Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe

Friday, October 31, 2008

Need something nutritious and delicious after all that candy? This is the recipe from my friend Karen is the one for you. I tried this at a luncheon and LOVED the unique flavor, the crispness of the vegetables, and the moist, tender chicken. When I tried it out at home, I knew Glen would love it, but imagine my delight when my kids also really enjoyed it!

Here are the ingredients for the salad (the dressing ingredients are listed below).

6 split Chicken breasts

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound asparagus, ends removed, cut into thirds diagonally (I used two bundles)

2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded

4 scallions (white and green parts) slice diagonally


1 C. vegetable oil

¼ C. apple cider vinegar

1/3 C. soy sauce

3 T. sesame oil

1 T. honey

2 garlic cloves minced

1 t. grated fresh ginger

1 T. sesame seeds, toasted

½ C. peanut butter

1 t. salt

1 t. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350

Place chicken breasts on sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes until cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Remove the meat from the bones, discard skin and shred chicken into bite size pieces.

Don't cheat and use boneless, skinless breasts. The flavor, moistness, and tenderness just can't be replicated without the bones and skins.

Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3-5 minutes, until crisp tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers into strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the shredded chicken, asparagus and peppers in a large bowl.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature with fresh bread. This keeps well in the fridge and is just as good the next day!

(We used honey roasted cashews instead of sesame seeds,
only because we didn't have any sesame seeds in the house.)



Chocolate Revel Bars

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

These are yummy! I made this last week at my apartment and they were gone quickly! We all loved them.

The ingredients:

1 c. butter
2 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
3 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
1- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla

Set aside 2 Tbsp. butter. In mixing bowl beat remaining butter, then add brown sugar and baking soda. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour. Then add rolled oats.

Filling: In sauce pan, combine the reserved 2 Tbsp. butter, the chocolate chips and the sweetened condensed milk. Cook over low heat until chocolate melts. Stirring occassionally. Remove from heat. Stir in the nuts (optional) and the vanilla.

Press 2/3 of the rolled oat mixture into the bottom of a greased 15"x 10"x 1" pan. Spread chocoalte filling over dough. Dot remaining rolled oat mixture on filling.

Bake in 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.



Old-Time Beef Stew Recipe

This is actually Mom's recipe, but I'm typing it on here for her. I just tried this stew for the first time today and it is delicious! Mom says that it's easy to make and that she loves it!

The ingredients:
1 lb. stew meat
1 Tbsp. oil

Brown in large pot, then add:
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 large onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. pepper
Assorted chopped vegetables (potatoes, carrots, green beans, broccoli)
4-6 cups water

Simmer all ingredients for about 1 hour, then add 2 packages brown gravy mix (with just enough water to mix them) (Mom usually just adds one gravy mix and it still turns out wonderfully:) Serve hot with breadsticks. Makes 4 servings. (It made more like 6-8 servings for us [Lara's family]) . Note: I (Lara) also added 1 cup of pearl barley and for the vegetables I used 4 potatoes, 1 sweet potato, 1 large onion, and a head of broccoli. It turned out a little too thick, so I added another cup or two of water and a bouillon cube for flavor. The kids LOVED it!



Easy Taco Salad

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My family loves this super easy, yummy taco salad all through the year, but it's especially good in the summer since you don't have to heat up the house to cook it!

Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:
1 lb. ground turkey (or beef)
1 to 1-1/2 packets of taco seasoning (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 onion, diced
1 (15 oz.) can black beans
1 bottle Catalina dressing (8 oz.)
Romaine lettuce, chopped
Chips of your choice (we like plain tortilla chips or Doritos)
Garnishments of your choice (we like tomato, sour cream, grated cheese, and guacamole)

Saute onion and brown meat. Then drain the meat, add 3/4 cup water, and taco seasoning (we usually use one and a half packages for more flavor). Simmer for about 5 minutes on low.

Then add beans and dressing to desired consistency. I usually end up using about 2/3 of a bottle rather than the whole thing. Don't be afraid to taste test at this point. You may want to add a little more seasoning or dressing. Simmer all together for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Now it's ready to serve any way you like it.

I like to layer it like this from the bottom up: Lettuce, chips, sauce, grated cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and tomatoes. Glen likes to start with his chips at the feel free to be daring!



Bread Bowl Recipe

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My kids think being able eat their bowl is about the coolest thing ever.  I like to cut a heart shape in the top just to add an extra measure of love! :)

Click here for printable recipe!

The ingredients:
1 Tbs. yeast
1-1/2 cup lukewarm water (110-115 degrees)
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
4-5 cups flour (I use 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white flour)

Directions:  Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Combine in one large bowl the remainder of the water, sugar, salt, and yeast mixture. Add just enough flour until dough is stiff enough to handle. Knead well (in Kitchen-Aid of course). Cover and let rise for 1 hour (I'm usually in too big of a hurry, so I skip this step).

Then divide dough into 6-8 sections and form into round shape. Place on greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal and allow to rise about 1/2 hour. Before baking, generously brush each bread bowl with an egg white mixed with 1 Tbs. warm water. Bake at 425° for about 20 minutes or until golden.

