I post recipes here the way that I make them, so of course you should feel free to adapt these to what your family likes!
To make this blog user-friendly, I put tags for each major ingredient of each recipe, as well as for type of dish, and ethnicity, so you can go to the list on the side here (scroll down) and search for specific things.
If you like a recipe, please comment! If you have a yummy adaptation, please leave that in the comments as well!

Eggnog Pumpkin Pie

Thanks Becky!

1 can (15oz) solid-pack pumpkin
1 ¼ cups eggnog
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves)
¼ tsp salt
1 unbaked pastry shell (9 inches)

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, eggnog, sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
Pour into pastry shell.
Bake at 375º for 60-65 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate until serving.

Danish Abelskiver/Ebelskiver

"Abel-sheever" or "Eebel-sheever"

First and foremost, you MUST have a proper abelskiver pan to make these. Mine is cast iron--I think they all are. If you don't have the right pan, don't bother trying to make them. It won't work. If you need one, you can get them here.

OK, so now that we have that out of the way, I've noticed that several countries seem to have their own variations on pancakes...there are crepes in france and johnny cakes in the southern USA, and abelskivers are the Scandinavian version. Like crepes and german pancakes, they are heavy on the eggs, and make a hearty breakfast if you can eat them slowly enough to feel how full you're getting!
I tried the recipe that came with my pan, but I prefer this one which I copied out here (I figured I should give the source link too)

Hubby says that in Denmark they actually make them more spherical--they pull each one up the side of the depression and cook it in 3-4 steps rather than just flipping it over and cooking it in 2 steps like I do. One day I may get up the energy to try that, but for now I just flip them over and they are puffy but not really balls. It's faster. ☺

4 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup melted shortening
Scant 2 cups milk

Beat egg yolks; beat in sugar. Combine dry ingredients. Add alternately with shortening and milk. Beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Fold into batter. Grease an Abelskiver pan (I put about 1/4tsp of butter in each depression). Heat until smoking. Fill depressions about half full.
When cooked on bottom, turn with two forks. (Some people use knitting needles to turn.) (I use a smallish spoon. There is definitely a learning curve to it, and I botched several batches before getting it straight...having a well-greased pan helps a lot.) Cook other side until cooked through. Regrease pan between batches (I use about 1/2tsp butter spread between the 7 depressions--just a tiny dot in each, although once you've developed a good seasoning on your cast iron then you'll only need to grease every 4th or 5th batch).
Serve warm with applesauce or sprinkled with sugar. We also like them with fruit + powdered sugar, fruit + whipped cream, or the boys like them with plain old maple syrup.

As with all my cast iron, I use only saturated fats to grease my abelskiver pan (in this case butter) because they put in a good seasoning (nonstick surface) and unsaturated fats will just break down. I also never wash it with soap--cast iron is porous and the soap will get into the pan and stay there (and then get into our food). I take the pan while it is still hot, and wash it with straight hot water from the tap. I have a (never-touches-soap) long-handled scrubby brush that I use if there is stuff stuck to the inside, but often a good rinse just gets everything nice and clean. Then just make sure the pan is fully dry before putting it away so that it will not rust. ☺

German Pancakes aka Dutch Babies

I grew up calling these German Pancakes. A few years ago a friend introduced them to me as Dutch Babies...I do like her idea of baking them in several small pans rather than one large one because the best puffy parts are always on the edges of the pan, but otherwise old habits die hard and I still call them German Pancakes.
My husband had never seen them before, and once when we were engaged we were visiting my family and my mom made these. He looked at the pans and thought it must be the bottom layer of some dessert, and was surprised to see everyone start eating it plain for breakfast...but once he tried them he decided it didn't matter if they were funny looking. ☺

1/4 c butter (don't try to cheat and use some fake margarine or something--you will really taste it so you want the real stuff)
6 eggs
1 heaping cup flour
1 cup milk

Turn on the oven to 450 to preheat. Put the butter in a 9x13 pan (or a couple of smaller ones) and put it in the oven as it preheats. If you took the butter from the fridge, cut it into a few pieces so that it all melts evenly rather than half of it melting and then burning before the rest finishes melting.
Beat the eggs until frothy (I like to just put them in the blender). Add the flour and milk and mix. Pour the egg mixture into the pan right on top of the butter, and bake for 15 minutes.
Serve with syrup, lemon juice and powdered sugar, or fruit and cream...the same kinds of things you would use for pancakes or crepes.

