Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Of course with this crazy cold weather, soup is so popular and lately I've been making a lot. I like to make soup for dinner because it can be made early in the day and kept warm or easily warmed up. And the best part is there is usually plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

I pinned (as in Pinterest) this Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice soup awhile ago because it's one of my favorite soups and I just finally got around to making it. So filling and delicious and I love the texture of wild rice. This recipe is basic, easy and delicious.

The recipe below is from Cooking Classy, a very cute food blog. The recipe calls for Lundberg Wild Blend Rice and I looked for it at 3 stores before I finally found it at Wal-Mart! So crazy because I'm not there often but just ran in for something else and randomly thought to look for it! But I was happy because I was about to buy some other wild rice blends and this brand is half the price!

3/4 cup uncooked wild rice blend (I used Lundberg Wild Blend Rice)
1 small yellow onion, chopped 
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
7 Tbsp butter, diced, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
3 14.5 oz low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 tsp of each dried thyme, marjoram, sage and rosemary
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts halves
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp lemon zest

Prepare rice according to directions listed on package.

Halfway through the rice cooking, in a separate large pot, melt 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and saute until slightly tender, about 4 minutes, adding in garlic during last 30 seconds of sauteing. 

Add chicken broth, thyme, marjoram, sage, rosemary and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high, add chicken and bring mixture to a boil. Cover pot with lid and allow mixture to boil 12 - 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (rotating chicken to opposite side once during cooking for thicker chicken breasts - if they don't fully immerse in broth). 

Remove chicken and set aside on cutting board to cool and then shred into small bite size pieces. 

Meanwhile reduce heat to low and add cooked rice. Add shredded chicken to soup.

In a separate medium saucepan, melt remaining 6 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook 1 1/2 minutes, whisking constantly. Then, while whisking vigorously, slowly pour milk into butter/flour mixture. Cook mixture, stirring constantly until it thickens. 

Add milk mixture to soup mixture in pot and cook about 5 minutes longer, or until soup is thickened. 

Stir in heavy cream and lemon zest and serve warm.

Recipe credit from Cooking Classy

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Smoothie Tuesday - Green Mango Banana

All it takes is a new smoothie blender to get me back on smoothie making again! I got the Black + Decker Personal Blender with jar - on sale at Target plus a Cartwheel offer makes it only $17 and I've had no trouble with it so far - its surprisingly powerful. No, I don't have a Vitamix and I'm surviving!

It had been awhile since I was in the smoothie making habit and I'm glad to be back at it. The girls LOVE to enjoy one for breakfast with me, which I like because it's easy and healthy.

I'd like to run a weekly series of the smoothies we've been enjoying. Not really recipes per se, but more of an inspiration of different ingredient combos.

This morning we had the following -

1 handful spinach/kale/chard mix
3/4 cup cashew milk
2 ripe bananas
1 cup frozen mango
1/2 -1 Tablespoon chia seeds

Blend greens and milk. Add bananas and mango. Blend well. Add chia seeds and stir or shake.

- This is the first time we have had cashew milk. It obviously has a very nutty taste that has taken me awhile to get used to but the girls like it. I'd use any milk or even plain water in its place.
- You can use frozen or very ripe bananas. Mine were not frozen because I had ripe bananas to use up so our smoothie wasn't very thick.
- I don't blend the chia seeds just to keep them intact. Also, I pour out the girls smoothie before I add the chia - I just don't think they'd like the texture.
- Use any greens you have or that are on sale - I got this Wegman's mix (pictured above) because it was something different and it would be a good variety for salads too.
- I usually blend my liquid and greens first before adding the fruit.

I love these superfood seeds... they expand in your stomach to make you feel fuller longer!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Introducing the best pineapple upside down cake I've ever had. True, I don't think I've had many pineapple upside down cakes in my life but one day I saw this on Pinterest, pinned it and then couldn't stop thinking about it. The super sweet, gooey cake just sounded so good. So one day - not a special occasion or anything - I just decided to make it.

So glad I did!

This recipe is from Averie Cooks. I've made several recipes from her site and everything is divine. I recommend looking around.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
one 20-ounce can pineapple slices
about 12 maraschino cherries
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small,  microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.

Pour the butter into a 9-inch springform cake pan (my springfoam pan was larger which works too). Use your finger to run a bit of butter around the side of the pan so it's well-greased.

Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter.

Add 1 whole pineapple slice to the center of the pan.

Halve the remaining slices vertically. Stagger them in a fan-like fashion going around the cake.

Place the remaining slices around the sides of the cake pan with the curved side pointing down toward the bottom of the pan. There will likely be bare side patches with no pineapple coverage, that's okay.

Place 1 cherry in the center of the whole pineapple slice in the middle of the pan. Place 1 cherry in the center cutout of all the fanned pineapple slices; set pan aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, optional salt; set aside.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the next 5 wet ingredients (through vanilla).

Add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing lightly with a spoon or folding with a spatula until just combined. Small lumps will be present, don't overmix or try to stir them smooth.

