Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sneaky Vegetables

My New Year's resolution was to get more fruits and vegetables into my family.  My daughter has always been good about trying new things and she loves any kind of fruit.  My son, however, is the complete opposite.  He is known as The Pickiest Eater Ever, a title he takes great pride in.  And my Old-School Italian Husband would eat chicken parmesan and/or meatballs everyday if I would allow it.  So, I feel it is my duty to force more fruits and vegetables down their throats.  Ok, maybe that's a bit harsh.  I will sneak more fruits and vegetables into their diets.  Yea, that sounds good.

This first recipe has broccoli in it.  But it also has chicken, rice and two kinds of cheeses.  So, it tastes great.
There are two ways you can do this.  You can use bone-in chicken breasts, boil them and shred them.  Or you can use boneless chicken breasts, cube them and saute them.  Either way is good.  I did it the second way today.


1 pkg frozen chopped broccoli
1 stick butter or margarine
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup shredded mozarella
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup milk
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups cooked rice (cold - great use for left over rice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut chicken into cubes.  Saute in a large skillet in a little oil (or cooking spray) until cooked.  Remove to a plate and set aside.   In the same skillet, melt butter.  Saute onion in butter until translucent.  Add broccoli and stir until thawed.  Add remaining ingredients, including chicken.  Stir to mix.  Put into a greased 9x13 baking dish and bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

This next recipe is for a carrot cake.  It is so delicious!  You get to have your cake and get your carrots, too.  I got this recipe from the Pioneer Woman, but I changed it a tiny bit.
I halved the recipe, because I have a half-size Bundt pan.  If you want to half it but you don't have the smaller Bundt, just use a regular 9 inch cake pan and cut the bake time to 30 minutes or so.  I will write the full recipe but it is very easy to cut in half.


2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups shredded carrots


1 stick butter, softened
1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour your cake pan, shaking out excess flour. (I use shortening to grease the pan)  With a mixer, mix together sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl.  In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and combine.  Then add the carrots and mix well.  Pour into greased and floured Bundt pan and bake about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool completely.

Icing:  In a big bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese together.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk and stir to combine.  If it's too thick, add a little more milk, too thin add some more powdered sugar.

Spread onto cooled cake.  (This icing is also great on cinnamon raisin bagels!)  Here's what the iced cake looks like:

It comes out moist and delicious!

So, there are a few ways to sneak vegetables into your picky eater.  I know these aren't really health foods, but, when you have really picky eaters like mine, it's all about baby steps.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Soup"er Easy Vegetable Soup

We have all been sick.  The entire family.  I am having ankle problems (again!) and am in a walking boot and crutches.  My kids and husband have sinus infections with crazy coughing spells that sound like they're coughing up a lung!  It's like an infirmary in here!  So, needless to say, we have not been grocery shopping lately.  Last night, I had to do a little pantry magic to scrape up something for supper.  I scrounged the freezer, too.  Believe me, there wasn't a lot to work with!  (can't shop when you can't walk!)  But, I managed to find enough to make a pretty good vegetable soup.  It was easy, too.  Here's what I did:


1 can beef stew (Dinty Moore)
1 can mixed vegetables (don't drain)
1 can diced or whole tomatoes (whatever you have)
1 pkg brown gravy mix
2 chicken bullion cubes
1 cup frozen corn
green onions, sliced
onion/garlic powder

In a large pot, add beef stew, mixed vegetables, tomatoes, gravy mix and bullion cubes.  Add a can of water.  Bring to a boil.  Add frozen corn and green onions.  Lower heat to a simmer.  Season to taste with salt/pepper, onion powder, garlic powder (or whatever seasonings you like).  Let simmer for 20 minutes or so.  The longer it simmers the better it tastes.

