Thursday, May 27, 2010

Play Dough (do NOT eat!)

1 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 cups flour
2 cups cold water
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1-2 drops almond, vanilla, or peppermint extract (optional, for fragrance only)
food coloring

In a large pot, mix dry ingredients, then add water. Add oil, any extract if desired, and food coloring. Over low heat, constantly stir the mixture until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface or parchment paper.

Store play dough in a plastic baggie.

Kristie's Chicken and Rice

*Notice the picture was taken after we dove in! We have no restraint for waiting once this meal is cooked--it's just that good!


8 chicken thighs, thawed (you can sub in 4 chicken breasts to cut down on fat)
1 can (2 cups) chicken broth
1 cup uncooked rice
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
fajita seasoning

Mix broth, rice, cream of chicken and cream of mushroom in a bowl. Spray 8x12" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and pour mixture into the dish. Sprinkle both sides of chicken thighs with fajita seasoning. Lay the chicken on top of the mixture, evenly spaced in dish. Cook, uncovered, for 1.5 hours at 350 degrees. To keep the chicken moist, spoon some of the mixture over the chicken after it has cooked for 30 minutes. (Note: it can be cooked covered, but the cooking time will need to be increased. You could also try cooking it covered for the first hour, then uncovering it until it's done.)

Brooke's Creamy Spinach Soup

SERVES: 8-10

1 small onion, chopped
4 Tbsp. butter
3 boxes frozen leaf spinach, thawed
10 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cream or half and half
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine onion, butter, spinach, and broth in a large pot. Simmer for 20 minutes or until it is all hot and the spinach has some time to cook. Allow mixture to cool, then blend until smooth. Add cream and salt and pepper. Stir well and then reheat.

Serving Suggestions: crusty bread or grilled cheese sandwiches

Capellini Pomodoro

*This recipe is similar to the Capellini Pomodoro at Macaroni Grill.

12 oz. dry angel hair pasta, cooked
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, diced
1 handful of fresh basil leaves, sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Cook angel hair pasta according to package directions. White pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in sautee pan over medium-low heat and add garlic; cook until white. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and pepper, and heat through, stirring constantly, about 2-3 minutes. Tomatoes should not lose their shape. Remove from heat. Drain pasta and toss gently with tomato mixture in a large bowl. Grate in some fresh Paremsan cheese and toss again. Plate pastat, garnish with basil and more Paremesan.

Serve with grilled chicken breasts (like these) and a large Ceasar salad.

Any's Columbian Lentil Stew

1 cup lentils
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups water and/or chicken broth
1 large tomato, cored and chopped
1.5 cups cubed potatoes, peeled
2 pieces of bacon, cut into 1/4" pieces
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Adobo all-purpose seasoning (found in the "Goya" or international section at the grocery store)
3 Tbsp. Sofrito (found in a jar in the "Goya" or international section at the grocery store)
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sugar

In a large saucepan, add all ingredients and bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook on medium-low for about 2 1/2 hours.

You may want to add more broth/water if lentils appear too thick. If lentils appear too watery, bring heat up for a few minutes to thicken.

Serve with crusty bread as a soup; or serve over cooked rice and/or ropa vieja.

*This recipe is vegetarian if you omit the bacon and use water instead of chicken broth.

Any's Ropa Vieja

*According to Any, "ropa vieja" is the name for this dish in Havana, Cuba and it means "old clothes". In other parts of Cuba or Columbia it is called by a name that means "shredded meat" or "pulled apart meat".


1-2 lb. flank steak
1 onion, julienne cut
1 green bell pepper, julienne cut
1 Tbsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, pressed
dash of cumin
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
4 Tbsp. Sofrito (found in a jar in the "Goya" or international section of the grocery store)
1 Tbsp. Bijol (found in a small seasoning container in the "Goya" or international section of the grocery store)
salt & pepper to taste

Put flank steak in a large pot. Add half of the onion, half of the green pepper, 1 Tbsp. salt, garlic, and the cumin. Cover with water and boil flank steak for 3-4 hours or until it is very tender.

Remove the flank steak form the broth and finely shred it into a container. Pour the broth into a container on the side and save. In the same pot, add the olive oil, the other half of the green peppers and onions, tomatoes, sofrito, bijol, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir-fry on medium-high for 3 minutes, then stir in the meat in portions. Add 2-3 cups of the beef broth with onion, green pepper, and garlic. Let simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes at medium-low heat until most of the water is absorbed. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve over cooked rice with lentil stew.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Easy Chinese Stir-Fry

*Adapted from the winter 2008 Kraft Food & Family magazine.

SERVES: 4 (1 cup each)
PREP: 25 minutes

1 tsp. oil
1 lb. pork tenderloin or 2 chicken breasts, cut into thin slices
3 carrots, sliced
1/3 cup Light Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
1/3 cup hoison sauce
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Heat oil in large skillet or wok on medium-high heat. Add meat and carrots; stir-fry 5 minutes. Stir in dressing and hoison sauce; stir-fry 7 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender. Add onions; cook 1 minute.

Serve over hot cooked rice noodles (also called rice sticks), rice, or angel hair pasta.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fruit Kabob Centerpiece

3 cantelopes
1 honeydew melon
3 pineapples
3 lbs. strawberries
1/2 lb. red grapes
1/2 lb. green grapes
60 bamboo skewers

Rinse grapes and strawberries and set on a paper towel to dry. Cut the honeydew melon, cantelopes, and 2 of the pineapples into pieces approximately 1" pieces. Choose a pattern to skewer the fruit and leave about 3" on each end of the skewer (the sharp end will enter a pineapple and the blunt end will be used to serve). A recommended pattern: strawberry, cantelope, green grape, pineapple, red grape, honeydew. Skewer the fruit and set aside until ready to serve. When ready to serve/display, slice off the bottom of the third pineapple so it sits securely on a sturdy platter. Then insert the skewers, spacing about 1" apart, moving around the bottom and working upward toward the top of the pineapple.