Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Soup season is here!  I make this soup a lot around this time of year.  It is super easy and is especially tasty when served with lots of toppings. 

This soup makes frequent appearances at soup and Scrabble night.  Some friends and I like to get together, especially during the winter months, and eat soup and nerd out playing Scrabble.  Even nerdier?  I own the deluxe edition of Scrabble; the game board swivels on wheels and has convenient recessed game spaces.  Try not to be jealous. 

Tip for Soup:  When making soup, make it the night before and let it sit so the flavors can blend.  It always tastes better the next day.

  • olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can chicken broth (14 ounces)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce (19 ounces)
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (15 ounces)
  • 1 can corn, drained (15 ounces)
  • 1 can diced green chilies (7 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder (use only 1 teaspoon for less spice)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
  • 3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (or the meat from 1 rotisserie chicken)
  • cilantro, chopped

  • sour cream
  • cilantro
  • avocado
  • shredded cheese
  • chopped tomatoes
  • tortilla chips

Heat olive oil in a large pot.

Cook garlic and onions on medium heat.

Add chicken broth and water.

Add tomatoes, enchilada sauce, pinto beans, corn, and green chilies and stir well. 

Add spices and stir well.

Add chicken and cilantro.

Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes or until beans are cooked. 

Source:  Megan Porter

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Toffee Apple Dip

This is the perfect fall treat!  And, it feels a little less bad than the average dessert because you eat it with fresh apple slices.  Right?  I spend a lot of my life justifying my food choices. 

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Heath bar, chopped up

Cream cream cheese, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and vanilla. 

Add chopped up Heath bar.

Chill before serving. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Party: Monica's Pre-Wedding Dinner

I like to have a party now and again.  Since a good party includes good food, and that's what this blog is about, I think I will document my parties as well as continue to share my favorite recipes. 

My friend Monica is getting married next week to my friend Adam.  It's fun when two good friends marry each other.  And, since I introduced them, I feel like I can take some credit for this happy occasion that is about to occur.

I hosted a small dinner to celebrate with Monica before her big day with a few of her girlfriends.  I went with a Mexican theme since Monica and I always go to Cactus when we get together.  We always get virgin mojitos and green enchiladas.  I attempted to recreate our tradition and this is how it turned out. 

The Menu:

I made a few tissue flowers for the table and ordered some festive paper fans from Amazon.

Since the guest list was small, I was able to do lots of fun little extras.  Each place setting had a lime placecard, a Mexican bottled soda, a small jar of homemade salsa (from the enchiladas I served), a teeny bottle of Tabasco, and some Hershey's chocolates (Monica's favorite).   

I'm so glad we got a chance to visit with friends and celebrate Monica's upcoming wedding!

CONGRATS, ADAM & MONICA!!  So happy for you guys.   

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chocolate Silk Pie

My mom made this pie growing up.  It was always my Grandpa's favorite.  I recall having it for many breakfasts the day after Thanksgiving.  I rediscovered this treasure a few years back when I was wanting a chocolate pie recipe to serve at book club.  We had read The Help and I thought I was hilarious for serving chocolate pie. 

You can make this in a regular pie crust or in a graham cracker crust, my personal favorite.  It's also fun to make in individual serving glasses.  I did that this last time in little Ikea juice glasses.  Makes for a nice and easy presentation.  Also helps with portion control.   

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and oil in a mixer and beat for a significant amount of time. 

NOTE:  The sugar will not be dissolved yet.  Don't be alarmed. 

Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time.  Beat well after each egg and scrape the bowl several times.

Mixture will get lighter and fluffier as you continue to beat. 

Put mixture in pie crust and chill.

Serve with whipped cream.

NOTE:  If you're going the route of making individual servings, use this graham cracker crust recipe.  Put a small amount of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each glass and use a tart tamper to flatten it out.  No need to bake.  Yields: 10 individual servings   

Source:  Marsha Porter

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


This guac is good, good, GOOD!!  The end.   


  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 8 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded, and small-diced

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh out of their shells into a large bowl.

Use your hands if you want.  

Immediately add the lemon juice, hot sauce, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss well.

Using a knife, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced.

Add the tomatoes.

