Thursday, December 29, 2011

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

I declared this week in my home to be "soup week"'s almost too cold to eat anything but! And so, my husband has been served soup every night this week- an old favorite and a couple of new ones (including one that he deemed "not blog worthy"). This recipe for creamy chicken noodle soup was my best soup of the week (so says my husband and I think I agree!).
I used a rotisserie chicken to save time, as well as store bought broth. This soup is so light and fresh tasting- thanks to the grated lemon rind! Ooh, what a great addition to this old favorite, if I do say so myself!
Please try this soup sometime this winter! It will warm you right up! Serve with a nice crusty bread. Enjoy!

2 Tbl. butter
1 shallot, minced
1 - 2 tsp garlic, minced
2 quarts of chicken stock/broth
1 c. water
4 carrots, sliced
4 celery stalks, sliced
2 c. dry egg noodles (broken into bite sized pieces using your hand)
5 mushrooms, chopped
1 to 2 cups of white meat from a rotisserie chicken, cut into bit-sized cubes (use as much or as little meat as your family prefers)
2 Tbl fresh parsley OR 1 Tbl dried parsley
1 Tbl grated lemon rind
1 Tbl lemon juice
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning spice (if you don't have this use 1/4 tsp oregano & 1/4 tsp basil)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 c. grated Parmesan (the cheap stuff that looks like powder - it dissolves better than freshly shredded)
1/3 c. heavy cream (don't skimp on this! It really adds to the flavor!)

In large soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once butter starts to sizzle, add shallots and cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add chicken stock and water to pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and stir in carrots; cook for 3 minutes. Add celery and cook for another 7 minutes. Add egg noodles and cook another 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, chicken, lemon rind, lemon juice, rosemary, Italian seasonings, salt and pepper. Let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.

Just before you are ready to serve, add grated Parmesan and heavy cream. Stir well and cook for another 2 minutes until soup is heated all the way through. Serve with plenty of crusty bread.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Every year I make cinnamon rolls from scratch on Christmas morning. In the past I've jumped from recipe to recipe, always looking for the ultimate roll - I think I have finally found it! These Alton Brown overnight cinnamon rolls are involved for sure- many steps are required, including a second rise overnight in the refrigerator. But, it's once a year- and it's Christmas for goodness sakes- so, I think the time put in was worth it! I will definitely make them next year (and maybe even give 'em a go at Easter, too). Here is the recipe taken directly from the Food Network site:



  • 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 large whole egg, room temperature
  • 2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
  • 6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
  • 20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
  • 1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray


  • 8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4-ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons


  • 2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups


For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls.

Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Perfect candy for the holidays- tastes great and easy as pie! This recipe made enough for me to share with my family AND two of my neighbors! Let your kids help!

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 cups white chocolate chips
12 regular size candy canes, wrappers removed

Line a large lipped baking sheet with foil. Generously spray the foil with cooking spray.

In a large microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir. Return to microwave and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove and stir. Repeat this until the chips are completely melted and smooth. Spread chocolate on the greased foil. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes until chocolate has hardened.

Crush 10 candy canes in a large Ziploc bag while the chocolate is in the fridge. If you are too impatient for the old crush-in-the-bag-with-a-rolling-pin-trick, then you can pulse candy canes in the food processor. Do not turn the canes into dust, but rather, tiny bits. Crush the remaining two candy canes separately and set aside.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave repeating the same steps as the chocolate. Stir till smooth. Add the 10 crushed candy canes to the white chocolate and stir to combine.

Remove the hardened chocolate from the fridge. Pour the white chocolate with candy cane bits on top of the chocolate and spread. Sprinkle the extra two candy canes on top of the white chocolate (you may need to lightly press them in with your hands).

Refrigerator for 1 hour or until completely hardened. Remove from fridge. Gently peel all the bark off the foil. Then break or cut into uneven misshapen pieces. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stefanie's Breakfast Casserole

My sister-in-law, Stefanie, shared her family recipe for sausage breakfast casserole with me years ago. Now I make it all the time, especially when I have company. It's quick to make and is loved by everyone who eats it. I really wanted to post this before Christmas since I know many of you have family in town and need to make a dish that will serve a lot of people. This is perfect! Great to bring for a potluck brunch, too!
*Sometimes when I'm cooking the sausage I add a 1/2 minced onion. I have also added a minced jalapeno to the sausage when cooking (this really spices it up!!).  If you prefer a more mild spice, you can add a 4oz can of green chiles at the same time you pour on the eggs.

