Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Years Ideas

Printable hats from Ellinee
Printable DIY New Year's Eve Paper Hats
2013 Printable from Teachers Pay Teachers
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New Years Sparklers from Lil' Luna
Subway Art from Eighteen25
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Video idea from How Does She Do
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We did this last year and plan to make it an annual tradition.  It will be fun to watch how the answers change as the kids get older!
Ask these questions each year:
1. What is your name?
2. How old are you?
3. What is your mom’s name?
4. What does your mom do during the day?
5. What is your dad’s name?
6. What does your dad do during the day?
7. What is your favorite color?
8. What is your favorite thing to eat? (what don’t you like to eat?)
9. Who are your friends?
10. What is your favorite song? Can you sing it for me?
11. What is your brother/sister’s name? (this is fun when they can't pronounce it correctly yet)
12. What is your favorite place to go?
13. What is your favorite thing to do?
14. What do you like about your Mommy? (Daddy, sister, etc.)
15. What do you want to be when you grow up?
16. What is your favorite book?
17. What does (sister/brother) like to do?

Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Risotto

4 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth, plus extra for moistening, as neededlow-sodium chicken broth4
1 cup canned pure pumpkincanned pumpkin puree1
4 slices applewood smoked bacon, choppedapplewood smoked bacon4
2 tablespoons butterbutter2
1 leek (white and pale green part), thinly slicedleek1
2 teaspoons kosher saltkosher salt2
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thymefresh thyme1
1 ½ cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white ricearborio rice1 ½
2/3 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigiodry white wine0.6600
½ cup freshly grated Parmesanparmesan cheese½
⅓ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsleyflat-leaf parsley
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepperfreshly ground black pepper¼
¼ teaspoon (generous) freshly grated nutmegnutmeg¼
1 ½ cup coarsely crumbled soft fresh goat cheese (about 6 ounces)
Whisk together the broth and the pumpkin in a heavy medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low to keep the pumpkin broth warm.

Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel with a slotted spoon to drain.

Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook until almost tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the thyme. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until completely absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the pumpkin broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to absorb before adding the next. Cook until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite, and the mixture is creamy, 20 to 25 minutes, adding additional warm broth by 1/4 cupfuls if risotto is dry. Mix in the Parmesan, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, the remaining salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from the heat. Add more salt to taste.

Divide the risotto among 6 shallow bowls. Sprinkle each with the bacon, goat cheese and remaining parsley and serve.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Polenta Crusted Shrimp with Mustard and Herb Mayonnaise

Mustard and Herb Mayonnaise:

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Polenta Crusted Shrimp:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups polenta
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail-on
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt, for sprinkling
To make the Mustard and Herb Mayonnaise:

In a medium bowl combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, dill and chives. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the Polenta Crusted Shrimp:

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 475 degrees F. Cover a heavy-duty baking sheet with aluminum foil. Combine the flour, sea salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the beaten eggs into another small bowl. Mix together the polenta, paprika and thyme in a medium bowl. Working in batches, dredge the shrimp in the flour. Shake off any excess flour. Dip the flour-dredged shrimp into the eggs and then coat with the polenta mixture. Drizzle the shrimp, on both sides, with the olive oil. Place the shrimp on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 to12 minutes until crisp and golden. Sprinkle with the kosher salt.

Serve immediately with the Mustard and Herb Mayonnaise.

Source: Giada De Laurentiis

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Decorating Ideas

Not sure on the sources on all of these, but love them all!
Pumpkin Turned Into Snowman
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Make Ahead Sunday: Quick White Chicken Chili

If you've never tried hominy before it's surprisingly good.  It adds a great texture to this soup and also acts as natural thickener.

  • 2 cups rottiserie chicken or poached chicken breast (shredded or cubed)
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oile
  • medium jalapeno chile, finely chopped
  • anaheim chilies, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14 oz can white hominy
  • cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • avocado, sliced to garnish
Heat olive oil in large sauce pan.  Add onion, garlic and pepper.  Saute until tender (~7 minutes).  Add chicken, broth and hominy.  Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.  Add lime juice and cilantro then season with salt and pepper.  Serve in bowls and garnish with avocado.
Based on recipe from America's Test Kitchen.

Farfalle with Chicken, Spinach and Broccoli

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 lb farfalle pasta
1-2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup parmesan

Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water for later use.  Melt butter in saucepan over medium high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Sear chicken - place in saucepan with melted butter, flip after 3-4 minutes when it develops color, do not move until then.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add garlic and broccoli to pan over medium heat and saute for 3-5 minutes.  Add cream and lemon.  Simmer until slightly thickened ~5 minutes.  Combine with cooked pasta, chicken, spinach and cheese.  Season with salt and pepper and toss. 

