Crack Chicken Noodle Soup

Although Spring is just around the corner, a few weeks ago we were reminded winter wasn’t over. That promoted Jeremiah and I to cook up a few new soup recipes. I call this recipe the soup version of Canyon Chicken.

Crack Chicken Noodle Soup by Plain Chicken
Chicken soup3 c. chopped chicken
1 can condensed cheese soup
6 c. chicken broth
1 c. milk
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 package ranch salad dressing and seasoning mix
1 package Bacon Bits
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. dried fine egg noodles, uncooked

In a large stock pot, combine chicken, cheese soup, broth, milk, celery, carrots, ranch packet, and bacon. Bring to a boil over a medium-high heat. Then, reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes, until vegetable is soft. Stir in noodles and shredded cheese. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until noodles are soft.

Notes:

  • I would suggest using leftover rotisserie chicken since this recipe doesn’t have any seasonings except ranch. I added a little parsley.
  • I used low sodium condensed soup, low sodium broth and skim milk.
  • I didn’t have celery so I omitted it from the recipe.
  • I used real bacon. I suggest maybe just sprinkling on top before serving so ensure the flavor isn’t overwhelmed.

 

Raspberry Orange Smoothie

raspberry smoothieI was looking for a recipe to use up some raspberries in my freezer. I ran across this recipe which also used the one banana laying on my counter. Jeremiah and I decided it wasn’t too bad. No flavors were overwhelming and it’s a pretty healthy drinks.

Raspberry-Orange Immunity Smoothie by Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen
1 c. nonfat milk or soy milk
1 c. frozen raspberries
1 medium banana
1/3 c. of orange juice & one ice cube or 1 T. frozen orange juice concentrate

Blend together and serve.

Welcome Back

Oh my goodness, it feels like forever since I last wrote a blog post. Perhaps because it was a long time ago. This month has been just crazy. Work budgets, illness, much needed time with friends, and the loss of my Grandpa Fletcher. But now it is time to buckle down and share some of the new recipes I’ve been cooking up in my kitchen. Today, I am going to share a new breakfast recipe that I thought turned our pretty good. Perhaps you will enjoy it for a Sunday Easter Brunch.

Breakfast CasseroleBreakfast Casserole from Pinterest

Two packages of sausage links
Six eggs
1 c. of milk
salt & pepper to taste
½ a bag of tater tots
2 1/2 c. of cheddar cheese

Cook sausage according to package. Then, slice into bite sized pieces and sprinkle along the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan. In a bowl, beat eggs and milk together. Pour over sausage. Sprinkle with a cup of cheese. Top with tater tots. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Notes:

  • I used turkey sausage, skim milk, and 2% cheese to make it a little healthier. I think you could also reduce the number of eggs by using egg substitute.
  • I used the mini-tater tots so I could reduce the amount of cheese in the recipe by a ¾ of a cup. This way, the lower cheese amount melted together better.

Chocolate Dump Cake

You may have started wondering if I was still writing this blog. The answer is yes but I’ve been busy. I recently started a new job – as a volunteer manager. It’s a crazy busy time of the year and I’m learning a new job so it’s been keeping me pretty busy. In addition to my new job, I am still working at the hotel. I also have some blogs I need to write for another nonprofit agency. Until my life settles into my “new normal”, this blog will have to hold you over for a little while til I have more time to bake than just throwing a frozen pizza in the oven. It’s times like this when I wonder how people juggle work, family, and still have the energy to do fun things.

I’m super excited to share this recipe with you because it is just four ingredients. It’s a super easy and very delicious dessert.

Chocolate Dump CakeChocolate Dump Cake from Pinterest
1 box of chocolate cake
1 box chocolate pudding
1 3/4 c. milk
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Mix milk and pudding. Add box of cake mix and stir. Pour into 9 x 13 pan. Scatter with chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Notes:

  • I used sugar free pudding. I think you could also use a sugar free cake to make it healthier.
  • I used skim milk and it still turned out fluffy. I think I cooked it for 25 minutes to prevent it from burning.
  • I also cut the amount of chocolate chips to 3/4 c. and it still had a great chocolate flavor.

Crispy Ritz Chicken

Ritz crackers are one of my nephew’s favorite snacks. I used leftover crackers from his visit to make this delicious looking recipe from Pinterest. If you like the flavors, I would suggest trying this breakfast recipe for Creamy Swiss Eggs on Biscuits.

Crispy Ritz ChickenCrispy Ritz Chicken
4 chicken breast
2 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed
1/2 c. buttermilk (or milk)
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (or cheddar cheese)
1 tsp. dried parsley

1 can cream of chicken
3 T. sour cream
2 T. butter

Dip chicken in milk, then cheese, and finally crackers. Sprinkle with parsley. Cover and bake for 35 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. In a small saucepan, melt cream of chicken, sour cream, and butter. Pour over baked chicken and sprinkle with parsley.