Mix well and taste for salt and pepper.

Source:  Ina Garten

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Roasted Vegetables

This is my favorite way to eat vegetables.  When you roast vegetables, the edges should be crisp and the middles tender.  Roasted broccoli is especially amazing.  In the winter I like to roast carrots and parsnips.  This picture shows broccoli and parsnips.  You can use brussel sprouts, squash, fennel, cauliflower, or whatever tickles your fancy.  The only bummer about roasting vegetables is that they take a solid 15-20 minutes.  But, they're well worth the wait so be sure to plan ahead so you can make it happen!


  • vegetables, cut in similar-sized pieces
  • olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees. 
Cut vegetables in similar-sized pieces and place on heavy baking pan in a pile. 
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Use hands to toss vegetables, oil, salt, and pepper. 
Use hands to spread out vegetable pieces on baking sheet. 
Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until tender. 
NOTE:  I tried coconut oil this time instead olive oil because I hear it's a little healthier.  I wanted to love it, but didn't.  I feel like that's always the case with me.  Boo. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I've been on a Mel's Kitchen Cafe kick lately.  I love her "Best" section.  Tonight I made her BEST sweet and sour chicken and it did not disappoint.  I definitely had my doubts.  The ingredients seemed too simple.  In fact, you could probably make this on a whim because you'd most likely have everything you need on hand.  I also had doubts as it was cooking because there was a pretty strong vinegar smell.  But, rest assured, the chicken was tender and delicious and everything I hoped it would be! 
  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used chicken tenders instead.)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

While the oil is heating, cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place the cornstarch in a gallon-sized ziploc bag.

Put the chicken into the bag with the cornstarch and seal, tossing to coat the chicken.

Whisk the eggs together in a shallow dish.

Dip the cornstarch-coated chicken pieces in the egg and place them carefully in a single layer in the hot skillet.

Cook for 1-2 minutes and then flip each piece over to cook on the other side until nicely golden but not all the way cooked through.

Place in a single layer in a baking dish and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over the chicken in the baking dish.

Bake for one hour, turning the chicken once or twice while cooking to coat evenly with sauce.

Serve over rice.

Source:  Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Beef and Broccoli

Mel's Kitchen is a fun food blog I've been reading recently.  She has a section on her blog that identifies what she considers "THE BEST" for different recipes.  This was listed as THE BEST BEEF AND BROCCOLI!  It really was quite tasty.  I will definitely be making it again.  It makes for great leftovers as well.    

Serves 4-5
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth (or water if you don't have chicken broth)
  • 5 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Beef and Broccoli:
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut into 2-inch-wide strips with the grain, then sliced across the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices

NOTE:  I didn't slice the steak quite right this time around.  The description above seemed a bit confusing.  I think the key is to slice it thinly.  I went back and resliced so I had thin strips. 
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press or minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon peanut oil or vegetable oil, plus extra for cooking
  • 1 1/4 pounds broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 medium scallions, sliced 1/2-inch thick on diagonal, optional

In a medium bowl, combine beef and soy sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, whisk the sauce ingredients together in a bowl.

In another small bowl, combine garlic, ginger, and 1 teaspoon peanut oil. Set aside.

Heat 1-2 teaspoons peanut oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and rippling.

Add half of beef to skillet and break up clumps; cook, without stirring, for 1 minute, then stir and cook until beef is browned around edges and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. 

NOTE:  Don’t overcook the meat – cook until just barely cooked through so the meat stays tender.

Transfer beef to a medium bowl and cover.

Heat another 1-2 teaspoons peanut oil in the skillet and repeat with remaining beef.

Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to now-empty skillet; heat until rippling and hot.

Add broccoli and cook 30 seconds; add water, cover pan, and lower heat to medium.

Steam broccoli until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes.

Push the broccoli to the sides of the skillet and add the garlic/ginger mixture.

Cook, mashing the mixture with a spoon, until fragrant, about 15-30 seconds.

Stir the mixture into the broccoli.

Add the beef back to skillet and toss to combine.

Whisk the sauce to recombine and add to the skillet.

Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, about 1-2 minutes.

Sprinkle with scallions and serve with white rice.

Source:  Mel's Kitchen