Tortellini Soup with Sausage & Spinach

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage, castings removed
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
20 oz package fresh cheese tortellini
3 cups baby spinach
parmesan and chopped parsley (for garnish)

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat and add sausage.  Once fully browned, add onion, garlic and bay.  Cook until softened - about 7 minutes, stirring frequently.  Deglaze pan with a small amount of brown, scraping up all brown bits.  Then add add remaning broth and tortellini.  Bring to a boil and cook 7 minutes.  Add in spinach.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve in bowls topped with parmesan and chopped parsley.

Holiday Baking: Roasted Pecan Candy

3 Tbsp butter
3 cups pecans
12 oz dark chocolate bark candy

Melt butter in saucepan.  Stir in pecans to coat.  Pour onto a baking sheet.  Bake on 300 for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes.  Melt chocolate over low heat in a saucepan.  Mix in pecans.  Spoon 1 Tbsp bites onto parchment or wax paper and allow to cool until hard. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Holiday Baking: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

My mom also made these every year.  They are to die for.

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup boiling water plus 1/2 cup for yeast
2 eggs, beaten
1 package yeast - disolved in 1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups flour

Pour 3/4 cup boiling water over butter and sugar.  Stir to melt butter and disolve sugar.  Allow to cool to luke warm then mix in all other ingredients.  Mix to form a dough and knead until smooth (about 10 minutes).  I actually use dough setting on my breadmaker for this.  Once smooth, place in large bowl and cover with cloth to rise 1 1/2 hours.  I place it in the oven or stovetop to rise.  Using flour and rolling pin, role to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. 

6 Tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp cinnamon

Mix all to form paste.  Spread over dough evenly.  Then roll and cut into 1" strips.  Place in 3 round greased baking dishes (~8 rolls per pan).  Cover with cloth and let rise 1 additional hour.  Bake at 350 15-20 minutes.

4 Tbsp butter
1/2 box powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp milk

Melt butter in saucepan.  Add in vanilla and milk then slowly whisk in sugar.  Whisk until all lumps are gone and it's smooth.  Pour over warm rolls.

Holiday Baking: Brittle Cookies

Everyone has a treat that reminds them of the holidays.  Here's one of mine.  My mom made them every year, only at Christmas (which is a good thing considering how much I love them!).

40 saltine crackers
1 cup butter (no substitutes)
1 cup brown sugar
12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat over to 350.  Line a 11x16 baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange crackers in one layer.  Heat butter and sugar in small saucepan over medium high heat until bubbly.  Stir frequently until you've formed a carmel sauce - takes about 3 minutes.  Pour over the crackers.  Bake at 350 for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and straighten crackers with fork.  Sprink with chocolate chips and allow to melt.  Spread with a butter knife until smooth then top with nuts.  Place in refrigerator to cool then cut into squares.  Store in refrigerator.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Food Ideas

Adorable wreath appetizer made of rosemary and olives (source unknown)
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Rudolph Pancakes from Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons
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Snowman Pizza from Delia Creates
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Mint Chocolate Bark from Browneyed Baker
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Santa Hat Brownie Bites from Daisy World
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Powdered Sugar Donut Snowmen (source unknown)
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Pasta


  • 1 pound penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 (10-ounce) box frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted, quartered, pat dry
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  •  3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 slightly rounded tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups white cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3-4 cups fresh baby spinach
Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium to medium-high heat and add the shallots and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add the artichokes and cook until they are lightly brown. Add the wine to deglaze the pan.  Add the butter. When melted, whisk in the flour for 1 minute or so, then whisk in the milk and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, adjust the seasonings and stir in the cheeses. Combine the sauce with the spinach and pasta.  Store for make ahead or serve immediately.
Adapted based on original recipe by Rachael Ray.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Make Ahead Sunday: Ancho Chicken Tacos