Notes:

  • I used reduced fat Ritz crackers, skim milk, and fat free cheddar cheese. Just remember that skim milk doesn’t stick as well to the chicken.
  • I used 98% fat free cream of chicken and fat free sour cream. You could also substitute Greek yogurt.
  • I served it with mashed potatoes. Chicken gravy also tastes good on them. I would suggest maybe a green side dish like spinach or asparagus as well. One of the Pinterest recipes suggests making cilantro lime rice to go with the chicken. I liked the home cooked meal approach.
  • Another suggestion is to use the veggie flavored Ritz crackers.

Fall Changes

I know it’s been a few weeks since I wrote a blog post. Although the temperatures may be hovering around three digit heat, everything is changing as we approach fall. I dog sat for the first time in my life and just started a new job. After a quick afternoon nap, I’m back in the kitchen cooking up new recipes to share with you.

Today’s post is inspired by Starbucks. Last week, the fall specialty drinks reappeared on the menu. My personal favorite is Salted Caramel Mocha but I also love Pumpkin Spice Latte. For those of you who love the winter holiday drinks, today’s copy cat recipe is for you. Although this isn’t one of my usuals, it is one of my sister’s favorites. I think it taste pretty close to the Starbucks drink.

Caramel Brulee LatteCaramel Brulee Latte from Pinterest
2 T. caramel sauce
1-2 oz. vanilla syrup
4 oz. espresso
8-10 oz. steamed milk
whipped cream
toffee bits and caramel sauce

Place caramel sauce in cup. Add vanilla syrup. Top with coffee and milk. Garnish with whipped cream and toffee bits.

Notes:

  • I used half a shot glass of sugar free French vanilla syrup (1 oz.)
  • I don’t have an espresso maker so I made the Starbuck Blonde K-cup with 6 oz. of water.
  • I used 10 oz. of steamed skim milk.
  • I make froth from skim milk and skipped the whipped cream, toffee bits, and extra caramel sauce.

Orange Julius

My mother loves Orange Julius. You know, the orange fruit smoothie available in food courts everywhere as well as your local Dairy Queen.

One of my family’s favorite things to do is go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. For years, we have gotten up very early in the morning to catch the Black Friday sales and complete most of our holiday. As you know, many stores are now starting to open at Midnight to catch people before they go to bed.

This past year, we decided to swing by the mall in Norfolk on our way back to Columbus from dropping of my grandparents off at their home in Wayne. (For those of you not from northeast Nebraska, these towns are all about 30-45 minutes apart.)

Our first stop was at Target. Who doesn’t love a Target deal? And in our family, it also means our purchases are helping pay the salaries of two family members employed by the company. (I always encourage people to shop place that support your employer or others you know.) I love Target because their Black Friday deals last for two days. This usually means the store isn’t super crazy if you show up an hour or two after it opens. Our run through Target was quick and then it was time to split up.

Somehow, my mother and sister got stuck in a line at Herbergers (it’s like Dillards or Macy’s if you aren’t from a smaller community) for well over an hour. My nephew Brock and I had shopped the whole mall and were starving. What else would be open but the wonderful food court. We called my mother and she wanted a drink. My sister Stephanie wanted a soft pretzel. Brock and split up – one of taking Orange Julius and the other tackling The PretzelMaker. I hadn’t consumed an Orange Julius in years but it was quite refreshing. It gave us just the energy we needed to drive the last 45 minutes back to my sister and nephew’s home.

I ran across the copycat recipe in Pinterest fairly recently. I met it with a little skepticism since the recipe lacks fruit and contains sugar. However, I have to say this recipe taste just like an original Orange Julius. I think milk is the secret froth maker in this treat.

Orange Julius Copy Cat Orange Julius by Pinterest
1 can of frozen orange juice concentrate
1 c. milk
1 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
10-12 ice cubes

Blend ingredients together and serve. It makes approximately four – 10-12 oz. drinks.

Notes:

  • I used pulp free frozen orange juice concentrate and skim milk.
  • I halved the recipe crushing five ice cubes.
  • Since OJ is very high in sugar, I made one using a sugar substitute (Splenda) to decrease sugar in recipe. It tasted pretty similar.

No Bake Cookie Dough

Did you used to lick the egg beaters as a kid? In my mother’s kitchen, that was a benefit to helping her make homemade chocolate chips cookie. Who knew back in the day that eating raw cookie dough was bad for you? The raw eggs put us at risk of getting sick from salmonella.

A friend of mine posted this recipe for a no bake cookie dough. Since it doesn’t have eggs, you can eat it raw. Without leavening agents (baking soda and baking powder), you can’t bake this recipe though.

I made this recipe for a talent show for Associate Appreciation Week at work. It was a hit with all my co-workers in attendance.

100_0957Eggless Cookie Dough
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. milk
1 c. flour
pinch of salt
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Mix together brown sugar, butter, and vanilla. Add milk and slowly add flour and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Refrigerate or freeze til ready to eat.

Chicken Salad Casserole

I ran across this recipe on Kraft Foods website. It reminded me of a warm chicken salad.

Chix_casseroleSwiss ‘n Chicken Casserole
4 c. cooked chicken, cubed
2 c. croutons
1 & 1/2 c. shredded Swiss cheese
2/3 c. Miracle Whip
1/2 c. milk
4 stalks celery, sliced
1/4 c. chopped onion

Mix all ingredients in a 2 qt. greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Makes six servings.