Gently turn batter out into prepared pan, being careful to not disturb the pineapple slices on the sides or bottom. Fill pan only to about 3/4-full. If you have a little extra batter, discard it rather than overfilling your pan.

Place pan on a cookie sheet (to catch anything that does overflow) and bake for about 40 minutes, or until center is set and not jiggly, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Only go down about 1-inch with the toothpick, not all the way to the bottom where you'll hit gooey pineapple juice.

Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool for at least 30 minutes before inverting, slicing, and serving. Cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days but it's unlikely it won't be eaten by then!

Recipe credit

Monday, October 6, 2014

Look who's back...and with Pumpkin Snickerdoodles


I cannot believe I've neglected my blog for this long. I have been cooking. Not as much as I used to but still enough to share my adventures with my readers (are there any still there?!!). I read so many blogs and everyday I think, why am I not opening the computer and joining in on the fun.

Today as the babies (ok, toddlers) nap, I just opened the computer and here I am. I have a few post ideas up my sleeve so here it goes.

To begin my homecoming, I'll jump on board with the pumpkin craze because, well, I love pumpkin everything too. Last week for my KMOM (Keystone Mothers of Multiples) club, I made the most delicious Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. I prefer soft, chewy cookies and that's just what these are. The recipe also calls for white chips. I used baking morsels but white chocolate chips would make them even more decadent.

Tip - Don't over bake. I thought mine were super under baked but when you let them cool for an hour or so, they keep shape, plus they are extra chewy (no eggs in the recipe so you don't have to worry about eating raw eggs).

Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup white chocolate chip

In a medium bowl, melt butter in microwave. To bowl, add brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Whisk until smooth an all brown sugar lumps are gone.Whisk in vanilla and pumpkin. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together with a large spoon. Fold in white chocolate chips. Dough will be very soft and sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory.

Take dough out of refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with baking mat or parchment paper.

Mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a pie plate. Roll the dough into balls with about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of dough. Roll in cinnamon sugar and place on baking sheet and flatten balls slightly with the bottom of a cup. They do not spread out very much as they bake.

Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for another 10 minutes. Then carefully transfer to a cooling rack. Cookies will seem soft and under baked but will firm up after they cool completely.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Steak with Corn Relish and Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

Finding time to write here is more difficult than I imagined! I have, however, been trying out some new recipes so I have plenty to share. I just have to make myself create posts!

Today my girls went to the Dr for their 4 month check up. They are growing big - Claire is 14 lbs 1 oz and Eden is 14 lbs 7 oz. And they are quite long too - in the 70th and 80th percentiles! These two were little peanuts at birth but are getting big very fast!

Anyway, the girls got their vaccines so this afternoon they have been sleeping a lot. I thought I better get to typing!

Since I'm not ready to go to the grocery store alone with the girls yet, a lot of times I have to look for recipes for the ingredients I already have in the house. Before, when I could go to the store whenever I pleased, I would find a recipe and then buy the ingredients. Now I do the opposite, which can be more challenging but definitely money-saving!

For some reason I always go to my 2 Rachael Ray cookbooks for inspiration. Sure enough I found a recipe for steak and potatoes that sounded super good. And turns out, was super good!

So this is RR's recipe with my adaptations. She calls it Steaks with Tangy Corn Relish and Super Cheese and Scallion Spuds.

2 lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 Tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper
4 Delmonico steaks (or NY strip would work, or any you like to eat)
McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning (or salt and pepper)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 can corn, drained
2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
milk (or cream or half n half)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 lime
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

Place potatoes in a medium-size sauce pot, add enough water to cover them by an inch and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 12 minutes or until fork tender.

To start the corn relish, preheat a medium-size skillet over medium heat with 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin sugar, salt and pepper. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions start to take on a golden color and are soft.

While the onions are cooking, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of oil. Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and season liberally with the grill seasoning. Add the steaks to the hot skillet and cook on each side for 4-5 minutes for rare; 5-6 minutes for medium. Remove them from the skillet and let the steaks rest, loosely covered with foil, for about 5-10 minutes.

Back to the relish, add the chicken stock and bring liquid to a bubble. Add the corn and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes or until the liquids have reduced by half.

When potatoes are done, drain and return to the hot pot. Smash potatoes with a masher and combine them with the cream cheese, cheddar  cheese, a splash of milk and scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Remash, taste, and adjust seasoning.

To the corn relish add the zest and juice of the lime and the cilantro. Stir to combine and taste. Add salt and pepper of necessary.

Serve relish over steak beside the mashed potatoes!

Below is a picture of my plate. Adam is on a very low sugar diet so he wasn't eating the corn, which was fine by me because it was soooo good! And don't be nervous about the onions. I am not a huge onion fan but once they are cooked for awhile, they get sweet.

Recipe from Rachael Ray Express Lane Meals: A 30-Minute Meal Cookbook

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mushroom Meatloaf with Mushroom Sauce

Of course we must start off with some photos of the girls!

