Category Archives: Food Blogging Event

Hot Tamale Soup

Can I just say that I’m glad that we have a weekend of warm weather to look forward to? Because really, I’m ready to leave the soups behind and get back to grilling. There’s nothing like a bowl of hot soup to warm you up on a cold winter day, though – and this is no exception.

Truth be told, the only thing I didn’t like about this soup was the tamales – but that could just be because of my aversion to canned/jarred tamales, which I think are godawful. Maybe if I made my own from scratch, I’d like that aspect of it. But for now, I’m leaving the tamales out, and enjoying the soup for the nicely thick and spicy concoction it is, which is even better when garnished with fresh avocado, tortilla strips and sour cream.

I’m sending this one over to be part of the Souper Soup Challenge, hosted by Running with Tweezers.

Hot Tamale Soup

Hot Tamale Soup
recipe courtesy Tammy Randerman via Bon Appetit

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground cinnamon
3 cups canned chicken broth
1 14-to-16-ounce can tomatoes, chopped, with juices
12 purchased tamales, 3 ounces each
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed, drained
1 cup frozen corn kernels
Shredded cheddar

Heat heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add first 4 ingredients and cook until beef is brown, breaking up meat with fork, about 4 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, cayenne and cinnamon and cook 1 minute. Add broth and tomatoes with juices. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat tamales according to package instructions.

Stir beans and corn into soup. Simmer until corn is just heated through, about 3 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Place 2 tamales into each of 6 bowls. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Chicken Pasta Skillet

When a Costco opened in town not too long ago, I didn’t really think I was missing out on much – after all, my trusty Sam’s Club membership had done me fine all these years, and did I really need a warehouse club membership for someplace that’s a half hour drive from home? So for the longest while I didn’t even consider a membership…that is until a bunch of people were Costco this and Costco that and I felt like I was missing out. Was I ever!

Going there on Sunday is like shopping and lunch all rolled up into one. It makes the samples at Sam’s look like childs play. Not good for someone who is really bad about impulse purchases like I am. But one of the samples they were offering was chicken strips in Prego Heart Healthy sauce, mixed with a little bit of mozzarella and Parmesan. So simple, but yum. So of course I impulse purchased both, and when I came home, searched for a recipe that would combine those ingredients. This is what I found. As easy to make as Chicken Helper, but much healthier and much more delicious.

Presto Pasta Night 100

I’m submitting this recipe to the 100th edition of Presto Pasta Nights. Congratulations, Ruth – for keeping your baby going this long. 🙂

Chicken Pasta Skillet

Chicken Pasta Skillet
recipe slightly modified from Kraft

1 lb. package chicken strips
1 sweet bell pepper, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1-1/2 cups water
2 cups rotini pasta, uncooked
1 jar (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 cup Mozzarella cheese

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in large skillet, and then add vegetables; cook and stir 5 min. Stir in water. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low.

STIR in pasta, covering completely with water; cover with lid. Simmer 15 min. or until pasta is tender. Stir in sauce and chicken strips.

SPRINKLE with cheese. Reduce heat to low; cook, covered, 5 min. or until cheese is melted and mixture is heated through. Add Parmesan cheese to taste.

Cream of Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

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On the neverending quest to find soups and stews to warm us up in these chilly days of winter, we ran across this hearty soup on another food blog. We used turkey tenderloins from Whole Foods, which worked like a charm. It was thicker than we expected, but very hearty and filling. We’d make this one again in a heartbeat. This is my contribution to this week’s Bookmarked Recipes event.

Turkey Wild Rice Soup

Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
recipe from Arctic Garden Studio

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup wild rice
2 large chicken (or turkey) breasts, should equal 3 cups shredded
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 4 ounces)
¾ cup chopped celery
¾ cup chopped carrots
¼ cup chopped shallots
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a large soup pot or dutch oven (4 quart) over medium heat add chicken broth, wild rice, chicken, thyme, and sage. Let simmer for about 40 minutes. Remove chicken from the pot, shred, and return to pot.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery, carrots and shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add 1 cup broth from soup pot and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add mixture to the soup pot. Stir in sour cream and parsley and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes more.

Best of Fall Lasagna

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I lose control a little bit in fall – there’s no rhyme or reason to it, something just comes over me. Before I know it, I have enough winter squash to feed a small army. I guess it’s because to me, nothing says fall and winter cooking like squash. I think it helps that it stays good darn near forever (or at least long enough for me to use it all). When I saw this recipe posted on the blog A Year in the Kitchen, I just had to make it.

