Thursday, December 31, 2009

Baked Potato Soup

This soup is so good. You'll think you're enjoying a loaded baked potato! This is a slight adaptation on a recipe I found here.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: about 1 hour
Printable Recipe

  • 4 large potatoes
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 8 cups milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 16 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, 4 slices reserved
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Clean potatoes, poke holes in them using a knife or fork, wrap in foil and place in oven. Cook until fork tender, 45 minutes or more, depending on the size of the potatoes.

3. Let potatoes cool slightly. Cut in half and scoop out potato. Keep the skins from two of the potatoes. Chop.

4. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Make a roux by adding the flour and whisking until thoroughly blended. Cook until golden.

5. Slowly add milk, garlic and salt and pepper to taste, whisking. Heat thoroughly

6. Add the potato, green onion, and potato peels to the pan. Mix well.

7. Add source cream and 12 slices of the crumbled bacon.

8. Add the cheese slowly, heating until melted. Stir well.

9. Serve in bowls topped with the reserved crumbled bacon and some more cheese if you like.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Animal footprints in the snow

It snowed just a little here Sunday night. We woke up to this.

I guess we have more animals visiting us at night than we thought!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Spicy Deep-Fried Chicken Wings

This is a slight adaption of the Neely's recipe on the Food Network. I deep fried the wings and then served them with 3 dipping sauces: Sweet Baby Ray's spicy mustard, Hidden Valley spicy ranch, and the dipping sauce in the recipe below.

These are really good, and they definitely have a kick, so beware if you are not used to spicy foods!

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 3 hours
Cook time: 45 minutes
Printable Recipe

Ingredients for the chicken and rub:

  • 2 T seasoned salt
  • 2 T crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 t black pepper
  • 4 t cayenne pepper
  • 4 t poultry seasoning
  • 2 t lemon pepper seasoning
  • 12 whole chicken wings, cut in half at the joint, tips removed

Ingredients for the batter:

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 T hot sauce
  • 2 T crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 t black pepper
  • 2 t cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Oil, for frying

1. Mix together the rub ingredients. Reserve two tablespoons, then sprinkle the remaining rub over the wings (both sides), cover, and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

2. Mix together the batter ingredients except oil and flour.

3. Bring oil to 350 degrees in fryer or Dutch oven.

4. Pour flour into pie dish.

5. Working 4-6 wings at a time (depending on the size of your fryer), dredge wings in egg dip and in flour and fry for about 8-10 minutes, turning at least once. Remove to paper towel lined baking sheet to drain. You may want to move drained wings into a low-heat oven since the deep frying process can take a while.

6. Sprinkle finished wings with reserved rub and serve with dipping sauce, below.

Ingredients for dipping sauce:

  • 2 cups light sour cream
  • 2 T horseradish
  • 1/2 t chili sauce
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper

1. Mix all ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bacon-wrapped Chicken Breasts

This is one of the simplest recipes I've made, and it is really good. How can it not be when there's lots of cream cheese involved?

We had these with fried corn and roasted asparagus. Really yummy!

Makes: 6 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 (8 0z) tub of chive & onion cream cheese
  • 1 T butter
  • 6 slices thick-cut smoked bacon

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Flatten chicken to about 1/2" thickness.

3. Spread 3 T of cream cheese over each chicken breast.

4. Put a little butter on top of the cheese and sprinkle with a little salt. Roll up the chicken and wrap with a strip (or two!) of bacon.

5. Place chicken in a greased pan, seam-side down, and back uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is done.

6. Place chicken under broiler for about 5 minutes to brown and crisp the bacon.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Even though I'm pushing 50, I've never outgrown my love of stuffed animals. I still have my Winnie The Pooh from second grade. My sweetie let me open one of my Christmas gifts early. He got me this cute squishable kitty. I love her so much and named her Puffy. If you want one of your own, go to They have all kinds of animals and they are soooo cute.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chipotle Pork Stew

Pork is so cheap these days so I bought 2 pounds of pork loin and used it to make this great chipotle pork stew. I didn't eat it as a stew, though. Instead, I put it on tortillas. It was absolutely great!

Makes: 4-6 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
Printable Recipe


  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds pork loin, cubed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (4 oz) can green chiles
  • 7 tomatillos, chopped
  • 1 T chipotle chile, minced, in adobo
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 T chili powder
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1/2 t salt

1. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add pork and brown well on all sides.

