Oatmeal Craisin White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Cookies with oatmeal have a wonderful chewiness that I love. This recipe came from the package of Craisins I purchased at Costco.  They were a wonderful treat shared with friends and family.IMG_5890

OATMEAL CRAISINS WHITE CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (I used quick cooking)
1-1/2 cups flour (I substituted 1/2 of the flour with almond flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups Craisins (Dried Cranberries)
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

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Adapted from Ocean Spray Oatmeal Craisins White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Springtime in the Rockies

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The first day of Spring brings to mind our favorite things: flowers, sunshine, rain showers, sounds of children playing outdoors, and baseball. Iowa Springs means crops being planted, morel mushroom hunting in local Timbers, and one of my favorite flowers, Bluebells.  Bluebells grew wild in the timbers of Iowa, but they grow in the shade of my Colorado home now. In Colorado, the first day of Spring could find 36″ of snow on the ground or summer-like temperatures. Crazy as it sounds, it’s one of the many things I love about Colorado.

Springtime in Colorado also brings back memories of the old song ‘When Its Springtime in the Rockies‘ recorded by Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry and many more. The song was written by Robert Sauer /Lyrics by Mary Hale Woolsey in 1929. I’ve included the lyrics below and hope you enjoy the link to YouTube above.

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WHEN IT’S SPRINGTIME IN THE ROCKIES

When it’s springtime in the rockies
I am coming back to you
Little sweetheart of the mountains
With your bonny eyes of blue
Once again I’ll say “I love you”
While the birds sing all the day
When it’s springtime in the rockies In the rockies, far away

The twilight shadows deepen into night,
The city lights are gleaming o’er the snow
I sit alone beside the cheery fire dear
I’m dreaming dreams from out the long ago
I fancy it is springtime in the mountain
The flowers with their colors are aflame
And ev’ry day I hear you softly saying
I’ll wait until the springtime comes again

When it’s springtime in the rockies
I am coming back to you
Little sweetheart of the mountains
With your bonny eyes of blue
Once again I’ll say “I love you”
While the birds sing all the day
When it’s springtime in the rockies
In the rockies, far away

St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef and Cabbage

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Corned Beef and Cabbage is an Irish-American tradition, not one commonly found in Ireland. None the less, it is a tradition many of us treasure and cook only 1 time a year. I always prepare this dish in my trusty Crock Pot and it’s perfect every time. This time I chose to omit the carrots and go with a basic beef, potato, onion, and cabbage meal.

Pair this dish with Irish Soda Bread and a beer (green) and have yourself a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE

1 raw corned beef roast (3-4 pounds)
1 head cabbage washed and cut into wedges
8 red skinned potatoes, washed
3 carrots (optional)
2-3 medium onions (optional)
1 cup water
salt and pepper

Place corned beef brisket in crock pot and top with vegetables, water, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  If you like your cabbage a bit crisper, you can add the cabbage 2-3 hours before serving.

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Mushroom Barley Soup

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My beloved Czech cookbook given to me by my Mother many years ago had this wonderful recipe. I added leftover prime rib pieces to mine and loved it. It’s easy, it’s hearty, and it’s healthy.

Beef Mushroom Barley Soup

MUSHROOM BARLEY SOUP

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
4 cups chicken, beef or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup barley

Optional:  chopped cooked beef or chicken

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add onion, celery, carrots, and mushrooms and saute for about 10 minutes. Add flour and stir; add broth, barley, and protein (optional). Cook for about 40 minutes or until cooked through.

Cran-Apple Oat Cake

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Gluten-free eating means I rarely eat toast, breakfast pastry, etc.  Sometimes, I just need a carb ‘fix’ and this recipe sounded delicious.  I slightly altered the original recipe and loved the results. The second time I made this recipe, I substituted blueberries for the craisins and baked in muffin paper/tins.  I’ve shared both versions with good feedback.  I’ll even admit that I didn’t eat all of it soon enough and the last piece was a bit dry.  I thought, ‘why not put almond milk on it?’ like a bowl of oatmeal. It was delicious.

A new favorite for my gluten-free recipe box!

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CRAN-APPLE OAT CAKE

2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 single-serving packets of Pure Stevia
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup egg whites
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 small tart apple, chopped
1/2 cup Craisins (original recipe called for cranberries)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  • Soak the oats in the almond milk in the refrigerator overnight.
  • In the morning, combine all ingredients.
  • Spread in greased 9-inch pie plate (or muffin tins).
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Briana-Thomas

Mango and Avocado Black Rice Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

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One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to prepare meals primarily from my pantry and freezer until I had whittled down the food on hand. A large bag of black rice, from Costco, has been sitting there with no great recipes, until now.  I swear I hear Angels sing when I read this recipe.  It is a great salad, side dish and good enough for dessert, too. Black rice has a nutty flavor and texture which pairs beautifully with the other ingredients.  Also check out the history of black rice.