Cheesy Artichoke French Bread

A friend brought this to a potluck gathering of our email group, and so many of us requested the recipe that she just emailed it to the whole group! It's a little spendy to make, and thoroughly fattening, but it's so yummy that every once in a while it is worth it. ♥
The comment at the end (about pigging out) is from her...but I agree.

1 loaf french bread (fresh and homemade is always nice, but this recipe also works well for a loaf that's getting a little crusty)
1/2 cup butter
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 T sesame seeds (I never have these on hand so I always leave them out)
1 1/2 c sour cream
2 cups cubed Monterey Jack cheese (this is more or less a pound)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 T chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning (she used fresh grated lemon zest and salt and pepper, I often just use a lemon herb seasoning, such as the "fish seasoning" from costco)
1 14oz can artichoke hearts, drained (chop up a bit if they are large)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cut bread lengthwise. Tear out insides in large chunks (though not too huge--go for about 1 inch chunks).
Melt butter in a skillet, stir in garlic and sesame seeds. Add chunks of bread and fry until golden brown. Remove from heat.
Combine in a medium bowl: sour cream, jack cheese, parmesan, parsley, and lemon seasoning. Mix well.
Stir in artichoke hearts and bread mixture. Mix well.
Spoon into bread halves and sprinkle top of each half with cheddar cheese.
Bake at 350* for about 30 minutes. Slice into servings or just take one half for yourself and pig out! ☺

Quiche Lorraine

Thanks to Katrina for submitting this recipe (her second!). She says: "Here's another one. I'm hoping it qualifies as a "pie" in this case, since it's in a crust. It's far and away the best quiche recipe I have ever made OR tasted!"

I have never been a big fan of quiche, but I have to agree this one was the best I've ever had. The family all seemed to enjoy it as well--Hubby requested it for pie night. ☺
I had trouble with it overflowing all over the place (thank heaven I put the cookie sheet under it!), but I suspect that was because I didn't measure the broccoli very carefully, I just chopped a bunch and put it in there...if I'd backed off on the broccoli I think it would have been ok. Alternately I could have reduced the milk a bit. I did find that I needed to cook it for about 30 minutes longer than the recipe says.
(I didn't manage to get a picture of this one because after dinner when I went to take one, I found that Hubby had already put all the leftovers into a dish to take for his lunch the next day.)

Pastry for 9" one-crust pie (preferably homemade)
12 slices bacon, crisply fried and crumbled (I use much less--at least half as much--and it's still delicious. Usually I cram as much chopped broccoli in as I can instead.)
1 c. shredded cheese
1/3 c. minced onion
4 eggs
2 c. whipping cream or 1 can of milk (in a pinch I have also used regular milk--still very good, just not as rich)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. red or cayenne pepper
1/2 to 1 c. chopped broccoli florets

Prepare pastry. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle bacon, cheese, and onion into pastry-lined pie pan. Beat eggs slightly. Beat in remaining ingredients. Pour cream mixture into pan. Bake 15 min. Reduce oven temp to 300 and bake 30 min longer or until tested. (Done like custard.) Let stand 10 min before serving.

I used swiss cheese because I had it on hand, and it added a very nice touch flavor-wise. I had 1cup of cream, so I used that, and then did the other cup with regular milk. I sauted the onion in the bacon grease for a couple of minutes before adding it to the pie, and I think that added a nice touch as well.

French Chocolate Silk Pie

Thanks to Stacy for this recipe submission.

Our Review: Hubby says he likes this one (and the Chocolate Velvet) both better than my old Chocolate "Barbarian" Pie. This is certainly another very rich pie, but in a deeper sort of way than the Chocolate Velvet, as that one is made with milk chocolate and this one is made with dark chocolate. The directions call for a lot of mixing to get the sugar to fully dissolved, and I mixed it as directed, then even some extra, and it still seemed slightly grainy to me...perhaps I did not add the sugar gradually enough to begin with? I don't know. Anyway, that's my one complaint.
I did find that putting on the whipped cream really made a difference (a good contrast with the deepness of the chocolate) and I would not serve this pie without it.

1 Cup Butter
1 1/2 C Sugar
4 Squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 prepared pie crust (I like graham cracker)

Cream Butter in a mixing bowl. Gradually beat in sugar with an electric mixer until creamy and light colored. Stir in the thoroughly cooled chocolate and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating 5 minutes after each addition. (Don't skip the mixing time or the sugar won't dissolve.) Spoon chocolate filling into the pie crust. Refrigerate 2 hours before serving. Serve with whipped cream.

