Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Have you ever seen a recipe somewhere and immediately knew you just had to make it as soon as possible?

This was one of those for me.

Mostly because I knew Ryan would like it.  

See? Sometimes I make things solely based on my husband's palate... and sometimes... well... I completely ignore them, and serve him pasta loaded with mushrooms and pine nuts. So I guess I'm not completely innocent.You'll know when I've completely sacrificed my own taste buds when I finally share a fish/crab/lobster/shrimp/nastiness recipe on here. Someday that day will come.

Today is not that day.

This recipe was delightfully simple, and yielded dreamy results. The rich and velvety soup accompanied by the baked and seasoned pie dough wedges created the perfect illusion of chicken pot pie. Instead of using both frozen peas and carrots, I settled for frozen peas, but also used freshly peeled/sliced/boiled carrots. The broth was surprisingly thin - and I surprisingly liked it that way. You'd think with a soup like this, the broth would turn into some kind of thick goop, but it stayed wonderfully light in texture along the way. I also didn't have poultry seasoning, so I found a quick throw-together *recipe that uses all the seasonings you probably have in your spice rack (recipe below). Easy enough, right?

Another important tip I'd highly recommend: turn the temperature down on the chicken before you give into your adorable blue-eyed Manchild's plea for you to read, yet again, Tikki-Tikki-Tembo. I caught mine just in time to save it, but OH man would have been staring at a pan of really really dead bird (as opposed to just dead, of course) only a few moments later. It was worth it - I sure love that kid, and short Asian names.


Chicken Pot Pie Soup

1 disk refrigerated pie dough
freshly ground pepper
1/2 t + a pinch of poultry seasoning
2 T unsalted butter
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, ends cut off, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 C flour
3 C chicken broth
1 C half-and-half
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped, boiled for 5 minutes, drained (frozen carrots work too, I guess)
6oz of frozen peas, room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Unroll the pie dough onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with pepper and pinch of poultry seasoning. Cut into quarters and bake until golden - about 10 minutes.
2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and 1/2 t salt and cook, undisturbed, 2 minutes, then cook, stirring, 1 more minute. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Add celery, onion, flour, 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 t poultry seasoning to the pot and cook, stirring, one minute.
4. Stir in 2 cups water, the broth, half-and-half, and potatoes (scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan from the chicken). Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, 10 minutes.
5. Add the peas and carrots and simmer, about 6 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and simmer until cooked through, about 1 minute. Taste, add seasonings as needed (I added more salt and pepper). Divide among bowls and top with baked pie crust.

Recipe Source: Food Network Magazine, December 2012 Issue 
Makes 4 Servings 


*Poultry Seasoning

 2 t ground sage
1 1/2 t ground thyme
1 t ground marjoram
3/4 t ground rosemary
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients together. Boom. Done.  


Holiday Peanut Brittle

I know.

It's bizarre for me to do things 'holiday' before December even begins. But I figured with the whole "Christmas Classic Pumpkin Pie" deal I pulled earlier this week, I'm already standing with both feet in the water. Heck, I even drew snowmen, Santa, and Christmas trees on our sidewalk yesterday with the Manchild. I must be coming down with something.

This is where I come clean:

I am a total scrooge about Christmas things before Thanksgiving, but have come a long way in allowing Christmas-like things to happen before the actual start of December. I wasn't always this way; as a wee little Goldilocks, I loved Christmas all the time. But as soon as I hit college, I loathed the idea of December. It was then when Christmas-time and I broke up.

You see, in my mind December = Finals. and Juries. and the destruction of any nerve I had to spare at the end of the semester.

The closer Christmas came, the nearer these nighmare-inducing ulcers drew closer to my front door. So when I saw the beautiful Harris Fine Arts Building (my mothership at the time) decked out like Hogwarts at Christmas before Thanksgiving break, I grew perma-angry eyebrows, and started hating everything - including the 'most wonderful time of the year.' Issues, right? 

Now that I've graduated, Christmas-time and I are becoming friends again. Okay, we're more than friends. We're practically dating now (even though I can't get over some of the horrible classics on on it's playlist). Christmas-time also bakes up a storm in the kitchen with me. I still haven't let it move in, though. I refuse to bring the tree up from the basement and decorate until December officially starts. It's not that I'm not excited, I'm just paying my final respects to November. Plus I'm deathly afraid of the giant tarantula nests that have most likely caked over my Christmas boxes in the basement.

Long story short still long, I'm trying to ease into the holidays. I have so many delicious dessert recipes planned, and I can't wait to get started!

This one was my first attempt at peanut brittle. It was much easier than I thought it would be, but took much longer than I thought it would. The setting part didn't take any time at all, but I felt like I was standing in my kitchen for an eternity watching my candy thermometer hit the magic degree of 275. Nonetheless, the brittle was delicious. It wasn't the break-your-teeth-out crunchy, and had such a rich, buttery flavor. Peanuts are always a win, but I could easily see this made with any nut you throw at it.


