Chicken noodle soup

This is my favorite soup. It’s one of the very first recipes I ever made up on my own, basing it on the chicken and rice soup at Demo’s, my very favorite restaurant in Nashville. It’s pretty different than theirs, most notably with noodles instead of rice. The good thing about this recipe is that it’s very adaptable. You can use rice if you prefer, just adjust the cooing time since rice takes longer to cook than noodles. This is the “quick” version where I use caned chicken instead of fresh, but you can absolutely use chicken that you’ve cooked yourself. It’s great when made with leftover Slow Cooker Chicken as well.

Ingredients
1 TB oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped or shredded carrot
1 cup mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cartons chicken broth (48 oz. each)
2 cups chicken, cooked and cut into small pieces (I usually use canned chicken)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (I like mine garlicky, so you can skip this f you’re not a big garlic fan)
1 tsp. dried parsley, or 1 TB fresh, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 bag egg noodles (I use no yolks)

Heat oil in a large pot. Sauté onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic over medium heat until veggies are soft. Add broth to veggies in the pot. Add chicken and spices and let broth come to a boil. Add noodles and cook until noodles are soft, about 8-10 minutes.

This soup is especially good with fresh bread to soak up the broth.

Recipe for Cream Cheese and Green Onion Corn Muffins

Love these, especially with chili. They’re so warm and squishy and cream cheesy.

Ingredients
Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 box cream cheese, cut into small chunks
2 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir together corn muffin mix, egg, and milk until barely combined. Fold in cream cheese and green onions. Bake according to package directions. Serve warm.

Recipe for Oniontastic Chili

Have I mentioned lately how much I love fall? Only 27 times? Okay here comes 28. I love chili any time, but especially right around this time of year. Here’s one of my favorite chili recipes.

Ingredients-
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can regular or pink kidney beans
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 tbs. dried onion flakes
3 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. groung cumin
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Crumble beef into a large pot and cook until just browned. Add onions and cook until onions are soft and beef is cooked through. Drain.

Return beef to pot and add remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and let cook until heated through.

This recipe can also be done in the slow cooker. Cook beef and onions on the stovetop and drain. Add beef and onions to the rest of the ingredients and slow cook on High for 3-4 hours or Low for 5-6 hours.

Like all chills, this one is even better the second day. It goes great with Cream Cheese and Green Onion Corn Muffins, which I’ll post tomorrow.

Recipe for my favorite homemade pizza

I’ve been making this pizza ever since my friend Robert gave me my bread machine back in 2000. That’s how much I love it. The book it came from is literally falling apart. And this recipe in particular has so many stains on the page that it’s almost illegible. I’m going to write the recipe out as the book has it, then put my own notes in bold.

First the crust. It’s supposed to be made in a bread machine, but I’m assuming that you can make it without the machine, just do it like you would make regular pizza dough. I’ve never tried this before though.

Crust Ingredients-
1 cup plus 2 tbs. water Room temperature
2 tbs. olive oil or vegetable oil
3 cups Better for Bread flour I have used all purpose before and it’s been fine, but you might need to add a little more water to get the right consistency 
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast Regular yeast works fine

Add ingredients to bread machine in the order listed. Set to Dough cycle. Do not use Delay cycle.

If you don’t have a bread machine…
I found a similar recipe to mine that uses a stand mixer instead of a bread machine. You can see it here on Simply Recipes. Note that I’ve never tried it this way, but it seems similar to what my machine does in terms of kneading and resting time, etc.
Combine water and yeast. Let stand 5-10 minutes until yeast is dissolved. Stir if necessary. Using the paddle attachment, combine yeast mixture with remaining dough ingredients and mix on low for 1 minute. Remove the paddle mixer and put on the dough hook. Knead on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes, until it forms a smooth elastic dough ball. (You can also hand knead the dough if you don’t have a mixer).
Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for an hour, or until doubled in size. (See linked recipe for more details on this step). Punch down and let rest for 10 minutes.

While your dough is working, you can start on the Chunky Sauce.

Chunky Sauce ingredients-
3 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped or you can use 2 cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 medium onion, chopped or use 1/2 cup pre-chopped frozen or fresh onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms I usually use the whole container of mushrooms because I love them. If you don’t like mushrooms, you can just chop up another tomato to bulk up the sauce 
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. fresh basil, or 1 tsp. dried
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, or 1 tsp. dried
1 tsp. salt I usually only use 1/2 tsp if I’m making a sausage pizza
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients. This can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge to let the flavors mix together.

