make. The pecans on top are optional, but sure look pretty. My cupcakes were done right at 22 minutes, so keep an eye on yours so they don't overbake.

from Never Fail Applesauce Spice Cake on

2 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice)
1 1/2 cups applesauce
2 eggs
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups or grease and flour a 9x13 baking pan.

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Mix in butter, buttermilk, and applesauce. Beat with an electric mixer for two minutes. Beat in eggs. Fold in nuts, if using. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full or pour into 9x13.

Cupcakes bake for 20-25 minutes. 9x13 bake for 50 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Meanwhile, make frosting:

from Caramel Frosting IV on

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. milk
3 cups powdered sugar
chopped pecans for garnish (optional)

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in milk. Return to heat and bring to a boil once more. Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm (about 20-25 minutes). Beat in powdered sugar until smooth.

(For thinner frosting add more milk. For stiffer frosting add more powdered sugar.)

Frost cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with pecans if desired.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Snowy Glazed Apple Pie Squares

image via Noodlehead

I made these tonight and let me tell you, they were popular. I follow a craft blog called Noodlehead and she shared this recipe a week or so ago. Her photo is far superior to anything I could produce, so I've included it here.

I made two mistakes in making these: 1) I forgot it called for corn flakes, but luckily had just enough Frosted Flakes on hand to substitute (and I therefore reduced the sugar by 1/4 cup) and, 2) I accidentally added 1 1/2 tablespoons of cinnamon instead of teaspoons. And these still turned out fantastic! And I'm not a big fan of apple pie (I know for some that makes me a communist or something).

from Noodlehead

8 medium-size tart apples; cored, peeled, and sliced (ex: Granny Smiths)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups cornflakes, crushed
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or a fork until crumbly. In a glass measuring cup, beat two egg yolks. Add enough milk to equal 2/3 cup. Add to mixture; toss lightly. Divide pastry in half. On lightly floured surface roll out first half to cover bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with crushed corn flakes.

Spread apples over corn flakes. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over apples. Roll out last pastry half and cover; seal edges. Brush with beaten egg whites.

Bake for 1 hour. Cool slightly. Make glaze by whisking together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Drizzle over crust. Can serve warm or cooled.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower

Here's another great way to cook up cauliflower. I found this on Allrecipes, of course, and I love it. I only wish I had baked it in a bigger casserole so that more of the cauliflower would get sprinkled with the Parmesan, so I wrote that into the recipe.

adapted from

1 large head cauliflower, cut into uniform florets
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 1/2 tsp. parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine cauliflower, olive oil, garlic, parsley, and salt and pepper in a large Ziploc bag or in a bowl until well blended. Pour into a shallow casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to oven for 5 more minutes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Soft Garlic Breadsticks

Again, this recipe is from Our Best Bites, one of my favorite recipe sites. I made these with the Tortellini Sausage Soup the other day and fell in love. And they really are easy. If you are nervous about using yeast, give these a try. I still consider myself a novice when it comes to bread making and I think this recipe is very forgiving for the beginner.

I'm also including their recipe for Garlic Bread Seasoning, because that is what makes these breadsticks so great. The recipe makes a lot, so store the extra in an airtight container in the fridge to use as needed.

If you are not sure about rolling out the dough and twisting it, just cut it into strips and leave it at that. Nobody will care what they look like once they take a bite. In fact, I may just skip the whole twisting part myself next time. It's simpler and faster that way.

Use a thermometer (a candy one works fine) to measure the temp of your water.

from Our Best Bites

1 1/2 cups warm (105 - 115 degrees F) water
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 - 4 1/2 cups flour (I only needed 3, but I live in the desert)
2 Tbsp. melted butter
Garlic Bread Seasoning

In a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer, if you have one), combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes or until yeast is bubbly.

Add salt and stir. Add 1 1/2 c. flour and mix well. Gradually add more flour (usually between 3-4 cups, depending on your elevation and your humidity) until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and it barely sticks to your finger.

Spray a glass or metal bowl with cooking spray and place dough in the bowl.
Cover and allow to rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Remove from bowl and place on a lightly-floured surface. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Roll into a rectangle and cut into 12 strips with a pizza cutter.

image via Our Best Bites

Roll out each piece of dough into a snake and then drape over your forefinger and twist the dough. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining 11 pieces of dough.

Cover pan and allow dough to rise for another 30 minutes. When there's about 15 minutes to go, preheat your oven to 425. When done rising, bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with Garlic Bread Seasoning


1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the powdery kind in a can)
2 tsp. course Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. oregano*
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. marjoram
2 tsp. parsley

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Use as needed.

*Since making this last, I've decided to reduce the oregano to 1 tsp. But that's mostly because I'm not a big fan of oregano - it's just personal taste.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tortellini Sausage Soup

photo from Our Best Bites

This is a great fall soup that satisfies and is just a little different from your ordinary fare. I highly recommend making it with Our Best Bite's breadsticks. To. Die. For. As good as (or in my opinion, better than) Olive Garden's soft garlic breadsticks. I'll post that recipe next, maybe tomorrow.

I found a 19 oz. package of frozen tortellini on sale for $2.99 at Fry's/Kroger:

Wal-mart used to carry the dried variety which might be the cheapest, but I don't know if they still carry it. The fresh kind in the refrigerated section will cost the most.

As for Italian sausage, there are usually 3 varieties: sweet, mild, and hot. I prefer sweet, if you can find it. It will either come in casings (links) or just in a block like ground beef:

If you can only find it in casings, just squish it out or slice the casings lengthwise and remove the sausage that way (this is before you cook it). Discard the casing.

Note: If you're making breadsticks, start the dough first, then prepare the first "phase" of the soup while the dough is rising. While the soup is simmering, twist the breadsticks, let them rise, and they'll be done baking about the same time the soup is done.

from Our Best Bites

3 links Italian sausage
4 cloves pressed garlic
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup water
2 cans chicken broth
1/2 cup apple cider
1 (16 oz) can diced tomatoes (I only had a 14.5 oz can and it turned out fine)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup sliced carrots
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 medium zucchini, grated
8-10 oz pkg. cheese tortellini
2 Tbsp. dried parsley

Remove casings from links and crumble into large pot. Begin cooking over medium heat, stirring frequently. Drain sausage halfway through cooking time. Add garlic and onions and continue to cook until sausage is browned and onions are tender.

Add water, broth, cider, tomatoes, tomato sauce, carrots, basil, and oregano. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add zucchini and parsley and simmer another 15 minutes. Add tortellini and cook until tender (about 5 minutes). Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.