It came together easily enough, and has great flavor – but we found out that it only tastes good the first time around, and doesn’t reheat well. So make this when you’ve got a crowd to feed, or scale down to make the amount your family can eat in one sitting. I’m submitting this post to this week’s edition of Bookmarked Recipes.

Best of Fall Lasagna

The Very Best of Fall Lasagna
recipe courtesy A Year in the Kitchen

1 box whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 package apple maple chicken sausage (trader joe’s)
1 can of organic pumpkin puree
2 c. part skim ricotta cheese
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. thyme
1 acorn squash
1 butternut squash
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
½ c. chicken stock
1 c. 2% milk
Fresh grated nutmeg, to taste
2 c. shredded smoked fontina cheese
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt heavily.
Combine pumpkin puree, ricotta, cinnamon, salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside until ready to construct lasagna.

Cook sausage according to package directions. Slice and set aside until ready to construct lasagna.
In a nonstick skillet over low heat, sauté onions for 15 minutes, or until tender. Add thyme, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Cook until vinegar is a glaze onions, turn heat off and set aside until ready to construct lasagna.

Place a steamer basket over boiling water. Peel, seed, and slice acorn and butternut squash. Place in steamer basket and steam for 3-4 minutes, do not overcook! They should be al dente. Set aside until ready to construct.

Drop the pasta noodles, and cook for 7 minutes.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add in flour and cook out over medium heat. Add stock, milk and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer. Add ½ of the cheese. Whisk until combined, turn off heat.
Drain noodles when they’re very al dente.

To construct lasagna:
Ladle cheese sauce into the bottom of a lasagna dish. Place noodles in the bottom, top with ricotta mix, then slices of squash, then slices of sausage, some balsamic onions, and a ladle full of the cheese sauce.

Repeat beginning with noodles for 2 more layers, using up squash, sausage, and onions. At the 4th layer, spread on ricotta mixture, remaining cheese sauce, and then top with the remaining 1 c. of fontina cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.

Fall Pasta Salad

no croutons required

I’ve had the idea of this pasta salad in my head for a while – I wanted to put together a pasta salad that had a bunch of fall ingredients in it, like winter squash and pepitas and apples. This is my first try, very vegetarian, but it’s missing something. Paul says bacon or something else that’s salty. Will give it a try next time around, but I’m submitting this vegetarian version to No Croutons Required, which has the theme of vegetarian soups or salads with pasta this month.

Fall Pasta Salad

Fall Pasta Salad

1 lb. pasta (your choice, I used Trader Joe’s veggie pasta, which had nice fall colors)
2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2″ cubes and roasted until tender
1 Honeycrisp apple, peeled, seeded, diced and sprinkled with citric acid
1 handful roasted salted pepitas (I got these at Trader Joe’s)
1/4 c. golden raisins
1 recipe of Sherry Maple Vinaigrette (recipe below)
2-4 oz. Trader Joe’s Goat Cheese with Honey, crumbled

Set aside roasted butternut squash. Prepare pasta according to pasta instructions, rinse in cold water and drain. Mix in apple, pepitas, and raisins. Before serving, mix in dressing and squash and combine, making sure not to mush the squash. Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve.

Sherry Maple Vinaigrette
recipe courtesy Fine Cooking magazine

1/3 cup sherry vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
2 Tbs. maple syrup
1 Tbs. finely chopped shallots
1 cup peanut oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, and shallots in a bowl and slowly whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Apples & Thyme: Mom’s Low & Slow Pot Roast

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It’s time again for Apples & Thyme, the food blogging event that celebrates the recipes we’ve learned from our mothers and grandmothers. This time I’m going to focus on my mother.

Mom & Joe

Unlike me, she doesn’t experiment that much with cooking, having a dozen or so staple dishes that she makes really well, with the occasional new recipe being dreamt up or tested for variety. I’m not exactly sure where she got this recipe, but it’s the way she’s made pot roast for as long as I can remember, and it’s so easy even a child could do it.

Mom's Low 'n Slow Pot Roast

It only has four ingredients – a 3 to 4 pound chuck roast, an envelope of onion soup mix, a 15-oz can of diced or stewed tomatoes, and the seasoning of your choice (I use Penzey’s Beef Roast seasoning). Put the meat into foil (I use a Dutch oven), sprinkle it with seasoning, soup mix and tomatoes, and either seal up the foil or put the lid tightly on the Dutch oven. Cook low ‘n slow in a 250F oven for about 8 hours – when you peek again after that time, the roast will be falling-apart tender. Set the roast and veggies aside, and put any juices through a strainer. Make gravy by thickening with Wondra and bringing the drippings to a boil for 1-2 minutes, and then pour gravy on top of roast and serve.

