Meatball Curry Soup

Monday, February 28, 2011

Curry….people tend to have strong opinions about it one way or the other.  Before we were married, my husband spent two years serving as a missionary in England, where he was introduced to curry dishes by some of the foreigners that he served and taught there in England.  So for him, curry is reminiscent of wonderful people and a time of  his life spent in selfless service.  I, however, had no such fond memories attached to curry and have always been a little scared off by it.  The last couple of years, though, at my husband’s encouragement we’ve branched out and added some curry dishes into our menu.  I now very much enjoy the flavor of curry, but still am a little hesitant when serving it to the whole family.  It turned out we didn’t have anything to worry about with this soup though…I don’t know if it the familiarity of the ramen noodles or the ever-exciting presence of meatballs in this dish, but this curry dish adapted from Taste of Home was well-received by the whole crew and is getting added to our family keeper list!

Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:

5 packages (3-ounces each) ramen noodles
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. peanut oil
1 can (13.5-ounces) coconut milk, divided
1-1/2 Tbs. red curry paste (I found mine in a small tub in the Asian section of the grocery store)
1-1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
32 frozen mini fully cooked meatballs (about 1/2 ounce each--mine said they were party sized)
4 cups chicken broth
1 medium zucchini, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, halved and sliced
1/4 cup shredded cabbage
2 tsp. soy sauce
Optional garnishes:  bean sprouts, chow mein noodles, chopped fresh basil, green onions

Directions: Cook noodles according to package directions (discard seasoning packets or save for another use.  Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or saucepan, saute garlic in oil for 1 minute.  Spoon 1/2 cup cream from top of coconut milk and place in pan. 

Add the curry paste, curry powder, and turmeric; cook and stir for 5 minutes.  Stir in meatballs, broth, zucchini, carrot, cabbage, soy sauce, and remaining coconut milk.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until carrot is tender and meatballs are heated through.  Drain noodles; stir into soup.  Garnish with bean sprouts, chow mein noodles, basil, and onions if desired.  Makes 8 servings.  Enjoy!


I Spy...Some Friday Favorites

Friday, February 25, 2011

Here are some recipes from around the internet that  I've been eying this week: 

Tried-and-True Cooking with Heidi

The Food of Love

The Peppered Pantry

Sister's Cafe

Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Real Simple Food

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Stirring the Pot

Head over to Finding Joy in My Kitchen to see some other Friday Favorite links. 


Wacky Cake (with Paw Print Decorations)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

  We’ve been making this Wacky Cake recipe, which is completely egg and milk free, for years.  It’s easy to make, doesn’t fall apart,  and actually tastes good too, which is more than can be said for most egg free cake recipes I’d tried previously. 

Since I was making these for a group of kids with some food allergies, I had to make some accommodations to decorate them.   Basically, we combined the Wacky Cake with some store bought Pillsbury Cream Cheese frosting, which ironically, considering its name, doesn’t contain any dairy at all.  Then we added some Oreo cookies, which are also totally dairy free.  While the Junior Mints are dairy free as well, they are processed in a plant with other dairy products, so you may need to substitute those for mini-Oreos if you are making these for someone who is deathly allergic to dairy products (it’s fairly uncommon to have that severe an allergy to dairy, but you should check first to make sure). 

In any case, allergies or not, these cupcakes are fun and perfect for kid-project on a rainy day!  They’d also be perfect for a dog or bear themed birthday party or for a classroom activity.


Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:

“Wacky Cake”:  Dairy Free Chocolate Cake (No eggs, no milk)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. vinegar
5 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 cup cold water

Directions:  In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt. Make three wells in the flour mixture. In one put vanilla; in another the vinegar, and in the third the oil. Pour the cold water over the mixture and stir until moistened.

Pour into 8 x 8-inch pan or prepared cupcake tins. Bake at 350°F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it springs back when touched lightly.  Makes 1 (8x8-inch) cake or 12 cupcakes.  Enjoy! 

Paw Print Decorations: 

Baked cupcakes
Dairy Free white frosting  (see note below)
Oreo cookies  (Oreos are totally dairy free)
Junior Mints candies  (these are processed in a plant with other dairy products, but do not contain dairy themselves.  If someone is severely allergic and cannot even eat product processed in a plant with dairy products, then I recommend mini Oreos instead (found with the snack foods))

**NOTE:  I still haven't found a dairy free icing recipe that I totally love, so I usually just buy store bought frosting when I'm cooking for someone with allergies.  Many varieties of Pillsbury frostings do not contain any dairy, including vanilla, buttercream, and cream cheese (Yes, I find it  ironic and somewhat humorous that they have the word "cream" in the title and do not contain any milk products at all).

Frost cupcakes with white frosting.  Top each cupcake with one Oreo and three Junior Mints to resemble a paw print. 

(I’m totally in love with my Cupcake Courier !  My mom got it for me for Christmas and I highly recommend it for anyone who regularly brings cupcakes to activities!) 

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Chicken Quinoa Stew

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What?  Never heard of quinoa?  Me neither, until a couple of years ago.  I had to look it up to see what all the fuss was about.   Here’s the scoop  according to Wikipedia: 

“In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), and like oats, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods.  It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights.” 

Oh wait….you want to know how to pronounce it too?  Well, according to my research, it can be pronounced one of two ways:    “KEEN-wah”  or   “kee-NO-wah”.  I opt for the first pronunciation, since that’s the one I hear others use the most. 