Holiday Peanut Brittle 

2 C sugar
1 C light corn syrup
1/2 C water
1/4 C butter
2 1/2 C raw peanuts
1 1/2 t baking soda
holiday sprinkles 

1. Butter 2 large baking sheets; set aside. Butter sides of a heavy 3-quart saucepan.
2. In pan, combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and butter. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Reduce heat to medium-low; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring occasionally, until the thermometer registers 275 degrees F, soft-crack stage (takes about 30 minutes, really). Don't touch the mixture, you will burn your face off.
3. Stir in nuts; continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until thermometer registars 295 degrees F, hard crack stage (15-20 minutes more). Again, no touch-ey.
4. Remove pan fro heat; remove thermometer. Quickly sprinkle baking soda over mixture, stirring constantly. Immediately pour onto prepared baking sheets. Use 2 forks (because the mixture is piping hot) to life and pull candy as it cools. Sprinkle with holiday sprinkles right away. Cool completely.
5. Break into pieces. Store tightly covered up to 1 month.

Recipe Source: better homes & gardens
makes 72 servings, 2 1/4 lbs total


Parmesan Smashed Red Potatoes

In the past when I've made mashed potatoes with red potatoes, things really haven't turned out well. Sure, they tasted fine. But they were gummy, and I've avoided trying to mash them ever since.

Until recently.

Potatoes around here are still a pretty decent price, so we've been trying to still incorporate them into our meals. Ryan, on almost a weekly basis, asks for my fried/baked breaded chicken. He had been a very good sport about the 'not-so-manly' things I had made that week - so I wanted to not only to make his beloved fried/baked breaded chicken, but also to add a little extra Ryan-love to the side dish. All we had was a pile of red potatoes sitting on my counter. Normally I would slice/boil/season them up and serve them in chunks. But I knew darn well Ryan likes his potatoes mashed. And mashed hard core.

I learned while preparing this recipe, that if you delicately simmer your little red potatoes, instead of balls-out boiling them to death, they will come out beautifully. It takes longer, yes, but trust me it works. Also, after draining every last drop of water from the potatoes after simmering, beat the potatoes in your mixer for a moment without the additions. Speaking of lovely additions, this recipe is loaded with all kinds of heavenly ingredients: sour cream, half-and-half, heavenly butter, and salty Parmesan. So you know it's gonna be delicious. 

What? Too much? You're making mashed potatoes for crying-out-loud. Add in the goods. If you wanted it to be healthy, go pop a potato in the microwave and eat it with a fork. Guaranteed mine tastes better.

But you should probably keep your running shoes nearby. 


Parmesan Smashed Red Potatoes

3 lbs red potatoes, unpeeled
1 T + 2 t salt
1 1/2 C half-and-half
1/4 lb unsalted butter
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 t black pepper

1. Place the potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt in a large pot. Fill with cold water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover, then lower the heat to a simmer - about 25-35 minutes, until the potatoes are completely tender. Drain.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the half-and-half and butter until butter is uniform throughout the mixture.
3. Put the potatoes into the bowl of an electric mixer w/paddle attachment. Mix for a few seconds on slow speed to break them up. Slowly add the hot cream and butter to the potatoes, mixing on the lowest speed. Don't overmix. Fold in the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, and remaining salt and pepper, taste for seasoning and serve immediately. If potatoes are too thick, add more hot cream and butter.

Recipe Source: Food Network Magazine, November 2012 Issue
Makes about 6-8 servings


Classic Pumpkin Pie

Alright, kids.

I know Thanksgiving is over, and that's the holiday when people go all gung-ho about Pumpkin Pie. However, this delightful dessert hasn't finished it's time in the spotlight, and has almost instantly transformed into something else:  

a Christmas pie. 

So there you go.

For the Studio 5 pie segment last week, I didn't want to just bring cherry and pumpkin pecan pie, so the day before I also tried my hand at making my very first pumpkin pie. Ever. Sure, I'd eaten it many times, but not once had I tried to make it. Thankfully, the Food Network Gods smiled upon my kitchen, and basically handed me this heavenly recipe. I made the pie. I decorated the pie. I used the pie on TV. Then I put it in my fridge - almost forgetting about it altogether amidst all the excitement and business of the week.

A day or two after, I found this beloved pie staring at me when I opened my fridge door. It was then I realized that I hadn't cut into it at all, and therefore, didn't really know how it tasted. At this moment I dug into the pie the way my dear Mother taught me:

with a fork.

It instantly rekindled my absolute love for pumpkin pie, and practically melted in my mouth with each velvety bite. The pie wasn't too thick or cakey, but wasn't slimy and underdone. It was just the right texture, and filled with tempting richness; made it impossible to leave my fork alone for more than a few seconds.

Ryan was home (which is a miracle around this time of year), so I yelled towards the living room "this pumpkin pie is amazing!!"

I took another bite while I sliced up little squares "No, really! You have to come try this!"

I made the whipped cream, sifted some powdered sugar on my favorite white serving dish, piped the whipped cream on a couple little squares, and sprinkled a few edible pearls on the top "Ryan! This pumpkin pie is ridiculous!" I yelled again.

I snapped a few photos, took the dish into the kitchen, and left the room for a bit....




"Mandy! This is the best pumpkin pie I've ever tasted!"

I rest my case. 