Black Rice Mango and Avocado Salad

Mango and Avocado Black Rice Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

1 1/2 cups organic black rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large ripe mango, diced
1 small ripe avocado, diced or sliced
1/4 cup roasted almonds (I used chopped pecans)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup diced red onion
For the Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey (agave nectar if vegan)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
lime wedges, to garnish
  • Rinse rice in mesh strainer. Add to medium saucepan. Add 2 3/4 cups water and a pinch of salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a low simmer, and cook until rice is tender and water is absorbed about 30-40 minutes. When rice is done cooking, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Cool for 10 minutes before adding dressing.
  • While rice is cooking prepare the dressing: Combine lime juice, olive oil, garlic, honey (or agave), cilantro, and salt in a food processor. Process for 15-30 seconds or until dressing is combined. Once rice is done cooking and has cooled a bit, stir in dressing. Cover bowl and place in fridge for an hour or until cool and you are ready to add in the rest of the salad ingredients.
  • Before serving, toss salad again with dressing and fold in cilantro, mango, and red onion. Pour into cold salad bowls and top with roasted almonds and avocado. Garnish with a lime wedge or extra cilantro if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe by AmbitousKitchen.com

Valentine’s Day…through the years

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Valentine’s Day is a day we cherished as children, exchanging Valentines with our classmates, carefully choosing cards for each person. We would spend what seemed like hours on our Valentines for our parents.

Our Mother’s would bake cookies to bring to class and we would have a big ‘sugar high’ before our sweet teachers would thankfully watch us leave the classroom for one crazy ride home on the bus. Cathys Valentine 1969

As I got older, Valentine’s Day became more about romance, setting expectations of what we should give and receive of this day full of cupid, hearts and roses.  More often than not, this day was a let-down. This week on CBS Sunday morning I saw one of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, share his thoughts on Valentine’s Day. He captures it well!

With children, Valentine’s Day would bring me back to my childhood, helping the girls pick out their favorite cartoon-themed Valentine’s, baking heart-shaped cookies, and often receiving the precious Valentines from their sweet little hands.

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Today, Valentine’s Day is a day to show love by sharing a gift of food with family and friends, calling a lonely friend, and being thankful and full of love for this precious gift of life….today!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

Garlic Roasted Green Beans with Shallots & Almonds

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I was craving green beans and our book club was meeting to discuss ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn. Our hostess served Tom Yum Koong Soup, favored by one of the characters in the book when fighting off a cold.  Others brought bar food and I brought green beans…never mentioned in the book but satisfied my craving.

This is a simple and absolutely delicious recipe. I’ll be making it again, and again, and again.

Roasted Green Beans with Shallots and Almonds

GARLIC ROASTED GREEN BEANS WITH SHALLOTS & ALMONDS

2 lb. fresh green beans
5-6 shallots, peeled, and cut into thin slivers
5 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut into thin slices
3 T olive oil
1 tsp. salt (or more to taste)
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, very finely chopped
1/2 cup almonds, sliced or chopped
1 tsp. lemon zest

  • Preheat oven to 450 F.
  • Trim ends from green beans. Peel and cut shallots and garlic, then place with beans in plastic bowl. Add olive oil, salt & pepper, parsley, almonds and lemon zest. Toss until ingredients are well coated with oil.
  • Spray roasting pan with nonstick spray or mist with olive oil, then arrange the vegetables in a single layer. (I used parchment paper for roasting vegetables and the results are great).  Roast 12-15 minutes for thin beans, or slightly longer for regular beans, until beans are slightly shriveled, and shallots and garlic are lightly browned.

Recipe adapted from KalynsKitchen.com

 

Ham Bone Soup…still wonderful

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Ham Bone Soup was a recipe I found in a great cookbook given to my by my brother-in-law, Ron, and his wife, Cathy, many years ago. I was use left-over ham bones to make the broth, just like my Mother taught me. This particular recipe was a favorite of the entire family and I was sad when my cookbook and this recipe disappeared from my kitchen.

Ham Bone Soup

Many years later, my sister-in-law, Betty, found the recipe copied down by my late Mother-in-Law on a recipe card and gave it to me. God bless them! It was great to make the soup again, although I substituted Quinoa pasta for regular pasta. I cook the pasta separately and add to the soup when ready to serve, otherwise the pasta tends to fall apart.

Without the pasta added, the soup freezes well.

HAM BONE SOUP

3 quarts water
1 ham bone
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 package (10 oz.) frozen whole corn
1 package (10 oz.) frozen lima beans
1 16 oz. can black-eyed peas
1 16 oz. can chopped tomatoes
2 cup macaroni or pasta of choice
salt and pepper

In a large soup pot, combine water and ham bone and simmer for 1-2 hours. Add carrots, celery, onion, corn, lima beans, black-eyed peas, tomatoes, salt and pepper.

 

Taco Stew…a beloved family favorite

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Taco Stew has been a family favorite since the girls were little tykes. They loved it and it was another way I could get them to eat vegetables. In a pinch, I have substituted different vegetables and cheeses with equally good results.  Typically I double or even triple the recipe and freeze the leftovers. You could easily make this without the beef (or turkey) and omit the cheese and have a vegan version of Taco Stew.

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This recipe appeared in the Denver Post many years ago as a recipe a young boy submitted for a recipe contest and won.  Brilliant!

TACO STEW

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
15 ounce cans whole kernel corn, drained
10 ounce can diced tomatoes with chilies
15 ounce can pinto beans in chili sauce (or black beans)
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 can tomato soup
1 cup water
Tortilla chips
Grated Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese

Brown beef, drain and rinse with hot water to remove excess fat. Combine all ingredients, except tortilla chips and cheese, in a Dutch oven. Simmer on low.

Taco Stew Taco Stew

To serve, crumble tortilla chips in a serving bowl and cover with a generous heaping of stew. Sprinkle with cheese.

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