Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ham & Potato Soup

What to do with all the leftover ham from our Easter meal?  Make soup! 

I don't normally like any type of potato soup because I think it usually ends up very bland....but I found this recipe & it's really flavorable.  We really enjoyed it...and now I have leftover soup to bring to work. 

{Ham & Potato Soup}
recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

4 cups peeled & diced potatoes
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups diced cooked ham
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
salt to taste
Optional: ham bone

Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water & chicken stock in a stockpot (also add ham bone if using.) Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the salt (if using- I used very little) & pepper.
In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.
Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Sprinkle with freshly grated black pepper, cheddar cheese & scallions.
Serve immediately.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

I decided that I was going to participate in Jen from Beantown Baker's Bloggers Bake for Hope bake sale.  What a cute idea...bloggers baking items to be auctioned off in a virtual bake sale benefiting the Susan G. Koman foundation.  Once the items are auctioned off, bakers make & ship their items to the buyer.  I thought about what I could bake that would ship well for some time.  I eventually decided on this bread- because it's moist & will (hopefully, keep my fingers crossed) ship well. 

{Lemon Poppy Seed Bread}
recipe compliments of my sister, Rachel

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/8 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease & flour 3 8"x4" loaf pans. 

Mix flour, salt, baking powder, poppy seeds & sugar.  Add eggs, milk, oil, vanilla & lemon extract.  Mix until smooth.  Pour into the prepared pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. 

Optional glaze:

1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Combine OJ, sugar & lemon extract.  Stir well & pour over warm loaves. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pioneer Woman Week Recipes {Part Two}

Last night, my hubby & I both worked late, so I wanted to make something that was both quick & easy.  We loved this recipe.  I will definitely be adding this one to our recipe rotation.  It was really good.

{Grilled Chicken & Pineapple Quesadilla}
recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman

8 whole flour tortillas
Butter or margarine
2 cups grilled pineapple, cut into wedges
3 whole boneless chicken breasts
Salt & pepper, to taste
Cajun spice
3 cups Monterey Jack Cheese; grated
1 whole Jalepeno; sliced with rib & seeds removed (unless you like heat)
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce

{To grill pineapple, cut into wedges, stick on skewers spray cooking spray on grill & grill over low heat.  Cut into slices}
{To pound chicken, placeinside a ziploc bag & pound with a mallet or large can to flatten to uniform thickness}

Sprinkle pounded chicken breasts with salt, pepper & small amount of cajun spice.  Drizzle with olive oil & grill until done, brushing with barbecue sauce.  Slice into very thin slices & set aside.

Preheat over to 450 degrees.  Warm griddle over medium heat, spray with cooking spray.  Slightly toast tortillas on both sides.

To assemble, sprinkle four browned tortillas with grated Monterey Jack cheese.  Arrange chicken slices evenly over the surface. 

Next, add pineapple slices & jalepeno slices.  Sprinkle on cilantro.  

If desired, drizzle extra barbecue sauce over the top.  Add small amount of cheese (to bind the top tortilla) & top with tortilla.  {You'll have four complete tortillas at this point}

Place in oven until cheese is melted (keep an eye on them.)  Cut each quesadilla into six wedges.  Serve with extra cilantro, sour cream, pico de gallo & lime wedges.  Yum!

Pioneer Woman Week Recipes {Part One} continued

Also on Wednesday, to accompany the Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta, I made Oreo Cheesecake Cookies.  These were so very simple and so easy to make.  I accidently over-baked one batch (I was busy unpacking & starting laundry...) I definitely wouldn't let these cookies over-bake, that batch got a little hard.  But this recipe is a keeper!  I'm glad I found it.

{Oreo Cheesecake Cookies}
recipe compliments of The Pioneer Woman

1/2 cup unsalted butter; softened
3 ounces cream cheese; softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
10-12 oreos; crushed
1/2 cup white chocolate chips; melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees & line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter & cream cheese using a hand mixer until they are well combined. 
Add the sugar and vanilla & mix until ingredients are well combined.  Add the flour & mix on low until the flour is incorporated.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips. 

Scoop the dough into 1" balls & roll in oreo crumbs so cookie is covered.  Place covered cookie balls onto the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes (I'd stick closer to 12- they won't look done...thats okay) until the edges are golden & the tops are slightly puffed.

