Monday, April 29, 2013

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Over Rice

For me, this recipe falls under the category of "comfort food."  There are no surprising flavors or textures, just warm, gooey, easy goodness.  It's similar to chicken divan, but is made in a slow cooker.  And I'll be honest, it really benefits from the sprinkling of cheddar cheese when serving.  But I like that you get a protein, a veggie, some dairy, and a grain all in one dish.  Simple!  And it won't heat up your kitchen.

slightly adapted from

4-6 (depending on size) boneless/skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 oz) can cheddar cheese soup
1 (14 oz) can low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dried, minced onion
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup sour cream
salt & pepper, to taste
4 cups broccoli florets, steamed until crisp-tender
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
steamed rice

Whisk together the soups, broth, onion, and garlic powder in a slow cooker.  Add chicken and turn to coat.  Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.  Shred the chicken and stir in the sour cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in broccoli florets and heat through.  Serve over rice and sprinkle with cheese.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tuscan Kale Salad With Homemade Croutons

At a recent church function, everyone was invited to bring a healthy dish to share with the congregation.  One particular couple brought several different salads that were each incredibly delicious and unique.  I'm slowly getting around to trying to replicate some of them to share on the blog.  This particular salad surprised me.  I never, ever thought I would like kale.  I mean, isn't kale one of those nasty veggies that only granola-types can stand to eat?  I knew it was good for you (as in super good), but I also figured that meant it was...well...disgusting.

And it is, lol.  Just plain, kale is pretty nasty, but if you dress it up a little or know how to cook it, you will be surprised at how palatable it can be.  This is a traditional Tuscan salad, eaten for hundreds of years, and the Italians haven't died from it yet.  ;)  At least I don't think they have....

Aren't you inspired to try kale now?  Ha ha.  Seriously, it's not that bad, and worth introducing into your diet here and there.  Even my husband will eat this salad!  The kid, not so much, but I'm working on her.

There are two general kinds of kale you will find in your local grocery store:

Left: Curly (or "Scots" kale) and Right: Lacinato (or "dinosaur" or "Tuscan" kale) 

You really could use either variety for this salad, but it calls for the dinosaur version.  With both varieties, when serving raw, you want to remove the center ribs because they are tough and difficult to eat.

slightly adapted from

1 bunch Lacinato kale, mid-ribs removed, and thinly sliced
juice of 1 lemon
3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
salt & pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
2/3 cup freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
1 cup homemade croutons, recipe below (or 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs)

Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes, if using.  Toss with kale in a large serving bowl.  Add 2/3 of the cheese and toss.  Let kale sit for at least 5 minutes; add croutons or bread crumbs and toss again.  Top with remaining 1/3 cheese.  Serve immediately.

slightly adapted from

6-8 slices day-old bread, cubed
3 Tbsp. melted butter or olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a small bowl, whisk together butter or olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and parsley until well mixed; pour over cubed bread and toss to coat.  Spread cubes on a baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 10 minutes; stir.  Bake for another 5-10 minutes or until dry and crispy and golden brown.  Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Double Chocolate Cupcakes With Fresh Raspberry Buttercream

I've wanted to share this recipe for quite some time.  I made these cupcakes over a year ago but never got a photo of them.  Today I had to make a dessert for a fundraiser and I figured now was a good time to make them again and get a photo!

The recipe might bug OCD people like me because it makes 15 cupcakes instead of an even dozen, but don't let that stop you (especially since there's no eggs and you can lick the bowl with abandon).  The frosting recipe makes exactly the right amount to "liberally" frost the cupcakes.  And you need this frosting really bad.  I promise.

slightly adapted from Mom's Chocolate Cupcakes on

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease or line muffin tins for 15 cupcakes.  In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients and stir just until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes or until tops spring back when touched.  Cool completely before frosting.

from SouthernLiving

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and dried
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
16 oz (4 cups) powdered sugar

Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition.  Frost as desired.  Can stand at room temp up to 24 hours, otherwise refrigerate.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pesto Pasta Salad

This recipe comes from my friend Cathy.  She was very influential in my desire to try new recipes (she always had such great ones).  Some of her other gems include Whole Wheat Muffins, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Almond Chocolate Kiss Cookies.  This is a great pasta salad that can be served warm or cold.


1 (12 oz) box tri-color penne pasta
1 (0.5 oz) packet Knorr pesto sauce mix
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
half an (8.5 oz) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
3-4 boneless, skinless breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 (6 oz) can medium pitted olives, drained
1/2 cup feta cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse and drain.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil from jar of tomatoes in a skillet over med-high heat.  Cook chicken until browned and cooked through; set chicken aside on a plate.  In same skillet add pesto sauce mix with water and olive oil and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, chop 1/2 the jar of tomatoes.

In a large bowl, toss together pasta, chicken, tomatoes, olives, sauce, and feta cheese.  Serve warm or cold.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Lemon Dill Chicken

I love lemon anything.  I recently discovered lemon custard ice cream at Baskin Robbins and let me tell you, it is heaven.  I keep lemons in my refrigerator at all times, in case I get a hankering for something tart.  This time around I decided to try a Greek-inspired recipe I found online at  We're taking lemon chicken to another level by adding dill, garlic, and onions.  It's light, healthy, full of flavor, and perfect for spring.

adapted from

1 - 1 1/4 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders, trimmed
2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tsp. dried dill (or 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped)
1 Tbsp. corn starch
salt & pepper, to taste

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.  In a small bowl, whisk together chicken broth, lemon juice, onion, garlic, dill, and corn starch.  Heat olive oil in a skillet over med-high heat; add chicken and brown on both sides (you do not need to cook it through).  Transfer chicken to a plate and reduce heat to medium; stir in broth mixture.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.  Return chicken (and any juices) to skillet and cook for another 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper as needed.  Sprinkle with a little more dill for garnish, if desired.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Roasted Asparagus

I'm so glad I'm a grown up and like asparagus now.  I've been experimenting with different ways to prepare this healthy spring veggie.  You can check out my other asparagus recipes like grilled asparagus or creamy orzo and asparagus.  I'm still not sure which preparation is my favorite, but I definitely like the flavor produced by roasting.  This time I kept the stalks whole, but I've also sliced them into 1-inch lengths to make them bite-size.