Chile Cheese Impossible Pie

Thanks to SisuGirl for this submission (as much as I love chocolate, it's good for us all to have some other kinds of pies too!)
Official Review: The first thing I noticed as I started to make this pie was that nowhere in the directions does it mention a crust...so I made it without one. It's eggy base though gives it a quiche-like texture, so next time I'll try it with a crust. I'm pretty sure it's good either way. ☺
As for whether we liked it, well, there are only 4 of us, and two of us have very small appetites, but this was all that was left at the end of dinner...
(A note on the photo...I think I should have taken it out a few minutes sooner...I'm still getting used to my oven here and it seems to run on the hot side...)

4C finely shredded cheddar cheese (mild or sharp, depending on your taste)
2 cans of diced green chiles
1 cup of Bisquick (can be substituted with 1 c flour, 1 1/2tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt)
2 cups of milk
4 eggs
Blend milk, eggs and Bisquick in a large bowl or blender until frothy.

In a large pie plate, sprinkle 2 cups of the cheese, layer with both cans of chiles and then top with remaining cheese. Carefully pour egg mixture into the pie pan; it will be VERY full. (I put an aluminum-lined cookie sheet under it just as I do with fruit pies.)

Bake at 450* for 30-45 mins or until knife comes out clean.

I have made this using only 2 cups of cheese and 1 large can of chiles and it turns out beautifully and lower in fat! (I did this)

Chocolate Velvet Pie

Thanks to Katrina for submitting this recipe. (There are three more contest recipes coming, so I'll announce winners in a couple of weeks once we've had a chance to try the rest of them!)

Official Review: More substantial than the light and airy Chocolate Bavarian Pie, this pie is faster to make but the ingredients cost a bit more. It is very rich—a "just a sliver will do thank you" sort of pie. It nearly qualifies to be a candy rather than a pie (it's like a chocolate cheesecake, or fudge with a crust). Hubby made the comment that he thought it was over the top for Thanksgiving (when there are so many other rich foods) but that it would be lovely at Christmas. He also told me I had better make sure to keep this recipe. ☺
One thing I want to try next time I make it is to use a precooked pastry crust rather than a crumb crust--I think it might tone it down a little.

This pie pushes the boundaries of ‘decadent’ and
on the verge of ‘naughty’

2 c. (11.5 oz. pkg.) milk chocolate morsels
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. heavy whipping cream, whipped
Chocolate crumb crust or graham cracker crust
Sweetened whipped cream (opt'l)
Chocolate curls (opt'l)
Chopped nuts (opt'l)

Microwave morsels for 1 min. Stir. Microwave 30 sec. more; stir until smooth. (For those, like me, who have a microwave-free kitchen, just heat them on the stovetop over low heat for around 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.) Cool to room temperature. Beat cream cheese, chocolate, and vanilla in large mixer bowl until light in color. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon into crust. Chill until firm (it only took about 30 min). (Top with opt'l ingredients if desired.)

Marie Callender's Blueberry Cream Pie

I got this recipe here but in case the other site ever goes down or something, I'm copying the recipe over as well. ☺
This recipe is fairly time consuming, but if you try it I think you'll agree that it's worth the effort. (Unfortunately it's not a terribly photogenic pie...it's soft and tends to slide and 'melt' a little even when properly chilled...but it tastes fantastic!)

1 baked and cooled 9" pie shell (it really will overflow an 8", so get yourself a nice big deep pan for this one!)

*Blueberry Filling
1 can blueberries in heavy syrup (15 oz), drained, reserving juice in one bowl and berries in another (if you use fresh berries, use around 2cups, and cook them down over low heat with a little water and around 1/2 c sugar until they thicken.)
1 1/2 c water (I found that this made the pie a little runny, so in the future I'll either reduce it or drain off half of it after the apples cook)
1 c pea-sized diced apple
3 Tbs cornstarch (you can substitute with 6Tbs flour, but you'll want a little extra water to blend it with, so you'll need to reduce the water elsewhere to balance it)
1/4 c water
3/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Sour Cream Topping
1 c sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c sugar
1 Tbs cream cheese
1/2 tsp knox gelatin
2 Tbs cold water

In a medium saucepan combine diced apples with 1 1/2 c water and sugar at medium temperature until the apples are done but not mushy. (Do make sure they are done, otherwise the texture will stand out from the blueberries...it tastes fine, but the texture of a not-quite-cooked apple is a little odd in the middle of a blueberry pie!)
While the apples are cooking mix cornstarch with 1/4 c water until dissolved. When apples are done add lemon juice and berry juice, cook and stir until blended. While stirring on medium heat add dissolved cornstarch slowly and stir constantly until thickened. Add berries and cinnamon and mix well. Remove from heat and cool before placing into cooled prepared pie shell.
Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Dissolve gelatin in 2 Tbs water and set aside. Mix the sour cream, sugar, and cream cheese in a pan on low heat until sugar is dissolved and everything is mixed thoroughly. Stir and watch that mixture does not burn or dry out. When all is smooth and blended add vanilla and stir. Then gradually add gelatin until mixture has a firm consistency of soft pudding. Remove from heat.
Topping can be smoothed over blueberries while luke warm, then chill the whole pie.

