January 26, 2015

Chicken Tortilla Soup

You must run, not walk, to your kitchen and make this soup.  It is delicious.  I made this for our lunch today.    I absolutely love soup, and a broth based soup can be low in calories as well as warm, yummy and satisfying!

This chicken tortilla soup has carrots, tomatoes, black beans, corn, onion, and chicken breast tenderloins.  So it is healthy, as well.   All this goodness in one bowl of soup!
Oftentimes when I make soup, I think of the Seinfeld episode, The The Soup Nazi.   Pretty funny.

Here's how I did it:

Chicken Tortilla Soup:

1 lb. chicken breast tenderloins
1 - 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with jalapeƱos and tomato juice
1 -  15 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup of frozen whole kernel corn
1 cup of carrots, diced
1/4 sweet onion, diced
1 - 32-ounce box of chicken broth
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 heaping teaspoon of garlic powder
1 heaping teaspoon of cumin

For garnish:

Tortilla Strips
sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place chicken on a foil lined sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Lowry's Chicken and Poultry Rub.  Place in a 350 degree oven and bake 25 minutes or until done.  Let the chicken cool and cut into bite size pieces.

In a soup pot, add diced tomatoes, black beans, corn, carrots, onion, chicken broth, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and chicken.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

Ladle soup into soup bowls and add a dollop of sour cream and tortilla strips.

Serve to family and friends!


January 19, 2015

Granny Square Love

This sweet granny square blanket was a long time in the making, but it was really, really worth it.  I'm not 100 percent sure where I first saw it, but I think it was probably here.  If you like beautiful crochet and beautiful photographs of crochet as well as other inspiring images, this blog is well worth a visit.  

The pattern can be found in Cute & Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench.

I used Filatura Lanarota Cool Cotton DK, which I purchased at Smiley's Yarns.  This is a really nice cotton yarn.  The colors are beautiful, and right now it is only .99 cents.  WOW -- however, you have to order a minimum of $50.

I prefer cotton to wool, as I find wool itchy.  This blanket is rather heavy but consequently is very warm.  I use it every night.  It is as good as a warm, comfy quilt.

There are 432 squares that make up this blanket.  It is a lot of fun to see it come together.  However, there are a lot of ends to sew in.  

It is called the "Springtime Throw", and the sweet pastels do remind me of spring.

January 12, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookies

In August around the same time as the Minnesota State Fair, I saw a segment by Steve Hartman on the CBS News about Martha Olson, who bakes and sells homemade chocolate chip cookies at the Minnesota State Fair and grosses well in excess of $2 million.  What a dream come true!!  

I searched the internet about these chocolate chip cookies and found this copy cat recipe.  

Chocolate Chip Cookies are my favorite.  I have made a bazillion chocolate chip cookies in my life and eaten just about as many!

   I usually use a ice cream scoop and make a large cookie, but for these cookies, I used a standard cookie scoop.  These cookies get just the right amount of crunch on the edges and are soft and chewy in the center.  Of course, they are best served warm.  I never bake the whole recipe at once.  I just put the cookie dough in the refrigerator and cover it with plastic wrap and bake a few at a time so they are warm, soft, and gooey when we want one.

This is how I did it:

2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cup bread flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 cups butter - room temperature
2 large eggs 
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar 
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 12 - ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, sift all dry ingredients.  Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer), cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add in eggs one at a time beating after each addition.  Add vanilla and mix.  Add dry ingredients one-third at a time to wet ingredients incorporating between each add-in.  Don't over mix.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F.  (I used a standard cookie scoop.  To make them smaller, divide that amount in half.)  Place cookie dough balls onto a baking sheet.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

(Adapted from the copy cat recipe linked above.)

Serve to family and friends!

January 4, 2015

Sticky Buns

I made sticky buns for Cudjoe and I for breakfast yesterday morning.  They were YUMMY!  
I  was lazing around one day this past week recovering not just from Christmas week but the whole month of December, and I watched an episode of the Barefoot Contessa where she made sticky buns, something she sold at her Barefoot Contessa store.   I had everything I needed to make them except for raisins, but I had Craisins!

What you will need:

1 1/2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of pecans, chopped

1 Package  (2 sheets of Puff Pastry), defrosted
2 Tablespoons of melted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
Craisins or Raisins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper and place a 12 cup muffin pan on top of parchment paper.

Beat together 1 1/2 cups of butter and 1/3 cup of brown sugar with an electric mixer.  Place one tablespoon of butter and brown sugar mixture into each muffin cup and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Place a sheet of Puff Pastry on a floured wood cutting board.  Brush pastry with melted butter.  Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of brown sugar, some cinnamon and some craisins.  I did not measure the cinnamon or craisins.  I just "eyeballed" it.  Roll the Puff Pastry tightly jelly roll style.  Cut into six pieces and place on top of brown sugar mixture in the muffin tin and press down a little bit.  Repeat this process one more time.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes and then dump onto your parchment paper and let cool.   (Mine did not dump out without help.  I had to use a spoon to help them along.)  (When I make these again, I will use Raisins instead of Craisins.) 

Serve to family and friends!  


January 1, 2015

Black Eyed Peas and Happy New Year!

My childhood home was one block from my grandparent's home.  I would walk from my house to their house.   Everyone, friends and family, always used the back door.  As a matter of fact, my grandmother had a sign that hung on her back door that said "Back Door Guests are Always Best".   When I would enter through her back door, I would be met with the familiar aroma of something delicious cooking on her 1940's gas stove.  I spent a lot of time at their house, and a lot of time in my grandmother's kitchen watching her cook for herself and my grandfather.  She was a wonderful cook, and I think like most good cooks, she found great pleasure in doing it. 

I had ham left over from Christmas, and I put the peas and the ham in a crockpot and cooked them all day today.  As I was preparing them this morning, I fondly remembered how they would eat black eyed peas on a plate - not in a bowl - and thought it would be a great New Year's Day blog post.  My grandfather always used a regular sized plate for every meal, and my grandmother always used a salad plate.  I often eat on a salad plate myself.  Smaller portions, you know.

This is such an easy meal to fix just like anything you do in a Crockpot.  I did a quick soak of the peas this morning according to the directions on the package.  I placed the peas in a crockpot with a package of black eyed peas, one medium sized onion (diced), one-half jalapeƱo pepper (diced), salt, pepper, and covered the peas with water and cooked in the Crockpot on low all day.  (I did cook the peas on high for a few hours,)

That's all there is to it.  Easy, comforting, old-fashioned cooking.