Friday, September 30, 2011

Mozzarella Chicken


This recipe comes from the Worldwide Ward Cookbook. It originates in Tennessee. The picture isn’t the most beautiful, but it is delicious!

I got home from grocery shopping without much time to think about what was for dinner. I’m sure that sounds familiar to many out there. I had bought a large amount of fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts. I split what I had into three portions. Two of the portions I put in zip-lock bags with different dressings (Catalina and Italian) so they could marinate for later meals.

Then I was still left with the decision of what I should make for that night. After a hard day I was in need of something super easy that would pretty much cook itself. I flipped through my mental cookbook, then browsed a couple on my real shelf. That’s when I came across this one. It’s a keeper.

4-6 chicken breasts
2  - 10.75 oz cans cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 – 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 cups bread crumbs (I used crushed Club crackers)
3 Tbsp. butter (optional, I didn’t use it)

1. Arrange your chicken in a 9x13 pan. Spread your soup directly over the top of the chicken. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the soup, and then sprinkle the bread crumbs over the cheese.

2. (Optional) Chop the butter in little pieces and dot it around the bread crumbs. You can also melt the better and pour it over the bread crumbs.

3. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Make sure to check your temperature though. The recipe said you could start with frozen chicken, but I don’t know how much I trust that. It’s easy enough to thaw your meat. If you want to try it you can though.

Would be good with rice, mashed potatoes, toast, or noodles.

Looking back I wish I had pounded my chicken out a little. Mine were extremely thick and probably would have cooked faster/more evenly if I had. I’ll look into that some more.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Thank you Mom for sharing your pickle recipe. Love you!

There is NOTHING like a homemade pickle. Store-bought pickles just don’t cut it. I ran out of my stored homemade pickles a couple of months ago, but didn’t think I would have the chance to bottle more this summer. Luckily someone from town had some extra that they were willing to share.


Freshly picked Cucumbers (6 lbs)
3 quarts vinegar
3/4 cup canning salt
3/4 tsp alum

1. Prepare your clean jars by putting some of your dill in each. You need a couple of sticks along with a good amount of seeds (probably about a tsp).

2. Prepare your cucumbers by washing and scrubbing them to get the dirt and prickles off. Then put them into your jars. Once your jars are full you can put one or two cloves of garlic in each.

3. Boil your water along with the vinegar, salt (Canning salt helps your pickles stay crisp), and alum. Pour over the top of your cucumbers. Wipe the lips of your jars and put your prepared lids on.

4. Process for 20 minutes.

Pickles need to sit for 6-8 weeks so they can absorb the flavor. It will be worth the wait!

*Prepare your lids by washing. Then put them in a pot of water that never quite reaches boiling. They need to be in there long enough to get hot to the touch. 3-5 minutes should do it.

You will probably also need to make extra water.You could cut it into 3rds pretty easily. You will need at least one batch of water for about 7 quarts of pickles. It will depend on how well you pack your cucumbers in there.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Café Rio Chicken

Cafe Rio Chicken

I hate to say that I’ve never actually had Café Rio chicken, but I haven’t. Because of that I can’t tell you how true the name of the chicken is to the original. Someone with that knowledge will have to let me know.

This really was a great recipe though. I am always up for an easy recipe (especially crockpot). Thanks to my friend Katelyn for passing this one on to me!

1 cup Italian dressing
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili pepper
3 cloves minced garlic
4 chicken breasts, thawed

1. Pour your Italian dressing into your crockpot. Stir in your spices and garlic. Make sure everything is mixed well. Add your chicken and turn over a couple of times to ensure that everything is coated well.
2. Cook 6-7 hours on low. Make sure to check the temperature of your meat!