*If you are on a tight schedule you may substitute blueberry pie filling, but it will be sweeter... if you do this, it replaces the entire filling mixture--not just the blueberries. When I tried this though it did not set up very well. The pie tasted great, but it was very runny.

Momma's Apple Pie

Thank you to Brooke, this is one of the recipes submitted for my pie contest...
Our official review of this recipe: It’s slightly sweeter than my old apple pie recipe, and it has a pronounced cinnamon flavor. It’s a very attractive pie, with the filling turning a pretty red rather than staying pale and colorless as most apple pies do. My hubby’s conclusion is that it’s a good apple pie but so similar to my other recipe that he wouldn’t be able to tell them apart unless he had a slice of each on his plate at the same time (which he did for the official review). My conclusion is that I like the sharper cinnamon and bright color, but I prefer the more gelled texture of the filling in my other recipe (caused by adding flour to it) so in the future I will probably combine the two to create a perfect apple pie.
Did I mention that apple pie is my favorite kind of pie?
Yeah, it is.
I think.
My favorite fruit pie anyway.
I think. ☺

sour apples (6-7 Johnathan apples or 4 Granny Smith) (I used granny smith)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamin
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp butter
pie crust (I tend to buy them because I have yet to make a good one!)

Peel, core, and chop apples;
Put apples in a large pot along w/ the sugar, spices, and butter;
Cook and stir until syrupy and the apples are partially cooked;
put them into your pie crust, put on the top crust;
bake @350 for 50 min
(tends to make a mess in the oven, so be prepared by putting a cookie sheet under it)

Tips for Pies

It's pie season, and that warrants a post full of tips about pies. ☺ (If you have other tips, please leave them in the comments and I'll add them to the post!)

Pie crusts are not hard to make, but you do have to follow the directions (no shortcuts!) otherwise they will lose the flakiness or fall apart. I have posted my own favorite crust recipes here, meanwhile here are a few tips for making your own pastry crusts:
  • Have all the ingredients as cold as possible--you can even set the bowl and mixing implement in the fridge for a little while ahead of time.
  • Handle the dough as little as possible. Extra mixing, rolling, or mooshing reduces flakiness and makes it more stiff and chewstiffer.
  • Don't try to use an electric mixer--use a pastry mixer or a fork. Electric mixers tend to overhandle the dough.
  • Pie dough is the one time when I use shortening instead of butter--the texture really does make a difference.
  • Shortening is not hard to measure--you can buy the pre-marked cubes (they keep well in the freezer) or you can use water displacement--get a 2c measuring cup and put in 1c of water, then put in blobs of shortening until the water level moves up to indicate that you have enough shortening (1 1/2c water level for 1/2 c shortening, etc). No sticky greasy measuring cups, just one sticky spoon and some slightly damp shortening...but you'll be adding water to the dough in a second anyway so it's ok! ☺
  • Did I mention to touch it as little as possible?!

  • Leftover crust dough always gets snitched around here, either raw, or made into pastry goodies.
  • Another option for extra crust is to use a small cookie cutter and use the little cutouts to decorate the top of your pie.
  • If you're shy on the amount of dough you need for a top crust, try cutting it into strips and making a lattice (make the spaces as wide as you need to so that there are enough strips). Alternately, use a small cookie cutter in a simple shape such as a star and cut out a bunch of those. Lay them together around the top of the pie with the edges touching--voila, a top crust!

  • There are two main ways to get the crust from the counter to the dish: first, gently fold it into quarters then lift it over and unfold it into the pan...this is what I do for bottom crusts (and if it gets a little wrinkled or cracked it's ok because it will be covered!). For top crusts, I gently roll the pie crust up onto the rolling pin, then move that over to the pan and unroll the crust right across the filling.
  • If you get your finger wet with water and run it around the edge of the pie before putting on the top crust it will help the two layers stick together. It's not such a big deal with a full top crust, but it will hold the pie together if you're making a lattice-top or doing the cookie cutter top.
  • One area of pie making that I have always struggled with is making a pretty crimped edge. After years of simply pressing it with fork tines (which works fine for single-crust pies but not so well for two-crust pies) I have finally learned to make a nice crimp. My mom always used the tips of her thumbs and forefingers, but I can't get that to work. What does work for me is to use the first knuckles of my first two fingers. So play around a bit, see what works for you!