  • 4 dried ancho chiles
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 can (20 oz.) sliced pineapple with its own juice (no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 lbs. bone in chicken breasts
  • 1 package coleslaw mix (cabbage, carrot)
  • cilantro chopped
  • corn tortillas
  • avocado, sliced
  • cheese (feta, goat or cojita)
  1. Tear the chiles into pieces; discard the stems and seeds. Boil water in a pot.  Remove from heat, add chiles and cover.  Let soak until tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer the chiles and 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid to a blender. Add 2 pineapple slices, 1/4 cup pineapple juice, the orange juice, onion, brown sugar, cumin, 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Blend until smooth; transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Coat chicken with marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for a least 3 hours or overnight.
  3. Transfer the chicken and marinade to a large slow cooker. Cover; cook on high until the chicken is tender, about 3 1/2 hours.
  4. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Pour the juices and marinade into a 1-qt. glass measuring cup; let stand until the fat rises to the top. Skim the fat from the juices. Transfer the juices to a medium saucepan; simmer until reduced to 1 cup. Using 2 forks, shred the meat. Discard the skin and bones.
  5. Add the chicken to the reduced chile juices; cook until heated through. Warm the tortillas. Place about 1/4 cup chicken on each tortilla. Top with slaw, cilantro, avocado and cheese.

Adapated based on recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Creamy Dijon Chicken with Rice Pilaf

After all of the holiday eating, I was craving something fresh and healthy.  We have green beans and spinach in the garden right now so this hit the spot.

  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup broken spaghetti pieces
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups chicken stock, divided
  • 1/4 pound haricots verts (thin green beans), stemmed and halved
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 6-ounce pieces skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the pasta; cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the rice; season with salt and pepper. Stir in 2 1/4 cups stock, cover, lower the heat and simmer until tender, about 18 minutes. Remove from heat, add green beans and replace cover to steam.  Fluff with a fork.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook, turning once, until golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
To the same skillet, add the remaining butter. Cook over medium-high heat until foaming, then add the shallots and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 3/4 cup stock, crème fraîche, spinach, parsley and mustard.
Slice the chicken and add to the sauce in the pan. Stir in the green beans. Serve with the pilaf.

Adapted based on recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Salmon with Lime & Avocado

salmon fillets
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lime
1 avocado
Cilantro for garnish, if desired

Preheat broiler.  Season salmon with salt, pepper and olive oil.  Place on baking sheet and broil 7-11 minutes, depending on desired cooking level. Garnish with avocado and sprinkle with lime juice. 

Mexican Potato Gratin

  • 4 fresh poblano peppers
  • 4-5 large potatoes (russet or gold), thinly sliced using food processor or mandoline
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cup monterrey jack cheese
Turn oven on broil.  Cut chiles in half and remove seeds.  Place on baking sheet skin side up and roast 15-20 minutes until skin is charred.  Use tongs to add to a zip lock bag.  Seal to steam skin off for 5-30 minutes.  Remove skin and chop.
In 9x13 baking dish, layer casserole as follows:
cooking spray
1/4 potatoes
season with s&p
1/3 chiles and cilantro
Repeat to form 3 layers and end with remaining potatoes. 
Mix together stock and cream.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour over potatoes.  Bake in oven at 425 covered for 1 hour.  Remove cover, top with cheese and bake ~20 additional minutes until cheese is bubbly. 
Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes and serve.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Make Ahead Sunday: Sausage, Cheese and Basil Lasagna

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion (do not drain)

  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1 15-ounce container plus 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles from one 8-ounce package
  • 3 cups (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • Nonstick olive oil spray
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausages, onion, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper and sauté until sausage is cooked through, mashing sausage into small pieces with back of fork, about 10 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes with juices. Bring sauce to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled.)
Using on/off turns, chop fresh basil leaves finely in processor. Add ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Using on/off turns, process filling until just blended and texture is still chunky.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread 1 1/4 cups sauce in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles on sauce. Drop 1 1/2 cups filling over noodles, then spread evenly to cover. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering of sauce, noodles, filling and cheeses 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 noodles. Spoon remaining sauce atop noodles. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Spray large piece of foil with nonstick olive oil spray. Cover lasagna with foil, sprayed side down.
Bake lasagna 40 minutes. Carefully uncover. Increase oven temperature to 400°F. Bake until noodles are tender, sauce bubbles thickly and edges of lasagna are golden and puffed, about 20 minutes. Transfer to work surface; let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Source: Bon Appetit Magazine, Feb 2000

Spicy Parmesan Potatoes

4 large russed potatotoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
sea salt to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 425.  Coat potatoes with oil, salt and pepper.  Spead on roasting pan and roast 45-60 minutes until crispy, turning mid way.  Toss with cheese and basil.  Serve immediately.

Pesto Gravy for Rottiserie Chicken

2 Tbsp basil pesto
Drippings and broth from 1 rottiserie chicken (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp cornstarch

Mix all and simmer 5 minutes.  Drizzle over sliced rottiserie chicken.