Classic Pumpkin Pie

1 disk pie dough + little flour for dusting
15 oz can pure pumpkin
1 1/4 C heavy cream
2/3 C sugar + more for sprinkling
3 large eggs
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt

1. Prepare the crust: Roll out the dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Ease into a 9-inch pie pan. Fold the overhanging dough under itself and crimp the edges with your fingers. Pierce the bottom and sides all over with a fork. Chill at least 1 hour or overnight. 
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the chilled dough with foil and fill with pie weights. Transfer to the oven and bake until edges are golden, 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue baking until crust is golden, 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. 
3. Make the filling: gently whisk the pumpkin, cream, sugar, 2 eggs, the cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt (do not over-mix). Beat the remaining egg separately and brush on the crust edge. Sprinkle with a little extra sugar. 
4. Pour the filling into the crust and bake until set around the edges, about 50-60 minutes (the middle will still jiggle a bit). Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

Recipe Source: Food Network Magazine, November 2012 Issue 
Makes about 8-10 servings


White Bean and Bacon Soup with Fresh Kale and Mini Pasta Shells

Don't fear the kale.

It's super-cheap, doesn't dominate in flavor, and is such a perfect green to toss right into any soup your whipping up. It holds it's own without losing it's integrity, if you know what I mean. And according to Parenthood, it's super-trendy right now. We used fresh instead of the frozen as the recipe called for - it was a good move. I also used less water, more chicken broth, and regrettably omitted the Parmesan rind. It's cheaper to buy pre-shredded Parmesan cheese, and typically the bag doesn't come with the rind. I don't blame them - this is the first recipe I've prepared that called for it in the first place.

This soup is also loaded with an ingredient that will forever prevent my family from ever going vegetarian:  


It's like crack candy to us, and adds such a rich smoky undertone to this soup. The original recipe called for about 3 slices - (cue laughter). You know darn well we didn't only add three slices.

. . . .

Who am I kidding, though... everyone is probably neglecting their soup pots and roasting up all kinds of Thanksgiving goodies in the oven today. Fair enough. I think I can almost smell the turkey already.

This year  for Thanksgiving, we're traveling a little North to visit some of my Mom's family, then stopping by Ryan's parent's house on the way home for some pie. I always thought the 2.5 hour drive was an eternity, but after driving to Washington and back last month, the quick little drive to Logan should be a cinch.

Now, making sure the pies don't get destroyed on the way up is an entirely different story...

But I have hope: if I can get 7 pies to Studio 5 on Monday without any destruction, then maybe we can pull this one off. However, I didn't have the manchild in the car with me for that one, so flying books/toys and imminent tantrums weren't exactly in the forecast. It's all worth it, though, right? 

White Bean and Bacon Soup with Fresh Kale and Mini Pasta Shells

6 slices of bacon, trim most of the fat off, chop up the rest in small pieces
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic
1 T tomato paste
3/4 t dried thyme
salt and pepper
4 C chicken broth
1/2 C grated parmesan
1 C small pasta (we used mini shells)
1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 C chopped fresh kale

1. Put the chopped bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy - about 4 minutes.
2. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened - about 3 minutes.
3. Add the carrots, garlic, tomato paste, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook until carrots begin to soften - about 2 minutes.
4. Add the chicken broth and 2 cups of water. Increase the heat to high, cover and bring to a boil.
5. Add the pasta and beans and cook, uncovered - about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to mediuma nd add the kale. Simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened - about 7 minutes.
6. Stir in half of the grated Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Adapted From: Food Network Magazine, 2012 November Issue 
Yields: 5 servings


Chicken & Prosciutto Tortellini Alfredo with Peas

One of my favorite days of the month is when my Food Network magazine arrives in the mail. It's like getting a brand new cookbook, and each fabulous recipe is loaded with the flavors of the season. The recipe sections I enjoy the most are the ''weeknight cooking" pages. They're pretty quick-to-prepare, only require a few simple & fresh ingredients, and always taste just right.

Yesterday we needed one of those recipes. It was a wild day, and I didn't feel like making anything that required more than 20ish minutes or so of total prep/cooking time, so this recipe was perfect.

Of course, I like to put my own spin on the ingredients, so instead of regular ravioli, I chose to use chicken & prosciutto tortellini. It made all the difference. The prosciutto added such a beautiful hint of bacon flavor that mixed so well with the peas and Parmesan, and made the recipe go just a bit further. Instead of throwing cash at two 9-oz packages of tortellini, I decided we could just half the recipe, and use just one package instead for the two of us. This left our bellies delightfully stuffed, but still didn't talk us out of working on the extra pie in the fridge a few hours later...

Chicken & Prosciutto Tortellini Alfredo with Peas 

2x 9oz package of chicken and prosciutto tortellini
salt & pepper
4 T unsalted butter (use fake butter to lighten it up)
1/2 C heavy cream (use whole milk to lighten it up)
1 C frozen peas, thawed
1/2 C grated parmesan cheese
pinch of grated nutmeg
2 T chopped fresh parsley

1. Bring a large pot of salted (little salt) water to a boil. Add tortellini and turn heat down immediately to medium (you don't want a rolling boil - it will empty your tortellini of it's filling). Reserve 1/2 C of the cooking water, then drain tortellini.
2. Combine the butter, cream, and peas in a large skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook about a minute.
3. Add ravioli, cheese, nutmeg, and a splash of the reserved cooking water to skillet and toss. Add more cooking water to thin sauce, if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among 4 bowls and top with the fresh parsley.