Put a cookie sheet under them because pretty much every fruit pie I know of will overflow and drip juices over the edge of the pie dish and you don't want to have to scrub that sticky goompy mess off the inside of your oven! I like to line the cookie sheet with foil because then the cookie sheet doesn't become a sticky goompy mess either.

Use pie weights in the bottom of the shell to keep it from puffing up as you bake it. If you don't have pie weights, a small oven-safe plate or saucer works, or you can lay in 2-3 spoons (be careful when they come out, they'll be really really hot!!)
Make sure the shell is fully cooled before you try to put the filling in. Yes, this means waiting a while, but trust me, it's not worth the runny pie that you'll get if you don't wait. ☺

Grandma B's Buttermilk Scones

Grandma likes to make these for the family for Pioneer Day (the day when the Mormon Pioneers came into the Salt Lake valley...it's a big deal in SLC which is where she lives...it also happens to be today, July 24). She always insists on doing them in a dutch oven in the back yard, but you can fry them in a regular pan on the stove or in an electric frypan on the counter just as easily.
Yes, they are deep fried. Geeze, how could they be scones otherwise?!

1 qt. buttermilk warmed (you can also use regular milk with a couple Tbs of lemon juice to give the tartness
2 T. yeast
2 T. sugar
2 eggs beaten
2 T. oil
1-1/2 t. salt
3 t. baking powder
1/2 t. soda
8 C. flour

In a large bowl, soften the yeast in 3/4 cup of the warmed buttermilk. Add next six ingredients and stir. Add flour stirring to make a soft dough. (Dough will be sticky.) Allow to rise until double. Punch down, place lid on bowl, and refrigerate overnight.

Put a small bit of test dough into the oil as it begins heating--that will keep things from exploding on you (so says Grandma at least!) and also you can look at it to see if your oil is the right temperature for cooking. Gently lower little blobs of dough into the hot oil. As they get golden, turn them over with a long-handled something. When they are golden on both sides, take them out.
Serve with honey, butter, honey-butter, or jam...

French Bread

I never liked french bread until I was introduced to this recipe (thank you Gina!). Even the fresh french bread at the store seemed dry and the crusts were so hard...this is a nice soft french bread. If you prefer that crustier bread, this will harden a bit overnight, or if you cook it for a few extra minutes.
I prefer to mix this bread by hand with a big wooden spoon--an electric mixer can lead to overmixing, and that will ruin the light texture of french bread.

*Note, you can do part wheat flour in this recipe if you like--I've had it work fine up to about half wheat--but hey, this is french bread...I like it white! ☺

Makes 2 large loaves
Preparation/cooking time = about 2 hours (it's easy, but there's a lot of rising time, and this really can't be rushed)

In a smallish bowl or measuring cup mix
5 tsp yeast (or 2 packets)
1/2 cup hot water
Set aside

In a large bowl mix
2 cup hot water
1/2 cup oil (I use olive oil)
3 Tbs sugar (I usually put part of it in with the yeast to help it get off to a good start)
1 Tbs salt

Add to water mixture
3 cups flour
Blend well
Add yeast mixture (which should now be nice and bubbly)
Blend well
3 more cups flour
After mixing, dough will be pretty sticky. Cover bowl with a clean towel and set in a warm place for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, stir it down. Repeat the rising/stirring down for a total of 5 times. (If your kitchen is on the cooler side, try doing 15 minute risings, or if you have an oven-safe bowl you can set it in a slightly warm oven for the risings.) It's these multiple risings that make the big bubbles in the bread. ☺

Preheat the oven to 400*
Place the dough onto a floured counter and knead just a little (about 10 times) then divide into two parts and roll into long skinny loaves. If you have a french bread pan you can use that, otherwise sprinkle cornmeal on a cookie sheet and place the loaves side by side (leave a little space--they will rise as they cook). Do not rise them again before cooking, just put them into the oven. Bake at 400* for about 30 minutes.

Yummy variations
  • Sprinkle grated cheese into the bread dough while kneading for a cheesy bread.
  • Make ahead of time, then slice loaves in half lengthwise and spread butter and garlic inside and warm in the oven until flavors melt together.
  • Make ahead of time, slice loaves lengthwise, then put cheese in the middle and melt in oven.