Cool on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. One cool, drizzle cookies with melted white chocolate.  Enjoy!

Pioneer Woman Week Recipes {Part One}

It has been a long, LONG week.  We flew back from visiting our family in Michigan, and it was right to work for both of us.  I didn't cook all of the recipes that I had planned, but I did cook a few {and with the weekend coming up...I'll blaze right through all of the rest.}  There were some good, one not some good...but I take responsibility for that one tho.  All in all, I'm glad I did this, because I've already found a few "keepers."

So I'll start with Wednesday....Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta & Oreo Cheesecake Cookies.  Now the Lemon Basil Pasta was the one I didn't end up liking.  I blame this on my trying to "doctor" the recipe to be a bit lighter.  I'm not giving up on this one yet....I'm just going to follow the instructions next time because the bones of this recipe are pretty solid.

{Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta}
recipe compliments of The Pioneer Woman

4 chicken breasts; grilled & sliced
1 pound Penne Pasta, cooked until al dente
1/2 stick butter
3 whole lemons; juiced
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup half & half
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
20 whole Basil leaves; chopped

Cook Pasta, reserving 1 cup hot pasta water when you drain.  Set pasta aside in colander.  In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Squeeze in the juice of 3 lemons.  Whisk together.  Pour in cream & half and half.  Whisk until hot.  Dump in cheese & whisk until melted.  Add salt & pepper.  Check consistency, adding some of the hot pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed. 

Pour pasta & sauce into a large serving bowl.  Toss in basil.  Add sliced chicken breasts over top.
Serve immediately.

*Disclaimer: this recipe is not meant to be made "light."  I omitted the butter, used fat free half & half and no heavy cream...I really liked the lemon-parmesan-basil-chicken combination...it was amazing.  But the sauce was missing something- fat grams! clearly.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Pioneer Woman Cooking Week

I've spent some time browsing the Pioneer Woman's recipe collection.  I've printed so many of her recipes & have had so many flagged, I decided to dedicate 1 week to cooking only her recipes.  We're still in Michigan, so I'll start when we get back.

photo compliments of The Pioneer Woman/google images

So with that said, I thought I'd share the line-up with you all...

{The Line-up}

1. Butter Chicken
2. Braised Short Ribs & Creamy Polenta with Goat Cheese
3. Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta
4. Grilled Chicken & Pineapple Quesadillas
5. Dilly Bread
6. Oreo Cheesecake Cookies
7. Pistachio Cake
8. Tres Leches Cake
all recipes compliments of Thepioneerwoman

Now I know what you're probably thinking...how in the world can two people consume this much food.  Don't worry, I have a plan.  I'm thinking I might invite a few friends over one night & send some leftovers with them.  To all our friends...I'm open to bribes for dinner invitations*

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cashew Sweet & Sour Pork

I love meals that are easy to make & meals that I can bring to work to warm-up for lunch.  This recipe comes from the girls at Our Best Bites.  Everything I have made from them turns out so great.  Head over to OurBestBites.com to check out their blog!

{Cashew Sweet & Sour Pork}
recipe slightly adapted from  Our Best Bites

2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
1 tablespoons cooking sherry 
1 pound pork tenderloin thinly sliced
1/3 cup water
¼ c. sugar
¼ cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/3 cup chopped cashews 
¼ cup green onions
2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced or pressed
6-8 oz. snow peas, trimmed
1 8-oz. can pineapple chunks, drained
cooking spray
White or brown rice, prepared to serve 
Combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch, sherry, and pork. Toss well. 
Combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch, water, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and ketchup. Stir with a whisk; make sure there are no clumps with the cornstarch.  Spray large frying pan or wok with cooking spray & place  over medium-high heat. Add pork and stir-fry 3 minutes. Add onions, ginger, and garlic.  Stir-fry 1 minute. Add snow peas and pineapple. Stir-fry 3 minutes more. Whisk sauce ingredients again and add to pan, bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.

Stir in cashews and serve over hot rice. Garnish with more cashews and green onions if you want.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gone All Day Stew

For a very long time, I had been contemplating what I'd call this little project of mine.  From time to time it'd come up in conversation...like when we were in San Francisco with our wine drinking buddies having martini's and liquior after a long weekend of wine tasting in Napa.  I think that weekend I'd decided that it would be called "Mile-high Mirepiox" (thanks to T-Bills.)  To be honest, I had my blog page made many, many months before I finally decided on a name. 