When they are finished baking, cut a shape off the top of each one (making a lid). Then scoop out the soft part with a spoon reserving it for dipping in the soup if desired.

Serve with your favorite creamy soup inside! Our favorites....broccoli cheese soup and potato soup!


Potato Soup Recipe

This is one of our family's absolute favorite meals and has been a regular part of our winter menu for over a decade now!  Serve it up in fresh homemade bread bowls to make it even more special! 
Click here for printable recipe. 

1 large onion, diced
1 Tbs. butter
3 cloves garlic, pressed
6 cups water
6 chicken bouillon cubes
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots (or one sweet potato), cubed
1 Tbs. parsley
2 cups half & half
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup flour

Saute onion in 1 Tbs. butter on low for 10 minutes, or until soft and fragrant.  Add garlic and saute for an additional 1 minute.   Then add water, bouillon cubes, potatoes, carrots (or sweet potato), and parsley and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Keeping the heat at low, add the half and half and heat until scalding, but not boiling. 

While soup is simmering make a roux with the butter and flour, by whisking the flour into the melted butter (this can be done on low heat on the stove top or in a microwaveable bowl in the microwave). 
 Spoon some of the hot liquid from the vegetable/cream mixture and mix slowly with the roux until it thickens and is smooth. Add roux to soup while stirring quickly. Heat for another 2 minutes. Serve hot inside of bread bowls. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and bacon bits.  Enjoy! 


Pumpkin Muffins

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hello, everyone! I've been in a fall mood lately, and so I decided to try out this recipe from my Joy of Cooking cookbook, which one of you Crains so graciously gave me for Christmas last year. I'm sorry I can't remember who. I lost track of which present was from whom around present #47. I love Christmas with the Crains!
Anyway.... back to the muffins. I made these on Tuesday for my visiting teachees, and I threw in chocolate chips since they weren't for Matt (no chocolate in 2008). They turned out really good and Matt was sorely disappointed, so I made another batch on Wednesday, this time adding chopped pecans instead. Also good, but let's face it: chocolate always wins. I preferred the first batch. Here's the recipe:
Preheat the oven to 400 and grease or line your muffin tin.
Whisk together in a large bowl:
2 c. flour
1/3 c. white sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
Whisk together in another bowl:
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1 c. canned pumpkin
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 c. butter, melted (depends when you're serving them: hot from the oven? use 1/4. hours later or overnight? use 1/2)
1 tsp. vanilla
Add to the flour mixture and mix together with a few light strokes just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Don't overmix. It shouldn't be smooth. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake for 17 minutes. My oven runs pretty hot so they were perfect at 375 for 15 minutes.
You can add 1 c. chocolate chips or 1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans or anything else you think sounds good. I might try Craisins sometime.

Now, what to do with that leftover pumpkin? I decided to make pumpkin dip, or as Matt calls it "Pumpkin Frosting". I think dip sounds healthier, so I'm going to stick with that. Here's what I did. I threw the following in a bowl: leftover pumpkin, 8 0z. package cream or neufchatel cheese, about 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 2 tsp. milk, 1/2 tsp. each cinnamon and nutmeg, and some vanilla that I poured in, can't tell how much :) Then I mixed it up. Very complicated. We've dipped apples, graham crackers, and surprisingly enough, Wheat Thins are delicious. Cuts the sweet a little. YUM!


Café Rio Taco Salad Recipe

With its rich history, thousands of places to visit, great schools, and good cultural opportunities, I'd have to say that living near DC definitely has its perks. There's only one more thing that would make it perfect....a nearby Cafe Rio [oh and maybe less traffic too]. This knock-off recipe for Cafe Rio's taco salad is one of our very favorite dinners to make. In fact, the last time I was out west and ordered the real deal salad from Cafe Rio, I found I'd actually grown to prefer this version over the real deal. I'd still take not having to cook it myself, so if you're thinking of starting your own Cafe Rio franchise in Northern Virginia, don't worry I'll be your first loyal customer.

When you make this, I recommend making the dressing and starting the chicken early in the day. Then about an hour before dinner, start the rice, add the spices to the chicken, chop the lettuce, and start cooking the tortillas. Right before serving heat up the black beans and start bringing your delicious feast to the table!

Click here for Printable Recipe.

Café Rio Dressing
1 buttermilk ranch dressing packet (make as per recipe)
2 tomatillos (tomato like vegetable with a husk around them--your produce manager will know where they are)
½ bunch of cilantro
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeño** (Use the seeds too if you like it spicy. You could substitute a few drops of green tobasco for the jalapeno.)

**If you don't like the feelings of your hands burning for hours (like my poor sister Kristina) PLEASE wear gloves while you work with the jalapeno (and if you go ahead and chop without protection....please don't rub your eyes or scratch yourself.) Read here if you want more details**

Use a food processor to blend all the ingredients well. Refrigerate.

