©Life of a Foodie and Her Family 2008-2013, Lynn Tabor



Peppermint Brownies

Our church's Alpha Program is starting again this week.  I decided to make two batches of Peppermint Brownies.  It is the same recipe of Peppermint Brownies in a Jar.

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips
1 1/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
1 cup melted butter (2 sticks) (I used coconut oil)
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Bake in a 9” X 13”pan at 350° for about 25 minutes.  Mine needed a bit more than 25 minutes.

I also sprinkled about 1/4 cup more Peppermint Baking Bits on top of the brownies.  These are soooo good!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

It has been quite chilly here in SW Florida.  I am not complaining, I would not want to be living back in the New England.  So I have been searching and pinning all sorts of comfort food recipes.  I found this one at Damn Delicious.

1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup light cream
1 (32 oz) frozen broccoli cuts, thawed
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground

Melt butter in a large pot.

Add garlic, onion and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute.

Gradually whisk in milk, chicken broth and cream, and cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in broccoli to combine.

Process in small batches in a blender and pour back into your pot.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until broccoli is heated through, about 6-8 minutes.

Stir in cheeses, until melted and smooth.  Season with salt and pepper, to pepper, to taste  (This did need a good bit of salt and pepper).

This was yummy and very filling.


Potato and Ham Chowdah

Yes I wrote Chowdah.  That is the way we say it where I lived most of my life.  I kind of used a couple different recipes and came up with this very yummy and filling chowdah.

One package of sliced Bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, more as needed
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 (8-ounce) package of small diced ham
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat.

Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent. Stir in corn and thyme until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Sprinkle in flour and cook for about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in potatoes and ham.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

If the chowdah is too thick, add more milk as needed.  Garnish with a couple of crumbled slices of bacon and enjoy!

YUM!  It was so good that both Miss V and I went back for seconds.

Baked Honey Sesame Chicken

Here is a recipe that I tried recently.  Of course I found it on Pinterest.  You can find the original recipe at The Recipe Critic.   I love these kinds of Chinese style chicken recipes.  You can make a couple different versions at the same time depending on your families likes and dislikes.

4 chicken breasts
1 cup cornstarch
3 eggs
salt and pepper
¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
¾ cup honey
¾ cup soy sauce
½ cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbs cornstarch
additional sesame seeds for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.
In separate bowls, place cornstarch and slightly beaten eggs. Dip chicken into cornstarch then coat in egg mixture. I do like to get the excess cornstarch off and gently shake it in a wire strainer.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until browned. Place the chicken in a 9 x 13 greased baking dish.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and 1 T cornstarch. Pour over chicken and bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Stir the chicken every 15 minutes.  This made a lot of sauce for the amount of chicken.  I used 6 large breast and split them between two 13x9 pans.  I did end up by removing about half the sauce from this dish and it was perfect.


Creamy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Miss V wrinkled her nose when I said that we were having Butternut Squash Soup for dinner.  I know she doesn't like it so I made a batch of soup for her.  You can find the original recipe at Damn Delicious.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried basil
1 bay leaf
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
1/2 cup light or heavy cream
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and bay leaf, basil and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft, about 3-5 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes and mash, using a wooden spoon. Stir in cream and brown sugar.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
Puree with an immersion blender or in blender in small batches. Stir in chicken broth until heated through, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make your favorite grilled cheese and cut into cubes.

Ladle soup into bowls and garish with two or 3 grilled cheese cubes.

Miss V really liked this!

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Roasted Chickpeas

Since it has been very chilly here in SW Florida, I have wanted warm comfort food for dinner.  I pinned this recently and tossed it in the crock pot this morning.  I used my small round crockpot for this recipe.  You can find the original recipe at Two Peas & Their Pod.

For the Butternut Squash Soup:
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
1 large apple, peeled and chopped
2  cans low sodium vegetable broth (I used chicken stock)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (use the real stuff please)
2 tablespoons maple syrup (use the real stuff please)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Maple Roasted Chickpeas:
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (use the real stuff)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Add all the ingredients to the crockpot. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Once vegetables are cooked and soft, puree the soup using an immersion blender or a blender in small batches. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Pour the soup back into the crockpot to keep warm.

While the soup is keeping warm in the crockpot, make the maple roasted chickpeas.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse and drain the chickpeas and pat dry with a towel. Remove the skins by rolling them on the towel. In a small bowl, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Place the chickpeas on a large baking sheet. Pour the maple syrup mixture over the chickpeas and toss until chickpeas are well coated. Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Remove from the oven when chickpeas are crunchy.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with maple roasted chickpeas. Serve immediately.

This was ok, I do like my other version of Butternut Squash Soup better.  I think roasting the squash gives it better flavor. I did really enjoy the chickpeas with it.


Soft Cheese Bread

Well since I was not having a good time with the Ciabatta Rolls, I figured that I would try another bread and found this on Pinterest too.  You can find the original at Seasons & Suppers.

6 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
2 tsp. fine salt
5 Tbsp. white or brown sugar
1 cup lukewarm water, about 95° F.
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. lukewarm milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. instant yeast
1/4 cup melted, unsalted butter or vegetable oil

Cheddar and Herb
2 cups shredded, sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced herbs (I used Parsley and a bit of Emeril's Essence)

Parmesan, Garlic and Herb
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or about 2 tsp. minced fresh)
1/4 cup minced herbs (I used Parsley, thyme and a bit of poultry season)
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature


In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt and sugar* together. (Tip: If measuring your flour in cups, without a scale, hold back 1 cup to add as needed later). *If you’re using honey or agave, add with the liquid ingredients instead.