Eden started to wear a bib because she has begun to drool.

Both babies are starting to really hold on to things so Claire is holding on to her giraffe fleece blankie while she eats.

A few weeks ago Adam was at the PA Farm Show for work and brought home some mushrooms and a mushroom cookbook. We both really like mushrooms and I had some free time to make a dinner so I made mushroom meatloaf. It was quite yummy.

This recipe makes 1 loaf but it can be easily doubled.

1 lb ground beef
8 oz fresh white mushrooms - half coarsely chopped, half sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 package dry vegetable soup mix (I used onion-mushroom)
1/2 cup seasoned dried bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 can (14 oz) beef broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


In a large bowl, combine the beef, the chopped mushrooms, soup mix, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup milk and egg until well combined. Form into a loaf and place onto a shallow baking pan with a rack - or a meatloaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes.

Mushroom sauce:

In a small bowl, combine milk and cornstarch; set aside. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add sliced mushrooms and onion; cook and stir over moderate heat until mushrooms are golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in beef broth and 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil. Stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Serve over meatloaf.

We ate ours with mashed potatoes but this sauce would be good on rice too.

It's kind of hard to take a good photo of this meal, but it was delicious!

Recipe from a booklet from the Mushroom Farmers of Pennsylvania, the American Mushroom Institute and PA Preferred. Specific recipe from the Mushroom Council.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I'm back with some twin pix!

I'm back! Finally! I know, I feel so bad to have previously blogged that I'd keep up with posts of the babies but it kind of got away from me. But since Adam got me a new computer and the girls are on *somewhat* of a schedule, I think I can find time to post a few times a week.

The twins, Claire and Eden, are already 14 weeks old! Below are some photos from their 2nd month of life. Eden is the bigger one, currently 13 pounds (6.9 at birth), and Claire is more petite - yet the older one by a few minutes - weighing in at 11 1/2 pounds (5.12 at birth).

Eden (left) & Claire (right)

I have a mushroom meatloaf recipe to post so stay tuned. I hope to post it very soon! :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

32 Weeks

 Here we are at 32 weeks on the nose! Bec took some photos for us yesterday and I just love them! She is so talented. The lighting is lovely.

Again, I look a lot bigger than I feel! Each baby weighs approximately 4 pounds.
About 6 more weeks til the girls are here!

And the man that made this all possible is looking mighty fine these days too!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

30 Weeks

I know I've been MIA for awhile and I am very sad about that. I think about blogging a lot but I just never get to it. Plus, I haven't been cooking too many creative meals lately. Once the girls are here and we're on a schedule (sooo,  next Spring?!!), I will be back at it! Until then, I'll keep posting random updates.

Mom, Claire & Eden at 30 weeks.... growing big!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Our 1st Wedding Anniversary

On Monday Adam and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary.
Here is one of my favorite photos from our wedding day - our frist dance as husband and wife.

To celebrate, we went to Baltimore for the day. With the city only an hour away from our new house, it was a great getaway. We saw a lot of the city we had never seen before.

We started our day walking around Camden Yards and then visited Babe Ruth's birthplace.

Unfortunately, it rained the entire day so after our visit with Babe, we made our way to a nearby bar to wait out the rain. After 2 orders of fried pickles for me and some local brews for Adam at Pickles Pub, the rain held steady. So with our new Orioles umbrellas, we ventured to Little Italy.

We ate at a cute place called Chiapparelli's.
I had homemade manicotti and Adam had a caprese panini.
We will definitely visit this restaurant again!

After lunch we made our way to Inner Harbor for dessert.... 2 delectable pieces of cheesecake from where else than the Cheesecake Factory!

Next we headed to the National Aquarium. Even though it was a busy Saturday, we got to see everything, including our favorite - the sharks and sting rays. We even saw an enormous sea turtle who was missing his front left flipper, which made him all the more adorable!

Here I am on my wedding day and then... a little rounder... 1 year later, along Inner Harbor.

After a short rest at the hotel, we visited the neighborhood of Canton to feast on a dozen crabs at Bo Brooks. A great treat!

Adam picked his crabs and saved all the meat until the end. He had a big bowl of buttery crab to enjoy.

After dinner, we ventured to Fells Point. We wanted to visit America's oldest saloon, The Horse You Came In On. It was packed. We had to wait in line just to get in. Even though I felt awkward in a lively bar with my big belly, we had a good time (for the 20 minutes I lasted). There was a fun band and the girls liked the music. They were kicking away!

Before we headed back to the hotel, I had to have some gelato at Pitango - chocolate and pistachio. A great ending to a great day!

So when our official anniversay rolled around on Monday, we got the top tier of our wedding cake out of the freezer.

The gorgeous cake on our wedding day:

 And one year later:

Not as delicious as we remember, but it was fun to reminisce about our beautiful wedding day.

It was a wonderful anniversary! I can't wait to celebrate next year with our girls!