I’ve been looking into some different food safety and cooking tips when it comes to using a Crockpot. I found a couple of good articles that are very worth checking out. I learned a few important tips and was reminded of things that I had forgotten.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sorry for the Break

I hope you'll forgive me for being absent. It was a crazy week/weekend! I did a bunch of canning/bottling on Tuesday and Wednesday, my son got sick Wed. night, we were cleaning and organizing our house for possible sale, and then everyone else got sick Friday night. We all had to kind of veg out for the rest of the weekend. We are all feeling much better now and I should now be able to kick it into gear again. Enjoy the two gems below! :)

Bottling Chunky Salsa

I am a huge salsa fan! It is sad to admit, but I could sit down and eat a whole bottle of Pace salsa by myself in one sitting. I try and control myself, but sometimes I can't help it. Now you know my Achilles Heel. Growing up my mom would bottle salsa every couple of years. Some years were great batches, others were a little funky... Since I've moved out of the house I haven't really had much of the homemade bottled stuff. We'll play around with fresh a few times each summer, but I think the last batch of funky salsa made my mom give up on pleasing us.

Last year my sister in law made some awesome salsa. I've had the pleasure of trying it a few times while I've been over at her house. It is delicious! This year I asked her if I could get her recipe for it. She gladly shared. Thanks Laura! :) (This is a modified recipe from

*Note - This recipe makes about 1 quart. It is easily multiplied and can be used to make a huge batch. You can estimate how many times you want to multiply it by how many tomatoes you have, or jars you want to make. You can also adjust the heat by adding (or subtracting) jalapenos. This recipe is mild.

3 cups tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I like to chop them in advance and put them in the fridge, then drain the juice off in order to make the salsa more chunky)
3/4 cup white onion, chopped (I used my Food Chopper)
3-4 jalapenos (or 3-4 Tbsp. chopped jalapenos) (I used my Manual Food Processor).
* WEAR GLOVES when handling jalapenos! Also, do NOT touch your face at all. Be careful!
3 cloves garlic, minced (or 3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt (you can use canning salt if you want your color to stay extra bright)
1/3 cup vinegar

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Put into hot jars and process in water bath canner or steam canner for 20 minutes.

Tips: Pretty much everything can be chopped in advance. That way it's easy to start and stop as you need to.

Caramels (No Fail)

This recipe was found in "Our Best Bites". It is awesome!!!

Anyone who knows my family really well knows that we enjoy making candy. We have a few old family recipes that are pretty popular in our small town. There is nothing like a taffy pull to get you in the mood for Halloween. One thing that has always evaded us, well me at least, is a good caramel recipe. I have always been secretly (or not so secretly) looking for a good one. My last attempt at making them didn't turn out so hot. In fact it was pretty much a failure. That was about 6 years ago. Don't get me wrong, they tasted GREAT!, but my roommates and I ate the caramel by scooping it out of the pan with a spoon. It would then slowly, but fast enough you could see, mush back together to make it look like there had never been a scoop taken out. I either haven't been brave enough to try again, or I just didn't think I had the right recipe yet.

As I was looking through this cookbook the words 'so easy and forgiving' stood out to me. I decided it was worth a try. :)

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups light corn syrup
2 cups of heavy whipping cream, divided
2 tsp vanilla

1. Combine butter, sugar, corn syrup, and 2 cup whipping cream in a large, heavy stockpot (Go big, I thought my pot was big enough and ended up needing to transfer it into another. Give yourself plenty of space. The candy boils up quite a ways).Cook over medium-low heat, stirring gently, until sugar dissolves.

2. Turn heat to medium and cook until candy thermometer reaches 224 degrees, stirring occasionally. Stir in the remaining 1 cup whipping cream. Continue to cook over medium heat until thermometer registers 245 degrees (soft ball stage). Add vanilla.

3. Pour mixture into a greased 9x13 pan. Cool overnight and then cut into squares. Wrap individually in wax paper.

To be able to get that candy out of the pan more easily you can layer two pieces of wax paper in the pan before you pour the caramel in. Then after it is cooled you can simply lift the caramels out and cut them more easily.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Taco Soup!

