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Ham & Bean Soup

★★★

  • 1 pound dried navy beans
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes flakes
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 smoked ham hocks
Place beans in Dutch oven or soup kettle (make it a really big pot!); add water to cover by 2 in. Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 hour.
Drain and rinse beans, discarding liquid. In same pan, saute onions in oil for 2 minutes. Add celery; cook until tender. Stir in beans, water, potato flakes, carrot, Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme, pepper and bay leaves. Add ham bone. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours or until beans are tender.
Remove ham bone; when cool enough to handle, remove ham from bone and cut into cubes. Return to soup. Discard bone and bay leaves.

Makes 10 servings
Source: Taste of Home/Amanda Reed

I believe we’ve had this before, but I didn’t mark it as tried, so with sick week, I thought it would be a good meal. I believe the first time I actually prepared mashed potatoes as the original instructions had without milk and butter. Essentially that’s potato flakes and water. Since there was so much liquid in the pot, I thought what difference will it really make to put the flakes directly into the pot. I can’t honestly say I know.

I started with my 4 quart dutch oven, I got everything into it, until it was time to add the ham hocks. That pot would have overflowed for sure! That’s why I highlighted the need to start with a really big pot.

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21 down : 344 to go

Black Bean Soup

★★★★


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium red pepper , chopped
  • 3 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14 ounce can chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons dried cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream
In 6-quart sauce pot, heat oil on medium until hot. Add carrots, garlic, onion, and pepper; cook 12 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned and tender, stirring occasionally. Add cumin, crushed red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute.
Stir in water, beans, and broth; heat to boiling on medium-high. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes to blend flavors.
Ladle 3 cups soup into blender; cover, with center part of cover removed to allow steam to escape, (maybe you want to put a paper towel over the opening, at least until it gets going. I ended up with soup in my hair!) and blend until pureed. Stir puree into soup in saucepot; heat through on medium. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Garnish with cheddar cheese and sour cream. 

Makes 6 servings
Source: Country Living

As part of our soup week, I added in a black bean variety. We’ve had several variations and I’m always looking for the ‘perfect’ one. I’m not convinced we’ve found it yet, however I do have one that is getting discussed amongst my friends and requested we they come over. I like this one because 1. it was easy and 2. it was good and filling but not super spicy.

In my recipe copy I missed a few ingredients, so I added 3 garlic cloves and 1 onion as a guess. I wasn’t far off. I also used a green pepper from the freezer bounty instead of red. Since the cumin seeds were so excellent in my chili over the weekend I chose those for this soup as well. I ground them in the mortar along with the red pepper flakes.

It did only make 6 servings, which is not enough for our family. Next time I’ll know to double it for sure. The boys really liked it, the youngest said “this is so good I’m almost done” before I’d even had mine put together.

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Hot Cocoa Cookies

★★★

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup marshmallow fluff
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and mix until combined. Stir in marshmallow fluff.
Fold in chocolate chips and marshmallows. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove, and roll into 1 ½-inch balls.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow cookies to completely cool before removing. Patience! These cookies are very sticky! 

Makes 4 dozen

Source: Kitchen Monki/LoveLoveLove from blog How Sweet It Is

These were good, they got a lower rating because they were not quick and easy. I lack patience and contrary to what the recipe indicated, I forgot to refrigerate and did not allow them to cool on the pan. Needless to say my first dozen looked like a 2-year old had mutilated them. After that I reread the directions, put the batter in the fridge between batches and left the pan cool completely before trying to remove them. These babies even stuck to my awesome Ikea pan. The batter was so sticky that it actually turned my cookie scoop inside out! That’s only ever happened once before. These are what I would classify as a more adult cookie, although the kids did eat them, they weren’t the first kind they went for.

19 down : 346 to go

Snickerdoodle Cookies

★★★★

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ¾ cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
Mix shortening, sugar and eggs thoroughly.
Blend flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt.
Stir in dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.
Mix cinnamon and remaining sugar into a separate bowl. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in cinnamon and sugar mixture.
Bake 7 to 10 minutes at 350º.

Makes 3 dozen
Source: Kitchen Monki/Kristen Judd

Now you can’t really go wrong with snickerdoodles! I again used my cookie scoop and dropped the dough into a mug that contained the cinnamon sugar mixture. Then I swirled the mug around which not only coated my dough ball, but also shaped it into a nice round ball. My mother said “aren’t you going to flatten them?” It didn’t call for it in the recipe, so I didn’t. I don’t really know that it makes a difference one way or the other. They tasted like all the homemade snickerdoodles I’ve ever had. We like ours more on the soft side and less on the crunchy side. Store bought ones always seem to have the consistency of a cracker.

A good tip to save some time, you can roll and coat all the dough at one time and sit on wax paper and then as you remove each batch from the oven, all you need to do is set the new dough balls on the cookie sheet. No messy hands each time.

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

★★★

  • 1 cups sugar
  • ½ cup + 8 tsp brown sugar
  • 1½ sticks butter
  • 1 cups peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cups oatmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½cups dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350º.
Cream sugars and butters together.
Add vanilla and eggs.
Add dry ingredients.
Drop by tablespoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350º for about 12 minutes.

Makes 4 ½ dozen
Source: Kitchen Monki/Nicole Troyer

This were incredibly simple to make. The original recipe had to be cut in half, if you can believe it! It still made more than most recipes. I was not personally wowed by these, they reminded me of a trail cookie, something with lots of lumps and bumps filled with seeds and whatnot to give you energy while hiking. They were also more on the dry side. However, these were a favorite of several friends that we went away for the weekend with.

