Potato Quiche

Friday, February 27, 2009

I worry about a lot of things in my life, but there's one thing I never worry about....me becoming an anorexic. No way. I love food way too much. Plus skipping meals for me is torturous...not just on me, but on anyone who crosses my path when I'm hungry. When our church moved to a later schedule on Sunday mornings (to go right through the lunch hour) I quickly realized that unless we had a plan of action that there was going to be embarrassing trouble on our pew at church. So we did what any food-loving family would do, we created a new family tradition....Sunday morning brunch!

This potato quiche has quickly become one of our Sunday morning favorites...easy to make, filling, and delicious!

The ingredients:

2 cups shredded potatoes (just buy them pre-packaged, it's not worth the trouble doing them from scratch)

3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp. seasoning salt
1 cup cubed ham
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Spray a 10" pie pan with no-stick spray. Press the potatoes flat into pan and up the sides. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until edges are brown.

Beat together eggs, milk, and seasoning salt. Then stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour into potato crust. Bake at 375° for 35-40 minutes.



Fresh Tomato and Spinach Pasta

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I tried this meal after finding it on a friend's blog and we loved how fresh and tasty it was, even without any meat. It's perfect for those nights when you just need something fast and light!

The ingredients:

8 oz. dry noodles (ziti or rotini)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. olive oil
3 cups coarsely chopped, seeded tomatoes (~6 medium)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 cups spinach, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (I used slivered almonds instead)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Gorgonzola cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile in a large skillet cook onion and garlic in hot olive oil over medium heat until onion is tender. Add tomato, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Cook and stir over medium-high heat about 2 minutes or until tomato is warm and releases some of its juices. Stir in spinach; heat just until greens wilt.

To serve, top pasta with tomato mixture; sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and cheese. Serves 4-6.



Homemade Oreo Cookies

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My personal opinion is that these homemade Oreo cookies are leaps and bounds above the wimpy little ones from the store. These are soft and gooey and oh so yummy! Cami always tries to make them gargantuan sized, which I always give her a hard time about, but in all reality I'm secretly glad when she does so I can eat more without being embarrassed. After all I can say that I only ate three cookies...never mind they were as big as slices of bread...it was only three!

The ingredients:

2 chocolate cake mixes (dry)
1 cup butter
4 eggs

1 pkg. (8-oz.) cream cheese
1-3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. butter

Combine cake mixes, butter, and eggs and roll into small evenly sized balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 6-8 minutes. When cool spread with filling and then sandwich them together like an Oreo! The superior Oreo.

( single stuffed Oreo)



Peanut Butter Pancakes

Sunday, February 22, 2009

We love all things peanut butter in our house, so when my friend shared this recipe for peanut butter pancakes,  I just knew I had to make them. So I did....the very next day. They lived up to our expectations and my girls love having another fun pancake to throw into their breakfast cooking repertoire.  Serve with  buttermilk caramel syrup or if you really like peanut butter try it with the peanut butter syrup recipe here, or if making your own syrup isn't your thing, then they're  also tasty by themselves or with old-fashioned maple syrup!  

 Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:

1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour (I used white whole wheat flour for all of it)

2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. oil
1 egg
1 cup plus 2 Tbs. milk (plus more if needed)

Directions:  Mix wet and dry ingredients separately, then add wet to dry. Mix till just moistened. Cook by 1/4 cupfuls on griddle. Makes about 12 pancakes.



Tomato Basil Soup

Friday, February 20, 2009

I had never been a big fan of tomato soup until I branched out from the Campbell's variety and tried the delicious, creamy versions at restaurants like La Madeleine and Panera Bread. I was completely hooked, and now I'm so glad to have learned that it is SO easy to recreate at home! The version pictured here is made without cream, since I cook for one who doesn't get along well with dairy, but the soup is delicious without the cream and would probably be to die for with it!
Click here for printable recipe. 
Posted by Karey. 
What you'll need:

2 cans (28-ounces each) crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 Tbs. basil
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic (or if you're not lazy like me, fresh garlic, to taste)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter

(Note from Lara:  I used 5-6 cloves of pressed fresh garlic.  I cut the butter in half and left in the full amount of cream....delicious!  We served it with breadsticks.  Yum!) 