I had a hankering for some Taco soup the other day. It was probably the big thunderstorm and the buckets of rain. Or it could be that I'm just super excited for Fall to be here! I love cold weather and I especially love all of the foods that are directly related and linked to the season!

I did something a little different with my soup today that turned out pretty good (if I do say so myself, and I do). I tried it on my husband. He approved. So I took it to my parents' house and made them and my siblings try it. They also liked it. I have a brother that is a pretty picky eater. He didn't even want to try it, but I twisted his arm (not literally). He had one spoonful and admitted that it was good. His excuse for not eating was that he already had the bread out for the PB&J that he was going to make. Weirdo. It was good. So... statistics say 7 out of 7 like it (but only 6 will eat a bowl).

2 quart bottles of tomatoes (you could also do canned stewed tomatoes)
4 cans of assorted beans (I used red, kidney, black, and pinto)
1 bag of freezer corn (canned would work also), thawed
1 red bell pepper, diced.
1 lb of cooked hamburger
2 cups of water
1 envelope of Hidden Valley Fiesta Ranch

1. I started by putting my tomatoes in the crock pot, undrained. Next went the beans. Make sure to drain them into a colander and then rinse them really really well. Then comes the corn, pepper, and your cooked hamburger. When you add your water judge according to your crock pot. I just added the water until I was happy with the height. You don't want it too full. After you get the height you want then add the ranch envelope. Stir everything well to mix it around.

2. Start your crock pot out on high until it gets up to temperature. Once I saw it was bubbling, I went ahead and dropped it down to low. Where everything cooked (or didn't need to be) you are really just needing to warm it and let the flavors simmer around. I did 3 hours on high and then it probably was on low for 2. We did eat a little after the 3 though.

3. Serve with your favorite toppings. We had tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese, and olives.

*If you didn't notice I've used this Ranch packet before. It is one of my new favorites. I love the extra kick that it gives to stuff, but in this case I love having that kick with a touch of ranch. It worked out great!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Peach Crisp (or Apple, or whatever)

This is an adjusted recipe from 'The Worldwide Ward Cookbook' (great investment!). I was kind of having a rough day yesterday. Even though I have told myself I am not going to use food as a 'comfort' , I still did/do.

I had some peaches that were kindly given to me by my parents. We live in an area that is VERY famous for it's peaches. Just last week we celebrated 'Peach Days'. We have a restaurant called 'Peach City', and our LDS Temple that is currently being built has peach blossoms in the stone work. Peaches are important to us. :)

Anyway, this is a great recipe that just seems to push your sorrows out of the way and lift your spirits. It is great served warm with a little milk over it, or whipped cream, or ice cream. You could always eat it all by itself too.

I didn't have as many peaches as this calls for. So I ended up picking a smaller pan, and I saved half of the crumble to do something with later. It worked out great. Anyway, on to the recipe!

10-12 medium peaches (or apples, or whatever) peeled and cubed
3 Tbsp. Flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp lemon juice (I omitted this because I didn't have any and it was still good)
3 cups of flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup butter, melted

1. Place the peaches in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the 3 Tbsp. flour, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice until peaches are thoroughly coated. Pour peach mixture into a 9x13-inch pan. Set aside.

2. Stir together the 3 cups of flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and stir until the mixture is completely incorporated. (I ended up using my hands a little to really get it mixed) Crumble the topping mixture over the peaches.

3. Back at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

I've done this recipe with apples too. Both ways are delicious. While fresh fruit always adds a special flavor and texture, this would be equally delicious with canned/bottled fruit. Give it a try. It's way easy and VERY worth it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baked Cheesy Macaroni

This recipe was AMAZING!!! Once the smell of the cheeses started wafting through my house I was pretty much dancing around. It smelled so good I couldn't help but brag about it on Facebook... :) We didn't really get a chance to eat it right after it got done because we had someone coming over minutes after it was coming out of the oven (bad timing on my part). Anyway, this really was a good one!

