Sunday, January 29, 2012 0 comments

Cheater Chicken Soup

I almost didn't post this recipe because
the soup is not in a bowl. Silly, huh. 

Sometimes we’ll pick up a grocery store rotisserie chicken for dinner. To alleviate the guilt of not having made dinner from scratch, I stretch that bird to cover a few meals and then use the carcass as the basis for what I call cheater chicken soup. It’s cheating because it’s not entirely made from scratch but boy is it tasty. I prefer pasta in the soup because the pasta ends up behaving like dumplings. Use potatoes if you prefer that instead.

This is not a complicated recipe in terms of hands on time but does take two days just so you can get your broth properly made.

  • The carcass of one rotisserie chicken OR the remnants of a whole chicken you’ve previously roasted
  • Two carrots, peeled and diced
  • About half of a medium white onion, coarsely chopped
  • One small potato, diced into cubes OR a handful or two of your favorite uncooked pasta
  • Two stalks celery, diced
  • A liberal sprinkling of Italian seasoning
  • One bay leaf
  • Lots of water


Day 1
  1. Simmer the carcass and seasonings in enough water to fill a large stock pot for several hours.
  2. Cool overnight.
Day 2
  1. Strain and discard the fat from the surface of the broth.
  2. Pick off any meat remnants from your carcass and toss into the broth.
  3. Add the vegetables.
  4. If you are using pasta, add the pasta.
  5. Simmer for another couple of hours.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste to your individual bowls.
  7. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 2 comments

An appetizer

"What can I bring?" I asked.
"Bring a healthy appetizer to go with the Pinot Noir we'll be sipping as I fix dinner," she said.
"Uh sure thing!"

But I was using up all the food in the fridge because we were leaving on vacation soon and then I had another trip to see family the following week. So I had to make something out of what I had on hand, and what I had on hand wasn't much. Plus she requested that the dish be healthy and also go with red wine. So with those restrictions in mind, this is what I made.


  • 1/4 C feta cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 C balsamic vinaigrette (I used Paul Newman's Own Lighten Up version)
  • about 1/2 C each diced cherry tomatoes and sliced mushrooms
  • Finely sliced red onion, about two or three slices; then cut the slices into smaller pieces
  • 1/3 to 1/2 C cooked pasta (I used my favorite Gemelli)

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and allow to cool.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, prep the vegetables.
  3. Assemble the vegetables, feta crumbles and dressing in a bowl large enough to hold everything. Toss well.
  4. Once the pasta is cool, add to the bowl and toss again.
  5. Enjoy!
Note: Obviously you could use Parmesan cheese but again, I had to go with what was on hand. This is a basic pasta salad and can be gussied up with whatever you like. If I'd had any, I'd have put artichoke hearts in there too, and also roasted red peppers. But I didn't have any.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 0 comments

Heavenly Oatmeal Cookies

Honestly...these are the best oatmeal cookies you will ever have. Simple, moist, and hard to stop eating at just 1 or 2 (or 5). The key to this recipe, like many great baking recipes, is the use of shortening instead of butter. Follow this recipe and you'll have people begging for more every time.

1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs well beaten
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
3 cups Old Fashioned Oats (not instant)
1 cup raisins (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Cream shortening and sugars.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
  4. Sift flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.
  5. Add to first mixture and mix well. Add raisins (if using). Add oats last.
  6. Spoon out by rounded tablespoonfuls on to greased cookie sheets.
  7. Bake at 350°F. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool completely.
  8. Makes about 2 dozen. Enjoy!
Saturday, January 14, 2012 3 comments

Homemade Granola Bars

I've been trying various granola bar recipes for a while now. This one I really like. The bars hold together well and are not too dry or too crumbly. The great thing about granola is that you can use whatever you have on hand and really customize it to your taste. So feel free to add raisins, chocolate chips, or whatever suits your fancy.

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1/4 of crushed walnuts (you will probably have to do this yourself)
2/3 cup of honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries. I used dried cranberries, but I am going to try figs or dates next.
Anything else that you think would be good!

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Mix it all the ingredients together!
  3. Press mixture into buttered pan, 9x9 or 9x13. The key here is to make sure you really press it down, that way it stays together when it's done.
  4. Cook for 25 minutes.
  5. Let cool at least 2 hours before you cut.
  6. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Casserole

(I tried to get a good picture, but I turned around for a second and someone had already swiped some!)

This is honestly the best sweet potato casserole I've ever had. I think you could actually classify this as a desert. This isn't your ordinary throw-marshmellows-on-top casserole, this one has class.

