Saturday, February 15, 2014

Minestrone Soup

We are still knee deep in snow. The frozen tundra... just one of our many nicknames. Soup is good anytime of the year, but it's especially comforting on a cold winter's night. And who's going to complain when you can serve a whole meal in just one bowl, not me.

This minestrone soup is very satisfying and call me crazy, but it's beautiful. The aroma that fills the house is ahhh..mazing! It makes you wish the day away and pray dinnertime will come soon. I prepared this in my crockpot so it cooked all day long, fusing those wonderful flavors together in slow motion. You could also make this soup in a stockpot and it wouldn't take much time at all. Just cook until the veggies are tender.

Minestrone Soup (adapted from Windsor)

1 1/2 frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen green beans
3 large carrots, sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cans (15.5oz) light red kidney beans
1 can (15.5oz) cannellini (white kidney) beans
1 can (14.5oz) tomatoes w/basil, garlic & oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp oregano
1 tsp parsely
2 tbsp brown sugar
46.5 oz vegetable broth (1 box plus 1 can)

Rinse veggies and chop. Add them to the crockpot.

Rinse beans. Add beans, tomatoes, garlic and onions.

Add vegetable broth, olive oil, minced garlic, brown sugar and seasoning to crockpot and stir everything together.

Cook all day (6-8 hours) on low heat.The slower and longer you cook this, the more flavorful it is. Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and eat away. Don't worry too much about overdoing it... this soup quite healthy. Bonus!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Honey BBQ Chicken Strips

One of mine and my daughter's favorite appetizers is Boneless Honey BBQ Chicken Strips from Applebee's. The sauce is just perfect for us. My husband loves Parmesan Garlic Wings from Buffalo Wild Wings. So for the Superbowl we decided to attempt at-home versions of both flavors. Unfortunately, my husband's recipe was a flop, but the BBQ strips turned out perfectly. Not exactly like Applebee's, but we were good with that because this sauce was really great. It was tangy and sweet.

The strips we chose were Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips, I'm telling you... they are just right for this sauce. We had leftover sauce and strips so I had this meal for lunch 2 days in a row. Just thinking about them now makes me crave them. These little sweeties will leave your tastebuds yearning for more. You'll be totally set with ranch or bleu cheese dipping sauce and a small side of slaw or these delicious homemade potato chips.

Let's get saucy...

Honey BBQ Sauce

1/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C + 2 tbsp BBQ (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/4 C water
1 tbsp honey

Mix everything together and the sauce is ready to go!

Bake the desired amount of strips. The quantity of sauce was enough for the entire bag. We only made about of the half the bag and baked the rest when we ready to eat more. I like my strips extra crispy so I always bake them longer than the bag recommends.

Once your strips are done, give them a honey BBQ bath. Flip 'em and flop 'em around in the sauce.

 Now you are set to sit down and enjoy some tasty, tasty Honey BBQ Chicken Strips!!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Homemade Chips with Onion Dill Dip

Have you ever made your own chips? If you haven't, you really need to add it to your to-do list. They are amazing. I made them for the first time in December and have made them 3 times since then. It's pretty easy to do. Sure there are a few steps, but all in all, they are quite easy. And oh man, so delicious. You can make as little or as much as you like. The crispness and salty taste...yum, so satisfying. Be careful though... like the traditional saying goes "bet you can't eat just one" and that's very true for these chips. Once you add the dip - oh mama! Hold on! The dip is creamy and bursting with flavor. It's not an overwhelming onion/dill flavor. It's just right.

Let's get started...

Ingredients (copycat from Lauren's Latest):

4 large Russet Potatoes
A large bowl of cold water
2 pints peanut oil (vegetable oil works too)
Sea salt

Dip :

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 tsp dried dill 
Salt and pepper to taste

Grab your mandoline. I found a nice one at WalMart for $15. If you don't have one, you can slice them by hand too. It's just more work and takes more time.

Take a potato and start slicing. I like how the original blogger said "don't be a hero - use the guard". Made me chuckle so I'm bringing you her words of wisdom. Anyone else start singing "Biiilllyyy, don't be a hero". No? Just me. My parents had that song on the jukebox. I love that song.

Once you have the potatoes sliced, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes. This step removes most of the starch. It makes the chips light and crisp when we cook them.

While they soak, start making the dip.

Combine all ingredients, stir together and put in the fridge. Yeah, I know. Easy, huh?

Also, let's start heating up that peanut oil. Add the oil to a large skillet. Turn stove dial to high-medium.

When the potatoes are done with their cold bath, drain the water and dry them well. Water and oil don't mix well. We don't need any unnecessary burns.

Prepare a pan with a napkin and get your sea salt ready. Oh... we're so close to the goodness right now!

Let's start cookin'!

Take a handful of potatoes and drop them carefully into the oil. The chips should "dance" around in the hot oil. If things get crazy and oil is sputtering out of the pan, turn the heat down. They should start turning a darkish shade of brown in about 5-7 minutes. Note: if you like darker chips go a minute or two longer... lighter chips, cook a minute or two less.

Remove the chips from the skillet with a slotted metal spoon and place them in the pan you prepared with a napkin. Sprinkle on some sea salt right away. Sneak a chip. Go ahead, sneak another - I won't tell!

Grab the dip! The time has come to dive in.