3/4-1lb of pasta (I used macaroni, but a lot of other options would work too), cooked
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 cup sour cream
6 oz of provolone cheese, grated (mine was in slices so I just tore it up to spread it around)
6 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated (I couldn't find this so I actually used a a mixture of pre-shredded Romano, Parmesan, and Asiago)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. You can grease your pan if you are worried about things sticking. I didn't and was fine.

2. In a large bowl, mix together your pasta, spaghetti sauce, and your sour cream. In another bowl mix your cheeses and set aside. Take your 9x13 pan and spread half of your pasta mixture on the bottom of it. Next sprinkle half of the cheese mixture on top of the pasta. Then repeat.

3. Bake for 30 minutes without covering.

Mmm.... so good. Hubby and I decided that it would be good with olives. No matter what you put on it, it would be wonderful! You could easily mix in some veggies and it would still be great. I'm so glad I have leftovers!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Good vs. Bad

good eaterbad eater

I have two very different children when it comes to eating. My little girl will eat everything (really!). I have yet to see her spit anything out. I’m the one that has to dig the things she isn’t supposed to have out (woodchips, rocks, bugs, etc.). My son, on the other hand, won’t eat hardly anything. The only things I can get him to eat without having to force feed him are chicken nuggets (and sometimes that’s a stretch), cereal, chips/crackers, and of course goodies.

My son’s automatic response to any food offering is generally a resounding “NO!”. I’ve been able to at least change that to a “No, thank you,” recently. It’s a lot easier to listen to, but it’s still irritating that he won’t accept food. When we offer things that he knows he likes he will eventually think about it a little and ask for it.

Tonight his choice was to
A. Eat Spaghetti or
B. Go to Bed.

After throwing a fit for 30 minutes, I decided for him and put him in his room. I told him he could come back out if he was going to eat his spaghetti. He’s come out a couple of times claiming he was ready, but in the end has just cried, gagged, and ended up back in his room.

I’m ready for help. I’m planning on doing a lot of research on different parenting sites, but I’m also interested in learning what has worked for you. I am one that in the past has said that it was okay for him to be picky, he’d grow out of it, he’s still a healthy kid and I can give him a vitamin to fill in the gaps, if he isn’t hungry he must be okay, it’s not worth it if he is going to make himself puke over it, etc. Let me know your opinion please (in a nice way). I kind of feel like I’m doing everything wrong when it comes to mealtime. If I follow one person’s advice I feel like I’m going against another’s.

Feeding the Picky Eater: 17 Tips
When Your Toddler Doesn’t Want to Eat

Addition later:
So I kind of gave in. I knew he was hungry and I wasn’t going to give him milk unless he ate something good (he tends to get full on milk and not be hungry). I told him he could eat some chicken if he’d like. He said yes. So I dished his plate up with a handful of popcorn chicken, a couple spoonfuls of mandarin oranges, and some of the spaghetti. He still won’t touch the spaghetti, but he ate the chicken and oranges.

Vegetable Spaghetti

When making my weekly menu, I like to plan for one meatless meal. I usually will do 'Breakfast for Dinner' and use eggs as my protein. As I was thinking about this the other day I decided I wanted to try and figure out some more meatless ideas. The first idea that popped into my head was some spaghetti. This was my first attempt. :)

1 bottle of Spaghetti Sauce
Fresh Mushrooms
Garlic Seasoning

1. My noodles were already made from another night. That was helpful. When storing noodles make sure you add a little olive oil to help preserve them and make them easier to work with. All I had to do was reheat them in the microwave right before I was ready to eat and stick them on the plate.

2. Put your Spaghetti sauce in a medium saucepan and start warming it on medium heat. Start cutting up your vegetables (hardest first, so in this case, carrots) and add them to your sauce as they are cut. I cut my carrots with my Food Chopper . It made the process pretty quick. My broccoli was cut into small florets. With my mushrooms I took the stems off and sliced them, then cut the mushroom tops in half and sliced the rest of the way. Bite-size pieces work great, but make them thin enough that they cook through quickly.

