Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chewy Cran-Apple Granola Bars

Here is a good homemade snack that I thought was really easy to throw together. I liked that these were really good without adding sugar, corn syrup, or sweetened condensed milk. Many recipes I see for homemade granola bars have at least one of these and might as well be cookies. Anyway, I plan on using this recipe all the time as well as changing up the ingredients for fun. This recipe calls for 1/2 cup of each of the dried fruit, but I wanted more fruit so next time I will probably up those to 3/4 cup each. Great, healthy snack!

Recipe and Photo courtesy Real Mom Kitchen

*Printable Version*

What You Need:
3-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup whole almonds, chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sunflower kernels
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped dried apples
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1.Spray a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with cooking non-stick cooking spray. Add oats and almonds to the pan. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally.

2.In a large bowl, mix the egg, butter, honey and vanilla together. Then add the sunflower kernels, coconut, apples, cranberries, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir to coat.

3.Then stir in oat mixture and press into a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 13-18 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bratten's Clam Chowder

This recipe was given to me by a relative years ago and over time I've made changes here and there that I think make it the perfect clam chowder. It isn't low fat by any means but so delicious! This is one of our favorites in the dinner rotation. Try it in a bread bowl or serve some good sourdough and a salad along side. Even better, try it with these  Cheddar Garlic Biscuits.

*Printable Version*

What You Need:
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
2 cups diced potatoes {peeled or not, your preference}
3 cans clams, drained {reserve liquid of 2 cans}
4-6 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and diced
1.5 sticks of butter plus one tablespoon
3/4 cup flour
1 quart half and half
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Old Bay seasoning
salt and pepper

Using a soup kettle or dutch oven, saute the celery and onion in 1 tablespoon butter until softened. Add the bacon. Season the potatoes generously with salt, pepper and Old Bay. Add the potatoes to the pan with just enough water to cover them. Add the liquid drained from 2 of the cans of clams. Cook until potatoes are tender.

In a separate pan, melt the 1.5 sticks of butter and add the flour. Stir over medium heat for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour until mixture is thick and bubbly. Slowly add the quart of half and half. Stir and cook 3-4 minutes until smooth and heated through.

Add the cream mixture to the potato mixture. Add 3 cans of drained clams and the red wine vinegar. Allow to mix and heat through, but do not let boil. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pistachio Cake

I am not exaggerating when I tell you this was our favorite cake ever at this house. Not only did it disappear in about two days, it was being fought over, hovered around, even at breakfast. I can't really say what makes it so good, especially when its so darn simple and uses mixes but hey, if it works it works. This is a super moist, melt in your mouth cake. The pistachio pudding mix had a little crunch from small pieces of pistachio, but I would even dare add a little extra chopped pistachios when making it again. Thank you, Pioneer Woman, for this easy and delicious recipe!

*Printable Version*

What You Need:
1 box White Cake Mix
1 package (4 Ounce) Pistachio Instant Pudding Mix
½ cups Orange Juice
½ cups Water
½ cups Vegetable Oil
4 whole Eggs
¾ cups Chocolate Syrup {I used Hershey's Special Dark}

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bundt pan. Mix all ingredients except the chocolate syrup and beat for two minutes on medium-high. Pour 3/4 of the batter into the bundt pan. Add chocolate syrup to the remaining batter and mix well. Pour chocolate batter on top of the pistachio batter. The original recipe says bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Mine was done at 43 minutes and I'm sure this has to do with altitude so check at 40 minutes and go from there! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mom's Beef Stew

My mom has been using this recipe for over 30 years and when I started college, it was given to me and of course, I think it is the best. I have made just a couple slight changes. I love the texture of red sweet potatoes {or yams} against the stew meat so I use those for half of the potatoes. You just need to be sure to chunk them very large as they can disappear after cooking all day. It can also help to add them later in the cooking process. I also leave out some things at times for my picky eaters but you can add them. Lastly, I have made this in the slow cooker and the oven in a dutch oven style pot and have to vote for the oven. It will thicken and flavor better.  If you decide to use the slow cooker, remove the lid during the last 30 minutes and turn it to high when you add the tapioca. There is really nothing like this hearty stew at the end of a cold busy day!

*Printable Version*

What You Need:
5-6 quart dutch oven, oven safe pot or slow cooker
1.5 to 2 pounds stew meat
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into eighths
2 red sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into eighths
4 carrots, peeled and cut
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
2 cans tomato soup
1 package onion soup mix
3-4 cups water
4 teaspoons dry tapioca {Found on the baking aisle or near the pudding mixes}
1-2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: {I do not always use}
1 can or frozen package green beans
1 can or frozen package corn
1 can stewed tomatoes

If not using slow cooker, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Either in the bottom of your dutch oven or a skillet, heat 2-3 tablespoons oil. Season your stew meat with a dusting of flour and salt and pepper. Add the stew meat to the heated oil and just brown on all sides. Add the vegetables, soups & onion soup mix to the pot. Add water until everything is just covered. Cover and place the pot in the 300 degree oven for about 6 hours, or in the crock pot on low. About 20-30 minutes before serving, add 4 teaspoons dry tapioca to the stew and leave uncovered. This will thicken it. If you want it more soupy and thin, cut the tapioca in half or omit. Enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Greek Chicken Salad

Here is a great lunch idea that turns out full of Omega 3's, protein and has no mayonnaise so you can feel a little less guilty following the holidays. I made this up as I went along and it turned out perfect for my taste, but its very adaptable according to your taste. I used pita pocket bread along side a bowl of lentil soup and practically inhaled my lunch! So good.

*Printable Version*

What You Need:
1 cup cooked chicken diced or shredded {I used 1 can of Hormel canned chicken, drained, but rotisserie or leftover would be great}
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup canned white beans, drained and rinsed
1 heaping teaspoon greek seasoning
4 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine chicken, cucumber, olives, feta and white beans. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and greek seasoning. Pour dressing over chicken mixture and salt and pepper to taste. Serve in pita or over lettuce. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Easy Chicken Alfredo

This recipe is a regular in our dinner rotation for many reasons. One, it uses very few ingredients and is crazy quick to put together. The flavor will beat store bought alfredo sauces hands down, and matches any restaurant quality. You can also alter the fat content a bit, decide to make it meatless, or adjust the types of cheese you prefer to use to make it your own. You can use any type of pasta you like or add veggies like spinach or broccoli. The recipe is more of a base that you can build on any way you like!

What You Need:
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy cream, half and half or 2 percent milk {I use half and half}
1/2 cup chicken broth
1cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite size pieces {Optional}
1 lb cooked  pasta like fettuccine, penne or bowties

Prepare a pasta pot with 6 quarts of water and turn to high. Once boiling, add salt and pasta and cook according to package directions while you are preparing the sauce.

Heat a medium sauce pan or deep skillet on medium low. Add butter to the pan and let it begin to melt. Add flour to the butter and stir to combine. You must let the flour-butter mixture cook for about one minute while continually stirring to cook the raw taste out of the flour. You will end up with thick bubbly rue. Add the cream and chicken broth and whisk together quickly to remove any lumps. Let this mixture heat through but do not boil. Add the cheese and garlic, plus salt and pepper to taste. Allow mixture to simmer until it thickens. Add chicken to the sauce and serve over hot pasta. Serve with a salad and garlic bread. Serves 4-6. Enjoy!