Nutritional Information: 410 calories 115 mg. cholesterol, 1 g. fiber, 22 g. fat (8 g. saturated fat), 410 mg. sodium, 4 g. sugars, 15 g. carbs, and 37 g. protein

Notes:

  • Save 40 calories and 4 g. fat per serving by using 2% cheese, Light Miracle Whip, and skim milk.
  • I used boneless, skinless chicken breast which is healthier.
  • I also made my own croutons which allowed me to decrease fat and increase fiber.
  • Although I did not add it, some almond slices or dried cranberries might be a nice addition.

Share Breakfast

Last week, I saw Taye Diggs on Good Morning America saying to tweet something to provide breakfast for kids in need. I usually watch The Today Show these days so I had to go online to figure out what exactly he was talking about. Kellogg’s will provide up to $250,000 (or 1.25 million school breakfast) for every share, pin, tweet, or YouTube related video watched. The promotion doesn’t end until April 15, 2013 so I hope you will help. Be sure to use the hashtag #sharebreakfast on Twitter to be sure your efforts are counted.

Why is this so important? Because children are hungry and it impacts their learning. I know because I saw it with my own eyes when I was an AmeriCorps Member. At the end of my college days, I was hired as an AmeriCorps Member for the Comprehensive School Health Initiative/Nebraska Reads program in Lincoln, NE. I mentored and tutored children ages K-6 and helped coordinate an afterschool/summer program for at risk youth. Every day, I worked with smart kids who struggled to focus on their classwork because they were hungry. The easy solution seems like getting your kids to school early to partake in the school breakfast program. Well, that only works if mom, dad, or whoever their caretaker is gets them to school early enough to eat. For one of my girls, just getting to school when the bell rang at 9AM was a chore. In fact, one day her mother didn’t bring her or her siblings to school until 1:30PM. Yes, you read that correctly. Mom said she overslept in the note to the teachers. And I can tell you, that little girl also missed lunch that day. When I asked if she had anything in her house she could fix herself, this 8 year old informed me “no”.

I wish I could tell you this was a rarity but I know lots of kids in the same boat. It’s part of the reason we provided our kids enrolled in the afterschool program with a healthy snack.  That’s why programs exist today like Harvester’s BackSnack Program. This program helps ensure kids have food (they can prepare) on the weekends when they can’t be at school for breakfast and lunch. It’s also one of the things I worry about kids on days when schools have to close for bad weather.

I came up with a solution for my little girl when I was in AmeriCorps. I started packing granola bars in my backpack for her to eat every day. I wish I could say it was my idea but a fellow AmeriCorps member suggested it. And my super smart little girl was less irritated and was better able to concentrate. We also worked on a goal all year – for her to make it to school every morning for breakfast for one entire month. I’m happy to report, she accomplished the goal a few weeks before the end of our time working together. (Something I hope she was able to carry one after I was gone.) The reward she picked for achieving her goal was ice cream during out time working together – 10:30AM. Now, I’m not a parent but I also know kids shouldn’t eat ice cream for breakfast. My compromise was Strawberry Frozen Yogurt.

I still think about that little girl and all the others I worked with. Her little sister would be a senior in high school this year. My hope is that she and her older sister are in college somewhere now. And I hope I made a positive impact in her life…something she will want to do for others in her future.

Biscuit cupScrambled Egg Biscuit Cups by Betty Crocker
2 c. Bisquick
1/3 c. cheddar cheese
3/4 c. milk
8 eggs
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 T. butter, softened
1/2 c. Parmesan and mozzarella cheese pasta sauce (from 1-lb jar)
3 T. bacon bites
1 tsp. chives

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, mix Biquick, cheese, and 1/2 c. milk until soft dough ball forms. Knead a couple of times and then shape into a 10 in. log. Cut into 12 pieces and place one in each cup. Press up along the muffin tin sides. Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and use the back of a wooden spoon to press air puffs down. Meanwhile, mix eggs, remaining milk, and pepper in another bowl. Melt butter in a skillet. Cook your eggs in the skillet until firm. Fold in pasta sauce and bacon. Remove biscuits from muffin cups and spoon in egg mixture. Sprinkle with chives and bacon bits. Makes 12 servings.

 Nutrition Information (Per Serving): 180 calories (80 from fat), 9g. fat (3.5 saturated fat, 1 g. trans fat), 150 mg cholesterol, 420 mg. sodium, 15 g. carbs, 0 g. fiber, 2 g. sugar, and 8 g. protein.

Notes:

  • I used nonstick cooking spray instead of butter.
  • I also used fat free cheese and pre-cooked bacon. It’s a great way to cut fat grams.
  • I used egg whites substitute for half the eggs. It’s an easy way to cut calories and cholesterol.
  • My Bisquick wasn’t think enough to form a soft ball. I used the last of my box so I didn’t have extra to add to the mix. I went ahead and spooned in balls. It kind of worked but the biscuits were half as tall and stuck to the pan. As a result, I had too much egg mixture. Maybe decrease by one or two eggs (adjust milk accordingly).