Couscous with Veggies

I love couscous. I'm not exactly sure why...maybe it's because it's pasta (but seems like a grain), maybe it's because it feels exotic, maybe it's because it is so SO easy to cook. In any case, I ♥ couscous.
I tried this recipe today with saffron--a middle eastern spice to go with a middle eastern pasta. ☺
1 cup boiling water
1 cup dry couscous (or follow the directions/proportions on your couscous--some is different)
3/4 cup (or so) of veggies (I used chopped carrots, frozen peas, and canned corn...it was what I had on hand)
2-3Tbs butter
seasonings as desired: salt & pepper, lemon pepper, basil, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, or even saffron if you're feeling adventurous (or wealthy!)

Set the water to boil. If you're using fresh veggies and want them softened, put in an extra 1/4c of water and put the veggies in the water as it heats up.
Once the water is boiling, take it off the heat, dump in the couscous and stir until all liquid is absorbed and the couscous gets soft (about 2 minutes). (Most couscous sold in western groceries is pre-steamed, so cooks very quickly...but double check the directions on your couscous because if it's not pre-steamed it will need a little longer and different cooking method.)
Add additional veggies if applicable. Add butter and seasonings and stir in until butter is melted.

Pike's Chicken (aka "The Stuff that Kids are Guaranteed to Like")

How can you go wrong with a name like "the stuff that kids are guaranteed to like"?! That's what the Pike family called it when they gave us the recipe. We went for the simpler name of "Pike's Chicken" because I'm fairly sure that Mama Pike invented this one. Regardless, it's fast, easy, and yes, the kids like it.
It is not one I make very often because it's made with canned soups which are highly processed, so they're both expensive and unhealthy...but it is quick and easy, and every once in a while that's what counts.

serves 4-6, depending how much chicken you use, and it's easy to stretch it by adding some milk to the sauce, or an extra can of one of the soups

Some cut-up chicken (however much your family eats)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (cream of something else will work in a pinch)
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 can tomato soup

Combine the soups to make a sauce. Put the chicken in a 9x13 pan and pour the sauce over the top. Bake at 350* for about 1 hour (less for boneless or small pieces--see time guides from Chicken in Mushroom Sauce)
Serve over pasta.

Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

If you're a mushroom-hater like me, don't let the title scare you! Honestly it's a lot like a stronganoff, only with chicken. In college I used to make a big batch (sometimes meatless) and eat it all week. I think meat tastes odd if reheated in a microwave, but it's fine on the stove or in the oven, and if you make it meatless then the microwave works great.

serves 4-6, depending how much chicken you use

  • 1-2 lbs chicken (if you do cut up pieces it's easy to get away with less, which is cheaper, but it also works fine with whole breasts, thighs, or drumsticks) (I usually do 1-2 breasts cut up)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 3/4 c sour cream or plain (unflavored) yogurt
  • parmesan cheese (cheddar is a nice variation if you don't have parmesan)
  • extra mushrooms, if desired
Cut up chicken into 1-inch pieces and spread in a 9x13 baking pan. (If using larger pieces, either precook them for 30 min, or plan to cook the final dish for longer).
Spread soup/sour cream mixture over the meat, and sprinkle enough cheese to cover the top. Bake at 350* for 30-45 min (1hr or a little more for larger pieces).
Serve over noodles or rice.

I prefer to cut up the chicken, and if you use leftover chicken (or even canned) then it is pre-cooked and you only need to put it in the oven long enough to get everything warm--about 10-15min. That is a very fast dinner!
However, if you use whole thighs/breasts, and sprinkle it all with some extra parmesan when serving over a nice bed of noodles, it can be quite a fancy looking meal. Throw some steamed veggies on the side and voila!

The Good Stuff (aka Homemade Hamburger Helper)

I think in the official family recipe book this is called "Hamburger Cheese Macaroni Dish" but everyone in the family just calls it "The Good Stuff."
The original recipe calls for american cheese--the processed junk like velveeta. That will give it more of an "out of the box" taste, but if you like classier food I'd recommend using grated cheddar. ☺

serves about 6

About 1 lb ground beef
4 cups cooked *macaroni noodles (about 3 c uncooked)
1 10.5 oz can tomato soup
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
About 1/2 lb cheese (diced american, or grated cheddar)

*shell noodles work fine, but I don't recommend trying penne or spaghetti or something too different...

Cook noodles. Meanwhile brown the hamburger in a large saucepan and drain off the grease. Mix in tomato sauce, soup, and noodles. Melt in the cheese.