Recipe Adapted from: Food Network Magazine, October 2012 Issue
Yields 4 servings


Studio 5 Pie Segment

 A little while ago, I almost peed my pants when I received an invitation from KSL Channel 5, here in Utah, to be their featured ''Blog of the Week." I was in a daze, and has such a blast! That afternoon another email popped up from KSL, only this time it was for Studio 5!

I almost died. I'd been watching Studio 5 as often as possible ever since the Manchild was born, so you can image just how starstruck I was to be invited on the show! They wanted me to do a little research and find the latest convenient pie gadgets to show off during an almost 5-minute segment. Also, they wanted me to share one of my favorite easy pie recipes.

I thought I had more time to prepare... so when I received an email (Thursday) saying there was a date mix-up, and they needed me on the show that upcoming Monday instead of 2 weeks away, I can't say it wasn't without a little panic. I thank my lucky stars that a miracle happened over the weekend and we were able to throw something lovely together. On Sunday I think my oven was on for several hours baking pie after pie; learning how to use these new gadgets, and figuring out how to present them on air.
Can I just say how much fun it was to visit/browse the websites of such beautiful specialty cooking stores such as Sur la Table, Spoons 'n' Spice & Williams Sonoma? I was in heaven!! I've never ever been in a few of those places. Like ever. It was such a blast pining through all the beautiful cookware and 'kitchen toys' they all had to offer. I sent the producer my ideas, and she chose which ones we should show off during the segment - All within a couple days time.

During the segment, we went over mini pies, pie crust cutters/punchers (for Fall and Winter), pie gates, a pie serving slider, and prepared a portion of my Pumpkin Pecan Pie recipe. I LOVED being in their amazing studio - everyone was perfectly wonderful, and helped me out so much with what I needed. They were all completely genuine, and I felt very welcome the entire time.

My nerves were going crazy, and I was worried the whole time about not saying "exactly" over  10 times. Darin was such a gentleman and helped me along - and even though he thought my rosette was a bunny, we're still friends :)
 Oh, did I mention I was only wearing 1 contact lens? Last Wednesday I was diagnosed with a minor corneal ulcer in my left eye (never wear your contacts for months at at time, ok?), and have been wearing my glasses for 2 straight weeks (and medicated eye drops) to help it heal... so instead of covering up my face with my glasses, I wore one contact in my right eye during the segment. Weirdest feeling ever.

HUGE thanks again to Studio 5 for having me on the show! I can't wait to be on again sometime soon :) I had the time of my life, and still can't believe my silly little blog led me to such an fun experience.

If you're looking for the PUMPKIN PECAN PIE recipe, it's here. 

See the full video here:



It's coming...

Alright folks,

My Studio 5 segment has been moved up from the 26th.... to MONDAY.


So in great panic and chaos, I haven't been able to try any new recipes in the last few days. However, I have loved spending a great deal of time getting lost in beautiful specialty cooking stores such as Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, and Spoons & Spice, browsing countless of online resources, and collecting the perfect ideas for the show.

This weekend is going to be NUTS, I tell you. But I'm positive we can pull this off, and can't wait to be on the show on Monday!

Get ready for some serious Pie Action, all just in time for Thanksgiving.


Pumpkin and White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies

Funny story about these cookies.

We LOVE white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies (we actually visited a macadamia nut farm once in Moloka'i. Good times.) Subway destroys me with their version - as if a giant meatball-loaded sandwich isn't enough, right? 3 delicious cookies for 99 cents is hard to walk away from. Such a blessed cookie, I say.

So when I told Ryan a couple nights ago that we'd be making some of his favorite cookies, he jumped right into the kitchen. We started adding the ingredients one by one... then he noticed the pumpkin can. What the heck, woman?!?! was written all over his face. He wasn't sure why I'd ruin perfectly wonderful cookies with a 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree. I assured him it'd be delicious, and to trust me. With that, the pumpkin puree went right into the mixture.

Our favorite part of making cookies is eating the dough. We think the dough always tastes better than the cookie in actual 'cookie form.' So naturally, we excitedly dove into the dough to taste our spoils.

It was absolutely disgusting.

I immediately regretted sticking the pumpkin in the batter. It was overpowering, and flat out gross. It tasted like eating nasty pumpkin straight from the can, and left no hint of flavor from our beloved white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies. I hopelessly rolled a bit of the cookie dough into balls for baking. What a waste I thought.

After they came out of the oven, I tasted a half of a cookie: still gross. We put the rest of the cookie dough in the fridge. I was too lazy to deal with the mess that night.

This, my friends, is when the magic happened:

The next morning, I was stared in the face with the regretful excuse-for-a-cookie from the night before. I have no idea why I did, but I took a bite of cookie.


These cookies have a mind of their own. They tasted exactly like our beloved cookies, but with a small undertone of delicious pumpkin. Flat. Out. Delicious.

Right away, I turned on the oven to preheat, and cooked through the rest of the cookie dough. I must have eaten 5 within the hour. (let's just forget it was the morning time, 'aight?)

