Thursday, February 25, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup

The other week, I was browsing through the cooking blog that a friend of mine started called Cooking for Seven.  She started the blog when she was preggo with what she thought was baby #5.  Baby #5 turned out to be babies #5 & 6, two precious little girls;)  The reason that she hasn't changed the title is probably because shortly after the blog began, she started writing for as their Bismarck Budget Meals Examiner.  

Anyway, Pam is a fabulous cook, on a budget, so I found myself browsing through her old cooking blog.  When I came across her recipe for Italian Wedding Soup, I knew it would be good.  Well, I should say, I knew I would love it, but I wasn't so sure about how it would go over with my children.  I mean spinach IN the soup?  I can't even get them to eat spinach normally.  Well, my worries were unfounded because they ALL loved this soup.  Actually my oldest was disappointed the next night because he wanted to eat lthe leftovers, but they were already all gone (both my husband and I had already had them for lunch;).  

Anyway, this is a healthy and delicious recipe!  Pretty dang quick and easy too!  

Italian Wedding Soup

2 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 oz. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 c. plain bread crumbs
64 oz. Fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 c. dried pasta (ditalini works well)
1 bag, fresh, washed baby spinach (6 oz.)

In a deep pot over medium heat, add oil, carrots, celery, onion, and bay leaves.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover pot, and cook veggies 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

While cooking, combine ground meats, egg, garlic ,cheese, & bread crumbs.  

Add broth and water to the pot, increase heat to high & bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat and begin to roll meat mixture into small balls.  Drop the meatballs straight into the pot & stir.  Add pasta.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.  When the pasta is tender, add the spinach in small batches.  When the spinach is wilted, the soup is done!

Serve with fresh bread & a little parmesan on top of the soup!

Nutrition Facts
  Servings Per Recipe: 14
  Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving
  Total Fat11.1 g
     Saturated Fat3.9 g
     Polyunsaturated Fat0.8 g
     Monounsaturated Fat4.5 g
  Cholesterol47.9 mg
  Sodium487.6 mg
  Potassium359.3 mg
  Total Carbohydrate10.0 g
     Dietary Fiber1.3 g
     Sugars2.1 g
  Protein13.3 g
  Vitamin A46.7 %
  Vitamin B-128.4 %
  Vitamin B-68.3 %
  Vitamin C8.8 %
  Vitamin D0.5 %
  Vitamin E3.3 %
  Calcium9.0 %
  Copper2.4 %
  Folate10.3 %
  Iron7.4 %
  Magnesium4.9 %
  Manganese7.8 %
  Niacin8.2 %
  Pantothenic Acid    2.5 %
  Phosphorus    7.9 %
  Riboflavin7.2 %
  Selenium13.8 %
  Thiamin9.9 %
  Zinc8.7 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mini Maple Chocolate Chip Pancake Muffins

When I saw these adorable little pancake muffins on bakerella. I knew I had to try them.  We love to have a big breakfast on Saturday and I am always looking for new things to try.  The hard part is always finding something my husband and kids will enjoy.  The aren't fans of the egg bake type dishes that there are so many variations of (although I would love to make more of those).  Honestly, the rest of my family would probably be happiest if I just made pancakes or waffles every single time.  For me, that is far too boring, though.  The thing I enjoy about cooking is exploring new foods, so there is no way I want to get stuck in that kind of rut;P

These were an absolute hit and I will definitely be making them again.  As a matter of fact, I made a double batch and they were all gone by lunchtime.  Another plus, these are actually even easier than pancakes!  No standing over a griddle flipping forever!  

Mini Maple Chocolate Chip Pancake Muffins

1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
2/3 c. buttermilk
1 egg
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (honestly, I only had the fake stuff on hand so that is what I used.  I'm sure the real thing would be better though)
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 c. milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*.  

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl.  Sift together with a wire whisk.  

In another bowl, stir buttermilk, egg, syrup, and butter until just combined.  Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips reserving a few to sprinkle on the tops.  

Divide batter equally between 24 mini muffins.  Sprinkle reserved chips on top.  Bake for 8-9 minutes.  

Let cool slightly and remove from pan.  You may need to use a toothpick around the edges to separate the pancake muffins from the pan.  

