November 22, 2012

Nani's Cranberry Whip Salad

This is a family favorite. Its been around forever & its always served at Thanksgiving & Christmas. This amount serves 20ish people a decent spoonful for a side dish or dessert, plus leftovers.

4 cans of Ocean Spray whole-berry cranberry sauce (don't try using jelly, it won't work)
4 small tubs of Cool Whip
bags of mini marshmallows
  • Put cranberry sauce into a mesh sieve over a bowl or the sink. 
  • Mix a bit so it isn't "can shaped" anymore. 
  • Let sit a while (20-30mins) so some of the juices can run off. 
  • Juices can be dumped.
  • After the sauce has sat a bit put it into a large bowl.
  • Mix with all remaining ingredients. 
  • Cover with plastic wrap & let sit a few hours (overnight) before serving.
  • YUM!
My grandma likes to add chopped pecans. I leave them out. I also go heavy on the mallows.

Green Bean Supreme (Its NOT what you think)

This recipe has been made by my mom for years. While this is similar to the traditional "green bean casseroles" that most people expect at Thanksgiving & Christmas this is actually NOTHING like the traditional. Its cheesy & yummy.

2lbs French Cut Frozen Green Beans (barely cooked, very well drained..I actually press mine a bit in the strainer)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 jar of Old English Cheddar Cheese
1 small jar of stems & pieces mushrooms (optional, only add if you like extra mushrooms)
1 big can of French's French Fried Onion Rings (24oz)
2c. cheddar cheese (shredded. I prefer sharp. My mom prefers medium.)
  • Drain/press barely cooked green beans, very very well. 
  • If you HAVE to use canned beans (cause you can't find frozen French cut beans) then still use french cut canned but they don't need to be cooked & they need to be drained even better.
  • Mix soup & old english cheddar very well. Eliminating as many lumps as possible.
  • Add beans to soup/cheese mixture & mix well.
  • Add shredded cheese and about 3/4c of onions. Mix well.
  • Put all into a greased casserole dish.
  • Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted & its all starting to bubble which is usually about 30mins.
  • Top casserole with the rest of the fried onions.
  • Put back into the oven & bake until onions are crispy/browned. 
  • Allow to sit a few minutes before serving.
This year I have a decent sized group coming over and a BIG turkey to roast. So I crock-potted  the entire mixture just till it was warm & bubbly, since really the beans are already cooked. The fried onions I toasted on the stove in a non-stick pan and topped the entire crock-pot with the crunchy fried onions before it was time to eat. 

November 21, 2012

Sweet Potato Casserole a'la Ruth's Chris Steakhouse

This recipe IS the original & official recipe from Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Yes, I am best friends with one of the Executive Chefs wives. Have been for years. Feel privileged.

Honestly, some people try to imitate this and it ends up not so good. This is SO yummy. My oldest daughter seriously won't go without it at holidays & she'll eat it for breakfast if I let her. Please get over your mothers chunks of sweet potatoes or yams and molten marshmallows. This is what you really should be serving. Plus you can eat it as a side dish OR a dessert. (Seriously a spoonful of this and a spoonful of vanilla ice cream...don't say I didn't warn you.)

1 batch serves 2-4 people depending on your sweet tooth.
Preheat oven to 350.

Crumble Topping:
1 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. melted butter
1 c. chopped nuts (RC uses pecans. Almonds are good too.)
  • Mix together all of the above & set aside.
Sweet Potato Mixture:
3 c. mashed sweet potatoes
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla (I only use Mexican vanilla...but thats a personal thing.)
  • Beat eggs well.
  • Mix eggs, sugar & butter well.
  • Add salt & vanilla, mixing well.
  • Add sweet potatoes & beat well. 
  • Pour sweet potato mixture into a well buttered baking dish.
  • Sprinkle top with crumb topping. 
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Allow to set for approximately 30 minutes before serving.

November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

I'm used to cooking for a crowd, but thank goodness with Kiar I can totally split the work and still get great food. Plus, splitting the work is so much better! So dinner for 13 it is this year. 

Roasted Turkey
Herbed Turkey Gravy
Green Bean Supreme
Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole
Cranberry Whip Salad
Dessert (Thinking pumpkin cake...hmm.)
Sparkling Cider

Brussel Sprouts
Mashed Potatoes

November 2, 2012

Dairy Free Corn Chowder

Victoria is going dairy free for a week for scientific research where her migraines are concerned. I'll blog about that separately. I was craving corn chowder...and chowder screams butter & cream. But this recipe turned out SO yummy. I found a recipe online & altered it tremendously for our families liking.  We were all super impressed. Served with Italian bread which is also dairy free. Victoria also tried out "Earth Balance soy free natural buttery spread" tonight on her bread, while most of the family still consumed a bit of real butter...except me, I just dipped in my chowda.