Tonight was another leftover dinner night, Son #1 had an eye appointment and they were running late. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a doctor’s appointment that actually was on time. Thankfully they decided not to dilate his eyes, which would have added an additional 20 minutes to the wait. Between that and an abundance of leftovers in the fridge (and same son needing a quick haircut), I decided it would be easier. For my blog I knew there were still 3 cookie recipes from our weekend that I haven’t shared yet, and they must be shared. The next 2 coming up were huge hits.

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Chicken Noodle Soup

★★★★

  • 6 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 small parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped small
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • ½ pound extra wide egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a 5- to 6-quart soup pot, bring stock, water, carrots, parsnips, celery, and onion to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
Stir in chicken and noodles; cover pot and continue to simmer 7 minutes, or until noodles are just tender. Stir in parsley, salt, and pepper. Ladle into bowls.

Makes 12 cups (6 servings)

Source: Redbook found on Country Living

We have illness running rampant in our house again. Where is spring? With sore throats and coughs, a good soup was in order. Since I am one of the individuals not feeling well, I didn’t really feel like fixing an involved meal. This was perfect. The original called for cooked chicken and I found the rotisserie chicken on sale at the grocery store today. One less step I had to worry about. Of course if you had leftover cooked chicken you could easily use that to.

I liked that it had lots of vegetables in it. It including another new one for our family : PARSNIPS. I wasn’t real certain about them as I chopped them up, they seemed really tough and I wondered how much they would actually soften during the cooking. The kids never even knew they were there! We described them as white carrots. Carrots are not one of my favorite textures in a meal. That is why I opted to finely dice all the vegetables. Obviously you could cut them to any size that appeals to you.

I don’t know if it’s due to the congestion, the soup had good flavor on it’s own, but I sprinkled garlic salt on mine for added flavor. My husband was very pleased, he admitted that he didn’t think he would like it, it sounded to simple to actually taste good. He must have said 5x that it was “really good”, had “excellent flavor”.  We have several more soups planned for this week. Partly due to colds, but also partly due to the continuing cold weather. Two days are even calling for snow! ❅SNOW❅! That is not a good way to start into April. Soup it will be to keep us warm until the sun decides to shine our way again (and bring some heat with it).

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Beef and Dark Beer Chili

★★★★


  • 1 ½ tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 lbs. ground chuck
  • ½ lb stew beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 lbs bell peppers (used light green)
  • 1 jalapeño chiles with seeds, chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, chopped
  • 7 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons (packed) minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce*
  • 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes with added puree
  • 2 15-ounce cans dark kidney beans, drained
  • 1 12-ounce bottle dark beer (used a dark lager, stout would work too)
  • 12 ounces water
  • Sour cream
  • Coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Crush cumin and coriander seeds, I used a mortar and pestle. Toast cumin and coriander in skillet over medium heat until darker and beginning to smoke, about 4 minutes. Cool.
Sauté beef in heavy large pot over medium-high heat until no longer pink, breaking up with spoon, about 8 minutes. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, and hot peppers. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 15 minutes. Add mixture to pot with meat. Mix in toasted spices, chili powder, and chipotle chiles. Add crushed tomatoes, beans, beer and water. Bring chili to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle chili into bowls. Serve with sour cream and cheese.

Makes 15 to 20 servings
Source: Bon Appétit February 2007, David Burke

DO AHEAD:

Can be made ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated up to 2 days (or freeze up to 1 month). Rewarm over medium-low heat.

Knowing that we would be away for the weekend and wanting to have a meal that could easily feed my family and several others, I decided to take along the ingredients for this chili. I crushed the seeds at home, if you don’t want to go through the hassle you could buy ground cumin and coriander. The original recipe called for 5 pounds of meat, that just seemed like overkill to me. I do not like a real meaty chili. We usually put stew beef in our own chili, so we mixed it up in this one. The original also called for 2 ½ pounds of onion and 3 pounds of bell peppers. That seemed like odd ratios to me. I got tired of cutting onions, so I stopped after 4. The bell peppers, I’m still trying to use up what we have in our freezer from the end of year harvest. I didn’t have any yellow or reds left, but I did have these very pretty light green ones. I just took a gallon size bag along, I’m not sure exactly how many it was, likely around 4 or 5 medium sized peppers. The hot peppers were also from the same bounty, that’s why I threw a serrano chile in there. The choice in beer was more about what was available to me. I told the hubby that I needed a dark beer, he is not a big fan of stouts, but he had brought a sampler case of beer along and chose the darkest of the lot.

In the end, we had this enormous stock pot of chili. Another friend made this super tasty mexican rice with chili to load in tortillas and another made tangy pulled pork. It was all very good, the chili was complemented several times. We froze what was left and brought it home with us and it fed us again tonight. A real blessing because by the time we got home we really didn’t feel like cooking. We still have enough left for lunch tomorrow! The original was suppose to feed 10 to 12. After reducing the main ingredient amounts, we still had leftovers, twice!

Our weekend was spent in a beautiful cabin at the top of a mountain in West Virginia. We spent the weekend with virtually no cell phones or internet, simply because there was no available signal. My boys went hiking, found fossils, rode ATV’s and got to shoot their first pistol and rifle at targets. It was a real “boys” weekend for them and they loved every minute of it. What about me…I shopped, looked for photography props, played board games and enjoyed talking with girlfriends. A wonderful long weekend. And those cookies that I’ve been posting recipes for, well I didn’t come home with any! The variety of flavors was perfect because everyone seemed to have a different favorite. I made them to ensure the boys would have snacks for the weekend, but they were enjoyed by the whole cabin. The classics like PB, snickerdoodles and molasses were no brainers. The more modern flavors of butterscotch, hot cocoa and chocolate chip pb oatmeal, each found a fan among my friends. I can say that they are each recipes that will stay in my collection.