In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine the water and buttermilk and whisk in the yeast until dissolved. Add this mixture, along with the melted butter, to the dry ingredients. Mix by hand or with a dough hook, until the mixture is combined, about 2 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Continue mixing the dough, adding more flour or water, as needed, until the dough becomes soft, smooth and tacky, but not sticky.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes, then form dough into a ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and either refrigerate for up to 4 days, or allow to sit at room temperature until doubled in size (about 60-90 minutes).

Note: If you have refrigerated your dough, remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to bake, to allow it to come to room temperature.

Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Dust each with a bit of flour and then, using a rolling pin, roll into a rectangle approximately 10 inches wide and 16 inches long.

For the Cheddar and Herb Bread: spread shredded cheddar and herbs evenly over the surface of the dough. Starting with the shortest side, roll the dough up jelly-roll style and pinch the seam together.
For the Parmesan, Garlic and Herb: spread the softened butter over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan, garlic and herbs. Press lightly with the palm of your hand to press the toppings into the butter. Starting with the shortest side, roll the dough up jelly-roll style and pinch the seam together.

Grease two 8-inch by 4-inch loaf pans and set aside.

Carefully lift the dough into the greased loaf pan. Repeat with the other dough log, then cover both with a greased piece of plastic wrap and allow to rise until the dough rises to about 1-inch above the side of the pans in the middle.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake for 45-50 minutes total, but after 25 minutes of baking, rotate pans front-to-back in the oven and loosely cover with a piece of aluminum foil if necessary (if bread is already well-browned), to prevent the top from over-browning.

Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for a couple of minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the bread and carefully remove the loaves to a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing.

Cheddar and Herb

 Parmesan and Herb

The inside of the Cheddar and Herb.

Both versions came out really well!

Ciabatta Rolls

This week's weather is on a roller coaster.  Yesterday started out in the high 60's and then was going to drop down into the 30's.  So I figured soup and bread would be a good dinner.  I found this recipe on Pinterest and the original can be found at Ciabatta Rolls from King Arthur Flour.

I did have to make the starter on Sunday night.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup cool water
1/16 teaspoon instant yeast
Mix until well combined. Cover the starter and let it rest at room temperature overnight, or for up to 15 hours. It will become bubbly.

Next day, add the following to the risen starter:

2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
2/3 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons olive oil

Beat at medium speed, using the flat beater, for 7 minutes. The dough will be very smooth, soft, shiny, and elastic.

Lift out the dough and lightly grease the mixing bowl (or other rising container, if you need your bowl for something else); cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 2 hours, gently deflating it midway through.

If you’re using a bread machine, allow it to rise for an additional hour after the dough cycle has ended.

Lightly grease your work surface, and two half-sheet baking pans (18″ x 13″) or similar large baking sheets. Grease your hands, as well.

Turn the dough out of the bowl onto the lightly greased work surface. Divide it into 12 pieces, about 80g (2 1/4 ounces) each. Round each into a ball. Gently stretch the balls into flattened disks, about 3 1/2″ wide, and place them on the prepared baking sheets, six to a sheet. (Mine were such a sticky mess.  I couldn't get them into balls, so I had to add enough flour so I could at least form some sort of shape.  I was ready to just toss the dough in the trash, I was that frustrated with it)

Lightly cover the rolls with heavily oiled plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow them to rise for 2 to 3 hours, or until they’re showing some signs of puffiness. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Spritz the risen rolls with lukewarm water, and gently but firmly dimple each one with your fingers, making fairly deep pockets. Bake them until they’re golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes.

They did end up ok.  They do taste great, but just not worth the effort.


Salsa Chicken Cassrole

I spotted this on Pinterest recently and made it for dinner last night.  You can find the original recipe at Budget Bytes.  I don't know why, but I just dislike the word casserole, it always makes me think of soupy, runny, mushy meals.  I would happily just call this Salsa Chicken and Rice.

Anyway, I did change it a bit and this is what I did.

1 cup uncooked rice (not instant)
1 cup frozen corn kernels (thawed)
1 (15 oz.) can black beans
1 (16 oz.) jar salsa
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp chili powder
½ tsp ground oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
2 large chicken breasts
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or Mexican Blend Cheese
A couple corn tortilla chips broken into small pieces.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Drain and briefly rinse the black beans. Add the dry rice, black beans, corn, salsa, chicken broth, chili powder, oregano, and cumin to an 8×8 inch casserole dish. Stir until everything is evenly combined.

Cut the chicken breasts into three pieces each. Push the chicken pieces down into the rice salsa mixture in the casserole dish.

Cover the casserole dish tightly with foil. Bake for one hour.

Take the casserole dish out of the oven, test the rice with a fork to make sure it is tender. If it is not, recover the dish, return it to the oven, and bake for 10-15 minutes more. (Mine was still crispy and I increased the temp to 400.  I should have added a bit more stock)

When the rice is tender, sprinkle the cheese over top and return the casserole to the oven for a few minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Serve hot and sprinkle tortilla crumbs on top for a little crunchy texture.

The rice was a bit dried out, and I really should have added just a bit more stock when I increased the temperature.  Other than that, it was pretty good.

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