Mix together tomatoes, chicken broth, basil, sugar, and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer over low heat until you have to serve it. I've simmered for 10 minutes and it was delicious, and I've simmered for 1 1/2 hours and it was divine. In other words, the longer the better, but you can make it fast and it works just fine.

When you're ready to serve, remove the soup from the heat and stir in the cream (not pictured) and the butter. Stir until the butter has melted.

Then try, just try, not to eat the whole pot! Mmmmmmmmmmm... now THAT'S good!

If you really want to wow your family or your guests, serve with this easy french bread!

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Simple French Bread

This delicious crusty bread is perfect for serving with soups! Easy enough to make on a busy day, this is fast becoming a family favorite!

This bread is just about as simple as it gets, ingredient-wise.

For 2 loaves:
1/2 c. warm water
2 pkg/tbsp. yeast
6 c. flour
2 c. hot water
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. salt

I always halve the recipe, since there are only two of us and the bread is really best fresh from the oven. Here are the measurements for one loaf in case you're like me.

For 1 loaf:
1/2 c. warm water
1 pkg/tbsp. yeast
3 c. flour
3/4 c. hot water
1 tbsp. + 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Dissolve yeast in the warm water. Mix together half the flour and all the rest of the ingredients, along with the yeast solution. I just stir it by hand, but you could use a mixer or however you do bread. Then add in the remaining flour. Depending on how humid or dry the day is, you may have to add extra flour. Add until it's doughy, but stop while it's still sticky, not elastic and smooth.

Let rise for 10 minutes, then punch down. Repeat 5 times. Here's how it looks after a few punches.

Shape into one or two oblong loaves, depending on what quantities you're using. Place on greased cookie sheet. Let rise another 10 minutes.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.
This picture is blurry because I was too anxious to eat the bread to take a proper picture! Yum!


Bear with me please...

Last night I subscribed to a feed tracking service called Feedburner. I'm not sure what went askew in the process, but somehow it sent out a whole lot of weird stuff to people's feed readers in my name. Please bear with me, I think I'm figuring out how to fix things. In the meantime, please accept my apologies for unknowingly clogging up your readers. I'm very, very sorry!

PS If you notice any more weird issues with my feed from here on out, please feel free to let me know (via comment or email) and I'll see what I can do to fix it.


Chicken Poblano Chowder

I found this recipe in a magazine, started drooling on the spot, wrote out a grocery list, and made it the next day! The combination of the hearty creaminess and the spicy poblano peppers made this savory chowder perfect for a cold winter day!   

Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 large carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 large potato, diced
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 small poblano pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cumin, or more to taste
1/4 tsp. dried thyme, or more to taste
10 chicken bouillon cubes
2 quarts water (8 cups)
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, minced
2 cups diced grilled chicken
1/4 cup unsalted butter**(see note below)
3/4 cups flour**
1 -2 drops hot sauce (optional)
1/2 cup heavy cream**

*To save time during the dinner crunch, I grilled the chicken and chopped all of the vegetables earlier in the day.*

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions, celery, potato, garlic, poblano peppers, bell pepper, salt, white pepper, cumin and thyme. Saute until the vegetables begin to soften, about 7 minutes. (Oh--look at all that fresh goodness all in one place)

Stir in chicken bouillon. Add the chicken broth and cilantro, and cook until the carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is heated through. (I had to resort to extreme measures to keep my kids' from eating all this freshly grilled chicken before the chowder was done).

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour to the melted butter and stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes to cook the flour, careful not to let the mixture brown.