Vegetarian Nachos

Instead of ground beef this uses lentils or pinto beans. When seasoned the same way, they taste quite similar. (please note that all spice amounts are approximated, as I have never measured them...)

makes enough for a 9x13 pan of nachos
  • around 3 cups Tortilla chips
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 or 1 1/2 cups cooked (or canned) lentils or pinto beans (they have to be soft) I like to use leftover lentils/beans if I have them
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp garlic power*
  • 1 Tbs ground cumin*
  • 1 Tbs chili powder*
  • *(spices can be replaced with a half packet of taco or other mexican seasoning if you want, but I prefer to use separate spices so I can customize the proportions)
  • optional--a few drops of tabasco sauce
Spread the chips in the pan.
Put ketchup and spices in with the lentils and blend well (use a blender or an electric mixer). Drop the mixture in blobs around on the chips.
Sprinkle cheese over the top of everything.
Cook on 350 for about 10 min or until cheese is melted and everything is warm. To keep chips crunchier, use a higher temperature for a shorter time.

Fudge Pudding Cake (Chocolate)

Like cake?
Like pudding?
Mix them together!!

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp cocoa
Mix together in a bowl.

1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs melted butter
Mix together, then add to dry mixture and beat until smooth. Pour mixture into a greased 8x8 pan.

3/4 c brown sugar
3 Tbs cocoa
Mix together, then sprinkle over batter in pan

1 1/2 cups boiling water
Pour over the whole mess in the pan.

Bake at 350 for about 50 minutes (you might want to check it at 40 min). It should be bubbly and brown but not blackening at all (my oven runs hot and I really have to keep an eye on this one!) Let it sit a few minutes before attempting to serve it. :)

Crazy Cake (Chocolate)

This is a very moist cake, however it doesn't seem to work for cupcakes (they're yummy, they just sink in the middle). I've had mixed experiences with trying different sizes/shapes of pans, but in a good old 9x13 it seems to be ok.
The reason this is a 'crazy' cake also makes it really fun to make with kids (read the directions!)

3 c flour
1/2 c cocoa
2 c sugar
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 c oil
2 Tbs vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
2 c water

Mix all dry ingredients together. Make 3 large holes in dry mixture. Pour oil in one, vinegar in the second, and vanilla in the third. Then pour the water over the whole mess and stir until blended.
Bake at 350 in a 9x13 pan for 30-45 minutes.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

I haven't actually used this one yet, but it comes highly recommended, and I've been wanting a ww pizza dough recipe (my regular one doesn't work so well with wheat flour), and I don't want to lose this one...
I got it from ZestyCook here (but just in case they ever take down their site, I'm copying and pasting the recipe too!)

  • 1 1/2 Cups Warm Water
  • 2 Packets Active Dry Yeast (this is about 5tsp for those of us who buy the big jars!)
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 Tsp. Salt
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  1. Place water in large bowl - sprinkle with yeast.
  2. Let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes).
  3. Brush another large bowl with Olive Oil.
  4. In bowl with yeast, whisk sugar, oil and salt. Stir in flours until a sticky dough forms.
  5. Transfer to oiled bowl (brush top of dough with oil).
  6. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until it doubles in size (about an hour).
  7. Turn dough onto a well floured surface and knead until smooth.
  8. Preheat oven to 400°.
  9. Prepare dough in shape of pizza.
  10. Spread sauce and then most of the cheese.
  11. Add toppings as desired, top with remaining cheese (cheese on top helps hold on the toppings)
  12. Bake until crust golden brown and cheese has melted. Time varies depending on the thickness of your crust (12-20 minutes).

Some Notes on Beans

Here are a few basic tips about cooking with beans (specifically dry beans):

Beans are very easy to prepare, so long as you allow enough time and use enough water. Don't be scared of them!

There are a lot of kinds of beans, but most of them are pretty interchangable. For example the classic "beans and rice" that is served in most of Central/South America is prepared similarly in most areas, but different regions use different beans, according to what grows locally. In Sao Paulo they use pink beans, but I've used the exact same recipe with pinto beans, and my sister prefers it with black beans. SO, if the recipe calls for one kind of bean and you don't have it, get adventurous and substitute in something that you do have!

Use LOTS of water. Having a bit extra won't hurt anything, but having too little can make a scorched, stinky mess. The recipes rarely give specific measurments, so I just put in the beans, then water to twice the height of the beans, then check in on them every so often, and add more water if it gets below the level of the beans.

Beans take a loooong time to cook. I prefer to cook them overnight in the crockpot, but if you want to do them in one day make sure you allow at LEAST 3 hours for preparation. I still recommend letting them soak overnight beforehand, but there are "quick preparation" methods which can be done in just a few hours.