1 bunch fresh asparagus, rinsed and dried
olive oil
kosher or sea salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Trim off woody ends of asparagus stalks and slice into bite-size pieces, if desired.  Place asparagus in a rimmed baking sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil; toss to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 7-10 minutes or until asparagus is tender (may take a little longer if stalks are thick).

Monday, April 15, 2013


Yes, this looks like a glass of milk with some dirt sprinkled on the top.  But it's not, I promise.  I had never even heard of horchata until a couple weeks ago when I went with my parents to Cafe Rio and saw that it was one of the drink options at the restaurant.  It looked interesting and I was in an adventurous mood.  Holy crap it was good!  It's like rice pudding: the drink.  So if you don't like rice pudding, this is probably not for you.  Plus, it takes some planning since you get the best flavor if you let it sit overnight.

This version of horchata is essentially water infused with rice and then mixed with milk, vanilla, and cinnamon.  It's made with different ingredients in different countries, but I'm perfectly happy with this variation.  And I like mine a little more "creamy" so I add more milk than some of the recipes I've found online.  If you can't have milk, just Google "horchata recipe" and you'll find plenty of options including some using almonds or cashews instead of milk.

It's best served cold, over ice, and is very refreshing in the summer heat.  I've given ranges of measurement for the sugar and vanilla - start with the lowest, taste, and adjust accordingly.  Some people like it really sweet.  Me, not so much.


1 cup plain white rice, uncooked
5 cups water
3 cinnamon sticks
3 cups milk (whole is best for flavor...)
2-3 tsp. vanilla
1/3-1/2 cup sugar
ground cinnamon for garnish, optional

Rinse rice in a strainer and add to a blender with 2 cups of the water and cinnamon sticks; pulse for 1 minute or until rice and sticks are broken up into little bits.  Pour mixture into a pitcher with remaining 3 cups water and let sit overnight (room temp or refrigerated is fine). 

Strain the mixture and stir in milk, vanilla, and sugar to taste.  Chill until serving, then sprinkle with ground cinnamon, if desired.  Keeps up to 4 days in the refrigerator (if it lasts that long).

Monday, April 8, 2013

Easy Swedish Meatballs

Have you been to Ikea?  My daughter pretty much equates Ikea with a trip to Disneyland - yummy food, fun activities for kids, you need a map to find your way around....  Luckily Ikea is much cheaper than Disney and much closer.  Every time we go, we eat at their cafeteria and my daughter always, always, always orders the Swedish meatballs.  Believe it or not, I've never ordered them and have no clue what they taste like.  They look and smell good, but for some reason I've always ordered something else off the menu. 

I like to buy the big bag of Kirkland brand frozen meatballs at Costco and then divide them up between 4 or 5 quart-size Ziploc bags.  I'll pull out a bag when making spaghetti with meatballs, or barbecue meatballs, or this time I decided to try Swedish meatballs.  I found a simple recipe for the gravy and used one of my bags of frozen meatballs.  I think traditionally Swedish meatballs are served with mashed potatoes, but I kept things simple and just steamed some white rice.  The gravy has great flavor and was a hit with my family (and myself).

slightly adapted from

1 cup beef broth
1 cup heavy cream*
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
dash of nutmeg
dash of allspice
half of a (32 oz) package of frozen meatballs
chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional

In a large saucepan, whisk the broth, cream, flour, soy sauce, black pepper, rosemary, nutmeg, and allspice until smooth.  Cook and stir over low heat until thickened (about 10-15 minutes).  Stir in frozen meatballs and heat through.  Serve over mashed potatoes, cooked egg noodles, or steamed rice.  Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.  Serves 4 (you can add more meatballs to serve more people - you'll just have a little less sauce).

*You can substitute 1/2 cup of milk + 1/2 cup of sour cream

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Baked Beans

I've had this recipe for a number of years.  It comes from one of my mother-in-law's best friends.  Teri is a fantastic cook and we all look forward to her visits because they always involve yummy food.  These baked beans were found in a family cookbook and Teri was kind enough to share the recipe.

You can always double or triple the recipe if feeding a crowd.  They can be cooked on the stove or in the crockpot.  So why are they called "baked" beans?  I have no idea.  :)

Stick to the name brands - there IS a difference!

recipe courtesy of Teri (and slightly adapted by me)

1 can (15.75 oz) Campbell's pork and beans
1 large can (28 oz) Bush's Original baked beans
1 can (15 oz) Great Northern or white beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 tsp. dry ground mustard
1 tsp. A-1 steak sauce
1/4 tsp. liquid smoke
1/2 cup diced onion
6 slices of bacon

Cook bacon until crisp, reserving 1 Tbsp. grease, and chop.  Cook onions on medium heat in the reserved grease until soft and translucent.  In a large pot or slow cooker, combine all ingredients.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes.  Or cook on high in a slow cooker for about 1 hour or until hot and bubbly (if doubling or tripling the recipe, you will need to increase cooking time by an hour or more).