Chicken Barley Soup

While not a fan of cold weather I do love trying all all sorts of new soups this time of year. The nice thing about soup is it freezes well and it’s usually a one pot meal! My first new soup of the season turned out really well. We ate half and I froze half for later this year when I’ve run out of soup recipes to try!

Chicken Barley Soup

1T oil
4 carrots, diced small
4 celery stalks, diced small
1 med onion, diced small
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 in pieces
salt and pepper to taste
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 T thyme
1 C quick cooking barley
5oz baby spinach (5 cups)

1. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat oil over medium0high. Add carrots, celery, and onion. Cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until chicken is opaque at edges, about 2 minutes.

2. Add broth and thyme and bring to a boil. Stir in barley. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until barley is tender and chicken is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.

3. Add spinach and cook until wilted, 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Few ingredients, simple, and easy to make, and very tasty!

Dutch Apple Pie

So, Cayenne pepper is my new favorite spice. I made an apple pie yesterday and I couldn’t resist using it. Before you think, oh, no!, spicy apple pie. Don’t worry, I didn’t use that much! I’ve discovered that a tiny amount of cayenne pepper adds flavor to sweet foods without being spicy.

I was making a dutch apple pie and when I went to make the crumb topping I discovered that I was out of brown sugar. The pie was already sitting in the pan ready to go and I really didn’t want to make a crust for the top. So, I improvised:

1 C Sugar
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1/2 C shredded coconut
4T unsalted butter

Blend well and sprinkle on top. It was quite yummy! The pepper adds flavor without adding spice, and without it I think using the white sugar would have been a bit too bland for the top of my apple pie.

I also tried a new crust, which actually turned out! I have trouble with my crusts being too tough. I think I overwork them. Use oil instead of butter, so you mix it all together with a fork and then press it into the pan instead of rolling it out. My crust was actually flaky for once!


Apple Pecan Cake

I tried out this cake recipe yesterday. Unfortunately, I sent it to work with my husband before I got a picture. However, it was delicious, easy to make, and contained all ingredients that I keep on hand so I’m going to post it without a picture.

I got this recipe out of this month’s Everyday Food magazine. This is my favorite cooking magazine. Most of the recipes contain ingredients that I can identify and the recipes are not too time-consuming to make. A must with little kids!

This recipe did use a large number of bowls, which my kids appreciated since they got to lick out every one of them 🙂

Apple-Pecan Cake

1/2 C unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 medium apple, peeled and diced
3/4 C pecans, chopped
2 1/2 C all purpose flour (I used 1 1/2 C all purpose flour, and 1 C wheat flour)
2 t baking powder
1 t nutmeg (I did not add this – I don’t usually like the aftertaste of nutmeg)
1/4 t salt
3/4 C unsweetened applesauce
1/2 C plain yogurt
1 1/3 C sugar
1 t orange zest
3 large eggs
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9in square pan. Line with parchment paper, butter parchment. In a med bowl, toss apple and pecans with 2 T flour to coat. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. In a small bowl, combine applesauce and yogurt.

2. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar, and orange zest on high until light and fluffy, 3 min, scraping down bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions applesauce mixture, and beat to combine. Fold in apple mixture. Transfer batter to pan and smooth top.

3. Bake until golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 20 min. Using parchment, lift cake from pan. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Peanut Butter Pie

I tried this pie out over the weekend.

You cook the filling on the stove and let it set in the fridge for a couple of hours. As you can see, mine was still a little bit soft when I took this picture.

But, I loved the pie! It was really rich so you could only eat a small piece, but it was very tasty!

And the honeycomb on top was so easy to make. You mix 1/4 C water, 1T honey, 3T corn syrup, and 1 1/2C sugar in a saucepan until it starts to boil, then you turn the heat up and let it boil, swirling the pot occasionally until the sugar just starts to brown (and don’t wait for it to get a dark brown, I had to make two batches because my first one was too brown and it tasted burnt). At the first tint of brown, remove it from the heat and whisk in 1T baking soda (it will bubble really high so use a large saucepan) immediately pour the whole thing out on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then you can break or cut it in pieces and eat. It doesn’t store really well, it tends to get a bit chewy after a couple of days.