Serve immediately with warmed butter or just warm maple syrup.  (We just dipped them in syrup and it was fantastic)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Let me just say, you have got to try this Cajun Chicken Pasta.  It is one of my new favorite foods.  I am always ordering this dish at restaurants, but this version from the Pioneer Woman is hands down better than any I have had before.  Would you really expect anything less from Ree?  You know, my kids even liked this, and it has PEPPERS.  Shocking, I know.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
3 tsp. cajun spice mix, or more to taste (I used Tony Chachere, which is really good)
1 lb. fettuccine 
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 whole green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 whole red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 whole large red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 whole Roma tomatoes, diced
2 c. low sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. white wine
1 c. heavy cream
cayenne pepper to taste
salt to taste (I didn't add any salt because the cajun spice I used already contained salt)
fresh or dried parsley, optional

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain when pasta is still al dente; DO NOT OVERCOOK!

Sprinkle 1 1/2 tsp. cajun spice over chicken pieces.  Toss around to coat.  Heat 1 Tbsp. oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in a heavy skillet over high heat.  Add half the chicken in a single layer, do not stir.  Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute.  Flip to the other side and cook about 1 minute or until browned.  (The chicken took longer to brown for me.  I don't have a fab gas stove like Ree probably does;P)    Remove with a slotted spoon and place on clean plate.

Repeat with remaining chicken.  Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.

Add remaining olive oil and butter.  When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic.  Sprinkle on remaining cajun spice, and add salt if needed.  Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as black/dark as possible in the shortest time possible.  Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds.  Remove all vegetables from pan.  

With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth.  Cook on high for 3-5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to de-glaze.  Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly.  Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture.  Taste and add freshly ground pepper, cayenne, and/or salt to taste.  Sauce should be spicy!

Finally, add chicken and vegetables to the sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate.  Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot.  Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine. 

Top with fresh parsley and chow down!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sweet and Sour Chicken A.K.A. Fire Alarm Chicken

I'm sure you are wondering why on earth I have nicknamed this Fire Alarm Chicken.  Well, the answer is simple.  No, it isn't spicy, it did, however smoke my house up worse than ever before.  It was so bad, I had to open multiple window and leave them open for quite awhile.  Now, since I live in North Dakota, you should no that isn't very pleasant in February.  My house reeked like smoke for DAYS.  Now, I'm not trying to discourage you from trying this.  It really is so so good.  I know this will shock you, but the smoke could have been caused more by the cook than by the recipe.  I'm not saying that is the case, I'm just saying it is a possibility;0)  

Smoke aside, I do believe I will try to make this again.  It was very good, probably the best Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe I have ever made.  So, thank you, Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe for the great recipe.  

Sweet and Sour Chicken

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 c. cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. canola oil

Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks.  Season with salt and pepper.  Dip chicken in cornstarch (I tossed in a ziplock bag with the cornstarch and shook until well-coated), then in egg.  Fry in a little oil until browned but not cooked through.  Place in a single layer in a baking dish.  Mix sauce ingredients (below) together and pour over chicken.  

3/4 c. sugar
4 Tbsp. ketchup
1/2 c. vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. garlic salt

Bake for 1 hour at 325*.  Turn chicken every 15 minutes.  If you like extra sauce, make another batch of sauce and bring it to a boil on the stove-top.  Stir constantly and let cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced (about 6-8 minutes).  

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fudge Puddles

I made these Fudge Puddles on a lazy Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago.  I thought we could have them with our Super Bowl spread but it didn't work out.  The reason it didn't work out, is that they didn't last that long.  Nope, they were gone by Sunday afternoon.

Fudge Puddles

Cookie Crust Recipe:
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, peanut butter, and sugars.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Next, in a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamy mixture.  Chill dough in the fridge for 1 hour or the freezer for 15 minutes.  Remove from fridge and form into 1-inch balls (you may use a small melon scoop to make it easier to get them to be uniform in size).  Grease a mini muffin pan and drop 1 ball in each cup (you should end up with 48 balls).  Bake in a 325* oven for15 minutes or until very lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and make an indentation in the center of each ball to form a cup.  Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack.  

When your cookies are finished baking, it is time to make the fudge filling mixture.

Fudge Filling Recipe:
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. milk chocolate or butterscotch chips
14 oz. can of sweetened, condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla
chopped nuts or sprinkles (optional)

In a microwave-safe bowl or saucepan, combine all ingredients except nuts or sprinkles.  Microwave for 1 minute.  Stir well.  If there are still unmelted chips, continue to microwave for 15 seconds at a time, stirring well each time you remove it from the microwave.  Be careful to not over-cook. 