Pizza Ingredients-
Pizza dough
2 tsp. olive or vegetable oil
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (about 8 oz.)
1 pound sausage or ground beef, cooked and drained
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Chunky tomato sauce

Now you have three choices, regular crust, thick crust, or really thick crust.

Thinner crust-
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Grease a jelly roll pan (15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 inch with oil). Press dough into bottom and sides of pan. Brush 2 tsp. oil over dough. I’ve skipped the extra oil before and it’s been fine. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Top with sausage, chunky sauce, parmesan cheese, and the remaining mozzarella.
Bake on bottom oven rack for 25-30 minutes, or until crust is brown and cheese is melted and bubbly. Let sit 10 minutes before slicing.

Thicker crust-
Brush two round pans (9 x 1 in.) with oil. Divide dough in half. Press dough into bottom and sides of pans. Continue with instructions above, placing half of the ingredients on each pizza. Bake as diected.

Super thick crust.
My two round pans got destroyed after a bad trip through the dishwasher. Instead of buying new pans, I decided to use what I had, which was a glass 9 x 11 cake pan. This makes a really thick squishy crust, ad I think it’s my favorite. The directions are the same, except you might want to keep it in the oven about 5 more minutes.

A few notes…
According to the book’s recipe, using hydroponic tomatoes is not recommended for the sauce due to higher water content.
I have made this using wheat flour, but it’s been awhile. I think my ratio was 1 cup wheat flour and 2 cups regular flour. I’ll try that next time and edit the recipe accordingly.
You can, of course use different toppings. I’ve made this pizza with many combinations of toppings.

Recipe for Phyllo Dough Pizza

I’ve been wanting to do something with phyllo for like, ever. Actually since 2004. I remember one of my New Year’s resolutions in 2005 was to make something with phyllo. Clearly I’m fantastic about keeping New Year’s resolutions. So here I am, seven years later just getting around to doing that. But I think it’s my new favorite thing right now. I’ve made these twice in one week so I think we have a winner.

It all started with this post from A Beautiful Mess. I changed things up a bit and came up with these two little cuties.

Jason decided this would be the perfect opportunity to bust out the new camera and take “action shots” of the process.

Ingredients:

1 box phyllo dough, thawed using package directions
2 roma tomatoes
couple of pinches dried basil, or fresh would be even better
handfull of shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1 ripe peach
1/2 block of cream cheese
1 TBS brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out your thawed phyllo dough. Cut sheet in half, forming two rectangles. Set aside. Place a damp towel over your dough if you’re a slow chopper to keep it moist. Thinly slice tomatoes and place on first piece of dough.

Sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper, then add mozzarella on top.

Smear cream cheese on the other rectangle of dough. Slice peach and lay it on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Pop them in the oven for 18-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bottom is crispy. (The original recipe says you can bake on parchment paper for easy cleanup).

 

“Recipe” for Chili Cheese Tator Tots

Okay I’m cringing already. I can’t believe I’m actually posting this, especially right after the post about losing weight. It’s seriously kinda embarrassing. But I am a woman of contradictions and hypocrisy.

I use quotes for this one because I don’t really consider things to be recipes if the only involve opening some cans and bags. I guess I think for it to qualify as a recipe, it needs to have spices or require special equipment or something.

There are two reasons I’m sharing this “recipe”. My friend Melissa has been on my mind lately. She’s been going through some stuff, and she’s never far from my thoughts. We’ve been friends since we were seven years old, and we spent a lot of time at each others’ houses growing up. My dad introduced her to the “joy” of Hamburger Helper Stroganoff. And she introduced me to chili cheese fries. (We were obviously from two very health conscious families). I still remember her telling me how she made them using cheese in a can. We got into an argument because I knew of course that cheese comes in bags, not cans. That sounded disgusting to me. Who would put cheese in a can?

Campbell’s, apparently…

So I lost that argument. And now as an adult who knows how to make a cheese sauce from scratch, I still think cheese in a can is kind of gross. But once every couple of years I get a hankering for it that just can’t be quelled. And I always think of Melissa when I think of canned cheese.

The second reason is that this was the first thing I made after we got the new camera. And so it had to be commemorated. So here goes.

