December 30, 2011

Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup

Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are always hectic trying to get a real meal on the table for me.  We have so many goodies and snacks that it’s easy to forget to eat well.  Then you add all the baking that’s done for friends and neighbors and at the end of the day I just don’t want to cook.  Mel’s Kitchen CafĂ© offers up this soup as the perfect solution – it pulls together so fast and if you’re like me and have a lot of leftover turkey lying around in the freezer this would be the perfect place to use it up. 

If you like things a little spicier, adjust the red pepper flakes to suit your tastes.  The 1/4 teaspoon was perfect for us since the kids still haven’t adopted my love of spicy foods.  It added plenty of flavor without much heat.

I tweaked this recipe slightly by pureeing the onions, peppers and tomatoes before adding them to the pot.  My kids aren’t very picky eaters but these three things are triggers with them for some reason.  Pureeing the vegetables first, led to zero questions about the ingredients in their dishes!


  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 can (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, un-drained
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7-8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (or use about 3-4 cups of shredded, cooked chicken)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/- inch pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper


  1. In a food processor or blender, puree the onions, pepper and tomatoes until smooth.
  2. In a large pot heat oil over medium heat and add the pureed vegetables. Add celery, and garlic. Cook 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the diced vegetables are tender.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (don’t add the cooked chicken, if using, you’ll add it near the end), stir well, and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for about 40-45 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through.
  4. If using cooked chicken, stir it in at this point and let it heat through. Discard bay leaves and serve.

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnust

These are a tradition! at our house every year at Christmas.  I always had them growing up, and when my kids came along, they adopted the love of these little addictions.  Salty, crunchy, savory and warm they’re the perfect appetizer to throw on any holiday plate.

You can use regular bacon but I prefer the leaner, much less greasy texture of the turkey bacon.


  • 2 cans water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 package turkey bacon, cut into thirds
  • toothpicks
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 cooking sherry


Preheat Oven 350 degrees

  1. Cut each chestnut in half then wrap a slice of bacon (a third of a piece) around the chestnut, secure with a toothpick and place in a 13x9 inch baking dish.
  2. Mix the Worcestershire Sauce and sherry then pour over the wrapped chestnuts.
  3. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the bacon has begun to brown and get a little crispy.

December 21, 2011

Egg Nog Cookies

Egg Nog Cookies

Kay, look.  It’s four days before Christmas and while we are, in general, eating real food I’m also doing a lot of baking and since most of the food that we’re eating has been Good Stuff’d already you’re going to get a few more goodies before I jump back on the real food band-wagon.  Just roll with it, have one of these cookies from The Girl Who Ate Everything and enjoy! 

If your nutmeg doesn’t have a sprinkle-top lid, just use a flour sifter!


  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup salted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg for sprinkling (optional)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees

  1. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg; mix well with a wire whisk and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter with an electric mixer. Add eggnog, vanilla and egg yolks and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined.
  3. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets, 1″ apart.  Bake for 21-24 minutes or until bottoms turn light brown.
  4. Transfer to cool, flat surface immediately with spatula. Makes about 36 cookies.

Eggnog Icing

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup eggnog (might need more or less)
  1. In small mixer bowl, beat the powdered sugar and butter until well blended. Gradually beat in eggnog until icing is smooth and the desired consistency. You may need less or more depending on the consistency you like.
  2. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg after you ice the cookies.

December 19, 2011

Cran-Stachio Cookies

Cran-Stachio Cookies

The Girl Who Ate Everything offered up this recipe last year and I’ve had it sitting in my “Cookies” folder ever since.  This year, I wanted to send cookies to work with The Man for no other reason than to try out the recipe.  My being “nice” has nothing to do with it.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!  The original recipe says it makes about 2 dozen but I doubled the batch and it made 5 dozen.

The simple directions lead you to believe you can be slack when baking these cookies but the fact is, it’s a little bit of trial and error with this step.  My first batch was baked for 8 minutes and came out doughy-looking even after letting them sit on the cookie sheet.  The next batch was in for 9 minutes following the same directions.  In the end I went with 8 minutes in the oven, 2 minutes on the cookie sheet and about 10 minutes on the cooling rack before I was happy with the soft, chewy, result.  My point is, test the first & second batch and taste for texture.  Cook ‘em how you like ‘em!

  • 1 pouch Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
  • 1 box (4 serving size) pistachio instant pudding and pie filling mix
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup dry roasted salted pistachio nuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. In a large bowl stir cookie mix, pudding, and flour. Add melted butter and eggs and stir until incorporated.
  2. Add pistachios and cranberries and mix well.
  3. Drop by rounded spoonsful onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.  Freezer-bag up what you’re not going to immediately eat and store for up to four weeks in the freezer.  When you’re ready to eat, take a couple out and eat frozen or let them sit for a few minutes to soften back up.