2. Add onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes to brown.

3. Stir in tomatillos, chiles, chipotles, broth and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for approximately 3 hours or until pork is very tender.

4. Serve over rice or in tortillas with guacamole and sour cream.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bacony Chicken and Rice

This recipe came from the Sweet Potato Queens' Big-Ass Cookbook, with modifications. We listened to the first SPQ audiobook a few years ago on a roadtrip. They are a riot.

The chicken comes out really tender, and the sauce over rice is great!

Makes: 3 Servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
Printable Recipe


  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 cup of rice, uncooked
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/4 t paprika
  • 1/4 t garlic salt
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cajun seasoning
  • 1 t dried parsley
  • salt

1. Preheat oven to 300 F.

2. Cover bottom of a 9 x 11 baking dish with the bacon.

3. Spread rice over bacon. Place chicken over rice and season with salt, pepper, paprika and cajun seasoning.

4. In a bowl, combine the soup, water, garlic salt, nutmeg, parsley and oregano and pour over chicken.

5. Cover pan with foil and bake for 2 hours. Check that the rice is done and serve.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Herby Purple Potatoes

These look a little different, but they were excellent! They have a nice soft interior with a perfect crunchy skin! Yummy!

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 24 oz purple potatoes
  • 6 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 T fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 T pink peppercorn, ground (I used black, but pink would definitely pop)
  • Salt
  • Lime (I omitted the lime)

1. Preheat oven to 450 F.

2. Boil the potatoes with salt until fork tender.

3. Transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet while still warm. Flatten them slightly with a potato masher.

4. Warm the olive oil with the garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.

5. Pour the oil over the potatoes. Sprinkle with rosemary, peppercorns and salt.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning over halfway through.

7. Serve warm.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Braised Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms

I can always tell when something we've made tastes great because I forget to garnish with parsley before taking any pictures.

These braised chicken thighs hit the spot on a cold night. The sauce is really good, and is loaded with lots of mushrooms, which is always a good thing.

We had them with salads and an herby purple potato dish I'll post later.

Makes: 4-6 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 1/2 hours
Printable Recipe

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 6 chicken thighs (I used boneless, skinless)
  • 1 T Bayou Blast (Emeril's Essence, see recipe below)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 2 T butter
  • 16 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 T garlic, minced
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 T fresh rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups white rice, cooked
  • 2 T fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the oil.

2. Season the chicken thighs with the Bayou Blast, salt and pepper.

3. Place the chicken in the pan (skin-side down if they are skin-on) and sear for 4 minutes. Turn over and sear another 4 minutes.

4. Remove chicken. Add butter and mushrooms to the pan and saute for about 5 minutes or until browned.

5. Add onion and garlic and saute for another 4 minutes.

6. Add the flour and blend, stirring, making a light brown rue. This will take about 5 minutes.

7. Add the tomato paste, chicken stock and rosemary. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.

8. Add chicken back to pan and cook for 30 minutes.

9. Turn chicken over and cook another 30 minutes until the chicken is done.

10. Serve over rice.

Bayou Blast Seasoning (Emeril's Essence)


  • 2 1/2 T paprika
  • 2 T salt
  • 2 T garlic powder
  • 1 T black pepper
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1 T cayenne pepper
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 1 T dried thyme

1. Mix well.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Extra Rich Cheeseburger Soup

This is a nice, creamy soup. Anita really enjoyed it. I liked it, but thought it needed a little less carrot and celery. Next time I'll halve those ingredients.

This does taste like a cheeseburger. The homemade sourdough croutons and crumbled bacon definitely topped it off right.

Makes: 8 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 4 cups potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups cheddar, cubed (I used Tillamook Sharp)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 1 t dried parsley
  • 5 slices of bacon
  • Sourdough croutons, for topping, if desired

1. In a large pot melt the butter and add all of the chopped vegetables except the potatoes and simmer over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and brown.

2. Stir in the basil, parsley, potatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are done, about 10-15 minutes.

3. In a separate pan cook 5 slices of bacon. Remove all but 2 T of the grease. Stir in the flour until well combined. Add the milk and cook until smooth.

4. Slowly add the milk mixture to the soup and stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, or turn the heat off. Add the cheese cubes and let them melt. Finally, add the sour cream and stir.

