Monday, April 12, 2010

Super-Easy Chicken Pot Pie

This chicken pot pie is very easy to make and very good! It is also inexpensive to make, since I use the very cheap but yummy little box of Jiffy pie crust mix to make this pot pie. Of course, you can use any pie crust recipe you'd like.

Super-Easy Chicken Pot Pie
pie crust for a double layer pie, any brand, homemade or store-bought
1 bag (12-16 oz) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained but not cooked
2 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 can (10.75 oz) cream of chicken soup
salt and pepper, optional
1/4 cup milk (use more if you like your pot pie filling saucier)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 in. pie plate with one of the pie crusts and prick a few times with a fork. In a bowl, combine chicken, soup, vegetables, and milk. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Pour filling into pie shell, top filling with second pie crust, prick top of crust to release steam. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is hot. (you may want to use foil strips to cover edges of pie crust so they don't brown too quickly). Makes 6 servings.

Polka Dot Cookie Bars

These bars are always a hit with kids of all ages. They look really fun and are so simple to make. Perfect for a bake sale!

Polka Dot Cookie Bars
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. (10 oz) vanilla chips, divided

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in almond extract. Add dry ingredients, mix well to combine. Set aside 1/4 cup vanilla chips, stir remaining chips into batter. Spread batter in a greased 15x10x1 in. baking pan (can also use a 13x9 in. pan but will need to bake a few minutes longer). Sprinkle top of batter with reserved chips. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool before cutting into bars. Makes 3 dozen bars.

Chocolate Creme Bundt Cake

You know the huge, very moist bundt cakes you can buy in the grocery store bakery, often called 'Creme cakes?' This recipe tastes just like them! SO easy to make, only takes minutes to throw together, and I always recieve a TON of compliments wherever I take one! My recipe is for the chocolate version, but you can definitely use different flavors of cake mix and pudding mix to create any flavor you like.

Chocolate Creme Bundt Cake
1 box (18.25 oz) chocolate cake mix
1 lg. box chocolate instant pudding mix (6-8 serving size)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1-2 cups chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except chocolate chips and blend on medium speed until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into a greased bundt cake pan or tube cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Makes 12 servings.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars

These are the best oatmeal raisin cookies I've ever had, and it's nice because by making them in bar form, you only bake them once and yield a lot of cookie bars! Perfect for kids, they are moist yet are not crumbly and travel well. You can also substitute some chocolate chips or dried cranberries in place of part or all of the raisins.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
2 cups raisins*

In a medium sized mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt and soda; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together shortening, sugars, egg, milk and vanilla. Add in flour mixture until combined. Stir in oats and raisins. Pat dough into a greased 13x9 in. or 15x10x1 in. baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 23-28 minutes (less time for the 15x10 in. pan) or until top of bars is a light golden brown color. When bars are cool, cut into squares. Makes 16-24 bars, depending on size.

* for moister raisins, soak raisins in 1 cup of very hot water for 5 minutes before using. Dry raisins and mix into cookie dough as directed. - OR - spread dry raisins on a baking sheet and bake in a 250 degree oven for 10 minutes to plump. Allow to cool for a few minutes before dropping into dough. Although it is a bit of extra work, I do one of these steps everytime I make these bars and it makes them taste SO much better!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Savory Pumpkin Soup

This recipe is so simple to make and so delicious! At first I thought pumpkin soup sounded gross, like the pumpkin would make the soup taste sweet but it doesn't at all, the chicken broth and pepper give it a savory taste instead. It reminds me a lot of the butternut squash soup I love, but it's a whole lot easier to make! This soup is perfect for an appetizer at the holidays or a delicious light lunch.

Savory Pumpkin Soup
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1-2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth
1 can (15 oz) solid pack pumpkin
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup heavy whipping cream or half and half (can also use fat-free)

In a large saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender. Remove from the heat, stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in broth, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Add cream or half and half, cook for two minutes or until heated through.
Makes 4-6 servings.

Reese Bars

These easy bars taste just like the famous peanut butter cups, in bar form! YUM!

Reese Bars
2 cups peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips, whichever you prefer

In a large saucepan, melt peanut butter and butter together. Using a wooden spoon, stir in powdered sugar, graham cracker crumbs and vanilla. Stir well to combine. Press into a 9x13 pan lined with wax paper or foil. Set in refrigerator to set. In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips and spread on top of peanut butter bars. Return to fridge to set. Once chocolate is set, pull bars out using wax paper or foil that is lining pan and cut into bars (a pizza cutter works great for this). I store these in the refrigerator, otherwise they get too soft. Makes 20-24 bars, depending on size.

Big Batch Spaghetti Sauce

Usually I won't make big batch recipes, but being that this is the most delicious spaghetti sauce I have ever tasted, I do in this case! This sauce would be perfect for a large gathering (one batch would easily feed 10-12 hungry adults) but it also freezes for 3-4 months beautifully. Just put frozen sauce in the refrigerator to dethaw for several hours, then heat in a saucepan until warm. You can also use this sauce to make other pasta dishes, lasagna and even use it as a pizza sauce. It is easy to make and SO good!