**NOTE:  I decided to double the roux to make it a little creamier and we preferred it thicker and creamier.  The picture at the beginning is shown as the recipe is written and the photo at the end is shown with the roux doubled. Slowly ladle 1 cup of the hot liquid from the stockpot into the skillet, whicking constantly. Once the first cup of liquid is incorporated, add another 2 cups of liquid, one at a time.

Pour the mixture in the skillet into the stockpot, whisking to blend. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3-5 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Stir in hot sauce and the cream.

Serve warm with crusty bread. Serves 8. 
Here's what it looks like with the roux doubled. 



Key Lime Pie

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I love everything citrus! If it has lemons, limes, oranges, or even grapefruit I'm a fan. Key lime pie is something I wasn't introduced to until a couple of years ago, but once I had my first taste I was hooked. I love that it's an elegant and classic dessert, yet it's so dang easy to make. Of course, I like to just let people be impressed and forget to mention how easy it was.

The ingredients:  

(I usually just buy a premade crust)

5 tablespoons melted butter

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs


1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup Nellie and Joe's real key lime juice (I tried squeezing real Key Limes one time and it was definitely NOT worth the trouble)

3 egg yolks

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Sweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix graham cracker crumbs into butter. Add sugar and mix well. Spray cooking spray onto a springform pan and pat crust into bottom and sides. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix together key lime juice, brown sugar, egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk until incorporated. Do not beat or whip air into mixture. Pour over crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Run a knife around top edge of pie to loosen and cool completely in springform pan on a rack. Chill in refrigerator 1 hour. Remove side of pan and transfer cake to a plate. Serve chilled or at room temperature with whipped cream.



Warm Peanut-Sesame Noodles

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I made these noodles to accompany the Peanut-Sesame Chicken** and my oh my were they delicious! My kids gobbled them up like they were candy.

The ingredients:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 cup water
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. peanut or sesame oil
8 oz. spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
Chopped green onion (optional)
Crushed red pepper (optional)

Combine peanut butter, brown sugar, ginger, water, vinegar, soy sauce, and peanut oil in a saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 minute, stirring frequently. Immediately toss with hot spaghetti. Garnish with chopped green onions, crushed red pepper, and toasted sesame seeds.

**To save time I just made a big double batch of the peanut sesame sauce and used it for both the chicken and the noodles. There is only a slight variation between them.



Peanut Sesame Chicken

I'm the laughingstock among family and friends for taking pictures everywhere....especially at mealtimes. People see me with my camera and either run for the hills or start posing, usually it's running for the hills. But this recipe right here is why they put up with it. Since I started this recipe blog, I've started branching out and trying new things we've never had before...all in the name of a good blog post. This recipe makes a peanutty, tender chicken that made me feel like I was eating in a fancy Chinese restaurant!

The ingredients:

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

2 Tbs. brown sugar

1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. peanut oil (I used sesame oil instead)
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves*

In saucepan, combine all ingredients except chicken. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently for 1 minute.

Grill or broil chicken, turning and brushing occasionally with 1/2 cup peanut/sesame sauce, for 12 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Serve with remaining sauce and with Warm Peanut-Sesame Noodles. I topped with another tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds. Serves 4.

*My chicken breasts were really thick, so I sliced each one in half so it would cook more evenly and quickly.



Frozen Hot Chocolate

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We're a pretty die hard family when it comes to our food. We like finding good restaurants, we like making our own good food, and best of all we like EATING good food! A couple of years ago we planned a trip to NYC. We kept hearing all this commotion about this famous restaurant called Serendipity and their amazing frozen hot chocolates. We made our reservations weeks in advance and looked forward with great anticipation to the day when we would finally get to try out this Oprah endorsed treat. We were a little disheartened when we woke up that morning and saw that it was -15° that day. Yes--that would be fifteen degrees BELOW zero! Lesser men, women, and children would've decided that some real HOT hot chocolate would've been more appropriate, but not us! We traipsed through the cold, windy streets of NYC and got to taste the stuff legends are made of.