5. Serve hot topped with crumbled bacon and sourdough croutons.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cream Cheese Potato Soup

I love this soup. It is very easy to make. Supposedly, it tastes just like the soup you can buy at Panera's with the same name. I just had a bowl of it for lunch and it is even better a few days after I made it. I love the kick from the red pepper.

Makes: 4-6 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Printable Recipe


  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • 1/2 t seasoning salt
  • 1/4 t white pepper
  • 1/4 t ground red pepper
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, cut into chunks

1. Combine broth, potatoes, onion, and spices.

2. Boil on medium heat until potatoes are tender.

3. Smash a few of the potatoes to thicken the soup. (I just took a potato masher and pushed it into the pot of soup).

4. Reduce heat to low.

5. Add the cream cheese chunks and heat, stirring frequently, until cheese melts.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Cookies

I felt like baking today so I made M&M cookies and butter cookies with my new cookie press. We're having a cookie trade at work at our holiday luncheon, so it was the perfect time to test out my cookie recipes. I bought the cookie press when I was finishing up my Christmas shopping. It was a snap to use and made the cutest little cookies. I substituted Splenda sugar and Splenda brown sugar.

M&M Cookies

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes: 36 cookies

  • 1 cup Crisco shortening
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups M&M's plain chocolate candies

1. Cream together shortening and sugars until light and fluffy.

2. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.

3. Add combined flour, salt, and baking soda and mix until well combined.

4. Stir in 1/2 cup M&Ms.

5. Drop by Tbsp onto ungreased cookie sheet.

6. Press 2-3 M&Ms onto top of each cookie.

7. Bake in 375°F for 10-12 minutes.


Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 12-15 minutes
Makes: 66 cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 3-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t grated orange zest
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Cream together butter, cream cheese and sugar.

3. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla and orange zest.

4. Sift together flour, salt, and cinnamon.

5. Gradually blend flour mixture into butter mixture.

6. Fill cookie press.

7. Form cookies on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with colored sugar, if desired.

8. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Remove at once to cooling racks.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Exit 76 Anitque Mall, Edinburgh Indiana

We were in Edinburgh, Indiana, yesterday to finish up Christmas shopping at the outlet mall there. Well, ok, we shopped mostly for ourselves, truth be told.

We had to go by the Exit 76 Antique Mall. It's out favorite, with over 600 booths. I picked up a few things that I'll blog about soon. It was one of those rare times when I actually out-shopped Anita!

Anita took this pic early this morning as we were heading back home. The place wasn't open yet.

It usually takes us 3-4 hours to see every booth. The red-vested employees are always cheerful and ready to help if you need to get inside a case to look closer at an item.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Grilled Chicken Salad

I often make a huge salad just to use up everything I can find in the fridge. Tonight, it was carrots, grapes, spinach, Boston lettuce and some frisee lettuce. I grilled up some chicken from our favorite fajita recipe. Topped with some homemade croutons and a sliced avocado.

I have to admit it was a little chilly out at the grill tonight. But, never let that stop you!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mom's Hearty Lasagna

This is my mom's recipe (well, minus the hot sauce), and it is the only lasagna I'll eat now. Oh, I've tried others, but this one has always been the best.

Here it is before going into the oven.

Hot out of the oven!

Yummy! Served with a few slices of garlic bread and a fennel salad on the side. If you let the lasagna set before cutting into it it'll not fall over like mine did. I just couldn't wait to dig in!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 2 1/4 hours
Makes: 12 servings
Printable Recipe

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves (or more) garlic, minced
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 16 oz tomato sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 t dried basil
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • 1 t sugar
  • 2 cups water

Ingredients for the lasagna:

  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 16 oz ricotta
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella (or use fresh mozzarella, torn into chunks)

1. Brown the beef in a large pot. Add onion and garlic and cook another 3-5 minutes.

2. Add remaining sauce ingredients and cook for 1 1/2 hours (or more), stirring occassionally. The sauce should be nice and thick.

3. Preheat oven to 325.

4. Make lasagna noodles according to package instructions.

5. In a 9 x 11 glass pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray, layer the ingredients in the order below. You should end up with 4 layers, but if put you run out of room in your pan, 3 layers is just fine.


6. Bake for 45 minutes. Let set before serving. Well, ok, I've never been able to let it set. I just dig in!