Ryan came home that evening, and saw the stack of cookies on our fridge. I smiled when I heard him opening the tupperware to get to the cookies. And as I expected, with a mouthful, he exclaimed:

What the heck did you do to these cookies? They're amazing!

We will never know what crazy voodoo happened to the cookie dough overnight. But whatever it was, give me another round.

Pumpkin and White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies 

1/2 C butter, softered
1/2 C brown sugar, packed
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
1 C flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 C rolled oats
3/4 C white chocolate chips,
1/2 C macadamia nuts, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar in a stand mixer.
2. Beat in egg, vanilla, and pumpkin.
3. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in another bowl.
4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
5. Mix in the rolled oats, white chocolate, and macadamia nuts.
6. Put in fridge overnight. Trust me.
7. Place dough on greased cookie sheet a couple tablespoons at a time.
8. Bake for 8-10 min.

Recipe Source: Closet Cooking


Magleby's Rolls

pictured above without the parsley
These rolls are so delicious it's just sick.

Sick, I tell you.

We made a batch of these on Sunday (one and a half dozen) to go along with our Chicken and Couscous Soup, and finished them off by Monday morning. We're addicts.

Oh wait, it get's better - I made another full batch the very next morning. In my defense, it was for a funeral. I still ate a couple while they were burning hot out of the oven. Totally worth it.

We've eaten at Magleby's several times, and each time we go I am delighted by their loaded salads, perfected entrees (their spare ribs... save us all), legendary chocolate cake, and last but not least: their mouthwatering rolls. I've always wondered what they use on top of the rolls. The only flavors I could pick out were garlic and salty Parmesan. All I knew for sure is that I loved them, and I couldn't wait until our next visit (usually not often because of our budget) to have them again.

These rolls fit the bill perfectly. Originally, one of the ingredients scared me to death: why the heck use mayo? I thought it was completely bizarre, and wasn't to thrilled to try it, but was still curious and followed the recipe.

I swear straight up and down to Mexico: use the mayo.

I still have no idea if these are the actual ingredients they use at Maglebys to make those heavenly rolls, but they sure taste like I've walked in and had myself a few straight from their kitchen.

Magleby's Rolls - Copycat Recipe 

1 bag frozen dinner rolls (we used Rhodes)
Mayonnaise (amount depends on the number you're making)
Melted Butter ''
Parmesan Cheese ''
Garlic Powder
Parsley (dried, not fresh)

1. Place mayo, cheese, and butter in separate bowls. Grease the heck out of your muffin tins.
2. Take the frozen ball of dough, dip the top half into the mayo, then right into the butter, then finally the cheese. Place roll cheese-side-up in muffin tin.
3. Sprinkle with garlic powder and dried parsley and let rise according to directions (mine took 3 hrs, but it will all depend on the surrounding temperature)
4. Bake according to directions on package (mine were done in about 8-10 minutes).

Recipe source: Your Home Based Mom


Chicken and Couscous Soup

Last year we didn't need to shovel our walkway at all - there was simply almost zero snow to deal with. This year, however, mother nature has already unleashed her wrath here in the valley. We busted out the shovels and quickly went to work on the 10 inches of snow on our walkway/driveway. The manchild insisted on helping, and it looked kind of like a scene from The Christmas Story getting him ready to go outside. He also forgot there were stairs down from our front porch (covered by snow) to the sidewalk. His first steps in the deep snow quickly tumbled into an epic face plant in the bushes. Yep, definitely my spawn. 

Needless to say, cozy & warm soup was a must. This soup (as many are) was incredibly easy and simple. I found myself searching over and over again through the ingredients thinking this is really all that's in there? Yep, it's true. Next time we're going to throw in a few veggies. But serving this along side a veggie-loaded salad was fine by me this weekend.

Plus, couscous is way too much fun to ignore! We usually buy the Near East packaged couscous (not because it's 100% natural couscous... we really couldn't care less either way) to serve with dinner. It always tastes light and fluffy. While making the soup, I threw the parmesan seasoning right in with the creamy broth - it added some much-needed saltiness, and really helped it along. I also lowered the amount of lemon. Juice from 2 lemons seemed a little crazy-face.


Chicken and Couscous Soup 

1 1/2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs, patted dry  
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
4 C chicken broth (32 oz container) - don't use low-sodium for this one. trust me.
1/2 C couscous  (Near East couscous w/parmesan seasoning packet is what we used.)
grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 C chopped parsley

1. In your soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Season the chicken with plenty of salt and pepper. Working in batches, add to the pot and cook, turning once, about 5 minutes . Transfer to a plate (I know they may not be cooked all the way. Hang tight). 
2. A garlic to pot and cook, scraping up browned bits, until lightly golden - about 5 minutes (don't burn garlic). Add the chicken broth, 2 cups of water and chicken (still in whole) to pot. Simmer. Transfer chicken again back to plate. 
3. Add couscous and lemon peel to pot (not the lemon juice yet). Lower heat to mediu mlow and simmer for 5 minutes. Shred chicken and return to the soup. 
4. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and lemon juice. Slowly whisk 1 cup of the hot soup into the egg mixture (very slowly), then stir the egg mixture into the soup (the soup will thicken immediately). Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Two-Potato Tart

I know the snow is well on it's way here in Utah, but I can't help but cling to the warm weather as long as possible with both hands.  The snow certainly a beautiful sight to see, but when I think snow, I think ice.