3. Once everything was cooked to the tenderness I wanted I seasoned the sauce with some Garlic Seasoning from Pampered Chef. Start with a small amount and taste your sauce. You don't want it overpowering your flavors. If more is needed go for it.

4. Pour your sauce over your heated noodles and serve with some Parmesan. Freshly grated is always great, but the other stuff would be okay too.

This would also work great as a side dish along with a serving of meat. It would taste good with ground meat in it also. Lots of options. Enjoy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Aunt Nola's Brownies

I live in the same small town that I grew up in. Part of living where I grew up means that I have a lot of family around me. My (Great) Aunt Nola was a big part of this little town. She was known for her great food. She passed away last year, but she is lovingly remembered often around here. One thing that helps me think of her is food. I have several recipes that link right back to her. This is probably in the top three.

This recipe also reminds me of my mom. Whenever she is asked to bring a treat to a party or get-together she will most likely choose these brownies. This was actually my first time making them all by myself. It is an extremely quick and easy recipe that pretty much has a no-fail guarantee!

2 1/2 cubes of butter or margarine (softened)
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs (I only had medium so I did 7)
1 Tablespoon of vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
3 cups flour
1/2 t salt

1. Mix all of your ingredients together. I started with my butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Then sift in your flour, cocoa, and salt. I was going to try and be buff and mix it by hand.... don't. If you have a mixer, use it. I don't know why I had that thought! I love my Kitchen Aid!

2. Butter and flour your jelly-roll pan. Do this by brushing a light layer of Crisco all over your pan. Then put a small amount of flour on top and tip your pan around so it coats the pan. I find that tapping the back of the pan helps to move it when it's all stuck in one place. Practice makes perfect. You'll get it.

3. Pour your brownie mix into your pan and spread it around. Push it as little as possible since you don't want to disrupt your flour job you just did.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. When you check it at the 20 minute mark go ahead and lightly tap the brownies. If it feels pretty doughy still or if it is still raised a ways above the rim of the pan they probably aren't done. They will settle back to the height of the pan when they are done. Check with a toothpick to be double sure.

These are great when paired with ice cream (especially with all of the toppings), or frosted (homemade or store bought), or plain. Enjoy! :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chocolate Cake - Redone

I made some cake on Friday to celebrate the weekend finally getting here. I'm not much of a cake person, so that says a lot about how long the week was and how good this cake recipe really is. Here is the original recipe. The only thing I changed was adding peanut butter chips instead of the chocolate chips. It was a good twist. Then came the genius moment.
This morning as I was lovingly gazing at the cake an overwhelming urge to put jam on it sprung up in my mind. I immediately told myself I was crazy. Then I stopped. What about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? I ran to my fridge.
So there you go. Add jam to the top of your cake. It is heavenly! I luckily had some Homemade Strawberry freezer jam waiting for me. It really was amazing... I may need to go hide the last piece before it disappears.

Flamingo Chicken

This was inspired by the fact that I didn't have what I wanted to make something else. I noticed I had some Catalina dressing in my cupboard leftover from some bean salad that I never made... So this is what happened. It was an experiment, and it turned out really well. The idea also came from some dutch oven chicken that my dad makes. It turns out pink from the Catalina dressing, thus it is a Flamingo... Yeah, you can laugh if you'd like.

4 Chicken Breasts
1/2 bottle Catalina Dressing
1 Red Bell Pepper
4 stalks of Celery

1. Cover your chicken in Catalina dressing (enough to coat both sides and a little extra for good measure). Then cook up your chicken.

2. While waiting for your chicken, go ahead and wash/cut up your celery and pepper. Add to your chicken towards the end of the cooking process and let them soften a little. Make sure to check your meat temperature.

We ate this with rice tonight, but will be having it with spaghetti noodles for our lunch tomorrow. Phil thinks next time I should add some water chestnuts. I'm also thinking about trying mine with some pineapple tomorrow (It was good!).