Friday, December 19, 2008

That Good Salad

No really, that is it's name, "That Good Salad!" It is our family's very favorite, and we got to have it twice this week so I thought I'd share the recipe.

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 bunches of romaine lettuce, torn
2 cups chopped tomato
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
2/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese
8 bacon strips cooked and crumbled
1 cup caesar salad croutons

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, cover and shake well. Chill. In a bowl toss the lettuce, tomatoes, swiss cheese, almonds, parmesean and bacon. Shake dressing and pour over salad and toss. Add croutons and serve immediately.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Crock Pot Cranberry Chicken

a SUPER easy crowd pleaser! Can literally be mixed up in 10 minutes :)

2-3 pounds of chicken pieces (I usually use drumsticks or breasts, both work well)
8 oz fat free Catalina salad dressing
1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce
1 packet of dry lipton onion soup mix

Rinse each piece of chicken and place in crockpot
Mix the sauce together in a bowl and pour over the chicken
Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours (depending on your crock pot)

Pumpkin Cheesecake

What has become my favorite Thanksgiving dessert in the last couple years--the combination of pumpkin pie and cheesecake, nothing beats that!

1 ready crust graham cracker pie crust
12 oz softened cream cheese (I used fat free and it was still great!)
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup 100% pure pumpkin

Mix cream cheese, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice on medium speed.
Stir in pumpkin.
Add eggs and mix until blended.
Pour into crust. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Cool.
Refrigerate for 3 hours. (I just made it the night before, it was wonderful the next day!)

Sarah's very favorite holiday recipe--Sweet Potato Gratin

from the kitchen of Renata Riley (my great aunt)
Serves 8 (this can be halved for a smaller crowd)

3 TBSP butter
4 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled & cut into ¾ in thick slices
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400.
Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish w/ 1 tbsp butter.
Arrange a third of the sweet potatoes, overlapping slightly in the dish.
Sprinkle w/ ¼ cup cheese.
Repeat with two more layers of sweet potatoes and cheese.
In small bowl combine cream, salt, pepper & cayenne. Pour over potatoes. Dot with the remaining 2 tbsp butter.
Cover dish w/ foil & bake 20 min.
Remove foil & continue baking until sweet potatoes are tender & top is browned—20-25 minutes.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A picture of communion

Last night Chuck and I were invited over to a wonderful meal at our new friend's home. They cooked a phenomenal dinner of this roasted walnut ravioli (pictured on the left, recipe below!) salad with homemade dressing, and french bread with olive oil and vinegar. Oh and a fabulous Merlot to top it off. A few things struck me about our meal that I thought I'd reflect on a bit. To me, our hosts were the picture of hospitality, candles were burning, soft music was playing, red wine was open, dinner was cooking when we arrived. After a long day, it was so peaceful walking into their home. I realize it's not always possible to have everything cleaned up when guests arrive, but I also realize how peaceful it makes the environment if that is possible. I realized how warm and inviting a nice table spread can appear--dishes, accented by colored serving bowls with a candle burning in the middle made the table so inviting. (Ok I am spending a lot of time researching dishes and serving platters these days, so I am more aware of them!) But what struck me most was the way Nick and Whitney genuinely wanted to get to know us. We sat down and they began asking us questions about how we met, how we got engaged, how wedding planning was going etc. They asked us about our upcoming church transitions, as we look to find a place for us to worship together. And they asked how they could support us in that transition. We laughed over coffee, learned a new and ridiculous card game, and even ran to Cal Tech to catch the end of the boy's basketball game so Chuck could support one of the college students in his small group. We left their apartment last night and the first thing I said to Chuck was what a gift this couple has for hospitality, and how I want to work at developing that in our home. I long for our home to be a place where people can enter and feel at peace. I desire to have an apartment that no longer looks like a college student's home but feels like a "grown up home." (Granted, in our 1 bed room this probably won't be fully possible with us needing to store Chuck's 3 giant surf boards in the living room...but one day I am determined to have a garage where he can keep them!) I think hospitality, sharing life with people, takes intentionality and work. I think it's something we don't practice much in our busy lives today, but it's my hope and desire that this would be different!

Cheese Ravioli with Toasted Walnuts
from Real Simple
1 14- to 16-ounce package cheese ravioli (frozen or fresh)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 cup (2 ounces) walnuts, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the ravioli according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking water.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and walnuts. Cook, stirring, until the nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the parsley, and the reserved cooking water. Add the ravioli and toss to coat. Divide among individual plates and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Substitution: For a hit of vegetables and a change of pace, use pumpkin or butternut-squash ravioli instead of cheese-filled. You can also replace the walnuts with pecans or almonds.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Crock Pot Lentil and Ham Soup

1 Cup dried lentils
1 Cup chopped celery
1 Cup chopped carrots
1 Cup chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ½ cups diced, cooked ham
½ tsp dried basil Ingredients
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp black pepper
32 oz chicken broth
1 cup water
8 tsp tomato sauce

Combine all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for 10 hours

Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

A great crock pot recipe!

2 cans, 15 oz. each, black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans, 4.5 oz, each, chopped green chilies
1 can, 14.5 oz, Mexican Stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 can, 14.5 oz, diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can, 11 oz, whole kernel corn, drained (I used a 16 oz can)
4 green onions, sliced
2 to 3 T. chili powder
1/2 tsp. dried minced garlic

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 5 to 6 hours. Makes 8 cups. Serve it with shredded cheddar and fat free sour cream. Sometimes this one is too spicy for me, so the sour cream helps. It's also great served over white rice!

Southwest BBQ Chicken & Black Bean Burritos

From Rachel Ray--one of my favorite of her 30-minute meal recipes!

4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 full breasts)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
A couple shakes cayenne pepper sauce
1 tablespoon (around the pan) extra virgin olive oil
½ medium Spanish onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons smoky bbq sauce
salt and cracked pepper to taste
Four 10-12 inch flour tortillas
Any burrito toppings you like--I do tomatoes, cheese, and sour cream

Rub chicken on both sides with a mixture of the cumin, chili powder, and cayenne sauce.
Heat griddle pan to high & cook the chicken breasts 4 minutes on each side. Remove from heat. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Go once around the pan with oil. Cook onions and garlic until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add beans and BBQ sauce. Chop cook chicken breasts and drop into bbq mixture. Heat mixture through. Season with salt and pepper, taste. Pile chicken and beans onto tortilla. Wrap and enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread

I've recently gotten into baking more, I really don't like sweets very much, but I enjoy baking and sharing the results! I made this pumpkin bread last week and it was wonderful! It makes 2 loaves, I froze one, which should be just fine according to the recipe.

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
3 cups sugar
4 eggs beaten
2 cups of fresh pumpkin or 16 oz of canned pumpkin
1/2 cup of water IF pumpkin is FRESH
2/3 cup of water IF pumpkin is CANNED
1 cup vegetable oil

Preheat over to 350
Combine flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar in large mixing bowl.
Add eggs, water, oil and pumpkin. Stir until blended.
Pour into two 9×5″ loaf pans. Bake 1 hour. Cool slightly and take out of pans to let cool on a rack. This tastes best if you wrap, refrigerate and wait a day to eat it. It keeps well in the refrigerator and can be frozen.
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