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions (diced)
24 oz fresh or frozen corn (not canned)
1 Tbsp ground pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder
32 oz  chicken stock (use veggie if you want to go vegan)
1 small jalapeno (cut in half)
6 small/medium yellow skinned potatoes (diced)
8 stalks of celery (chopped)
4 c. almond milk
1 Tbsp paprika
1/4 c. all purpose flour
olive oil
salt to taste

  • Saute onion & corn in olive oil.
  • Add pepper & garlic.
  • Add halved jalapeno and saute for a few minutes.
  • Add chicken stock & simmer for 10 mins.
  • Remove jalapeno.
  • Add potatoes, celery, almond milk & paprika.
  • Stir well to incorporate.
  • Bring back to a boil till potatoes are soft. (
  • Reduce to low...barely a simmer.
  • Remove about 4 cups of the solids (potatoes, corn & celery) from the mixture using a slotted spoon.
  • Place the removed items into your blender.
  • Add about 2 cups of the hot liquid to the blender.
  • Blend briefly, then add back to the rest of the soup.
  • Mix well.
  • Take 1/4 cup of flour & put it into a bowl. 
  • Mixing the flour with a few tablespoons of olive oil till it makes a thick "roux". This should be paste-like, not creamy. 
  • Using a whisk add the roux paste to the soup & mix well. 
  • Set simmer a few more minutes.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Serve with bread (dairy free is available).

October 28, 2012

Super Easy Chile Colorado

2lbs of beef stew meat
1 large can of thick red enchilada sauce (not La Victoria...I'll post the name when I get home)
1 onion diced (white or yellow)
1 can of diced green chiles

  • Throw everything into the crockpot & cook on high for at least 4-6hrs.
  • The more meat you are cooking the longer it needs in the crockpot.
  • If you add 2-3 more pounds of meat then add another onion (& another can of chiles if you like them).

This is SO easy & yummy it's ridiculous.

For burritos:

  • Take individual tortillas & spread down the middle with refried beans.
  • Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
  • Using a slotted spoon, spoon the meat onto the burrito & roll it up.
  • Using a ladle, "smother" burrito with some sauce if you like.
  • More cheese???

October 23, 2012

Nani's Zucchini Bread

Its quite possibly the best I've ever had...but I won't ever turn down zucchini bread. Its possible my favorite thing ever. This recipe makes 2 loaves...but I often double the recipe to make 4. I also turn this into muffins. You can also use the batter for pancakes or waffles. Yep, just try it!

3 eggs
2/3c. veg oil
2c. white sugar
3tsp vanilla
2c. grated UNPEELED zucchini (don't peel it...that defeats 1/2 of the purpose)
3c flour
1tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
1tsp cinnamon
1/4tsp baking powder
1/2 chopped nuts (pecans)

  • Mix all of 1st group until fluffy.
  • Add zucchini & mix.
  • Sift all dry ingredients together.
  • Add dry to wet & mix.
  • Add nuts & mix.
  • Divide into loaf pans.
  • Bake @ 325 for 1hr (or until a skewer comes out nearly clean)
  • Cool well.

Nani's Famous Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is about 70 years old. Its amazing. You can barely tell its got oatmeal, since it doesn't turn out like a typical oatmeal cookie. Its also got an amazing secret ingredient. You can see it below.

So heres the trick to baking...
Normal elevation, 350 degrees, 12-14mins baking time
Utah/Colorado/High Altitude, 275 degrees, 8ish minutes baking time (you have to play with the time a little)

1 1/8c Crisco
2 eggs
3/4c brown sugar
3/4c white sugar
1/4c frozen orange juice concentrate (not oj!)
1tsp vanilla
1c flour
1tsp baking soda
2 1/2c oats (quaker quick oats)
1tsp salt
1c nuts (Nani only used walnuts. I only use pecans, since walnuts make my mouth itchy)
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (12oz)
  • Cream all of 1st group together.
  • Sift out lumps of 2nd group, then stir slowly into wet. (Oats won't sift, duh.)
  • After incorporated, mix well.
  • Add 3rd group to dough & mix carefully.
  • Spoon into balls onto greased/papered tray.
  • Bake on 3rd rack up.
  • Turn 1/2 way through baking.