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (wash, don't pierce, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for about an hour. If they are soft at that point, cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. The pulp should be shrinking away from the outer skin and sugar should be leaking through)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs well beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk (as always whole is best)
pinch of salt

1/2 cup brown sugar firmly packed
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup shopped pecans

  1. Blend all ingredients together.
  2. Pout into casserole dish that has been greased.
  3. Crumble topping on.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
  5. Enjoy!

Bourbon Pecan Pie

This pie is so easy to make. And what could be better than bourbon in a desert?

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 to 2 cups pecan halves
2 tablespoons good-quality bourbon
1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie shell, unbaked

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and melted butter.
  3. Add the corn syrup, eggs, pecans, and bourbon, and stir until all ingredients are combined.
  4. Pour mixture into an unbaked pie shell, and place on a heavy-duty cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and continue to bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until pie is set.
  6. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
  7. Enjoy!


Loaded Baked Potato Soup

If you are counting calories just stop reading right now. But if you want a souper good, satisfying soup that sticks to your ribs, this is the one for you.

4 large baking potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
6 cups milk (whole is better)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 green onions chopped
1 8oz carton of sour cream

  1. Cook the potatoes through.
  2. Cut cooked potatoes into cubes, discard the skin.
  3. In a stockpot melt the butter over medium heat.
  4. Add the flour and cook about 2 minutes, stirring constantly (you are making a roux).
  5. Gradually add the milk and turn up the heat some.
  6. Cook until the mixtures begins to thicken and slightly boil.
  7. Don't let it burn!
  8. Reduce head and add the potatoes, salt, pepper, 1 cup of cheese, 1 cup of bacon, and the green onions.
  9. Heat through.
  10. Just before serving add sour cream and combine.
  11. Garnish with more cheese and bacon on top.
  12. Enjoy!
Friday, January 13, 2012 0 comments

Spicy Vegetable Soup

You control how spicy this soup is—if you like it hotter, dice the adobo peppers finely and use two or three. If you don’t want it hot, then use one and either don’t dice it at all or cut it into large pieces. The heat comes from the seeds in the pepper and when they get diced, they get hot. The adobo sauce isn’t (or shouldn’t be) hot; it’s just flavorful. I’ve also found that the Lacostena brand is hotter than the Hernandez brand. I prefer Hernandez for the flavor.

As written, this soup makes about eight servings.


1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 C frozen corn OR one can corn, drained
2 or 3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 or 4 celery ribs, diced
1 small or ½ large white onion, diced
2 or 3 small red potatoes, diced
1 to 3 adobo peppers, diced
1 can pinto or black beans, drained
2 C chicken broth plus extra water OR use all water to make this entirely meat-free


  1. Assemble the diced ingredients in a slow cooker.
  2. Add the corn, beans and adobo peppers and stir.
  3. Add the crushed and diced tomatoes, and the broth. Stir again.
  4. Add enough water to almost fill your slow cooker. If you have a huge cooker, you may need to add either more broth (for a brothy soup) or diced tomatoes (for a more stew-like soup).
  5. Cook on low for eight hours.
  6. Enjoy!
Monday, January 9, 2012 2 comments

Bean and Chicken Tostadas

This dish came about because I had various bits of leftovers in the fridge and wanted to use them up while also having a full-flavored dinner. If you prefer burritos, you could roll your bean mixture up rather than spreading it out on the toasted tortilla as I did. If you are not pigs the way we are, you can get four servings out of this. Sadly, we are pigs.


1 can refried beans (I use fat-free spicy refried beans; I’d rather have the fat calories elsewhere)
1 to 2 adobo peppers, finely diced plus some of the sauce from the can
1 cooked boneless, skinless chicken thigh, diced
½ avocado, cut in thin strips
2 to 3 T diced fresh cilantro
Sour cream (I use light sour cream)
Shredded cheddar or jack cheese (or a mix)
Adobo seasoning
Salsa verde
2 to 3 tortillas


  1. Mix the beans and diced chicken in a microwave-safe bowl and heat thoroughly.
  2. Toast the tortillas in a toaster oven, taking care not to burn them OR place in a sauté pan and cook till crisp. If you are making burritos, omit this step.
  3. Sprinkle some cheese on the hot tortillas and spread the bean mixture on top.
  4. Sprinkle the adobo seasoning on the beans.
  5. Sprinkle some cilantro on the beans.
  6. Top with sour cream, avocado slices and salsa verde.
  7. Enjoy!