Archive | March, 2011

Taco Soup

20 Mar

When I didn’t work on Sundays dinner was quite the event as I had the time.  Since the parents moved away and I switched my work schedule to be off on Saturdays instead it’s been a different story.  I still need to eat so I tend to do crockpot meals.  We’ve had chicken dinners for the past several weeks so I thought it was time for a change.  I’ve made this meal many times before over the stove but the difference being my recipe did not have the corn or the ranch dressing mix.  Since I found this in the crockpot section I thought it was worth a try.  My house smelled so good!  The son came home and was very excited when he saw what was cooking in the crock.  This filled up the pot but when I came home from work a few hours later, these guys had killed it!  This is a meal that kids and men love.  Of course now the son said next time I need to make my crockpot taco meatloaf!  Maybe in a few weeks, stay tuned.

Adapted from

Taco Soup

serves 8-10

  • 1 (16 ounce) can great northern beans
  • 1 (16 ounce) can light kidney beans 
  • 1 (11 ounce) can niblet corn
  • 1 (11 ounce) can Rotel diced tomatoes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilis 
  • 1 (1 1/4 ounce) envelope taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (1 ounce) envelope Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix
  • 1 lb shredded ground beef
  • optional toppings sour cream, shredded cheese, corn chips, chopped green onion

Cook meat and drain.  Add all ingredients to crock pot.  Do not drain liquid from the cans.  Stir, cooking on low heat for 4 hours.

Garnish with toppings of your choice.


Rose Madeleines

12 Mar

I really love experimenting with different flavors and lately the flower essences have been getting my attention.  When I bought a bottle of Monin Violet flavored syrup last year to make violet buttercream macarons I knew this was the start of something great.  I used the syrup to make a divine violet buttercream for sangria cupcakes for my friend’s birthday.  I started googling recipes for other flower flavors and came across an idea for rose madeleines using a rose syrup.  I didn’t have any rose syrup but found a recipe to make it.  Since I already had rose water and bought some rose and lavendar extract at Sur La Table I decided to make my own syrup.  The recipe I found called for almost double the sugar to water and turned the finished product into a taffy so I had to add more water and reheated it until the mixture melted.  I added the syrup to David Lebovitz’s madeleines and tinted them pink for a wonderful subtle flavor.  My husband loves madeleines since he had the green tea flavor I made earlier in the year.  I will be making madeleines for the wedding so

Adapted from David Lebovitz The Sweet Life in Paris

Makes 24 regular size cookies

Rose Madeleines

  • 1/3 cup rose syrup (recipe below)
  •  9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (preferably aluminum free)
  • 1/3 cup rose syrup
  • couple drops red food coloring

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the eggs, sugar and salt for 5 minutes until frothy and thickened.

Add the flour, and baking powder and using a spatula to fold in the flour as it is being added gradually into the batter.

Add the rose syrup to the cooled butter and slowly dribble the butter in the batter  while simultaneously folding it in with the spatula until all the butter is incorporated.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour up to but no longer than 12 hours.

Butter the madeleine molds lightly.  If using nonstick molds that is all you need to do otherwise dust with flour and tap off any excess. 

Preheat oven to 425F.  Using a teaspoon, plop a generous amount of batter into the center of the mold.  It does not have to fill the mold.  Leave the dough in a mound and do not spread as the heat from baking will spread it out.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cakes feel springy and just set.  Remove from the oven and tilt the pan so cookies fall onto the cooling rack.

When cookies are cooled sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Rose Syrup

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 1/2 teaspoon rose extract
  • couple drops red food coloring

 Cook the sugar and water under sugar is dissolved and mixture reduces and becomes the consistency of syrup.  Takes about 10-15 minutes.  Add the rose water and extract.  Tint with food color if desired.

Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

9 Mar

About a year ago I wanted to make lasagna but I did not want the traditional red sauce, red meat variety, afterall I rarely eat red meat and thought there has to be a recipe for something else other than a vegetarian lasagna.  My family likes meat so I have to be inventive with the chicken dishes and every once in a while I throw some red meat their way.  Chicken, alfredo sauce,  red peppers and various cheeses,thrown together into a casserole with a few other ingredients what could be better?!  But these ingredients were in 3 different recipes.  So I took the ingredients I liked and made it my own.  I used a roasted red pepper rather than a raw red pepper and I recommend finely dicing the onions unless you like bigger chunks of onion.  I also like a lot of alfredo sauce.  You can use 1 jar but I preferred using 2 this did make 5 big layers.

Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

  • 15 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 2-16 oz jar white alfredo pasta sauce
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken
  • 1-14 oz artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1-8 oz package shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1-8 oz container ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 small package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

 Preheat oven to 375.  In a large bowl combine the chicken, artichokes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, spinach and ½ package of the Italian cheese blend.  Mix well.  Divide mixture into fourths.

Spread a thin layer of the alfredo sauce over the bottom of a 9×13” baking dish.  Top with a layer of noodles.  Add a layer of chicken mixture, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.  Drizzle sauce over the top and repeat layers.

Final layer consists of noodles, remaining sauce, remaining Italian cheese blend, parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake 15 minutes more.  Let stand for 15 minutes and serve.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

4 Mar

Mariya was in the mood for cupcakes as she wanted something sweet and Barry loves snickerdoodle cookies.  She found this recipe in Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes and we had everything on hand so on Superbowl Sunday she made these.  These are a dense cupcake but very good especially with a cup of coffee.  I used my traditional buttercream but adding the marshmallow fluff.  It turned out to be a good combination.

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  In a separate bowl combine both flours, baking powder, salt and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.  Beat in vanilla reducing speed to low.  Add the flour in 3 batches, alternating with 2 additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

Fill each lined cup 3/4 full.  Bake, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

To finish the cupcakes, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Using a pastry bag fitted with Wilton #1A tip, hold bag over cupcake with tip just above the top and squeeze to creat a dome of frosting, releasing pressure and pulling up to form a peak.  Sprinkle the tops with the cinnamon sugar.

Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup marshmallow fluff
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • milk

Cream butter and marshmallow fluff until combined.  Add vanilla extract and slowly add confectioners sugar.  Add enough milk until it is of frosting consistency.