The point of this soup is to use whatever you have on hand and customize it to your liking.  If you like it thinner, add more water.  If you have frozen peas, use that.  If you have leftover roast or chicken, throw that in, too.  I tell ya, it was a lot better than calling for take-out again!  And when you're sick, a big bowl of soup is just what the doctor ordered!  I hope all of you are feeling good.  If not, try some "soup"er easy vegetable soup.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Retro Desserts

Most women want jewelry as a gift.  My family knows I am not like most women.  Instead of drooling over a pair of diamond earrings, I'm coveting my neighbor's Cuisinart.  So, when I got a new Kitchen Aid stand mixer for Christmas I was so excited!  I felt like a kid who got a new bike (or an ipad).  I had an old hand-me-down stand mixer (not a Kitchen Aid) that I'd had for many years.  But, when I got this shiny new one, I couldn't wait to start using it!  I went on a baking rampage.  Anything I could think of.  Some recipes were good, some not-so-good.  Here are the good ones.  Not surprisingly, they are classics.  Retro desserts never go out of style.


1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cup oats
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cream butter and sugars together until smooth.  (if you don't have a stand mixer you can use a hand mixer)  Add egg and vanilla.  Beat well, until fluffy.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.  (you don't have to sift them; I just stir them together with a whisk)  Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture just until blended.  Mix in oats and raisins.

 Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet a few inches apart.  I use a small scoop so they are all roughly the same size.

Bake at 325 degrees for 12 minutes or until lightly golden.  Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet then transfer to a rack to cool completely.  

These are so good!  Chewy on the inside with a tiny bit of crunch around the edges.  A bit of spice from the cinnamon and nutmeg.  Yum!  Plus, I feel healthier when I eat these (Well, they have oatmeal and raisins in them, after all!)

Another retro dessert that is one of my all-time favorites is Banana Nut Bread.  This recipe came from a cook book that belonged to my Maw Maw Fannie.  I've tinkered with it a bit over the years and found that this version is moist and delicious.  I make this when I have a few bananas that are getting black and soft.  They may look bad, but that's when they are the sweetest.  Perfect for baking!


3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil)
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 large bananas, mashed (or 3 small ones)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray loaf pan with cooking spray. (grease it well)  Cream together sugar, oil and eggs until fluffy.  (use a mixer for this)  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt and soda. Set aside.  Mix the vanilla into the milk.  Set aside.  Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the creamed mixture.  Stir until combined.  Gently stir in bananas and nuts.  Bake at 350 degrees in greased loaf pan for one hour.

Turn out of pan and cool on a rack.

This bread smells fantastic and tastes just as good.  It's great with coffee in the morning or as a dessert.  Makes a great gift, too.  And again, I feel healthy when I eat this. (bananas are a fruit, ya know.  don't judge me.)

So, give these retro recipes a try.  Hopefully you'll love them as much as I do.  (they are health food after all, sort of)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Simple Smothered Pork Chops

I know most people are on a health kick to begin the new year, but I say everything in moderation.  So, why not start the year off with something that makes you happy?  Instead of plain chicken breasts and steamed vegetables, how about smothered pork chops?  Oh yeah, that's my kind of start to the year.  Here's how I make it:


4 pork chops (bone-in)
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
cajun seasoning
chicken broth (low sodium)
worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a dutch oven (big pot with a lid that's oven-proof), heat about 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat.  Season pork chops on both sides with cajun seasoning.  Dredge them lightly in some flour (also seasoned with cajun seasoning).  Shake off excess flour, then brown them in the oil.  Once brown on the first side, flip them over and brown the other side.  Don't crowd the pot or the chops won't brown, they'll steam and that's not what you want.  Brown the chops in batches if you have to.  Remove the chops to a plate and drain off excess oil.

Put the chops back into pot and add onions and garlic on top of the chops.  Add a few splashes of worcestershire sauce.  Then, add enough chicken broth to come halfway up the sides of the pork chops.  Don't cover them with broth.

 Bring to a simmer.  Put the lid on and turn off the heat.  Put the covered pot in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  You don't have to stir it or anything!  Just leave it alone for 45 minutes.  Then, remove from oven, take off the lid (carefully!), and remove the chops to a serving dish.  Whisk up the gravy and onions in the pot.  If the gravy is too thick for you, whisk in a little water or broth.  Serve gravy over the pork chops.

This is so good!  The pork chops come out so tender and the gravy is delicious!  Simple, good, country cooking.  What's not to love?