Serve with potatoes or noodles. Makes great leftover open-faced pot roast sandwiches. 🙂

Swedish Meatballs

presto pasta nights

I absolutely love Swedish meatballs, and have for years – but as easy as they are to prepare, I’ve never actually had them from scratch. With the aid of a recipe, were were able to duplicate a recipe that’s at least as good as any other we’ve had. We’d definitely make it again, although next time we might make the meatballs smaller. I’m submitting this recipe to be part of this week’s Presto Pasta Nights.

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs
recipe courtesy Food Network

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp minced onions
2/3 c. fresh bread crumbs
1 c. water
3/4 lb. lean ground beef
3/4 lb. lean ground pork
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 c. beef stock

In a small, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add the onions and saute, stirring often until soft, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the bread crumbs and water. Let stand until soft, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the reserved onions along with the beef, pork, egg yolks, salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice. Beat on low speed until smooth. Turn the mixer to high speed and beat until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Using 2 spoons dipped in cold water, shape the meat into 1-inch balls.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Cook the meatballs in batches of about 15 to 20 at a time and brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain briefly on paper towels before removing to a warmed serving platter. Cover to keep warm. When all the meatballs are cooked, reduce the heat to low and add the flour to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Slowly add the beef stock. Cook, whisking, until the gravy is thick and smooth. Strain, if desired. Pour the gravy over the meatballs and serve hot.

Mushroom Ravioli with Shiitake Cream Sauce


When I’m super busy (like I have been the past week or so), I like to make super simple recipes that can be both thrown together in minutes and are delicious. This is one such recipe, which is a great use for those delicious shiitakes from the farmers market. You can choose to serve it with turkey tenderloin for a little protein, if you wish – but it’s not completely necessary as it’s extremely filling and satisfying even without. I’m submitting it to be part of this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday roundup.

Turkey Tenderloins with Mushroom Ravioli and Shiitake Cream Sauce

Basically, you just need to cook the turkey tenderloin according to package directions, along with the Trader Joe’s Mushroom Mix ravioli or one of your choice. When you plate it, dress it with the sauce below.

Mushroom Ravioli with Shiitake Cream Sauce

Shiitake Cream Sauce
recipe modified from The Mushroom Council

4.5 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp. fresh herbs
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 c. cream

Saute mushrooms with garlic, fresh herbs, and white wine for 3 minutes. Slowly add cream and let reduce until sauce consistency. Serve over ravioli and tenderloin – recipe can be easily doubled if necessary.

Cornish Game Hen and Butternut Squash Risotto


I’m a sucker for a good risotto, but don’t have much experience making them. I saw a bunch of bloggers making this recipe a few weeks ago, and the final dish looked so delicious that I just knew I had to try it using some of the squash I grew in our garden this year.

I love working with butternut squash – I think it has the best flavor of the conventional winter squashes, and to me is the easiest to cut through and work with. What makes this recipe extra special, though – is the amount of saffron in it – 1 whole teaspoon! Talk about an expensive risotto! I’ve found that I can cut the amount of saffron in half and still get a nice color and flavor.

I served with Cornish game hen ($2.29 each at Aldi – woot!) halves brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Canadian Chicken Seasoning (I got it at GFS). Perfection on a plate – I’ve made some sort of variation of this three times in the last week alone. I’m submitting this recipe to be part of the Grow Your Own event over at Andrea’s Recipes.

Cornish Game Hen and Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto
recipe courtesy Ina Garten

1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan. Mix well and serve.

Spicy Honey Brushed Chicken Thighs


I find myself drawn more and more to recipes with boneless skinless chicken thighs rather than chicken breasts – I think it’s because even without skin, the additional fat in the chicken meat does wonders for mouth feel. And with this particular recipe, the glaze created by the honey mixture almost recreates skin – you don’t miss it a bit! This recipe comes highly recommended for any low-fat diet – Cooking Light suggests pairing it with garlic roasted potato wedges and a salad, but I think it would go well with just about any side dish. Personally, I went with rice pilaf. I’m submitting this to be part of the Diet Foods Event hosted by Dil Se. My apologies in advance for the horrible lighting.

Spicy Honey Brushed Chicken Thighs

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs
recipe courtesy Cooking Light

2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper (I used 1/4 tsp.)
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray
6 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. cider vinegar

Preheat broiler. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done (ours took about 4-5 more minutes – check internal temperature with a meat thermometer to be sure). Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 chicken thighs)

Nutrition: 321 cal (31% from fat), 11g fat (3g sat, 4.1g mono, 2.5g poly), 28g pro, 27.9g carb, 0.6g fiber, 99mg chol, 2.1mg iron, 676mg sod, 21mg calc.