But "TheStewDenver" came about when I was sitting at home, staring at this page all by myself.  I started thinking about the recipes I loved the most from my childhood and the ones I missed the most...Gone All Day Stew was the first recipe that came to mind.  This recipe is my Grandmother's recipe; one that she made so many times when we'd all get together. 
So this one is for her....

{Gone All Day Stew}
recipe compliments of my Grandmother

2 pounds chuck roast
1 large onion
2 stalks celery
3-4 large carrots
4 potatoes; peeled
12 whole fresh mushrooms

Wash & cut all above ingredinets into 2 inch cubes.  Place in roaster pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Mix together:

2 Beef Bouillion Cubes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup flour
3 grinds fresh pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt
2 cans Tomato Soup
2 cans water

Whisk together with wire whisk until well combined, pour over meat and vegetables.  Bake covered at 275 degrees for 4-5 hours. 

*when cooking this at a high altitude, check at 4 hours.  It should be done.

Photo compliments of Google Images

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Layered Strawberry Cheesecake Bowl

This trifle is my go-to, never fail recipe.  It's absolutely perfect for ... potlucks, bridal showers, baby showers, work parties, basically any type of get-together that calls for dessert (and I can't really think of any kind of party that doesn't need dessert.) I've made it too many times to count, I've given the recipe out too many times to count & I've raved and raved about it too many times to count. Enough said.

The last appearance this trifle made was at our street "soup" party last week.  I purposely hadn't made it all winter, because I had made it so much I felt like this recipe needed a little break.  I think I had two bites of soup at the party & two bowls of this dessert.  Yes, two bowls...there were witnesses.  Hopefully I've talked you into it*

{Layered Strawberry Cheesecake Bowl}
recipe compliments of Kraft Food & Family Magazine
3 cups sliced strawberries
3 tablespoons sugar
2 packages neufchateal cream cheese; softened
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 package {3.4 oz} instant vanilla pudding
2 cups thawed Cool Whip; divided
2 cups frozen pound cake cubes
Hershey's Chocolate
Combine berries & sugar.  Refridgerate.
Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamy.  Gradually beat in milk.  Add pudding.  Mix well.  Fold in 1 1/2 cups Cool Whip. 

*Use a glass trifle bowl.  Spoon 1/2 of cream cheese mixture into bowl.  Top with cake, berries & remaining cheese mixture.  Spoon rest of Cool Whip into center.  Drizzle with Hershey's Chocolate & garnish with sliced strawberry.  Refridgerate for 4 hours prior to serving. 

Lemon Cupcakes

The other day, I found that I had a whole bunch of lemons laying around.

So I started with this...

Turned the lemons into this...

made these out of the Lemon Curd...

Lemon Cupcakes!! 

I've had lemon cupcakes before, but never lemon cupcakes filled with homemade lemon curd.  Now, I don't particularly like the word "curd."  It acutally grosses me out some.  But I have to say, these cupcakes are really good.  A little bit like spring... spring is just good. 

{Lemon Cupcakes}
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
Recipe yields 42 cupcakes...keep that in mind*


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 3/4 {3 1/2 sticks} unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
7 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Lemon Curd {Recipe follows}

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Whisk together flour, zest, baking powder & salt. 
With an electric mixer on medium-high, cream butter and sugar until pale & fluffy.  Beat in cream cheese.  Reduce speed to low.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Beat in lemon juice & vanilla.  Add flour mixture in three batches, beating until just combined after each. 
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 28 minutes.  Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.  Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers. 
To finish, dust cupcakes with confectioners' sugar.  Fill a pastry bag (or ziplock bag) fitted with a medium round tip (#8) with curd.  Poke small hole in top of cupcake, insert tip into hole and squeeze some curd below top to fill the inside, then lift the tip and squeeze more curd in a pool on top.  Filled cupcakes can be kept at room temperature up to 1 hour before serving. 

{Lemon Curd}
Recipe compliments of Martha Stewart
Yields about 2 cups


2 whole eggs plus 8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice {about 6 lemons}
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature

Combine whole eggs and yolks, sugar & lemon juice in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat.  Add butter, a few pieces at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition.  Strain through a fine sieve into another bowl, and cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap, pressing it directly on surface to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 2 hours.