Monday, December 30, 2013

Kids in the Kitchen: Reindeer Noses

You know the scene: You're working in the kitchen and a little person comes in and wants to help.  This is what happened to me recently and my response was to hand her a bag of Hershey's Kisses and tell her to start unwrapping.

Are you ready for the absolute easiest holiday snack ever?  Here it is:

Mini pretzels
Hershey kisses

1.  Preheat oven to 170*

2.  Arrange pretzels on a baking sheet and top each with a candy kiss.

3.  Bake 5 min.

4.  Top each with an M&M and press down slightly.

So easy and the perfect combination of sweet and salty!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Vegetarian Chicken* Spaghetti

Our oldest came home for Christmas leave yesterday and brought with him one of his military friends who needed to spend the night before moving on with his own travels home.  They arrived long after my husband and I were in bed and they were hungry, apparently.  The spaghetti leftovers were gone!

This recipe has been a favorite of all my guys for several years.  It's just good comfort food.  One of these days, I'm going to try it with homemade cream of mushroom instead of canned soup though.  Also, this is vegetarian for us because I use a chicken substitute (Beyond Meat is amazing!) and chicken-less broth (Better Than Bouillon).

3 TBSP olive oil
1 lb. chicken breasts or substitute
6c chicken broth or water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder 
1/4 c red bell pepper, chopped
1/4c green bell pepper, chopped
1/2c mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2c onion, chopped
1 (10.75oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
3/4c dry white wine
2c Cheddar cheese, shredded
8oz. spaghetti
1/4c Parmesan cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. In large skillet, heat 1 TBSP oil  and cook chicken, seasoning with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste.  Remove chicken, shred it, and set aside.

3. Place spaghetti in a pot of boiling water and cook until it reaches al dente consistency, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

4. In large skillet, heat remaining 2 TBSP oil over medium high heat.  Add green peppers, red peppers, mushrooms, garlic, and onion. Saute until slightly tender, about 3-4 minutes.

5. In large mixing bowl, combine sautéed vegetables, cooked spaghetti, cooked chicken, white wine, and 1 1/2c Cheddar cheese.

6. Pour into prepared 9”x13” pan.  Bake, covered, for 30 minutes.

7. Uncover and top with remaining 1/2c Cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese. Return to oven and continue baking, uncovered, another 15 minutes.
Served with a simple mixed greens salad.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kids in the Kitchen: Easy Homemade Play Dough

On a recent Snow Day at home, I was feeling crafty.  I was also in need of new and fun way to keep a toddler happy and avoid the dreaded B word - boredom.  So, after a super quick search, I decided to try out this recipe for homemade play dough.

There are other recipes out there that don't require cooking or that call for a lot less cream of tartar but they, supposedly, have an off texture or the color doesn't stick well, etc.   This recipe is fantastic though and the ingredients are items you probably already have in the pantry.

2c water
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2c flour
2 TBSP cream of tartar
food coloring

1.  In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients.

2.  Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, 4-5 minutes.  You will see the liquid become firm, pull away from the pan, and form a ball.  You'll also get a fantastic mini workout!

3.  Remove dough from the pan and cool on a sheet of parchment paper.

4.  Wrap in plastic or store in an air-tight container.



Bonus:  It's completely edible!  It's super salty (yes, I tasted it), just like the store bought stuff (I can't be the only one who ever tasted that as a kid).  I'm not saying you should eat it; I'm saying you could.  ;-)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms

For an appetizer that seems as if it took more time to prepare than it really did….stuffed mushrooms!

I made this particular recipe last night to serve with our spaghetti dinner and had to stop myself from continuously eating the filling right out of the mixing bowl.  Understanding that you will inevitably wind up eating a few spoonfuls before it's all said and done, this recipe yields exactly enough for twelve yummy appetizer bites:

12 baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/8c onion, chopped
1/4c cream cheese, softened
6oz. jar of artichoke hearts, marinated in oil, chopped
1 TBSP Greek yogurt
1/2c Monterrey Jack Cheese
2 TBSP Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. garlic salt
black pepper, to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350*

2.  In a small sauté pan, heat oil and cook the stems and onion just until soft, about 5 min.

3.  In a medium bowl, combine the onion mixture with the cream cheese, artichokes, yogurt, both cheeses, and garlic salt.  Season with pepper, to taste.

4.  Bake approximately 20 minutes and serve warm.
For a little kick, add a dash or two of cayenne pepper sauce!


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