Friday, December 20, 2013

Italian-Style Sausage and Bean Soup

I made this soup recently and loved it.  It's going into my winter dinner rotation.  I made a loaf of the quick and easy french bread to go with it - perfect meal.  If you want to do the same, make the bread dough first, and while it is rising and the oven is preheating, start the soup.  They should both be ready to eat at the same time.

adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

16 oz (1 lb.) smoked sausage (or chicken sausage)
2 tsp. olive oil
2 (15 oz each) cans cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 oz) can Italian-style diced tomatoes
2 cups (16 oz) chicken broth
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
grated Parmesan for garnish, optional

Slice the smoked sausage in half lengthwise, then slice into 1/4-inch thick pieces.  In a large pot, heat olive oil over med-high heat; add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and add onions.  Continue to cook until onions are translucent; add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Add diced tomatoes, chicken broth, beans, carrots, celery, and spices.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan, if desired.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Smoked Almonds

I thought I'd share this post from back in April of 2010, in case you are looking for a homemade gift that is NOT sweet and sugary.  :)

If you buy whole almonds on sale, it can be a lot cheaper to make your own smoked version than to buy the expensive brand. You can even spice them up, if you desire. If you like a very salty nut, increase the salt to 1 tsp.

adapted from Homemade Smoked Almonds on

3 cups whole almonds
1 egg white
1 tsp. celery salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. chipotle (or regular) chili powder, optional

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a jelly-roll pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, beat egg white until foamy. Whisk in celery salt, garlic powder, salt, liquid smoke, and chili powder, if desired. Stir in almonds until thoroughly coated. Spread on pan.

Roast in oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sweet Corn Pudding

You know how some Mexican restaurants will serve a little dollop of this delicious sweet corn...stuff...on the side of your plate?  I've always loved that stuff and wondered what it was, exactly.  Well, it's sweet corn pudding.  And it's delicious and not hard to make at all!  I made a batch to go as a side with our second Thanksgiving dinner (the one I made at home so we'd have leftovers - because what is Thanksgiving without leftovers?) and it was a hit.  My husband says it's the only way he enjoys eating corn.  Guess I'll keep it to myself that this recipe is a little rich and should only be served in little dollops like at the Mexican restaurants, and not in giant, American-sized portions.  Keeping that in mind, this recipe should make enough for 6 people.

Masa harina is a flour made from corn.  It is not the same thing as corn meal.  You can find it in the baking or Hispanic section of your grocery store.

from Allrecipes

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/3 cup masa harina (Mexican corn flour)
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. heavy cream (or milk can be used)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl beat together the softened butter, masa harina, and water until well mixed.  Using a food processor or blender, process the thawed corn, but leave it a little chunky.  Stir into the butter mixture.  Add cornmeal, sugar, cream, salt, and baking powder and stir to combine. Pour batter into an ungreased 8x8 baking pan.  Smooth batter and cover pan with foil.  Place pan into a 9x13 baking dish that is filled 1/3 of the way with water.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chili with Cornbread Waffles

This idea has been floating about the internet for a while and I finally decided to give it a try last month.  I loved it!  And my family gave it 2 thumbs up.  Essentially, instead of making cornbread muffins to go with your chili, you make cornbread waffles and serve them with the chili on top.  It's a very filling and satisfying meal.  In fact, I found I couldn't eat an entire waffle - instead I only used 2 quarter sections for my serving.

You can use your own chili recipe or the simple one I've shared below.


1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 (8 oz each) cans tomato sauce
1 (7 oz) can diced green chiles
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can black beans
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans
2-3 Tbsp. chili powder (to taste)
2 tsp. cumin
salt & pepper

Toppings, optional:
Shredded cheese
sour cream
green onions

In a large pot, brown the ground beef with the onions; drain.  Add all remaining ingredients except salt and pepper and bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste, before serving.  Alternatively, after browning beef with onions, transfer to a slow cooker with remaining ingredients and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Can be topped with cheese, sour cream, and sliced green onions.

from TastesBetterFromScratch

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat waffle iron.  In a large bowl, combine corn meal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Add eggs, milk, and oil and stir just until smooth.  Pour batter into hot waffle iron and bake in batches.  Makes 4 7-inch waffles.  Spoon warm chili over waffles or waffle sections.  Garnish with toppings.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Raspberry and Almond Shortbread Thumbprints

I first shared this recipe in December of 2010.  They are something different, pretty, and definitely very holiday-ish. These are shortbread so they have a different consistency than other cookies, and the almond extract just takes it to another level. My family can't get enough of them. I suggest using seedless jam and you aren't pigeonholed with one flavor. In fact, the cookies pictured in the photo above are not made with raspberry jam, but boysenberry because that is what I had on hand. But raspberry is my favorite.

The best trick for making the holes to fill with jam, is not to use the traditional thumbprint, but a ChapStick tube!  Of course you want to make sure it is clean before you use it - I soaked mine in white vinegar for a few minutes then wiped it off just to be sure.

adapted from

1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2+ cup raspberry jam

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. milk

Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add almond extract. Beat in flour, 1/2 cup at a time until dough comes together. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Using lid-end of clean ChapStick tube, press holes into balls, swirling slightly to widen. Fill holes with jam.

Bake for 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom. Let cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes. Transfer to wire rack.

In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, almond extract, and milk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cookies.

(I got 22 cookies out of this recipe.)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Honey Spice Cookies

 This recipe was originally posted about 2 years ago.  It's an old family favorite.  In fact, these cookies sealed the deal with my husband when we first started dating a thousand years ago.

These are my favorite holiday cookies. I got the recipe from my mom and I'm not sure where she got it from. They are spicy and chewy without being one of those molasses cookies. They look pretty so they are great for gift giving. I can eat at least 4 of these at once, which is saying a lot because I generally can't eat more than one or two of any other kind of cookie I make. And that's not because they don't taste good, I'm just not a sugar fanatic. I feel sick if I eat too much of it. But these...they are like potato chips - I can't eat just one.


2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together shortening and brown sugar. Beat in egg and honey. Add flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves until thoroughly mixed (dough will be stiff). Shape dough into 1-inch balls and dip one side in water, then in sugar. Place sugar side up, 2 inches apart on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes then remove to wire rack.

Makes a little over 2 dozen cookies.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Easy Rocky Road Fudge

This is a gem of a recipe.  I found it in the December 2006 issue of Good Housekeeping.  I've made it almost every year since for Christmas.  My husband likes it because it's not as rich as some fudge recipes can be, and I like it because it uses simple ingredients and still tastes delicious.  It's so pretty looking that it makes a great gift for friends or neighbors. 


1 pkg. (12 oz. or 2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips*
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 Tbsp. butter
1 pkg. (10 oz) miniature marshmallows

Line an 8x8 or 9x9 pan (for thicker fudge - like pictured above) or a 9x13 pan (for thinner fudge) with aluminum foil, with edges extending over the sides a bit.  In a large saucepan, combine chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter, and butter.  Cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes or just until ingredients are melted, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in marshmallows.  Pour into lined pan and spread evenly.  Refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours.

Pull fudge out of the pan by the foil edges and let sit 10 minutes before removing foil and cutting fudge.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

*If you do not have butterscotch chips, you can substitute with more semi-sweet or even milk chocolate chips.