Spoon mixture into cookie filling mixture in a pastry bag and pipe it in!  This is what I did, and it worked great!

Source: Mommy's Kitchen or  

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pork Medallions With Olive-Caper Sauce

Here is a recipe that I posted awhile back on my other blog. Since it really is a huge hit around here (my best recipe according to my husband), I thought I'd better get it up here too. I even took my OWN picture this time around....that is why it is so much worse than the last picture...LOL! Food photography is something that is escaping me. My pictures just never look very good at all! I have heard talk of some kind of food lamp, I might have to check that out. Although...I'm sure my husband would tease me. He laughs when he sees me taking food pictures. 

I would also like to add, if the capers and kalamata olives are making you hesitate to try this DO NOT BE AFRAID. My 3 picky kids ALL like them on this pork. Also, that is the Risotto recipe that I just posted recently that you see in the background. I ALWAYS make these 2 dishes together for two reasons: 1. They taste dang good together; 2. They both call for white wine and leave me enough to have a healthy glass myself with dinner and/or while I am cooking;P 

Pork Medallions with Olive-Caper Sauce

1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cut pork crosswise into 8 pieces. Place each pork piece between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle both sides of the pork with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Dredge pork in flour, turning to coat; shake off the excess flour. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of pork, and cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove pork mixture from pan, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with the remaining oil and pork. Return pork to pan. Add wine and broth; bring to a boil. Stir in olives and capers; cook 4 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 medallions and 2 tablespoons sauce)

CALORIES 212 (34% from fat); FAT 8.1g (sat 1.8g,mono 5.1g,poly 0.9g); IRON 2.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 74mg; CALCIUM 30mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8.1g; SODIUM 894mg; PROTEIN 25.5g; FIBER 0.9g Cooking Light, JUNE 200

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Calico Beans

I have never been a big fan of beans, but Calico Beans are something that I really enjoy.  I first came across the recipe after I married my husband.  This is something he grew up eating.  My kids all really love it too.  As a matter of fact, when I made it last week, Kade said, "I am the only kid in my class that likes lima beans.  I can't believe that".  I think the reason he likes lima beans so much is because he has only ever encountered them in this delicious recipe.  It makes for an awesome side in the summer and a hearty meal served with a salad in the winter.  It is also very versatile, it is just as good cooked in the slow cooker as it is baked in the oven.

Calico Beans

1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. bacon, diced
1/2 c. diced onions
1 c. ketchup
2 tsp. prepared mustard
15 oz. can pork and beans
15 oz. can. lima beans, drained
15oz. can kidney beans, drained
15 oz. can butter beans, drained
1 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. vinegar

Heat saute pan over med-high heat.  Add onions, ground beef, and bacon.  Cook until browned.  Drain.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients.  

Either bake in a casserole at 350* for 1 hour, or put in crockpot for several hours.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ground Round Chicken Tortilla Soup

The Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe I am going to post today is just about as easy as they come.  I was told that it tastes exactly like the one they serve at Ground Round.  Since I have never had it at Ground Round, I cannot vouch for that fact.  This is a great really quick week-night meal.  I got the recipe awhile back from a friend, and I haven't changed a thing except the way I do the chicken.  The original recipe called for canned chicken.  My family really doesn't care for canned.  The next time I tried it, I shredded 2 chicken breasts.  There was something about the shredded breasts that I just didn't love either.  The last time I made it, I cut the chicken into about 1/2 inch pieces and browned it in a small amount of oil on the stove-top.  I really feel like the is the way to go:-)  

Wow.  I am embarrassed.  I never thought I would obsess so much about chicken cooking methods.  I see my husband in now following my little cooking blog.  I'm sure he will be teasing me later;P

Ground Round Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 lb. chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)
1/2 Tbsp Canola oil
10 oz. can fiesta nacho cheese soup
10 oz. can enchilada sauce, red
10 oz. can cream of chicken soup
1 soup can of milk
shredded cheddar (optional)
Tortilla Chips (optional)

Heat a over med-high heat.  Add oil.  Cut chicken breasts into bite sized pieces.  Add to saute pan and saute them until they are browned.  

Add soups, enchilada sauce, and milk to a medium saucepan.  Whisk until well-blended.  Add chicken to mixture.  Bring to just a boil over medium heat, stirring often.  Be careful!!  It will burn onto the bottom!! 

We like to serve this topped with a little shredded cheddar and tortilla chips on the side.  They are good crushed and added to the soup, or used as scoops for the soup.


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