Totally worth the beaucoup bucks and frozen noses!

Then we got back home and were on a mission to recreate it here in our own kitchen. Here's our version. Keep in mind that the better chocolate you use the more heavenly it will be!

The ingredients:

(ignore the Ferrero Rochers in there--they didn't work)

6 half-ounce pieces of a variety of your favorite chocolates
2 tsp. store bought hot chocolate mix

1-1/2 Tbs. sugar

1-1/2 cups milk

3 cups ice

Whipped cream

Chocolate shavings

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place it in the top of a double boiler (we made one with metal bowl that fit over a sauce pan) over simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted.

Add the cocoa and sugar, stirring constantly until thoroughly blended. Remove from heat and slowly add 1/2 cup of the milk and stir until smooth.

Cool to room temperature.

In a blender place the remaining cup of milk, the room temperature chocolate mixture, and the ice.

Blend on high speed until smooth and the consistency of a frozen daiquiri.

Pour into a giant goblet (we don't own any giant goblets) and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Don't drink the whole thing yourself! Makes 4 normal sized servings or two Serendipity sized ones.



Chicken Curry Salad with Fruit

Friday, February 13, 2009

This recipe was originally from the Lion House cookbook, but I've made a few adjustments to make it more fitting for our family. I love the bright colors and the subtle curry flavor. My kids love the fun noodle and fruit combination.

The ingredients:
2/3 cup mayonnaise

2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. curry powder

2-1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 cup rotini noodles

1 cup diced celery
Salad greens
1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds

1 avocado, sliced
1/2 cantaloupe, but into wedges (we used mango)

1 cup seedless grapes, halved

1 cup canned pineapple chunks, drained

Cook noodles as directed. Let cool. Blend mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and curry powder. Pour over chicken, celery, and noodles and mix lightly.

Chill. Just before serving, mound salad in center of a serving platter lined with salad greens (I did it on the individual plates rather than a large serving platter). Sprinkle with almonds. Garnish with avocado and fruits. Serves 6.



Peanut Butter Pie

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

If you haven't noticed by now, we have a thing for peanut butter in our family. We love it in our main dishes, love it in our breakfast, and best of all, love it with chocolate. Oh man, I'm making myself drool just thinking about all the peanut butter and chocolate combinations. This recipe is rich, creamy chocolatey, peanut buttery goodness. Probably not so good for a diet, but oh so good for your taste buds!

The ingredients:

CRUST: (I usually buy a pre-made chocolate crust, but here are directions if you want to make it from scratch)
1-1/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (Oreos)
1/4 cup butter, melted

1 pkg. (8-oz) cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

GARNISHMENTS (optional): hot fudge, melted peanut butter, chopped peanuts, chocolate cookie crumbs

Combine crust ingredients; press into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Cool.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, butter and vanilla until smooth. Fold in whipped cream. Gently spoon into crust.

It looks way too plain without the garnishments! Garnish with hot fudge, melted peanut butter, chopped peanuts, or cookie crumbs. Refrigerate. Serves 8-10.

Note to self: Don't type up recipes for sinfully delicious desserts on an empty stomach. Must have chocolate now.



Fabulous Fast Chicken

Monday, February 9, 2009

I'm not usually such a fan of creamy casserole type dishes, but when it reminds me of Chicken Cordon Blue I make exceptions! My kids love the stuffing topping and the cheesy tender chicken and I like the fact that it's quick to make and my kids beg me to make it again soon!

The ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 lb. shredded Swiss cheese
8 oz. ham, cut into chunks
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
2 cups Pepperidge Farm herb seasoned stuffing (I used Arnold's instead)
4 Tbs. butter
4-6 servings, cooked rice

Grease 9x13" pan. Lay chicken in bottom of pan. Layer chicken with ham and cheese.

Mix soup and sour cream. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with stuffing and drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

*To reduce the cooking time, you can cut the chicken up first before cooking.



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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