Six Can Refried Bean Soup

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This fast and simple dish is as easy as 1-2-3-4-5-6 dumping cans into a pot. It combines the ease of soup with the heartiness of chili and makes for a perfect last minute dinner or lunch.

The ingredients:
1 can (16 oz.) spicy fat-free refried beans
1 can (15-1/4 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) chicken broth
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) stewed tomatoes, cut up
1/2 cup water
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies
1/4 cup salsa
Tortilla chips
Sour cream (for garnishment)
Shredded cheddar cheese (for garnishment)

In large sauce pan combine all ingredients (except tortilla chips, sour cream, and cheese). Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer or until heated through. Serve hot with tortilla chips, sour cream, and little sprinkle of cheese. Serves 8.



Avocado Chicken Salad

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's gotten hot really quickly here in the DC area and I've found myself searching through my recipes for lighter, summer-y food that I don't have to turn the oven on for. I found this simple recipe in a magazine and the fun variety of flavors quickly won over the hearts (and tummies) of my family.

Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:
The ingredients:
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
2 Tbs. lemon juice, divided
2 cups cubed cooked chicken ( I grilled mine)
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
1 medium tart apple, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
Lettuce leaves, optional
Pita bread, optional


In a small bowl, toss avocado with 1 tablespoon lemon juice; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, grapes, apple, celery, mayonnaise, walnuts, ginger, and remaining lemon juice. Stir in avocado. Serve on lettuce-lined plates or in toasted pita pockets. Serves 5.



Cream Filled Danish

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My friend Becca is an amazing bread artisan. She brought me this homemade Danish one time and my family went gaga with excitement. It was like our Sunday morning Entenmanns...only way better and I was so excited when she shared her recipe with me. This recipe makes four pastries, so plan on freezing a couple for another day.

The ingredients:

1 cup butter
2 cups warm milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs. yeast
1/2 cup warm water (to dissolve yeast)
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
~8 cups flour (just enough to keep the dough from sticking to your hands)

1 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbs. flour
1 tsp. vanilla

In small saucepan on low heat whisk together sugar, salt, flour, egg yolk, and milk. Cook for 1 minute stirring constantly. Add vanilla. Let cool.

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cups sugar
2 tsp. almond extract

Mix all ingredients together.

1 egg white, beaten

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped nuts

Combine together with fork into large crumbs.

2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbs. milk or water
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Mix all ingredients well until desired consistency.


Place butter and sugar in large mixing bowl, pour heated milk over butter. Let stand while you mix yeast with 1/2 cup warm water and 1 Tbs. sugar. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes.

Add egg and yeast to butter/milk/sugar mixture. Add salt and flour. Beat together until you can barely handle dough without it sticking to your hands. (No kneading necessary)

Cover with cloth and let raise for 1-1/2 hours in warm place. Punch down and let raise for an additional 45 minutes.

Roll dough into a 10-inch x 15-inch rectangle.
Cut strips about 1-1/2 inches apart along the long sides of the rectangle. Spread cream filling covering the center of uncut section. Then place almond filling in chunks regularly on top of the cream filling. Fold in cut pieces.

Brush with egg whites.

Sprinkle with crumb topping and place in the oven. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until a very light golden brown.

Drizzle with icing and serve warm.



Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This bright, flavorful side dish was the perfect accompaniment to a hearty chicken dish and with its cheese, vegetables, and pasta could even serve as a well-rounded light summer meal.

The ingredients:
1 small eggplant, peeled and diced in 3/4-inch pieces

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 yellow pepper, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup olive oil

1-1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 lb. orzo
4 green onions, minced (white and green parts)

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
3/4 lb. feta cheese, diced (not crumbled)

15 fresh basil leaves, cut into strips


1/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula (mine only took 25-30 minutes before they were browned).

Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7-9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Add roasted vegetables to orzo, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

For dressing, combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on orzo and vegetables. Cool to room temperature. Add the green onions, pine nuts, feta cheese, and basil. Serve at room temperature.



Basil-Garlic Cheese Bread

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fresh and flavorful, this garlic bread was SO much better than the store bought varieties!

The ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. minced garlic
1-2 tsp. dried basil
1 loaf (1 pound) unsliced French bread, halved lengthwise

In a small bowl, combine the first six ingredients; spread over cut sides of bread. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Broil 4-6 inches from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until slightly browned. Cut into 2-inch slices. Yields 10 servings.