Chili Cheese Tator Tots

1 bag frozen tator tots. You can also use fries, but I like the mushiness of the tots.
1 can chili with no beans
1 can black beans
(Or you can use 2 cans of chili with beans, I just used what I had on hand at the time)
1 can condensed cheese soup

Bake tots or fries according to package directions. While they’re cooking, mix together chili and beans. Heat chili and cheese sauce separately. Once everything is hot, layer tots, chili, and cheese in a bowl. This makes a ton. Leftovers are good for breakfast the next morning.

Action shot 🙂

Some thoughts on blogging recipes

When I started this blog, I had three main areas I wanted to focus on- recipes, scrapbooking, and documenting the fun stuff in our lives (for future scrapbook pages and “just because”). I have dipped my toes into other things, but those are still my three main areas of interest for this space.

But I have been severely lacking in recipes lately. I started the “What’s for Dinner” series hoping that would spur me on to blogging more of my recipes. And while I really enjoy those posts, I’m still not blogging recipes like I want to.

I think a lot of that has to do with my skills as a photographer, or lack thereof. I take tons of pictures of food, but I don’t like any of them. And what good is a recipe blog if there aren’t wonderful mouth-watering photos to go along with them?

I guess my question is, what’s more important- good recipes or good photos? I’ve cooked many recipes from books that don’t have photos. But I will rarely try an internet recipe if there isn’t a picture of the recipe.

I will make a confession here. I had a recipe blog on Live Journal once. And it had no pictures whatsoever *gasp*. But I made it for two people, myself and my sister. I wanted to have a place where I could quickly find one of my favorite recipes without having to look through my ridiculous recipe book collection. And I wanted a place where I could give J little tips on cooking because I couldn’t be there for her in person since we lived so far away from each other. Despite not having photos, it was still a very workable little recipe blog for what it was. I still go there occasionally to find a recipe.

So I guess in a long rambling way what I’m trying to say is that I need a new approach to this whole blogging recipes thing. I need to not let my bad photos hold me back from sharing recipes that I love. So from here on out, I’ll still attempt to take good photos, but if they don’t turn out, I’ll put up the recipe sans pictures. And if it’s something I make a lot I can always edit the post down the road. I know this doesn’t matter to anyone but me. But the food I cook is just as much a part of our lives as the places we travel or the layouts I make. It deserves to be here.

Slow Cooker Chicken recipe

I make this recipe quite often, especially when it’s going to be a busy week and I have limited cooking time. It makes enough chicken for several meals. It’s also great to cook a big batch when I need cooked chicken for salads and soups.

4 lbs. chicken breast (I use the big bags of frozen chicken), thawed
1 cup water
2 TBS chicken broth granules
1 TBS dried basil or other herbs
15-20 grinds of fresh pepper

Place thawed chicken in slow cooker.
Bring water to a boil and add broth granules and herbs. Stir to get rid of any lumps.
Pour mixture over chicken and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6 hours.

*My slow cooker runs really hot. If you have an older cooker, it might take longer. When in doubt, use a meat thermometer.

Basil Lemonade

I’ve been procrastinating writing about this one because I’ve made it three times this summer, but it still doesn’t feel like “mine”. It’s wonderfully tasty and fresh and I absolutely love it. I’ve made it slightly differently each time and it’s been great each time. So I’m not quite ready to call this a recipe, but I will tell you that I got the original idea from the Macheesmo blog. And did I mention it was delicious? It seriously was. Now I want to make many many different kinds of lemonade. I’m developing a real love for summery drinks this year.

Recipe- Marsha’s Sausage Balls

It’s been a long time since I posted a recipe. I have a pretty sizable backlog of recipes I want to post, but I probably won’t get to most of them until August. In the meantime, here’s the recipe for one of our family favorites. I make these for just about every holiday. My aunt Marsha gave me this recipe many years ago.

Marsha’s Sausage Balls

1 pound Tennessee Pride sausage (you can use other brands, but it just won’t be quite as good)
3 1/2 cups Bisquick
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4- 1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with your hands or a stand mixer. The consistency should be sticky and all flour should be incorporated. You may need a little more or less water to get the right texture. Roll into quarter size balls. I use a mellon baller to get a uniform size.

Cook for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

This is another of the recipes that makes me so thankful for my mixer. No more mixing sausage by hand!

Also I’ve used regular all purpose flour in a pinch before and they turned out fine.