The Great Pumpkin Cookies

These turn out fluffy & soft. Almost cakey or like muffin tops. They are SO yummy!!!

2 Cups of Flour                                                
1 egg
1 cup quick oats                                               
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda                                             
1 cup Libby’s Canned Pumpkin
1 tsp. Cinnamon                                               
1 cup chocolate chips
½ tsp salt                                                          
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup butter softened                                        
1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans)
1 cup sugar
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. 
  • Cream Butter and gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. 
  • Add egg, and mix well, then add vanilla. 
  • Alternate dry ingredients and pumpkin, mixing well after each addition. 
  • Stir in chocolate chips, nuts & raisins. 
  • Scoop onto lightly greased cookie sheet. 
  • Bake at 30-25 minutes until cookies are firm and lightly browned.

NOTE: You can double the recipe if you use canned  pumpkin, since you usually have a lot left over.

October 19, 2012

Bacon Fried Rice

This was a traditional dish around my house growing up. Now we eat it every once in a while at my house. My girls LOVE bacon, but I forget about this option. The girls would eat bacon & breakfast for dinner pretty much every night if they could. So when I remember to make it, this is a great way to use bacon instead of eating breakfast. We eat it as a meal, not a side dish so this makes a pretty big batch.

3 c. white/jasmine rice (cooked w/6c. water)
1# bacon (chopped into 1 inch pieces then fried, saving the grease)
1 bunch of green onions (diced)
1 bunch of celery (sliced)
1 can of sliced water chestnuts (drained)
1 can of sliced bamboo shoots (drained)
1 small bag of peas & carrots (frozen)
8 eggs beaten with some milk added (like you're making scrambled eggs)
1 tsp each: Garlic powder, salt, pepper & crushed red pepper flakes.
6-8oz soy sauce (low sodium)
  • Fluff the cooked rice & put into a large non-stick pot over medium heat.
  • Drizzle with a bit of reserved bacon grease & stir.
  • Add 1/2 of the soy sauce & mix well.
  • Saute onions & celery in a separate pan.
  • Add water chestnuts & bamboo shoots to onions, sauteing for a bit.
  • Add remaining soy sauce to onion mixture & mix.
  • Add all spices to onion mixture.
  • Add onion mixture to rice & mix well. 
  • Scramble eggs into the empty onion pan, using bacon grease to cook. 
  • When eggs are almost done add the bag of frozen veggies.
  • Mix veggies & scrambled eggs well. 
  • Add eggs & veggies to rice & mix well.
  • Finally add bacon to the rice mixture & mix well.
  • Make sure everything is hot & serve immediately.
Serves 8 adults for dinner or up to 16 as a side dish.

Frogs Eye Salad

1 c sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4c pineapple juice (from pineapple below)
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (I use the juice of 1 lemon)
1 (16oz) pkg Acini de Pepe pasta (cooked, strained & rinsed with cool water)
2 (14oz) cans mandarin oranges (drained)
1 (20oz) can pineapple tib-bits (drained, juice reserved)
1 (20oz) can crushed pineapple (drained, juice reserved)
1 (or 2) jars of maraschino cherries (drained & cut in 1/2's)
1 (9oz) container whipped topping
1 (10oz) bag of mini marshmallows
  • Combine sugar, flour and salt.  
  • Stir in pineapple juice and eggs.  
  • Cook in a non stick pot, stirring constantly, until thickened.
  • Add lemon juice.  
  • Cool sauce to room temperature.  
  • Combine egg mixture and pasta; mix well and refrigerate overnight in an airtight container.  
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  • Refrigerate in an airtight container until thoroughly chilled.
This makes a BIG batch which is perfect for a large crowd/holidays/potlucks, etc.

October 5, 2012

Cheese-ball A'la Jenny

This is the recipe for my friend Jenny's crazy amazing cheese-ball. Don't judge people!!! Squirty cheese has its place in the world and this is it. Especially when its bacon flavored.

I typically make a double batch...again no judging, there are 7 of us in the house.

  • 1 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can bacon flavored Kraft Easy Cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (Jenny uses colby jack, I use cheddar. Make sure its finely shredded.)
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard (I often double the dry mustard to 1tsp per batch)
  1. Mix all ingredients until well blended.  
  2. The best part of this recipe is squirty out the cheese.  
  3. Go ahead, make a design while you empty the can.  :D
  4. Drop into a large piece of saran wrap and shape into a ball.  
  5. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  
  6. (At this time, feel free to grab a cracker and clean the bowl.) 
  7. Serve with crackers. Our favorites:  Ritz, Wheat Thins & Club Crackers...or celery.