So after hearing about how wonderfully nutritious and high in protein quinoa was,  one day I passed by a big bag of it at Costco and  I couldn’t resist picking it up and trying it for myself.  Unfortunately, in my laziness, that bag just sat and sat and sat for months….until one day I came across this recipe on Picky Palate.  I decided it was time to give it a try and boy was I glad I did.  Not only is the stew delicious and nutritious, but I got to see first-hand how easy quinoa is to prepare (faster than white rice).  I absolutely loved the texture the quinoa added to the stew and I loved thinking about how good it was for us as my family gobbled it down eagerly.  Thanks to  Jenny for a great recipe!  Enjoy! 

Click here for printable recipe
The ingredients:

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
2-1/2 stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 large zucchini, quartered and sliced
4 cups chicken broth
1 can (15-oz.) diced tomatoes
2-1/2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cubed into 1" pieces
1-1/2 cups cooked quinoa (a grain that is cooked similarly to rice and can be found in the cereal aisle near the oats)
2 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, shredded and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1-1/2 tsp. hot sauce
Kosher Salt, fresh cracked black pepper, Garlic Salt, and parsley to taste
3/4 cup fresh parsley chopped

Directions:  Cook quinoa as directed on package. 

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Sauté onion, celery, carrots, peppers, and zucchini until softened. This takes about 5 minutes.  Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, and potatoes.

Increase heat to high just until broth starts to boil.   Reduce to medium high and cook potatoes for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Reduce heat to low and stir in quinoa, shredded chicken, Dijon mustard, hot sauce.

Season to taste with kosher salt, pepper, garlic salt. Stir in fresh parsley and simmer until ready to serve.  Makes 8 servings.  Enjoy! 


Garlic-Tomato Pasta (with 12 whole cloves of garlic)

Monday, February 21, 2011

I found the recipe for this garlicky piece of heaven over at Stirring the Pot, where Kim originally got it from a Mark Bittman cookbook.  Don't be intimidated by the 12 cloves of garlic...when I say "garlicky" I mean it in a nice pleasant flavorful way, not in an overwhelming way at all.  The dish was easy to make and we all unanimously agreed on a five star rating for this one.   Thank you to Kim for sharing a wonderful recipe!

Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients: 

2 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. butter
12 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup thick sliced bacon, cubed
1 can (15-ounces) crushed tomatoes, drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound ziti or penne pasta
1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
1 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, or a combo


Bring a large pot of water to boil. Combine the oil/butter, garlic, and bacon in a medium to large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the garlic becomes deep golden, nearly brown, all over, 10-15 minutes. (NOTE:  keep the heat on medium-low or the garlic will burn).

Add the drained crushed tomatoes, along with salt and pepper, to the skillet. Stir and simmer while you salt the boiling water and cook the pasta.

Drain the pasta when it is tender but firm, reserving a little of the cooking water and adding it to the sauce if it appears dry. Toss the pasta with the sauce and most of the basil, along with the cheese.

Mince the remaining basil, garnish the pasta with it, and serve.



Thai Chicken Pizza

Friday, February 18, 2011

We love Thai and Italian food at our house, so when I saw this recipe combining the two genres over at Scribbit:  Motherhood in Alaska, I knew we had to give it a try.  She said that it was a knock-off of a pizza by the same name at California Pizza Kitchen.  I’ve never had their version to say how it compared, but it was certainly a hit at our house! 

Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:
FOR SAUCE:  (or use store bought Thai peanut sauce to save time) 
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup hoisin sauce
1 Tbs. honey
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. minced ginger
2 minced garlic cloves
2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. chili sauce
1 Tbs. fish sauce (or 1 tsp. salt)
2 Tbs. water

1 Tbs. olive oil
1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 pizza crust dough
cornmeal or flour, for handling
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 green onions, slivered diagonally
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in thin slices
½ cup white bean sprouts
¼ cup shredded carrot
1 Tbs. chopped roasted peanuts
1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro


Preheat oven to 450°.

To make the sauce:  Combine sauce ingredients in a small pan over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a boil; boil gently for one minute. Divide into 2 portions for use on chicken and pizza; set aside.

To make Thai chicken: Cook the chicken in olive oil over med-high heat, stirring, until just cooked; 5 to 6 minutes do not overcook. Set aside in refrigerator until chilled through. Once chilled, coat the chicken with 1/2 cup sauce. Set aside in refrigerator.

To make the pizza: Spread 1/2 cup sauce evenly over pizza dough within the rim. Cover sauce with 1 cup cheese. Distribute half the chicken pieces over the cheese followed by the green onions, pepper strips, bean sprouts, and carrots. Sprinkle an additional 1 cup cheese over the toppings and end with 1 tablespoon chopped peanuts.
Transfer the pizza to oven; bake 18-20 minutes.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro over the hot cheesy surface.  Slice and serve warm. 



Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula Fettuccine

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This eye-catching Italian dish was only about 20 minutes to put together and was hearty and satisfying….comfort food at its best.    I got this keeper recipe from Teresa at A Blog About Food who got it from the December issue of Cooking Lite which bragged that it's only 356 calories per serving.  We served it up with some French Peasant Bread and gobbled up a double batch in no time!  

Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

1 pkg. (9-oz.) refrigerated fettuccine (I used a mix of spinach and regular fettuccine)
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 lb. Italian sausage (hot or mild according to your preference)
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 cups baby arugula leaves (or baby spinach) (chop it up if the big pieces will scare the kids off)
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan

Directions: Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt.  Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 2/3 cup cooking liquid. 

While pasta cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Remove casings from sausage.  Break sausage into bite-sized pieces and add to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently to crumble.  Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. 

Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper; cover and cook 2 minutes.  Remove cover and mash tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon to break them up.  Cover pan; reduce heat to low, and cook 3 minutes. 

Remove pan from heat.  Add pasta, reserved 2/3 cup cooking liquid, and arugula (or spinach); toss well.  Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese.  Makes 4-6 servings. 



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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