About 5 years ago, Ryan and I were gifted a 1990 Chrysler New Yorker for our wedding. It was basically an aircraft carrier, broke down once every couple months (usually when I was on the freeway) and sucked down gas like none other. But we loved that car so much. It had the most comfortable seats (like sitting on a couch), could handle my loud music, got us from point A to B most of the time, and allowed us to go the first few years of marriage without having to wrestle a car payment. It has it's own special charm, and I miss the New Yorker to this day (not the breaking down part, though....) I still have it's key on my set of keys to this day (even though we saved up enough for a healthy substitute).

The snow was coming down in thick chunks, it was almost past eleven at night. I was at my Mom's house finishing up a few things while Ryan was catching up with a buddy of his from high school across town. I walked outside to get into the New Yorker to go pick Ryan up and quickly realized just how much snow had blanketed the ground. I was scared to death to drive in the thick snow, but reasoned that Ryan and I needed to get back to Provo before the morning, and there was no other way we could do it but drive in the beast. I'm notorious for driving far too slow in bad weather conditions. WAY slow. Slower than the slow. But I made my way towards Ryan's location (radio off, leaning as close to the foggy windows as possible, white-knuckled, praying hard I wouldn't die). 

As I went down the first hill, I could feel a little slipping, and the car tilted a bit. Ice. My heart raced. I pressed on, without slamming on the breaks, and was able to correct myself back on the road.

As I drove down the second hill, I wasn't so lucky. The New Yorker started to turn sideways, and my car spun around until I was perpendicular to curb. I was screaming, cars were swerving all over the place behind me, and the my car slammed right between a power box and fire hydrant. I reached for my cell phone. Battery dead. Panic. I started the car and tried to back up to get out, I heard the engine start. The wheels were jammed in the snow. It was useless. I got out of the car (pushing snow out of the way to get the door open) and started waving my hands to get help. A suburban full of high school kids stopped and tried to help me push the car. Nothing. Some of them went back up street to wave traffic in a different direction to avoid hitting my car (which was jutting out into the street at the bottom of a hill). Eventually a shady drunk guy wrapped some tow cables around the back of my car, and pulled it out of the snow with his Jeep. It was scary, but I was grateful for the guy, even though I'm pretty sure he wasn't sober enough to be on the road in the first place. 

Finally relieved, I thanked everyone, and pressed on. I drove away from where my car t-boned a curb. Not SECONDS later, a car whizzed down the same unlucky hill, and SLAMMED right into the back of my car. Her car was totaled, she was okay. I had horrible whiplash for a week. The New Yorker was totaled (meaning the bumper only bent down a little... old cars are awesome like that). Ryan's friend dropped him off to the scene of the accident. I was a mess, and vowed to never drive in the snow/ice again. It's been almost 5 years, I've driven on the ice/in the snow since, but never without my stomach jumping into my throat. And it's not because I don't trust myself driving in the snow (and I've lived in Utah my entire life and had plenty of practice.) But ice is so unpredictable -  I'm afraid of this college town full of students who may have little/no experience driving in the icy/snowy conditions. Good luck, guys.

Oh, this is a food blog? Hah. Right.

Well, this tort was kind of an accident. Not a wet-your-pants kind of accident (or wreaking-your-car-in-ice accident for that matter) but one of those serendipity moments. I usually plan out my menu for the week, buy all the ingredients at once, and prepare the recipe in the order of when the ingredients will be the most fresh. This past week, however, was much different. I had no idea I was making this recipe until moments before I started peeling the potatoes.

We are college students. Once in a while, we have to have one of those "cheap meals" weeks (canned soup, french toast, Top Ramen, Scrambled eggs & Toast, and 97 cents Mac & Cheese). It puts us back on budget for the month. This was one of those weeks, so if you see a lack of new recipes on the blog recently, you now have your answer why.

While browsing blog land/Pinterest yesterday, I came across a recipe from My Recipes (from Health.com) and quickly realized I had all the ingredients (including a random leftover pie dough half from the Pumpkin Pecan Pie, and a few potatoes left over from the Creamy Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup.) What are the odds we'd have all the ingredients on a "cheap meal" week? It was a match made in heaven, and very easy to throw together.

I don't have tart pan, so I used one of my glass pie dishes - it worked alright. This tart was surprisingly filling and stuffed with the comforting splendor of sweet potato. Can I stress enough how nutrient-soaked those little devils are? I've never used them so much before, and I can't stop the madness. This tart would be great as a side, or even an excellent main course with fresh salad and fruit. 