Cafe Rio Chicken
(not pictured: chicken breasts)

1 small bottle (8-oz.) Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
3 cloves garlic—minced
2 lbs chicken breast

Cook all together in a crock pot for 4 hours, shred meat and cook 1 additional hour--this is what the instructions say. I cook my chicken in the crockpot with water and onion for 6-8 hours and then drain the water, shred the chicken with a fork, and add the dressing and spices about 1 hour before we're eating.

Café Rio Rice
6 cups water
6 chicken bouillon cubes
4 tsp. garlic –minced
½ bunch cilantro
1 can green chiles—or equivalent fresh
¾ tsp. salt
1 Tbs. butter
½ onion
3 cups rice (I like to use brown which takes longer to cook but is healthier)

I saute the dry rice and onion in the butter until it is just browned. Then blend cilantro, green chiles and the onion together in food processor (with 1 cup of the rice water for easier blending). Bring water to a boil and add all ingredients, simmer covered 30 minutes or 50 minutes if using brown rice.

The rest of the ingredients:
1-2 cans black beans, heated
Flour tortillas
Cheddar cheese, shredded (for sprinkling on tortillas)
Shredded lettuce

Brown both sides of the flour tortillas (we use whole wheat) on a lightly buttered griddle, sprinkling a little cheese to one of the sides after it is browned. It should be slightly crisp.

Serve with the crisp cheesy tortilla on the bottom, then layer the black beans, rice, lettuce, chicken, and dressing.



Skinny Tortilla Soup Recipe

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tom loves this recipe! He often asks me to make up a pan for him to bring to work for lunch. Please don't ask why they call it tortilla soup. (o:

Combine all the following ingredients in a large pan:

1 can refried beans (16 ounces)
1 can black beans (15 ounces) rinsed and drained
1 can chicken broth (14 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 cup frozen corn (or canned corn)
3/4 cup rotel or chunky salsa
3/4 cup cubed cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup water
2 cubed fresh tomatoes (you don't have to add these)


Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Add 1 cup cheese. Cook and stir over low heat until melted.

Serve in a bowl with cheese and tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Super easy and so delicious!


Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This recipe is from my friend, Karen, who is well known in our ward for her superior bread making skills. Not only is she consummate teacher of the bread making class, but she is generous in sharing her delicious creations with those of us lucky enough to serve in Primary with her. These truly are perfectly soft and delicious!

The ingredients:

3 cups hot water
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup dry potatoes (potato flakes)
2 eggs
2 Tbs. yeast
4 + cups flour


1/2 cup butter
1 lb. powdered sugar (~4 cups)
1 tsp. vanilla
3-4 Tbs. milk

Mix all dry ingredients (except flour and yeast). Then add the water/milk and the eggs. Mix. Then add 1 cup bread flour, then the yeast, and finally the rest of flour. Knead well.

Place dough in greased bowl, covered and let rise for 1 hour (Cami skips this step with seemingly no ill effects).

Roll out dough flat and then brush well with melted butter and then sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture (2 Tbs. cinnamon + 1/2 cup sugar). Roll up and cut into slices. Allow to raise, then bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes. Wait 5 minutes before frosting. Serve warm!



O Henry Bars Recipe

Here is a recipe for one of our favorite treats any time of the year, but they are particularly good to make in the summer since you won't have to turn the oven on.
O Henry Bars

1 cup sugar
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 pkg. (12-oz.) chocolate chips (It's extra good with a cup of butterscotch chips and a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Directions:  Mix sugar, Karo syrup, and peanut butter in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, then take off heat immediately*.

NOTE: It is really important to make sure it doesn't boil too long, as it is quite easy to over-cook them and have them become too hard.

Stir together and then add the Rice Krispies

Pat down into a  greased 9x13 pan. 

In a small bowl, melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every thirty seconds and watching carefully not to burn or over-melt them.

Spread melted chips on top of Rice Krispies mixture.  Allow to set for a couple of hours.   Enjoy! 


Apple-Walnut Pancake Recipe

Friday, October 17, 2008

This is one of our favorite breakfast foods ever.
They're tasty and hearty enough you don't even need any syrup to make these special.  
 Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients: 

1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup oat flour (or wheat)
1/8 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ cup sugar
 3 large eggs
4 Tbs. butter, melted
1/3 cups milk
¾ tsp. vanilla
 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped or shredded (Granny Smith)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

Mix dry ingredients together, then add eggs, butter, milk and vanilla and mix until combined.  Then gently fold in chopped apples and walnuts until just combined.  Heat the griddle or large skillet to medium heat. Grease the surface with some butter. Cook as with regular pancakes. If the consistency of the batter is too thick you may add an additional small amount of milk to thin it out. Serve hot.  Enjoy!  


Chocolate Chip Brownie Recipe

We were so excited to try making these sweet treats at home after sampling them at Lincoln's baby blessing.

1 cup butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Additional toppings as desired (such as white chocolate chips, mint chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, chopped nuts, creamy peanut butter, etc)

In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; stir into creamed mixture just until blended. Pour into greased 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Sprinkle with desired chips and nuts.

Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until brownies test done.



About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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