Big Batch Spaghetti Sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. bulk italian sausage
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
2 jars (4 1/2 oz. each) sliced mushrooms, drained (optional)
1 cup chopped pepperoni
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. italian seasoning
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes

In a soup kettle or dutch oven, cook ground beef, sausage, fresh minced garlic and onion over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in tomatoes, water, tomato paste, mushrooms (if using), pepperoni, parmesan cheese, sugar and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes (the longer you cook it, the better!). Serve immediately, or cool and freeze in serving-size portions. Sauce will keep frozen for 3-4 months. A guideline to use when freezing is to allow approximately 1 cup per serving. Recipe makes 11 & 1/2 cups sauce total.

Taco Seasoning

I have NO idea why I bought those little 89 cent packets of taco seasoning at the store for years, when this recipe makes the exact same stuff for pennies! Once you make this, you will never buy taco seasoning at the store again.

Taco seasoning
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes - OR - 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 & 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix all spices together. Store in an airtight container or baggie. Prepare meat as you usually do for tacos, burritos, etc. and use approximately 2 tbsp. of seasoning and 1/3 - 1/2 cup water per pound of ground beef or chicken or to taste.

'Authentic style' Mexican Rice

If you like the rice served in authentic mexican restaurants, you will love this dish. It is a cheap and easy side to make and goes well with any mexican meal. If I have leftovers, I sometimes reheat them in a skillet with taco-seasoned ground beef or soy crumbles and beans to make a cheap and filling second meal.

'Authentic style' Mexican Rice
1 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. chopped onion
1 & 1/2 cups uncooked white rice (NOT instant)
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 & 1/4 cups salsa

Heat oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Mix rice into skillet, stirring often. When rice begins to brown, stir in chicken broth, water and salsa. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed and rice is done. Makes 4-6 servings.

Easy Buttermilk Pancakes

These pancakes take only minutes to throw together, and they taste SO much better than any mix you can buy! (and much cheaper too!) They are very light and fluffy. Leftovers freeze beautifully, and can be quickly reheated in the microwave for a home-cooked breakfast in a jiffy!

Easy Buttermilk Pancakes
2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
2 & 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat a skillet or griddle over low heat. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, add wet ingredients and mix with a beater on medium speed until just combined. Pour batter onto the skillet or griddle, flip pancakes when small bubbles begin to form on top and edges appear to slightly harden. Flip pancakes and cook until golden brown. Makes 10-15 pancakes, depending on size.

Buttery Bubble Bread

This is the easiest, most foolproof bread recipe I know. Even if you think there is no way you can make homemade bread, you can make this one! This bread is great to make for company, it looks very impressive coming out of the tube pan high and golden brown. I often halve the ingredients and bake it in a smaller loaf pan or two mini loaf pans instead.

Buttery Bubble Bread
1 pkg. (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Add sugar, shortening, egg, salt and 1 cup of flour. Using a mixer on medium speed, beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning over once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Tear off pieces of dough and shape to make 1 1/2 in. balls. Dip dough balls in butter and arrange evenly in a greased 9 in. tube pan (can also use bundt pan). Drizzle with remaining butter. Cover; let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Allow bread to cool for five minutes before inverting onto a serving platter. Serve warm. Makes 1 loaf of bread, 8-12 servings.

Beef Paprika

Chris always gets very nervous when I try out new recipes on him, so I was delighted that this was a hit! This recipe can be prepared on both the stove or a crockpot, I have done it both ways and it always turns out good. It has such a wonderful and complex flavor. I like to serve it on egg noodles, but you can also use any other type of pasta or rice as well. Chris likes to use pieces of bread to soak up the's that good!

Beef Paprika
1 & 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 3/4 in. cubes
1 tbsp. oil
2 small onions, thinly sliced or chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 & 1/2 cups water, divided
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 & 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 & 1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
dash cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
hot cooked egg noodles

In a large saucepan, brown beef in oil on all sides. Add onion and garlic, cook until onion is tender. Add 1 cup water, ketchup, brown sugar, paprika, worcestershire sauce, salt, mustard, and cayenne pepper; mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until beef is tender. (You can also put mixture in a crockpot and cook on low for 3-4 hours instead)
Combine flour and remaining 1/2 cup water until smooth; gradually stir into stew. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. (If I have the mixture in a crockpot instead, I add the flour/water mix and heat the crock in the microwave for a minute at a time, stirring well after each minute until mixture is thickened). Serve over noodles. Makes 4 servings.

Chocolate cream pie

I love that I can make this pie with inexpensive, basic ingredients I already have in my pantry. This pie is delicious..a true southern favorite! (I am from Kentucky, after all!)

Chocolate Cream Pie
1 & 1/3 cups sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. butter
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 (9 in) pie shell, baked
cool whip, whipped cream, or meringue for topping

In a deep saucepan, combine sugar, flour and cocoa. Beat egg yolks and milk and add to cocoa mixture. Cook on medium heat until thick while stirring with a wooden spoon. When thick, remove mixture from heat and stir in butter until melted. Pour filling into baked pie shell. Allow to cool in refrigerator. Top cooled pie with meringue, whipping cream, or cool whip, whatever you prefer to top it. (I go the easy way out and use cool whip!) Chill until serving. Store in the refrigerator. Serves 8.