Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pies Baked in a Jar

I found this very cute idea on Not Martha. It is a great blog and it has a very thorough tutorial on this. You will need All Ready pie crust, pie filling, and small Ball jars. One package of crust and one can of pie filling made 6 pies.

These short, wide-mouth jars were my favorites.

Press pie crust into the jar.

Fill 3/4 full with desired filling. (This is more than 3/4 full and I don't recommend it)

Cover with more pie crust and seal edges. Do cut-outs if desired. You can put the tops on the jars and freeze them at this point if you want to. You can then give it as a little gift for the recipient to bake themselves.

I also tried it in ceramic heart baking dishes.

You can brush the tops with beaten egg if you want to in order to give them more of a golden crust. Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden on top and inside.

I served them warm with Breyer's vanilla ice cream.

If you place the tops on them while they are hot from the oven, they will seal and keep for several months unrefrigerated. How cool is that??

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup: The Ultimate Comfort Food

Who doesn't love chicken noodle soup? Especially on a frigid December night like tonight. Gil has a cold and really has felt bad for the past couple of days. I decided to make chicken noodle soup to help him feel better faster. I served it with Roasted Red Pepper Cheese sandwiches. He is now completely cured.

Vickie's Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
aka Miracle Cure for the Common Cold

4-6 chicken breasts
2 cans Swanson chicken broth
3 cups water
1 stalk celery
2 tsp salt
1- 1/2 tsp basil
1- 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1- 1/2 cups dry pasta (I used fusilli)

1. Simmer chicken in a medium saucepan until tender, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool and shred.

2. Strain the water from that pan into a larger saucepan. Add remaining ingredients except for pasta. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

3. Add pasta and cook on medium high until pasta is done, about 20 minutes. You can cook the pasta in a separate pot if you want to. I liked the simplicity of cooking it all together. Just be sure and taste the pasta and make sure it is cooked through.

Enjoy and be comforted!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Quiche

Ham Quiche

2 Pillsbury All Ready Pie Crusts
6 individual pie pans
1 - 1/2 cups cooked, diced ham
1 - 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 eggs
about 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped and sauteéd until tender
2 cups 1/2 & 1/2
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 -1/2 tbsp dried dill
3/4 of a 10 oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1. Line pans with pie crust, trim with a scissor, then leave enough to crimp the edges. (1 crust fills 3 pans, with leftover pastry for cutouts).

2.Layer with ham, cheese, and bell pepper. Beat eggs with a whisk and add 1/2 & 1/2, spinach, and seasonings. Pour over ingredients in pie shell.

3. Make cutouts with leftover pastry and place on top of each quiche. Brush cutouts with beaten egg.

4. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until firm.

Yield: 6 individual quiches. I actually had some of the egg mixture left. You could make a couple more if you had enough of the other ingredients.

Line pie pans with pastry:

Trim and crimp the edges. Place diced ham in first:

Then layer with cheese and bell pepper:

Pour egg mixture over the ham and cheese. Place cut outs on top:

Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes until firm.

Serve with soup, salad, or all by itself! It is also great to serve for breakfast. I served it for a Christmas lunch that I had with some wonderful friends.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Layered Christmas Tablescape

In a previous post, I mentioned the Caroline House, a beautiful home that I toured in which each room was decorated for Christmas. One trend that I noticed throughout the house was, not only the use of gold tones, but the use of layering on the tables. I decided to go through all my table linens and see what I could come up with.

As a base, I used a cream colored cloth:

On top of that, I placed a bronze colored cloth which was actually for a round table:

On top of the bronze cloth, I placed a chocolate brown suede-like cloth:

As a finishing touch, I placed a gold throw diagonally on the top. I also used this throw on my Christmas table last year.

To pull in all the colors, I used this place mat as the base for my centerpiece:

Then I placed a charger with candles that I decorated with beads and ribbon in the center. (I posted how to do this in my post called Candles with a Sparkle). I grouped several vintage-looking ornaments with a beaded garland around the candles:

I wanted something different for my napkins, so I folded them into thirds lengthwise and pulled them through the napkin ring:

Then I flipped the napkin over and tucked the ends in between the dinner plate and the charger. It made it look like a bow:

The result was dressy and elegant, yet warm and cozy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Low Fat and Delicious Sausage Gumbo

This is another amazing recipe I found in my library book, Eating Well for a Healthy Heart. This was actually a monumental recipe for me because it is the first time I have ever used turkey sausage. I was very pleasantly surprised at how good it was. I honestly couldn't tell the difference. I plan to replace the beef sausage in all my recipes with turkey sausage. It is 100 fewer calories per serving. The recipe also called for Cajun seasoning and I tried a new brand by Luzianne. I really liked it as well and highly recommend it. Very tasty.

Sausage Gumbo

1 pkg turkey sausage, sliced
2 tsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
2 tbsp flour
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
4 cups chicken broth
2 -1/2 cups frozen chopped okra
3/4 cup instant brown rice

1. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook sausage with onion and garlic until sausage is browned and onion is tender. Add cajun seasoning and cook for about 1 minute more.
2. Add flour and cook, stirring to coat the onion and sausage, until the flour starts to brown, about 1 minute.
3. Add tomato, chicken broth, okra, and rice, thyme, and bay leaf. Simmer for 10-20 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings
168 calories 6 g fat (2 g sat, 1 g mono)
25 mg cholesterol, 11 g protein, 3 g fiber, 631 mg sodium
High in Vitamin C and Vitamin A

Sauté sausage with onion and garlic in canola oil:

Add remaining ingredients and simmer:

This is a fabulous recipe, especially considering that it is only 168 calories.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Christmas Confetti Soup with Buttered Croutons

I found this soup recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Two of the ingredients are spinach and red bell pepper, hence the name "Christmas confetti." You could, of course, serve it any time of the year. It has a mild flavor with a touch of nutmeg. The croutons make a fun accompaniment, and are cut into shapes with Christmas cookie cutters.

Christmas Confetti Soup

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 10 oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup half and half

1. In a large saucepan, saute pepper in butter until tender Stir in flour. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in broth. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly.

2. Add the chicken, spinach, and nutmeg. Stir in half and half. Heat through. If desired, sprinkle individual servings with additional nutmeg. Serve with croutons.

CroutonsPreheat oven to 350. Cut shapes from bread slices. Brush with melted butter and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until toasted.

Saute red pepper in butter until tender:

Add flour and cook for 1 minute:

Add broth and cook until bubbly and thickened. (Make a flour paste and add to thicken soup more if needed).

Stir in spinach, chicken, and nutmeg:

Add half and half:

It makes a delicious, creamy base:

Cut desired shapes out of bread:

I noticed that the shapes looked better when they were flipped over. The one on the left is the back side of the shape:

Brush with melted butter and bake:

Serve in bowls or mugs:

The little croutons really add a lot to the soup and they are quick and easy to make.
I hope you enjoy this recipe!