Coconut Cake

My coconut creme cake I made for Easter. It looks really pretty. I loved the cake and filling but I’m definitely making changes to the icing next time. The icing had THREE sticks of butter in it and only three Tablespoons of powdered sugar, and it definitely tasted buttery. I think next time I’ll do half the butter, make up the liquid difference with some whipping cream and add some more powdered sugar.

As far as looks go though, I was really happy with this cake.

I did Easter dinner for my in-town family this year and I made some of my favorite dishes, and some new dishes. Ham, sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, salad, rolls, and cake.

Next year I think I need a few more rolls and another side, just for more variety, but I was happy with this year’s success. Later I’ll post my sweet potato casserole, and corn pudding recipes, as these are my favorites and I’m definitely making them again next year!

Santa Fe Chicken Casserole

I tried out another recipe with cooking creme. This time I tried the Santa Fe cooking creme. It’s not bad, I definitely like the italian and the garlic cremes better. I think the Santa Fe blend is a little spicy. My husband and cousin think it’s barely spicy at all. So I guess it all depends on how spicy you tolerate your food. For me, apparently, not at all.

However, I did like the recipe that I tried. (I just had to have lots of water when I ate it).

Santa Fe Chicken Casserole.

The only note I would make when cooking this is, if you’re not using a deep dish pie pan, put toothpicks in your casserole to keep the aluminum foil from sticking to the cheese. I lost a lot of cheese when I pulled my aluminum foil off.

House Party Recipes

I had my house party this weekend. If you haven’t checked out house parties you should. I love them! You get free stuff, in my case a skillet and food, to demo a new product with your friends.

My party was for Philadelphia Cooking Creme.

I made two pasta dishes, Chicken Primavera with Pasta

and Tortellini Italiano.


Both were really good! The Tortellini Italiano was my favorite. The red peppers added a sweet flavor to the cooking creme that wasn’t in the Chicken Primavera.

Even my husband, who doesn’t like red peppers, liked the Tortellini Italiano best. He, of course, picked the red peppers out but he liked the flavor of the sauce with the peppers having been cooked in it.

I really want to try out one of the mexican meals, they all look so good! I think that’s the cooking creme flavor I’ll try next.

Cooking Creme

I got my party pack the other day from House Party. It’s for the new Philadelphia Cooking Creme.

I decided to try out one of the recipes last night for supper, just to see what I think of the the cooking creme before my party. I tried out a Lemon-Broccoli Rick with Chicken.  It was delicious!

The downside to the cooking creme is that it’s about $3 a container. I wouldn’t have tried it without receiving this house party. With my party pack I received coupons for 4 free cooking cremes, plus $1 off coupons for all my guests.

My opinion, cooking creme is delicious, and easy, and I think there’s a less expensive way to make a creme sauce for my food. But, I’ll probably start using these once or twice a month because they’re such an easy way to make a tasty meal with fresh ingredients. And with 2 little ones, I need all the help I can get!

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

I tried this new recipe off the food network site. Chocolate-Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes.

They turned out pretty well! I’m going to try them again with a few changes.

1. The cupcakes were really crumbly! I had to give my 2yr old a spoon so she could eat them. I think I’m just going to make a regular chocolate cupcake. The extra ingredients didn’t seems to enhance the flavor of the cupcake, just made it crumbly.

2. I LOVE the icing! I’m going to make this and put it on other things! I thought it could have been a bit firmer though, it was a little soft. Next time, I’m not going to use a purchased icing, I’ll make my own and make it a little thicker so when I add the chocolate mixture it’ll be a better spreading consistency.

3. Kroger brand maraschino cherries are terrible! They just don’t taste right, so I’ll use a different brand next time.

House Party!

If you’re not familiar with House Party, you should check it out!

I’ve done several parties and I love the great stuff I receive in my party packs. My latest party, which I’m hosting in a couple of weeks – you invite friends over for a party – is for Philadelphia Cooking Creme.

I received 4 coupons for free Cooking Creme, an oven mitt, and a really nice skillet. And for my guests, I have coupons for Cooking Creme, wooden spoons, magnets, and scratch pads.

I can’t wait to try out the Cooking Creme, and my new pan!