Ryan thinks it needed bacon. I concur. 
Two-Potato Tart 

1 half refrigerated raw pie crust dough 
1 large egg white, lightly beated
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C 2% reduced fat milk
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t salt
1 garlic clove 
1/2 t pepper
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
3 T finely grated parmesan cheese
1 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray fluted tart pan/glass pie dish with cooking spray. Press prepared pie crust into pan and poke lots of holes in bottom with a fork. 
2. Bake in oven for about 15 minutes, remove from oven and brush bottom with egg white. Cool completely (I put mine in the freezer to speed up this process). 
3. Mince garlic as fine as possible, add to bowl along with cream, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. 
4. Layer potatoes, altering russet and sweet potatoes, in your pie crust. Pour cream mixture over poratoes, pressing gently to distribute the liquid. Sprinkle top with Parmesan and small pieces of butter. Cover surface with a round of parchment paper (make sure it covers the crust). 
5. Bake until potatoes are tender (test with a small sharp knife), 40-50 minutes. Remove parchment paper and bake until all cheese is melted and browning starts (don't burn crust). Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes until set. 

Recipe adapted from: Health


Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Yes. Pie.

It was probably the easiest pie I've ever made. And that's not because I've made some killer pies in my day, but because this pie took minutes to throw together. Sometimes 'easy' doesn't always have the flavors to back it up, but this pie is a delicious exception.

I love pumpkin pie, and pecan pie has always been one of my guilty pleasures. So putting them together was just delightful chaos. The familiar creamy pumpkin layer with the sticky (yet firm) candied pecan layer is far too much to ever walk away from. Other than a couple slices, Ryan and I ate this entire pie. That's just how we do things. Ryan won't gain a single pound. I, on the other hand, will need to squeeze in an extra run or two. Pronto.

Two pies in one? 

It was worth every bite, I tell you.

Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Pumpkin Layer: 
Prepared refrigerated pie dough (I prefer homemade, and lay it down raw).
1 C pure pumpkin
1/3 C sugar
1 large egg
1 T pumpkin pie spice

Pecan Layer:
2/3 C light corn syrup (it's pecan pie for crying out loud, don't give me that face).
1/2 C sugar
2 large eggs
3 T butter, melted
1/2 t vanilla
1 C pecan halves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cover greased pie tin/glass dish with refrigerated/prepared pie dough. Poke holes with a fork in bottom of crust.
3. Pumpkin Layer: Combine pumpkin, sugar, egg and pumpkin pie spice in medium bowl. Stir well and spread over bottom of uncooked pie shell.
4. Pecan layer: Combine corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla in same bowl, stir in nuts. Spoon over pumpkin layer.
5. Bake for 50 minutes or until knife/toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Let set for a few hours before serving (I usually pop mine in the fridge overnight).

Recipe Source: Very Best Baking


Fresh Living Segment - Take 2

Today I had such a blast on KUTV Channel 2's Fresh Living show! (if you missed the segment, click here for the video). I don't think I felt as comfortable this time as I felt last time, though. It was mostly during the photography segment. (They had me talk about using a non-expensive/fancy camera for food photography in addition to sharing my Pepperoni Pull-Apart Pizza Bread). I felt right at home during the food segment, though (and am taller than Debbie - I'm not used to being taller than anyone other than little children. So I felt special.)

Let's just lay this out right now: I am not a photographer. I have zero training. I know nothing about photography. I graduated from college in Music for crying-out-loud (yes, I spell Music with a capital M). So to be asked to talk about my ''photography method'' was pretty daunting. But they assured me THAT'S why they wanted me to talk about it. I can take decent pictures with a $30 Ebay camera. My tricks? Lighting (100% natural from my giant dining room window) and a careful eye for food styling.

If you've watched the video already, you may have noticed my new favorite word: exactly. I'm pretty sure I've used my quota for life (I must have said it over 10 times in 7 minutes. Yikes.) Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun, learned a lot, gained more 'on camera' experience, tried to balance with Casey and Debbie's strong personalities, and was happy to share another easy recipe with the masses. I've been invited back in December for another segment, so I'll make sure to keep y'all updated if everything goes through. Thanks everyone for your kind words and encouragement. I'm sure we'll all forget all about it in a month's time, but for now, it's been such a thrilling experience! 


Creamy Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Yesterday was overcast, but was surprisingly warm. The Manchild was getting antsy, and running from one end of our little house to the other like a madman. This is usually the case by late afternoon, so I threw him in the stroller we headed to the park. I want to hang on to these not-too-cold Fall days as long as possible. Winter will show it's beastly wrath soon enough here in the valley. 

My little guy has a hard time leaving the park without throwing a fit (no matter how long we've stayed there), so this time I had us collect leaves on the way back to distract him. It worked, thank heavens, and left us with a perfect background to one of my favorite soups I've ever made. 

I thought I'd get an eyebrow raise or two over this recipe with Ryan. Again, no pile of meat swimming around in the soup... but Ryan adored this soup - and made up some grilled cheese late last night along with his second helping! What is happening to my husband?! He must be coming down with something. This soup is very easy to prepare: just chop, boil, puree, stir. My favorite part was using nutmeg and cinnamon - it changed my life, I tell you.

Anyway, Ryan did say that I must share my crusty bread recipe when I present this soup on here. ''It's a must''  he insisted. The soup has no garlic in it, so serving the soup with my crunchy bread adds something truly special to each bite. I've been making what we've called "crusty bread" since before we were dating. It's very simple, very subtle, but has permanently become one of the standard recipes in my kitchen. It's not saturated in butter/garlic/oil, but carries enough of a punch to get the message across. I use this recipe all the time because it's infused with garlic flavor without having to mince the garlic, or use a nasty powder. After the french bread (drizzled with EVOO) comes out from the broiler, you just rub garlic (cut side down) on the rough surface of the bread. The oil from the garlic seeps right into the bread. That's where the magic is.