June 23, 2012

Frozen Blueberry & Chocolate Pie

My aunt made this (I think) last summer for a family thing. It was so cool & refreshing. I've been making it occasionally ever since. I even door-bell ditched one of my favorite people with this pie for her birthday.

1 container Cool-Whip (defrosted)
2 containers (1 3/4c) blueberry yogurt (good stuff, not runny crap & not greek, its too thick)
1 pint blueberries
1 oreo pie crust (store bought)
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (melted)

  • Drizzle melted chocolate chips over bottom of pie crust. (This creates a surprise layer of hardened chocolate that is so yummy!)
  • Mix cool-whip & yogurt together.
  • Pour yogurt mixture into pie shell & form into a dome shape.
  • Top pie with blueberries.
  • Cover carefully with plastic wrap and place in freezer.
  • Freeze overnight or for at least several hours.
  • Defrost enough to slice through (but not fully) before serving. 
  • Cut into 8 slices & enjoy.
  • This is an amazing treat in the heat of summer.
You can also substitute another flavor yogurt & another fruit, but anything in the berry family is best. Although banana & chocolate sounds really good at this minute.

February 3, 2012

Cream Cheese Frosting

1lb salted butter
1.5lbs cream cheese
2tsp vanilla extract
3.5-4lbs powdered sugar

  • Cream the crud out of the butter & cream cheese.
  • Add vanilla & cream some more.
  • Add powdered sugar a little bit at a time till it is the consistency you like.
  • Frost your favorite cake or cupcakes or the inside of homemade oreos.
  • Yum!

February 1, 2012

Coffee Cake

I've never had a tried & true homemade coffee cake recipe. I decided to buy a box mix a while back & try it and it was nearly perfect for what I wanted...but of course I needed to tweak it around. This batch makes a big foil roasting pan full. (10x18?) I think I've fed about 24-30 people with this batch below.

3 boxes of Krusteaz Cinnamon Crumb Cake Mix (opened & packages separated).
2 c water
3 eggs
1/2lb butter (melted)
1c. quick oats

  • Spray roasting pan with Pam/non-stick cooking spray.
  • Open boxed mixes. Set aside cinnamon packets.
  • Mix cake mixes with water & eggs.
  • Pour into the prepared pan.
  • In a separate bowl mix the oats & the cinnamon packets.
  • Sprinkle all of cinnamon/oat mixture over the cake mixture.
  • Swirl with a knife using a figure 8 motion. 
  • Pour melted butter over the top.
  • Bake at 350 for about 1hr to 1hr10mins (a skewer will come out nearly clean).
  • Let cool a bit, but best eaten while still a bit warm.

January 14, 2012

Black Bean Soup (vegetarian)

3 cans black beans
2 cans Rotel tomatoes & chiles
1 jar Herdez red salsa (mild, medium or hot depending on your tastes)
1 box vegetable stock

  • DO NOT drain beans.
  • Put 2 cans of beans, 1/2 of the stock & 1 can of Rotel into blender.
  • Blend well.
  • Combine blended ingredients, other 1/2 of stock, salsa & 2nd can of Rotel into soup pot.
  • Bring to simmer.
  • Thicken with corn starch slurry if necessary/wanted.
  • Serve with a scoop of cold sour cream in each bowl.
  • Best served with tortillas or corn bread.

Serves 8 large portions.
This soup is very filling!
May be made with chicken stock, but its not vegetarian then.

January 13, 2012

Chicken & Green Chile Soup (food storage)

2 cans diced green chiles
3 cans chicken breast meat
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 jar Herdez green salsa
3 cans of great northern beans (white beans)
1 box chicken stock (fat free, low sodium)
1 tsp garlic powder
a few shakes of cayenne pepper
salt & black pepper to taste (or just put it on the table for people to add)
1.5 c. sour cream (use sour cream if making "fresh", if using only food storage use 1 can of evaporated milk)

  • DO NOT drain the beans or chicken.
  • Add all ingredients except sour cream to the pot.
  • Bring to a simmer.
  • Shut off heat.
  • Whisk in sour cream.
  • Top with chopped cilantro & green onions if you like.
  • Serve with tortillas.
Serves 6-8