Beans grow a lot when cooked--the average bean (or lentil) will more than double in size...so 1 cup of dry beans will go a long way!

The average bean is fairly bland, which is why you can get away with making them into foods ranging from a main dish to a dip to even pie! As a main dish, I like to serve them with something more flavorful--either some kind of sauce, or something cooked in a good bone broth. When I make beans and rice, I cook the rice in broth which adds flavor to it. I suppose you could cook the beans in broth but I've never tried it.

I do hope to learn a bit more about the various types of beans, and when I do I will add those specifics to this post (which ones are best for various recipes, etc)

Finally, it IS on my blogroll, but if you're interested in more bean recipes, visit my friend Katie's Beans & Rice blog. ☺

Bone Broth

(I originally posted most of this here, and you might appreciate some of the comments that were left there. However it's still worth reading here as this post has additional information and links.)

The best broth in the world comes from bones, not from meat. Bones are full of nutrients, and even when the meat is gone, bones can provide several more meals if you know what to do with them. At our house, bones never end up in the garbage can!

The best part of the bird, really!
Here's a short overview:
  • Bones (in the marrow) have lots of vitamins in them. The best way to get those nutrients out is to leech it out into broth. You know how you always heard that chicken soup was good when you're sick? Well, if it's made with real bone broth, it actually does have immuno-boosting properties! If you add 1 Tbs or so of vinegar to the water, it helps to get the nutrients out of the bone and into the broth. (This is in a 6-7qt crockpot)
  • Add 1 Tbs salt (ideally unrefined sea salt!). It will taste really weird without it, I know it seems like a ton of salt, but good unrefined salt is actually really good for you--your body needs it for blood production and adrenal support.
    Adding onion, celery, garlic, or other herbs can make for a richer broth, but they are optional.
  • Putting fat and skin in the broth will make it nice and fatty, and it does taste good, but those parts of the animal (especially poultry) tend to hold toxins, so many people prefer to avoid having them in the broth.
  • Putting meat in the broth will not add to flavor, and it will suck the flavor out of the meat...so strip off the meat, then make the broth with just the bones. After the broth is done, strain it, and then if you want to make soup go ahead and put the meat back in at the end.
  • Feel free to use bones that have been nibbled...after all, 12 hours of boiling will destroy any germs...
  • If you don't have enough bones to make a broth yet, just save them in the freezer until you do have enough.
  • Once made, bone broth can be canned in a pressure cooker and kept in the pantry, or it can be refrigerated or frozen. My mom puts it in a jar in the fridge to cool, then freezes it in ice cube trays. Once it's frozen into cubes, she stores it in a big ziplock bag in the freezer. Anytime she has a recipe that calls for broth, she can easily grab a cube or two or five and toss them in!
  • Oh yeah, real bone broth tastes better than that canned stuff or *gag*choke* MSG-laden bullion. Use it for soups, sauces, graveys, or even cooking rice.
  • "Broth is Beautiful" (published by the WestonAPrice Foundation)--this page has lots of information about the health benefits of bone broth, as well as specific recipes for chicken, beef, and fish stock, and how to use your stock to make sauces (the recipes are at the bottom--just scroll down).
  • "Why Broth is Beautiful" is a lengthy article (with lots of references) explaining more of the health benefits of bone broth.

Chicken and Turkey Put the bones in a crockpot, cover them with water, and let them simmer at least overnight (they can stay as long as 2 days if you don't get to them sooner, but we find 24 hours to be ideal) . If you don't have a crockpot, you can let them simmer on the stove for at least 4-5 hours (ideally 8-12). At this point the bones will be bending, breaking, and literally falling apart. This is good--it means you've gotten all the nutrients out of them! Strain out all the solids, and voila, the best broth you've ever had.
Beef Same as chicken, just stick the bones in a crockpot or stockpot, and let them simmer for hours...
Ham Take that hambone and stick it in the pot along with any bits of leftover ham, plenty of water, and lots of beans. My mom always used pinto beans, my mother in law uses white 'navy' beans. You can pretty much use whatever you like. Add some onion, garlic, celery, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Let it simmer all day...
Fish I confess that I can't stand fish broth, but it's mostly because I don't care for most seafood...if you like seafood, or even a good clam chowder, try making fish broth! The whole heads can go in, so this is an especially good option if you catch your own fish, or buy them with the heads on. ☺
Pork (ribs etc) Honestly, we usually give these ones to the dog. She loves them. However pork bones can make a stock just like any other bones.

Mmmm, nothin like real broth!
(I know it looks ikky, but I just wish you could smell this picture!)
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