Next time we make this, I think I'll top each soup bowl with about 1/4 cup of cooked orzo. 

Creamy Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

3 T butter, divided
1 C chopped onion
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
4 3/4 C cubed, peeled, sweet potatoes
3 1/2 C water
3 C fat free, low-sodium chicken broth
3 C chopped carrot
1/4 C half-and-half
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/3 C reduced-fat sour cream
2 T parsley

1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion to the pan, cook for 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
2. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Move onion mixture to side of pan and add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to open space in pan. Increase heat to medium high and cook 1 minute (until butter barely begins to turn brown - but not burn).
3. Add sweet potatoes, water, broth, and carrot. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minute or until veggies are tender.
4. Place half soup mixture in a blender (do not seal, or the lid will pop off - I usually remove center lid piece off the blender, and cover with a towel). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl and repeat with remaining soup mixture.
5. Stir in half and half, salt, and pepper. Top with a little sour cream and serve with *crunchy garlic bread.

(I made the little dots on the soup surface with drops of half and half)

Recipe source: Cooking Light

*Crunchy Garlic Bread

1 fresh loaf of french bread
1 clove of garlic, outer layer removed and sliced in halfwise (two fat pieces, not two long pieces)

1. Preheat oven broiler. Put an oven rack near the top of oven.
2. Slice bread into 1/2 inch pieces at a diagonal.
3. Arrange slices of french bread right on a cookie sheet.
4. Drizzle bread with olive oil (not too much, just a light drizzle).
5. Broil until brown and crispy. Remove pan from oven immediately.
6. With the raw piece of garlic, rub the crispy face of the bread with cut-side down garlic (the oils will seep right into the bread). This only works if the bread is toasted - the rough edge of the bread draws out the garlic.

Recipe: Baking with Blondie original


Three Cheese Ravioli in Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Holy Smokes. 

I try new recipes all the time. Some make it on the blog, and some... we just eat and never talk about again because they weren't the greatest. Pinterest and cookbooks are funny that way. Some recipes are complete winners and deserve to be shared again and again; some were a sad waste of ingredients. And it's a shame, because some of those bad recipes are being pinned over and over and over again, and cookbooks containing similar recipes are being published like crazy. Downright insanity. I guarantee all the recipes you see on my website have been prepared, cooked, tasted and served by me to my family (so if you're frustrated in the kitchen from a recipe of mine, or it hasn't turned out quite right, tell me. I will help you troubleshoot what happened.) If it didn't taste perfect in my kitchen, I would have never put it on my blog in the first place.

I also aim to try a variety of different foods. Yes, we are a meat-loving family. But you will find many recipes, like this one, that are completely meatless. We try them all. And the ones you see on my blog are the ones I serve to my family on a regular basis.

This recipe blew our minds. Red peppers (even though they were a painful $1.68 each this week), with the clever method of roasting, are my latest flavor obsession. I'll buy jarred roasted red peppers, but roasting them in the oven doesn't take long at all. You just slice them in half, de-stem and seed them, drizzle with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and broil. The combination of the results, plus fresh garlic, onion, and basil creates such a bright and beautiful puree. Then, to make it a sauce, we add in a bit of cream (you could go with milk if you prefer) and butter to add some of that French flair. I'm telling you right now: Straight up, you will have yourself a sauce to put anyone in the palm of your hand (unless they hate red peppers). Throw it on some cheese ravioli? 

Nuts, people. It's just nuts. 

This would make the perfect 'stay-in-for-dinner-anniversary-or-birthday-meal." It's decadent, simple, and will completely knock their socks off.

Three Cheese Ravioli in Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

3 red bell peppers, de-stemmed, seeded, and sliced in half.
2-3 T sliced onions
2 T minced garlic
1/4 C fresh basil, chopped fine
1 1/2 C half and half
1 t cornstarch
1/3 C grated Parmesan
2 T butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 large package of fresh Three Cheese Ravioli - (usually you can find it in the soft cheese refrigerated section). 

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Lightly coat peppers with EVOO and place cut side down on cookie sheet (I found that if you push the peppers down flat, they broil more even). Place under broiler until skin is blackened and softened. 3. Place in a paper bag and allow to steam for about 5-10 minutes. Remove skin from peppers and cut into small pieces.
4. In a frying pan, saute the garlic, basil, red peppers and onion in EVOO. Cook for 10 minutes.
5. In a separate small bowl, mix cornstarch and half and half together until there are no lumps. ALSO, start a pot of boiling water for your ravioli.
6. Place veggie mixture into a blender or food processor. Mix to desired consistency. Put mixture back in frying pan and heat to a boil.
7. Add in half and half to desired consistency (I used all but about 1/2 C).
8. To your boiling water, add in ravioli - turn boiling down to just above a simmer (your ravioli will fall apart and loose it's filling if you cook it at a high or medium boil). Cook for 5 minutes. Drain.
9. Add in cheese to sauce and cook until cheese melts. Add in butter. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Recipe Source: Your Home Based Mom