Potato Kielbasa Skillet

Monday, April 13, 2009

My hubby was quick to declare this smoky, meat and potato combination a "manly man's meal".   Happily it was also eagerly devoured by the little people in our family too.
Click here for printable recipe.
The ingredients:

1 pound red potatoes, cubed  (I used 3 medium sized potatoes)
3 Tbs. water
3/4 lb. smoked kielbasa or Polish sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. cider vinegar
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard ( I used regular mustard)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 cups fresh baby spinach ( I like to chop my spinach, but you can use them whole if you prefer)
5 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

Directions:  Place cubed potatoes and water in a microwave-safe dish. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (no need to poke any holes) and microwave on high for 4 minutes or until fork tender; drain.  (Mine took closer to 6 minutes before they were fork-tender)

In a large skillet on medium-high heat, saute kielbasa and onion in oil until onion is tender; about 3-5 minutes. (I skipped the oil and just used the bacon grease to fry it in.)  Add potatoes; saute 3-5 minutes longer or until kielbasa and potatoes are lightly browned.

Meanwhile, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, thyme, and pepper; stir into skillet.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Add spinach and bacon; cook and stir until spinach is wilted. Yields 4 servings.


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Chocolate Malted Cookies

Saturday, April 11, 2009

These cookies are the next best thing to a good old-fashioned malted milk. With malted milk powder, chocolate syrup plus chocolate chips, these cookies are among the best I've had. Yum yum! The ingredients:
1 cup butter flavored shortening (Crisco)

1-1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup malted milk powder

2 Tbs. chocolate syrup
1 Tbs. vanilla extract

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chunks
1 cup milk chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, combine the first five ingredients; beat for 2 minutes. Add egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chunks and chips.

Shape into 2-in balls; place 3 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire rack. Yields about 18 cookies.



Turkey Wafflewiches

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Who knew sandwiches could be so fun? My family adored this medley with its fantastic taste and whimsical touch. It reminded me a bit of a homemade McGriddle!   
NOTE from Lara: These sandwiches have become my teen son's favorite meal and through his chemo treatments for leukemia, this is the one food item we know he will eat day in and day out!  (see picture below)

                            Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:

1 pkg. (3-oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1 Tbs. maple pancake syrup
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 slices bread  (I recommend whole wheat potato bread)
3/4 pound sliced deli turkey (for extra flavor we like to saute the turkey in a little butter)
2 Tbs. butter, softened

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, cranberry sauce, syrup, and pepper until combined. Spread cranberry mixture thinly over all 8 slices of bread; on 4 of the slices top with turkey and then place another slice of bread (cranberry mixture on the inside) over the top sandwich style.Spread butter over both of sides of sandwiches.  Cook in a preheated waffle iron or indoor grill according to manufacturer's directions for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 4.

My son eating up (literally and figuratively) his few days at home from the hospital. 


Deluxe Chocolate Marshmallow Bars

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

These chocolatey layered bars are unique with light brownie layered with marshmallows, then crispy chocolate, peanut buttery goodness. Serve these easy bars to your friends and they're sure to be impressed! Don't worry they're easy to cut and serve and not gooey at all, as you might expect with a marshmallow layer.

The ingredients:
3/4 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. cocoa
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional
4 cups miniature marshmallows


1-1/3 cups chocolate chips
3 Tbs. butter
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups Rice Krispies

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until fluffy. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa; add to creamed mixture. Stir in nuts, if desired. Spread in a greased 15-in x 10-in. x 1-in. pan.

Bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle marshmallows evenly over cake; bake 2-3 minutes longer. Using a knife dipped in water, spread melted marshmallows evenly over cake. Cool.

For the topping, combine the chocolate chips, butter, and peanut butter in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and well blended. Remove from heat; stir in Rice Krispies. Spread topping immediately over bars. Chill. Yields about 3 dozen.



Black Eyed Pea Soup

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lara's mom here. We had this tasty soup on New Year's Day, and when Lara found out that I was holding out a recipe with a picture from the blog without posting, she demanded (nicely of course) that I type it up immediately. So here I am in Virginia visiting my favorite oldest daughter and instead of playing with grandkids, I'm typing up this recipe. The recipe called for it to be made in the crock pot, but I just cooked it on low for an hour and it was PERFECT!

The ingredients:
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1-2 Tbs. oil
2 cans (15-1/2 oz. each) black eyed peas (or black beans)
2-1/2 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 cup diced, cooked, smoked ham
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 dash, or more to taste, cayenne pepper
1-2 drops, or more, of Tabasco sauce
Sour cream (for garnishment)

Saute onion and garlic and oil in saucepan until tender. Add drained black eyed peas to sauteed ingredients. Combine all ingredients except sour cream. Cover and cook for about 1 hour OR place in crock pot on low for 4-6 hours. Add dollop of sour cream to each individual bowl before serving. We served it with sun-dried tomato bread which I also have a recipe and picture for (but, shhh, don't tell Lara.)



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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