1 tube of crescent rolls
1 lb. Jimmy Dean sausage, cooked and broken into fine crumbles
10 eggs, whisked
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350F

Spray a 9X13" baking pan with cooking spray. For the first layer of the casserole, lay down the crescent rolls.

Layer the cooked sausage on top of the crescent rolls.

Next pour the whisked eggs on top of the cooked sausage crumbles.

Finally, sprinkle the cheese on top of the eggs.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting into squares. If you like, serve with salsa.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I think the vast majority of us were scarred by brussel sprouts in some way or another as children. I remember one sad evening when I begrudgingly sat at the table for 30 minutes staring at a plateful of over-cooked, boiled brussel sprouts. After many threats of no dessert, I finally caved and put one in my mouth...that resulted in some gagging and don’t need to know the rest of the gory details. My dad thinks this story is hilarious (it was he who demanded I eat them or else!)...he had no idea the effect that night had on me! Alas, I went for nearly two decades without allowing a sprout to pass my lips! And then...a revelation! There is another way to cook a sprout...drum roll...ROASTING!  Roasting takes them from a sad, soggy, slimy veggie, to a glorious, delightfully crunchy and deliciously yummy sweet baby cabbage! Oh heaven!
Okay, so, why this long story? Just give me the recipe already, you say! Well, I want all of you with similar tales to give brussel sprouts another chance! They are so good when roasted that my husband and I will fight over the last one! Oh and if you needed another reason besides taste, roasting is much more healthy than boiling...
You can make these straight up with oil, vinegar, salt, pepper & sugar. Or if you want to make them less healthy (but a little more yummy) try adding the bacon crumbles...they may act as a disguise when serving them to your family...

1 lb of brussel sprouts, trimmed and depending on the size of the sprout, halved or quartered
2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
3 Tbl onion, finely minced (optional)
3 slices of bacon (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400F

Toss the cut brussel sprouts in a mixing bowl with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar till all the sprouts are evenly coated.  Spread them out on a baking pan lined with foil. Roast for 17 - 20 minutes, or until sprouts have started to brown and the top leaves get a little crispy. Serve and watch skeptical faces break out into huge, happy grins!

If you want to add the bacon:
Cook bacon slices in a skillet. Once bacon is crispy, remove from pan and save only enough of the bacon grease to coat the bottom of the skillet. Chop bacon and set aside. Add the minced onion to skillet lightly coated in bacon grease and cook for five minutes. Add onion along with the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar to the brussel sprouts. Follow the directions above. Plate sprouts and sprinkle them with bacon crumbles.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie/Oreo/Fudgy Brownie Bars

I snagged this recipe off another blog a couple months ago and was just dying to try it out! The perfect opportunity arrived when my sister-in-law's family visited for Thanksgiving. I had the pleasure of watching my sweet nieces and nephew one night at my mother-in-law's house while all the grown-ups went out for dinner. And me, being the very fun auntie that I am, said, "Let's make a crazy chocolate chip cookie/Oreo/fudge brownie concoction and then pig out! Who wants to help?!" Well, they all (including my three kiddos) shouted, "I DO!" All seven kids took turns measuring and pouring and mixing. These bars were really fun to make and were decadent to say the least! But, it was a great activity for the kids (ages 2 to 14) to actively participate in. The best part of the whole thing for me was watching them all lick the spoons and the bowls      
All the kids help stir the cookie dough
Step #1. Ingredients for chocolate chip cookies - 1st layer:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 12-oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Make cookies according to the directions on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie bag. Please note that I omitted 1/4 c. of flour from the Toll House bag recipe.

Spread cookie dough on the bottom of a well greased 9 X 13" baking pan.
Step #2
One large package of double stuffed Oreos.

Layer the Oreos on top of the cookie dough.
Step #3
Make a family size box of brownies according to the directions on the back of the box. Add 1/4 c. hot fudge sauce to the brownie mix and stir well to combine. Spread the brownie mix on top of the Oreos.
Bake the bars in oven at 350F for 50 to 55 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting (if you can wait that long!)...ENJOY!